From the Start point (at waypoint ‘START’), cross the Darkin River on Yarra Road and after only 50m up the road at ‘2’ veer NW to head off-track. Soon cross a stream course, then climb gently through open wandoo woodland. (Or see Option below, for a longer route alternative.) Continue upslope via ‘3’, ‘3-1’, ‘4’ and ‘4-1’ into a fairly open parrot bush shrubland/understorey. After 1.5km from Yarra Road, reach (at ‘5’) wandoo woodland on a N-S ridge. Head westward via ‘6’ to the northern end of a large rock slab on the western flank of the ridge. Traverse the 200m-long slab southward to ‘7′. Then continue southward (via ‘8’) across the ridge through wandoo woodland and descend through low shrubland and a sheoak thicket to ‘9’. Continue southward around an east-sloping hillside (via ‘9-1′) and reach (at ’10’) the top of a small (40m-long) SW-sloping rock slab, with a good view southward across the main Darkin River valley to slopes 1km away that will be traversed near the end of the walk. Turn right (westward) to re-enter forest and cross a hill top via ’10-1’. Then descend gently WNW across the upper slopes of a laterite escarpment via ‘11’. Reach another small outcrop at ’12’ (with nearby view to Mt Dale, 12km WSW), and continue approx. NW down the hillside through wandoo woodland via ‘12-1’. Veer more westward down the hillside at ’12-2′ and then descend via ‘13’ to cross a stream course. Head WNW uphill and soon follow (via ’14-1′) the top of the south-sloping laterite escarpment through shrubland/open forest which is regenerating following the major 2005 wildfire. There are some good views south and SW. At ’15’ veer SW and then westward again at ’16’. At ’17’ veer SW to return to the top edge of the escarpment at ’18’. From here there are again good views across the valley to the walk route ahead along the laterite slopes on the south side, less than 1km away. From ’18’, veer WNW to cross a broad, low spur ridge to ’19’. Veer left to ‘20’ downslope. Descend the gently sloping outcrop and continue SW-ward down the hillside via ’20-1’, picking an easy route through likely patches of ‘Prickly Moses’ to cross a rocky stream course and reach Topher Road (forestry vehicle track) at ’21’. Turn left to follow Topher Road southward, crossing the Darkin River at ’21-1′. Continue on the road to ’22’, then head eastward off-track, gently uphill into wandoo woodland. Climb a laterite escarpment and cross a narrow spur ridge at ’22-1’ before descending quite steeply to cross a stream course (again picking an easy way through local patches of ‘Prickly Moses’). Veer SE at ’23’ to climb to the top of a small laterite knob (or ‘butte’). Then turn SE to cross a gentle saddle through open woodland and begin climbing quite steeply up a north-sloping laterite escarpment. At ’24’ veer NE and climb to ’24-1′, near the top of the escarpment from where there is a good view WNW down the Darkin valley, across the small butte just traversed. Continue eastward (via ’25’) through very open woodland, along the mainly bare pebbly surface of the north-sloping escarpment. After ’25-1′ veer NE and cross the ‘breakaway’ at the top of the escarpment onto the flatter terrain above, then veer ESE at ‘26’ to head gently downhill. Cross a vehicle track at ’26-1’ in a side valley. Continue around a hillside through open woodland via ’26-2’. At ’27’ veer southward and climb across the hillside to a viewing point at ’28’ (from where you may get a view 1.6km across the main valley to the area of the rock slab crossed at ’10’ earlier in the walk). Then descend an outcrop and eastward down the hillside via ‘29’ and ’29-1’ to cross a stream course at ’30’. Head NE, picking an easy way through patches of denser shrubland and crossing a small gully soon after ‘31’. Then veer northward, initially along slope. After ‘32’ ascend the steepish laterite escarpment to ‘33’, located on a broad ridge, in wandoo woodland. Turn right (eastward) to cross another gully at ‘33-11’. Continue eastward up a steepish slope through a patch of shrubland, using animal trails to pick the easiest way through. Veer left at ‘34’ to climb northward to ‘35’. Then head eastward, soon descending gently across a steepish north-sloping escarpment through wandoo woodland and heathland via ’35-1’ and ’35-2’. At ‘36’ veer right (ESE) to cross a small gully and then cross Yarra Road at ‘37′. Continue along the escarpment via ’37-1’ and ‘38’, then veer NE to reach a narrow north-south latreite-capped ridge at ‘39’. Follow the western edge of the ridge northward downslope, then continue northward through open woodland. Veer left (NW) at ‘40’ to return to the start point (at ‘START’).
Option, Longer walk (16.5km): For a slightly more challenging day’s walk; on reaching ‘1’ on Yarra Road, instead of heading NW off-track, continue 200m further northward up the road uphill to ‘2-alt’. Then veer to the right to leave Yarra Road and and head NNE off-track (via ‘2alt-1’) to a small laterite-capped ridge. Head north along the ridge top through wandoo woodland for less than 500m via ‘2-alt2’. Then descend briefly to reach (at ‘3-alt’) a 150m-long sloping granite slab, offering a good eastward view over the ‘Flynn Hills’ area (WalkGPS informal name). Then veer WNW to cross the crest of the ridge and descend via ‘3-alt1’ to Yarra Road at ‘3-alt2’. Cross the road and head westward gently uphill and veer SW (at ‘4-alt’) after crossing a small gully. Climb uphill to ‘4-alt1’, then WSW to re-cross the same gully upstream. Then continue upslope to a small rock slab at ‘4-alt2’. Continue WSW uphill to cross a small spur ridge at ‘5’. Then veer SSW, initially gently downhill onto a broad ridge which has/had a cover of mainly open parrrot bush. Bypass denser patches of the parrot bush via ‘5-alt1’, then veer southward to soon pass through a patch of wandoo woodland (via ‘5-alt2’) before descending to ‘6’ to rejoin and follow the ‘main’ route described above (via ‘7’, ‘8’ etc). This option adds 2km to the total walk distance.