CATHEDRAL RANGE, VICTORIA

The Cathedral Range lies near Marysville and Healesville, about 100 km north-east of Melbourne,  within the Cathedral Range State Park and between the towns of Buxton and Taggerty. It runs north to south,  parallel to the Maroondah Highway. Main access is along Little River Road. According to Parks Victoria ” The Cathedral  Range is a spectacular 7 km ridge of sharply upturned sedimentary rock.  A variety of walking tracks offer the opportunity to climb the peaks and enjoy views :.   I second that!

Our route from Warragul was  through Neerim South, Nayook, Powelltown, Three Bridges, Gladysdale, Yarra Junction, Healesville  then through Black Spur then Buxton and finally Little River Road to get to Cooks Mill car park (passed Ned’s Gully car park and camp ground on the way). We drove back  the same way.  I greatly enjoyed this drive as it was through really lovely country , including beautiful forest.

Both camp sites (on Little River)  are very nice, but Ned’s Gully camp ground especially so.  There is no vehicle access to the latter:  one parks about 50 metres away and walks across the Little River on a foot bridge to it.  I thought it a lovely place and most peaceful.  We left the car at Cook’s Mill camp ground and took the walking track up onto the high ridge to a place known as The Farmyard.  We climbed steadily on a very good track, crossing one creek which was just flowing.  We hiked through most attractive forest with a luxuriant understory.    One can camp at The Farmyard, although one would need to carry in ones own water.  We stopped here for morning tea on a gem of a morning.

From the Farmyard it was just a short walk, including some rock scrambling, to the summit of  South Jawbone Peak, which falls precipitously down into the valley.   The views from here are stunning.   From here we took the slightly lower,  and more direct, track to North Jawbone Peak with similar views south and across the valley but also with a wonderful view of the ridge walk across to Cathedral Peak, a veritable back-of-a-dinosaur ridge :  a knife edge which ascended and then descended many knolls.  Whilst there is still a track along this ridge it is no longer an easy one:  it is footpad along a very rocky crest which makes for slow going and a great deal of care. There is also a fair bit of rock scrambling along here.   Whilst the air temperature was no more than about 23*c it was hot work along the approximately 2 km long ridge for the rocks store up the heat and reflect it back at one. We were very pleased to find a small patch of shade to sit in while we had lunch.

Only a few metres before and below the high point of Cathedral Peak the track from Neds Gully camp ground joins the ridge.   Whilst one can continue over Cathedral Pk to the northern and lower summit and descend from there, we chose to take the Ned’s Gully track past Ned’s Peak and down to the campground.  From there we took the track beside the river back to the car where we enjoyed a cup of tea and a snack before returning to Warragul.

This State Park is a real gem,  offering good walks and wonderfully diversified scenery and vegetation , a beautiful creek and pleasant camp grounds.   It deserves far more than the day we were able to give it.

On the hike we did, we met one couple only doing the two Jawbones, a young woman going up to Ned’s Peak, and  a man doing an afternoon hike to Cathedral Peak and back.

This Range brings back memories of Rusty,  an old friend of mine, a mountaineer,  who moved to Melbourne from South Africa.  Trapped by suburbia and the clatter and clang and fumes of the city he missed and longed for real mountains.  Eventually he found the Cathedral Range which he loved to visit, camping, hiking and climbing, unwinding from life in the city.  I never thought that I would one day visit the very place  which had given him pleasure.

OF HIGH SOLITUDE

WILFRED W GIBSON

Eagles and isles and uncompanioned peaks,
The self-reliant isolated things
Release my soul, embrangled in the stress
Of all day’s crass and cluttered business:
Release my soul in song, and give it wings;
And even when the traffic roars and rings,
With senses stunned and beaten deaf and blind,
My soul withdraws into itself, and seeks
The peaks and isles and eagles of the mind.

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One of the Jawbone Peaks, from, I think, the Cook’s Mill Camp Ground

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We walked up to the Jawbone car park where we met a young couple who asked our advice on where to walk as they had a couple of hours to spare.  They overtook us as we walked up to The Farmyard, and later we met them coming down as we were going up the North Jawbone Peak.

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On South Jawbone Peak looking north to North Jawbone Peak, with Cathedral Peak in the far distance.  Both the Jawbones sit to the east of the main ridge.

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Looking south, but just to the east of the ridge from South Jawbone Peak

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Looking east of north from South Jawbone Peak.  Cooks Mill campground is in the trees just to the right of the nearer logged area

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At this point we diverted from the track to take the one leading to the summit of North Jawbone Peak

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Looking south from North Jawbone Peak

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Also looking south from North Jawbone Peak

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From North Jawbone Peak, showing part of the long and knobbly knife edge of a ridge and highest peak, Cathedral Peak

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Nearly back on the main ridge track after descending from North Jawbone Peak

 

 

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Part way along the ridge, looking back (Megan isn’t!)

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From the ridge, looking south, but showing the western side of the range

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Nearly back at the car.  Looking up at the Jawbones

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From the highway on the way back, Cathedral Peak