Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

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Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby JudeLNS » Wed 16 Aug, 2017 9:15 pm

Me and three friends are planning on a three-day traverse of Mount Bogong, starting from Watchbed Creek Trackhead past Falls Creek, and we are planning on doing so sometime during this coming Spring holiday.

What we want to know is when it is expected that the Bogong High Plains Road from Falls Creek will open to traffic, based on previous years. How likely is it that the road will open between the 23rd of September and early October? We can walk from Heathy Spur if needed, but ideally, we'd rather knock off a few kilometres.

On a side note, has anyone crossed the Grey Hills recently? I hear it is quite overgrown and the track is faint.

Cheers :)
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Lophophaps » Wed 16 Aug, 2017 11:18 pm

Xplorer will doubtless have more definitive advice, but there could well be snow much later than you trip, and hence the road will be closed. Last year the opening was delayed due to big drifts at Mount Cope or nearby. I'd consider putting back the trip 2-4 weeks. If the road is closed then there may be drifts and more on the high plains, especially the eastern falls. Bogong is much more likely to have deep snow, and if you go too early you could find that the trip is quite slow. Three days from Falls Creek to Bogong and back is certainly viable, but with snow, maybe not.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Xplora » Thu 17 Aug, 2017 4:39 am

Zero chance of it opening before the ski season finishes even if it is clear of snow. If you do Heathy Spur while the resort is open then you will have to pay resort entry and parking for the time you will be away. You could start from Howmans Gap and do Spione Kopje to Grey HIlls but the river crossing could be problematic during the thaw. The Grey Hills are fine. A little overgrown in some places but easy to follow. There is no real track connecting Spione Kopje to the Grey Hills but it will be obvious enough where you should be headed so when you see the Grey Hills ridge line just walk the best line you can through the heath. Once on it you only have to follow the ridge line but the track is more obvious. Quartz Ridge will have a lot of timber across it according to a recent report. If you intend a loop down T spur and back to Falls then you may encounter another problem at the Big River crossing. Sometimes the chain gets broken and I would not cross it during the thaw without the chain. I would also think carefully about crossing at all. Personally I think your plans need some considerable more thought. There will still be snow and maybe ice on Bogong and around the High Plains but maybe think of getting up there a different way. Let us know your experience with winter mountain walking and what gear you intend to take then maybe we can offer a bit more. I concur with Lops. Three days is not enough.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby JudeLNS » Thu 17 Aug, 2017 10:24 am

The plan as it stands is to walk from Watchbed Creek over the Nelses to Spion Kopje, then Spion Kopje to Bogong and down the Staircase Spur. Currently we believe each day would be 12km to Spion Kopje, just 8km over the Grey Hills, and 16km over Bogong and down. That last day has me most worried due to the snow up there.

The last dates I can get up there, in theory, are the 5-8th of October.

What are your thoughts on this?
Last edited by JudeLNS on Thu 17 Aug, 2017 10:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby JudeLNS » Thu 17 Aug, 2017 10:29 am

Regarding winter mountain experience - not much. I've snow-shoed to Kosciuszko in a blizzard, walked Mt Stirling in the snow (but with very good conditions), and it barely counts, but I've walked a short section of the Razorback under snow. Much of the trip was premised on the idea that the snow up there would be patchy, or at the very least, not deep.

I was not intending on bringing snow shoes, and if it seems like it would come to that, I'd imagine I'd revise the plan to a somewhere less high. Other gear we would certainly take would be gaitors, waterproof pants, down jackets and sunglasses/goggles.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 17 Aug, 2017 10:40 am

JudeLNS wrote:The plan as it stands is to walk from Watchbed Creek over the Nelses to Spion Kopje, then Spion Kopje to Bogong and down the Staircase Spur. Currently we believe each day would be 12km to Spion Kopje, just 8km over the Grey Hills, and 17km over Bogong and down. That last day has me most worried due to the snow up there.

What are your thoughts on this?

Once you leave the last scattered trees on Heathy Spur there's no trees until the Grey Hills. Getting to Spion Kopje in a day is not hard, but if the snow is deep, the weather is poor or both it will be hard. There's trees on the Grey Hills, which with snow could make the track hard to follow and slow. I'd aim to get well past the helipad on the second day, perhaps camp on West Peak. This makes the last day easier, usually a good idea. There's water in the West Peak summit ridge gullies, down a short distance.

