Cultural Heritage

The Lerderderg Gorge and State Park is rich in Culture and Heritage. The Gorge has been created over thousands of years by the Lerderderg River, which rises on the Great Dividing Range and runs centrally through the park. This significance area also covers the Pyrete Range block of the State Park.

Significance Area

Significance Area

The Lerderderg River is one of Victoria’s eighteen Heritage Rivers and the only one of the six major rivers rising in the Wombat Forest with significance area designation. Heritage rivers are protected under the Heritage Rivers Act 1992 (Vic) for their high conservation, recreation or cultural values.

Wurundjeri and Wathaurong people

Indigenous Culture

This area is the traditional country of the Wurundjeri and Wathaurong people to whom it holds social, cultural and spiritual significance. The waterbodies, distinctive natural features and places of ecological value within this area are likely to have high Aboriginal cultural heritage sensitivity.

Composition of Views and Landscape

Composition of Views and Landscape

The close proximity of DARLEY to the Lerderderg State Park creates a highly scenic viewing opportunity. The foreground is composed of a sweeping panorama of folding dark green hills, blanketed in vegetation. These hills can be seen to disappear in the distance as Uplands give way to the flat volcanic plain.

National Trust and Land Conservation Council

National Trust and Land Conservation Council

The Lerderderg River is listed as a Heritage River under the Heritage Rivers Act 1992, and is listed as a Representative River due to geological features. The Park is listed as State significant by the National Trust due to the high scenic value of its riverine and gorge landscape.

Heritage and History

European occupation of the area commenced during the 1830s when squatters took up large pastoral runs around Bacchus Marsh. Gold was first discovered at what is now the township of Blackwood, in 1851. The area was rich in alluvial gold and large nuggets were found chiefly in the bed of the Lerderderg River and its tributaries in what is now the Wombat State Forest and Lerderderg State Park.

Miners sank small holes and used sluice boxes, pumps and water wheels. Later, water races were cut to provide water to sluice finds on the flats, gullies and hillsides. A tunnel was cut through a spur to divert the Lerderderg River and enable mining along a 500m section of the dry riverbed. Quartz mining followed and many deep shafts were sunk. Ore was treated using steam and water powered crushers. These mines peaked by the 1890s, with little mining after 1910. Relics of goldmining can be found throughout the state forest and the park in the form of water races (many of these races now form the routes for walking trails), eroded gullies, mine shafts, the diversion tunnel, mullock heaps, and remains of stone dwellings and stone walls.

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