Big Pats Creek / Starlings Gap / ADA Tree / Powelltown
Length: 33 Kilometres
Time: 2 Days (one way)
Grade: Mostly east, some difficult sections
Track: Variable track including encoraching vegetation, slippery logs and creek crossings
The Walk into History follows some well preserved sections of the historic timber tramlines, past old mills and other relics of the early timber industry. Several creek crossings are required and a map of the area is essential. Due to the steepness of the High Lead section, the easiest way to do the walk is from Big Pats Creek down to Powelltown. The walk can be done in sections as detailed below.
A) Big Pats Picnic Area to Starlings Gap – 9km, 3.5 hrs
Bush workers used to walk this section of the track on a Sunday evening to be ready to begin work early Monday morning. On a Saturday afternoon however, some workers were known to have run the 9km distance back to Big Pats Creek in time to make the weekly football match. Two sawdust heaps are all that remains to indicate the sites of the bush mills along this section. The first marks the site of Ezards Sawmill, the second near Starlings Gap operated here until 1942. Starlings Gap provides a good place to rest, explore or even camp overnight before beginning the next section. When at Starlings Gap take a few minutes to visit the old winch and boiler located on a level track 200m past the toilet block.
B) Starlings Gap to Ada No.2 Mill – 8km, 3 hrs
The journey to the Ada No2 Mill takes walkers through the Ada River Valley. In the first 2km of this walk alone, nine trestle bridges were required to move timber from the mill to Starlings Gap. 7.5km into this section visitors reach the tramway junction known as the ‘crossroads’. From this intersection you can head north to the New Ada Mill (2.8km return), or east to the New Federal Mill (4.3km return) and Ada Tree (5.7km return) or continue the walk south to the Ada No.2 Mill.
C) Ada No.2 Mill to High Lead Carpark – 5.5km, 2.5 hrs
This section leads visitors through forest that has seen the effects of both the Black Friday fires of 1939 and more recently the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983. The High Lead marks the start of the most difficult section of the walk. The track drops 415 metres in 1600 metres, a grade of almost 1 in 4.
D) High Lead Carpark to Powelltown Picnic Area – 10.5km, 3 hrs
The track follows the Latrobe River, crossing it numerous times before arriving at ‘The Bump’, the divide between the Little Yarra and Latrobe Rivers. This site is also known for ‘The Bump Tunnel’, an historic railway tunnel constructed in 1925. Spanning 313 metres in length, the tunnel was constructed to avoid winching up the existing steep inclines. Evidence of the tunnel can be seen along the walk. Here the track leaves the Latrobe and joins the Little Yarra River, where it makes its way back to Powelltown.
The number of sections per day depends on experience and fitness. Please obtain further information from DELWP office, Powelltown. Map: The Ada River, Spion Kopje and Gladysdale sheets in the 1:25 000 VICMAP series cover this walk.