The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

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The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby s_withers » Fri 21 Jul, 2017 11:47 pm

Hey guys,

Long time lurker first time poster! Just gotta say, this site is awesome! Such a wealth of knowledge and info on Australian bushwalks.

Now to my question. I'm planning on hiking the Viking Circuit over 3 days (but will allow one extra day if needed) somewhere in the next 2-5 weeks. My understanding is the Viking Circuit is one of the hardest (but also scenic) hikes in Victoria, with massive daily elevation and overgrown/unclear tracks.

Has anyone attempted this hike in winter before or been hiking in the area recently? I really don't mind the cold and can navigate fairly well (GPS). I also understand people hike these areas and even transverse the AAWT in winter. I have good hiking experience but not deep in the Australian Alps. Am I silly for wanting to do this?

Looking forward to the responses,
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Lophophaps » Sat 22 Jul, 2017 6:53 am

SW, welcome to the forum. I've been on Viking via your general route and have walked over the Crosscut in snow. It can be quite hard. Short daylight, cold, deep snow and especially bad weather can make progress slow or impossible. I'd allow five days so that you can sit out bad weather. The pack haul section on the Viking Saddle side of Viking may fill with snow. Given the way the snow season has been, i think not, but I've seen small snowfalls transformed into big drifts. There's rock on Razor and a lot of the Crosscut rocks, which may be hazardous if iced. Here's some pictures to whet your appetite.

Howitt whiteout.png
Howitt whiteout


Spec from Mac Springs.png
Spec from Mac Springs
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby north-north-west » Sat 22 Jul, 2017 12:18 pm

What's your start point?
The Howitt Road is closed at Kellys Lane over winter. Speculation Rd is closed just past Lake Cobbler. Stirling Loop Rd is closed at Telegraph. Not sure about East Rileys . . .
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 7:32 am

NNW, good points. I've approached from a car parked at Speculation (there were no gates in those days, and we were lucky to get out), Howitt Spur (major and tiring walk with skis and winter packs), and The Bluff. The north face of The Bluff was bad, steep deep snow on underlying ice, much sliding down when we wanted to go up. Taking the skis off meant deep holes in the snow ... Dropping a ski would have been painful.

There might be access to the Wonnangatta at a low level. There was a logging road that went to south of The Viking, and from near here a road went westish up Zeka Creek to Near Howitt. My maps are too old to show the current conditions. If starting from the Wonnangatta I'm tending towards going Viking-Spec-Howitt-Wonnangatta. This gets the river crossing and scrub out of the way, with just the AAWT to follow. Easy.

Another option may be to approach via Barry Saddle. I'm unsure where the gates are on this side. However, there's a good all-weather road Van Dammes Track that goes to 4 kilometres from Barry Saddle.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby north-north-west » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 11:24 am

The road/track along the Wonnongatta is awkward at the best of times - full-on 4WD territory from my experience. Selwyn Creek Rd may be navigable, depending on snow. Not sure about gates on that one. But that's still a bit of a hike to the Viking, especially with snow/ice.

I always wanted to do a winter walk along the closed road and on to Howitt. Reckon It'd be three days return at least on snowshoes, although skiing would be easier and faster. A snow camp at the *&%$#!'s Neck would be brilliant in decent conditions.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 12:48 pm

The Bluff slide I referred to went Bluff-Lovicks- Mac Springs-Howitt Plains--near Reynard, where we ran out of snow. It was a taxing trip as we were in clouds most of the time, a bit hairy coming off Magdala and later attempting to find the narrow ridge that joins Howitt to the Howitt Plains. After the Howitt car park it was a major slog, with soft slow snow, poling downhill in most places. I think it took us three days to get to Reynard from Mac Springs.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby north-north-west » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 2:58 pm

Would be brilliant right now. Provided you had a blizzard-proof tent . . .
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby bigkev » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 6:03 pm

s_withers wrote:Hey guys,

Long time lurker first time poster! Just gotta say, this site is awesome! Such a wealth of knowledge and info on Australian bushwalks.

Now to my question. I'm planning on hiking the Viking Circuit over 3 days (but will allow one extra day if needed) somewhere in the next 2-5 weeks. My understanding is the Viking Circuit is one of the hardest (but also scenic) hikes in Victoria, with massive daily elevation and overgrown/unclear tracks.

Has anyone attempted this hike in winter before or been hiking in the area recently? I really don't mind the cold and can navigate fairly well (GPS). I also understand people hike these areas and even transverse the AAWT in winter. I have good hiking experience but not deep in the Australian Alps. Am I silly for wanting to do this?

