Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Victoria specific bushwalking discussion.
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Victoria specific bushwalking discussion. Please avoid publishing details of access to sensitive areas with no tracks.

Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby bigkev » Fri 02 Nov, 2018 9:30 pm

Over the years I've never got around to climbing Champion Spur onto the Razorback. With big fires and a big flood having gone through the area in the last ten years or so I wasn't too sure what to expect. Unfortunately I'd manage to pick the hottest day for months to attempt my climb (BOM says Wang topped out at 36.6).

I decided to follow the Bon Accord Walking Track and then drop down and cross the East Branch of the Ovens River at the spot where the Champion Spur Fire Track crosses it for the last time. Bon Accord Track contours a fair bit higher above the river than my map suggested which meant I had a little bit further to scrub bash down to the river, but it wasn't too bad. I left the river at 10am with 4 litres of water on board.

The old fire track running up Champion Spur is fairly easy to follow initially, there are a lot of small sapling growing but it's easy enough to weave through. Between the 700 metre 1100 metre contour things were pretty good, a fair bit of thigh high scratchy scrub but nothing too hard. From about the 1100 metre mark things deteriorate a little, there are a lot of trees down and the regrowth is very thick and above head height, it was very hard work pushing up through the regrowth in the heat. All evidence of the old fire track has gone by about the 1150-1200 metre contour (my map shows that it use to go up to around the 1550 metre level). By the time I'd got up to the 1250 metre level I was down to my last 1.5 litres of water and guessing that I still had around another 400 metres of altitude to gain before I'd reach open ground (and then a fair walk over to Feathertop to get some water) I decided that I'd better swallow my pride and retreat.

On the way back rather than cross the river and climb up to Bon Accord Walking Track I followed the old Champion Spur all the way back to Harrietville. The old fire track is very overgrown along the river and there was a lot of knee to thigh deep river crossings, but it was a nice way to end my day out. Someone has done a little track clearing and put in some flagging tape along the river (maybe fisherman?) but it's still a pretty rough route.

So what have I learnt? Well next time I have a go at Champion Spur I'll probably use it as a descent spur, it was a lot easier pushing down hill through the thick regrowth. Also I wouldn't try it again on such a warm day (I'd already booked my day off from work so I didn't have much of a choice this time). If I was heading back to my vehicle at Harrietville I'd take the river track and not climb up onto Bon Accord Walking Track, walking the last couple of kilometres with wet boots wasn't too bad.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby davidn3875 » Sat 03 Nov, 2018 1:52 pm

Thanks for bringing back some distant memories Bigkev. It was the early 70's when some friends and I from Uni decided it was one of the few spurs that we hadn't thrown ourselves at. Since there had not been any fires in the Champion Spur vicinity since 1939, the regrowth was established and under story matured and not too bad under foot. In those days we never took enough water - 2 ex-army water-bottles was regarded as luxury (approx. 1.5 lts total) and I well recall the feeling that the Razorback was never going to appear and the relentless climb eventually spat us out on the knoll before Twin Knobs late in the afternoon. The spring on the top of the NW Spur was most appreciated as we rehydrated then spent the night in the MUMC Hut.
I have a theory that every good bushwalk has a climb that you never wish to repeat, and that weekend Champion Spur was it! ( My theory fails in that I have done the NW Spur -Tom Kneen Track- on multiple occasions yet I still say - Never Again).
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 04 Nov, 2018 1:42 pm

