Falls to Hotham advice

Victoria specific bushwalking discussion.
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Falls to Hotham advice

Postby DelayedNotDefeated » Mon 08 Apr, 2019 10:58 pm

Hi everyone

Longtime lurker here hoping to tap into the collective wisdom of the forum.

Next Monday me, my dad, uncle and sister are intending to walk from Falls to Hotham via Mt McKay/Pretty Valley Rd, overnighting at Blair's Hut and up Machinery Spur or the AAWT on the second day. We're reasonably experienced walkers and have done several alpine overnighters. We've also done a lot of research - much of it here - and are confident our route is challenging without being overly so.

There's obviously a lot of information on the forum from previous trips by others, but I'm wondering if anyone has any up to date information which might prompt reconsidering our plans - eg Westons Spur Track conditions, ascending AAWT is preferable to Machinery Spur etc.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Cheers

DnD
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby Lophophaps » Tue 09 Apr, 2019 9:21 pm

Apart from fires, season and weather the mountains around there don't change much. Blairs Hut is not that good, with drafts and living things inside. Machinery Spur is somewhat exposed. A more sheltered route that has less descending and ascending and about the same distance is to go on the pole line to pole 267 then down to Dibbins Hut. As accommodation it's also not that good, but the camping is better. From Dibbins it's about two hours to Derrick Hut and then another hour to Loch Car Park.

Another option is to go south from pole 267 to the SEC Hut, about 40 minutes away. This is a nice snug hut, good camping. From here it takes about 90 minutes to get to Dibbins. Contour between the two pole lines just above the treeline to get back to the AAWT.

You may find that taking two days is a bit rushed. Three days is nice.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby DelayedNotDefeated » Tue 09 Apr, 2019 10:57 pm

Cheers

I would much prefer three days but my fellows don't appreciate the opportunity.

Further research has eliminated Blairs, currently in favour of Westons, but I'll have a look at Youngs as well.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby Xplora » Wed 10 Apr, 2019 5:55 am

The location of Blairs is quite nice with the river beside it. I would stay there before Westons but of course I would not sleep in either. We have camped there numerous times and have always had it to ourselves mid week. More flat area for tents at Blairs and if there is another party at Westons then it will get crowded quick. Water should be available at Westons from the tap as there has been some good rain to keep the spring running. Machinery spur may be a bit overgrown in places unless you intended to go up the road. In that case I would go via Dibbins and Swindlers (AAWT) as it is a little boring. Swindlers is not a difficult climb. Although on a road for most part the track from Blairs to Dibbins is quite nice with lots of tall trees. Also going this way you see four huts, including Derrick on Swindlers spur.

There should be water available at Youngs but it is not near the hut. From memory there is a sign on the track pointing to the creek. It is a nice spot also. The hut is in good condition with some recent work but unfortunately the SEC located it on a soak so in time it will not fair well.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby Lophophaps » Wed 10 Apr, 2019 7:16 am

Blairs is quite pretty, and not many people stay there, camping or in the hut. I found Swindlers to be nice until about 20 minutes above Derrick Hut where the ski tows and infrastructure are visible. There's a small creek about 100 metres south of the SEC Hut, running on all my trips, including Easter trips.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Wed 10 Apr, 2019 7:40 pm

I walked the whole area in question in one trip including Paling Spur over Jan. 2019.There is a trip report on this website.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby DelayedNotDefeated » Thu 11 Apr, 2019 10:40 am

Thanks everyone - the advice is much appreciated and under consideration.

PCV - I read your Paling Spur report at the time and it scared me.

Cheers

DnD
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby neilmny » Thu 11 Apr, 2019 2:40 pm

Don't worry PCV gets a bit dramatic........he wasn't lost.........he knew he was in the Alpine National Park..........somewhere :roll:
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Thu 11 Apr, 2019 7:44 pm

Yep, I was in the Alpine N.P, somewhere ;-P and with enough food for 5 days. If I really had to I could have back tracked to get water but experience is a useful thing . There is always water to drink in the Cobungra river. Just follow the pole line up from Young's spur and down from No . 267.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 12 Apr, 2019 5:14 pm

The pole line goes from pole 267 to the SEC Hut. This is not Youngs Hut, which was up the hill a bit, burnt down from memory. Paling Spur is nice, especially going up - navigation is much easier. It's mainly light scrub with an on-off pad/track most of the way. It takes a morning from the campsite on the Cobungra River to the SEC Hut. At the ridge there are many feral horse tracks going north, and it's nice open walking.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby Xplora » Sat 13 Apr, 2019 4:37 pm

The water from the pipe in the creek at Youngs SEC hut is barely a trickle and it did not taste very good. A little peaty. There is better water available further down the creek but it is not convenient. I would have my doubts about the water at Westons currently. I know where PCV was when he saw Youngs SEC hut and to take a bearing then attempt to walk to it would be extremely difficult and not something I would recommend anyone do. He was pretty much on his way to Charlie Macs hut and had missed the ridgeline that takes you to Youngs. There are a lot of tracks around the place and following tracks is OK if they are leading you the right direction.

There is a cairn at the top of Paling Spur but it is not the point where the track meets the ridgeline you would need to take and where the track to Charlie Macs breaks off. The actual Paling spur is pretty easy but you need to be a diligent with navigation once it reaches the more open plain. Paling spur is marked to some degree with red triangles on trees, reflective road markers (cut to arrows) and arrows cut into trees. More than sufficient and the track is a clear pad without obvious deviation. By diligent I mean you have to look at the map often and take note of landmarks such as that big knoll (which is SSE of Youngs SEC) and the gullies and keep a regular check of your bearing. It is not an area I would recommend for those with limited navigation experience or who are more used to following marked tracks.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 13 Apr, 2019 5:19 pm

I found the pole line on Young's spur coming from Paling Spur using a map and compass and that was the most important thing for me that day. I was orientated by that and seeing Mt. Loch also helped me too.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby Xplora » Sun 14 Apr, 2019 9:20 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I found the pole line on Young's spur coming from Paling Spur using a map and compass and that was the most important thing for me that day. I was orientated by that and seeing Mt. Loch also helped me too.

I think that is how I read it. Once you saw Youngs SEC you took a bearing and followed it, to get to the hut, through thick scrub and a creek then you came upon the pole line. You did manage to get yourself out of trouble without calling for assistance but a b-line is not always the best way as your report indicated. I am not without similar experience but when I find I have taken the wrong route I retrace my steps until I work out the correct way or at least where I went wrong. You did highlight some difficulties for those less experienced with off track navigation, which is extremely valuable.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 14 Apr, 2019 9:39 am

Yes it was a B line, as the crow flies. In hindsight I could have /should have studied the topographical map more closely in relation to the features in front of me and contoured around the obstacles including the creek crossing and the dense scrub over a knoll . However when trekking solo in a trackless wilderness , one makes decisions that seem like the best at the time.As you say , EXPLORER, that area is not for total novices when it comes to off track navigation.
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Re: Falls to Hotham advice

Postby Xplora » Sun 14 Apr, 2019 11:51 am

I think the mistakes we make (and get out of alive) are the ones that shape us. It also helps others. Analysing what you did wrong in the first place to put yourself off course and then what you did in the second place to recover just means you can do it better next time. Much of what we do now is off marked track and we are a little more aware of all the things that can go wrong but still do anyway. Fortunately our mistakes of late have not been too costly in time or effort. We lost about half an hour on the last trip doubling back but we picked up (or became suspicious of) the error within 800m.
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