After almost seven weeks in the land of milk and honey, I left Arapiles on Wednesday 13th April 2022. The long Easter weekend was approaching, and the campsite got packed. Most of the other “residents” also left. I had my best time in the weeks prior, and could extend my skills on trad climbing. Will was going to drive the same day to Sydney to pick-up some friends to do some rock climbing, and we wanted to meet on the intersection of our drives in Benalla or Wangaratta. But his friends contracted Covid-19, and he wasn’t driving to Sydney. Thus, we also didn’t meet. It took another 6 months, until we saw each other again in Arapiles.
On Maundy Thursday morning, I drove to Bright, in order to prepare my hike. I got a map, did my walker registration, and stocked up on food. In the morning the town was calm, but in the afternoon it was bustling, and full of tourists. Just right in time to escape into the mountains. Not that I expected to be completely alone, but at least much less.
In the late afternoon I drove over the Tawonga Gap to Mount Beauty. This settlement was built for the workers of the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme, and serves nowadays as base for the Falls Creek ski resort in winter. I parked my car and started my hike. It seemed to be a bit unusual to start hiking at the base of the mountain, because some elderly blokes looked at me. I asked them, if it was safe to park my car there until Monday or Tuesday. They said yes for sure, as I told them that I’m heading off to Mount Hotham.
I walked out of town along Rock Pool Road and then forded the Kiewa River East Branch. I was actually happy that the gate was locked, so there would be no high-clearance 4WD on the Fire Trails. After a few hundred metres I turned right into the East Kiewa Fire Track. I joined the fire trail for the next 12km or so. It was continuously winding up its way. My original plan was to stay at the Cairn Creek Hut at the Big River, but from my research I gathered that the access is quite hard, and I would have needed to ford the Big River twice. Thus, we such a late start, I stayed at a campground next to a small creek (can’t recall the name). There were definitely signs from car based camping, but tonight I was surprisingly at my own. On my way up I cam across at least two deer. They’re big animals. One time, I just made a break, and didn’t make any additional noise on purpose, and once I sat off again this massive deer was maybe 5m in front of me. Once, he realised me, he run off into the bush. In the evening, after I just pitched up my tent, a deer wanted to come out of the forest into the opening of the campground. Then he saw me with my light in and around the tent, and then started roaring. I thought fuck, that’s not nice. He continued for about 15min, and then went away. Those deer were introduced by the British settlers, because they thought it’s a good idea to have something to hunt. The only problem is, that there were no animals with hooves in Australia prior to the white occupation. Now we not only have deer, but also e.g. horses, cattle, sheep, camel. The deer, but also horses, destroy the fragile alpine soil with their hooves. This is why a deer reduction programme is in use, and some parts of the national park are closed intermittently for active deer shooting.
Good Friday I continued my hike along the Big River Fire Track. There’s a small creek at the turnoff of the Quartz Ridge Track, and I could see evidence that several people camped at nearby Bogong Creek Saddle overnight. I saw the campsite on the map, but was unsure about the water supply. Thus, I opted for the safe option. I took the Quartz Ridge Track to the summit of Mount Bogong. The beginning was cut free from windfall, and easy to follow. I also saw the turnoff to Cairn Creek Hut. But this looked already quite overgrown. I was happy, to not have bush bashed there. Also it would be an additional 200m elevation loss to get down to the hut (and up again at the other day). The Quartz Ridge is actually more like a mountain spine. There’s not a single exposed section. It was just an easy walk. Shortly before the summit some people came towards me, and the summit itself was even a bit more busy (and shrouded in clouds, when I was there).
Mount Bogong has a prominence of 1233m, the sixth highest prominence in Australia. Hence, depending on your cutoff criteria Mount Bogong could be even considered as second highest mountain in Australia, as the other mountains around Mount Kosciuszko only have prominences below 200m: Mount Townsend (189m), Mount Twynham (155m), Rams Head (110m). Thus, it’s up to the definition (100m-300m are quite common) what is considered as an independent mountain. After the summit I walked to Cleve Cole Hut. This is a private, well maintained hut. There was even a guy, with his girlfriend, from the ski club, who maintains the hut. He told me, I could stay in the hut, and don’t need to pitch up my tent. I like that idea. Several other bush walkers pitched up their tent around the hut.
Saturday morning, 16th April 2022, I continued my walk along the Long Spur before turning into the T-Spur and heading down to the Big River. Again the track was well maintained, easy to follow, no windfall or scrubs. Maybe a few short steepish sections. After fording the Big River, I needed to gain some elevation again. With a big backpack on such an easy track I still could do 400m an hour, and still it’s not running. After a few metres some bushwalkers had their break and were sitting next to the track, commenting on how slow I was. Well, I couldn’t resist to tell them that this is an easy walk, without any exposure, just going a bit uphill. Then they shut their fuck up. After the ascent I had my lunch break in front of Ropers Hut. It’s a small, rebuilt (as the original one burnt down in a bushfire in 2003) hut, and should be only used in emergency (which I don’t understand, are you worried the hut could get some scratches, while using it, before it’s burnt down in the next bushfire?). The track after the hut widens and after a few minutes I joined the Big River firetrail again. Then I “climbed” Mount Nelse, and its two “pre” peaks. It’s not really clear which peak is the highest. So, I walked to all three. Nevertheless, one of them is Victorias third highest. The maps suggest it’s Mount Nelse West, but I had my highest GPS reading on Mount Nelse itself (but only walking out, not walking in, there was a difference of 10m). None, of the summit is in particular interesting, also their views are not breathtaking, but they were on my way anyway. I met a few other people on the summits, most of them doing day walks from the nearby Falls Creek Ski Resort. On the way “down” I passed two huts: Edmonsons Hut and Johnstons Hut. I could’ve camped there, but I continued, as it was easy terrain.
I turned into Marum Point Track and walked down to the Langford East Aqueduct. This was actually a nice change to the kilometres of firetrail before. The Langford East Aqueduct is already part of the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme. I followed the scheme for a few kilometre, and also passed a revegetation side, which was destroyed by deer before. Just before Langford Gap is an old hut from the former State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV). It’s open and not locked, and in really bad weather you could find shelter there. I instead opted to pitch up my tent next to it. Nevertheless, the hut at provided at least shelter from wind for cooking, and eating dinner and breakfast. And the Langford East Aqueduct is a reliable freshwater source.