Monday, July 22, 2013

Wicked Walks: Cathedral Range State Park

We decided to go to the Cathedral Range State Park today, a 7km ridge of sedimentary rock peaks 150km north east of Melbourne. It was a pleasant 2-hour drive along Maroondah Highway, aside from city traffic at the start of our journey.

The path we had chosen was Ned's Gully - Ned's Saddle - Ned's Peak, approximately a 5.5km walk return. Even though the weather forecast was gloomy, with showers predicted for Monday, we thought we'd test our luck anyway and had our fingers crossed for good weather!

Lady Luck was on our side, and it didn't rain all day!

We started at the carpark

The forest was so surreal it was like a fairytale

Beautiful trails of all terrains

Including steep rocky paths

The trails we took are graded as "medium" on the Parks Victoria guide, which is quite deceptive especially for avid hikers such as ourselves who frequently use the guide to choose routes. "Medium" for the Cathedral Range Park was clarified in the guide as "Steep sections but footing less difficult.Sturdy footwear and a good level of fitness required". We can usually tackle hard tracks, so we thought the Medium would be easy, but it really wasn't. Apparently, people rock climb in the Cathedral Range! There are some very impressive photos floating around the internet.

Armed with our ignorance, we proceeded to the top of Ned's Peak with much difficulty. It involved some minor rock climbing, but it was so rewarding once we got to the peak. 
Totally wrecked just getting up to Ned's Saddle.
We still have the Peak to get up to

And this is how I capture nature

Nearly at the peak, the path is strewn with rocks
My sister looking snazzy at the top of Ned's Peak

Finally at the peak! Beautiful rock formations

Once we had half a Power Bar at the top, we started our descent. And what a descent it was! Anyone who's said they've had a Walk to Remember has not walked this walk before! While our ascent up to the Peak was clearly marked, our descent wasn't, and we lost the path and veered off track. (It wasn't just us, two other male hikers got lost too, but didn't seem too fazed and proceeded to trudge happily down a 40-50 degree incline in a straight line).

There is really nothing scarier than being afraid of heights, and being lost on a mountain peak, trying to descend.

After meandering around for about 25 minutes, gripping hard onto any surface I could find be it tree, rock or just plain mud, my sister finally got us to the trail! Hooray for her orienteering skills and her Iphone! (She strongly recommends the Avenza app if you're planning on going hiking, total lifesaver today. It's a database of PDF maps from Parks Victoria, but with GPS tracking).

On the bright side, I conquered my fear of heights for the day at least, and the rest of the descent on track was a piece of cake, even though I was concerned earlier in the day about the steepness.

More arrows were definitely needed on the descent from Ned's Peak

This gushing creek though calmed us from our adventure at the end

So, that was what I got up to on my Monday. If anyone's interested, you can go rock climbing, abseiling or walking at the Cathedral Range State Park. It's beautiful, and if I wasn't so petrified of heights, I'd love to go rock climbing too. It's a good challenge, for anyone with a decent level of fitness (as a guide, both my sister and I are runners, and we were both puffed out by by the time we got to the peak).

Have you been to the Cathedral Range? Are you afraid of heights like yours truly? 


  1. Hi Hui,

    Great write up, thanks for also recommending the app~.
    Good addition to have.

  2. Thanks, it's a beautiful park and well worth the visit.

  3. On 01.12.13 I walked the Northen Circuit
    (Starting @ Cooks Mill Camp Site) went to ,North Jaw Bone Peak,Cathedral Peak,Little Cathedral Peak-Neds Peak and returned via Neds saddle and Little River Tk) to Cooks Mill

    17 km hike...absolutely amazing...

    I will try your route next time I go.....I saw the track leading up to Cathedral Peak before going up to Neds Peak very keen to try it again.

    1. Cathedral Range is certainly one of the best parks I've been to for hiking. When my knee recovers, I will attempt your route, sounds like it will take me all day though to conquer all three peaks.

