Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cowombat Carpark to Mt. Cobberas No. 1 via Moscow Saddle, Alpine National Park - February 2018

Cleft Peak with The Pilot in the middle distance and the Main Range in the distance.
In the middle of writing up my seemingly unending AAWT posts I decided that I needed a bit of downtime. Since I’d wandered past the Cobberas on my walk to Canberra but hadn’t headed up onto the range, I decided that a visit to the tops was in order. To make the walk into a circuit I decided to head up to Cobberas No.1 via Moscow Saddle, bivy just below the summit and then head back down to the ute in the Cowombat Carpark via the spur that runs in a roughly westerly direction from the summit. So after putting in a few hours at work I jumped into the ute and headed off on the almost 7 hour drive to the Cowombat Carpark, arriving in a cloud of dust just after 2pm after what had already been a pretty big day.
I'm about to head off from the dusty Cowombat Carpark.
I followed Cowombat Flat Track for a little over a kilometre today.


Climbing out of the ute and changing into my walking gear I could almost feel the moisture being sucked out of my skin by the dry and dusty bush. Driving in I’d noticed both small arms of Stony Creek with barely trickle of water in them, with almost no chance of finding any water in the headwaters of Moscow Creek up on the range I was carrying 8 litres for my bivy tonight. So with 8 kilograms of water on board, my pack was surprisingly heavy as I headed off along Cowombat Flat Track this afternoon, crossing the bone dry Bulley Creek I was happy to have enough water to see me back to the ute tomorrow though.
Bulley Creek was bone dry on this visit.
Shortly after crossing the dry Bulley Creek I turned east and started climbing the long spur that eventually tops out at Moscow Peak. This spot marked the end of any kind of walking track today until I was a few hundred metres from the summit of Cobberas No.1. When I was shuffling past here back in November last year on my AAWT walk I noticed that there had been a fire to the east of Cowombat Flat Track but I didn’t head up onto the range to check out the extent of the fire. Heading up the spur today I was mildly surprised at the extent of the damage, while the actual fire had thinned out the undergrowth a fair bit there was very little in the way of any significant effects from the fire. What there was though was massive firebreaks that had been bulldozed through the bush, so what was normally an off track climb up the spur through the scrub now became a bit of a slog up the wide bulldozer scar, at least until I got to around the 1500 metre mark where it looks like the bulldozer retreated. Higher up where the spur gets pretty pronounced the dozer had more or less kept to the crest as well, which is normally the spot I’d want to be climbing on an off track spur, oh well at least I wasn’t getting a scrub massage I suppose!
I'd noticed that there had been a fire here when I passed through last November on my AAWT walk.
The spur that heads up to Moscow Peak use to be a very pleasant off track walk.
I'm thinking that it would probably be best to give this route a miss for a couple of years until the bull dozer scars start to revegetate a bit.
The bulldozer got to around the 1500 metre contour.
Once above the dozer scars everything returned to normal for the Cobberas, the higher I climbed towards Moscow Peak the better the walking became. The rocky spur with it’s fairly open forest making for interesting walking without any real navigational conundrums. Once I’d climbed the spur to around the 1570 metre level I started to sidle around towards Moscow Saddle below Moscow Peak. This sidle was probably the roughest section of todays walk as I had to pick my way through some pretty rocky country while negotiating the scrub and at the same time being on a fairly acute angle on the side of the peak. It was with some relief when the land flattened out a bit and I found myself at an old camp that I’d used before in Moscow Saddle, not that I was camping here today though, in fact I was barely halfway to my nights bivy.
Once above the earth works the walking up Moscow Peak Spur was pretty sweet again!
Sidling across the slopes of Moscow Peak towards Moscow Saddle was probably the roughest walking for the day.
It's pretty rocky across here.
Passing through the scrubby saddle I started to climb again, I was now heading up towards Middle Peak. While the climb up from Moscow Saddle to Middle Peak is steep and scrubby it’s largely fairly straight forward as far as the navigation goes, just stay on the high ground and keep climbing until you top out is basically the extent of it really. Nearing the top I reached the high ridge that connects Cobberas No.1 and Cleft Peak at it’s extremities, I was giving Cleft Peak a miss on this walk so headed towards Middle Peak and Cobberas No.1. Once on this high ridge the walking gets pretty rugged, this ridge is very rocky and it requires concentration to avoid the many bluffs and thicker sections of scrub. By passing the summit of Middle Peak I dropped down a steep gully through the cliffs protecting the summit, arriving at a nice grassy flat saddle that was home to a couple of brumbies today, but which would make for a nice campsite for me one day.
Climbing up from Moscow Saddle to Middle Peak there was only a bit of light scrub to deal with.
Getting closer to the ridge that connects Cleft Peak to Cobberas No.1.
Middle Peak
I dropped steeply down a gully beside the cliffs that protect Middle Peak.
Leaving the saddle between Middle Peak and Cobberas No.1 I started climbing again, once again off track. My final climb was only fairly short at less than 100 metres but it was pretty steep, initially at least. The good news was that apart from this being my last climb for the day, it was also the least scrubbiest section of the climb. By the time I reached the long summit ridge I was pretty well shagged out today, not that it really mattered now as once on the high ridge I soon intersected with the marked walking track that heads up here from the Playgrounds (the only walking track that penetrates the high country of the Cobberas Wilderness). With the walking track suddenly making walking very easy I was able to read and enjoy the beautiful alpine scenery surrounding me, the Snow Gums twisted and contorted into all sorts of gnarly shapes.
Reaching the Cobberas No.1 ridge I met up with the walking track that comes up from the Playgrounds.
Scrambling up to the summit I disturbed Sambar Deer.
Looking back across towards Cleft Peak from Cobberas No.1.
Mt Cobberas No.1
Ten minutes or so after meeting the walking track I arrived at the summit of Cobberas No.1. After finding a nice soft spot under a Snow Gum on the Snow Grass to bivy for the night and setting up camp (a fairly quick chore when only using a bivy bag), it was time to scramble up the last ten metres or so to the summit trig. To get to the very top of Cobberas No.1 requires a bit of an exposed scramble for the last couple of metres and once on top there is only a bum sized spot to sit, not that it matters much as the view from a couple of metres lower down is just as good really. It was after 6pm when I arrived up here today and the rest of the evening was spent eating, drinking and doing a bit of reading, all punctuated by numerous short excursions around the summit area trying to capture the changing light with my camera. After the sun finally dropped down below the horizon I gave Sam a call and climbed into the sleeping bag to combat the creeping cold, spending very little time reading before sleep overcame me.
There isn't a lot of room to park my fat arse on this summit.
Cleft Peak

