Victoria’s alpine high country offers hiking terrain like few other places in Australia. From towering eucalypt forest to alpine grasslands, rolling hills to snow-capped mountain peaks, there’s something for everyone.
Hiking trails in the region range from a few hundred metres off the main tourist trails, right through to multi-day wilderness treks where you’ll barely see another soul.
You’re probably keen to just get out there and breathe the clear mountain air, but there are a few things you should know before you hit the trail.
- The weather can be unpredictable
There’s nothing quite like hiking along a high country ridge on a warm, still day with the shadows of white fluffy clouds dancing across the landscape. Unfortunately, even in the warmer months, you can’t count on these kind of conditions.
It’s not unheard of for Victoria’s alpine peaks to see snow in the middle of summer, or glaring sun in the middle of winter. What’s important is that the weather up there can change in minutes, so you need to be ready for anything.
Bring layers of clothing that will cover you for all eventualities, and definitely don’t forget your rain jacket. In the warmer months, you need to be aware of the bushfire danger too, so make sure you check with the Bureau of Meteorology and Country Fire Authority for weather and bushfire warnings.
- There will be hills. Big hills.
If you’re taking on a hike of any significant distance in the alpine high country, you’ll need to be prepared for some seriously big hills.
Whether you’re summiting Mount Bogong – the Australian mainland’s second-highest peak – or Mount Feathertop – Victoria’s second-highest peak – or any of the region’s multitude of other single-day or multi-day hikes, chances are you’ll need to do some training in the months before your hike.
- Don’t miss the high-country huts.
Victoria’s alpine high country is home to many of Australia’s 200-odd huts, with history dating as far back as the 1860’s. For over 150 years, some of these huts have provided shelter to cattlemen and women, gold miners, foresters, hydro-workers, fishermen, miners, and cross country skiers, but they also have a rich bushwalking history.
Check them out for their history, but also for their simple construction of locally sourced materials, their stunning locations, and the incredible way they just seem to fit into the landscape as if they’ve always been a part of it.
- Getting lost or injured is a very real danger.
Due to the vastness of the area, hiking trails in the Victorian high country are often devoid of any reliable signage and are sometimes not very well maintained. Don’t expect every trail to be a tourist highway like some trails elsewhere in the state.
The main thing to be aware of here is that you should be sure you’re fit and experienced enough to take on any trail you choose. Aside from short walks along the main tourist trails, you shouldn’t be setting off without adequate gear, including a detailed map and compass, and the navigational skills to use them.
Before your hike, you should always check on the Parks Victoria website, or better yet call Parks Victoria and speak to a ranger, to find out about any closed tracks or changes to conditions.
Make sure you tell someone where you’re going and no matter what you do, you should absolutely bring an emergency beacon as a fall-back in case the worst should happen. PLB emergency beacons are very affordable these days, and if you don’t have the need to purchase one, there are many hire options available.
- Make the most of the little mountain towns.
The townships of Bright, Harrietville, Mount Beauty, Bogong Village, and Falls Creek are the gateways to the many hiking options of Victoria’s alpine high country. If you’re visiting the area for any length of time you’d be crazy to drive straight through them.
Whether you’re planning to do day trips or set off on a multi-day trek, you’ll find them a great stop off for breakfast or lunch, or a night’s accommodation before or after your adventure.
Each town has its own unique character, and they all have their own remarkable history to explore. The friendly locals will always be happy to answer your questions about the area or recommend the best hikes to see.
Now that you’re at least a little more prepared to hike the Victorian high country, go and make the most of it. It’s a region with so much unique beauty and fascinating history that you’ll want to return time and time again. Inspiration Outdoors runs a 5 day all inclusive Victorian High Country Walking Tour out of Melbourne, staying in comfortable accommodation each night. Using the beautiful town of Bright as their base, they are perfectly situated to take on three of Victoria’s best known alpine walking areas: Mt Buffalo, Falls Creek and the iconic Razorback Ridge to Mt Feathertop.