In poor weather on the last day, if you are camped anywhere from the helipad to West Peak there are problems. Going back from the helipad via Timms Lookout is fine until you come out of the trees near Whiterock Falls. I do not have a map with me so I cannot be specific. I think it's at about 1700 metres. From there it's a longish exposed slog back to Heathy Spur. It's a shorter but more exposed walk over Bogong and down Staircase. I'd consider allowing four days and going after the ski season ends.

You can park at the foot of Bogong and have the taxi take you to Mount Beauty. I cannot recall if there's a bus outside the snow season, but the taxi can take you to the start of the walk.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby JudeLNS » Thu 17 Aug, 2017 3:44 pm

Thank you for the advice, I shall keep this all in mind.

We might be able to get a 4WD to pick us up from the base of Eskdale Spur, reducing the last day to ~10.5km, or more if we camp past the Helipad. I would be more confident in the trip as a whole if this happens, but I'd like to know if you guys still think it's unrealistic.

I have a few contingencies in mind, such as doing it in 4 days, in reverse, with an afternoon walk to Bivouac Hut on the first day to cut down the traverse of Bogong. It also means we get the biggest obstacle out of the way, which is preferable if there is bad weather later on. If we cannot do the hike at all, I was thinking of walking from the Howqua to Howitt and to The Bluff over 3 days.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 17 Aug, 2017 4:30 pm

Eskdale is a bit shorter than Staircase, but once you hit the bushline on either spur there's not much in it. Staircase is pretty steep towards the top. Summit – foot of Eskdale – Mountain Creek camping area is about the same time as summit – Staircase – Mountain Creek camping area, and you can shave about 20 minutes off the end by having the pickup at the gate.

It mainly depends on the amount of snow on the ground. If you allow four days and do it in November then there will be a much better chance of finishing as planned. There will still be drifts, but the ridges should be snowless, with water and sun assisting. Doing the walk in reverse is an option, but I like the idea of having Bogong at the end, a summit.

Howqua-Bluff has similar issues, and the logistics are against a walk from A to B.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby JudeLNS » Thu 17 Aug, 2017 5:24 pm

Alright, thanks, I'll see how it all pans out. We do have the luxury of two cars, so the logistics shouldn't be too challenging, especially with a 4WD. I just heard a news report that this spring is expected to be hot, so hopefully that comes early and we get some clear weather and less snow (wishful thinking). Or else we postpone.

Lophophaps wrote:Summit – foot of Eskdale – Mountain Creek camping area is about the same time as summit – Staircase – Mountain Creek camping area, and you can shave about 20 minutes off the end by having the pickup at the gate.


Could you clarify which gate you mean? I was thinking we could be picked up by a 4WD where the Eskdale Spur track reaches the dirt road. I've done Eskdale and Staircase Spurs on an overnight hike to Cleve Cole Hut, and remember the walk along the road from the end of the Eskdale track being quite long - about an hour or so. But you raise a good point that it's the spurs themselves that matter, and they're much for muchness.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 17 Aug, 2017 6:30 pm

The main camping area for car-based people going to Bogong is Mountain Creek. If you go about 700 metres east on Mountain Creek Road there's a creek and gate, with a car park. My 20 minutes comment above is wrong, probably closer to 15 minutes.

I would not go down Eskdale unless you have a vehicle at the end. I've walked from Mountain Creek to Eskdale and up - once. That was enough: much road bashing. There's also parking on Granite Flat Spur at the gate. However, all these options take time to set up, and it seems to me simpler to park at the gate on Mountain Creek Road and walk another hour or so getting down Staircase. Balancing car and walking time should be done.

Now that I have a map I can advise that the treeline at Timms Lookout on the road is about 1780 metres, northish from the north feed to the Whiterock Falls system. There's camping in that little valley, sheltered to some degree. It's a good idea to have a number of camps tentatively identified so that a day can be extended or shortened easily. Look at escape routes as well. From Bogong Creek Saddle it's a foot-numbing 20 kilometres to Mountain Creek by sundry fire tracks, or for about the same distance and time, Mount Beauty.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby north-north-west » Thu 17 Aug, 2017 6:56 pm

Re camping on the proposed route - there are viable tentsites on the lower part of Quartz Ridge, among the snowgums. A bit more sheltered than Bogong West Peak.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby JudeLNS » Fri 18 Aug, 2017 1:02 am

north-north-west wrote:Re camping on the proposed route - there are viable tentsites on the lower part of Quartz Ridge, among the snowgums. A bit more sheltered than Bogong West Peak.


