Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan?

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Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan?

Postby Kipper » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 11:34 am

Hi there. Long time lurker on this forum. Thought it about time I post something.

A mate and I are planning a stroll (4 days and 3 nights) from Harrietville mid-November. We are both reasonably fit with moderate hiking and camping experience. I'd be interested in any feedback - Does this route make sense? Any other suggestions? Things to look out for etc.

Day 1 – Harrietville > Federation Hut via Bungalow + return trip to Mt Feathertop after we’ve set up camp. If we can start walking by about 10am, we should get to Federation Hut by 2-3pm, I think
Day 2 – Federation Hut > Pretty Valley Hut (19.5km) - this seems the hardest day as it involves going down Diamantina Spur
Day 3 – Plenty Valley Hut > Derrick Hut (19km) via Cope Saddle and AAWT
Day 4 – Derrick Hut > Harrietville (19.5km) via Bon Accord; eat steak and chips at the pub and drink beer; camp at the Harrietville campground and drive back to Melbourne the next day

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Xplora » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 12:58 pm

Kipper wrote:Hi there. Long time lurker on this forum. Thought it about time I post something.

A mate and I are planning a stroll (4 days and 3 nights) from Harrietville mid-November. We are both reasonably fit with moderate hiking and camping experience. I'd be interested in any feedback - Does this route make sense? Any other suggestions? Things to look out for etc.

Day 1 – Harrietville > Federation Hut via Bungalow + return trip to Mt Feathertop after we’ve set up camp. If we can start walking by about 10am, we should get to Federation Hut by 2-3pm, I think

Likely quicker than you think. If you do it in 5 hours then the rest of the trip is in doubt as you are not fit enough or carrying too much.
Kipper wrote:Day 2 – Federation Hut > Pretty Valley Hut (19.5km) - this seems the hardest day as it involves going down Diamantina Spur

Forget Pretty Valley Hut. Go to Tawonga Huts or Westons. This will put you quickly back on track the next day to pole 333. Unless of course you had a specific reason to go there. Some issues with people going down Diamantina include going through some steep rocky bits. I traversed north of them and never found a problem. Think maybe a signpost is putting people off. Use common sense. I have taken relatively inexperienced people down it with no issues and never needed ropes. Some recent issues with people not finding the start of the track to Westons. You should have plenty of time to scout around for it and be sure to drop past Blairs Hut. The walk up Westons will be more challenging than the walk down Diamantina.
Kipper wrote:Day 3 – Pretty Valley Hut > Derrick Hut (19km) via Cope Saddle and AAWT

Adjust accordingly as no need to go to Cope Saddle if you go the way I suggested. This cuts about 4km if the trip for that day which means around 8km all up as you are not doubling back as far.
Kipper wrote:Day 4 – Derrick Hut > Harrietville (19.5km) via Bon Accord; eat steak and chips at the pub and drink beer; camp at the Harrietville campground and drive back to Melbourne the next day

Doable. Steak, chips and beer doable as well.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Kipper[/quote]
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 1:08 pm

Kipper, the basic plan is okay and needs a bit of fine-tuning.
On the first day I'd aim to start a bit earlier.On weekends most people seem to drive to near Harrietville on the Friday and start about 8am on the Saturday. This timetable will get you at Federation Hut by about noon, time for the summit and perhaps MUMC.

On day two, Diamantina Spur is steep in a few places, and has one short rocky step, which can be downclimbed without ropes by most people. If you start at about 8am then lunch at Westons is possible. I would not go much higher as there's limited cover. Westons is a fair way up the climb, so after lunch there's less to do. Pretty Valley Hut is nice, but it's on a road and there may be vehicles. In my view a better option is Ryders Huts, west of Mt Cope. This is a bit further on that day but a bit shorter on day three. Or you could camp on High Plains Creek, very pretty. I agree with Xplora - PV Hut has limited appeal.

Day three from either hut to Derrick is viable. From Pretty Valley Hut it's possible to to go SW to Mt Jim or pole 333, and this is the way into the hut as well.

Day four is long, albeit mostly downhill. I'm unsure if there's a bridge or log at the bottom of Bon Accord.

One possibility is to do the walk in reverse, get the hard day over at the start. This would be:
1 to Derrick
2 to PV or Ryders, or, as Xplora suggested, Westons or Tawonga.
3 Longish day to Westons, Diamantina and Federation.
4 Easy last day to Harrietville, maybe drive home that afternoon.

