Trip Report Paling Spur/Bogong High Plains/ Cobungra Ditch track.12-14/1/19

Chaeron

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Are you paying for the subsequent and necessary therapy that I will require If I return safely ?
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The Bush - the best therapy there is - but I’ll shout you a pizza just to hear the tale in full gory detail first hand!
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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I was demented by thirst and fatigue so I only took a couple of photos once I was on the track down past the Basalt temple to Dibbin's hut. . Having drunk litres and litres of water from the Cobungra River I set up my tent next to the tent of a father and his daughter who had descended the Diamantina spur that day.
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Ubiquitous Steve

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Oh ..nice report.
Good to know others get geographically embarrassed also:thumbs:
Very nice area...especially Cobungra River.
And Dungeys Track the major through route to access the mine at Brandy Ck Quarry in years past!
Good to see this area the focus of attention.A very deserving area say Team Bears.....
Well done Mr T. another pleasing report....
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Day 2. A much easier day with a day pack . Up The AAWT past the Basalt Temple, over past pole 267 to pole 333. Then down to Weston's hut with good views of the Fainters, Mt. Melanin enhanced skull/ a.k.a Mt.You Ate my tongue
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/Mt. Politically correct and Mt. Feathertop.
The sun was just peaking around the hill at Dibbin's hut as I set off.It was not so hot early in the day and I had plenty of water in my 3 L. bladder , mixed with rehydration salts to drink, in order to get me up the hill and onto the treeless BHP area.
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Bogong

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In winter the area within a few km of Pole 333 can be extremely bleak.

Unrelenting, flat, windswept, whiteness with no features, no nothing... except for bitter cold and unrelenting wind.

If you want to recreate the final days of Scott of the Antarctic, I can't think of a better place to do it.
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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But other times the triple pole junction can be a joy!
Seeing the photo of the 333pole is uplifting ...as I sit in my office!

Bogong is correct though....it has its moments fighting around there in winter with strong winds and snow!
Yes ...when one is out there alone in winter it’s a challenge but very spiritually rewarding!
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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Mr T was the hose and tap still connected at Weston’s Hut...used to be easy to wander to tap to fill up billies.I hope Parks leave it permanently there.
Is there still no dunny at Weston’s Hut?Was the track to Blair’s Hut free of fallen tree ?
And those metal signs about two foot off the ground....I wish they replaced them with six foot poles!
Oh insects!R the flies just as bad as normal ...necessitating special head wear for sanity?They do Team Bears heads in summer those blessed bloody insects!
 

GS

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Nice pics, and quite the adventure! They're the ones you'll remember.

Take care with dehydration, we're not getting any younger and it does kill.
 
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Ubiquitous Steve

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Where r u off to next ?.....we want another exciting adventure with your excellant pics and story lines?
 

Xplora

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I stopped to check out the mystery hut near the Langford Gap Quarry on the BHP. It was locked but confirmed my suspicions that it does exist and that I was not hallucinating that I saw a hut when walking along the AAWT Aqua duct in the area a couple of green seasons back.
The chappie at PV in Mt. Beauty said that hut is known as Maddison's hut and the Maddison family keep the key. I think they are a cattle farming family from the local area.
Maddisons Hut has been a bit of a closely guarded secret (sort of), well until now. It has not found a lot of note on the internet and the Maddison's still have some degree of control over it, hence it is locked. PV is working with the family to sort out some access and restoration but the family has been difficult or reluctant to date. Other old cattle families have embraced the National Park and been given significant recognition. Harry and Sue Ryder have their family story and picture outside their huts. Lovely people and still well connected to the Tawonga/Mt. Beauty community. Sue works in the hospital op shop and the family also give a fair bit of help to Mittagundi. But all that aside. On to another old time cattle family, the McCoys.
The PV chappie in Mt. Beauty warned me about the colourful Mrs. McCoy and her farm near McCoy's track , there are some real characters out there in East Gippsland!. Fortunately I did not have to explain myself to her and I headed to JB Plain via Omeo to camp for the night.

