20 to 28 March 2017
The Victorian High Country Camp has been a long anticipated event on our bushwalking program. Leaders, Mark, Wendy, Brian and Christine reccied the area last year, and subsequently planned 7 days of high country hiking and extra curricular activities centred around the town of Bright, Victoria. Fortunately our leaders were extremely flexible, as the weather forced a complete re-arrangement of the Walking Program. Nevertheless, we still completed all of the planned walks, and a few more. This is how it went.
Day 1 Tuesday: Rain – Lay Day. A good opportunity to go to the movies in Bright’s comfy little cinema, visit Gapstead Winery near Myrtleford, check out the nearby village of Yackandandah with its Museum and Historic Precinct, or walk the local tracks along the Ovens River, or the through the Wandiligong Diggings to learn more about the Chinese presence on the early goldfields.
Photos by Donna and Erika/Philip
Our first social activity at the end of a wet day was an evening tasting of Billy Button wines named after the native alpine daisy and is the creation of winemaker Jo Marsh. We were able to sample 10 different wines, 5 red, 5 white. Our host provided details of each wine as he told the story of Jo Marsh, the young wine maker who has done so much to promote the local wines.
The end product is produced from a variety of grapes grown in the Alpine Valleys wine region. Jo enables small growers to turn their grapes into award-wining wines. Those who wished purchased their favourites to enjoy at a later date.
Day 2 Wednesday: The Big Walk, led by Ian. 11.3 km one way, Hard. The longest walk on Mt Buffalo, this track climbs the plateau from the park entrance to the Gorge Day Visitors Area and needs a long car shuffle up the mountain and back again which takes well over an hour. Weather was misty and humid.
Photos by Erika, Philip and Brian
Long Plain, Macs Track, Rocky Creek Circuit with Diversion to Mt Dunn led by Brian. 14 km, Medium. A good introduction to Mt Buffalo scenery, with alpine meadows, rushing streams, piles of granite boulders, forests of snow gums and even a few wildflowers. Several walkers took advantage of the morning tea stop at the base of Mt Dunn to make the ascent to the summit for 360 degree views over the plateau.
Photos by Karen M, Brian and Mary T
After the walk, 5 walkers stopped at the Rollasons Falls Track and walked the steep 4 km into the upper and lower falls. Brian and Martin cooled down with a dip in the beautiful deep pool at the lower falls.
Photos by Donna and Brian
Eurobin Falls Track led by Len. 1.5 km, Easy. This track climbs past the lower Ladies Bath Falls and onto Lower Eurobin Falls. A steeper track continues up to the base of the Upper Falls.
Photos by Kay
Gorge Heritage Walk led by Len. 2.5 km, Easy. This loop walk starts in the Gorge Day Visitor Area opposite the Chalet. Interpretive signs describe the area’s history and beauty through the eyes of local pioneer, Guide Alice.
Photos by Kay and Lesley
With time and energy to spare 3 walkers accompanied Len from the Gorge Heritage Area to the striking granite boulders known as The Monolith
Photos by Len and Brian
Day 3 Thursday: Back Wall Track led by Rob. 12 km, Medium. This track starts near the Cresta Valley and crosses several lovely little alpine meadows with great views of the Horn immediately ahead. It then ascends a rocky saddle with misty views of the valleys below, before turning into thick snowgum and acacia scrub. This is when the rain started. Walkers continued to the Back Wall, but didn’t linger because of cold winds and steady rain. It was a quick hike back to the cars, along the track which had turned into a stream of running water. No time for lunch until they reached the cars again.
Photos by Brian, Erika, Helen, Karen M and Mary T
South Buffalo Track led by Jill. 8 km, Medium. From Cresta Valley this track initially climbs a ridge then meanders through Snow Gum glades and small snow plains, terminating at the South Buffalo view point. Once again rain interrupted the walk after morning tea and everyone made a quick dash for the cards before thinking about lunch.
Photo by Bob M
Easy Walkers led by Ainslie & Mike attempted the Dicksons Falls Track (4 km Easy), but cancelled it due to rain.
History Talk and Stargazing.
One afternoon, Ian Stapleton, local author, historian and founder of Mittagundi provided a captivating talk for campers. Ian spoke passionately about Mittagundi, which was built to offer troubled young people a place to get away from the complexities of a fast paced modern life, and take them to a place where they can live simply, work hard, enjoy good solid company and discover the mountains. He also provided campers with an inimitable insight into the lives and circumstances of some of the special women and men who have called the Victorian high country home over the past 150 years.