There's a lot of water in most places except Diamantina. Good campsites except on exposed parts of the ridges and high plains. Navigation not too hard, lots of poles and creeks to follw, good tracks. Watch out for the compass going crazy near Mt Jim.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Kipper » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 3:03 pm

Thanks Xplora and Lophophaps. That's the kind of advice I was after.

I think we'll give Pretty Valley Hut a miss and head to either Tawonga or Ryders. Both look like great options. If we went to Tawonga, we could also get up to Mt Jaithmathang. I also like the idea of maybe camping beside the High Plains Creek as you suggest, Lophophaps.

Lophophaps - I did consider doing the trip in reverse. Another thought was that we could go beyond Derrick Hut on Day 3 and camp closer to where the Razorback begins - then we could return via the Razorback and Bungalow, which might be a bit more enjoyable than slogging it down Bon Accord. What do you think about that idea?
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Xplora » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 3:41 pm

I had thought of Ryders hut. Nice spot but you will have to walk to water. Derrick may have water issues (only camped there once in a blizzard and there was water everywhere) as well but I would not go any further. No real need as there is no suitable camp until you get down Bon Accord a way.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 3:52 pm

Kipper, good, PV is nice but not as a summer destination on the walk you had planned – too far. Stopping at Tawonga Huts means that you can bag Mt Jaithmathang. One option here is to go part way down from pole 333 towards Tawonga Huts and then go NW over the bump west of the huts. This will put you in the saddle above the huts, staying there or camping on the summit, which is about 40 minutes away. If you go from the saddle on the summit track for a few minutes it looks wrong as it goes down. Keep going and then up into a creek which I think is fairly reliable. I cannot recall what camping on the summit is like, but there should be a spot nearby, with great views of Feathertop and the high plains, especially at sunset and sunrise. If there's no water or the weather is rubbish, go down to the huts, maybe 20 minutes.

About 15 minutes from the plains east of Mt Jim there's shelter in High Plains Creek, which gets quite good and very pretty past the weir. It's easy open walking.

Going past Derrick is possible, but water is a limiting factor. The last reliable potable water is at Derrick Hut - should be okay - so you would need water for the walk that day, that evening and all the next day, 4-7 litres. Another limiting factor is where to camp. Flat and sheltered are uncommon here. I recall cowering in very strong cold summer winds at the summit of Hotham. It's steep and a tad tricky descending west from the summit; keep your eyes open.

There are flat spots near Diamantina Hut, but that is in the resort, can't camp there. The hut is for emergency use only. After that The Razorback is exposed, and not much flat until the Bon Accord Hut site. I recall some flat areas above this, which my map says may be at 1630 metres, about 500 metres distance from the ridge. Others may be able to clarify this point.

One plan is to have a number of options and change the walk to suit. Discuss the options with the party before the trip so that everyone knws what might be done. Of course if it's really bad weather there's a nice bar at Bright ...
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Kipper » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 4:12 pm

Lots of good options there - thanks guys.

One more question. I was thinking of carrying 2 x 1 litre water bottles, filling them up as and when needed. But it sounds like I might need to carry a litre or two more to allow for stretches where water is scarce.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 5:20 pm

Kippers, in most places you can camp close to water, but even so having 4 litres in containers avoids the need for multiple trips to the creek. In the dark this may be a tad tricky. I carry two wine casks each 4 litres, both in nylon bags that I made. There's a spare wine cask wrapped in a plastic bag if one or both of these break. It's rare to have one break; I retire them before that. The fun part is emptying Chateau du Cardboard. I'm not a bushwalker, I'm drunk! With care a bare wine cask will last a while. I have instructions on how to make a container, basic sewing skills, and can provide same if so requested.

Whatever you decide my strong view is that 4 litres is a minimum capacity with two containers, in case one breaks. If camping away from water take 8 litres capacity. On the trip you plan the dry parts are:
* Diamantina Spur, 2-3 litres from the hut or creek, water at the bottom.
* Blairs to Westons, no water, just a few hours.
* The high plains has water everywhere.
* Swindlers Spur, nothing between Dibbins and Derrick, a few hours.
* Derrick to Harrietville, no potable water between, need perhaps 4+ litres for an entire day.

Except for the last day I'd carry 2-3 litres.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby GBW » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 5:37 pm

Lophophaps wrote:There are flat spots near Diamantina Hut, but that is in the resort, can't camp there. The hut is for emergency use only. After that The Razorback is exposed, and not much flat until the Bon Accord Hut site. I recall some flat areas above this, which my map says may be at 1630 metres, about 500 metres distance from the ridge. Others may be able to clarify this point.


