From 8th to 23rd January, ARPA held two week-long camps for about 25 people at Mt. Buller, the first with A and B grade walks, the second week with B and C grade walks. We stayed at the very comfortable Schuss Lodge in Mt Buller, with six days of walking and one rest day. Both camps were a great success with many highlights – all of this due to four crucial factors:
- Outstanding management, organisation and coordination by Chris Bushell, together with Geoff Lister (Week 1) and Ron (Week 2)
- Wonderful alpine and forest landscapes, wildflowers and wildlife, including our share of black snakes
- Top accommodation in Schuss Lodge
- A great bunch of ARPA walkers.
While Adelaide was sweltering in 40 degree heat, we had a real mix of warm and cold weather, but mostly clear skies and terrific views. Most days the A’s walked up hill and went further and faster, while the B’s had an easier time of it, often doing a similar shorter, slower walk from top to bottom. Well …. easier if you don’t count the toll on some ageing and aching knees. The C walks in Week 2 suited those of us who like to take it a little more gently. Car shuffles allowed uni-directional walks and smart coordination meant that it all worked perfectly – no mislaid vehicles, no missing keys, no lost walkers.
Most walks passed through treeless alpine grasslands with wildflowers, down into the snow gum woodlands, grading into tall forests and a river or creek below. Pink trigger plants, yellow daisies, lyrebirds, gang-gang cockatoos, kangaroos, echidnas and march flies were all around us – or in the case of the march flies, upon us.
In each week there were six days of walking with a ‘rest day’ in between. The smart ones stayed in the village reading and relaxing. At least one person (also smart) went fishing and caught three trout. Other activities for the rest day were a ‘stroll’ that was promoted as a C-grade walk around the contour from the village up to the top of Little Mount Buller, almost vertically up a ski-slope and by circuitous means back to the lodge – a tough 3½ hour ‘stroll’ with magnificent views over the ranges – and an easy walk around the Mirimbah Sawmill Settlement and the picturesque Tramway Track walk. The group dinner at the Arlberg Hotel was a pleasant time to reflect and compare how we were travelling.
Bushfires were a cause of concern week 2 as the valleys were immersed in smoke for a couple of days but, thankfully, the fires remained distant. We had to abandon the heights for one day but were treated to a beautiful walk along the Delatite River instead, whilst Chris took the opportunity for some more fishing.
Some of the outstanding sections of the walks included:
- Mirimbah along the Delatite River
- A clamber up (not so…) Little Mt Buller, and a challenging pull in the sun across the saddle and up to the summit of Mt Buller itself
- The challenge of the West Ridge Track; the views at all times were marvellous and the narrow ridge added real depth to the scenery.
- Telephone Box junction up to Mt Stirling
- Bush-bashing through post-fire regrowth up (if you were an ‘A’) or down (if you were a ‘B’) from the Howqua River with the valuable assistance of Lou’s GPS finding the track when all seemed lost
- An easy last day on the high track overlooking the Howqua River to Ritchie’s Hut and beyond for the A’s, then back along the low track complete with 13 wet (and refreshing) river crossings.
A few photos below; more photos available in the members’ area.