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Monday, June 30, 2008

Condon's Track (Healesville) - Southern Sector

Condon's Track is a 6.5 km walking route in the Yarra Ranges National Park, within the Maroondah Catchment area, 60 km east of Melbourne.

It links Donnelley's Weir Rd with Monda Rd, an increase in altitude of about 800 m.

The southern section of the Track is along Melbourne Water's Road 17, one of several forest management roads in the catchment area on which walkers are permitted.

The Track goes over the Maroondah Aqueduct "Echo Tunnel", and crosses Sawpit Creek, through old logging forest. Large stumps are along the track, with horizontal saw cuts still visible.

I walked 8.4 km (return) of this Track on June 29, 2008, along Road 17, starting at the junction with Donnelley's Weir Rd (116 m altitude), with a turnaround at the point where the track leaves Road 17 (altitude 357 m). Here, the track deteriorates and ascends very steeply up the flank of Mt Monda, eventually reaching Monda Rd (altitude 917 m).

I did not have time to complete the full ascent - it was starting to rain, visibility was low, and not much fun in those conditions!

I passed a family group of four, who had been to the top and were returning.

Ths history of the region is interesting. Construction of the Maroondah Reservoir started in 1891, and was completed in 1927. Logging was widespread in the forest until the Reservoir and Aqueducts were opened. Many of the former logging tracks were taken over by the Board of Works (now Melbourne Water), and walker access was prohibited.

The Aqueduct through Echo Tunnel opens into Sawpit Weir, decommissioned in 1988.

In 1929, visitor facilities were built in what was known as "Condon's Gully Picnic Stop", above "Condon's Gully Track", and it was said that access was by horse and coach from Healesville.

There are references to remains of these facilities existing in the early 1980s, but the exact location is unknown.

It is unclear as to whether early references to "Condon's Creek" refer to what is now known as Sawpit Creek.

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