That's Eric Johnsons Hut site. Flat area but no water.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Thu 26 Oct, 2017 5:59 pm

The Bon Accord spur track has double creek crossing at the bottom and you will have to cross via log. Test your balance and your nerve!.
Keep your boots on.
Going up the last 2 km of the BA spur is very steep and tough. It may take longer than you plan it to .
In Spring finding water won't be too hard. However between Derrick's hut and the bottom of the Bon Accord spur at Washington creek you will not find water . I went down the Diamantina spur when it was hot and it was not fun. It was steep , relentless and just wrong. I was ROGERED by the time I hit the road at the bottom. I had to make myself walk to Dibbin's hut that day.
Going up the spur from Blair's hut to Weston's hut is a stiff hike and not for the unfit!. There is water from a tap there at the hut which is a good one, but there is no dunny at all. Take a digging tool for burying your poo. Fed. hut can become very busy. The campsite on the top of the Diamantina spur is flat and has lovely snow gums so it is sheltered. You can go and fetch water from the spring on track that leads to the MUMC hut , gather 7-8 litres to set you up for the night and the morning until you hit the next source of water.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Xplora » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 4:49 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:Going up the last 2 km of the BA spur is very steep and tough. It may take longer than you plan it to .

I think the plan was to go down Bon Accord Spur. Did you mean Bungalow? As I said, if it takes you 5 hours to get to Fed hut then you are in trouble for the rest of the planned walk. That is only day one and there are two other big climbs and a lot more distance to cover on the other days. Lops has done it in 3 hours. My partner and I have done it in 2.5hrs carrying 25kg in winter. We were pretty fit but I am not a young man and neither is Lops (no offence). I have taken unfit and inexperienced people up it and they did it in around 5 hours. I am not suggesting it is a race but more of a gauge for the rest of the plan.
paidal_chalne_vala wrote:In Spring finding water won't be too hard.

This is largely true. No need to carry lots of water the first day. There is a spring on Bungalow beside the track that should be running and then another at the old hut site (just off the track) plus the water tank at Fed hut. Fill up drinking water for the next day and that will get you to the Kiewa River and then fill again to get you to Westons or Tawonga Huts. Having the capacity to carry more water is more important but you don't have to fill it all the time.
paidal_chalne_vala wrote: The campsite on the top of the Diamantina spur is flat and has lovely snow gums so it is sheltered. You can go and fetch water from the spring on track that leads to the MUMC hut , gather 7-8 litres to set you up for the night and the morning until you hit the next source of water.

You pass by other sources mentioned above. That spring is not near High Knob (Diamantina spur). Tawonga Huts has a creek just north of it. Ryders has the aqueduct to the west a short distance. Enough water to get you to Dibbins and you can fill again from the Cobungra Rive. Hopefully there will be water at Derrick hut for you but if not you may be able to source some around Hotham so maybe a bit more water to carry up Swindlers. Not sure if you can get into the dam they use for snow making. Camping near water and on this trip, I would only take (and have only taken) a 3 litre capacity but that is me and you will have to do what works for you.
Derrick Hut is in the resort boundary as well and camping is not strictly permitted but the season is over and I have not heard of them stopping people.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 8:19 am

I know that the MUMC track spring is not next door to the High Knob campsite at all , but it is a nice campsite and always less busy than Fed. hut is.If the O.P. takes a spare 4 litre bladder and can do a trip there for water ( about 2-3 kms on a good track ) then that increases the options.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 8:56 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I know that the MUMC track spring is not next door to the High Knob campsit at all , but it is a nice campsite and always less busy than Fed. hut is.If th e O.P. takes a spare 4 litre bladder and can do a trip there for water ( about 2-3 kms on a good track ) then that increases the options.

Subject to time and weather, this is a good possibility. The first day is not that far - 4 hours to Federation Hut, 90 minutes return summit to the start of Tom Kneen Track, 30 minutes to get water, and maybe an hour, if that, to PCV's suggested campsite on Diamantina. This would make for more balanced days, and the top of Diamantina is lovely.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Kipper » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 11:34 am

PCV - I like the idea of camping at the top of Diamantina Spur; I can't see a campsite on my map, but I assume it's pretty obvious where to camp ... somewhere near High Knob
Xplora - I think my original estimate to get up to Fed Hut was too conservative; we don't plan to take that long

As an option now, I'm thinking something like:
Day 1 - Harrietville to top of Diamantina Spur
Day 2 - Diamantina Spur to Ryders
Day 3 - Ryders (via Cope Saddle Tk and Fainter Fire Tk to Mt Jaithmathang for lunch; then back down towards pole 333 and onto Weston Hut to camp
Day 4 - Weston Hut back up Diamantina and down Bungalow to Harrietville

There's a little bit of backtracking, but I'm wondering if that's a more interesting route than getting to Derrick Hut on Day 3 and heading down Bon Accord Spur back to Harrietville the next day - the view's always different in the other direction!

