4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

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4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Reidm08 » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 9:15 am

Gday guys,

First time poster here just hoping to get some feedback on a route I have designed to get out and see a bit of the Victorian Alps. I am not at all familiar with the area, so any feedback will be much appreciated. Basically, this route has come straight off a map and needs to be suitable for a couple of semi fit but inexperienced walkers that I will have with me. I myself am fairly comfortable on the trail but as I said quite new to Victoria. The walk is planned for some time in the next 2 weeks

First day we will drive from Melbourne to Harrietville and park up before walking from Harrietville up to Federation Hut.

Second Day, climb feathertop in the morning (maybe for sunrise if you think the view is worth it) then take a slow day around to Dibbins hut.

Day three, head on over to Dimatina Hut and climb Mt Hotham for sunset

Day four, head back down the Bon Accord Track to Harrietville pick up car and drive back to Melbourne.

How does that sound? Has anyone had any recent experience with the Bon Accord track? Is the area fairly well marked? I will be taking along compass and map etc but would rather not have to think too much about it, I am looking for a pretty casual walk (will be taking binoculars and a telephoto lens to do some birding in the arvos).

Whats the water situation generally like? I am thinking of taking 4l capacity, is there water available at each of those huts/campsites?

Any other advice or precautions very much welcomed.

Cheers,
Reid
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby north-north-west » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 2:49 pm

What's your route to Dibbins - Razorback and AAWT, or down Diamantina Spur and up the river? Feathertop's a great place for sunrise/sunset, but inexperienced walkers might find the distance from there to Dibbins via the Razorback a bit much, while Diamantina Spur can be difficult even for experienced walkers.
There is a fairly recent report on Bon Accord in the Trip Report section. Maybe some issues with the water crossings at the base?
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Lophophaps » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 5:02 pm

Reid, welcome to the forum

You need to be walking at the start of the Bungalow Spur by 1pm at the latest. This will get you to Federation Hut at about 5pm, and you may need 45-60 minutes to get water from the Tom Kneen Track.

NNW asked a good question about getting to Dibbins. For inexperienced people I think it's too far, Diamantina Spur is very steep, with a few more hours after that to Dibbins. Razorback is most of a morning, and then most of an afternoon to get to Dibbins.

There is no water at Diamantina Hut, so it will have to be carried from Derrick Hut. The creek at the bottom of the Bon Accord may be swift and deep. Try to have obstacles like possible deep river crossings early in the trip and not just before the end. With the day about to end and the car a short way ahead, some people will risk the crossing. Early in the trip a river crossing can be avoided - maybe.

There is very reliable water at the foot of Diamantina Spur, Blairs Hut, Dibbins Hut and Derrick Hut. You may find water elsewhere, but probably not.

Here's the thread on a similar walk.
viewtopic.php?f=37&t=28595

A slightly easier option is as follows
Day 1 - Federation Hut.
Day 2 - Diamantina Spur to Blairs Hut. This will be a challenging day!
Day 3 - Blairs to Dibbins and Derrick Huts.
Day 4 - A short day to the bus at Hotham, goes to Harrietville.
https://www.mthotham.com.au/discover/ex ... -alps-link
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 6:02 pm

It would be better to ascend Swindler's spur rather than Machinery spur to get back to the Mt. Hotham area, esp. if you are new to walking in the area. Avoid walking when it is too hot. Start early each day.
The Creek crossing at the base of the Diamantina spur has a 'test your nerve' log to balance on and walk over.. The orange arrows show you the way .The recent heavy rain may have made the Washington Creek crossing quite interesting indeed, possibly risky.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Reidm08 » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 7:39 pm

Hi guys,

Thanks for the responses, may I ask to clarify, what is the difficult surrounding Dimanatina Spur? That was the original route I was thinking of taking around to Dibbins Hut from Federation, is it the distance and elevation gain or more to do with navigating? Unfortunately, I don't have access to the map atm but from memory and looking at google maps it appears you can get onto the logging rd to go past Blairs Hut and down to Dibbins, the distance and elevation looks fairly doable, particularly given the long days at the moment. Having said that I am happy to err on the side of caution if its a overgrown, largely unmarked trail or there are other hazards I haven't considered. As long as I have a good understanding of a few different options we can always make slight modifications to the route as we go e.g. Finish day 2 at Blair Hut.

