Paddy’s Ranges State Park is a small gem tucked away in the heart of the Victorian Goldfields. The park owes its name to an Irish miner by the name of Paddy who lived in the area in the 1800s.
This feature was originally published in 4x4 Australia’s August 2012 issue
Today, it is a great place for a family getaway with plenty of walking tracks to explore and goldmining relics to discover.
Bush camping is the only option for accommodation and the signs along the Karri Track make it easy to find the large campground. The flat, grassy area is a camper’s dream but beware the prodigious march flies and mosquitos which attacked us as soon as we stepped out of the 4X4. Five-year-old Chantelle was given the job of chasing the little critters away, with the $2 fly-swatter we’d brought coming in very handy.
Facilities are limited to a long-drop toilet and a small rainwater tank but camping is free. The site is ideal for kids as it has heaps of space to play or ride a bike without annoying your next-door neighbours.
The short, well-signposted drive to the Settling Ponds picnic area is a must-do. Here you’ll find tables, a toilet and wood barbecues, although you must bring your own firewood. A walking track winds through the forest and information boards along the route provide interesting details about the history of the park.
The diggers’ holes tell of a long-gone era. Back in the 1800s, more than 25,000 people flocked to these goldfields to try their luck. In its heyday, the gold escort took out more than 8000 ounces of gold a week. The kids had a closer look at the holes but gold was nowhere to be found.
If you’re keen to fossick, there are designated areas within the park where you are allowed to prospect. You’ll need to buy a Miner’s Right and obtain a map at the Coiltek Gold Centre in Maryborough (www.coiltek.com.au).
At the end of the track, the old dam is a reminder of the eucalyptus oil distillery that worked here in the early 1900s. The oil was made by steaming the leaves in a large vat, then condensing the vapour and drawing the oil from the resultant liquid.
From the picnic area it is a quick trip to the Ballarat-Maryborough Road and the Goldfields Reservoir is just down the road on the right. The reservoir was built in 1862 as a water supply for Maryborough but today it is used for recreation. It is also a beautiful spot for a picnic lunch.
Maryborough’s heritage buildings are testament to the town’s rich past. The impressive post office was built in 1877 in typical Victorian style, while Maryborough railway station dates back to the 1890s and now houses the Antique Emporium.
Up on Bristol Hill, the Pioneer Memorial Tower stands 905m above sea level and is a fantastic place from which to watch a sunset. From here it’s an easy 5km drive back to the campground.
We enjoyed four wonderful days in Paddy’s Ranges. We were treated to beautiful weather, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and had lots of fun. We didn’t find any gold but the memories made are much more precious.
Paddy’s Ranges State Park is 170km north-west of Melbourne, just south of the town of Maryborough.
Karri Track camping area has toilets and fireplaces. No fees apply.
WHAT TO BRING
Take along your bush shower and bring drinking water. Fuel and groceries are available in Maryborough.
MAPS AND GUIDES
Paddys Ranges State Park Visitor Guide. Contact Parks Victoria on 13 19 63 or visit www.parkweb.vic.gov.au.
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