When we went: Friday June 19
How we got there: We drove up from Bright, it’s about 40 minutes from there to the top of the mountain.
Note that we started this walk later than we wanted, due to some confusing information about the requirement for snow chains in the park. We’d read that although snow chains were required for all of the alpine areas at the moment, Mount Buffalo (being a much lower altitude/snow chance) wouldn’t have the same blanket ruling. Instead, if the forecast for the day was fine, and if now snow was currently on the peak, there’d be no need for chains – but that in any case the entrance to the park would advise one way or another. On this day the forecast was fine, and there was no snow, but regardless, the sign at the entrance required chains to be carried. We turned around and drove all the way back to Bright to hire chains, and then returned. Of course there was absolutely ZERO snow on the mountain, and the sun shone all day. The chains stayed on the back seat of the car. Useful.
Activity summary: Four hours of mostly easy walking in alpine plains and forest. There are a few sections where it was pretty wet so some creative rock/tussock hopping was required, and one or two parts where we just had to accept wet boots. Not a walk to do in sneakers at this time of year.
What we did (the details):
After our snow chain pickup, we returned to the park and arrived at the Cresta Valley car park around 10:30am. The sun was shining brightly, but it was cold, so we rugged up and set out.
The first part of the walk follows the start of the Dicksons Falls nature loop, and after only a few minutes turns off to the well sign-posted Back Wall track. It winds through the Valley of the Giants; alpine plains surrounded by rugged (and sometimes teetering) rock formations and winding with clear dark streams.
The walking was pretty easy, the trail was clear and there was only a small amount of climbing/descending. As I mentioned above, there were a few places were the track was boggy or crossed shallow standing water. We just tussock hopped or gently stepped through getting our boots a little wet (but not wet through). In a couple of places the track crosses bare rock platforms, but cairns marked the way clearly.
About a half way along the Back Wall track we noticed a directional sign that appeared to be at a track junction… but no junction. We weren’t expecting the track to branch (none were marked on the maps) and the sign only pointed to the Back Wall, but there were two other signs that had been ‘cut off’ the sign board, leaving only the ends. We pored over the map when we got back to Bright, and we’re pretty sure where the non-track would have pathed… but we wondered why the track has been removed.
We reached the back wall around 12:30pm and stopped for lunch, enjoying the views. The Back Wall looks south over the edge of the Mount Buffalo National park, and into the distance of the Alpine National park, so the vistas were glorious. The edge is absolutely precipitous, so not recommended for small children or the very nervous…
On the way back as we broke into a clearing we surprised a wedge tailed eagle. We assume it was a female because she was so huge, she was forced to take off with huge booming whump whump whumps as her wings laboured to gain altitude. Definitely a breath-catching moment on the walk to see such a large beautiful bird so close.
We arrived back at the car park at 2:15pm. We found out later that this is the site of a lodge that burned down in 2006. We lucked another intensely enjoyable sun-drenched frosty day of walking on Mount Buffalo, and will definitely return to do this walk again, hopefully in Spring.
Maps: We used the Mount Buffalo Outdoor recreation guide as our map for this walk.
- Park page with information about Mount Buffalo National Park: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/mount-buffalo-national-park (includes change of conditions)
- Park notes for Mount Buffalo National Park: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/315597/Park-note-Mt-Buffalo-Great-Granite-Plateau.pdf