Mrs. McCoy is still a Ms and yes she is colourful. She will not mince her words and happy to call out a nuff nuff. You may have been a bit ambitious trying to get your car to Charlie Macs but I think it is more of a lack of experience than the vehicle. Wise move to know your limitations. If you had indeed got into trouble then Ms. Cath would be the first to help you out. She is totally different to her late father (Frosty) and her brother PJ and is also an ambulance and CFA volunteer. She has come to the aid of many including us. Cath is currently managing the Willows down the road for Helen Packer who sadly is quite ill. She has good knowledge of the track from Charlie Macs to Youngs and would be worth speaking to if she has the time. Feral horses get around that area also and I have been told there is one with a cow bell around the neck. Interesting. These horses have been targeted also for removal.

I have often thought about writing a book based on the characters up the Bundar. They are all colourful, some would say eccentric, others are less polite. It would have to be a work of fiction as if you told it as a real story, nobody would believe it. There is an ongoing feud up there and fortunately the McCoy's are not involved directly. No Hatfield's either but shots have been fired. People in Omeo say there is something in the water the Bundar people drink. We lived there for a while and drank spring water which we bought.

And on the track from Charlie Macs to Youngs, it is common for bushwalkers to get themselves geographically misplaced on this track (or lack of track) with a number of searches over the years.

I
 
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Ubiquitous Steve

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Mr T’s picture shows an erosion gulley right diwn the middle of the track!
Team Bears would have thought that being a bad fire season works would have been completed before now to provide first attack vehicles timely access to this area.:eek:DSE fire tankers should be able to access this area quickly and easily.Maybe its local politics?Perhaps roading crews are scared they may be shot at by feuding locals ??:(

We hope it’s not a method of controlling visitor numbers!!

Perhaps Team Bears better come through the area again to restore peace!!!...perhaps a picnic table or two at Maccas to kindle reconciliation!!:whistle:

We would suggest Parks VIC pay attention to asset protection by considering urgent roading ops in the area under their helm.?:thumbs:
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Mr T was the hose and tap still connected at Weston’s Hut...used to be easy to wander to tap to fill up billies.I hope Parks leave it permanently there.
Is there still no dunny at Weston’s Hut?Was the track to Blair’s Hut free of fallen tree ?
And those metal signs about two foot off the ground....I wish they replaced them with six foot poles!
Oh insects!R the flies just as bad as normal ...necessitating special head wear for sanity?They do Team Bears heads in summer those blessed bloody insects!
There is a tap and hose still situated at Weston's hut. Overall the access track isn't in bad shape, but it could use a haircut above the hut. PV have taken a brush cutter along a good distance of the track.There was little in the way of fallen logs between the BHP, Weston's hut and The West Kiewa River Valley floor.There is still no dunny at Weston's hut. Those very short white metal signs are good in Green season but they are fricking useless in 1 metre or more of snow.They are white too, which shows a lack of thought in their seemingly ubiquitous installation in the greater Bogong Alpine area.
Summer walking in the high country is made less exasperating with an insect proof head net. Anything less would lead me to committing Hari kari , Japanese style with a trekking pole to escape the scourge of relentless plagues of flying , buzzing , biting and stinging insects.
Day 2.BHP to Weston's hut.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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The PV Wallah in Mt. Beauty told me that PV will be heading up to Charlie McNamara's hut in a few weeks to do some work on the Young's hut 4 x 4 access track. That means they will have to use McCoy's track. The man said that the other route that goes straight on from the end of Callaghan's track was worse and even in a Ford Ranger ( good 4 WD vehicles IMHO) he had some trouble getting up that track to ye olde hutte. Ubi Steve , maybe you should get up there and scout it out. The section of track that I chickened out on in my RAV 4 AWD car is not beyond my ability to drive up as a dirt road driver.
I mean I can get my car up and back from the Bluff hut which is not an easy track for a non bona fide 4WD.
The return trip is what made me concerned and cautious . I shall return and walk that route into the hut from that point onwards. It is unfinished BC activity.
I will also get a Garmin GPS and load up the co ordinates for McNamara's hut and Young's hut and have a crack at walking from one to the other. I might see if I can get someone crazy enough to come with me. It may not happen this green season but it is now in my IN TRAY.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Day 2. BHP, Weston's hut and surrounds. I didn't bother going to Blair's hut. It was becoming too hot to walk 700 M. in the other direction by that time in the day . I think PV want to turn Ken Harris's old quarters at the Red Robin Mine battery near the Red Robin Helipad into glamper accommodation. Perhaps they could find some people to carry these user pays kind of " comfort in nature" visitors in on palanquins with a special slave on
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hand to peel grapes for them ….. ;-P .
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Day 2.Time to relax at camp and conserve energy in the heat of the afternoon.
Incidentally I am heading up to Roper's hut later this month( Jan. 2019 ) via the Aqua duct / tramway to Bogong Creek Saddle and Timm's spur. I plan to walk out along the Spion Kopje fire trail.
I will drink lots of water and ensure I do not run out of water again.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Day 3. Dibbin's hut/ Swindler's Spur/ Derrick's Hut/ Spargo's hut/ Golden Mile spur/ Swindler's Creek/ Cobungra Ditch walking track/Brandy Creek/ The end.
It seemed to be endless and the day became rather hot by noon.
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The last 9 kms along the ye olde water race channel was a grim march . Some of the walking track was overgrown and needed a whipper snipper and a chain saw for all of the fallen logs.I had to crawl under and over some pick up sticks like fallen log formations . Other sections of the Cobungra Ditch walking track had been given a haircut with a whipper snipper and seen some fresh chainsaw action too. There were some interpretive signs explaining things about the creation of the water channel , its purpose, The Brandy Creek mine ,the life and times of the Cobungra gold rush and so on.
 
