Updates coming soon

Unfortunately, too busy to update for the moment, but this will hopefully change soon. Off to Mt Feathertop this Easter, this will be my “20th anniversary” climb of this peak – my first ascent was with the scouts (venturers) in Easter 1988. The route we followed then started at Pretty Valley Storage on the Bogong High Plains, walking down to Blairs Hut for the first night. The second day was Blair Hut/ Diamantina Spur/ Feathertop/ Razorback/ Swindlers Spur/ Dibbins Hut – anyone who knows this area will realise that second day was crazy, and certainly isn’t recommended! Last day was back to Pretty Valley. This time I’m going to follow the traditional route up Bungalow Spur.   

Photos from Easter 1988: Left – Blairs Hut (note – you can no longer drive all the way to Blairs hut – the road stops about a kilometre beforehand). Right -Dibbins Hut

Blairs Hut campground (Easter 1988) Dibbins Hut (Easter 1988)   

Bushwalking – Mt Feathertop via Diamantina Spur

Mt Feathertop from Diamantina Spur

Diamantina Spur is the main spur that approaches Mt Feathertop from the east. Because the spur starts in a more isolated valley, with access either by walking in or all-wheel drive vehicle, this approach is not nearly as well used as the Razorback or the western spurs (the Bungalow and North-West spurs). It does however provide an interesting alternative route for experienced walkers who have tried the other approaches, and could form part of an excellent two or three day walk. Despite having climbed Mt Feathertop on numerous occasions, it’s some 20 years since I last used this spur, so I decided to revisit on a recent trip.

If approaching the top of the spur via the razorback, the path commences eastwards from the Razorback about 1.5km south of the Bungalow spur junction, or about 8km or so from Mt Hotham. The track junction is just to the north of High Knob. Initially easy to follow, the track soon becomes very indistinct. The spur has also been ravaged by bushfires, completely eliminating any sign of the track in places as well as consuming many track markers. I walked down the spur, and despite my best efforts to follow the line of the main spur, including frequent stops to assess the lie of the land and check my compass, I realised about two-thirds of the way down that I had slipped down a side spur, which required about 20 minutes of bush bashing along the contour of the hill, back to the main spur line. This was very hard work as a result of the fires – there were lots of trip hazards from burned out tree trunks and branches as well as lots of new growth. The surviving tree trunks were also still covered in soot, and by the time I made it down into the valley, so was I.

As a result of this experience, I’d suggest that going up the spur will be easier from a navigation point of view. Note though that either way is going to be hard work – the spur is not well graded like the Bungalow Spur, and in some places is particularly steep. This makes getting into a steady walking rhythm impossible, reducing effective speed and increasing tiredness.

The spur joins the access road into the valley (the road leads to the Diamantina Horseyards and the Red Robin Mine – it is closed to vehicles immediately after the Diamantina Horseyards turn-off) at a curve in the road by the banks of the West Kiewa river – as far as I could see the start point is not signposted, although the spur is pretty obvious.

Once in the valley I continued along the jeep track south, past Blair hut on the left. Eventually a junction is reached where you can continue up to Mt Hotham either via Dibbins Hut and Swindlers Spur or via Machinery Spur (which passes Red Robin Battery and Mine). The path via Dibbins Hut is in my view more attractive being a walking path, rather than a vehicular fire track, and Swindlers Spur is a lovely route up through forest and then alpine meadow, however it is steep in places. Machinery Spur, as expected for a vehicle track, is much better graded, but somewhat more monotonous. Red Robin mine is interesting to see however, and the track also passes by Mt Loch which makes an excellent short side trip.

An overnight walk suggestion for experienced bushwalkers is to start at the Mt Loch carpark on the Mt Hotham road and then descend either Machinery Spur or Swindlers Spur to camp at either Dibbins or Blairs Hut. The next day would be an ascent via Diamantina Spur, then a short walk along the Razorback to the Bungalow Spur junction and then camp at Federation Hut, 500m down the Bungalow Spur. The final day, after an ascent of Mt Feathertop, would be back along the Razorback to the Mt Hotham road, and then a short road bash back up the road to the Mt Loch carpark (alternatively, you could park by the side of the Mt Hotham road below Diamantina Hut – the launching pad for walks along the Razorback – and then do the road walk on the first day).

You could do this as a two-day walk, combining either the Diamantina Spur and Razorback or the descent into the valley and then climb back up again along the Diamantina Spur into one day, but this makes for an “unbalanced” walk with one easy day and one very tough day – definitely for the experienced and fit only. Less experienced walkers should start with the Razorback or Bungalow Spur routes.

Diamantina Spur path Blairs Hut from the logging track

Walk of the Month: Mt Loch (North-East Victoria)


Summit of Mt Loch (560px)

An attractive short walk across the high country around the ski-resort of Mt Hotham in north-east Victoria, with great views.

