As we roller coast through the zigs and zags of the Tawonga gap, the almighty Mt Bogong continually appears and disappears until the clearing at Sullivans Lookout provides perspective of the challenge ahead. Clouds are clearing, blue skies are beginning to dominate and you know it’s going to be great day.
Mt Bogong stands strong in the Alpine National Park of the Victorian Alps, peaking at 1,986m it is Victoria’s highest Mountain. Bogong in the local Aboriginal language means big fella. In the Aboriginal Wayrwurru language the mountain is named Warkwoolowler, meaning the mountain where people collected the boogong fly. Both meanings are spot on, as it’s not only the height, but the width of the mountain that is impressive, and the Bogong moth is prevalent in the cooler months.
A quick final equipment check at the Mountain Creek Picnic Area, the sun now beaming above. I double check the water sources on the map, identifying the best areas along the trail. Zip the pack up and march off up onto Staircase Spur through a forest of fern and peppermint gums. Smashing through the first 800m climb with relative ease, taking in the pleasant aromas and the sounds of birds and insects screeching around. Stopping for a drink of water and a hit of sugar at a massive burnt out gum tree.
Keeping pace, but definitely battling as we pass the 1200m mark which drops down into a small bowl before another steep staircase push onto Bioivac Hut. Perfect grounds to rest and restore the batteries with drinking water and shelter provided. The cooler air is refreshing and a few deep inhales help the muscles soak it all in. Contemplating the second half of the climb which covers a steep rocky ridge to the summit plateau.
Snow Gums and wild flowers are the only fauna that has successfully adapted to these conditions as you pass the 1600m mark and begin to climb the rocky ridge which is great fun, but bloody exhausting as altitude begins to show its colours. The snow gums begin to clear as the peak of Bogong becomes clear, and the views back down across the Tawonga valley reach as far Mt Buffalo and beyond. The rocky outcrop provide some great cliffs to hang the legs off and take it all in. The sound of underground creeks making their way back down the mountain, provide a clear route to your next water source, although sometimes a trickle of water may take some time to fill your bottle up. The final climb to the summit passes a memorial that honours three skiers that died in 1943.
The summit of Mt Bogong is wide and flat, you could almost fit a football field on top of her. The views are impressive all the way around. A well-deserved rest at 1986m, we are on top of Victoria. We begin to make tracks towards Cleve Cole Hut, which is about a 50-minute walk of mostly flat terrain before dropping down into the snow gums to the beautiful Cleve Cole Hut. The Cleve Cole Hut is a well-kept, stone hut with bunk beds, running water and a fire place with dry wood. A great place to unwind and recover with some soup and wine in front of a burning fire. The surrounding campgrounds have a drop toilet to add a little extra comfort.
We wake to a stunning sunrise of pink and orange before heading off. We make our way past Little Bogong and down the spur via Mitchells Hut, which provides a great view back up of Mt Bogong, from this angle you can really appreciate the width of the mountain. We fly down and pop out onto a 4×4 track which leads us back to the Mountain Creek Picnic Area in around 4 hours at a steady pace. A swim and wash in the crisp Mountain Creek is a great way to reward yourself after a truly magnificent hike.