    2. You will love "North Jawbone Peak" and "Little Cathedral Peak"....but I recommend you start from 'Cooks Mill camping ground" and walk up St Bernards Track/Jawbone Creek Track"...this will take you to the "North Jawbone Peak" junction...on your descent from the can continue walking along "Jawbone Creek Track" which will take you to Ridge Tk (Cathedral Peak) & then you can descend to Little Cathedral peak via this same track by following all the orange markers"...

      I found this way to be less stressful on the joints & it's really well marked ...just follow those orange markers.

    3. Ta, I'll map it all out too before we leave so that I know exactly which routes to take. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. I can understand why you felt wrecked when you got to the top of 'Neds saddle' as descending wasn't exactly easy on the joints and feet.

    I plan to walk up to Cathedral peak where you show your first photo (as I descended to Little Cathedral peak via Cathedral Circuit and then came into Neds Saddle Junction via little cathedral track (which is the main returning track from little Cathedral Peak)

    1. I definitely find downhill much tougher than uphill. When are you doing your walk? I think we'll do all three peaks the next time we go, but I'm not sure when we'll revisit, so many parks so little time!

    2. I will be doing the "Southern Circuit" this weekend and will revisit to do the alternate "Northen Circuit" after Dec 13th as "Little River Rd" is closed between 03rd Dec - 13th Dec due to bridge upgrades.

      I too find dowhill's puts a lot more stress on the feet and knees.

      I know what you mean about time wise...I've being doing a different hike every weekend for the last year and I don't finish one when I've already got another one lined up..

    3. Nice, let me know how you go, love to hear about your walk experience. If you have any suggestions for walks in different parks, we're open to suggestions too.

  5. Sorry I meant to say "5th" photo...

  6. I did the Southern Circuit today (07.12.13).
    Having parked at "Sugarloaf Camp Site" which can be accessed via Maroondah Hwy (B360) and turning right into C308 then turning left into Mt Margaret Rd, follow this until it turns into Cerberus Rd which becomes a dirt road...the road was quite rough and best negotiated with an Awd/4wd (consider renting a car for the day).

    My track started by taking the Canyon Track (There is a turn off to go via Wells Cave Track but I gave this track the flick as it’s recommended to do in a group as opposed to alone (which is how I was) and not geared for heavy/large backpacks (which I had).
    I saw some teenage boys giving it a go but they were passing up each other’s backpacks and even they seemed to struggle and referred to it as more of a "rock climbing course" then a rock scrambling course.

    Once I reached Sugarloaf Peak *900+ metres*...I kept walking along the R\razorback ridge track stages had very high drops which got the adrenalin rushing"….

    The ridge did start to flatten out eventually and it descended into "Farmyard campsite"...

    From here I took the short 15 min walk up to "South Jawbone Peak"...great views and you can appreciate "North Jawbone Peak" from the same spot.
    I then descended down to Jawbone Creek Track and made my way back to the car up the 4.5 KM uphill "Cerberus rd."

    I found the Southern end of Cathedral Ranges to be a lot more technical with a some very high rock faces to climb and negotiate (scramble) as opposed to the Northern Circuit which felt a lot safer.

    If you want to tackle the southern section of this park…please don't attempt it on your own…go in a group of 3 or more ...don't do it on a day of bad weather as wind/rain will make the rocks very very slippery ...and don't attempt it if you have a fear of heights as there are some very scary drops to consider if something goes wrong.

    I hope I’ve not put you off…just sharing my experience.

    I followed the advice from the link below and it was spot on!

  7. I will add though...the trail itself is very well marked with a lot of orange markers along the getting lost should be minimal...on a couple of sections I had to stick my head around the corner to find the trailing arrow but otherwise........I had no issues finding the tracks ....

    there were no overgrown sections....

    I do recommend to wear pants and long sleeve shirt/top as there are some rather nasty weeds/bush with very sharp/pointy ends (I'm glad I did otherwise I'd have some rather nasty scratches by now).

  8. Hi Hui,

    Have you gone back to Cathedral ranges lately ?

  9. Hi Hui,

    Have you gone back to Cathedral ranges lately ?