Byers Back Track - Fast Facts

Trail number

Not applicable

Trail length

24 kilometres (return)

Elevation variance

120 metres

Trail type

Single trail, gravel road and bitumen road

Trail surface

Smooth dirt, rocks and rock outcrops

Weather affected

All weather

Trail condition sources


Trail features

Spectacular views, single track, mining history, historic tunnel to divert river for mining

Trail obstacles

Rocky areas, narrow trails

Trail Rating

Trail rating

Difficult - only for experienced riders

Rating basis


Night riding

No - gorge terrain is difficult and remote and should not be ridden at night

Family Friendly


Trail Map and GPX File

Use Topographic Map For This Area


No GPX download

Trail Description

Byers Back Track is one of my favourite rides. It runs for approximately 12 kms eastwards from Blackwood out to O'Brien's Crossing. The trip can be undertaken as a one way trip with a car shuttle but it is quite easy to do the return trip so a return trip is recommended.

It is quite hard to categorise this ride in terms of difficulty. The route largely follows old water races which were cut into the mountainside to transfer water from dams or the river to downstream alluvial gold workings where panning for gold would be undertaken. As water originally flowed in them, the old water courses are basically level and follow the contours of the hillside meaning that the ride is relatively easy from a gradient point of view. Despite being relatively flat, the ride does present technical challenges along the way such as rocks, fallen trees, washouts, stairs, steep drop offs and loose surfaces and due to this the ride is only for experienced riders..

The first section starts on bitumen for a couple of kilometres, gravel for a couple of kilometres and then single track to O'Briens Crossing. The first section passes through the cottages on the outskirts of town before starting to follow the river gorge. The vegetation is largely gum trees for most of the way but as the track gets more elevated in the steeper sections of the gorge, the forest varies and provides excellent views out over the gorge.

A number of mines and gold diggings are passed on the way along the trail. The first mine is on the right in the first section of gravel road and another is just after the start of the Byers Back Track. Both are in 'good' condition but should not be entered.

The Tunnel is also well worth a visit. During the gold rush days where there were horseshoe bends in rivers, the miners used to tunnel through the mountain in the centre of the horseshoe to divert the river so they could drain the river in between so they could undertake alluvial mining. I have seen quite a few of these through Victoria but this is the best example that I have seen.

Safety Notes

It should be noted that (apart from the initial road section) this is primarily a walking track and speed should be limited to a reasonable speed where sight lines are limited to avoid safety issues with walkers. Having said that, in all of the times I have ridden it I have never seen a walker but you should remain alert in any case.

It should also be noted that obstacles can present themselves quite quickly - in particular steps which tend to be hidden from view on steeper drops. I have included some photos of typical obstacles on the route so that you can be aware of them prior to the ride.

It is suggested that riders maintain a degree of separation when in single file, as quick stops are sometimes required by the lead rider. I have ridden the trail in dry and wet conditions and the experience is quite different.

As the path is largely an old water race, you tend to get a lot of ponding on the trail during wet weather and, combined with the large amount of leaf litter, the track becomes quite slippery as do any wooden stair surfaces, rocks, etc.

Obviously care should be undertaken as appropriate. In the section approaching the O'Brien's Crossing area, there are very steep drop offs (say up to 30 metres) from the trail and due care should be undertaken on these stretches. The trail is largely reasonably wide but there are a number of sections that narrow considerably. If you're not confident, walk these sections as it is a long way out if injured.

Mines should not be entered. If venturing off path on foot, caution should be exercised in case there are shafts or loose materials though these are relatively limited in the area compared to the Blackwood - Simmons Reef area.

My last word of warning is snakes - I went through in mid May 2008 on a nice day and spotted a snake on the trail. I normally would not have expected them this late in the season.

If you do get into trouble in the gorge and you are in the eastern area of the trail, Gribble Track and Ambler Lane provide short but steep exits from the gorge out onto O'Brien's Road. In the western section of the trail, Kangaroo Track is a possible option to get out but is a reasonably lengthy walk out. These tracks are marked where they cross Byers Back Track with the various distance options out of the Gorge.