Looking forward to the responses,


Definitely not silly but you need to be pretty experienced. Even the AAWT sections that have a track will mostly be under snow at the moment and will require a fair bit of navigation. Take some kind of back up for your GPS if you decide to go for it.

I'm not sure about access from Barry Saddle direction either. Probably the way I'd do it would be up Speculation Road from Cobbler, it'll add about a day each way to the walk though (we'll it would for me anyway :D )

As has been already mentioned the rock slabs on the Razor will be a bit of a handful, as will The Viking and even the rock steps up Mt Spec from Horrible Gap.

Don't mistake this for negativity though, it's a great walk and it's one that I'd like to do in winter .....one day.

I was up at Eagles Peaks yesterday and could see the Cross Cut Saw from the western peak, here's a couple of photos of the current (if not distant) conditions. Good luck and let us know how you go.
DSC_0153.JPG
You can see the flat top of Mt Howitt above Square Head Jinny in the distance, the Cross Cut Saw is to the left, from the western most of Eagles Peaks, Sat 22 July 17

DSC_0152.JPG
Cross Cut Saw, Mt Buggery and Mt Spec from the western most of Eagles Peaks 22 July 17
Last edited by bigkev on Sun 23 Jul, 2017 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 6:51 pm

Kev, nice pics. How did you ascend and descend Eagles Peaks? I agree, a great walk, but not in bad weather in any season. I see your comments as realistic, not negative. That said, some negative what-ifs are needed to build in a safety margin. I cannot believe that I zoomed up Buggary from the Spec side and then struggled on the bump-bump-bumps approaching Howitt. The first big up after Buggary was slow, and it got worse.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby bigkev » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 7:23 pm

Hi Lophophaps, yeah it's a tough walk, I've done it twice but never in deep snow. It would be stunning though.....

I went up Eagles Peaks the old mans way :| from Eight Mile Gap. I had a perfect day for it yesterday and spent almost 6 hours poking around.

There are some pics of the climbing ridge on my blog if your interested http://goinferalonedayatatime.blogspot. ... -july.html
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Dreamer » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 11:07 pm

Love the photos and commentary. You had stunning weather. Thanks.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Xplora » Mon 24 Jul, 2017 5:30 am

Regardless of start point it is going to take a day to get to the circuit start and then another day back to the car or the better part of it anyway. Lake Cobbler would probably be the easiest walk in for a start at Speculation but the drive to Cobbler is slow. Road is fine thought, just slow. I doubt the plan has enough time.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby s_withers » Tue 25 Jul, 2017 5:13 pm

Thanks for all the good info guys. Your photos have got me excited!

So access seems like a bit of a problem, I can't get enough time to add +2 days getting on and off the circuit.

What sort of hikes in the Alpine region are suitable for me? I'll have 3 full days (a fourth if I really have to), I'll have access to snow shoes and looking for something really scenic! I promise I'll post pictures, 4K video when I get back. I have a Hilleberg Nallo 2 etc... so I should be fine camping in exposed areas. I've came across Mount Feathertop – Bon Accord and Bungalow Spurs circuit? Access if from Harrietville.

Any other suggestions?

Thanks guys
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby north-north-west » Tue 25 Jul, 2017 6:41 pm

Bon Accord-Feathertop-Bungalow is really only two days, but a great walk.

Bogong circuit - there are plenty of variations of this and it wouldn't be hard to work out something that would suit you. Starting from Mountain Creek you can, for instance, go up the firetrail that runs around the side of Little Bogong, pick up the main route at Bogong Saddle, then Grey Hills track to Spion Kopje, and down either Duanes or Timms and up to Bogong via T Spur or Quartz Ridge and back down to the camping area.

Or start at Bogong Village and go up to the Fainters and Niggerhead, pick up the AAWT near Jim, wander around Bundara/Cope and back. Using a mix of track and cross-country it's easy to vary the route so you're not just retracing your steps the whole way. You can also access the Fainters via the AAWT from Cope if you don't mind walking up the road from Trapyard gap.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby s_withers » Sun 30 Jul, 2017 7:33 pm

Okay, So i think I'm set on the Mount Feathertop – Bon Accord and Bungalow Spurs (Circuit) https://www.trailhiking.com.au/mount-fe ... low-spurs/

The problem is this hike is only 34km (although 2200 elevation gain), which I should be able to complete in 1night/2days. I really want to do 2 nights, 3 days hike Does anyone know of any side hikes or extensions to this circuit that might make it a good 3 day hike? I'm after really good photo points as well to test out my new camera for timelapses. A 40-45km total hike would be ideal.

