Tawonga Huts with the Kids

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Tawonga Huts with the Kids

Postby akl168 » Sun 31 Jan, 2016 4:13 pm

Our good friend LH suggested a three day walk to the Tawonga Huts, Jaithmathang, and the Fainters, over the Australia Day long weekend. Like a hot coffee in the morning, or an icy pole on a hot summer’s afternoon, we didn’t need to be asked twice. So before we could figure out how to spell Jaithm... we were jumping into our cars at an entirely unholy hour, and pointing it east towards the high plains paradise.

After leaving our car at the Cope Hut parking lot, we headed southwesterly direction on the AAWT. This section of the trail was rather flat and very easy walking. Occasional small streams were easily crossed via metal walkways. All of the streams here were flowing rather well, especially after the stormy Friday. The skies were partly cloudy and there was even a gently breeze. The only way a walk good get any better was if there were ice cold beers (and slurpees for the kids) waiting for us at the camp site. Alas, no cold drinks were awaiting and the March flies were incessantly biting. Reality.

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Following the poles up the High Plains.

Soon we were at the Cope Saddle Hut, with its “beaconic” red roof. As my wife and our kids took some pictures and peeped into the Hut, I had to break out the map, as we were at a five-way junction. I wanted to be doubly sure! From here, the AAWT continued up a tiny trail (compared to the other 4 “highways”). The pole numbers did provide assurance that we were headed towards the famous 333 and helped the kids count down the distance towards that pole. A slight and steady climb soon brought us to our rest spot. We dumped our packs at pole 333, and my two kids and I headed towards Mt Jim. My wife decided to have a drink and a leisurely snack and waited for us at 333.

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Lots of room at Tawonga Huts.

Trudging past several soggy spots, we were soon up on Mt Jim. There was a large murder of crows on a tree nearby, who all flew off when we got closer. On the summit, I pulled out my compass hoping to see if it would go haywire, but it duly pointed north, where north was. Hmm. I gave a half hearted search for the geocache on the summit, but didn’t give it much effort as my wife was waiting. The geocache at 333 was obviously much easier to locate. The packs were back on our backs, and we now headed northwest towards the Tawonga Huts. Here we were treated to an inspiring view of Feathertop, from where it was just down to the huts.

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Heading up to Fainter North.

We were the first to arrive, so took our time in selecting a good campsite. For those who are contemplating this trip for the first time, the campsite area is quite large but slopes a little. Having said that, there are plenty of spots to pitch your tents. There is a small stream that flows right through the campsite, however personally, I would have to be a lot, lot, more thirsty to drink from that. Plus there was horse pucky all over the campsite, and right next to the stream. After putting the tents up, I walked around the area looking for water. Immediately north (about 50m) of the campsite, I ended up following my ears, as there was a loud rushing sound of a stream. Several sections of the stream here was steep and moving, so the water question was quickly addressed. Good, especially since the ice cold beers and slurpees were non existent. Our friends, who had left the city a little later (and had to do a car shuffle) soon arrived, and soon the stoves were purring and dinner was being shoveled down various gullets. It had been hot in the sun during the day, and as the sun set the temperature dropped quickly. Our warm sleeping bags soon beckoned.

After breakfast, we packed lunches and lots of water and headed north on the Fainter Fire Track. Our plan was to visit the two Fainters, and then Mt Jaithmathang, if batteries were still full. The initial part of the track followed the contour lines, providing limited views as we were below tree line. I believe we ran into PCV and his cohorts here. PCV has a Tawonga Huts trip report posted a few days ago. We quickly made Little Plain where we sought some welcome shade from the burning sun under some snow gums for morning tea. It was nice being able to walk quickly without the heavy packs. As we got closer to Fainter South, we spotted a line of horses coming down off the summit area. Very quickly, they were passing us going south on the Fainter Fire Trail while we continued north. When we were roughly due east of Fainter South, we left the trail and headed for the top. The views from the top were well worth the walk, and we were blessed with a clear day to spy on the summits all around us. After a quick lunch (difficult thanks to ants everywhere), we headed cross country on the saddle between the Fainters, as we found this probably easier than going back down to the trail. I would reckon that the view (albeit very similar) is better from Fainter North, and worth the extra little walk. After the obligatory snaps at the summit cairn, we headed back towards the track, and set course for camp.

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Heading back down from the Fainters.

The merciless burning sun on this cloudless day was wearing the kids and adults down quickly. We had considered heading up to Jaithmathang on the way back, but decided to head back towards Tawonga Huts directly. The open spaces which provided wonderful views were becoming a double edge sword as we could not hide from the sun. It was just sunscreen, drink, walk, repeat. I brought along a little over 8L of water and it was pretty much gone before we got back to camp. We did about 18k that day and the sight of the huts were greeted with a cheer from the kids. We were soon gathered under the one tree in the middle of the campground, thankful for the shade, and brewing up some afternoon coffee. And as if someone had just flicked a switch, it was soon quite chilly, and jumpers were put and then dinner was had. The kids were smarter than the adults as they adjourned into one of the huts for a game of cards, where it was much warmer. The adults sat around the camp swapping tall tales, and gladly sipping scotch that someone had graciously carried in. With the babbling brook in the background, we were soon intently studying the back of our eyelids.

Before long, we were putting damp tents into the packs, and heading back to the cars. Thanks to the car shuffle, we were heading to the Pretty Valley Pondage, only 4k away. During the past two evenings, I kept spying on the memorial cairn, clearly visible from the campsite, at what seemed to be a big, big climb away. On this morning, we were soon at the memorial cairn. The steady climb from the huts wasn’t bad at all. All too soon, we could see the Pretty Valley Pondage, and were soon at the parking lot. After more car shuffle business, we were headed back after a great weekend.

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The camp - yay!

Occasionally I see queries about good first multi-day walks, either for those with kids, or without. I have to say that this is one to put on your list. With a car shuffle, you could come in and leave the way we did. Or with younger kids, you could just come in from the Pretty Valley Pondage. There is lots of space for your tents, and water wasn’t a problem at all. All the kids on this walk (between 10 and 17) loved this area and walk. Leaving your tents at Tawonga Huts, you could spend a day walking around the peaks without having to lug the kitchen sink around. The SV Bogong Alpine Map worked well for us. I’ve just put it away, wondering where is next...
Last edited by akl168 on Tue 02 Feb, 2016 5:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
akl168
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Re: Tawonga Huts with the Kids

Postby eggs » Sun 31 Jan, 2016 9:17 pm

Thanks for the report. Yet to get out that way. Maybe one day..
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Re: Tawonga Huts with the Kids

Postby neilmny » Mon 01 Feb, 2016 4:20 am

akl168, Thanks for the report nicely done on all accounts.
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Re: Tawonga Huts with the Kids

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Mon 01 Feb, 2016 11:27 am

Yes, that was us, The VNPA bushwalkers led by yours truly . We pushed onto Young's hut on day two. Tawonga huts is an excellent place to camp and do day walks. I still like the campsite just above Salt Camp creek for a spectacular bush camp site close to the Fainter fire trail.
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Re: Tawonga Huts with the Kids

Postby Watertank » Mon 01 Feb, 2016 8:58 pm

I'm planning to head up there in late Feb, lovely part of the world - Tawonga Huts was one of the first places I hiked to about 25 years ago - loved it then and a couple of years ago when I went back for a visit. Now my kids are as tall as me...
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