Heading Out of Blackwood

The following photo gallery has been taken in order from the Blackwood pub heading east through town and onto the Byers Back Track to O'Briens Crossing.

From left to right, Blackwood Pub is the starting point for the ride (you head down Golden Point Road which is where the caravan sign is pointing). Heading east on Golden Point Road towards the mineral springs area, you then head around a slight hairpin bend corner. It was on this hairpin bend that the first gold in Blackwood was discovered - there is a memorial stone coming down the hill just prior to the corner with some information on it).

Around the bend, you come to what remains of the Royal Mail Hotel - the portion on the corner has since been demolished unfortunately. The hotel operated between 1863 and 1913.

Keep heading down Golden Point Road until it turns to gravel near the North Blackwood Road turnoff (last photo below). Continue following the gravel road. On the left is a car park where there is a waterhole which is good for an after ride swim when the water flows.

Heading east from the Blackwood Pub along Golden Point Road.

As you wind along this road, you will pass a mine on the right (see second photo below) which has been sealed off and then you start climbing. You will then approach a long "Lerderderg State Park" sign (in the distance in the first photo below). There is a small car park here and just to the left of the sign is the start of the Byers Back Track which is shown in the third photo below. As can be seen from the photo, the sign marking the start of the track has been removed and lent up against a tree. If it's missing when you arrive, the smaller vertical posts shown in the right of the third photo should still be in place.

Heading up gravel road, past mine on right and start of Byers Back Track.

Byers Back Track (to Kangaroo Track Intersection)

Nice singletrack and views into gorge

Mine in good condition on the right of the trail and old mining water races which form the trail in parts.

Byers Back Track (to Gribbles Track Intersection)

The intersection with Kangaroo Track is about 4 kms into the Byers Back Track. It should be noted there are pointers along the track as it forms part of the Great Dividing Trail and these can be followed when they appear. In most cases, Byers Back Track crosses intersecting tracks at right angles but there are a couple of instances where a slight dog leg occurs which should be noted on the way out to aid in returning home.

Above , there are further path views - note the steep drop offs. A slight walking detour into the gorge at Gribbles Track will take you down to the Tunnel. Here the miners carved a tunnel through the mountain side to allow working of the alluvial gold deposits in the drained riverbed. The track is very steep and it's preferable to leave your bikes on the Byers Back Track to avoid having to climb back up with them though it's not impossible. Note that the Tunnel Point Ride heads up the spur on the other side of the gorge.

There's not much traffic coming through here but if you've got expensive bikes, you may want to bring a bike lock if you do want to leave them up on the Byers Back Track for any period of time while you go for a wander.

Byers Back Track (to Amblers Lane and O'Briens Crossing)

Further path and forest views - this is one of the steeper sections of the gorge and care should be taken in the narrower sections of the trail. The drop offs here are very large and appropriate care should be taken. There are quite spectacular views in this section of the gorge. Ambler Lane intersection is shown in the second last photo. This is where the Ambler Lane Ride hooks into the Byers Back Track.

East Track

The Byers Back Track continues along the gorge south of O'Briens Crossing into the Conservation Area of the Park but is called the East Track and is walking only. I have gone in as a walk for about 4 kilometres and the gorge becomes spectacularly steep very quickly. A typical view is shown in the photo below if you want to head downstream from O'Brien's Crossing for a wander. Well worth the effort.

Coming in to end of trail.

Trail Videos

No video is available for the full track. Note that portions of the Byers Back Track can be seen in the Kangaroo Track video.

Parking and Facilities
Parking is available at Blackwood town centre or the river on North Blackwood Road.
Toilet facilities are available at Blackwood (located on hill opposite pub).
Drinking water is available at the gold stamper opposite the pub.
Food can be obtained at the Blackwood Pub, Garden of St Erth or Blackwood Provedore (both are good).
Local area information can be obtained from the noticeboard to the right of the Blackwood Provedore.