Archive for the ‘Victoria’ Category.

Bushwalking: Mt Jim and a circular walk on the Bogong High Plains

This walk is a pleasant circular route in the Bogong High Plains around Falls Creek Ski Resort, commencing at the attractive Pretty Valley Pondage, a small man-made reservoir.

The track starts at the causeway over Pretty Valley Pondage – cross over and follow Fainter Fire track as it climbs to the east. After attaining the high point on the ridge, there are good views towards the Jaithmathangs (formerly the Niggerheads), Mt Fainter and Mt Feathertop across the valley.

The fire trail eventually reaches a pole line and a sign-posted junction. The suggested route leaves the fire trail here and turns left (south-east) to follow the pole line (nb: Tawonga Huts, reached by following the fire trail right to the north would make a nice side trip). The pole line climbs steadily for a while then descends to a junction of three pole lines, including the Alpine Walking Track route. At this point, a short side trip to Mt Jim is recommended which can be seen to the south.

Mt Jim has trees around its base, but there is a clear view from the top. After stopping to take in the view, leave the summit and rejoin the pole line. Keep following it, now identified with Alpine Walking track diamond shaped markers, as it passes to the north of Mt Bundara and ultimately joins another fire track at Cope Saddle Hut (hard to miss with a fluorescent red roof). From here, follow the fire trail northwards, accompanied for the most part by a pole line, back to Pretty Valley.

My rating: B
Time / rating: Took us about 3.5 hours, easy/moderate
Maps: Bogong Alpine Area Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000), SV Maps Bogong Alpine Area Outdoor Recreation guide (1:50,000) [new edition]

Access: Pretty Valley Pondage is accessed via Falls Creek. Follow the main road towards Rocky Valley Storage, there is a sign-posted turnoff to the right. The road is gravel but 2WD vehicles should be fine in dry weather.

Bushwalking: Feathertop and Bogong again

Bogong summit

Mounts Feathertop and Bogong, located in the Alpine National Park provide some excellent walking. I’ve climbed both several times before, but wanted to try a couple of different ascent routes, both of which are lesser used because a 4WD is pretty much required to reach the starting points.

Mt Feathertop via The Razorback from the north

The approach to Feathertop along the Razorback from Mt Hotham is a deservedly popular approach. This walk also follows the Razorback, but from the north and is a much lesser used route due to the difficulties in accessing the start. The walk itself is quite attractive, beginning with good views from the launching point which is just above the tree line. The path then drops back into the trees and a saddle before beginning a steep ascent that soon reaches the tree line again and then follows the spine of the Razorback south to the summit.

Except for a small section just after the start, the path was reasonably clear for the whole length. Once you are out on the ridge navigation is very simple in good weather – the only way is up.

I descended via the Bungalow spur as I had arranged a car shuffle. Total time for me was around four and a quarter hours including breaks (about two hours ascent to the summit), which makes this easily the quickest way up Feathertop and certainly provided a welcome change to the usual routes.

Walk date: Dec 20, 2009
Time: Around 4.25 hours for me including breaks
Map: VICMAP Bogong Alpine Area Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000), SV Maps Bogong Alpine Area Outdoor Recreation guide (1:50,000) [new edition]
My rating: B+

Access: Easiest access is via the Snowy Creek road which leaves the Great Alpine Road not far out of Bright. This gravel track leads to an intersection with Dungey Track which is followed until it eventually reaches an intersection with Stony Top Track. From this point Stony Top Track is followed and a 4WD is the best choice, the track gets particularly rough after the seasonal road closure gate at the boundary of the national park, some 2km prior to the end of the road. Note that there is not a lot of room to park or turn around at the end of the track.

Mt Bogong via Granite Flat Spur

Originally I planned to walk from the end of the 4WD track on Granite Flat Spur, however we ended up turning back about a third of the way along this track after reaching a particularly difficult section where a large part of the right hand side of the track had been washed away. We decided that it would be best not to risk negotiating this section and returned to the junction with The Hollow Way where there is room to park, and from which point I commenced the walk.

I initially walked back up the Granite Flat Spur jeep track, providing an enjoyable 2km or so ramble through attractive bushland before the track ends in a small clearing which provides room to park and turn around and would make a pleasant camping spot.

From the parking area there were good views of the walk ahead and a clearly marked walking path quickly began a fairly steep ascent of Granite Flat Spur. After a kilometre or so there is a sign-posted side path to Michell Hut on the Eskdale Spur and not too much farther on the walking track joins the Eskdale Spur walking track and breaks through the tree line. This point which provides magnificent views into the Kiewa Valley, across to the Staircase Spur, and up to Mt Bogong, is a nice place for a quick rest before the final ascent up the Eskdale Spur.