I am planning to ascend Champion Spur in March. It could be hideous but it is the only other route I have not walked up in the Mt. FT/ Razorback area. Could the OP recommend going ultra light and doing it as a day walk with plenty of water and long sleeves and long pants?. I could consider going down it but I have looked at the point where it is meant to meet the Twin Knobs and wondered about it. There is no track at all, not even a faint footpad at the top. My grim logic is that going uphill means you will pop out on the Razorback eventually.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby bigkev » Sun 04 Nov, 2018 6:08 pm

davidn3875 wrote:Thanks for bringing back some distant memories Bigkev. It was the early 70's when some friends and I from Uni decided it was one of the few spurs that we hadn't thrown ourselves at. Since there had not been any fires in the Champion Spur vicinity since 1939, the regrowth was established and under story matured and not too bad under foot. In those days we never took enough water - 2 ex-army water-bottles was regarded as luxury (approx. 1.5 lts total) and I well recall the feeling that the Razorback was never going to appear and the relentless climb eventually spat us out on the knoll before Twin Knobs late in the afternoon. The spring on the top of the NW Spur was most appreciated as we rehydrated then spent the night in the MUMC Hut.
I have a theory that every good bushwalk has a climb that you never wish to repeat, and that weekend Champion Spur was it! ( My theory fails in that I have done the NW Spur -Tom Kneen Track- on multiple occasions yet I still say - Never Again).



Ha, I remember using those ex-army water bottles too - those were the days! My theory is similar to yours in that I think the most memorable walks generally involve some kind of challenge or hardship. Inevitably I get home vowing never again but It's amazing how time tends to take the edge off things, I'll no doubt regroup and have another go at Champion Spur one day.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby bigkev » Sun 04 Nov, 2018 6:29 pm

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I am planning to ascend Champion Spur in March. It could be hideous but it is the only other route I have not walked up in the Mt. FT/ Razorback area. Could the OP recommend going ultra light and doing it as a day walk with plenty of water and long sleeves and long pants?. I could consider going down it but I have looked at the point where it is meant to meet the Twin Knobs and wondered about it. There is no track at all, not even a faint footpad at the top. My grim logic is that going uphill means you will pop out on the Razorback eventually.


Hi PVC. Like you I find it easier navigation wise going up these spurs, I just stay on the highest ground and keep going up. I'll probably go down Champion Spur next time though and deal with the navigational difficulties. If you decide to go up then pick a cool day (not like me :shock: ) and UL is the go (I was carrying all my gear for 4 nights). From the base of the spur the fire track is followable up until around the 1200 metre mark but it looks like from there on you will be pushing through regrowth and climbing through a labyrinth of fallen trees.

Getting to the base of the spur is no simple walk in the park either, if you go in via Bon Accord then it's a fair scrub bash down to pick up the old Champion Spur Fire Track. If you follow the old fire track from near the Bon Accord Walking Track trailhead then it's as close to off track as it gets without it being a total scrub Bash (someone has taped it but the tapes might be gone by the time you go through). At least the river will be low in March which is a good as I lost count of the number of times I crossed it, it was such a warm day that sometimes I found it easier to just wade downstream. When I eventually write up a blog post I'll put a link up here so you can check out a few pictures and get an idea of what things look like on the ground.

Good luck
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Mon 05 Nov, 2018 8:39 am

Thanks. It could be that the whole route is too tough, esp. for a mere mortal, tougher than the worst bits of the Northern Prom . for example and one should hike somewhere else on the March Long Weekend. I prefer to walk along a route somewhere that is not a total battle.
Even as a day trip with a day pack , assuming that one could make it to Twin Knobs and return via the Bungalow spur it would be a L O N G hard day.
I shall reconsider my options.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby Mr Bean » Thu 08 Nov, 2018 2:41 pm

Thanks for the report bigkev. I did ponder that walk, as we descended Bon Accord this past weekend. I did wonder what state the track would be in.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Thu 08 Nov, 2018 7:02 pm

I have filed Champion spur under "masochism/ no actual track/ good luck with that one".
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby warnabrother » Mon 12 Nov, 2018 11:04 am

we planned to go down Champion Spur a few weekends ago but walked right past the junction with Razorback??
Couldn't be bothered going looking for it so carried on down Bon Accord..