Can you camp at Derrick hut and save yourself the bother of carting water back up to Dimantina hut? I did read over the post about BA, I was planning to speak to a ranger before setting off about river level and if too difficult then just hitching a ride from Hotham back around to Harrietville and calling it a day.

Last thing was just in relation to Swindler vs Machinery spur, again is it a matter of steepness or is the Swindler Spur track in much better condition?

Its worth pointing out that everyone coming along will be physically fit, just not necessarily accustomed to multi-day bush walking trips.

Cheers for all your help.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 10:19 pm

Let me put it this way, most of us have done the Diamantina spur once, I've done it once each way. I'd prefer not to do it again. Of course it may have changed for the better in the last 20 years, but in that period I have probably walked the Bungalow a dozen times, the Razorback the same and Machinery Spur at least 3 times. I actually like the walk up Machinery Spur but I have never repeated the Diamantina
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 10:24 pm

Going up Machinery spur is bleeding endless. I have done it twice. If it is faintly warm you will sweat and sweat and huff and puff. Thankfully there is water flowing at the Red Robin Mine. Watch out for leeches there if you stop for a food break and get out of the sun or rain in that shed there.
Swindler's spur has had quite a bit of work done on it for foot traffic. It is part of the present Falls to Hotham walking route and is part of the AAWT. It is quite sheltered the whole way up. Last time I went up it was mid summer and I was packed up by 6 am to get moving up to Derrick's hut before the heat and march flies became impossible. Machinery Spur is an old 4 WD track. The upper section is rocky and full of shale and is a nuisance to walk on. It does have good views of Mt. Feathertop once you get above the gap at the top.
Descending the Diamantina spur in warm weather is hard going . It will test your patience and your knees. It is rather steep and relentless. The track was recut the whole way up by PV in Nov. 2017. I went up it in Dec. 2017. I went down it a few years before that. I don't need to do that again very soon. The camp site at the top of the Diamantina spur has no water (BYO 4 L.) but it is one of the best walk in camp sites without facilities in that part of the Vic . Alps. The views all around are excellent .That is where the wise apes want to develop it and put a helipad and lodges for user pays glampers. Be sure to take in the vibes up there because if that development proceeds then that magical place will be spoiled and lost for good.
The Diamantina spur is easy to find the way but it is a tough route down to Blair's hut.
The Diamantina spur has a steep rocky crab crawling backwards or forwards section where it drops down rather suddenly. You need to pay attention along this section.
The terrain from Blair's hut to Dibbin's hut is relatively easy to navigate and walk along but by the time you hit the 4 x 4 track at the bottom of the Diamantina spur you will be stuffed. Thankfully water is available right there in the stream next to the 4 x4 track ( West Kiewa logging road). The Diamantina horse yards are also a nice place to camp not far from the bottom of the Diamantina spur .If you go to Blair's hut then take the direct foot route and ford the stream rather than following the 4 x 4 Jeep road.
You can camp at Derrick's hut . There are flat spots next to the hut and a pit loo is situated there. There is a trickle of water usually flowing up the track from the hut up the AAWT in a gully. Since it has rained so much lately that would be flowing OK until the end of Dec. , or that is my guess.
Descending the Bon Accord spur is never ending and the first section off the Razorback to the BA spur hut ruins is a knee mangler. It is very steep and goes straight down. No zig zag track here , thank you very much.With a 4 x 4 car shuttle you could start your walking trip at Stoney tops seasonal closure gate and ascend Mt. Feathertop by the Northern Razorback. You need good weather for this because you have to go over the summit to get to Federation Hut or Tom Kneen Track to obtain water and find a campsite.
Last edited by paidal_chalne_vala on Sat 22 Dec, 2018 8:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 10:32 pm

Moondog is right. Once you have been up and down the Diamantina spur then you have done it. You have earned your stripes and know what tough, relentless and steep really mean. I went up the NOBS Track this week. That was relentless and going down it was much worse but it was like being put in a feather bed and fed ice cream in silver bowls by beautiful women compared to the Diamantina spur!
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 16 Dec, 2018 7:29 am

Diamantina Spur is quite long, steep in places, tough on knees going down and on lungs going up. There is one short rocky section, not too hard, and it can be bypassed. Xplorer advised about this, perhaps in the thread I cited above. It took me 3.5 exhausting hours to go from the road up Diamantina Spur to The Razorback, and it will take a bit less going down. If you start walking by 7am - early starts are good in summer - you should be able to have lunch at Blairs Hut.

