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)

Walk of the Month: Blowhard Circuit, Lake Eildon National Park

Lake Eildon from Blowhard Summit

This enjoyable circular walk takes in Blowhard Summit in the Lake Eildon National Park, providing superb 360 degree views, and finishes with a pleasant walk alongside Lake Eildon.

The trail starts at the Wallaby Bay carpark. Follow the dirt road back up to Merlo Lookout. After admiring the view across the lake from this point, cross the road to access the signposted foot track up to Blowhard Summit. This section is fairly short but steep in places.

The views from Blowhard Summit are excellent, including a fine prospect down Blowhard Spur to Lake Eildon and a good view of Mt Buller to the East.  From here, ignore the track down Blowhard Spur and instead continue north-east along an obvious old vehicular track. The track dips steeply into a saddle (take care on this section as the loose gravel makes it a bit ‘slippery’) and then climbs again to a high point and track junction.

Take the sign-posted Devass Gully Track which descends north-east along the spur by the side of Devass Gully before reaching a track t-junction. Turn right (east) here towards School point along a vehicular track. After School point is reached the trail becomes a footpath (Wallaby Bay Track) which follows the forested shore of Lake Eildon – or at least what was the shore – the extended drought means the waterline has receded dramatically. After crossing a footbridge at Lightwood Inlet the path becomes a little indistinct – follow the orange triangle trail markers – before again becoming clear and continuing for another 4km or so past Italian Bay and Cook Point back to Wallaby Bay carpark.

Walk date: Oct 17, 2008
Time/level: 1 day moderate (around 3 – 4 hours excluding breaks)
Maps: Parks Victoria Park notes, VICMAP Lake Eildon Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000)
My rating: B+

Access: Goulburn Valley Highway to Alexandra – this road can be accessed from the Hume Fwy, Melba Hwy or Maroondah Hwy. A turn-off to the park is reached a few kilometres after passing through Alexandra. Follow this road to a roundabout, turning left downhill towards the park entrance. At Fraser store continue straight on (ignoring the right hand turn) past the Fraser area campsites to reach Wallaby Bay carpark.

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

Walk of the Month: Wilsons Promontory (Victoria) – South/East circuit

Sealers Cove (Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit)

“In wild splendour the high granite peninsula of Wilsons Promontory pushes into the cold waters of Bass Strait to form the most southerly point of the Australian mainland, 225 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. In a relatively small area this national park protects an extraordinarily diverse range of environments: wild heathlands and swamps, moist pockets of rainforest, granite mountain tops, and dunes and seashores.”

Jocelyn Burt, “The World of Wilsons Promontory”

Wilsons Promontory (or just ‘the Prom’) is probably the most popular national park in Victoria and one of the most beautiful. A circuit around the southern part of the prom is one of Victoria’s classic bushwalks.

The walk begins at the Telegraph Saddle carpark below Mt Oberon. Generally you can park here, but on busy spring and summer weekends the road to the carpark may be closed in which case you will need to take the (free) courtesy bus from the Norman Bay carpark at Tidal River (leaves every 30 minutes). The circuit takes in Waterloo bay, Refuge Cove and Sealers Cove, and can be completed in 1, 2 (camping at Refuge Cove) or 3 (camping at Little Waterloo Bay and Sealers Cove) days, clockwise or anti-clockwise. I once did the walk in a day, but don’t recommend this unless you are in training for something else, as at 37km it is a long and tough day and you will have no time to rest and enjoy the many sights and locations along the way. My recommendation is to make it an overnight 2 day walk, camping at the lovely Refuge Cove, and travelling anti-clockwise to get the road bash (along Telegraph Track) over with at the start of the walk. Note that you need a permit if you intend to camp overnight – these can be obtained from the park office on the day you start, but to avoid disappointment if the campsites are already booked up, the permits can also be booked in advance by calling Parks Victoria (if you do this, you can also pick up the permits at the office at the park entrance).

From Telegraph Saddle carpark, take the 4wd Telegraph Track southwards. The track descends briefly and then stays relatively flat for the 6.5km to the junction with the Waterloo Bay walking track. Take this track almost due East to Waterloo Bay and its magnificent white sands. At Waterloo Bay the track turns north and continues just to the left of the beach before joining the beach just south of Freshwater creek. To continue along the track, cross the creek (this can usually done without getting your feet wet by hopping across the rocks) and then locate the track, fairly well hidden amongst the boulders at the northern tip of the beach. The track climbs steeply initially but soon descends into Little Waterloo Bay camping area. From here the track continues to hug the coast and proceeds east and then north-east to North Waterloo Bay.

