Goody, goody, gum, gum. Yep, it’s the Goodies tune stuck in my head as I whip around the unexpected trail goodness to be found in Yellow Gum Park, on the north east fringe of Melbourne’s suburbia. But I could be in the wilderness, really, as I drop down (twice) into Lower Plenty Gorge, dip over two creeks and generally have a blast on mostly singletrack, with the odd glimpse of a Melbourne skyline reminding me that, while I can see it, I’m a world away from the concrete canyons, and enjoying a run through some dirty (albeit mini) ones.
This guide is great for those looking to enter the Salomon Trail Run Series, the route roughly the same as the course for Race #2 happening on 29 July.
Check out a course preview video below.
NAME OF TRAIL RUN: Yellow Belly Blast / Race 2 of the Salomon Trail Run Series
NEARBY SUBURB: Plenty (3.5km); Diamond Creek (8km)
DISTANCE FROM CBD: 30km in kilometres
EXACT LOCATION: Yellow Gum Park, Goldsworthy Lane, Plenty
TOTAL ROUTE DISTANCE: 11.5km
TYPE OF TRAIL RUN: Loop run
DIFFICULTY: easy to moderate
DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS: sweeping single track, creek crossings, gun stands, gorge lookouts
ONLINE REFERENCE: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/plenty-gorge-parklands
BEST MAP/S: Parks Victoria. Note that many trails are not on available maps. This one’s a bit of an adventure run, but very hard to get lost.
Set off into the bushland following a wide double track that drops to the left of the toilet block. Keep holding to the left trail and you’ll drop into a small gully. That incline directly ahead? Yes, run up it following the fence line and admire the views at the grassland apex. Reaching the end of the fence, hook left, following a weaving trail though a stand of gums. You’ll come back to the fence line and the trail peters a little just as you hit a valley. Keep going, dropping down the gully and back up the other side where the trail becomes better padded, and on up to a wooded ridge.
Hook right onto the main trail. Pick up the pace as you weave and hop over log and stone obstacles until on your right you see, through the trees, a track darting up a vertiginous hill. That’s you. Drop down and then up it, pumping until you hit a trail at the top. Turn left on a double track until it hits what looks like a dead end. Time for fun. Scoot down the trail to your left, duck the branch, and hold on as you plummet down into the first of two creek crossings.
There are no signs on this course at all, so you will have to use your sense a little when it comes to which track to choose. Although, you’re bounded on every side by unseen suburb, so you can’t get lost. Use the course of the gorge to orientate yourself.
After the first water crossing, head left along the riverbank – the trail will eventually take you uphill. Follow it but keep heading left at each juncture, staying on main trails.
The path will weave to the right and through a tight stand of tee-trees. Follow the trail until you closer again to the riverbank and a big old yellow bridge. Here you’ll come out on a wide ‘runway’ – a cleared road that tests your legs uphill. Once you hit the corner of the new housing estate, turn right back into the park proper on a double track road. Stay on it veering left, down a gully, back up. At a T-intersection, take a right and very quickly look to your left – you’ll find a small trail following the contour of gorge arm. It’s a sweet trail that takes you on a ‘U’ back over the other side, and along, where you will hit a main trail again. There is another similar loop of straight ahead, or you can turn left for a big rock descent into the second creek crossing.
Up the other side, you have a climb before following singletrack along the highline of the gorge – great views all along here, until eventually you come out at a small quarry dam. You can veer steeply uphill back to the carpark, or loop the lake and climb up the opposite side of the hill that hosts the toilets, picnic area and your car.
POST RUN GOODNESS: Nearby Diamond Creek is the closest town for any kind of post run nosh or caffeine hit. The Vine Cafe gets a decent wrap, Piccalo Meccanico gets the nod for good coffee (most of the time, assuming the A-team Barista is on) and Degani’s Bakery always a safe and satisfying option. All are located on Chute St/Main Street, Diamond Creek.
Salomon Trail Run Series holds it Race Two on this patch: www.salomontrailseries.com.au