trail suggestions in Australia?
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Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
trail suggestions in Australia? on 10/12/2010 19:20:17 MDT Print View

After our fine recent walk on the Haute Route Pyrenees we’re now trying to choose our next trip. One possibility is a 5-10 week trip in Australia, and I’m hoping that some of the Australian BPLers might help with advice (Drunkenblade, Empacitator, Roger, others?)

We enjoy coastal paths, trails that move through various types of terrain and habitats, and alpine walking. Jim really likes to complete a described route from one end to the other. Good bird watching along the way is a definite plus. We are happy to hike reasonable distances between re-supply points, but don’t mind passing through places where food and/or meals can be obtained. We would need to be able to get to and from the trail starting and ending points by public transportation. We do not want to cache supplies along a route prior to starting a walk. Technical challenge and remoteness are not negatives, but we would not be carrying technical rock or ice climbing equipment. Oh yeah, we are quite averse to concentrations of mosquitoes or biting flies.

Ideally we’d find a described walking route that is 500 to 1000 kilometers long (along the lines of the Haute Route Pyrenees or the UK’s Southwest Coast Path). We have read about the Bibbulmun Track but we don’t have a good feel for whether it would be a good experience as an end-to-end long distance walk. Is the scenery and mix of habitats rich and diverse enough to stay interesting for multiple weeks? Is it possible to take the Bibbulmun hike without caching food and/or water?

Are there other long distance walking trips in Australia that are worth pursuing? Or might we be better off to take a cycling trip instead, perhaps including the Munda Biddi Trail? We do lots of wilderness hiking in the Sierra Nevada and Utah, and we’ve taken 7 hikes of 3-7 weeks in the UK, France and Spain. We have a good feeling for the hiking options in Europe and the US, but we feel ignorant about the possibilities in Australia.

We prefer the idea of one long walk or one long bicycle trip, but might entertain assembling a trip that combines a shorter walk (300-500 km) with some birding and bicycling (assuming we could find a place to store our bikes while hiking).

We really appreciate any help and suggestions!

Thanks much,
Amy L & Jim Y
Palo Alto, California

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: trail suggestions in Australia? on 10/13/2010 03:17:34 MDT Print View

Hi Amy

Two long walks which come to mind are the Australian Alpine Walking Track and the Hume & Hovell Track. Both are great walks and would suit you very nicely EXCEPT for the resupply thing. You will find some info on them at the FAQ web site I maintain. Both can be accessed via public transport.

The problem is resupply. While in Europe (and maybe USA) you have towns and/or Refuges scattered everywhere and can get meals and resupply easily, Australia is VERY different. Basically, there are NO towns along the way. (Ah - you do go through Hotham on the AAWT - good luck finding food there.) Refuges are 99.9% unknown here. (I suspect the same applies to the Bibbulman and any other long Australian track.)

Actually, while the mountains are very short on towns anyhow, the designers of these tracks have fairly deliberately steered them clear of any towns.

For both of these trips we put in food drops: sealed white buckets full of food hidden somewhere near where the track crosses a road. But some of those 'roads' were dirt roads way up in the mountains. Yes, then we had to come back and collect the empties.

Basically, that's Australia.

Cheers

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re: trail suggestions in Australia? on 10/13/2010 04:45:20 MDT Print View

Hi Amy,

Besides Rogers excellent FAQ web site, John Chapmans site has some good information on walks in Australia http://www.john.chapman.name/bushwalk.html

With the Bibbulmun Track, I think it can be done with out supply drops, Mark Mclauchlin would be able to give you better information. http://lightweighthikersblog.blogspot.com/ he can also be PM'd through BPL.

Tony

Ben Gardner
(tasben) - M

Locale: Tassie
bushwalk tasmania on 10/13/2010 06:37:32 MDT Print View

G'day..

not as long as some other walks but many of the longer walks in Tassie can be linked up..

http://www.bushwalktasmania.com/

definately worth a visit whilst in Australia, you may be able to store some gear in Hobart if I'm around at the time.

Local forum for more info..

http://tasmania.bushwalk.com/forum/index.php?sid=3b1340a95837a701f64723dea8d1e954

cheers

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Thanks for info on Australia on 10/13/2010 15:47:41 MDT Print View

Thanks to Roger, Ben, and Tony. I appreciate the pointers. Amy

Rolf Exner
(rolfex) - M

Locale: Melbourne
More suggestions for extended Australian hikes on 10/13/2010 18:52:11 MDT Print View

Hi Amy,

I'm from Melbourne. Here are my suggestions for extended trails in Australia to check out.

1. The Bibbulmun track in WA (960 km). I've only walked a few hours on this track, but it's highly regarded and well worth considering. Best avoided during summer. Spring will be best for the wildflowers.

2. The Heyson Trail in SA (1200 km). See here for more info. Best avoided during summer, at least for the second half that goes through near desert to the Flinders Ranges. There's also a cycle route that runs close by, the Mawson Trail.

3. The Great South West Walk in Victoria (260 km circuit). First half is beach and coastal walking, second half returns through forest along the Glenelg River. Covered in detail in John Chapman's book Bushwalking in Australia.

4. The Alpine Walking Track (650 km) in Victoria and NSW.. This trail goes through all the alpine areas of south-eastern Australia. Avoid during winter and early spring on account of snow. Doing the whole trail will present logistical challenges, but I think these are less so in the southern section. I've done various sections as day or overnight walks. Covered in detail in John Chapman's book Australian Alps Walking Track.

5. The Penguin - Cradle Trail (80 km) linked with the Cradle Mtn - Lake St Clair Track (aka Overland Track) (75 km) in Tasmania. There are many side trips that can be done on the Overland Track segment such as Pine Valley, Walls of Jerusalem, etc, that could double the length and duration of this segment. This is the best hiking in Australia in my view. Best during summer. Often wet. Covered in detail in John Chapman's book Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair.

My experience with these extended walks is limited. The longest walk I've done is in fact the John Muir Trail in the USA. The USA and Europe definitely provide better support for extended hikes than does Australia. There are fewer resupply points here, fewer fellow travellers on the route, and more difficulties in finding the required logistical information. I'd expect to rank the trips as follows. Easy logistics: 3,1,5,2,4. Easy walking: 1,2,3,5,4. Varied scenery: 5,4,1,2,3. Bird watching: 1,3,2,4,5.

I'm happy to answer further questions if I can, as well as provide support if you make it here!

Rolf

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: More suggestions for extended Australian hikes on 10/13/2010 21:20:22 MDT Print View

> The Great South West Walk in Victoria (260 km circuit).
Very nice walk, but not long by any means. You can post a food drop to the PO at the half-way point (we did), and the PO is also the General Store - albeit limited.

Cheers
roger@backpackinglight.com