I had two free days before Christmas so my outdoor-obsessed mate Andrew and I went on a quick walk through some of Victoria’s finest mountains. Following the success of my double-ended solo crossover walk the previous weekend (see Walk into History) we decided to try the same concept but on an overnighter. We both do the same walk but start at opposite ends – meeting in the middle to camp for the night and swap car keys. It worked well: No car shuffles, you can walk at your own pace and you have someone to talk to at night.
Andrew knows the high country better than me so he planned the route – but when your hiking partner is founder of the group Melbourne Hard Core Hikers you know the route is going to be a challenge. It turned out to be over 50km including some serious ups and downs.
We had excellent weather and I discovered some great places I had not previously been to. The standout locations for me were around the Fainters and the Bogong High Plains – two areas I am planning to get back to this winter.
The walk from Bogong Village to Bogong Jack Saddle was very straightforward – some would say boring. But I knew I had a long day ahead and the easy fire trails meant I could cover some distance and get some height with little effort.
Fainter Fire Track
In an effort to save my energy I didn’t make the short detours to walk the summits of the Fainters – plus I wanted to leave myself a good reason to return to this idyllic part of the high country.
I had planned to walk over Mt Jaithmathang on my way to Tawonga Huts, but when I got to where I thought the trail should start I couldn’t find where to go. The country was very open and if I was motivated I could have made it up there – but the Fainter Fire Track was easy walking and I decided to bypass yet another 1800m+ summit. When I reached Tawonga Huts I was surprised to find no one else there so I took a 30 minute break to look around and dehumidify my boots.
Shortly afterwards I hit the Bogong High Plains near Mt Jim. Some people may find this area flat, desolate and boring – but I thought it was quite spectacular and it had a really good vibe. I am keen to return and spend the night up there somewhere although I reckon it would be pretty nasty in a storm.
A highlight of the trip was when I spotted a six pack of free range horses on the high plains. It was like a scene out of The Man from Snowy River or Brokeback Mountain except without the man-love.
I visited some other huts on this trip I hadn’t been to before so I have added photos of the following huts to my earlier post on Huts of the High Country
- Bogong Jack Hut
- Tawonga Huts
- Weston Hut
- Blair Hut
- MUMC Hut
I made it to the rendezvous point at Blair Hut and Andrew showed up shortly afterwards with tales of how easy North West Spur was.
I normally carry a lot of gear – but for this trip I decided to travel a bit lighter given the fine weather and distance to be covered. So I borrowed Mrs Bretto’s pack and left most of the “nice to have” items at home including my stove. I decided salami and cheese would do for dinner as it was only one night. Although ultralight backpackers would still scoff at my pack weight it was quite a change from my usual load.
Although I have had many afternoon naps in a hammock, I have never used one as an alternative to a tent when hiking. So Andrew and myself decided to try sleeping in hammocks for the first time.
We met a couple of guys camping at Blair Hut so we shared their fire and a few hiking stories over dinner.
Fortunately by the time we went to sleep Andrew’s hammock was above the ground. Note the sleeping mat underneath for warmth and his MYOG Tyvek bivi bag and insect mesh.
I am lucky that my mate Stovemaster Niko has a garage full of camping gear he doesn’t have the time to use. So I borrowed his Hennessy hammock for the trip. At 1.3kg including the tarp it was a welcome weight saving over my 3kg tent.
I can’t say I slept very well but the Hennessy hammock is a very impressive piece of gear. I think it would take a bit of practice to get it hanging just right to ensure a comfortable night. It is an asymmetric design and I worked out later that I slept in it the wrong way which probably didn’t help. I would certainly try it out again if Niko lets me.
We got an early start on Day 2 as I was keen to get as far up Diamantina spur as possible before the morning sun would hit me. So Andrew and I swapped car keys and went our separate ways. Unfortunately I only got about half an hour up the spur before I was hit by the summer sun.
The lower sections of the Diamantina Spur track were partly overgrown as shown above and steep in sections – but overall it is quite a pleasant walk.
It seemed that sunscreen, spiderwebs and sweat is a delicious combination for the big, biting flies I encountered in this area. The nasty pricks were very cunning and would always pick the exact moment I was pre-occupied doing something important to attack me.
Although I have been up Mt Feathertop a couple of times before I decided to hit the summit as I felt pretty slack for bypassing some peaks the previous day.
The upper sections of the North West Spur were relatively open and easy going as shown above – but as I got further down the track was long, steep and hot. Temperatures reached over 80 degrees Celsius in my pants.
I was pleased to see this creek as it marked the end of the main descent down the North West Spur.
The track then gets easy and follows Stony Creek to the parking area. I was pretty shagged by the time I got back. It was a warm, sunny day and I spent most of the day sweating as I walked up and down the hills so I was very mindful of my water and salt intake. By the end of the walk I didn’t feel too good but I couldn’t work out if I was mildly dehydrated or over-hydrated.
Motivation for the last hour of the walk was provided by thoughts of the charcoal chicken I was going to inhale when I got to Bright. So I was shattered to find out that the shop wouldn’t have any BBQ birds ready for 15 minutes! I wasn’t waiting for 15 minutes. I was hungry. I had to get back to Melbourne. I couldn’t stay in one spot for too long because I smelt like I had crawled out of a dumpster. So I drove on disappointed…….a valuable lesson that you should always keep an emergency chicken in your car.
If you are going walking in this area I recommend Spatial Vision’s Bogong map: