This is a massive undertaking by Neil and his committee to plan a continuous trek from Mt Bogong to the ocean: planned in 3 stages, over 3 years. So for this first stage it was attended by 18 walkers and 2 non-walkers (support staff e.g. driving) and technically began at the tip of Victoria’s highest peak, Mt Bogong, to finish at the Dargo Plains Rd south of Hotham. We met at the very pleasant Mount Beauty Holiday Park right on the banks of the Kiewa River, with a view of Mt. Bogong and within walking distance of Mount Beauty’s shopping area. We were here 5 nights and some had tents while others shared Yurt-type cabins.
We were all keen to tackle Mt Bogong in the perfect conditions. Some made it up to Bivouac Hut halfway up the Staircase then returned. Others made it to the top (1986m) and returned by the Staircase, while others returned via Eskdale Spur. This all took quite a bit of energy that resulted in some very tired muscles to nurse and a few took to swimming in the river adjacent to our campsite.
Next day, armed with GPS, maps and cameras, was a relative easy walk in trees on the Little Bogong Track (for those coming south from Mountain Ck) to finally rock-hop across the Kiewa and climb up to the cars at Ropers Spur on the Falls Creek Road. Those who had travelled in the opposite direction had more of an uphill climb.
The walkers on day 3 travelled in only one direction with a long strenuous climb on Ropers Track and later slightly overshot a link trail down to the West Kiewa R. Those waiting in cars picked lovely ripe blackberries and paddled their feet in the river.
Day 4 was a well-earned rest day, free to enjoy coffee shops, watch the dare-devil, down-hill mountain bikers or drive up to Falls Creek for a little sightseeing.
We now began a different transport arrangement. We packed camp and moved to the fire track to skirt Pyramid Hill with a hiker(s) walking perhaps 5kms to where a vehicle was left for them while that driver had begun their 5km walk. The first driver then leap-frogged past and moved the car along for the next repeat. This way, when tired, one could stay with the transport. That afternoon at the end of the vehicle track we made our one bush camp in a lovely little dip and went about setting up tents. We cooked our dinners around a fire and had some entertaining poems and quizzes. Then with perfect timing the drizzle began and it was early to bed.
Now began our planned ascent of Razorback South, Feathertop (1922m) and Razorback North to Diamantina Hut (1730m). First it was packing up damp tents in quite a fog and eight of us set off with optimism. The others wisely decided to have an easier day and rode to Hotham with the drivers. After a couple of hours we were somewhat damp due to dodging wet vegetation and once we hit snow on the ground (in late Feb!) it became obvious conditions would only get worse. So we returned and were met by our faithful drivers and transported to hot showers in very comfortable accommodation at the chalet in Hotham. It was here we had our farewell dinner with a delightful tasty menu.
Next morning of course it was sunny, spectacular and no sign of snow but we had to move on. The Alpine Way moves along here but is not marked and one has to mess about locating the old original portion of road/follow a cable line/and do some road-walking to get to the Dargo Plains Rd and then finish at Mt Freezeout. This, in mid-April 2018, is where we officially start – and finish in the Mitchell River National Park. There is the promise of tackling the Razorback as a day walk prior to the beginning of next year’s segment in order to make the trek as completely walked by foot as possible. As this is an inaugural ARPA camp one has to expect the unexpected which makes for a different adventure.