I like the sound of that. Less exposure but not such a big day crossing Bogong.

Lophophaps wrote:Now that I have a map I can advise that the treeline at Timms Lookout on the road is about 1780 metres, northish from the north feed to the Whiterock Falls system. There's camping in that little valley, sheltered to some degree. It's a good idea to have a number of camps tentatively identified so that a day can be extended or shortened easily. Look at escape routes as well. From Bogong Creek Saddle it's a foot-numbing 20 kilometres to Mountain Creek by sundry fire tracks, or for about the same distance and time, Mount Beauty.


I shall have a look at Timms Lookout myself a bit later on (once I can have a look at a proper map again myself). I think the tentative camps is a very good idea, something I'll make sure to plan.

Regarding the descent route, I'll choose Eskdale IF there is a vehicle to pick us up at the bottom. It's less gruelling walking, and Mitchell Hut is a bit closer in case we need to get to shelter in a hurry.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Xplora » Fri 18 Aug, 2017 5:42 am

JudeLNS wrote: If we cannot do the hike at all, I was thinking of walking from the Howqua to Howitt and to The Bluff over 3 days.

These roads do not open until cup weekend and BHP road is not going to be open until mid October at least.

Bogong will have snow and enough to ski. Usually in spring it will be ice in the morning and thaw through the day. Snow shoes would be helpful and I have also used crampons for the steeper sections in the morning. The base would be fairly solid so you may not post hole too far down unless there is a fresh dump (which happens regularly in spring and did mid October last year) without snowshoes but it will add time to your day. Spione Kopje has Vic's 3rd highest point so likely there will be snow on it as well. Snow may be patchy on the High Plains but not so on Bogong. I have seen warm springs before so don't count on it.

If you are still keen on it then maybe a walk to Bivouac hut in the evening of your travel day. It does not take long then you have an entire day to get over Bogong and down Quartz. If things are crap then head for Cleve Cole or Michell. Bogong Creek saddle and up Grey Hills to Mt. Arthur then down to Bogong Village. I have not done that last section to Bogong Village so cannot comment further. Ropers Spurn (continuation of Big River fire trail) is another option but I feel the river crossing could be a problem again but it is below the dam wall at Bogong village so flow is controlled.

This is still a winter mountain walk so you need to put your common sense hat on and have good exit plans if the weather changes plus good winter gear. You are not without some experience but do you all have the same and do you feel it is enough to make the right decisions. I can't answer that for you and in the end you will have to decide if you do this walk. You lose no points with me if you don't. Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy it and stay safe.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby JudeLNS » Fri 18 Aug, 2017 11:06 am

Xplora wrote:These roads do not open until cup weekend and BHP road is not going to be open until mid October at least.

So are you saying the road to Howqua River that crosses Mount Stirling (I've forgotten the name), is closed until Cup Day? That seems like quite late in the season.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 18 Aug, 2017 12:13 pm

See this link
http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/safety/closur ... -closures2
"Seasonal road closures generally operate from the long weekend in June through to the end of October/beginning of November, but may be extended due to seasonal conditions."
There's specifics on all regions. The bottom line is that you cannot count on a road that is closed in winter being open until mid-November, if not a little later.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby JudeLNS » Fri 18 Aug, 2017 12:35 pm

Lophophaps wrote:See this link
http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/safety/closur ... -closures2
"Seasonal road closures generally operate from the long weekend in June through to the end of October/beginning of November, but may be extended due to seasonal conditions."
There's specifics on all regions. The bottom line is that you cannot count on a road that is closed in winter being open until mid-November, if not a little later.

Thanks for the link - yes, the opening time is 2nd of November, too late for us. Looks like the Lake Cobbler track (which I know is pretty rough) would be open according to the map. Some sort of hike of the same length in that area interests me as a backup plan. Maybe Cobbler, Koonika and Speculation, but that is not an area I am familiar with.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 18 Aug, 2017 2:21 pm

I'm unaware of the status of the Cobbler Track, but suggest that towards the end of winter it could be a bit slick, and may even be closed.