There's a few slightly sloping campsites at the first junction above Federation Hut. This is where the summit track goes east and The Razorback goes south.

The road at the foot of Diamantina Spur goes past Blairs Hut. To avoid getting your feet wet, go past the hut a short way and take the vehicle tracks to the hut, nice camping.

From Blairs continue up valley to Cobungra Gap and Dibbins Hut. If you get to Blairs by about 3-4pm and are so disposed, continue to Dibbins, perhaps 90 minutes away. The climb from Dibbins is steep up to about pole 156, then it's lovely walking to Derrick. It's about 2.5 hours Dibbins to Derrick.

Machinery Spur is a slog with too much road walking, and Swindlers Spur is much nicer.

Unless there are signs saying that camping is prohibited you can camp nearly anywhere. For example, camping within the Hotham precincts is probably prohibited. However, if you find a quiet place and keep a low profile then camping should be okay. The best spots for camping at Derrick are just outside the hut - flat and sheltered. This is within the Hotham boundary, but nobody minds if bushwalkers camp there.

All the tracks are easy to follow. There may be fallen trees across any track; just go around them.

It's a very long waterless day from Derrick Hut, over Hotham and down the Bon Accord. Add a drive home and in my view it's too far. The itinerary I suggested above has the harder days at the start and easier at the end. The last day is quite short. This gives you a safety factor in case things come unstuck.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Reidm08 » Sun 16 Dec, 2018 7:52 am

Right on guys, thanks a lot, I feel I have a much better idea of what we are up against now. I think I may still opt to go down the Diamantina Spur and maybe just aim for hitting up Blairs Hut then on to Derrick or Diamantina the following day. via Swindlers. Having said that if we are struggling or the weather is hot, we can always opt to go down Razorback from Federation Hut.

Last question then, I originally was thinking that the Bon Accord section of the track was going to be the most challenging, for anyone that has done both, am I right in saying that people would consider Diamantina Spur a much more challenging section? The reason I ask is if I was to include one challenging day I might opt for the less difficult of those two options. Potentially even reversing it and going up BA, across razorback day 2 to Fed and down bungalow Spur on day 3 for an easier 3 day option.

Cheers again and will be sure to update on how it goes.

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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 16 Dec, 2018 8:50 am

Going UP the Bon Accord spur will take most of a day if you are new to this caper. START EARLY i.e 7 am.There is no water en route once you cross Washington Creek. In summer You will run out of drinking water if you try to go up the BA spur and cross the Razorback heading for Fed. hut in one day. The last 2 km of the BA spur climbs 450 M . vertical metres up to the Razorback in 2 kms. Take extra drinking water!!. Descending the Diamantina spur is taxing. Allow time to recover at the bottom of the spur. Going up it will wipe you out !!.I have gone up and down the BA spur in one weekend. Thankfully it was in late snow season in September and not hot. I have gone up and down Machinery , Bungalow, Swindlers and Diamantina Spurs. Swindler's spur is nicer to ascend than Machinery spur is. Machinery spur isn't too bad going down it.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 16 Dec, 2018 9:29 am

Reid, PCV knows the region very well and he has good advice. It's a very long, taxing, steep waterless day going up Bon Accord and then going anywhere on the same day. It will take maybe eight hot hours in summer to go up the Bon Accord and then The Razorback to Federation Hut. In summer I'm moving by 6.00am. One hot long day I was going in the dark at 5.20am. This day finished at 12.20pm, lunch, 17 kilometres and a lot of climbing. Finishing at noon-2pm is nice.

There is no water between Derrick Hut and Federation Hut or Washington Creek. See the December edition of Bushwalk Australia, towards the top right of the splash screen. Sonya Muhlsimmer has written well about dehydration, page 48. With an early start you should be able to get from Derrick Hut to Federation Hut by about noon. From memory I did this in 5-6 hours.

The itinerary I suggested has a nice start up Bungalow, a hard day down Diamantina Spur, and an easier two days. PCV is right - allow time to recover at the bottom.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Reidm08 » Sun 16 Dec, 2018 10:34 am

Cheers for the help guys, I didnt mean doing BA and Razorback in 1 day, I was thinking of simply staying at Dim hut and then backtracking up Razorback the following day to Fed hut before returning to Harrietville via Bungalow.

I have worked as a hiking guide for a few years now including stints in Central and Northern Australia, I understand full well the dangers of dehydration. I also fancy myself as a fairly competent judge of peoples capabilities so rest assured I won't be taking any excessive risks.

