Until Christmas 2017 I hadn’t walked anywhere in Victoria, perhaps thinking it wouldn’t be so different from NSW. I was pleasantly surprised on that first trip, so much so that we stopped by Victoria on two subsequent trips to Tasmania. The walks we’ve done have been of a high quality, and included experiences that can’t be had in NSW.
These include climbing almost 2000m high mountains from the bottom in a day, such as Mt Bogong (1986m) and Mt Feathertop (1920m). Nearby Mt Buffalo (1723m) and the further flung Grampians Range are unique and rugged landscapes that have numerous walking tracks. And the small but prominent Cathedral Range in Central Victoria offers another unique walking experience.
Alpine National Park
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. Definitely one of the best Australian walks I’ve done, for the combination of views, variety of vegetation, and peak bagging gratification.
The initial section of the walk from Mountain Creek camping area passes through attractive tall forest. Once above the treeline there are extensive views over distant hills, and the alpine and sub-alpine scenery of the mountain itself is also very nice. This includes some fire damaged areas on Eskdale Spur that have their own interesting aesthetic. I found climbing Staircase Spur and descending via Eskdale Spur to be a very worthwhile circuit.
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.
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.
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. The longest walk in the park is the so called Big Walk. We did this and also 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).
The Big 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 features of this national park.
If you aren’t up for 1000m of ascent and descent then you can just drive straight to the views of the Gorge, and take short strolls to some of the other nearby viewpoints. Even Marriott’s Lookout can be accessed easily from the road up. But that would be cheating.
This walk is one of very few easy options that has made it into a best-of compilation. You can climb to the Hump (1695m) from a small car park on Mt Buffalo Road. From the top there are excellent views of the slightly higher Horn (1723m) and surrounding alpine plateau. And on the way up you pass some impressive lumps of granite called the Cathedral.
Elsewhere in Victoria
Mount Stapylton (469m) was a great introduction to the rugged Grampians 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. And you can easily fit in the short Mt Zero walk on the same day, which is also very good. (There are views of Mt Stapylton on this walk.)
The Cathedral Range is a small but prominent mountain range in Victoria, about two hours north-east of Melbourne. It comprises a seven kilometre ridge of upturned rock, and climbing onto and then 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.
Enjoy your walking 🙂