Another option albeit somewhat out and back is to go west from Bogong Village over the Fainers to Jaithmathang. There's good sheltered camping in most parts of the walk, and an option of a day trip from near Tawonga Huts. Depending on the time you start on the first day, this may be viable:
1 Bogong Village, Bogong Jack , Little Plain, 16 kilometres, ~1200 metres of climbing, all on tracks

2 Tawonga Huts, 5 kilometres, ~200 metres climbing. Day trip to Jim, Cope, or the like.

3 Back along the road to Bogong Jack, 10 kilometres, more or less flat

4 Downhill to Bogong Village, 11 kilometres.

There's no need for a car shuffle, there's just one gate at the start, with a walking track to bypass this, the hard days are the start, at a pinch you could get back from Tawonga Huts in a day, and the walk is mostly sheltered. Little Plain to Mount J. is off track, but it's brilliant walking.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby north-north-west » Fri 18 Aug, 2017 7:43 pm

The road into Lake Cobbler has never been gated in my experience. It will be rough at that time of the year, however. There is also the possibility of blockages from treefalls, so take a chainsaw.

Some years ago I did the Koonika - Kings, Speculation loop with the sidetrip to Cobbler, in late October, a week or two before the Speculation Rd gate was opened. The storm damage was incredible - literally hundreds of trees down over the roads between the lake and the King River, and then later between Speculation and the walking track turnoff. The descent track back to the lake from the ridge leading to Cobbler was also buried under a mass of fallen trees.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Xplora » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 5:00 am

north-north-west wrote:The road into Lake Cobbler has never been gated in my experience. It will be rough at that time of the year, however. There is also the possibility of blockages from treefalls, so take a chainsaw.

Some years ago I did the Koonika - Kings, Speculation loop with the sidetrip to Cobbler, in late October, a week or two before the Speculation Rd gate was opened. The storm damage was incredible - literally hundreds of trees down over the roads between the lake and the King River, and then later between Speculation and the walking track turnoff. The descent track back to the lake from the ridge leading to Cobbler was also buried under a mass of fallen trees.


I remember that year. It took months to clear the track with the help of volunteers. The road to Cobbler is usually pretty good apart from the chance of tree fall but it is long and slow. Past the lake the track gets a bit sad at times and then you get to the locked gate preventing access to Speculation Road. A 4wd would be better but not essential.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby north-north-west » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 9:07 am

Xplora wrote:
north-north-west wrote:The road into Lake Cobbler has never been gated in my experience. It will be rough at that time of the year, however. There is also the possibility of blockages from treefalls, so take a chainsaw.

Some years ago I did the Koonika - Kings - Speculation loop with the sidetrip to Cobbler, in late October, a week or two before the Speculation Rd gate was opened. The storm damage was incredible - literally hundreds of trees down over the roads between the lake and the King River, and then later between Speculation and the walking track turnoff. The descent track back to the lake from the ridge leading to Cobbler was also buried under a mass of fallen trees.


I remember that year. It took months to clear the track with the help of volunteers.


Appalling, wasn't it? Took me nearly two hours to get down from the junction, carrying the full pack and clambering over and around all the fallen timber. I was most impressed next time I went up at how good a job had been done fixing it.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Xplora » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 9:21 am

north-north-west wrote:Appalling, wasn't it? Took me nearly two hours to get down from the junction, carrying the full pack and clambering over and around all the fallen timber. I was most impressed next time I went up at how good a job had been done fixing it.

Bart, the head ranger at the time and now big boss of the area, told me they did not have the money in the budget to do it so he was not sure how to get it open then thankfully the local 4wd club came to the rescue. After that they put a dozer through to fix the road. As you say, great job and a good example of community working with the local Parks. This road is an vital link for many but not for most 4wd'ers. It provides access for search and rescue and is used for food drops by AAWT walkers plus Timbertop school. These points were not lost on Bart and may have been used to help secure more funds. The best way to secure funds for anything within Parks is SAFETY. A little off topic. Sorry.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby JudeLNS » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 3:49 pm

Lophophaps wrote:I'm unaware of the status of the Cobbler Track, but suggest that towards the end of winter it could be a bit slick, and may even be closed.