Will check back in post hike with a post mortem.

Cheers for all your help.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 16 Dec, 2018 2:55 pm

Take a some sachets of hydrolyte/ ORS. Just plain water doesn't do the job in the summer heat on the big spur hikes. People who 'conk out' en route can be brought back to life with some of the rehydration salts mixed with water and consumed rapidly. Hiking poles will save your knees and give your arms something to do .The Diamantina hut is a poo... hole. I would not stay/camp there, although I have snow camped next to it in early Spring. It is right next to a major black top road and sees a lot of summer foot traffic too.
Be sure to take a spare 4 L. bladder of water that you can clip onto your pack. Water is gold in this region.
The BA spur hut ruins site has no water but is a nicer spot to camp for one night. BYO extra H20.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Lophophaps » Mon 17 Dec, 2018 6:12 am

I have a vague memory that staying in Diamantina Hut is for emergency use only. The camping near the hut is poor. PCV's description is correct. If you go up Bon Accord and stay overnight at the hut you will have to carry a lot of water from the bottom, enough for 1.5 days and overnight, maybe 6-8 litres. I most strongly advise against going up Bon Accord and staying at Diamantina Hut.

If you must go up Bon Accord, from the ridge go north for an hour or so and camp in the trees. This saves about 3 kilometres. The next day you will be at Federation Hut or the water on Tom Kneen Track by about 11am at the latest, possibly as early as 8-9am if you start just after first light.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Wed 19 Dec, 2018 9:23 pm

At least in mid white season you can melt snow for water at the BA spur hut ruins site and the Diamantina hut .The BA spur is best avoided in summer. It is too long, too hot and too dry.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Reidm08 » Fri 21 Dec, 2018 8:53 am

Hey guys thought I would send through an update on how it went. We got back to Melbourne yesterday after leaving early Tuesday morning. In the end, only one friend joined me, a 29-year-old male, fit but no previous bushwalking experience.

As planned we got to Harrietville around 11.30 and walked up the Bungalow Spur, as expected it was very hot, the day was a slog but didn't present any real difficulties. Got up and set up around 3 and basically collapsed for an hour in the shade. Went up Feathertop that evening and collected more water from the Tom Kneen track on the way down, left a bunch of it at the Razorback junction to pick up and top up accordingly in the morning.

Next day we got an early start to beat the heat, leaving just before 7am. Now I know there was a lot of talk surrounding the Diamantina Spur, and yes it's steep, but entirely manageable for anyone who is reasonably fit and whose knees are still in good knick. We made it to Blair's Hut by about 10.30 and after a bit of a break and cool off to Dibbins by 12.30. Hadn't realised the campsites were by reservation only at Dibbins and with still about 8 hours of daylight left we decided that we would be better off pushing on to Derricks. By this point between the march flies, ants, mosquitoes and various stinging plants my mate had pretty much decided that he had had enough. We got into Derricks by about 4, fairly bushed to be honest after the climb up Swindlers. My mate had well and truly decided hiking was not for him so we decided that tomorrow morning we could walk to Diamantina hut and then I could ditch some non essentials and cruise down the BA spur to pick up the car and go collect him.

Got into Diamantina at around 9.30,I ditched some stuff and headed down the BA spur unencumbered by excess weight and excess personas. What is worth noting is that from this loop, it was easily the most enjoyable walking, the section around washington creek in particular is just beautiful and if I had my time again I would definitely be factoring in a night of camping down there. Anyway I pushed on and back to the Bungalow Spur trail head to pick up the car finishing up around 1.30. By 2.30, I was back up at Diamantina, car loaded and headed back to Melbourne.

A lot of the commentary leading up to this trip seriously had me second guessing a lot of my long held assumptions relating to capabilities, timings, distances etc. Most of what I saw reinforced those original ideas.

The Bon Accord, is certainly not too long a days walking, even with clients I wouldn't budget more than 6 hours for that section, up or down. The Washington creek crossing was a non issue also.

I also don't think you can consider Fed hut to Dibbins hut too large a day, in fact how that could possibly take an entire day is beyond me, nobody could possibly be moving much slower than 2kms an hour on that track even if they spend some extra time going down the spur. That leaves about 8 hours of excess daylight.

