Victorian Winter Hikes

Victoria specific bushwalking discussion.
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Victoria specific bushwalking discussion. Please avoid publishing details of access to sensitive areas with no tracks.

Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby gingeraman » Wed 13 Jun, 2018 4:58 pm

I'm kinda bored with the hikes around Canberra and Kosciusko Park so I'm going to pile in my (car only) camping gear and base camp around Falls Creek or something and go check out some tracks, probably just day hikes from the diesel AWD SUV. Have alpine sleeping bag and comfy tent but yeah it's car only. So a powered site would be ideal to charge stuff or whatever.

Got a pair of snow hiking boots. Happy to snow shoe if needed.

In search of epic views and climbs for epic photography.

Any suggestions welcome.

Thanks.

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Re: Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby Xplora » Thu 14 Jun, 2018 6:14 am

The caravan park at Mt Beauty would be a good base for Falls Creek. You will have to pay for resort entry past Howmans Gap and you will need to hire snow chains. There is also a caravan park on Mountain Creek road, Tawonga. Mtn creek road takes you to a camp ground with no power but it is free and is the base for the staircase walk to Bogong summit. Up and back is possible in a day. The return can be via Eskdale Spur then Mtn creek track from Camp creek gap. You would be best to take a head torch in case you run late on these short days. There is a bit of snow on Bogong and snowshoes may be needed soon. Early morning may be a bit icy in places.
West Kiewa logging road will take you out so far and then you can climb up Westons spur from Blairs Hut. It is a bit of a drive so you would need an early start. It may be possible to get across from pole 333 and head down to the Cobungra then it is an easy walk back to the car on the fire trail.
I would allow 7 or 8 hours walking, depending on conditions (for both) but both could be done much quicker with a day pack and in good conditions if you are mountain fit. Fresh, soft snow will slow you down and weather is always the deciding factor. Refuge shelter is available on both walks.
From Harrietville you can summit Feathertop via Bungalow spur and return in a day. There are a number of caravan parks in and around Bright. How many walks are needed? Hoping you have some snow skills but these walks will have options also if things go bad. Phone reception is mostly available throughout or on the higher areas but may not be available low in the Kiewa Valley.
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Re: Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 14 Jun, 2018 8:44 am

As always, Xplora has good advice. Bogong might be more viable going to Bivouac Hut (good camping, good hut), set up the tent, then a side trip to the summit. Back to the car the next day. This gives more time in short winter days to reach the summit comfortably. One option in the West Kiewa is to stop for the night at Blairs (good camping, drafty hut). Then go either to Dibbins (another cold drafty hut, good camping), easy day. The next day go on the main pole line to near Mount Jim and down to Westons Hut (cool but not drafty, fair camping). Stay the night or continue back to Blairs, not far. These walks involve carrying gear for 2-3 days, but they are shorter walking days. Take a good reliable head torch.
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Re: Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby gingeraman » Thu 14 Jun, 2018 10:02 am

Thanks.. Just doing day walks for now as I just have a sleeping bag and large tent..

Bivouac Hut sounds interesting because we would just need to lug a sleeping bag.. Are these huts used frequently?

Of course I'll take a PLB and emergency thermal blankets.
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Re: Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 14 Jun, 2018 12:26 pm

There may be nobody or a lot of people at the huts. Weekends are busier. On an overnight trip you would still need to carry a shelter of some or in case the hut is full. Also a stove, fuel, cooking gear, food, clothing, sleeping mat and a bit more. It's a solid 700 or so metres from the car park to Bivouac, and maybe 500 metres to the summit. Staircase is a big climb.

Basing at Blairs is an option, see how you go up to Westons. From Blairs it's about 400 metres of climbing to Westons, and another 250 metres to where it flattens out. Not many people visit this part of the high plains.
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Re: Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby gingeraman » Thu 14 Jun, 2018 1:28 pm

I like the sound of "not many people".. Is it generally above the snowline there
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Re: Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 14 Jun, 2018 2:23 pm

Westons and Bivouac are close to the snowline, around the same height as Falls Creek. For the next 2-4 weeks I would not expect much snow on the ground until quite a bit higher. You need to consider what would happen if a big snowfall occurs or if the weather turns bad.
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Re: Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby gingeraman » Thu 14 Jun, 2018 4:15 pm

Fair enough.. I'll wait until late July or late August then...

Good point about random weather.

Would a few emergency thermal blankets be sufficient. The pocket sized packets.. And PLB of course.

I'm really interested in just day walks from some sort of base camp as I'm already weighed down with camera gear etc and don't fancy the ideas of a really heavy pack making it just hard horrible going.

I've been snow shoeing and regularly go up the Brindabellas in winter so I'm ok with it although not that experienced after dark in winter.

And is the snow season getting shorter? Kinda sucks.

I may beef to plan a NZ trip next year then.

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Re: Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 14 Jun, 2018 4:33 pm

Thermal blankets keep the wind at bay but don't do that much for drafts or thermal ground insulation. You might be better with a sleeping mat, light bivvy bag and a tarp over the head to keep the weather off. The bivvy bag will stop most drafts. Blairs-Westons is about 2 kilometres, and even with a heavy pack it should not take more than a few hours. Going only on day trips limits options. Walking on foot tracks in deep snow can be quite hard. The snow will slow progress and at times it will be impossible to even see the track. My personal best was on Feathertop, Bungalow ruin to Federation. This normally takes about 40 minutes. In very deep soft snow we took three hours, arriving wrecked. Snow shoes would have assisted. Nobody else got to the hut that weekend. It's a lot easier going downhill.

The snow season is getting shorter, with less cover. There was a recent report that in about 30 years (cannot recall the time) there will be no winter snow at Victorian ski resorts. Lake Mountain and Baw Baw are struggling now.
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Re: Victorian Winter Hikes

Postby Xplora » Fri 15 Jun, 2018 6:06 am

The snow pack in winter usually sits around 1400m. The trick to covering ground quickly in snow is not to go just after a big dump. That is usually when it is soft and dry and much lower. Let it settle and freeze for a couple of days then go. Mornings will usually have it firm until the sun hits it. Snow at the moment is around 1300m with more snow coming this weekend, down to 500m. If it were me, I would head out Wednesday at the earliest if snowshoeing.

I would not sleep in Blairs hut. Something is eating one of the bunks. Daylight is around 7am (enough to see) and that would give you at least 8 or 9 hours of reasonable walking in daylight. More than enough if you have a base camp. If you use the Mountain creek free camp then you can drive down the road and pay for a shower at the caravan park. If you need 240V daily then free camps are not in the equation. Never rely on huts for sleeping. I don't like sharing with rodents anyway.

If you have more time then a drive over Hotham to Omeo is worthwhile. No need to pay unless you stop in the resort. Dinner plain is free to park and the pub has good meals at reasonable rates. Hire chains in Harrietville and drop off Omeo. Head north on the Omeo Hwy and stay at the Glen Wills retreat. Cheaper if you provide your own sleeping bag and cook for yourself then you can day walk up Mt. Wills. Great views on a clear day and easy day walk. There are also many free camps on the Mitta. Big River Bridge campground at Glen Valley would be the best option. From there you can head north via Corryong, Khancoban, Thredbo, Cooma, home.
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