Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trip Report: The Razorback and Mt Feathertop

P1040698

It was late February and we were packing for the next stage of our family canoe trip down the Murray when we heard about the Blue-Green Algae outbreak on the river.  The weather forecast was perfect so we decided to go to Plan B – a hike in one of the high country’s most spectacular areas and get my kids to the summit of Victoria’s second highest mountain.

There are several tracks that provide access to Mt Feathertop, but the easiest and arguably most scenic route is along the Razorback. We parked at Diamantina Hut (near Mt Hotham) and started our walk at about 10am.

P1040663
A lazy lunch on the Razorback

I sold the trip to my family as an easy 10km walk along a gently undulating ridge. While the start point and campsite at Federation Hut are at a similar altitude, I had probably undersold the size of the bumps along the way.

The track is well defined and easy to follow and a fit adult can walk to Mt Feathertop and return to Hotham in a long day.

P1040656
Frasero and Mrs Bretto decided to take the “shortcut” track on this section which was slower and steeper than the longer contour track.
P1040676
The weather was perfect and we had couple of gliders showing off their skills during the afternoon. They are so quiet you cant hear them until they are right on top of you…..hence the average photo.

We arrived at Federation Hut mid afternoon after several lengthy breaks. Despite my suggestion that the kids only bring essential items to keep their pack weight down – it seems that leaving the teddy bears at home isn’t an option.

P1040681

P1040753
It turns out that Mrs Bretto doesn’t like sitting on the ground – so I got her a Helinox Ground Chair. At just over 600 grams it isn’t too heavy to take on a short walk like this – and since I carried it in there I had to test it out. It is surprisingly comfortable.
P1040758
Amyo enjoying some hammock time – which by the way is much more comfortable than any hiking chair.
P1040759
Our trusty Hilleberg Keron 4 wasn’t exactly challenged by the conditions at Federation Hut. Damn you good weather.

P1040760

Why is there a dog at Mt Feathertop?

As most readers will know you are not permitted to take your dog into a National Park – so we were surprised to meet a trail runner with this dog following behind him. It turns out this runner was training for some insane long distance event and as he ran through Harrietville that morning this random dog started to follow him.

The dog kept following him all the way up Bungalow Spur and then onto the summit of Mt Feathertop. The dog would have been pretty shagged after that climb so the runner led to the dog to the spring on the way to the MUMC Hut for a well earned drink. He then ran back down to Harrietville where the dog peeled off and presumably went back home (we spoke with the runner again the next day so that is how we found out the dog made it back to town safely).

P1040768
Descending from the summit of Mt Feathertop (1922m).

P1040775

We were planning to camp for 2 nights at Federation Hut and have a lazy day on the summit and relaxing around camp – but by mid afternoon the kids got restless and were keen to start heading back along the Razorback.

P1040776

So we packed up our gear and walked about half way back to the car. There are several nice spots to camp along the Razorback but you will need to carry all your water and a shovel as there are no facilities.

P1040783
The kids look like they are enjoying themselves but they assured me that they were not.
P1040799
It looks disgusting, but my home made dehydrated lamb with chorizo is a family favourite
P1040827
Frasero taking a relaxing break in the Ground Chair.
P1040832
A classic high country sunset on the Razorback

P1040856

P1040900
Selfie time
P1040938
Looking north along the Razorback with Mt Feathertop in the distance.

We made it back to the car before lunch time on our third day before driving back to Melbourne and our normal lives.

I recommend this walk in the warmer months as a relatively easy option for families or people new to hiking. However the Razorback is very exposed and the weather in the high country can turn nasty at any time of the year. So be prepared, carry some spare food and take your wet weather gear even if it is sunny.

I have also walked Bungalow Spur, Bon Accord Spur, Diamantina Spur and North West Spur. While they are all good walks if I just wanted to get up to Mt Feathertop I would go up Bungalow Spur from Harrietville as it is relatively easy (considering the big elevation gain), offers decent protection from the wind and is a bit shorter drive from Melbourne than the start of the Razorback.

Food: How to make your own Beef Jerky

If you are after a tasty high protein snack for your next adventure look no further than home made beef jerky.

It’s quite easy to make and much cheaper than commercial jerky and I reckon it’s tastier – but you may need to buy a couple of things.

IMG_1260

Although it’s possible to dehydrate food using your oven on a low temperature, it is easier to use a proper dehydrator. I got this 8 tray cheapie from eBay and it seems to do the job. Plus you can use it to make your own dehydrated hiking meals – so it will pay for itself in savings on Backcountry meals in no time.

You will also need a jerky gun which is readily available on eBay.

IMG_1268

Mix this stuff in a bowl

  • 4kg beef mince – very low fat (as the fat won’t dehydrate)
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder (don’t use minced garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika

 

IMG_1254

The actual ingredients and quantities don’t matter too much so chuck in whatever you like. The quantities listed above make a fairly mild jerky so you may want to put in more stuff or some chili for a stronger flavour.

I can fit 4kg in my 8 tray dehydrator – but if you have a different number of trays (or a round dehydrator) you will need to adjust the quantities.

This will make about 1.8kg to 2kg of dried jerky depending on how much you dehydrate it.

Then you fill your jerky gun and shoot it onto the trays…..then repeat

IMG_1274

Yes it looks like a giant tray of cat turds

IMG_1285

Then stick your trays into the dehydrator and wait.

The drying time will vary depending on your dehydrator, the moisture level of your meat and the ambient temperature. And if you have a cheap dehydrator like mine each tray will dry at a different rate. After about 5 hours I start checking it and remove any pieces that are dehydrated – but it could take up to 10 hours or more.

IMG_1286

This batch is slightly over dehydrated – but still tastes good.

We keep the dehydrator in the laundry because the fan makes a bit of noise and it makes your house smell. If that doesn’t work for you try putting it in the garage.

IMG_1292

When it’s all done let it cool down and stick it in some large zip lock bags. I normally freeze half the batch and keep the other half in the fridge for snacking or upcoming trips.

IMG_1293

Sliced meat?

If you don’t like the cat turd appearance of the minced beef you can ditch the jerky gun and use thinly sliced lean beef. This will make a slightly chewier jerky that resembles the commercial stuff.

But from my experience it takes longer to make and is a bit trickier as you need to half-freeze the beef and then slice it with an electric meat slicer. So just get yourself a jerky gun and start shooting!