Howmans Gap – base camp : March 10-13

This was a three day Benalla/Wangaratta event, with a base camp at the Howmans Gap Hostel, just down the slope from Falls Creek Ski Village.

I had decided the first day’s walk would be a circuit taking in an old tramway that I knew existed behind Lake Bogong and Clover Dam. It was built to help construct, and service, the aqueduct leading into these hydro-electric storages.

I had done the walk many years ago, but had not been back as it was rumoured slips had had covered the tramway, and it was inaccessible. This was partly true, but what a pretty walk, and we discovered that there was another section of tram line behind the power station, but we didn’t know how long it would take to walk it, so it was off to the Arboretum above Bogong village.

This was an old town site that used to house the dam workers. One of our walker’s fathers used to look after the site, and has a tree planted in his name. We found the tree, and sat for a few moments of reflection.

Finding that we still had time before Howmans Gap Hostel opened, we went for a short walk up to Fainters Falls.

Finally we checked into the hostel, with a number of bike riders doing the 250km Three Peaks challenge the next day.

Sunday we wanted to walk up to Spion Kopje from Howmans Gap, to the Grey Hills, and Mount Arthur. The return was to be along Black Possum Spur Track, then back to Howmans Gap via Little Arthur Fire Track.

I thought it would be quicker to get onto the Grey Hills from Howmans Gap, but now I know why everyone takes the Big River approach.

Our early start saw us watching the bikes go past from the Three Peaks Challenge, then a hearty breakfast.

Down to Rocky Valley Creek, which I wandered across not worrying about wet feet. As I was slower than the rest of the party, I said I would start up the hill (a very big bad hill) while the others sorted out how they were going to get across with dry feet.

I expected to be overtaken at any moment, especially as I had some trouble with my asthma. Apparently there was some issues with cramping at the creek/river, and the others did not join me until I had had morning tea up on top.

Everyone was adamant they weren’t going near the hill or river again, and it was getting late in the morning, so it was time for Plan B.

This was to head out along the tops to Falls Creek, then back down the Heritage Trail to Howmans Gap.

This was a longer route, but more even under foot, and everyone knew the route.

We got back to Howmans Gap just on dark, as the bike riders were hobbling around wanting sympathy. However, we kindly explained they weren’t going to get any from our group, as we had just done 27km, and that 22 of those were done from 1.00pm-6.30pm. They were actually impressed.

The planned walk for Monday was to walk up the Pack Horse Heritage Trail to Falls Creek, and return via Frying Pan Spur.

As we had already done part of this walk inadvertently the day before, we decided to drive to the Spur, get the geocache there, and then do the other part of the tramway down at Bogong Village.

This proved an excellent option.

Thank you to my co-walkers, and might I recommend Howmans Gap Hostel for accommodation. Very comfortable and all meals supplied, with no skimping on food.

I have yet to venture onto the Grey Hills, but needless to say it will be via the Big River Fire Trail when I do.

[Adele Ritchie]

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