Mt Buller - Howqua - Cross-Cut Saw -Stirling Loop

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Mt Buller - Howqua - Cross-Cut Saw -Stirling Loop

Postby antfellow » Mon 30 Jan, 2017 6:22 pm

Description of our 7 day loop walk from Mt Buller - Howqua - Bluff Hut - Lovicks Hut - Cross-Cut Saw - Mt Buggery - Mt Speculation - King River - Mt Stirling - Mt Buller

Day 1 (22nd January): Mount Buller to Gardiner Hut (down 4 mile spur) Distance: 8km.

Route: from summit, left at track to family ski run, past memorial to Ben Fleming, watch for path on left (indicated by blue sign starting with Z) approx 3/4 of way down ski run. It's a small opening on left of ski run. Track down 4 mile spur is very hard to follow whilst in the Mount Buller Ski Resort area - there are few markers (pink ribbons) and v overgrown. We lost the track after the first 3 pink ribbons and had to bush-bash through this area. Steep descent. Once in the national park area, the track improved considerably, marked by red arrows on trees & pink ribbons. We still lost the track often because it is overgrown in sections but it was relatively easy to refind the track. Note: the markers were scarce in several areas of the track including when walking on the narrow ridge section. We had GPS on ipad which was helpful in confirming where the track was. It took us 5.5 hours to cover the 8km down. We saw a black snake along the way & the track is very overgrown as mentioned before - recommend gaiters. Great to reach the Howqua River and the 4 Mile Campground - it's a great campsite but note the hut & toilets facilities are private. There is no water on the track down - we took 3.25L which was just sufficient. The final section of the track down to Howqua River is very steep. Great views from the top of the ridge at the cairn.

Day 2 (23rd January): Gardiner's hut to start of 16 mile spur track. ~15km

Blisteringly hot day. Great swimming in Howqua. Saw 1 snake - black possibly with yellow belly. Took high track - low track looked good but wasn't marked on our map. Looked like horse riders use it and may have a few river crossings. High track was good, easy to follow, exposed to sun in sections. Had lunch at 6 mile flat - great swimming but hundreds of March flies. Visited Richies hut - wonderful - lovely benches, table,plenty of light - would be great place to stay. Toilet nearly full. Parks planning to replace toilet between feb - april 2017 - may be no toilet during that time. Camped at start of 16 mile spur track - v small campsite by side of jeep track. Beautiful creek joins Howqua at this point.

Day 3 (24th January): Sixteen mile spur to junction of bluff link jeep track & Australian alps track 16.5km.

Ascent up to Bluff Hut on jeep track took us approx 3 hours. It was an ascent of around 1200m with some steep sections. The Bluff Hut tank had water. It had rained overnight the previous night. Bluff Hut had table and benches but was a bit darker and less pleasant than Ritchie's hut. However it was a good place to stop for lunch as it kept the flies at bay. Toilet at Bluff Hut is in good condition. Continued on jeep track to Lovick's hut. There was a further ascent of 200m or so but not as steep as earlier sections. Lovick's hut less well equipped than Bluff Hut or Richies Hut. Few comforts (seating is very limited - 1 bench, there is no table or other chairs). There is no obvious water source at Lovick's hut. The toilet is in good condition. Very nice lawn around the hut however. We hiked on from Lovick's hut to the junction of the jeep track and Australian alps walking track. Great campsite approx 50m further along jeep track on the right. We did a 20 min search for water south east of junction but didn't find any. Great views of sunset & surrounding mountains.

Day 4 (25th January): alpine track junction to Vallejo-Gantner hut. 9.5km

Hit the Australian Alps Walking track for the first time. Very grand - to the left sheer cliffs and lots of lush Alpen flower fields along the way. First Mount Magdala with her characteristic notch (Hell's Window). Then down to Hellfire Pass where water was available (Hellfire Creek) - though you need to descend 100m down a steep path to get it. We then pushed onwards over Big Hill & Mount Howitt. We arrived at MacAllister springs and replenished our water supplies and then stayed at the Gantner Hut. This A-frame is the best hut in the area. And its toilet is by far the best - featuring incredible mountain views. The Hut was built as a tribute to Vallejo Gantner, who died aged 20.

Day 5 (26th January): Vallejo-Gantner hut to King River. 25km

Traversed Cross Cut Saw, Mt Buggery and Mt Speculation - wonderful views & beautiful wild flowers the whole way along. In hindsight we would have taken more water with us. We though we would be able to traverse in 2 hours & brought 2 litres for two people. It actually took us 4 hours and we would have been more comfortable with ~ 4 litres. Reached Camp Creek which was flowing fine - great place to stop and refresh (water is v cold). Followed Speculation Road through mustering flat and down to King River. We decided not to take the Museli Spur Track because it was late afternoon and we didn't want to walk on it after dark. Camped next to King River. Cows were wandering around this area - suggest sterilise all drinking water.

Day 6 (27th January): King River to Howqua Gap Hut. ~20km

Had breakfast at King River hut. Small but charming hut with table and fireplace. Toilet also close by (less good condition). Went up unnamed jeep track (marked closed/impassible on map) from King River to Peter's Corner. Fine for hiking along but impassible for 4wds. River crossing at beginning of track. Then we continued up walking track from Peters Corner to Clear Hills Spur road. This track was steep and v overgrown with black-berries. V hard going. Advise wearing protective clothing. Followed Clear Hills Spur road to Craigs Hut. Water available at Craigs Hut from tap in toilets. Followed Clear Hills Track to GGS hut. Great & comfortable hut. Water available in tank. Good toilets. Headed over Mount Stirling and down to Howqua Gap Hut. At Howqua Gap Hut a new hut has been constructed alongside the old hut (which has been vandalised). New hut has two large water tanks which had water when we were there. Good toilet also present as well as rubbish bins and table and chairs. We pitched tent next to hut.

Day 7 (28th January): Howqua Gap Hut to Mt Buller. ~5km

Walked up "Trigger Happy" mountain bike trail. (note - there are two MTB trails. Trigger happy is for riders climbing back up mountain - take so you will not get hit by riders coming down). Returned back to Mt Buller. Stayed overnight at the Ski Club of Victoria accommodation - simple but friendly with v good communal kitchen and lounge areas.

Map used: Buller-Howitt Outdoor Recreation Guide (Spatial Vision) 1:50,000
antfellow
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Re: Mt Buller - Howqua - Cross-Cut Saw -Stirling Loop

Postby Rlgm12 » Mon 30 Jan, 2017 7:09 pm

Nice, I did a similar walk myself a few weeks back. It's a nice part of town.
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Re: Mt Buller - Howqua - Cross-Cut Saw -Stirling Loop

Postby neilmny » Tue 31 Jan, 2017 7:33 am

Nice report antfellow. any photos?
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Re: Mt Buller - Howqua - Cross-Cut Saw -Stirling Loop

Postby antfellow » Wed 01 Feb, 2017 7:35 pm

We took v few photos - but here is one. Taken at the campsite where the Aust Alps Walking track meets Bluff Link Road. :)
IMG_6858.JPG
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Re: Mt Buller - Howqua - Cross-Cut Saw -Stirling Loop

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 23 Apr, 2017 1:52 pm

Thanks for the report. You covered some big distances each day and in some tough but scenic high country. Well done.
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