Good effort though !
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Mon 12 Nov, 2018 4:05 pm

If Big KEV can't do it then it must be tough. He went bush bashing up Granny Spur on Mt. Bogong and he walked the AAWT solo !.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby bigkev » Thu 15 Nov, 2018 6:49 pm

Cheers for the comments Guys

Here's the whole sorry story (with a few photos) if anyone wants to check it out https://goinferalonedayatatime.blogspot ... -park.html

I'm thinking that I might have another go next year when the weather gets a bit cooler, maybe up Bon Accord to Hotham for a night at the General and then down Champion Spur the next day....we'll see?
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby Explorer_Sam » Thu 15 Nov, 2018 8:21 pm

Wow, that sounds epic! Looks extremely rough. I'd love to give it a try someday.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby bigkev » Fri 16 Nov, 2018 10:11 am

Explorer_Sam wrote:Wow, that sounds epic! Looks extremely rough. I'd love to give it a try someday.


From checking out your blog every now and again I think you'd get through OK (just don't pick a day in the mid thirties) :oops:

That said, I think almost every other spur is more enjoyable... I was only really going up that way because I'd never done it before. If you are after a bit of a challenge you could try heading up the NNW track from the trout farm, then jumping off at the base of Bungalow Spur and following the untracked spur until Wombat Gap where you should meet the Bungalow Spur walking track coming in from Harrietville. I've got a couple of disclaimers with that though, the first is that I haven't been up that way since the fires and secondly I'm relying on my ageing memory for those details as I'm sitting in a cafè drinking coffee and can't access my maps at the moment!
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 16 Nov, 2018 7:49 pm

The photos look like it is horror scrub bash . I prefer some kind of route , a faint foot pad , , something ,somewhere. People think I am nuts because I walked the Northern Prom . three Easters in a row but the scrub on Champion spur looks nasty and dense.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby bigkev » Fri 16 Nov, 2018 9:42 pm

Hi PVC, I think our walking brothers and sisters down in Tassie are probably laughing at us Victorians talking about the scrub on Champion Spur :wink:

The top half of the spur is definitely 'off track' with not even a faint pad. I've done the Northern Prom a few times but it was all a long time ago. Back in the day there was a bit of a pad and a fair bit of flagging tape around, by the sounds of things it might be a bit more overgrown now.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby neilmny » Sat 17 Nov, 2018 7:50 am

Another ripper write up Kev. :wink:
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby davidn3875 » Sat 17 Nov, 2018 11:27 am

Nice feral report and pics big kev. I do enjoy your writing style. It is quite remarkable how nature shapes the environment and as it matures the undergrowth will become more walker friendly. You only have to wait another 30 - 40 years!! It will be an interesting challenge walking down the spur from the Razorback to definitely confirm that you are on the crown of the of the Champion Spur and not drop off into what I guess would be very messy gullies.
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Re: Champion Spur chewed me up and spat me out!

Postby bigkev » Sat 17 Nov, 2018 6:02 pm

davidn3875 wrote:Nice feral report and pics big kev. I do enjoy your writing style. It is quite remarkable how nature shapes the environment and as it matures the undergrowth will become more walker friendly. You only have to wait another 30 - 40 years!! It will be an interesting challenge walking down the spur from the Razorback to definitely confirm that you are on the crown of the of the Champion Spur and not drop off into what I guess would be very messy gullies.


Thanks David. I'm thinking the same thing as you, the Alps should be sweet again in around 30 years which is just as well as I'll be pushing through with my Zimmer frame!

A repeat isn't high on my list of walks to do at the moment, but I'll probably have a go at it again before winter next year. It's a lot easier staying on the top of these spurs going down now days with GPS, it use to be very tough on the scrubby ones with just a map and compass. Dropping into a gully doesn't sound like an optimal outcome I don't think :shock:


neilmny wrote:Another ripper write up Kev. :wink:


Thanks Neil. Great to hear from you, I hope you're going OK :D
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