Walking the AAWT in autumn

A forum for discussing the Australian Alps Walking Track. This is a 655 km long track from Walhalla (Vic) to Tharwa (ACT)

Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Loic Foss » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 9:18 am

Hi everybody,
I'm planning on walking the AAWT during May-June.
Is it still possible?
Which way North-->south or south--> mort would be the best?
Thanks in advance
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Mark F » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 9:50 am

It really depends on when the snow sets in and I would go N-S to get the highest parts over with as early as possible. If you can get started in early May you would have a reasonable chance but a June departure much less so. There are two sections where snow may well be a problem although you may strike intermittent snow along virtually the entire length. The Main Range which you would reach after about 8 days (2 to 3 days to cross) and then the Bogong High Plains at about the 2/3rds distance.
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Loic Foss » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 10:30 am

Ok I see.

So you're saying it's doable but I might encounter snow.
Does it mean I need special gear?
Might Some of the high parts of the track be impossible to cross? Is there avalanche risks?
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Mark F » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 11:17 am

This comment is about the areas that always see permanent winter snow bur remember that most of the route can experience sufficient snow to prevent travel on foot. Snow will usually settle for the winter some time in early/mid June above about 1500 metres but you can get snow settling for a day or two even in mid summer. You can see for yourself snow depths and duration for past years on this link - http://www.snowyhydro.com.au/our-energy/water/inflows/snow-depths-calculator/. For reference Spencers Creek is below Koscuiszko at 1800m altitude while 3 Mile Dam is near Kiandra at around 1500m. As previously mentioned the two sections that are most likely to be snow affected are between Kiandra and Thredbo - about 5-6 days walk with the last 2 days walking around 2000 metre altitude and the Bogong High Plains (BHP) in Victoria where there would be around 1800 metres for around 4-5 days. There is not a major avalanche risk but anything is possible. Across the main range you are on top of a ridge and the BHP is a dissected plateau.

If you strike snow then you need xc skis or snowshoes and a 4 seasons tent and the skills to use them. Also exiting from the route is not just a matter of walking down a hill to a road. It may take several days to get out to a regularly driven road.
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Xplora » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 11:40 am

Loic Foss wrote:Ok I see.

So you're saying it's doable but I might encounter snow.
Does it mean I need special gear?
Might Some of the high parts of the track be impossible to cross? Is there avalanche risks?


As Mark said, May would be your best chance. Snow is likely to fall but should not lay for more than a day in May. (I really did not want to make a rhyme out of it but it works). There would not be an avalanche risk in either month. As for special gear, winter snow walking clothes, wet weathers and waterproof boots but snow shoes would be unlikely. I was caught out one May on Mt. Howitt with a heavy dump but then it rained the next day and the snow was gone. You also need to sort out your food drop locations in advance. Many roads will close early June until November and could close earlier if snow falls. There are no re-supply towns on the route but you can go off route to get food. This also make things more complicated as transport will be and issue. Public transport is not available in many places. http://www.glenwills.com is a good spot to stay half way and is close to the track. You can also have food posted there. May and June will also start getting wetter which is actually a good thing as a lot of the water points could be dry after summer. Falls Creek ski resort is a half day off track but there is a small supermarket. Hotham village has very little and not likely to be open. Thredbo is also a half day off the track via the chairlift and should have shopping facilities and a bed at the YHA. You will come close to Benambra in Victoria and it has a small general store. Still a fair bit off track so food drops in good containers is a much better option. You should also arrange to collect the containers after your walk. Empty food containers are often left on the Omeo Hwy where the track meets and we, or another local, often pick them up.

Mark is very experienced and is right in that a N/S would get the higher points over in the first half but sometimes the snow hits the southern areas and misses the north in early winter. Roll the dice but N/S would probably be safer.
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Stroller » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 2:16 pm

I'm in thredbo now and have just come from south going north. As someone else I met on the track pointed out, the book is hard to follow going from north to south unless you've already done it going from the other direction.

Getting to bright and Jindabyne from thredbo and Hotham is not hard because of bus services. You don't want to have to buy much food in either of these resorts.

He's right about road closures. They are closed from queens birthday weekend I think.

Do read the book right through before you start to pick up key details about planing and stuff. I mucked up a bit in that regard eg didn't realise that fiddlers green is more sensible for food drop than mt Victor.

Except for the two motherly sections there is a lot of road acess and if you can take the time it is good to put in more rather than less food drops.

Some places need water drops. Eg to avoid camping at Stony creek on the Benambra road, put your food at the crossing with enough water for overnight. There is water at the bottom of the hill for nextorning an hour into your walk.

Taylor's Crossing would be an excellent food drop as it's a nice place. Suffice to say don't base your food dropson these ruining of the walk according to the book.

theres no water between Barry watertank north of the Viking and mt speculation so plan to do the whole horrible distance in a day unless there's very recent rain.

It's going to be very cold. It already is very cold at nights. Days will be short. I couldn't do what you're proposing. But goodluck it's a great thing to do.
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Stroller » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 3:05 pm

I'm in thredbo now ... great thing to do.

Duplicate post.
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Xplora » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 4:06 pm

Stroller wrote:I'm in thredbo now and have just come from south going north. As someone else I met on the track pointed out, the book is hard to follow going from north to south unless you've already done it going from the other direction.

Good point.

Stroller wrote:Getting to bright and Jindabyne from thredbo and Hotham is not hard because of bus services. You don't want to have to buy much food in either of these resorts.

O'Connells bus line from Omeo to Bright has stopped but Dysons is supposed to be picking it up. It runs from Omeo via Hotham in the morning and returns in the afternoon. Bright has better shopping than Falls Creek but you would not want to miss the bus.

Stroller wrote:He's right about road closures. They are closed from queens birthday weekend I think.

That is right but some will close early if there is early snow and the OP is not from this country so it is generally the Tuesday after the second weekend in June they will close.

Stroller wrote:Taylor's Crossing would be an excellent food drop as it's a nice place. Suffice to say don't base your food dropson these ruining of the walk according to the book.

If you drop there then hide it well. Cross the swing bridge and put in somewhere safe on the other side. Stroller probably meant to say running instead of ruining.
Good to hear from you stroller. Weather has not been to unkind for you except for that big dump of snow.
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Lophophaps » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 4:24 pm

I had minimal navigation problems southbound. Viking is trackless, and fallen timber in many places made it interesting. My understanding is that the Thredbo bus does not run outside school days.

I found water in two places between Barry Saddle and Spec, and there's water a little below Catherine Saddle. I did two days, Barry Saddle to Viking (water) and from there to Spec. This was in early summer, no rain for a week.

Xplorer, you say that O'Connells bus line Omeo to Bright has stopped. Is this for good?
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby Xplora » Wed 19 Apr, 2017 5:32 am

Lophophaps wrote:Xplorer, you say that O'Connells bus line Omeo to Bright has stopped. Is this for good?


Yes this is for good but they have on their web site info that suggests Dysons will pick up the run and there is phone number to call. I posted it elsewhere but it will not hurt to have it in a couple of threads. https://www.omeobus.com.au/ I am not sure if they will still run the same times. The change over is only recent.
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Re: Walking the AAWT in autumn

Postby onward » Thu 20 Apr, 2017 9:22 pm

Currently sitting just below Mt Howitt heading south. Short days are the biggest pain and by May/June they are at the shortest. Makes it difficult to do big km days. As already mentioned cold is the other issue, across Kosciusko NP and to Hotham most nights were 2C to -3C.
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