Another option albeit somewhat out and back is to go west from Bogong Village over the Fainers to Jaithmathang. There's good sheltered camping in most parts of the walk, and an option of a day trip from near Tawonga Huts. Depending on the time you start on the first day, this may be viable:
1 Bogong Village, Bogong Jack , Little Plain, 16 kilometres, ~1200 metres of climbing, all on tracks

2 Tawonga Huts, 5 kilometres, ~200 metres climbing. Day trip to Jim, Cope, or the like.

3 Back along the road to Bogong Jack, 10 kilometres, more or less flat

4 Downhill to Bogong Village, 11 kilometres.

Oh yes, I had forgotten you could walk to the Fainters from Bogong Village. I've been wanting to do The Fainters and Mt Jaithmathang for some time, so I'll keep that in mind for sure. I was also thinking of Hotham - Dibbins Hut - Tawonga Hut - Fainters - Mt Jaithmathang - Tawonga Hut - Dibbins Hut, possibly over 4 days?

In regards to the Cobbler Plateau, I've been intrigued about walking out to The Viking and back from there (rather than doing the Viking Circuit), maybe over 4 days, though I'd imagine not while it's snowy. From what I've heard, the water is tricky to get, if not nonexistent. I'll reiterate that I don't have any plans to do that in the snow, but out of curiosity, could the presence of snow help to solve that problem? I'd love some day, maybe next year, to climb Koonika, Speculation, The Razor and The Viking all together. Even better would be if you could start from the base of Speculation and skip walking that road.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Lophophaps » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 6:21 pm

A clarification. Heading from Bogong Jack south there's a short trackless detour westish up Fainter North, then off-track to Fainter South, and SE to meet the track at the creek. Then a short section on the track to go SW from Little Plain. Coiming off Mount J. there's good water before reaching the saddle west of Tawonga Huts. I cannot recall any campsites at the water, but it's not far to the saddle. Go south a little from the saddle and there's camping with a view, might be a bit exposed in bad weather. However, it's got good views and there's less climbing than from Tawonga Huts to pole 333.

Hotham-Dibbins-Tawonga Hut-Fainters-Jaithmathang-Tawonga Hut-Dibbins Hut can be done in four days, but its best to finish at the car. An easy variation coming back is Westons-Machinery Spur-Hotham. Or you could go down Brandy Creek FT and up Paling Spur, which has vague tracks only all the way to the Youngs Hut pole line. Heaps of options, but harder in snow.

Razor Viking under snow could be quite tricky. There's a lot of rocks to cross, nothing really technical, but with ice it would be hard, and big slides in places. Water is a fair way down from Viking Saddle, although spring is perhaps the best time to go there. There's been talk of a tank being put in at Viking Saddle, some people for, some against.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Xplora » Wed 11 Oct, 2017 1:24 pm

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There is still a fair amount of snow on the road between Langford West and Mt. Cope track. A lot more than same time last year. Speaking with East Gippsland shire today and gave them an update. They have no plans to do any clearing for the next couple of weeks and will review it after that. What we could see in the Alpine shire was largely tar and a few smaller drifts.
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The road also has to dry out and we noticed some damage from water getting between the seal and the gravel. Some big pot holes on the way.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 20 Oct, 2017 7:33 pm

I could ski some of that !!!
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Xplora » Sat 21 Oct, 2017 6:16 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I could ski some of that !!!

We had that thought but rode up to check it out before. There was some stuff worth a run but not really worth dragging the skis on the bike. Some good rain this week will help remove some of this load. I can see a great deal gone already but still not sure if they will have it open by cup weekend. I have a direct line to the person who makes that decision and the word was no. She may have a change of heart. I have kicked into summer mode and put the skis away.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Xplora » Mon 23 Oct, 2017 6:17 pm

Latest news in from official sources - not before the 2nd week of November so forget about cup weekend.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Wed 25 Oct, 2017 8:27 am

Yes,I am now in green season mode and am Looking to when the circuit road at Mt. Stirling will open for AWD access for bushwalking for the cup day long weekend.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Xplora » Mon 06 Nov, 2017 10:07 am

The road has been cleared of snow but still needs some repairs and a broom. The Alpine shire is waiting for it to dry out a bit more before putting heavy trucks and machinery over it so it may be some time yet. Could be this week but would not bet on it. The rain today will not help.
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Re: Bogong High Plains Rd opening date

Postby Xplora » Sat 11 Nov, 2017 5:26 am

Open now.
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