This post is turning out to be a bit of a photo dump, hey.
The Cobberas Wilderness is a pretty special spot I think...but it takes some work to get there.

The Dirt.
I walked around 8 kilometres today and climbed around 750 metres on this medium grade stroll. Now while I’d rate it as a medium grade days walking you need to be able to navigate and route find in sometimes rough country so expect fairly slow progress. Unfortunately the Cobberas Wilderness is now home to a lot of feral horses and deer so if you are here when there is a bit of surface water around then I’d treat it. I used Mr Tempests notes and map out of his Daywalks Around Victoria book along with my GPS maps, I’ve walked up here a few times before though so have got a bit of an idea of the lay of the land. There are plenty of beautiful spots to camp just short of the summit although there is generally no water close by and being on a ridge top it’s a little exposed.

Relevant Posts.
Stony Creek to Cowombat Flat, AAWT, Alpine National Park - 2017.
Limestone Road to saddle south of Moscow Peak, Alpine National Park, 2016.
Cleft Peak, Mt Cobberas Number 1, Moscow Peak, Alpine National Park, 2016.

Tonight's bivy on Cobberas No.1, I've had worse!
Strap yourself in for a few sunset shots.



Time for bed:)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Estate Spur, Lake Eildon National Park - January 2018

Lake Eildon was looking good this morning.
This was actually the first Australian walk that I’d done since finishing my AAWT epic in December, my time since finishing the alps walk had been taken up retrieving food drops from the hills, work, Christmas and then a trip to Singapore. So with virtually no exercise for awhile I decided to head up to Lake Eildon National Park and do the Estate Spur Walk. I’d done this walk years ago and always figured that it would make a nice stroll on a warm day, with the lake making for a great spot for a cooling swim. So with a forecast temperature of around 30˚ today was the day. With a warm day in prospect I headed off from home before 5am this morning, arriving at the start of the walk at the Lakeside Camping Area well before 8am.
I was on my way pretty early today.
Locking the ute I set off up the access road for 100 metres, I’d decided to walk this walk in the reverse direction as it’s usually described so I could finish my stroll along the shores of Lake Eildon and have a swim. So reading Mr Chapman’s notes in reverse I picked up the very steep, loose and eroded old fire track that would take me from the camp up to the crest of Estate Spur. Apart from getting the steepest and longest climb out of the way early, going around in reverse also meant that I was climbing up Estate Spur in the shade of the mountain this morning. While the initial climb was pretty steep it was mercifully short and before long I arrived on the open grassy tops of Estate Spur.
The good news was the first steep section of the walk was shaded by the spur.
Once on the crest of Estate Spur the grassy slopes make for very nice walking.
The open tops of Estate Spur are what make this a very good walk I think. With Coller Bay framed by Blowhard Spur down below me to the north and Bolte Bay to my south the views along here on a good day are definitely worth the climb, and today was a very good day. Lake Eildon was almost mirror smooth this morning, the only blemishes on it’s surface being from the numerous houseboats and water skiers out enjoying the morning. Like it’s near neighbour Blowhard Spur, Estate Spur isn’t a level walk though, the grassy spur undulating a fair bit as I headed south west along the crest.
Looking down over Collar Bay with Blowhard Spur behind it.
There is a bit of up and down walking along Estate Spur.
I was climbing over that next grassy knoll.
I was keeping a close eye on the map and the GPS as I shuffled my way along the tops, avoiding a signposted track heading back down to the visiter centre I continued on a little bit further dropping through one last high saddle before sidling the last knoll a little to meet up with the track running down to Bedrock Creek. Like my climb up Estate Spur my descent down off the spur was reasonably steep but pretty short, the spur top being only around 150 metres above the lake level.
Occasionally the track along Estate Spur would drop into some trees for awhile.
That's Bolte Bay, my return route would be back along it's shoreline.
Cook Point at the end of Blowhard Spur, another potential swimming spot.

