What’s special

This park centres on the great gorge cut by the Lerderderg River, which rises in the Great Dividing Range. It has a wide variety of habitat and wildlife, and some goldmining relics. The park varies from popular picnic areas to isolated bush.

Best time to visit

Any time, but avoid total fire ban days during summer. Late winter and spring are the best times to see the spectacular display of wildflowers. After heavy rain you may not be able to cross the Lerderderg River.

What to do

It is a great place for bushwalking, from easy strolls to overnight hikes. There are some swimming areas and 4WD tracks. You can picnic at Mackenzies Flat Picnic Area, which offers the chance of a swim and has a toilet. You can also picnic at Shaws Lake. O’Briens Crossing has camping, and toilets are available, but you must be self-sufficient. Bushwalks range from 1 hour to overnight walks.


An all-terrain wheelchair called a TrailRider is available for park visitors. Contact the Moorabool Shire Council on (03) 5366 710. Normal wheelchairs can access Mackenzies Flat (with assistance).


The park is north of Bacchus Marsh between Blackwood and Gisborne. You can reach Mckenzies Flat via the Lerderderg Gorge Road north of Bacchus Marsh; for O’Briens Crossing, enter via O’Briens Road running across the north of the park (south of Blackwood).


Camping is available at O’Briens Crossing. Commercial accommodation is available at Blackwood (closer to the north part of the park) or Bacchus Marsh (closer to the south part of the park).

About the park

In the mid-1800s gold was discovered and mined in the area now covered by the Lerderderg State Park. There are still plenty of signs of this early activity. One tunnel is beside the main walking track from Blackwood. The other is the Lerderderg River diversion tunnel, known as The Tunnel, located on the Lerderderg River. Here the river flows around a spur in a horseshoe bend. The tunnel was driven through the spur diverting the river and allowing the exposed river bed to be sluiced for alluvial gold. The tunnel was dug during the Victorian gold rush, most likely between 1855 and 1870.

A number of sites have been impacted by Phytophthora cinnamomi, a microscopic soil-borne pathogen that attacks and destroys plant root systems, causing plants to die through lack of water and nutrients.

Many exotic plant species have been recorded in the park. Weeds of most concern are gorse, bridal creeper and blackberry. Serrated tussock is a great potential threat. Rabbits, goats, foxes, feral cats and dogs, introduced birds and European wasps have been recorded in the park.

Natural history

The Lerderderg Gorge cuts through sandstone and slate on its course southwards to the plains near Bacchus Marsh. It is the dominant feature of the 20,180 hectare park.

The vegetation changes from north to south according to the rainfall gradient. Dry stringybark-box forests lie near the mouth of the gorge, box-ironbark woodlands line the high ridges of the southern section before giving way to taller, damper messmate and peppermint-gum forests along the northern boundary of the park. The river flats support blue gums and manna gums, while grevilleas, wattles and hakeas cover the cliffs.

There is a haven for koalas in the manna gums. Eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies and echidnas are also about during the day. Nocturnal animals include the greater glider, mountain brushtail possum and bent-wing bat.

There are wonderful birdwatching opportunities. Sulphur-crested cockatoos nest in the gorge and fly out to feed in the open grasslands. The area’s most spectacular predator, the wedge-tailed eagle, nests in tall trees in gullies.

Other birds to be seen are white-naped honeyeaters, white-throated tree creepers and crimson rosellas. Gang-gang cockatoos can be located by the noise they make when cracking gumnuts. The park’s rich birdlife includes parrots, honeyeaters and the famous superb lyrebird. Many of these birds can be seen around picnic areas. The ranges are also home to large forest owls such as the powerful owl, Australia’s largest.

Friends groups

Friends of the Lerderderg
Friends of Lerderderg