Cathedral Range State Park Southern Circuit - Kids Day Walk

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Cathedral Range State Park Southern Circuit - Kids Day Walk

Postby akl168 » Mon 19 May, 2014 7:19 pm

I'm all for the trees, honestly, but I often enjoy leaving the tree line and scampering up among the peaks and ridges. Having done a few day walks to the Jawbones, we decided to take advantage of the unusually warm weather to complete the so-called Southern Circuit. This is walk #33 in the Chapman/Siseman Day Walks Melbourne guidebook.

An easy drive from the Melbourne area found us shortly at the Sugarloaf Saddle parking area. We couldn't have picked a better day for a walk, it was warm, clear blue sky, and the humidity was low. After a brief walk up the Canyon Track, we were at the "entrance exam" of this circuit. Although there is quite a bit of exposure on the right hand side, and typically with sandstone and the good holds start getting polished from traffic. However, if you have a good head for heights or are able to control your fears, you can make it up easily. I followed my 11 year old up first and he was quickly up to the flat spot where the trail marker was. He waited there while I scampered down, so I could scramble up with my 9 year old. I pointed out all the good footholds to him and he was quickly up too. My wife followed up right behind us.

Up.The.Canyon.JPG
Upwards and onwards!

Once at the top, we followed the clearly marked orange blazes and headed north towards the Farmyard Campground on the Razorback. The "entrance exam" wasn't the end of the difficulties, if one could call them that. After making the summit of Mt Sugarloaf, a handful of tricky descents presented themselves. These descents were no more than 5 to 10 feet, and could be easily down-climbed, or dispensed with the more "inelegant" sit on butt and scoot down method. For a party of adults, these small descents would have been no problems, but with kids you'll have to pay extra attention. With an adult at the bottom spotting the kids, we had no issues at all here. There was one descend where there wasn't a wide flat ledge at the bottom, so just be aware and keep your wits about.

What.A.View.JPG
The view is magnificent from the ridge!

There were certain ledges too where although it was a easy, flat walk or no more than perhaps 10 meters, there was also a biggish drop right next to the ledge. All the while we were also hopping from rock to rock, till we were perhaps 1 km from the Farmyard, where we finally hit a flat trail. My kids remarked that it felt weird finally walking on a flat dirt trail! With all the scampering around, the first 1.5 km took us almost 2 hours! We did stop quite a bit to take in the amazing views, and to take countless photos. We could see the entire range curving in front us, and that was very inspiring.

We got to the Farmyard at around 1130, where we had some lunch. Although Parks Vic's Farmyard page clearly states that there are no fires allowed at the Farmyard, every time I'm up here, there have been signs of a recent campfire. Granted it was warm in the sun, once we were at the Farmyard shaded from the sun, it was a little chilly. So perhaps I was glad the ashes were still a little warm. We didn't spot any Lyrebirds this time around, perhaps we were too noisy chowing down on our lunch. All too soon, it was time to head down the knee buckling steep steps to the Jawbone Car Park.

Rocky.Rugged.JPG
A rocky and rugged trail.

Once we were down to the Jawbone Car Park, we just had to trudge back up to our car, at the Sugarloaf Car Park. Up, being the operative word here. The campground at the Farmyard, is actually just a little bit higher than the Sugarloaf Car Park. It was a long, long, trudge back to the cold drinks stashed away in the car's boot. The kids were getting tired by now, but walking up on the well graded Cerberus Road did make things a little easier. We got back to the car after 4.5 hours.

As I've mentioned in this post, I have picked up a lot of information from this great forum, and I feel it's time I put something back in. Hopefully other parents with kids in the similar age bracket, who are wondering what's out there, can get something useful out of these posts. I am a bit torn up here, the tricky bits of this walk can have severe results. I have been climbing since the 90s and have taken my kids out climbing quite a bit, so they're used to being on rock. But this walk was so much fun, I cannot give it anything but two thumbs up. Even my two kids, who normally forget about the walk the moment we're back in the car, are raving about this walk - 3 days later! If you have an adventurous family, comfortable with scrambling, in good shape, give this great and exciting walk some consideration.
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Re: Cathedral Range State Park Southern Circuit - Kids Day W

Postby walkon » Mon 19 May, 2014 10:23 pm

Sugar loaf is great for kids or anyone really, always love to take new people there. A Walk across the top is good for ankle strengthening for sure
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Re: Cathedral Range State Park Southern Circuit - Kids Day W

Postby sim1oz » Mon 26 May, 2014 9:56 pm

Thanks for sharing. I've never been to Cathedral Ranges despite driving past it heaps of times. It's been on my list for ages but I wasn't sure if my kids could do it. Since they are the same age as yours, I think we'll give it a go! Was there water in the creek when you went back down to Jawbone car park?
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Re: Cathedral Range State Park Southern Circuit - Kids Day W

Postby akl168 » Tue 27 May, 2014 6:51 am

sim1oz,

As you walk down the giant stairmaster from the Farmyard, you'll go by this slimy green trickle, which I believe is marked as a water collection point on the map. I'd have to be moments away from dying of dehydration before I'd drink from this!

However, the creek (Maclennans Gully?) that's near the Jawbone car park was flowing quite well when we were up there two weekends ago.
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Re: Cathedral Range State Park Southern Circuit - Kids Day W

Postby sim1oz » Thu 19 Jun, 2014 7:28 pm

Guess I'll have to carry two days of water. Slimy green trickle is not my cup of tea :lol:
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Re: Cathedral Range State Park Southern Circuit - Kids Day W

Postby ianslater » Sun 17 Aug, 2014 1:47 pm

gr8 post akl168, i went last year for my 1st trip to cathedral rge and i certainly hope it's not my last. like you i just did the southern loop. i heartily concur with your findings, it's a little gem. it doesn't take too long but it certainly gets your attention. the rock scramble up, the magnificent view, the both hands holding on nature of the 1st section on top. i walk a lot in the high country closer to home , much bigger distances and landscapes . cathedral rge seems to be over in a blink but i rate it very highly. cheers from ian.
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Re: Cathedral Range State Park Southern Circuit - Kids Day W

Postby AZR » Thu 27 Nov, 2014 1:23 pm

Great post (only just seen it now). I have an 11yr old and 13yr old and was thinking about doing this walk with them this summer, so the info is really helpful. We started off doing this walk about 3 yrs ago when we were camping up there, but I decided to pull the pin after the rocky climb in the initial section got almost vertical. They were happy to keep going at that time but I thought the better of it. Now they're that bit older I'm sure they'd be fine based on your info.
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