Review: Victorian Alps walking tours explore the legend of the high country huts

There's no doubt that trekking Victoria's magnificent Alpine National Park is an extraordinary experience, and it may well be the historic huts of the original pioneering cattlemen that capture your heart and imagination as much as the stunning landscapes. Review: Adam Ford

Victorian Alps walking tours

Victorian Alps walking tours. Image: Adam Ford

5 stars

Victorian Alps walking tours with Park Trek Walking Holidays

These fully-accommodated Victorian Alps walking tours will take you into Victoria’s high country for four days of trekking through some of Australia’s most stunning natural landscapes. Easter is a particularly popular time to do this trip and one of the loveliest times to visit the high plains. Enjoy exceptional walking each day, before returning to your cosy lodge in the alpine village of Falls Creek. Transport, twin-share accommodation, most meals, guided walks and national park entry fees are included. Duration: 4 days


Best price guarantee: If you find this tour elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book this tour with The Big Bus tour and travel guide.

Historic buildings are the object of endless fascination for tourists the world over.

Who hasn’t travelled to Europe or the United Kingdom and been wowed by the grand museums and palaces, the opulent churches, the ornate theatres and great railway stations. They’re extraordinary monuments to human endeavour that have stood the test of time.

But it’s all relative, right? Historic buildings come in all shapes and sizes – and sometimes in the most unlikely of places – as we recently discovered on one of the Victorian Alps walking tours with Park Trek Walking Holidays in Regional Victoria.

For this tour we’re based in the popular ski resort village of Falls Creek – about six hours drive north-east of Melbourne. I’m not great at balancing on two feet – let alone a set of cumbersome skis – so consequently ski resorts have never really been my thing.

However once the skiers and snowboarders have migrated north at the end of the season and the snow melts away, what’s revealed underneath are some of the finest alpine walking trails anywhere in the country. We’ll be accommodated for three nights at the comfortable Viking Ski Lodge, and will head out each day to walk a different section of the Alpine National Park.

Victorian Alps walking tours

Victorian Alps walking tours. Image: Adam Ford

From the outset the landscapes you get to experience on these Victorian Alps walking tours are absolutely stunning – with bushy Snow Gums, hardy tundra-like grasses and wildflowers galore. The high plains are crisscrossed by small streams. The landscape is punctuated by ubiquitous snow polls, which lead the way to various landmarks and points of interest, no matter what the season. It’s a beautiful place.

Watch our video of this experience:

Tips for Walking the Victorian Alps, Regional Victoria – Tour the World TV

Looking for ideas on walking in the Victorian Alps? In this segment from the Tour the World travel TV series, we join Park Trek Walking Holidays on a four-day short-break hiking through the spectacular Victorian Alps.

So, back to unlikely historic monuments. One of the most interesting aspects of this trip for me are the high country cattlemen’s huts.

From the early 1800s right up to the 1990s, cattle farmers would bring their herds up from the low country to graze the alpine grasslands in the national park, resting their grazing land below in the process. The practice was eventually banned, although a controversial trial approved by the Federal Government to reintroduce cattle grazing is currently underway.

Victorian Alps walking tours

Craig’s Hut. Image: Bigstock

What remains from the original era are many of the cattleman’s huts that were built around the turn of the 20th century. Several are heritage-listed and hikers in the area find the huts endlessly fascinating. They’re the original ‘man cave’; remote shelters built high in the hills, where the cattlemen would seek refuge from the treacherously harsh and extraordinarily changeable conditions.

Today the huts are a fascinating look back at a (largely) bygone era. Most are maintained by Parks Victoria and made available to hikers in need of shelter.

The destination on our first day of trekking is Kelly Hut – which you reach on a 4km walk that departs via the Big River Fire Track near the Rocky Valley Dam wall. There’s not a lot of information available on the history of this hut.

It certainly looks old. It’s a black wood affair with a red corrugated iron roof. Inside it’s far from palatial but certainly enough to keep you warm and dry if needed. There’s a fireplace, two bed frames with rusty mesh springs and an emergency food locker where hikers have left non-perishable supplies. The larder currently contains canned spaghetti sauce, custard power and even sachets of hot chocolate.

Victorian Alps walking tours

Victorian Alps walking tours: Wallace Hut. Image: Adam Ford

Next stop is Fitzgerald Hut. The original hut was built in 1903, but destroyed by fire in the early 1990s. The replica you visit today is a snazzy stone and timber building that looks warm and inviting. The style however is still very much in keeping with the era.

The following day we hike about 4km from the Pretty Valley Dam across the Bogong High Plains to visit the Tawonga Huts. A variety of huts have stood on this site over the years – the first built by cattleman John Ryder. All the originals have been replaced with newer structures over the last half century, but the site is recognised as historically significant by the National Trust.

The setting is incredibly picturesque; the walk pleasant and reasonably gentle. This is a popular spot with campers. There are several in residence when we arrive. Our walk continues to the top of a nearby peak for fabulous views across the plains and Mount Feathertop.

On to our final day of hiking and a visit to Wallace Hut – the oldest hut in the Alpine National Park and probably the most intriguing.

It was built in the late 1880s by the Wallace brothers – Arthur, William and  Stuart – members of an early pioneering family from Ireland. Not all of what you see today is original. The corrugated iron roof covering the original shingles and the lean-to are add-ons.

What are very interesting are the inscriptions that have been left inside the hut by cattlemen (and various tourists) over the years. There are initials and dates carved into the fireplace mantle and the roof beams. Apparently it is possible to see the names and initials of the three Wallace brothers, but sadly I was unable to locate them.

Victorian Alps walking tours

Victorian Alps walking tours. Image: Adam Ford

So just like the great palaces of Europe, I commend to you the humble high country huts of Australia on this fabulous alpine walking tour in Regional Victoria. Monuments to the tough Aussie pioneering spirit, that have largely stood the test of time. And in my mind they’re no less fascinating.

Adam travelled as a guest of Park Trek Walking Holidays.

Additional images: Bigstock

This segment of Tour the World was produced by Late Night Media Productions, under a co-production agreement with Peppercorn Productions, publisher of The Big Bus tour and travel guide. Copyright © Late Night Media Productions.

 

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. Adam has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. He worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He also appears regularly as a travel commentator on Sky News Business Class. Adam loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

  1. Craig Michael Darling says:

    Thank you for the interesting article

    Craig M Darling

    (Sent from my iPhone)

    >

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