The Cathedral Range rises up from the Acheron Valley about an hour and a half outside Melbourne and provides some excellent walks in rugged bushland. The range is encapsulated in the Cathedral Range State Park and can be reached from Melbourne by following the Maroondah Highway through Buxton. About 9km after passing through Buxton there is a turn-off on the right (east) along Cathedral Lane, a narrow bitumen road; a couple of kilometres further and another right turn (south) takes you into the park along a rather rough gravel road (accessible by 2WD vehicles with care).
This walk takes in the northern section of the park, including the North and South Jawbones and The Cathedral. The walk commences at Neds Gully car park, which is the first car park reached if approaching from Cathedral Lane. Cross the gravel road to a track (Little River Track) that continues south alongside the Little River. This track eventually reaches the extensive Cooks Mill camping area. From here the track continues east up to the Jawbones Carpark, where it descends briefly before climbing steeply to The Farmyard (passing a junction with a sign to the North Jawbone) a pleasant grassed area where camping is permitted. At the Farmyard follow a signed path westwards up to the South Jawbone for excellent views westwards.
From the South Jawbone, descend back to The Farmyard and then retrace your steps towards the Jawbones Carpark and the aforementioned path junction, taking the signed path north to the North Jawbone, shortly thereafter there is another sign pointing eastwards along the short track that leads to the North Jawbone summit – also with good views, but somewhat more obscured by trees and vegetation.
Descend back to the main track and continue northwards. After following the track for another kilometre or so a Y junction is reached and a decision needs to be made. To the right a well formed path descends to Neds Saddle, to the left a track climbs onto the ridge. The ridge trail traverses the rocky ridge and requires a fair bit of scrambling with steep drops to the east; in many places there is no clear path and in wet weather this way could be quite slippery and treacherous. It also provides a challenging walk and magnificent views. If the weather is good and you feel confident with some rock scrambling, take the ridge path, otherwise the path to Neds Saddle provides an easy route back to the start.
The ridge trail continues for about a kilometre or so north to The Cathedral. Once The Cathedral is reached, retrace steps south to a track junction with a path east that drops very steeply into Neds Saddle. From here follow the clear and well made Neds Gully Track back to Neds Gully.
Walk date: Nov 6, 2007
Time/level: 1 day moderate/hard (allow 5 hours or so)
Map: Cathedral Range Outdoor Leisure Map, Parks Victoria Parks Notes (nb: these seem to have disappeared from the Parks Victoria site)
My rating: A