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Bogong

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Tracks like the Cobungra Ditch and the one from Spargos Hut to Blue Ribbon have become a little less well maintained since Andrew Swift finished working for the Hotham RMB. He did a great job building the tracks, as well as writing and designing the interpretive signs.

I hope Hotham eventually employs someone to replace him, even if it's only on a part time or contract basis.
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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Parks new signage at bottom of Eskdale is a step in the right direction....intention book incorporated in sign....plus some log seats.I hope they continue with stuff along this vein....money well spent.
Their track work on Eskdale and Staircase also is good......that’s the way to spend dollars...
Hopefully they keep at it.........
Mr T pics are brilliant......it’s pleasing that you take a good number.....some stunning photos tbqh!
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Day 3.There was a trickle of water just down the gully past Derrick's hut near pole No. 91. It looks like it would run dry by March.Last time I was in the area I walked cross country from Spargo's hut to Derrick's hut. This time I followed the set path which is easy to follow from Derrick's hut to Spargo's hut. I had another rest at Spargo's hut and drank some more fluids.It was hotting up and getting the walk over and done with seemed to be my main concern.The printed matter about Green season walking at Hotham resort was out of date by two years . It is evident that they don't give a shite about Green season visitation . They print money in white season.
The FHAC walk as it stands at present does not have much enthusiastic backing from the resorts. Both Dinner Plain and Mt. Hotham resorts seemed to be virtual ghost towns when I passed through them this week.The new proposed FHAC will probably become a white elephant and a blight on the landscape and we can only hope it won't actually go ahead.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Day 3.Spargo's hut to The Cobungra Ditch track to Brandy Creek trail head. There were day walkers visiting Spargo's hut and the retired couple from Mansfield ( as seen in the right hand corner of the hut photo) who had also walked up Paling spur appeared at Spargo's hut. They were returning to their vehicle along the same return route that I was enduring. Being decidedly well orientated I was able to take more photos.
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The Cobungra Ditch walking track intersects with Murphy Creek Falls where more water was obtained in such thirsty and hot weather. The sun seemed to be following me all afternoon. Much of the track is situated on a Northern facing slope. As a result, on reflection , I am not sure how much snow it would hold for XC skiing on ungroomed snow .
The walking track is a bit narrow for vigorous diagonal stride technique too.

I don't know how the FHAC will take off commercially for those glampers who seek "comfort in nature". It is either too hot , too cold, too steep, too far or just to be endured!. I am rusted onto visiting the Australian Alps, so I must be a cross between a masochist and a lover of unspoiled beauty with a tinge of adventure/fitness
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thrown in .
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Day 3 .I found some shade to eat my lunch along the Cobungra Bitch track , I mean ditch track ;-P.. Once in every 3 kms or so there was bench to lie down on. Thank Goodness the Cobungra Ditch walk ended but the last 500 M. back up the Brandy Creek Fire trail brought out many swear words and the pain barrier was well and truly crossed :-0.
There are scree slopes next to the walking track in one or two places on either side of the Swindler's creek track , which are interesting if geology is your thing. As long as those rocks do not start rolling down the hill towards me then I am well pleased .
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Back in the day ye olde miners/builders used dynamite to blast the bedrock out of the rock face of the route of the aqua duct / water race. Sometimes the track follows the floor of the old water channel and at other times it follows the old rubble built tops of the channel walls.T hese channels are sometimes full of wildflowers or stagnant water or just fallen timber.
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I was elated to see the Tee mobile. I must have walked/grovelled/ scrub bashed over 50 kms in three days. I was totally rogered and knackered !.
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Ubiquitous Steve