This final section is fairly steep, but once the main ridge line is reached, it’s an easy stroll up to the rounded summit of Mt Bogong.

I had again arranged a car shuffle and so descended the Staircase Spur, which as previously, seemed to go on forever.

Total time for me was around 5.5 hours including breaks, with the ascent time being about 3 hours.

Walk date: Dec 21, 2009
Time: Around 5 hours for me including breaks
Map: VICMAP Bogong Alpine Area Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000), SV Maps Bogong Alpine Area Outdoor Recreation guide (1:50,000) [new edition]
My rating: A

Access: We approached from the Mountain Creek camping area, following the Mountain Creek 4WD track that proceeds east from the camping area, passes the bottom of the Staircase Spur and then climbs to Camp Creek Gap at the base of the Eskdale Spur, before descending very steeply and then ascending steeply along The Hollow Way to a clearing and the junction with the Granite Flat Spur jeep track.

Mt Feathertop, Alpine National Park, North-East Victoria

Panoramic view from the summit of Mt Feathertop

Mt Feathertop, located in the Bogong unit of the Alpine National Park in north-east Victoria, is the second highest mountain in Victoria (1922m) and a popular destination for bushwalkers. It’s my favourite bushwalking destination in Victoria, and I have climbed it many many times since my first ascent in 1988. The name is supposedly derived from the line of snow that remains on the summit well into summer and looks like a white feather. Unlike the more rounded peak of Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong (1986m), Mt Feathertop portrays a classic mountain form.

In the early part of the 20th century, Mt Feathertop became a destination for skiing, and a small lodge was built on the upper part of the Bungalow Spur (the ‘Feathertop Bungalow’, destroyed by the 1939 bushfires). The well graded Bungalow Spur track is a result of its construction as a track for horses to take visitors to the Bungalow – it was built by the Victorian Railways to encourage tourism and train travel; the railways also built and operated the Chalet at Mt Buffalo.

A walk up Mt Feathertop is a must for all keen bushwalkers.

Walking
Thankfully Mt Feathertop can only be approached on foot, and all the possible routes require a decent amount of walking.

The main routes are as follows:
1. Bungalow Spur – a very well graded track that starts in Harrietville. Note that although the track is well maintained and relatively easy to follow, it’s still a decent walk (including over 1300m of height gain) and is exposed to alpine weather conditions. The track passes the ruins of the Feathertop Bungalow, the site of the Old Feathertop Hut (a guide to walking the Bogong High Plains, published by Algona guides in 1979 records that this hut was still there then but in disrepair, there’s no evidence of it now) and Federation Hut, originally built in 1968, burned down in 2003 and rebuilt a couple of years ago. The area around Federation Hut, built at the edge of the treeline, provides an excellent campsite.

2. North-West Spur – commencing at Stony Creek next to a trout farm, this track follows the ‘Tom Kneen’ track along the north-west spur of Mt Feathertop. Parts of this spur are very steep and it is more suited to experienced bushwalkers. The Melbourne University Mountaineering Club (MUMC) Memorial Hut sits on a shoulder of the spur just past the main treeline and commands excellent views.

3. The Razorback – probably the most popular route, it commences underneath the Diamantina Hut (an A-framed refuge hut only) on the Mt Hotham road and follows the spine of the Razorback to the summit of Mt Feathertop. The track is well-defined and easy to follow in good weather, providing superb views – however as it is almost all above the tree line it is very exposed and potentially dangerous in poor weather and the return trip is well over 20km so it’s a decent walk by any definition.

Other routes:
1. Bon Accord Spur – commences in Harrietville and slowly climbs up to the Razorback, joining the ridge not far from Mt Hotham – this track was used by horses to carry visitors to Mt Hotham.

2. Diamantina Spur – this commences on the much more remote east side. This route will require an overnight walk via the Bogong High Plains, or Mt Hotham via Machinery or Swindler’s spurs to Blair or Dibbins Hut.

3. Champion Spur – commences at the same place as the Bon Accord Spur, initially following a jeep track which quickly becomes overgrown and then disappears completely about 1km or so shy of the Razorback.

4. The Razorback (from the north) – this commences at the end of the Stony Top track (4WD) to the north of Mt Feathertop and follows the Razorback to the summit. An attractive option and the fastest way to the summit, but lesser used due to the difficulties in accessing the starting point.

Photos
Link to my Mt Feathertop gallery (nb. requires a modern browser and broadband connection).

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)