Chiltern Box-Ironbark National Park
Chiltern Box-Ironbark National Park, established in 1997, contains species of box-ironbark forest that once covered much of north-east Victoria. The park protects rare wildlife and contains several historic goldmining sites. Short or day-long walks can be made on vehicle tracks through open forest and a 25km historic drive is marked from Chiltern through the forest and goldfields.
Things to Do
Drive through the forest to Donkey Hill Lookout then on to the original Indigo goldfields cemetery - about an hour and a half's round trip.
Visit the open-cut Magenta Mine which produced up to 13,000 ounces of gold between 1860 and about 1910. Horse-drawn drays carted away the rock for crushing in the nearby battery. A kilometre away is the site of a battery run by the Victorian Government in an effort to revive gold mining during the 1930s depression.
Take a self-guided tour around Chiltern. This tour takes in Dow's Pharmacy, which ran its business on the site for more than 100 years, an old smithy, the Atheneum library-museum, the Star Theatre, the Grapevine Hotel (named to honour the largest grapevine listed in Australia) and Lakeview, one of the childhood homes of Henry Handel Richardson, the author of 'The Fortunes of Richard Mahony'.
Enjoy easy walking as you follow the numbered pamphlet describing natural and historical features of the park along the 8.5km White Box Walking Track.
Cycle on forest tracks at Donkey Hill in the west, Frogs Hollow and Magenta Mine and at Cyanide Dam.
Picnic facilities are available.
There are no campsites in the park, but there are caravan and camping parks, and a motel in Chiltern.
When pastoralists drove their cattle overland in the 1830s they found widespread forests of box and ironbark. Trees were felled for fencing and firewood and later many more disappeared to shore up mine shafts. The original forest of large, well-spaced trees and grassy floor has been reduced to closely-growing stands. Many have developed as coppice growth from older stumps. Chiltern, originally called Black Dog Creek, was established in 1854 after pastoralists settled in the area.
The park is the habitat of several rare or threatened species - the Regent Honeyeater, Turquoise Parrot, Peregrine Falcon, the Brush-tailed phascogale and Squirrel Glider. Winter and spring, when the ironbarks are in bloom, is the best time to see the birds. More than 150 bird species have been recorded in the area. Eastern Grey Kangaroos are often seen grazing in the late afternoon and smaller tree-dwelling creatures - Feathertail and Sugar Gliders, Brushtail and Ring-tail Possums live in tree hollows in the southern areas.
The hilly north-western block is open eucalyptus forest, with Red Stringybark and Blakeley's Red Gum among Grey Box and Ironbark. Prolific spring wildflowers include wattles, orchids, bush peas and Cassinia. Across the highway the forest covering the ridges and spurs of the south-eastern block is similar but with more diverse trees and plants, including White Box.
Keep on established tracks when walking, as abandoned mine shafts can be a hazard.
Chiltern area can experience extremely hot weather in summer which can make sightseeing unpleasant.
Some sites visited on historic drives may not be easily accessible to people with limited mobility.
How to Get There
Chiltern Box-Ironbark National Park is 275 km north-east of Melbourne, beyond Wangaratta. Follow the Hume Freeway to the Chiltern turn-off. The park is cut in two by the Hume Freeway and Melbourne-Albury railway line.
2. Canoeing / Kayaking
4. Four Wheel Drive Tours
5. Mountain Bike Riding