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Monday, December 22, 2008

Sawpit Creek - Condon's Track, Healesville

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

I walked some of this Track on December 21, 2008, along Road 17, starting at the junction with Donnelley's Weir Rd (116 m altitude) and passing Sawpit Creek.

I then walked up the Maroondah Reservoir Track to the junction with Henderson Hill Track, with nice views to Mt Riddell, a total distance of about 4 km on a very hot day!

The 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.
Sawpit Weir was decommissioned in 1988.

In 1929, visitor facilities were built in what was known as "Condon's Gully Picnic Stop", described as "just off Condon's Gully Track", and it was said that access was by horse and coach from Healesville. This may be next to the Sawpit Weir, in the area where large pine trees now grow.

There are references to remains of these facilities existing in the early 1970s, but the exact location is unknown.

There is confusion with the old names "Condon's Gully Track" and "Condon's Track". It is posssible that these were one and the same!

Condon's Creek, and the Condon's Creek Gully, are further to the east. The prohibited-access section of Road 17 appears to be the original track to the Gully. East of Condon's Gully is the Meethinna Creek and Meethinna Falls. Road 17 is believed to be the original access to the Falls.

Images of the period 1880 to the early 1900s show the beautiful Falls, but historical references indicate that by 1915, walking access had become difficult, due to the tracks becoming overgrown by forest growth, and not being maintained. There has been no public access permitted to the Falls since about 1939.

It is generally known that the Maroondah Reservoir was formed by damming the Watts River. Condon's Creek and Matthinna Creek formerly entered the Watts River, at the base of Mt Monda. These creeks now flow into the Reservoir.

See the full set of Photos of my trip

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great walk. I'm trying to find info about walking in the area as I'll be staying in Healesville at the end of November. (Actually, I want to walk around the reservoir, but I can't seem to find much access information - do you happen to know if it would be possible to do a route like this?)