Hepburn Springs - Chocolate Mill
Length: 12km (8km and 6.2km options)
Direction of travel: Clockwise
This is a multi stage walk with some excellent incentives for the committed walker. It's also especially suitable for those staying at Hepburn Springs, as this walk commences at The Hepburn Springs/Bathhouse reserve, so no car required for the day. Consider a spa bath at the conclusion of the walk. Remember- Walk + Spa = Good Times.
The walk heads to the renowned Chocolate Mill, a glorious Belgian Chocolate making establishment on the far side of Hepburn along the Great Dividing Trail. (Open 7 days 10.00am to 4.45pm). En route is Jacksons Lookout, from its tree tops height you'll see the hillside town of Daylesford to the south, the volcanic Mt Kooroocheang to the west, box forest to the east and your next stop, the Manning Farm road plateau to the north. The next part of the walk is quite hilly. (There a couple of shorter walk options from here for a 6.2km and 8.00km loop from this point if the full walk is not to your preference).
From Manning Farm road there is a seemingly telephoto view of Mt Franklin and panoramic views down the northern slopes of the Great Dividing Range can also be had. Bring you camera. From there a sustained ascent to the Chocolate Mill is mainly along narrow rocky paths that pass by stone ruins from the mining era, as well as an erosion canyon, also from the mining era, but now stabilised and enhanced by eucalypts and native grasses. This leg of the journey covers 5.8km to the Chocolate Mill. A recharge of coffee and of course chocolate would seem to be a logical step at this point.
Retrace your steps for 1.8km and chuck a leftie towards the substantial Hunts dam. It's looking great after the rains with lots of birdlife. Crossing Back Hepburn road the track heads towards the Hepburn Springs Reserve. A minor detour will bring you to a peaceful setting with the ruins of what was possibly the stone dwelling of a Swiss Italian gold miner. So far my inquiries have yielded little information. No one seems to know much about it.
In the home stretch, is a west facing descent to the springs through tough, gnarly box forest, with elevated views to the west. A beverage and hearty meal would make an ideal conclusion to the day.