Thoughts?
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 12:20 pm

Kipper the revised plan works, but down and up Diamantina Spur in four days is ... interesting. If you are comfortable with navigation and the timing works there's another option that does not involve as much backtracking. There's a bus between Bright and Omeo that leaves Bright at 1.20pm. Xplorer may have more current details on this; the service recently changed hands.
https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/timetables/line/4459/
The bus gets to Hotham at 2.30pm. A few kilometres past Hotham is the Brandy Spur track. This leads to the Cobungra River downstream of Dibbins Hut, with a good campsite at the foot of Paling Spur.

1 Brandy Spur Track to Cobungra River, maybe 90 minutes of walking.

2 Paling Spur, series of tracks; just go up and north. Then west and north to the SEC aka Youngs Hut, lunch. Up the pole line to about 1750 metres then eastish on the high ground to near the dogleg on High Plains Creek, 217217. The waterfalls are pretty. Up the hill north to the aqueduct, and east to Ryders.

3 Bundara, Jim, Westons and Blairs. If you have 4-5 hours or so to spare at Blairs and don't mid lugging water up a major hill to last until early the next day, continue to the top of Diamantina Spur, dry camp.

4 Feathertop, Bungalow to Harrietville.

This avoids the backtracking and has some nice off track sections.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Xplora » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 12:28 pm

Kipper - you may change your mind about going up Diamantina after you gone down it. The other plan was pretty good. It is up to you of course. I would probably do Tawonga and Jaithmathang and visit Ryders for lunch the next day but six of one. If you end up going to Derrick then that would be a better way. High Knob camp will be easy enough to find. This is where they want to build a mini eco resort for the rich and soft. I suspect you will have a good trip and there are so many options for you to change on the way depending on conditions and how you feel.

The bus line is still working. Times are printed in the Omeo Lions Newsletter as well.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 12:34 pm

Xplora wrote:Kipper - you may change your mind about going up Diamantina after you gone down it.

LOL!
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Kipper » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 1:52 pm

Thanks for all the advice - Lophophaps, Xplora and PCV

I'll post a trip report when I return so that you can see where I ended up going.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 3:41 pm

The Diamantina spur is something you go down once, and years later ,once the therapy and medication has kicked in you might think about going up it , before you become too sensible or much too old and fat to do it at all.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 5:47 pm

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:The Diamantina spur is something you go down once, and years later ,once the therapy and medication has kicked in you might think about going up it , before you become too sensible or much too old and fat to do it at all.

This is a gross exaggeration. I have found that with abseil ropes for going down, a winch for going up, a PLB, a physician in the party, full medical insurance, a current Will and Enduring Powers of Attorney it's viable.
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 8:50 pm

I am definitely taking a winch when I ascend it in early December 2017. :-p
Have a look at Hiking Fiasco. Greg 's report about going up it is quite entertaining.
http://hikingfiasco.com/2012/01/16/mt-f ... onal-park/
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Re: Three night hike from Harrietville - is this a good plan

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 27 Oct, 2017 11:00 pm

That link has a ot of information. I especially liked the description of crossing a big tree. This pictures are in the link.

"In our travels we came across a good sized tree, blown down onto the path. What made this particular tree interesting was its width and angle on the ground. Smuffin and Anon went first and it seemed to take them decades to get over it. I was wondering what all the fuss was about until it was my turn. Being tall I thought I could comfortably go for the ‘leg straddle’ approach.

"So, off I went until I realised the problem. With my legs spread to groin snapping width, I found both my feet were suspended in the air and neither could remotely touch the ground. What’s worse was the trees insane angle, as not planting my feet, meant I found myself sliding down the trunk. I wasn’t impressed with the sensation of having slivers of timber being hammered into my testicles. Smuffin did though, he thought it was funny. In my haze of pain I imagined the following scene.

"There’s a slight difference though, in that unlike Major Kong in Dr Strangelove, I wasn’t exactly whooping for joy at my impending testicle apocalypse. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I was forced to rely on a guffawing Smuffin to pull me across, leaving me walking like a cowboy for the rest of the day.

"It doesn’t look so bad, does it?

"It also took a while for my voice to return to its traditional Lee Marvin/Laurence Olivier mash-up style, but whilst recovering I managed to crank up the polarizer."
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