You Yangs Regional ParkThe granite peaks of the You Yangs rise dramatically from the surrounding volcanic plains between Melbourne and Geelong. Although only 340 metres high, they dominate the landscape, and are clearly visible from as far away as the bay side of Melbourne and beyond. The main ridge runs roughly north south for about 9 km, with a lower extension running for about 15 km to the west. Much of the southern parts of the ranges are protected by the You Yangs Regional Park.
The Woiwurrung Aboriginal people lived in and around the You Yangs long before Nritish explorer Matthew Flinders became the first European to set foot on the Yoh Yangs. He and three of his men climbed to the highest point on 1st May 1802, naming it Station Peak, though it would be re-named Flinders Peak in his honour in 1912. Since Flinders’ visit, the mountain has seen a steady stream of visitors who have used it for recreational purposes, and to this end it has been reserved as a Regional Park.
The 2003 feature film, Ned Kelly, starring Heath Ledger, was film in the You Yangs.
Walking trailsWalking opportunities abound within the park, catering for all ages and abilities. Many of the walking tracks can be linked by management vehicle tracks to provide longer walks for the more enthusiastic. Dogs are welcome in the park but must be kept on a leash at all times.
Big Rock Walk 3km, 1 hour return From the Park Office car park, wind your way around Big Rock and then back down the same path.
Big Rock: 100m, 10 minutes return Starting from the Big Rock car park this walk takes you to Big Rock with brilliant views towards Geelong.
East -West Walk: 4.5km, 2 hours return Starting and finishing at the Turntable car park, this challenging loop walk provides excellent views of the park and surrounding countryside.
Flinders Peak: 3.2km, 1 hour return Starting from the Turntable car park, this walk takes you to the highest point of the You Yangs. There are 450 steps and some sections with steep gradients.
Branding Yard Trail: 5km, 2.5 hours return This gentle walk starts from either the Turntable car park or Branding Yard Road. From the Turntable car park, walk down a medium gradient to connect with the trail.
Picnic AreasThere are several picnic areas throughout the park, many with wood fired barbeque places. Please bring your own wood. The main picnic areas provide gas barbeques free of charge on a first come basis. There are plenty of places to set up your own gas barbecue.
Mountain bike ridingTwo areas of the park have been set aside for mountain bike riding. Please observe signage regarding the challenge offered. Mountain bikes are not permitted in the Western Plantation on walking tracks or Management Vehicle Only tracks outside of the areas listed above.
The Stockyards MTB Area provides challenging downhill and cross country trails for experienced riders.
The Kurrajong Plantation MTB Area provides family friendly and beginners trails through flat terrain.
Scenic drivesGreat Circle Drive is a 12km gravel road accessible by two wheel drive cars. The drive provides the full spectrum of scenery available in this unique park.
Turntable Drive is a sealed road from the park entrance to Turntable car park and will take you to Flinders Peak Walk. It provides access to most of the main picnic areas.
Rock climbing and abseilingThere are several great rock climbing and abseiling sites throughout the park. Bookings are required for groups. Individuals are not required to book, but should check the availability of sites with the Park Office. Seasonal closures apply to some sites.
Horse ridingThe Western Plantation offers great horse riding opportunities. Two looped trails, marked with arrows, begin at the Western Car Park on Sandy Creek Road. Horses are not permitted in any other area of the park.
Drinking water for horses is only provided in the Western Plantation.
Bunjil GeoglyphThe You Yangs are also the home of a Geoglyph constructed by the Australian artist Andrew Rogers in recognition of the indigenous people of the area. It depicts Bunjil, a mythical creature to the local Wathaurong Aboriginals. This geoglyph has a wing span of 100 metres and 1500 tonnes of rock was used to construct it, and was unveiled in March 2006. The name “You Yang” comes from the Aboriginal words Wurdi Youang or Ude Youang which could have any number of meanings from “big mountain in the middle of a plain”, “big or large hill”, or “bald”. The Woiwurrung word for granite stone ‘yow.wong’ is also a possibility. The Yawangi people probably enlarged natural hollows in the rocks to form wells that held water even in dry seasons.
The name “You Yangs” will be familiar to anyone who has an interest in Australian motor vehicle manufacture as it was in the foothills to the north of the peaks that the Ford Australia established its motor vehicle proving ground in 1964/65 as part of its development program for the XP Ford Falcon. At the time sales of the Ford Falcon were sluggish, Ford realised it should have based its Australian Falcon on the well respected British made Ford Zephyr, instead of the Canadian Falcon which in its Australian form had severe front-end trouble, several types of transmission failure, and suffered badly from rust. The XP Ford Falcon was very much do-or-die for Ford Australia, it was essential the problems of previous models were eradicated and the model restored the public’s faith in Ford again. The new proving ground played a vital role in making sure this happened.
The company took the bold step of announcing its intention to put the car through a 70,000 mile 70 mph+ durability trial beforehand, to show how confident Ford were that their changes had worked. They Ford’s Deputy Managing Director Bill Bourke chose five standard Falcons, handed the keys to some race drivers (Harry Firth amoung them), and gave them the brief to pound the cars flat-out around Ford’s new You Yangs Proving Ground until each had travelled 70,000 miles, while maintaining a 70mph average speed. Showing complete confidence in the car meant that the media had to be in on the event from the outset, and you can well imagine the ensuing frenzy as the drivers set out to complete a task never heard of before, never rehearsed, and which many believed could never be done. Despite the audacity of the undertaking, and the fact that four of the cars rolled, after 8 1/2 days all five would finish, with an average speed a little over 71 mph (130km/hr).
The whole event even caught the imagination of Ford HQ, they understanding how important the launch of the XP was to their Australian operation. Henry Ford II even attended the event briefly, he being flown in and out of the You Yangs facility via helicopter. Despite crashes, phenomenal tyre wear early, some gross errors of organisation, and finally a refusal by CAMS to sanction the claimed records, the trial was heralded as a huge success. The XP went on to take out that year’s “Wheels Car of the Year” award. All over Australia people were suddenly talking Falcon. Big fleet-owners started to switch to Falcons. People like Avis Car Rentals, Rothmans, James Hardie, the NSW Police and dozens of others put in replacement orders for fleets of up to 1000.
Today, the high-security 930 hectare (2,300 acre) site has over 80 km of roads and tracks, with silumations of every kind of road surface found in Australia. The facility also includes a 4.8km Parabolic high speed track, pecial surfaces (Cobblestones, corrugations, Belgian blocks, etc.), a Low speed track, a High speed ride and handling course, Sealed and unsealed gradients, Sealed and unsealed skid pans, Salt/mud bath, Environmental exposure area, Crash test site, Climatic test chambers, Anechoic dyno chamber, High speed wind tunnel, Emissions testing laboratory.
Major testing includes performance vehicle development, Vehicle ride and handling refinement, Environmental condition simulation, Vehicle corrosion, Noise vibration and harshness, Emissions control, Vehicle durability. The facility is among the best of its kind in the world, and will be retained by the Ford Motor Company as a worldwide development facility after the company ceases manufacturing motor vehicles in Australia.
You Yangs Proving Ground