Archive for February 2009

Bushwalking: Mt Howitt, Alpine National Park

View of Mt Howitt from West Peak

Mt Howitt is a major attraction of the Wonangatta-Moroka unit of the Alpine National Park, with sweeping views in all directions, including of the impressive Crosscut Saw. This moderate day walk is a highly recommended Victorian bushwalk.

The walk commences at the Upper Howqua camping area. The path follows the Upper Howqua road for the first 3.5 kilometres. The road, which was closed some years ago (you used to be able to drive to the base of Howitt Spur), is easy to follow. There are however three fords required – the bridges marked on the out-of-date Vicmap have long since collapsed.

Eventually the road meets a small clearing and a signpost. Ignoring the overgrown vehicular track that climbs to the right, cross the clearing and then the Howqua River to join the Howqua Feeder Track footpath, which soon becomes quite distinct. From here it’s about 4.5 km to the summit. The path climbs moderately at first before getting steeper as it approaches the tree line. West Peak is reached first and there are magnificent views. It’s an easy walk to the summit of Mt Howitt from here.

From Mt Howitt summit you can return the same way.

[Alternative return: Walk downhill north-east from Mt Howitt along an obvious path to a track junction, taking the left (north-ish) branch slightly uphill along the first part of the Crosscut Saw. Continue along for about a kilometre to a saddle where a faint foot track proceeds off to the left (and was marked by a small cairn when I was there). Follow this path – it soon descends steeply along Stanleys Name Spur and eventually will reach Queen Spur Road, an old logging road which is now overgrown. At the road, turn left (south) and follow it back to the clearing at the base of Howqua Spur and then back along Howqua Spur road to the start.

Please note that this is for more experienced walkers – there’s some scrambling involved on the initial very steep section down from the Crosscut Saw, and the path along the spur is indistinct in places and towards the end could not be seen at all, having been hit with bushfires, leaving me traversing a rather nasty fern-filled gully to reach the old Queen Spur ‘Road’ (now a heavily overgrown and indistinct footpath). Given these issues, it would probably be better to do the circuit in a clockwise direction, i.e. ascend via Stanleys Name Spur and thus more easily locate the launching point onto the spur from Queen Spur Road, and come down the Howitt Spur.]

Walk date: Jan 2, 2009
Distance/time: around 16kms, 1 day moderate (about 6 hours), 1 day hard if returning via Stanley’s name Spur
Map: VICMAP Howitt-Selwyn (1:50,000)
My rating: A+

Access: The Upper Howqua camping area is reached via Mt Stirling – take the road to Telephone Box junction and then follow the right-hand branch of the Stirling Circuit Road until it reaches a junction with Bindaree Road. Follow Bindaree Road until it meets the Upper Howqua Road, turn left here and the camping area is reached almost immediately. The road should be passable by 2WD vehicles in dry conditions.

Walk of the Month: Mt Cobbler, Alpine National Park

Summit of Mt Cobbler

An excellent and not particularly difficult walk to the summit of Mt Cobbler starting at the attractive Lake Cobbler.

From Lake Cobbler follow the sign-posted track to Mt Cobbler as it follows an old vehicular track initially, before leaving to drop down and cross a small creek. Some of the track markers in this area have been burned, so are hard to see.

From the other side of the creek the path climbs steadily through forest until it reaches a track junction. From here turn right (north) and follow the path as it breaks through the treeline onto the Cobbler Plateau. Walk up the rock slabs (a path is marked by occasional cairns but in good weather you won’t need them) as you walk up this section you’ll probably wonder how the summit will be reached as it is cut off from the main ridge. Fortunately there is a small land bridge that connects the two; some simple scrambling is required, although it’s steep on all sides so a head for heights would be useful.

After exploring the summit area and taking in the superb views, return to Lake Cobbler via the same path.

Walk date: Jan 3, 2009
Distance/time: Around 8kms, 1 day easy (3 hours or so)
Map: Vicmap Howitt-Selwyn (1:50,000)
My rating: A+

Access: Lake Cobbler is about 50km south of Whitfield, along a forestry road that is unsealed for the most part. My car is an all-wheel drive Subaru Forester which had no problems negotiating the track, access by 2WD should be possible with care in dry weather – note that there is a steep climb up from the upper Dangdongadale River valley and a short ford just before Lake Cobbler is reached.

Update: See comments for an update on current conditions (Mar 2011)