Following Ian’s talk, that evening, two volunteers from the Bright Astronomy Club Inc. (http://brightastronomy.webs.com/) provided a special stargazing opportunity. The volunteers spoke informatively about our solar system and beyond, and using Astronomy Club telescopes, campers were able to have a unique viewing of the Milky Way, black holes, planets and distant galaxies and nebulae.
Day 4 Friday: Lake/Viewpoint/Underground River Circuit led by Mary T. 6 km, Medium.
Starting at Lake Catani, the track passes through tumbles of huge granite boulders to a Viewpoint high above the Buckland Valley. It then continues over the underground river to 2 more viewpoints before passing through the Gorge Day Visitors Area (yet more stunning viewpoints) and back to Lake Catani.
Photos by Erika and Mary T
Lake Catani – Gorge Track led by Len 4 km Easy followed by the 3 km Easy Lake Circuit after lunch.
Photos by Erika and Brian
After lunch the medium walkers ascended the 1.7 km Chalwell Galleries Track in 2 groups. This track passes through galleries which are a jumble of large granite rocks forming impressive, but narrow passages.
Photos by Karen M, Erika, Helen and Mary T
Visit to Mt Buffalo Olive Farm for a tasting of local olive oils, olives and other farm produce. This is a working olive grove, developed and owned by Colin and Elisa Bertuch. Elisa and Colin welcomed us to the wrap around verandah overlooking the magnificent Alpine view where we tasted olives and virgin oil.
Colin told us the history of olives, development of their growing in the area and the processes Mt Buffalo Olives uses on farm to produce the final product. As well as award winning Olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, they produce and market a range of pantry items from wonderful local produce.
Day 5 Saturday: Rain – Lay Day. More movies and cafes, and a chance to welcome the winner of the gruelling 75km Mt Buffalo Ultra Skymarathon. More Ovens River walks, or perhaps a drive to the little hydro town of Mt Beauty at the foot of Mt Bogong for some exploring along the banks of the Kiewa River. Or tackling a few more walks on Mt Buffalo as the weather cleared.
Photos by Erika/Philip
Day 6 Sunday: Razorback – Mt Feathertop – Bungalow Spur led by Brian. 23 km Hard. 12 walkers left Bright at 7.30am to drive to Diamantina Hut near the summit of Mt Hotham. The car shuffle was possible because their 3 cars would be driven to end of the walk at Bungalow Spur trailhead in Harrietville by 3 walkers on the 12km Razorback Experience Walk. The Razorback is an undulating rough track with amazing views over the surrounding alpine areas. The final ascent to Mt Feathertop – the 2nd highest peak in Victoria – is a steep 1.5 km pinch for 360 degree views of the high country. We had a glorious sunny day and could see forever. Lunch was at Federation Hut, and then it was a long winding descent down the Bungalow Spur along a narrow rocky track to Harrietville and the waiting cars.
Photos by Brian, Helen, Ian, Erika
Razorback Experience led by Dennis. 12 km, Medium. 9 walkers made the scenic drive up to Diamantina Hut to walk 6 km along the Razorback Track, taking in the extensive views, before returning the same way.
Photos by Chris, James
Mt Hotham Summit Track led by Kay. 2.5 km, Easy. Beginning from the Trainer chairlift in Mt Hotham Village, this walk ascends to the peak of Mt Hotham, past the Telstra Tower to the Fire Tower for an inspiring 360 degree view including Mt Buffalo, Mt Feathertop and Mt Buller. The return is via the same route. Followed by a coffee break in one of the Village cafes.
Photos by Kay
Day 7 Monday: Corral/Castle Track and the Cathedral/Hump Track. 2 Medium Groups led by Karen & Donna. The 3.5 km Corral/Castle Track ascends a rocky staircase to Le Soeuf Peak, Mahomets Tomb and the secluded Corral alpine meadow. A short side track leads to a balancing boulder called The Sentinel, and the Castle beyond.
Photos by Karen M and Brian
The 3.5 km Cathedral/Hump track ascends yet another rocky staircase to the spectacular Cathedral rock outcrop, and on to The Hump for fine views of Cresta Valley and The Horn.
Photos by Brian , Erika and MaryT
And because the weather was fine and clear, many walkers chose to also climb The Horn, which is the highest peak on Mt Buffalo, and not to be missed. Several also dropped in to ascend The Monolith.
Photos by Kay and Mary T
Dicksons Falls Track led by Ainslie & Mike. 4 km, Easy. This walk passes through subalpine plant communities to a small waterfall with views of surrounding peaks.
Photos by Kay
Thank you to Mark, Wendy, Brian and Christine for planning and leading such an enjoyable camp to what is literally Bushwalking Heaven in the Victorian High Country. And thank you to our talented photographers for recording some great memories.
Words by Karen M, Mary T and Mark