Hello dear readers! It certainly has been a while since we’ve updated our page. It’s not for lack of travels but rather some form of burning out. We all have ups and downs, and we hope you can excuse our rather long recluse. But we’re back to finish up some of our travels in the great Outback! Actually not quite, we never made it into the Outback, but we did make it to the Victoria Highlands. In the beautiful Oven’s Valley of northeastern Victoria is a small but versatile national park: Mt. Buffalo. I planned my entire trip to Bright around a day trip to this park because of it’s long, scenic hike called The Big Walk. There’s a handy TL;DR highlight at the bottom if you’re just here for planning your own trip!
Mt. Buffalo National Park
I was really impressed with the level and variety of activities available in this park. The Big Hike is one of tens of hiking trails. The roads offer challenging biking excursions, there are camp sites, waterfalls, and even a launch pad for hang gliding! Based on what I saw though the park is largely utilized as a drive up to the top of the Gorge Day Visitor area to take in the sights.There is an old Chalet that has had a lot of trouble with maintenance and upkeep but has quite a bit of history in its old bones.
While I went in the summer, the park is also incredibly active in the winter. Maps and locations are available for tobogganing, snow shoeing, or cross country skiing. Looking to spot some wildlife? The park is also host to kangaroos, wallabies, possums, gliders, a variety of birds and wombats. Don’t forget to check out Dingo Dell for a chance to spot these wild canines and take in a treat at the café. If I lived nearby I’d certainly try out this park for all its seasonal worth.
About The Big Walk
The hike took me approximately 7 hours to cover 11.6 kilometers or 7.2 miles. That’s a bit slow but I took a lot of stops to photograph, rest, and just enjoy the solitude. I really recommend to start early because the birds in this park are so abundant and beautiful to listen to at the base of the mountain. I brought binoculars but I’m a horrible bird spotter and didn’t see any. I HEARD many though!
I was really impressed with the trail’s upkeep given how little use it seems to get. Wood had been cleared quite recently, it was easy to spot the trail, markers were in good conditions and I never got lost. I also got to experience some extremely different ecosystems and diversity. Lush forests, craggy exposed granite trails, and stunning views of the valley the higher I got. Towards the top I suddenly found this landscape of incredibly stark, white, dead trees presumably from forest fires in the past. Keep a hat or sunscreen handy for when you’re walking in exposed areas.
It is a lot less isolated than I thought it would be often cutting across or running parallel to the major roadway during the first 3rd of the trail. This gave me a nice sense of security since in the worst case scenario, I could backtrack and flag someone down. In other ways this was disappointing because I really enjoy moments where I am on my own. Like that time I was traveling abroad for the first time, my grandparents missed their connecting flight from Kansas City to Florence so I had to go it alone. When I landed I realized my phone would work perfectly fine and I was in a way bummed. I wanted to be tuned off and out. But by the time I got to the hotel I had my cell phone stolen in the first 15 minutes. To be honest I did not panic- I smiled and went out to explore. Still being alone in a touristy city is a huge leap from a solo hiking experience so safety first.
There were no other hikers on the trail. The only people I had a chance to interact with were bikers who would wave or occasionally yelled out “Nice day for it!”
Even the locals were confused when I told them I was hiking in Mt. Buffalo. I hired the Tour of Duty Bright to drive me out to the entrance who comes highly recommended for providing tours of the area in his huge jeep. Initially he wanted to drop me off at Eurobin Falls because obviously I was going to do a short track, not hike alone for hours from the base to the top. Haha! Truly, I confused and baffled the locals.
Lastly, a note to those who are afraid of heights. Only the gorge area gave me some heart palpitations. It’s no where near as bad as hiking alone in Switzerland where I got vertigo next to the edge of the mountainside and was desperately afraid I was going to fall to my death out of sheer anxiety and inability to walk forward. Would they find my body? Perhaps. It was pretty steep and I wasn’t so sure. There are a few viewing areas on the gorge too that just off the trail, and railed in. You’ll figure out your comfort zone there as I did.
On Snakes and Wildlife
Make sure you know the local emergency numbers. Mt. Buffalo is host to several snake species with fatal bites. It’s a good idea to keep your eye on the trail for sunbathing snakes. Make lots of noise. I also had a walking stick to help produce extra vibrations. I spent the night before making sure I had enough information and understanding to know what to do in case something happened. In particular I found this video really helpful. At first I thought I might have been over-reacting or what my husband calls “Being American” (i.e. researching and googling the shit out of a topic) but once I reached the top I asked a park ranger if he’d ever seen any snakes while out on the trails. He answered yes, among them common browns and copperheads. In several cases he’d seen them so aggressive they actually chased other rangers after stepping on them! Just remember that snakes don’t typically go after people unless you’ve startled them.
Here is a short set of snippets of some bird singing I managed to record.
There is a nice short Gorge Heritage Walk at the top of Mt. Buffalo where The Big Walk ends. It has some rather dated, but interesting posts about the history of the park itself. Here are a few shots:
The view at the top is incredibly stunning. On a nice sunny day you can see the valley below, the exposed cliff sides, and Crystal Creek pouring down like a waterfall into the open Gorge.
I took some video and unfortunately didn’t have the foresight to utilize a tripod. But we hope you enjoy some of these shots to give you some idea of what went down. If you’re near Melbourne this is well worth the drive or train ride to take in a few days here. Apart from friends, it was my favorite location in Australia during my two week stay.