Introduction to Bushwalking in Victoria
So far we’ve done just a few walks in the Victoria, but they were a great introduction to our southerly neighbour, with big ascents and sometimes rugged scenery that we don’t have that much of in NSW. Read on for more info, or go straight to a list of the walks.
Until late 2017 we’d never walked in Victoria, and I suppose I never thought it differed from NSW enough to bother driving 7 hours to get there. I was wrong though, because to my knowledge we don’t have big lumps of granite like Mt Buffalo in NSW, there aren’t 1400m ascents along nice graded tracks like the Mt Feathertop walk, and the Grampians offer accessible but rugged hiking that feels a lot more remote than it is.
Finding Track Notes
We didn’t buy a guide book for our walks and instead relied on the internet. This is how I came across the ambitious project of Darren Edwards, Trail Hiking Australia, which is a resource for hiking across the whole country, but I think it’s particularly strong in this state. We also used information on the Parks Victoria website.
Weather in Victoria
Victoria is a bit cooler than NSW, but anybody who watches the Australian Open tennis in Melbourne will know that it’s prone to heat waves from time to time, and when we walked in the north of the Grampians it reached about 35 degrees Celcius, which was a bit oppressive. Nevertheless, there’s all year round hiking on offer in most parts so long as you are prepared for snow in the high country, and check there aren’t bush fires in the heat of summer.
I certainly can’t claim to be an expert on hiking in Victoria, but so far so good, and I expect we’ll return to both the Victorian Alps and The Grampians, even if it’s just a day or two en-route to Tasmania again.
The Victorian Walks
You can browse through a list of the walks I’ve posted on so far…
Victorian High Country
The Mount Tabletop track is good way to experience Victorian High Country scenery for only moderate effort. There’s grassy plains, forests of snow gums, wildflowers in summer, views from the summit plateau, and even attractive flies. In fact quite a few flies in general (in summer). The walk is accessed on the Great Alpine Way past Mt Hotham village on the way to Dinner Plain. (more…)
Mt Bogong is Victoria’s highest mountain at 1986m of elevation, and is apparently Australia’s highest freestanding mountain. There’s no road to the top, so if you want to summit the mountain and see the excellent views you have to climb it from the bottom, a satisfying 1500m ascent along a well marked track up either the Staircase Spur or Eskdale Spur. (more…)
I find climbing steeply up 1000+ vertical metres to the top of a pointy mountain very satisfying. So when I read that climbing Victoria’s second highest mountain involved a 1440m vertical climb over 11km I thought it justified our first bushwalking trip to Victoria. And the reports I read about Mt Feathertop promised a pointy summit; now, it is by mainland Australian standards, but if you’ve hiked in NZ or Tasmania, (or almost anywhere else in the world), then you won’t find it particularly pointy. You steadily climb up through lush forest at first, into mountain ash woodland, then snow gums, and finish in alpine meadows. The views extend over the Victorian high country, and inspired me to visit Mt Buffalo a couple of days later, which I could see from the summit, and looked great. (I had to work out where this was on the map.) (more…)
When we climbed Victoria’s second highest mountain, Mt Feathertop, I saw a big hunk of a mountain in the distance and thought “we should really go there this holiday”. Well, we did, and it was grouse (as the Victorians say). The mountain is called Mt Buffalo, after its shape, and the pictures below are of the longest walk in the park, the so called Big Walk, but we also did three short walks higher up on the plateau after we finished – The Horn (which looks like a horn), The Hump, (which looks like a hump), and the Chalwell Galleries. All offered excellent views (especially the first two). This walk starts at the bottom of the mountain and rises about 1000m to 1350m of elevation. At the end of the walk are spectacular views of the Gorge (which is a gorge), particularly the very sheer and massive North Wall (which is the wall on the north side of the Gorge). Clearly very little mental effort was expended when naming the parts of this national park. (more…)
Elsewhere in Victoria
The Cathedral Range is a small but prominent mountain range in Victoria, about two hours north-east of Melbourne. It comprises a 7 kilometre ridge of upturned rock, and climbing then walking along this ridge makes for a fun day walk. A circuit at the southern end takes in the highest peak in the range – Sugarloaf Peak at 920m of elevation – and climbing this can be made a bit more adventurous by taking the Wells Cave Track option. There are extensive views from the top, and for much of the way as you walk north along the range, descending back down to the start at about half way. (more…)
There are a few short walks you can do accessed on the road that runs through the middle of Grampians National Park (C222). We did a couple at the popular MacKenzie Falls, and also a short walk to the Balconies. It was hazy when we got to the Balconies and so this rather impressive area did not look its best in my photos, so I’ve included just the one. MacKenzie Falls is an impressive waterfall that is somewhat a victim of its own success. Worth the visit nevertheless, (but don’t swim too close to the waterfall because people have drowned there). The tracks are constructed and obvious. (more…)
Our first time in the Grampians, and Mount Stapylton was a good introduction to this rugged national park in Central West Victoria. The scenery had a more remote feeling than the reality, and in this section of the park it looked quite arid, with plenty of weathered rock and impressive cliffs. The surrounding Wimmera Plains are flat as a pancake farmland that stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s a fairly short track but well worth it. You can also do the Mt Zero walk on the same day. (more…)
This walk starts nearby from the same spot as the Mt Stapylton walk, and you can easily do them both in one day. Only it was about 35 degrees on the day we did them, and I probably shouldn’t have dragged Sophia up at the hottest part of the day, as she’s susceptible to extremes of temperature – there’s very little shade. The views are worth the one hour return walk, as it sits on the very northern edge of the Grampians, with miles of entirely flat farmland to the north, and the very rocky Mt Stapylton to the south. The track is obvious; details on the Parks Victoria website. (more…)