Mount Buffalo – The Back Wall & Dicksons Falls : February 5

On Sunday February 4th, eighteen willing walkers who weren’t put off by the forecast of 30 degrees on top of Mount Buffalo, decided to hike to the Back Wall and Dickson’s Falls. Groups of walkers met in Wangaratta, Myrtleford and at the park entrance for the hike. Now, I am not sure whether it was the impressive description of the walk, or their knowledge of who the wonderful walks leader would be, but we welcomed an astonishing six new casual walkers today.

After driving up the mountain and parking at the Cresta Valley car park, we crossed the main road to begin the hike. A couple of hundred metres on, and the track junction for Dickson’s Falls and The Back Wall was reached. The new signs certainly looked impressive. This walk had been closed for a few years, which may also have been a reason for the high numbers of walkers present today. We hiked towards the Back Wall signposted some 5km away.

At about 2km into the walk, morning tea was taken in a slightly sheltered area out of the sun. Summer rain had enabled flowers to bloom, with the usual yellow and purple ones being in abundance. A horticulturist I am not. According to Parks
Victoria, the subalpine plant communities are a feature over summer. Small creeks also benefited with many still containing flowing water in them.

Some landmarks passed, but not noted at the time, included the Giants Playground and Stonehenge. The Giants Playground was no doubt missed because the hot weather kept all giants indoors today. I assume the same for Stonehenge, because there were no signs of Druids engaging in ceremonial rituals or worship.

As we got closer to the edge of the national park, a little more of our hike was over large granite rocks which are a feature of Mount Buffalo. The mountain’s amazing rock formations are a result of wind, water and ice eroding them over time. The plant life too changes once again during this final section of the walk, and over 550 native species occur in the park. Great news if you are a vegetarian. The gentle breeze at some of the open areas was most welcoming.

After about two hours we reached our destination, the Back Wall, which made an ideal lunch spot. This point overlooks the southern edge of the national park, and features a sheer drop which would test anyone with acrophobia. Most of the walkers clambered up the large rocks at this site for more spectacular views. The Horn and its lookout are clearly visible from this point. Magnificent views were taken in from every direction.

Apparently Aboriginal people used to feast on protein-rich Bogong Moths here at Mount Buffalo. After roasting them in strips of bark they ate the bodies, or ground them into a paste. That’s enough to get any appetite going. Once a leisurely lunch was completed, and the customary group photo opportunity taken, it was time to retrace our steps.

The last time I led a walk here was in 2018. My memory is obviously failing me. The walk back began with a constant and steady climb over one kilometre, and rose about 110 metres during this time. Earlier we had clearly walked this as a descent. The warmer temperature of the day certainly made all of this appear to be much harder than it probably was. The group divided into two because of the conditions, and continued at their own pace.

Towards the end of the plateau section of the walk we passed a stone wall. I suggested it was to keep the rabbits out. I am now able to confidently say it is known as the Chinaman’s Wall. Built in the late 1890’s it was used to store water for sluicing in the Buckland Valley below. Still, I didn’t see any rabbits.

Arriving back at the junction for the Falls, a quick vote was initiated by the first group. It was unanimously decided that we would leave the Falls part of the walk for another day (phew!). While I waited for the second group, the other walkers returned to the cars to commence a rewarding afternoon tea supplied by an absent Pat on this occasion. My GPS provided the following facts; that the day’s hike was 10.1km completed in four hours and fifty minutes with the return of the second group. Thanks to all for attending, and a proposed South Walk with Dickson’s Falls will be proposed in the near future.

Michael Braendler

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