Mount Feathertop is located in Victoria’s Alpine region and is probably the most like a true Alpine peak. It is about 3.5 hours NE of Melbourne. Many hikers leave from Harrietville, a quaint country town of less than 300 residents. The area is served by Harrietville 1:25,000 Vicmap.
We started with around 24 Kg (53 lbs) total pack weight between the two of us, including 4L of water. Early Summer conditions, predicted 15-20 deg. C ( 59-68 deg. F) and maybe 8 deg. C ( 48 deg. F) overnight. We have a lightweight 2-man tent weighing 1.3 Kg ( 3 lbs), two summer sleeping bags, light clothes and rain jackets.
The plan was to leave Melbourne reasonably early on Day 1. Start was to be at Harrietville around midday. We were then planning on hiking around 10 km (6 mi) south along the Bon Accord track to camp somewhere around the Bon Accord Hut ruins. Day 2 would be to meet up with the Razorback Track back up to Mount Feathertop, camping at Federation Hut. Day 3 a short hike back to Harrietville and then the drive home to Melbourne.
Hike started well, parked up in Harrietville and walked to the trailhead for the Bon Accord track.
Looking at the map, it seems that the track follows the creek for the first couple of kilometres.
With recent rain, the creek was reasonably free-flowing. We followed along pretty easily. At this point, we made a mistake. The Bon Accord track forks off to follow the Ovens River south. Unfortunately, we missed the fork and carried on following the progressively more overgrown creek for a few hours. By this time it was pretty evident that we had made a horrible mistake. The track was non-existent and we were reduced to scrambling along the increasingly arduous creek, variously falling down mud holes and other impediments.
At the point at which return along the same creek seemed inevitable, it was just possible to discern the occasional vehicle noise. Located in the creek valley, working out the direction from which the sound was emanating was not easy. We took a punt on scrambling up a steep slope, with the intention of just descending back to the creek if it was incorrect.
The terrain was rough and the plants pretty abrasive.
The sound turned out to be the B500 back to Harrietville. Unenthused and a bit dejected, we trudged back along the road (The Old Coach Rd is pretty pleasant) until we were back at our car in Harrietville by around 17:30.
So, wanting to salvage something from the weekend, we decided that we would use the remaining daylight to hike up to Federation Hut (around 11 km, 6 mi), from where we could easily climb up Mount Feathertop the next day.
Exhausted from the difficult terrain earlier in the day, we ascended more slowly than we had anticipated and it became clear that we would have to finish the hike with our head-torches on in the dark. Still, as the trees thinned out at around 1500 M, the eerie light with the near-full moon was quite impressive.
We arrived at Federation Hut around 22:30, with a round 45 campers already there, this being the night before New Year’s Eve. We threw up the tent quickly, ate something and crashed out.
The next day we dropped the packs in the tent and took the 2 km (1.5 mi) hike up to the top of Mount Feathertop. Blissful to hike without a pack after a hard day. Truly stunning scenery up there.
Deciding that we’d prefer somewhere less busy for New Year’s, we packed up the tent and hiked over to the MUMC hut, maybe 4 km (2.5 mi) from Federation Hut. This amazing hut was built by the Melbourne University Engineering faculty. We camped outside it but used the inside for benches etc. It’s a gem of a place and we definitely made the right choice. There is a hand-pump for cranking creek water which supposedly takes around 20 mins. to produce anything. I gave up after about 15, having enough of my own supplies at hand. We saw New Year’s in with a mug of Pelinkovac (Croatian Liqueur infused with Wormwood, if you never had any, give it a try). A small group of three other hikers had arrived and they camped in the hut. We had a little drink together and they were gone by the time we got up in the morning.
The walk back on the final day was temperate and easy. Nearly trod on a 1.8 m (6 ft) red-bellied black snake somewhere near Picture Point, definitely considering buying gators. Love Victoria’s Alpine Region, so beautiful and so few people around.
Highlights were hearing the loud snort of a wild stag as it ran off, a pack of howling wild dogs at dusk, the MUMC hut, the huge red-bellied black snake and the Pelinkovac. The low-light was coming back to find that someone had left tacks in the road where we parked in Harrietville and we had a puncture. We didn’t realise that you can park right at the Bon Accord trailhead and parked (legally) opposite the Snowline Hotel. Seems the locals don’t like cars left in their town for a couple of days.
We’ll be back one day to do the originally intended hike. It would also be great to get up there in Winter conditions, although much better preparation will obviously be required.