Well it’s been a week since I’ve been home from the hike, just long enough to catch up on sleep and I thought I’d tell you all about how it went.
The group consisted of 5 young people from Mittagundi, 5 young people from Wallangarra, 1 boy from Typo Station, and 3 leaders (one from each of the 3 organisations).
Back L-R, James (Woll), Angus (Mitta), Tim (Mitta), Steph (Mitta), Luke (Mitta), Tom (Woll), Josh (Typo), Nathan (Woll), Lee (Typo). Front L-R, Gen (Mitta), Me (Woll), Anna (Woll), Toby (Woll) and Brooke (Mitta)
After spending a night at Mittagundi in a hut built by Ian Stapleton (the brains behind Wollangarra, Mittagundi and Typo), we devoured what was to be the first of many porridge breakfasts and headed off.
Day One was long and flat and we spent the first night at a beautiful hut that was rebuilt by a group from Wollangarra.
Day two was spent walking along an aqueduct which meant that it was also long and flat. We walked past Cope Hut to Cope Saddle Hut, a tiny SEC hut with no fire pit, we cooked couscous and curry on 6 Trangia stoves, bit of a challenge, but we managed.
Day three we woke to clear skies and had our first look at what the weather was to be like for the rest of the hike.
We walked to Dibbin’s Hut which is located in a valley; it was a tough climb down and an even tougher climb up Swindler’s Spur to Derrick’s Hut which is where we spent the night. I don’t have any photos of the up or the day, probably because I was concentrating on not falling, then on the climb.
Day four we tackled the Razorback, a stunning and long walk with spectacular views. We started the day off by walking from Derrick’s hut to Mt Hotham where one of the girls from Mittagundi who hadn’t been feeling very well got picked up by a Mittagundi staff member, so the group was down to 13.
It was a great day of hiking, with spectacular views seen from either side of the Razorback. We stopped for a break at the end of the Razorback on at Twin Knobs and then continued onto Federation Hut.
(Luke, Toby, Tim and Lee)
Day five began with a very early start (4.30am) in order to hike the 2km from Federation Hut to Mt Feathertop before sunrise (and in the dark). But it was worth it for the sunrise and the views.
We walked back to Federation Hut for breakfast and then began another long day of hiking; beginning with a descent down the fire devastated Diamantina Spur. The first half of the spur wasn’t too complicated; however the second was incredibly steep and was made even more difficult due to the fires destroying any vegetation that may have provided a solid walking surface.
(A mid-spur break about half way down)
We broke for lunch at the bottom of the spur in West Kiewa Valley by the West Kiewa River which provided a nice place to wash and rid ourselves of the dirt and dust we’d collected during the morning’s hike.
After lunch we continued up a spur this time to a beautiful flat that was once home to Weston Hut (which was destroyed in the 2006 December fires). The soft regrowth and tough day made for one of the best sleeps of the hike.
Day six meant that the walk was half over; it also meant that it was what we had been referring to as “Food Drop Day”. We had a pretty easy morning, walking to the Pretty Valley Catchments (near Falls Creek) where we waited for the Mittagundi crew to deliver Steph (returning from being sick) and the food.
Lunch was delicious; those avocados did not last long at all. We ate until we felt sick, and then collected the food we’d need for the next four days.
Repacking our packs was tricky, as was readjusting to the weight increase after our packs had become so light, even more difficult was pulling our waist straps after our colossal lunch. We spend the night on a flat past Pretty Valley, after a physically exhausting day (more due to the food than the hiking though…).
(Nathan and Anna struggling with Anna’s waist strap)
Day seven we walked through the not so remote Falls Creek, down some familiar slopes that after further investigation I seem to have skied down.
It was a long day of walking, on relatively flat ground. In the late afternoon we sat at the bottom on Mt Nelse and relaxed by a stream, rinsing our hair and brushing our teeth. We then climbed halfway up Mt Nelse to Edmonson’s Hut where we spent the night and enjoyed fried rice for dinner and chocolate balls for desert (condensed milk, Milo and Mari biscuits, yum).
Day eight was spent doing a few side trips after climbing to the top on Mt Nelse. We lunched on Spion Kopje and spent the night at another burnt down hut, Batty’s Hut. Dinner was definitely the highlight of day 8, (although we did have a habit of making it a highlight most days). After dinner we were treated to Licorice (Anna’s) and M&M’s (mine), which may have explained why our packs were the two heaviest post-food drop.
Day nine involved an early wakeup and another descent down another spur. This time the trackless New Country Spur was the challenge. It was exhausting navigating our way though the dense bush and we all came out with many war wounds in the form of scratches on our arms, legs and faces. We were all relieved to hear the Mitta Mitta River which marked the end of the spur.
We camped on a flat around 2km after the River Crossing and spent our last night daring members of the group to eat/drink various disgusting cooking ingredients (curry powder and soy sauce to name a couple).
Day ten began later than usual as we enjoyed a sleep assuming it was going to be a short day following the river to Mittagundi where we would find out family and friends waiting.
It was an enjoyable morning of walking on a 4 wheel drive track, looking out for the flying fox that would mark the site in which we would cross the river. Unfortunately we failed to find the flying fox and spent the rest of the afternoon bush bashing, removing our boots to cross the river, walking down the river and then bush bashing some more.
We finally found the track, and prepared for our arrival at Mittagundi (a mere 2 hours later than scheduled). Preparations included covering ourselves in mud and devouring a block of chocolate.
(Anna, Gen, Angus and Me)
We then made our way up the driveway, back to our families, back to showers, back to warm beds.
It’s really difficult to sum the walk up, firstly because there are so many things I would like to say and so many stories that I’d like to tell, secondly because it’s difficult to put something so great into words.
I had an amazing time though, with an awesome group of people and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of it.
Thanks to everyone for supporting the walk, you guys are ensuring that it will continue to run and for that I can’t thank you enough.