Cathedral Ranges Southern Circuit

cathedral ranges southern circuit

If you have ever wondered where the best place in Victoria to go for a day hike is, you can’t go past the Cathedral Ranges.

More specifically, the Cathedral Ranges Southern Circuit is a must-do for any hiking enthusiast.

Located in Taggerty, some 120 kilometres from Melbourne, the Cathedral Ranges is home to some of the most spectacular views and terrain you will encounter here in Victoria.

Having done the Northern Circuit already, I finally got around to hiking the Southern Circuit.

Often considered the more challenging of the two, it didn’t take long to work out why.

Starting from the popular Cooks Mill campsite, we started hiking up the almost never-ending Messmate Track.

cathedral ranges southern circuit

Now, I like smashing out hills as much as the next person, but this section of the hike hit me like a brick wall.

There are very few flat sections and 90% of it is uphill to the Sugarloaf Saddle car park.

Once you reach the carpark, take left and shortly afterwards this is where the fun begins – the start of the climb to Sugarloaf Peak (920m).

You have two options to get to the top: via Wells Cave Track or Canyon Track.

On this occasion, we decided to take Wells Cave Track as most people who had done this before seemed to think this was the more exciting way to get to the top.

Exciting might have been an understatement. It was absolutely incredible and sometimes a little scary.

cathedral ranges southern circuit

You are literally climbing ropeless up some sections of rocks where one little slip would mean the end of you.

If there is one recommendation I would make to Parks Victoria for this section it would be to include a few more signs to make it easier to get to the top.

There are times where you will find yourself guessing which way you should go to get to the top.

However, once you are there, the views are nothing short of amazing. Much like its counterpart, the Cathedral Ranges Southern Circuit offers you 360-degree views of surrounding areas such as Marysville, Buxton and parts of Kinglake.

Once at the top, we headed north on the Razorback Track while rock hopping all the way.

Personally, the rock hopping is what I absolutely love about the entire Cathedral Ranges.

There is no path as such but you somehow are able to find your way to where you need to go, and in this case, it was the Farmyard.

The Farmyard is a grassy area that lies exactly in the middle of the Northern and Southern Circuit and is also a place to camp.

From here, we made our way down the rocky steps of the Jawbone Creek Track, up to the Jawbone car park and back to Cooks Mill.

In short, and as mentioned before, this hike is a must-do for any hiking enthusiast.

I will say that if you aren’t too good with heights or aren’t used to rock scrambling, then you might find the Cathedral Ranges Southern Circuit a little confronting.

At least, the Wells Cave Track/Canyon Track section anyway. But, if you are up for a challenge, then this is the track for you.

cathedral ranges southern circuit

Please ensure you have at least 3 litres of water with you when you are doing this circuit or the Northern Circuit.

Apart from an unsigned spring near the Farmyard, there is nowhere to get water from once you are up on the Razorback Track.

As always, if you wish to follow this track and you have WikiLoc, download the file from my account here.

The Stats – Cathedral Ranges Southern Circuit

Length (km): 10.6km (according to WikiLoc)
Time: 4hr 55 mins
Moving Time: 4hr 23 mins
Average Speed: 2.15km/h
Difficulty: Difficult
Maximum Elevation: 963m
Accum. elev. uphill: 611m
Accum. elev. downhill: 611m
Return/Circuit/One Way: Circuit

Leave a Reply