From here, the track moves inland and climbs towards Kersop Peak (accessed from a track that branches south-east from the main track). The track continues northwards and descends into Refuge Cove, and the overnight camping area.

Telegraph Track Waterloo Bay On the trail from Waterloo Bay to Refuge Cove Cove Creek at Refuge Cove

From the overnight hikers camping area drop down to the beach and continue to the northernmost point where the track ascends inland and climbs northwards to a lookout near Horn Point. From here the track turns westwards providing a superb view of five mile beach to the north, before descending into Sealers Cove. Passing through the overnight camping area, the path descends to the beach where it is necessary to ford Sealers Creek. It is wise to try and avoid arriving here at high-tide as the creek will be very deep at this time (the park offices at the entrance and at Tidal River have a list of low and high-tide times) and potentially very difficult to cross. We arrived a couple of hours after low-tide at which time it was still only calf-deep (but very cold!).

After crossing the creek, the path is along the beach for a kilometre or so, before a signpost is reached (just before the remains of an old jetty) pointing to the track inland. The track continues west through Sealers Swamp (this whole section is now along boardwalks), an attractive area where occasional shafts of sunlight break through the dense foliage. Eventually, the boardwalks stop and the track then ascends moderately but relentlessly to Windy Saddle, a small grassy area and a great spot for a final break before that last section of the walk back to Telegraph Saddle.

Looking towards Five Mile Beach Track through Sealers Swamp Path between Sealers Cove and Windy Saddle Windy Saddle

Walk date: Nov 10/11, 2007
Time/level: 2 days moderate (around 5 hours each day)
Map: VICMAP Wilsons Promontory Special (1:50,000), Parks Victoria Parks Notes
My rating: A+, One of Victoria’s best

Walk of the Month: Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk

Pyramid Hill

A surprisingly rugged walk less than 70km from the Melbourne CBD, this circuit of Werribee Gorge provides an excellent day’s outing.

Werribee Gorge State Park is reached via the Western Freeway from Melbourne. To access the park, take the Pentland Hills Road exit, turning right under the freeway and then immediately left to follow the old alignment of the Western Highway (with the Western Freeway to your left). The road soon dips back under the freeway, turn left immediately thereafter onto Myers Road which leads to the park entrance. The walk can be commenced at either the Quarry Picnic area or down a rather steep gravel road (accessible by 2wd vehicles with care) to the Meikles Point Picnic Area (which is where I started).

I’d recommend travelling anti-clockwise to get the climb over with first. From Meikles Point Picnic Area, the track ascends a few steps to a toilet block and then follows an old vehicle track before dropping left and reaching Myers Road and then the Quarry Picnic Area. From here a signposted old vehicular track ascends through scrub to a junction with the short circuit walk, then passes a side track to Eastern viewpoint (worth a visit), passes Picnic Point before descending to Western viewpoint and then steeply descending to the bottom of the Gorge at Blackwood Pool. At this point the track turns sharply to the South following the edge of the Werribee River (note that the track always stays at the north side of the river, the line on the Parks Victoria parks notes that the track appears to cross is the old viaduct).

This section requires some rock scrambling; one rather tricky section of rocky bluff now has a wire rope attached to assist. On this part of the walk you will pass the attractive NeedlesBeach (a nice place for a break), Lions Head Beach (if you look at the rock opposite – see photo below – you can sort of make out a lion’s face) and Pyramid Rock (aptly named). Eventually, the track reaches the route of the old viaduct and becomes a well formed trail back to Meikles Point.

Note: Care needs to be taken on this walk as some rock scrambling is required. This walk is not one to do in the wet, rain will make the rocks slippery and the river could rise rapidly, leaving you stranded.

Walk date: Sept 16, 2007
Time/level: 1 day moderate (allow 3-4 hours), about 9km
Map: Parks Victoria Park Notes
My rating: B, a good day walk out of Melbourne

Eastern viewpoint Western viewpoint towards picnic point Lions Head