Arriving down at Bedrock Creek things got a little vague for a little while, the pad heading down stream beside the almost dry creek, coming and going a bit in the long grass. With the shimmering water of Bolte Bay appearing through the Stringybark Trees I picked up a benched track climbing a little through the dry, open forest above the lake shore. The walking from here back to the ute would now feature water views for the majority of the way. Contouring along the hillside on my benched track I made my way past a clutch (or maybe a gaggle?) of houseboats tied up on the shore below me, no doubt enjoying their the Christmas/New Year holidays.
I sidled left around this last knoll....
....and picked up this old fire track down to Bedrock Creek.
Things are a little vague through the long grass down beside Bedrock Creek.
There are enough cairns and track markers around though.
While the track along the shoreline is a good track for the most part it does feature quite a few short and steep ups and downs, each little rise and fall is normally only a few metres but walking along in the hot sun it was all starting to add up this morning, so I was quite happy to reach the signposted turn off for my short detour out to Point Mibus, my designated swimming spot. Dropping down to the end of the point I was happy to find some shady trees to leave my gear under while I gingerly edged my way down the last couple of metres to the welcoming water (here’s a Feral tip, if you are thinking of swimming here remember to bring some river sandals in your pack, the rocks and stones around the shore of Lake Eildon are pretty sharp in my experience and very hard on bare feet).
With the water of Bolte Bay visible through the trees I picked up a benched track.
The open forest along the shoreline makes nice walking too.

Floating out into the lake the cool water enveloping me I felt like I was again in my natural habitat. Really I could of spent all day here, swimming and sitting in the shade taking in the view but that wouldn’t have got me back to the ute, eventually after drying off a bit, I pulled my sweaty gear back on and set off back towards the Lakeside camp. Leaving Point Mibus I had to climb back up to meet my contouring track, the pad now traversing slightly steeper ground as it headed towards Point Mead, the views of the lake through the trees now being almost constant. Point Mead is named after American, Elwood Mead, after who Lake Mead in the US is also named after, he was engineer who helped design Lake Eildon as well as Hoover Dam back at home. Stopping for awhile on the point I read the information plaque while taking in the view, thinking to myself that old Elwood would of been pretty happy with this spot being named in honour of him.
Point Mibus
The geo-cache at Point Mibus. When does a geo-cache become litter?
Looking into Bolte Bay from my swimming spot.
Elegant entry and exits can be difficult in bare feet here!

I was now on the finishing stretches of my stroll as the pad south west back above the shoreline. The track was now passing through a few areas of fairly dense Tea Tree which gave me a bit of shade from the mid-day sun. Soon enough I spied the ute through the scrub, arriving I through my sweaty boots in the tray, grabbed a cool drink and settled in for the two and half hour drive home, happy that my first decent walk post the AAWT had been good one.
Your Feral correspondent in his natural habitat.  
The slopes are a little steeper heading around to Point Mead.
The Dirt.
I walked 9.8 kilometres and climbed 542 metres on what I’d call a medium grade walk. As I mentioned the walk is normally done in the other direction, it would make the navigation a little easier going in that direction, however there is no big navigational challenges going around in the direction I did it. Assuming the water level is high enough, Lake Eildon is great place for a swim but if you are not a good swimmer then be a bit careful as it drops off pretty steeply, the exits and entries would be easier in sandals too. This is walk # 35 in the House of Chapman’s second edition of Day Walks Melbourne.

Relevant Posts.