Cheers for any input!
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby north-north-west » Sun 30 Jul, 2017 8:01 pm

From the top of Bon Accord you can walk out to the road and up Hotham, then down to the main carpark and out to Loch and back. Or go really hardcore and follow the AAWT down Swindlers and up the other side, then down past Westons and up Diamantina Spur, which is *&%$#! hard work even in summer and not really a good idea for someone unaccustomed to snow/ice.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Xplora » Mon 31 Jul, 2017 3:46 am

Up Bungalow and Feathertop as a side trip, down Diamantina to Blairs Hut, up the Kiewa to Dibbins Hut then Swindlers spur to Derrick Hut, continue to Mt. Loch carpark and down the road to the start of the Razorback then onto Bon Accord. It could take 3 and maybe 4 days. I have done it in winter over 4 days (3 nights) but starting up North West Spur which is longer and harder than Bungalow. The last day was Derrick Hut to Harrietville. Derrick hut is within the resort boundary and technically you are not supposed to camp there but as we were in a blizzard I don't think anyone would mind us putting up a tent. I doubt you would have trouble. Blairs to Derrick will take a day. Bungalow is pretty quick if you are fit and maybe a good tester for the rest of the trip. Allow about 4 hours for this spur. If it takes 6 then rethink your plans. Get to Federation hut early and you can do Feathertop same day. If you struggle to Fed hut then you have the option of Feathertop the next day and the Razorback but there will be no hut on Bon Accord and it will be a long day unless you are happy to snow camp. The old hut site may be the last good spot on Bon Accord spur to pitch a tent. Now all you have to do is pick your weather window. Things are starting to shake up now and expect more fronts to force their way through these High Pressure systems.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby s_withers » Tue 08 Aug, 2017 5:39 pm

Hmmm, thanks for the input.

I've decided to take it a bit easier and do the Mount Feathertop – Bon Accord and Bungalow Spurs circuit (34.4km), starting and ending in Harrietville.

By the sounds of it quite a bit of snow was dumped in the past week, still hike-able right? :) :)

Planning on leaving Melbourne after work this Friday and camping the night at Smoko Camp ground, just out of Harrietville. Have 2 full days of hiking and head back Sunday when I get to my car.

Sounds like a good plan? Cheers
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Xplora » Wed 09 Aug, 2017 6:55 am

s_withers wrote:Planning on leaving Melbourne after work this Friday and camping the night at Smoko Camp ground, just out of Harrietville. Have 2 full days of hiking and head back Sunday when I get to my car.

Sounds like a good plan? Cheers

Have you checked the weather forecast? You will need snow shoes but certainly walkable. Don't take an umbrella. All indications are for it to be very windy over the weekend and some snow on Saturday. If you are good with that then you should be fine.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby s_withers » Thu 10 Aug, 2017 10:21 pm

Yeah the weather isn't looking to bad at the moment. whats the best place to camp? will be starting up along the Bungalow Spur Track. Wouldn't mind splitting the days evenly, around 17km each!?
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 10 Aug, 2017 11:33 pm

To do this in two days you need camp well across The Razorback. From Federation Hut it's pretty exposed for a few hours. If you get to Federation by about lunch, then bag Feathertop and continue to a sheltered spot in the trees, preferably on the east fall of the ridge. Winds from the west tend to be brisk. Some 4-5 kilometres from the Feathertop turnoff, say near 113113, would be about right. But note that if the weather turns progress in any direction could be quite hard. This campsite is about 3 kilometres from the road, a possible escape route. You may be able to flag down the bus.. Take plenty of fuel to melt snow.
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Snowzone » Fri 11 Aug, 2017 3:16 pm

Welcome to the forum. You might find this old post of a trip Walkon and I did a couple of years ago of interest in what you had intended to do originally.
viewtopic.php?f=46&t=21040&hilit=walkon
The conditions for that trip were not unsimilar to last week and the avalanche risk on the crosscut at the time was too big to risk.
You don't sound like you have much experience in snow and ice and whilst weather this weekend will be fairly sedate please be aware there is still a lot of snow sitting on those slopes that could avalanche. Stay clearly on the ridge lines and away from the slopes. Feathertop is well known for its beautiful cornices which I am unsure of conditions currently but they can extend for up to 4 metres so stay away from the edge. And bear in mind that walking in the snow is much slower going than normal. Otherwise have fun and I hope you get some beautiful photos but be careful out there. :)
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Re: The Viking Circuit, Wonnangatta Circuit in Winter?

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 11 Aug, 2017 4:51 pm

Sonwzone has sound advice. The cornice will be a hazard. There was an avalanche on Hotham a few days ago.
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