I should start by mentioning the intended trip for the long weekend was to hike through some snow up Mount Feathertop! Unfortunately plans were stifled due to lack of available accomodation nearby and a lack of willingness to start before the crack of dawn. But sticking with the High Country theme we set off to some other areas on the to do list. Day one took us to Kinglake, and after a night in Mansfield we set off towards the Howqua Hills. Of course all our adventures are fuelled by local cafes, so it is appropriate to give a shout out to The Mansfield Coffee Merchant who provided the days caffeine and mandatory smashed avo.
The day was to be pretty open ended, and with only a direction in mind we set off into the hills. A sign beside the road drew us to the Mount Timbertop Trail, and having missed out on one mountain we decided to take on another (this one looked far less challenging however).
The walk was a pretty straightforward up the mountain down the mountain scenario. (with an option to go down in another direction if you can car shuffle).It is only 4km return, but the gradient made it more strenuous (ascent of 400m over the 2km) and time consuming than we expected. It was however an enjoyable hike, with different views over the Mansfield Valley and the Victorian Alps rewarding us at each turn.
The final part of the ascent over a rocky outcrop added some variety to the walk, with a bit of scrambling to finish up. The top of the mountain wouldn’t be a bad spot to pitch a tent for the night. The way down was hard on the knees (to be expected), but we finished up pretty satisfied with our morning’s efforts.
It was then well and truly lunchtime, so we pressed on to our next destination where we were to hike on the Howqua Hills Heritage Track from Sheepyard Flat (another great campsite) to Fry’s Hut, an easygoing 3km return walk. A very human-friendly gathering of King Parrots greeted us at the start of the trail, thoroughly investigating my arms, then we were on our way.
The trail follows the very pretty Howqua River and passes some historic sites (with interpretive signs along the way) to reach Fry’s Hut. These included the remains of a water race that powered a water wheel used to drive crushers that broke ore from mining activities so that it could be smeltered by a furnace. The Chimney of the furnace still stands at the same site. The Hut itself was built by Fred Fry, a local master bushman, in the late 1930s. Fred erected a number of other huts in the area and definitely chose his spot well here, a very idyllic setting beside a huge open field and the babbling river.
We too were able to soak up the atmosphere, setting up my new stove to make some hot tea and filling up on some local produce we had acquired in town. The stove was definitely a good pick up at <$50. It is very lightweight and packs away nicely into the pot set included. All the elements were solid and took only a couple of minutes to boil our water.
All in all we managed to pack a decent amount of exploration into what daylight we had, and returned to Melbourne through the darkness, rejuvenated for the week ahead.
- Field notes from DEPI: Walks around Mansfield