Friday, January 27, 2012

Mount Feathertop Part 1, 5th - 6th of January, 2012

Why do we walk? Why do we choose to engage in an activity that can be physically challenging, exhausting and painful? 

Some people may walk for sense of achievement or a personal challenge. While for others, walking may be spiritual and provide a feeling of 'being at one' with nature. Maybe another reason for why we walk is because it can lead to other things.

After signing the intentions log book and posing for the obligatory 'before' photos, two adventurous Walkabouters set off on a 22 kilometer, overnight hike to Mount Feathertop.

What were our intentions exactly? To do what no other Walkabouter had done before!
To hike out to Mount Feathertop, traversing the Razorback Ridge AND stay overnight at Federation Hut. 

The walk to Mount Feathertop is one the premier hikes in the Victorian Alps. At 1,922 meters, Mount Feathertop is the second highest summit in Victoria and the approach along the Razorback provides a challenge to any seasoned bushwalker. The stunning 360 degree views from the Summit extend across to the Bogong High Plains, Mt Bogong, Mt Buffalo and Mt Hotham and into the valleys below.

A distant view

Mount Feathertop has been a destination of choice by Walkabouters 
during past Summer Camps. 

Most recently in 2009, four Walkabouters reached the summit and returned via the Razorback Ridge to Diamantina Hut in one day.

The previous outing to Mount Feathertop was in 2006, which saw 2 Walkabouters summit and return in a day. The remarkable thing about this journey was that Betty, one of the intrepid walkers that day, had just celebrated her 80th Birthday!

Cloud over the summit

So with history in the making, the two adventurers set out before the sun had cleared the clouds obscuring the distant view of the summit.

Starting from the Diamintina Hut, our path lead us over the Big Dipper, the first hills along the Razorback Ridge, allowing our legs to stretch and warm up to for the larger climbs that were yet before us.  

The forecast was promising weather for the next two days, so we could enjoy clear skies
and cool weather, with no need to worry about any sudden storms.

Just right for walking in the Alps during the Australian Summer.

View west towards Mount Buffalo and Bon Accord Spur

 We walked past were the Bon Accord track joins the Razorback Ridge track. The new sign posts are made out of metal as the wooden ones were burnt in fires in 2003 and 2007.

Continuing along the Razorback Ridge we enjoyed views towards Mount Loch and the Diamantina Valley in the east,

and Mount Buffalo in the west.

The track wound its way up,

over and around the Razorback and slowly but surely,

Mount Feathertop appeared closer and closer.

We had lunch on the side of the track, sheltering in a tiny bit of shade
during the hottest part of the day.

Even though the temperature was a pleasant 17 degrees, the sun's radiant heat is intense at high altitude. This is also compounded by a thin ozone layer during summer. Just sitting or doing any physical activity in the open, can quickly lead to dehydration and sun stroke.
It is vital to carry plenty of water and to drink it at regular intervals.

 The silver sheen covering the mountains in the photo below, is created by the remaining branches of Snow Gums that were burnt in the fires of 2003 and 2007.

The mountains' 5 o'clock shadow

After fire, the regrowth of these amazing Gums, appears from below the ground, not from the branches. Snow Gums have lignotubers, or starchy swellings at the root crown, which is an adaptation to assist the tree to survive fires. Many Australian plants have adapted to survive fire, as bush fires have been a significant part of the ecological history of this ancient continent.

High Knobs? almost.
 After a well deserved lunch, we continued on our journey,

over a much more exposed part of the route.

We walked around the Twin Knobs and passed the High Knob on our right.

This section of the track was quite steep and went downhill. A missed step here or slight over balancing with heavy packs could have lead to a very nasty fall.


Diamantina Spur turnoff.

At the base of the High Knob, the track leading up from the Diamantina Spur joins the Razorback Ridge Track. This track drops down almost 1000 meters to the Keiwa West River. A real hard slog if you happen to be walking up the track.

Here we had excellent views across to Mount Jaithmathang (previously known as the Niggerheads) on the Bogong High Plains on the Falls Creek side of the Keiwa West River. 

Mount Feathertop was now just a short hop skip and jump away!

Rounding the side of Molly Hill, the last hill before the final approach to Feathertop, Federation Hut came into view. A very welcome sight!

Federation Hut is on the left of the track.

We pushed on until we reached the Big Snow Gum at the junction

of the track that leads to the Summit and the Federation Hut Camp Site.

This tree is a very welcome sight to many foot weary travelers.

We decided to walk down to Federation Hut and make camp
before we set out on our final push for the summit!

This way we would be have more time on the Summit and may even see the sunset!
  (We needed a cup of tea before we could go any further.)

Federation Hut
The Hut has been built at least three times. Most recently after the fires in 2007.

So after setting up camp and drinking well deserved cups of tea, we replenished our water bottles and set off for the Summit. 


The track lead us back past the Big Snow Gum, around the back of Molly Hill and

View toward Bright and the Ovens River

past the track leading up from the MUMC Hut on the Northwest Spur.

Norhtwest Spur Walking Track

 Soon we had the Summit in sight,

so we stopped for a photo!

That's the Summit behind us!

And then we were there!

Here are the obligatory Summit Photos.

Relaxed self satisfied pose.

Mount Bogong is behind us in the distance.

 Freak Wave pose.

Now for some views from the Summit.

Walkers nearing the Summit

The northern section of the Razorback

Clouds and the Summit

View towards Avalanche Gully

View of the North Peak

The track back down

And soon it was time to leave.

We retraced our steps back down the steep path

and took one last look at Feathertop in the setting sun

 before heading off to our camp for the night.

 Whilst cooking our gourmet evening meal of French Spaghetti Bolognese, it was French because it was cooked 'en plein air', the mist rolled in creating a beautiful orange glow in the setting sun.

We were too hungry to take to many photos so the one below will have to do.

As night fell, and with the overnight temperature expected to be 3 degrees, we were soon snug and warm inside our sleeping bags with the tent zipped up tight against any creepy crawlies. Sleep soon over took us, as we lay listening to the nightly noises of the wind in the trees and the 'plink' 'plunk' of the gum nuts falling on the tent.

And indeed it was a good night's sleep after a brilliant day's walk.

Walkabouters Club of Victoria Inc.


  1. Now this walk looks familiar. I camped overnight on Jan 6th at Federation Hut area! We must have missed you by a day :)

  2. What a wonderful effort. And great photos!
    Do it while you can! It will always stay in your memory.

  3. Hi Greg, fancy missing you at the Summit by a day! Mind you, it would have been tricky to recognise you! The views from the Summit are really fantastic. A great place to walk.

  4. Thanks Anonymous. It certainly was a great effort with a great reward. Such beautiful views. A special place to walk and will always be in the memory.


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