The walk commences at the Mt Loch car park on the Great Alpine Road (B500) about 1km before Mt Hotham village. The walks follows a fire track that starts at the left hand side of the water recycling dam that has recently been excavated, immediately north of the car park. Follow the jeep track (which is also the Alpine Walking track) as it undulates and then starts to steadily climb northwards, passing numerous ski runs and lifts on the right hand (east) side. There are fine views of the Razorback and Mt Feathertop to the left. The poles that can be seen every 40m are snow poles designed to assist navigation in poor weather and continue all the way to Mt Bogong.

After about 1.5km, at Derrick Col, the track turns eastwards briefly before reaching a track junction. The walk continues on the jeep track that heads north to Mt Loch, now about 1km away (the other foot track continues along Swindlers Spur to Derrick Hut). The original access footpath to the summit of Mt Loch, which leaves the jeep track shortly after the junction, is now closed to allow revegetation and Parks Victoria encourages walkers to use a new access track which leaves the jeep track immediately to the west of Mt Loch (about 350m further on). Follow the access track for a 100m or so to the summit, marked with a large summit cairn. There are great views in all directions from the summit. If it is a clear day you will see Mt Hotham to the south, the Razorback and Mt Buffalo plateau to the west, Feathertop to the north-west and Mt Bogong and the Bogong High Plains to the north-east and east. To the immediate north the jeep track follows Machinery Spur before dropping down to the West Kiewa River.

Return to the car park via the same route. For a post walk drink head up the Great Alpine Road to the attractive Dinner Plain village.

SIDE TRIPS: There are a couple of additional side trips that could be taken on this walk:

  1. Red Robin Mine – Continue along the jeep track north as it follows Machinery Spur until it drops via a series of zig-zags to the east and reaches Red Robin mine, classified by Heritage Victoria due to its status as the sole surviving alpine gold mine.
  2. Derrick Hut – At the track junction mentioned above continue along the foot track (the alpine walking track) as it follows the snow pole line south east descending to Derrick Hut. Derrick Hut is a refuge hut, built by the Wangaratta Ski Club for Ski tourers. It is situated in a lovely alpine meadow.

Mt Loch fire trail Mt Loch summit with view of Mt Feathertop Red Robin mine Derrick hut

Walk date: Dec 28, 2007
Time/level: 1 day easy (around 2.5 hours)
Maps: Rooftop’s Mt Feathertop – Hotham Forest Activities Map (1:30,000), VICMAP Bogong Alpine Area Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000)
My rating: A

Bushwalking – Mt. Feathertop (via Champion and Bungalow Spurs)

Emerging onto the Razorback from Champion Spur

This route provides a bit more variety, especially for walkers who have already been up and down the Bungalow Spur, while still remaining a circuit walk and thus avoiding a car shuffle.

The route could be done in either direction – we did the walk up Champion Spur and down Bungalow Spur. Either way, the route starts and ends in Harrietville. The track up Champion Spur starts in the same place as the Bon Accord Spur, before splitting and heading south-east while the Bon Accord Spur track continues south. Following an initially well formed fire track, the track slowly deteriorates before disappearing completely about 1km or so shy of the Razorback ridge. The 2003 bushfires swept through this whole area, and their effects are still apparent; the scrub had started to grow back strongly when we did this walk however, so that last km or so before the ridge was rather hard going. Then, as we reached the Razorback, we experienced a brief summer snow shower – a reminder that the weather in this region can change fast.

Once the Razorback ridge is joined, a distinct track continues north, passing the track down Diamantina Spur to the right, and then about 1.5km further on, the Bungalow Spur track to the left. This marks the start of the descent, but the summit is still another 1.5km north-east along the razorback (passing the north-west spur to the left on its way to the summit).

This walk can be done as either a hard one-day walk (at around 25km it’s a tough day) or as a moderate overnight walk, with camp at the (excellent) Federation Hut site on the Bungalow Spur just down from the junction with the Razorback. If you’re doing this as an overnight walk then note that the first day is still pretty tough if you ascend via Champion Spur (easier if you go clockwise – ie. up Bungalow and down Champion). If you’re not sure about walking in untracked bush, then an easier option is up and down the Bungalow Spur, or if you can organise a car shuffle, along the Razorback from Mt Hotham, and then down the Bungalow Spur (a superb walk).

Walk date: Champion Spur section Dec 27, 2004, Bungalow Spur and Summit section, numerous times, the last on April 7, 2007
Time/level: 1 day hard (allow 7-9 hours), about 25km, 2 days moderate
Map: Bogong Alpine Area, Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000)
My rating: A, a lesser used but worthwhile route

On Champion Spur Snow Gum on the The Razorback Summer snow on The Razorback Summit of Mt Feathertop

Bushwalking – Mt Buller West Ridge

View of Mt Buller

Mt Buller stands at 1805m, and an approach to the summit via the West Ridge makes for an excellent days walking with great views. The only (minor) drawback is that Mt Buller is also a major ski resort, so the actual summit itself is a bit of an anti-climax, with a road almost to the top – so getting there is most of the fun, and the approach from the west ‘hides’ most of the ski resort development until you are almost at the top.

