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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Exploring Yarra Brae - Warrandyte State Park

On Wednesday March 4, 2009, I visited the remote Yarra Brae Section of the Warrandyte State Park, 20 km east of the Melbourne CBD. I completed a 7 km return hike along the gated Market Garden and Lucerne Paddock Tracks, both being fire management tracks, starting and finishing at the Clifford Activity Centre, reached from Clifford Drive, off Jumping Creek Rd.

The State government purchased the Stane Brae and Yarra Brae river frontages in 1982 and both parcels of land were incorporated into the park in 1987.

This is one of the best long walks in the Park, with excellent views easterly over the Yarra Gorge towards the Yarra Ranges and the Mt Lofty section of the Park.

Market Garden Track starts at the Clifford Activity Centre. Just north of signed Scout Track is a short side-track leading up to a large cleared space on a hilltop - there are good views from here to the Kinglake Ranges and hills around Kangaroo Ground, and across neighbouring farms, grazing properties, and equestrian centres.

Market Garden Track then descends to a large clearing next to the Yarra River, believed to be the site of an early farm. This is a Water Point for fire management puerposes. Immediately opposite this point is the small municipality "Bend of Islands", an Environmental Living Zone.
From this spot, a gate marks the start of unsigned Lucerne Paddock Track, which follows the river, until another large cleared area is reached. This is another Water Point for fire protection purposes.

From here, it is a 3 km trudge back to the start, mindful that there is an increase in altitude fromn 50 m to 130 m!

Market Garden and Lucerne Paddock Tks form the "Bridle Trail", popular with horseriders.

Yarra Brae was one of the original grazing properties, acquired by the Hon. L. Clifford in 1940. After being a war-time army training area, Clifford made it available for Australia's first Pan Pacific Scout Jamboree in 1948.

Clifford Park, now owned and managed by Scouting Victoria, also hosted jamborees during the 1950s and is available for conferences, meetings, conventions, school groups, education and activity-based camps.

In 1972 Yarra Brae was the site of a proposed lower Yarra River reservoir, but residents of Bend of Isles persuaded the Victorian Government to abandon the proposal. The allied Sugarloaf Reservoir at Christmas Hills went ahead.

The Tracks are shared with walkers and horseriders, and are steep and rocky in parts. During summer, it can be fiercely hot and dry, and caution is advised.

I have also included a photo taken in 1942 which showed "Yarra Brae Homestead" and outbuildings as they existed at the time. The Homestead is still there, located on the top of the hill, originally reached from a sealed access road, now closed off, which can be seen leading off from Market Garden Track.

See the full set of Photos of this trip!

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