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For everbodies interest......Parks VIC promotes Glamper camping but it could better spend funds on providing better road access so more folk could visit some of its unique areas.
“Connecting more people with nature”now that’s a good bit for a vision statement .... pity about access tracks to the likes of Maccas!!
Perhaps Simon may be available to accompany Mr T on his next trip to Maccas!:whistle:
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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For everbodies interest......Parks VIC promotes Glamper camping but it could better spend funds on providing better road access so more folk could visit some of its unique areas.
“Connecting more people with nature”now that’s a good bit for a vision statement .... pity about access tracks to the likes of Maccas!!
Perhaps Simon may be available to accompany Mr T on his next trip to Maccas!:whistle:
I think the Team Leader should get up to the Young's Top / McNamara's hut and survey what that corner of our Alpine N.P. is like in terms of road access and picnic table access. I didn't make it this time but it is high up in my IN TRAY of planned trips. I wonder if you hiked in from Callaghan's road in white season ( a whole day on foot) if you could ski the surrounding terrain around McNamara's hut. Of course carrying skis strapped to the pack that far would be a PITA!
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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It’s a long Long way in there by foot as you can see on the map.Team Bears are hoping that promised track work enables all parties to easily drive into the hut site during dry conditions with light offf roaders or vehicles with limited clearance while the Management Gate is open.

There is another way in by foot I have used......I have come in via track near airport at Dinner Plain......then a foot track (horse track)across Cobungra River to old vehicle tracks on plateau after climbing uphill .

Now...this was many moons ago!How and if you can get around airport ?
The condition of former Track?
But I remember it was very direct that way in there.

Perhaps this may be a consideration for s winter trip as seasonal gate closure means a long walk even for those with sturdy 4x4 that can make the gate area.So ...one could leave vehicle over on Mt Hotham Road side of Cobungra.

Another method maybe Mt Bike in from alternate road ...I think it’s Grey Hill Trail that is closed to vehicle access at Cobungra further downstream than the aiirport itself.That way in comes uphill to MacCoys Track.The Gate used to be padlocked on other side of the Cobungra River!
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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It’s a pity Mitta Mitta doesnot have the colourful forementioned identities of the Bundarra....

Everybody is in happy mode in mighty Mitta!
No time for feuding in the valley system to the north of Mt Wills.

Perhaps there is truth to the theory of “something in the water” in the Bundarra.
I think Mr T has only scratched the surface here with his initial scouting of the area.

I think the forum should encourage Mr T to go back on a special mission to collect further information from patrons at the Blue Duck on the strange goings of the valley.
As conditions will probably stay very hot ...we would allow a trip based on less cumulative walking .

Mr T could park at the MacCoys Farm!Gain some background from the major players of the Valley .....
Then head off up to Maccas on foot for the photos that the forum are craving for....
The newly erected Macnamarras Hut!
Even photos of the real MacCoys that will bring joy even to Xplora !
It’s not a bushwalk of note without reflection on the locals and their history /feuding!

Maybe this feuding is a beat up by Parks VIC to keep visitor no’s down given that some still try to tackle their obstacle course on MacCoys Track.Possibly Parks themselves may be responsible for any bullet holes found on their track closure notices as a way to provide fear of the locals!
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Doesn't sound a nice way to end a walk. What sort of weight are you carrying on this type of wander?
I did not weigh my pack. I carried 5 days worth of food. Initially I thought I would be going to and from McNamara's hut and that was going to add extra nights and days to the hike. However the heat and the discovery of what an untracked wilderness The Young's Top area is, made me change my plan. The burning sun and heat not the pack weight was the main issue on day 3. I do think Dungey's track along the Cobungra river would have been a shorter way back to my car from Dibbin's hut with only one major ascent back up Brandy Creek Fire trail.
Even though the untracked wilderness of Bundara River headwaters and Young's Top spooked me a bit , I am interested in walking in that area again.
 
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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I now have acquired a GPS Garmin E trex 20 thingy and the software with the maps( nearly $500 in total from Bogong Equipment). This week I am going to load it up with the maps and get it all working so I can explore the Bundara Wilderness this Green season.
 
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