Mt Buller is located about 45km from Mansfield. The start of the walk is a track just off Doughty Road about 5km or so from the turn-off from the main Mt Buller Rd just after Sawmill Settlement, about 30km from Mansfield. The track climbs to Round Hill before descending into a saddle and then climbing steeply to Mt Buller Summit about 5km from the start.

This whole area is snowbound in winter, and like the rest of the Victorian Alps is subject to cold, wet and windy weather at any time. There’s also a bit of scrambling involved on the narrow ridge, so this is not a route for beginners.

Walk date: Easter 2005
Time/level: 1 day moderate/hard (allow 4-5 hours), about 10km
Map: Buller-Stirling Outdoor Leisure Map (1:25,000)
My rating: A, a very good Victorian bushwalk

over round hill mt buller west ridge 1 mt buller summit sign mt buller west ridge 2

Bushwalking – Mt. Feathertop via the Razorback

Looking towards mt feathertop summit

This route is probably the most popular way of all to approach Mt. Feathertop. Not only does it avoid a long climb, but it provides a magnificent 10km ridge walk along the Razorback, prior to the final 1.5km pull up to the summit.

The walk starts just below Diamantina Hut on the road up to Mt. Hotham (there’s generally plenty of room to park by the side of the road). The track is well defined and for the most part follows the spine of the ridge. A short distance from the start there’s a Y junction, the left spur continues to the top of a large hill and the junction with Bon Accord Spur, before descending into Big Dipper, the right spur avoids the climb up the hill by sidling along the east side. From Big Dipper the track continues about another 7km or so before it is joined by Champion Spur on the left (west) side. From here Twin Knobs (to the east) are passed and then the path passes to the left of High Knob, which is the top of the Diamantina Spur. The Diamantina Spur track (which avoids going up and over High Knob) joins the Razorback shortly thereafter. The path then curves slightly to the north-west, passing Molly Hill before reaching a track junction next to an old gnarled snowgum that has sheltered many walkers over the years (and miraculously escaped the devastating Razorback bushfire in 2003 which took out most of the ridge and Federation Hut).

At this track junction, the path to the west – the Bungalow Spur track – leads down 500m to Federation Hut, and a very attractive overnight camping area. The main path continues north-east, soon passing the north-west spur track to the left (the walking track on the north-west spur is called the Tom Kneen track after a skier who died when the cornice on Mt Feathertop collapsed under him as he was making a winter ascent). From here the track starts to climb, first moderately and then very steeply, before finally attaining the summit. Note that at the summit there a two ‘peaks’ close together; the highest is the second one when approaching from the south.

Views from the summit are, in good weather, magnificent.

To return, follow the same route back to the Mt Hotham road. Note that while this is an attractive walk in the warmer months, the ridge is very exposed and you should be prepared for poor weather at any time, including rain and strong winds (and snow, even in summer). Note also, that although there are no big climbs, the walk is still over 22km return, so get an early start, particularly if you are relatively new to bushwalking.

Walk date: numerous times, the last on 27 Dec 2007
Time/level: 1 day med (allow 6-7 hours), about 22km
Maps: Rooftop’s Mt Feathertop-Hotham Forest Activities Map (1:30,000), VICMAP Bogong Alpine Area, Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000)
My rating: A+, one of my all-time favourite walks


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storm over ovens valley looking down from mt feathertop summit

Photos from December 2007:
The Razorback - junction with Bon Accord Spur View of Mt Buffalo plateau from the Razorback View from the Razorback at the junction with Bungalow Spur Old snowgum on the Razorback at the bungalow Spur junction

Bushwalking – Mt Bogong (20th anniversary)

Mt Bogong summit cairn

Mt Bogong is the highest peak in Victoria at 1986m. Thankfully, unlike Mt Kosciusko in NSW, there are no roads going close to the summit – however you approach, there is no ‘easy’ way. The most popular approach is from the north, utilising the Staircase and Eskdale spurs. While I would normally recommend travelling clockwise (i.e. up Eskdale and down Staircase) on this day, twenty years since my first ascent, I chose to go anti-clockwise – the same way we had taken in 1987.

This route also makes for a particularly fine overnight walk, with camp at Cleve Cole Memorial Hut.

Walk date: March 10, 2007
Time/level: 1 day, hard (allow 7.0-8.5 hours)
Map: Bogong Alpine Area, Outdoor Leisure Map
My rating: A. An essential Victorian bushwalk.


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bivouac hut looking back down staircase spur junction of eskdale and granite flat spurs michell hut