36,000 Steps – Hiking for Fitness and Wellbeing - Mount Bogong

For professionals who spend 45 hours of their week trapped indoors, stranded immobile at their desks, the weekend is a time to get moving and absorb some much-needed Vitamin D.  Hiking was the answer to my urge be outdoors, my passion for fitness and my drive to challenge myself.  Hiking is an activity that can be enjoyed by a broad range of people and can be done virtually anywhere in the world. 

Unfortunately, there is not a great plethora of knowledge on hikes.  Information has to be compiled in dribs and drabs from various websites, books and blogs. Frustratingly, the information is often inconsistent or out of date.  36,000 Steps is an ongoing guide to a range of hikes in the Victorian countryside, Australia and around the world.

If you’re a hiking skeptic, devoted to the gym or reluctant to leave the comfort of the city, here are some reasons to give it a go. 

Hiking is free!

As long as you have enough petrol in the tank to get you where you need to go it makes for a cheap pastime.  There are no gym memberships or cover charges on the mountain.

Hiking is great fitness!

For those who think that walking doesn’t require cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance, you’re doing it wrong.   Hiking up a steady gradient, with a few kgs of food and water on your back, gets the heart-rate up in a very short amount of time - and keeps it there.  Your calves and glutes will get such a thorough beating that you shouldn’t be able to get up or down stairs comfortably for a few days.  Even your abs get a burn.  A 60kg person can burn up to 440 calories per hour while hiking. 

Hiking helps with your well-being!

The city can be a bleak place; too many people and cars, too much concrete.  The weekend is the time to get out, get some clear air and reorient your perspective.  When I started working full-time my skin turned translucent and I started to feel flat. The first weekend that I left town, drove to Lorne and went hiking up to Kalimna falls I returned to work on the Monday feeling rejuvenated.  One should not underestimate the value of being outdoors.  A spectacular view of rolling hills, craggy cliff faces and the clear blue can be more enlivening than caffeine.

Can be completed alone or as a social activity!

For those with a need to get away from the world; hiking can be a solitary exercise that creates space for thought and introspection.  For those who enjoy company; it is a great activity to do with friends and family.  There’s no better way to bond than by conquering the summit of a mountain together.

Gets you travelling!

Hiking is a pastime that can be enjoyed almost anywhere.  It is a different way to explore a new country beyond bars, restaurants and museums.  With hiking you go beyond the Lonely Planet travelling and can see the natural landscape of the place that you're visiting.

Check out the first of this series, Mount Bogong: the tallest mountain in Victoria.

36,000 Steps - Mount Bogong, Victoria, Australia

Length: 16KM

Walk: 6.5Hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

Grade: Steep

Start/Finish: Mountain Creek Camping Area

Water: 3-5L per person

Equipment: Hiking boots, raincoat, warm layers!

Boasting a 1986m summit, Mount Bogong is the tallest mountain in Victoria.  ‘Bogong’ is an Aboriginal name that translates roughly to ‘Big Fella’ - and that is no understatement.  Even taking the short route, Mount Bogong is a grueling feat that is not for the faint hearted.  If you’re reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and relish a challenge, then climbing Mount Bogong will be a great way to spend your weekend.

There are several ways to tackle Mount Bogong.  It can be done in overnight or on a two-day loop.  I climbed Mount Bogong in one day via the track known as the ‘Staircase Spur’.

Getting there:

The trail starts and ends at Mountain Creek Camping Area.  Annoyingly, this can sometimes be difficult to find on Google Maps.  To find the location we had to search Mountain Creek Road.  The closest town to the trailhead is Tawonga.  From here take Ryders Lane, which turns into Mountain creek Road.  Follow this road for about 10km and you will get to Mountain Creek Camping Area.  If you leave immediately after work on a Friday afternoon it can take between four and six hours - depending on traffic.

Mountain Creek Camping Area is a pleasant space, with toilets and camping stoves.  There is a topographical map and an intentions book here.  A good option would be to leave Melbourne on Friday night, camp at Mountain Creek Camping Area and get an early start on the hike on Saturday morning. 

You can drive as far as the camping area without a 4WD.  For those without a 4WD, it’s an extra 2km at the start and the end of the hike as you walk from the campsite to the trailhead.  The walk itself isn’t especially arduous, but you definitely feel that extra 2km at the end of the day. 

The walk:

This hike is called The Staircase for a reason.  The first third of the journey is steep and winding.  The terrain is rocky and hiking boots are essential.  Your glutes are definitely going to feel this one.

After about an hour the track levels out somewhat, and at the 5km mark you get to Bivouac Hut.   For those doing the hike over two days, this is a spot where you can stop and camp.  For those just stopping by it is a picturesque clearing, offering a peek of the mountains ahead, featuring a luxurious drop toilet.  Be aware that the hut should only be used in case of emergency.  Be sure to replace the food/wood/water supplies if you have to use them as this can mean the difference between life and death for someone later down the track.

Past the hut the track weaves in amongst snow gum woodland, burnt black from the most recent bout of fires.  After another hour or so you come out of the treeline and pop out in the bare, exposed expanse leading to the summit.  Without the shelter of the trees the wind can be biting.  A spare layer is essential from this point onwards.

Around this area the trail isn’t marked very clearly.  If you are hiking in poor weather I would suggest taking a compass, as visibility is known to deteriorate quickly at the top of Mount Bogong. 

The last thirty minutes to the summit were definitely the hardest.  To our hungry, tired, sweaty selves all we could see ahead was a vertical rock-climb to the top.  It was slow, steep going, but definitely worth the trouble.

As the tallest mountain in Victoria, Mount Bogong’s summit is awe-inspiring.  Victoria’s alpine area is truly spectacular and the summit of Bogong displays a glorious 360-degree view of the mountains and countryside.

It's a must for anyone looking for a trek in the Victorian mountainside.


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