If someone was to ask me for advice regarding that particular itinerary at this time of the year the number one thing I would say would be make sure you bring gaiters, I spent the whole time cursing myself for not bringing them, particularly going down BA solo. Snakes are everywhere and parts of the track are quite overgrown.

The second thing I would say is that really the walking between Fed hut and Dibbins via the Diamantina Spur, really isnt overly nice, you would be much better heading down Razorback and down BA camping at Washinton Creek.

Anyway, I appreciate you guys want very much to be the voice of caution, particularly not knowing peoples abilities but having said that I think anyone who admits to some level of bushwalking proficiency is more than capable of doing that original itinerary in 4 days, I would go as far to say that they have no business being on a hiking trail unguided if they aren't capable of doing that itinerary.

Anyway, thanks for all your help. In particular the commentary about the water turned out to be spot on and saved me a lot of headaches.

Cheers,
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 21 Dec, 2018 7:35 pm

Thanks for reporting back :-) .I am sorry your wet blanket buddy piked out. In summer the best option on a multi day high country trek is to walk from 7 am until 1 pm , have lunch and set up camp , collect water and veg . out /chillax and enjoy the fact that you are somewhere very tranquil, beautiful and serene. Pushing on after lunch with the heat , insects , etc. isn't always that smart. I have done it , including a Bogong high plains loop that involved walking from 7am until 7pm each day, over 2 nights and three days!. That was making it hard work and should have been 4 nights and 5 days ;-P . I must say if you walk the Round Mountain Loop in the KNP in NSW in high summer then you will not dare to go out of the hut/s after lunch because the March flies in January are murderous !.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Lophophaps » Sat 22 Dec, 2018 5:46 am

Reid, it's good that you managed the walk. A few comments.

The Bungalow Spur is a medium walk, good grades with a climb of 1000 metres or so. It seems to me that starting around noon in heat and going somewhat faster than conditions indicate made it harder than need be the case. It was a good idea to leave water at the turn-off. In fine weather I usually camp near here.

Diamantina Spur is steep and some people do not manage it well in either direction. This is why PCV and I were cautious. Your time to get to Dibbins Hut is about that which many would take. You do not have to book for the campsites at Dibbins Hut or anywhere that has camping platforms. Just camp on the grass anywhere more than 100 metres from the platforms. Parks Victoria has a myth that the platforms must be used. Not true.

Going to Derrick Hut was too far. As PCV said, have lunch and set up camp. It's not a race, and I fear that by making a medium grade trip much harder you have put your friend off. Sit back, have a swim and watch the clouds. I did this on a recent trip where my planned route was impossible, so I filled in time, finishing at around 9am for a few days. It was very relaxing.

In summer I wear a broad brim hat with a flap at the back, a long sleeve shirt, light gardening gloves and long pants. It's unusual to be bitten. Also, the hat can be turned so that the flap stops the sun. I'd closely examine the gear.

Washington Creek can be a tricky crossing. Like Diamantina Spur, it would be remiss to not advise of this.

Federation Hut to Dibbins Hut is an average day. We don't know you, don't know the time you will be starting, don't know how fast you will be going, and don't know what the weather will be like. This is why PCV and I posted as we did. Better to be too conservative than not. Our suggestions were based on very long experience. As you saw, going on to Derrick Hut was too far. I've come from near pole 267 on the Bogong High Plains, reaching Derrick by 10am or so, morning tea, lunch and camp. It was relaxing. One very hot day I was walking at 5.20am and was in camp by noon.

Gaiters are essential in all conditions. They keep clothing clean, stop abrasion and make it harder for a snake to bite you. I have heavy canvas with many patches, virtually double thickness.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby Xplora » Sat 22 Dec, 2018 6:29 am

I know I am jumping on this late and after the event (been away and offline). Good to hear you made it even with a slight change to plans. Hindsight it great and with it you would probably agree that this would not be a first timer's walk or intro to Vic High Country but for someone with experience such as yourself it is great and you are correct to say it is very possible to do in 4 days. We have done similar in winter going up NW spur. Camping at Diamantina hut and Derrick hut is not allowed as it is within the resort boundaries but I think you would be safe at Derrick. Now you have some understanding of terrain you should be back for more soon enough.
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Re: 4 Day Circuit From Harrietville

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 22 Dec, 2018 8:12 am

Ask us for other high country hike suggestions. If you really get hooked on the place then you might end up converting to XC skiing in white season rather than plodding in snow shoes the whole way in winter, in our beautiful Ozstriyan Alps.
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