New Zealand 2020
Bringing in the New Year with a 3dayer hike (which was meant to be 4!) around Hotham. We started at Harrietville – this is easily my favourite mountain village, I have started and ended so many hikes here and couldn’t recommend the pub enough.
We drove from Melbourne to Harrietville in the morning and started walking about 1pm. From Harrietville we took the Bungalow Spur up to Federation hut/Mt Feathertop. This is a really nice spur for an accent of 1300m over 12km - lots of switchbacks and a good slow incline, so you don’t burn yourself out.
Made Federation hut with loads of light left (thank you summer) and set up camp. We then went up Feathertop without packs in time for the sunset. Best decision ever. It did mean walking back 1.5km with 300m of descent in the dark, but it was totally worth it. We then had an extremely late dinner (tuna mornay!) in the dark. We’re not really stereotypical hikers; the amount of times we leave late morning and eat dinner in the dark is ridiculous (and yes we are often judged by other hikers). The thing is that you can do your own thing, as long as you’re safe, warm and have food and water, it doesn’t really matter what you do. Still, there’s raised eyebrows when you show up to camp as the sun goes down. On the plus side, there's no judgement in the morning as everyone's left by 6am and you have the hut to yourself!
2nd day we walked along the Razorback to Hotham, then down Swindlers Spur to Dibbins hut for the night. Dibbins is one of my favourite huts. I’ve been there 6 times on various hikes. It’s pretty basic on the inside but so iconic on the outside and in the most beautiful alpine meadow.
Unfortunately the famous Dibbins rat got into our packs and gnawed holes through the plastic food bags (just like that scene in Wallace and Gromit where Wallace tries to pour cereal but it comes out the other end where Shaun the sheep ate it). Mr Rat even tried to get through the peanut butter jar, thank god its teeth were no match for the plastic or else Mickey may have walked out then and there.
3rd day we headed north at Cobungra Gap and up past Blair Hut turning west at Diamantina spur. I’ve once been down this spur and I can definitely recommend ascending. (Dad doesn’t speak fondly of Diamantina spur... I enjoy bringing the name up around him because he has such a wonderful wide-eyed reaction: 'oh that spur' and then proceeds to relive the whole painful experience). Look it’s pretty steep in parts, and generally (for my knees sake) I’d rather be walking up the hill. Diamantina gets you back to the Razorback in Fed hut, but our destination that night was MUMC on the Northwest spur.
This hut looks like something that could land on the moon. It stands for Melbourne Uni Mountaineering Club. Apparently members have extravagant events where they bring up instruments, fancy clothes, drinks and make pasta from scratch.
We reached MUMC hut by 4.30pm for a well deserved rest. The plan was to stay the night, but a pub meal was calling us and we figured that it’d probably only take 1.5hrs to walk 5km down Northwest spur, which takes you to a main rd about 7km from Harrietville. So off we went. The track started out fine, but got more and more overgrown as we went. In fact it took us closer to 3hrs to get outta there, sometimes that just happens. It’s a pretty fun spur but needs a bit of clearing in parts. We made the rd by 8pm and luckily some locals offered us a lift into Harrietville where we made dinner by only a few mins!
Would totally recommend this (almost) loop. You get to see some of the best mountains in Victoria. It’s definitely a hard hike with a lot of ascent/descent, but you could make it easier by taking more days. x
To say I was unprepared for the AAWT would be an understatement. Mish called, saying she needed a new hiking partner for the final 3rd of her 650km hike from Victoria to Canberra. Having zero gear and even less experience, I felt like the perfect man for the job.
I had three days to quit my jobs, move out of my house and get down to Canberra for a lift to Thredbo. Once there it was decided my high school joggers with holes in them weren’t going to be sufficient, I bought some decent ones and was gifted my very first spork (a fetching hot pink). Before you knew it we were setting out from Thredbo the next morning.
Before we’d even left though, a young hiker came back into town having decided to quit the hike after 400km, his leg pain and the weather proving too much for him. To prove this ill omen didn’t worry me, I held in the vomit that’d been trying to escape my body for the first 20 minutes (the cold and lack of sleep over the past few days catching up). It worked and I think I’d have made a very promising new companion to Michelle if I hadn’t been holding my compass upside down.
But eventually I adapted. The long walks and the incredible cold make the warm food and sleeping bag at the end of the day all the more comforting. On the second night, we were somewhat forced into becoming the two most elevated sleepers in Australia, having lost the track over the Main Range in the snow. A brief flirtation with hypothermia was not enough to take away from the astonishing views and the incredible feeling of your body becoming an energy burning, mountain ascending machine.
There is something very satisfyingly primal about a lack of reception, screens or even standards of cleanliness (the latter of which I’ve never particularly adhered to anyway). Long stretches of isolation, no news from the outside world and fresh food, people always ask me if I got bored but honestly, there was no time to. With all the planning, the eating and 8 hour plus of sleep every night, boredom just wasn’t an option. Not to mention that when you know you're walking to Canberra, every kilometer comes with a tremendous sense of worth.
Then all of a sudden the hike was over. It was a very rude shock. During the hitch into town our driver told us that gay marriage was passed (finally)! Somehow society didn’t collapse and I was able to enjoy my first shower in 15 days. I’ve definitely got the bug, so stay tuned for more of my zany adventures of ill-preparation in the mountains!
Mickey or Michelle, depending who has more to say on the subject :)