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36,000 Steps – Mount Feathertop via The Razorback

LENGTH: 20km return

WALK: 6-8Hrs

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

GRADE: Varying

START/FINISH: Diamantina Hut

WATER: 3-5L p/p

EQUIPMENT: Raincoat and warm layers

 

With a summit reaching 1,922 metres, Mount Feathertop is the second highest Mountain in Victoria.  The Razorback route is a single day hike that can take between six and eight hours depending on how long you stop for lunch and how sore your legs/knees/blisters get.  The hike consists in part of gentle, undulating hills and steep slopes - especially at the summit.  Experienced hikers will be comfortable.  First timers will struggle unless they have a good level of fitness or you are a very patient person.

Getting there:

The drive from Melbourne to Mount Hotham takes between four and six hours depending on the traffic and when you leave. The Alpine Road is incredibly steep and slow. In poor conditions it can be a treacherous drive and is not a fun one to undertake at night. 

If you’re willing to have an early morning and a late night, it is feasible to do the walk in a day trip.  If not, there is a decent amount of accommodation in the surrounding areas of Mount Hotham, Dinner Plain, Harrietville, Porepunkah and Bright.  Be aware that there are no service stations when you get onto Mount Hotham, so it would be wise to fill up when you’re in Bright.

The Razorback starts and ends at Diamantina Hut, 2.5km away from Mount Hotham, on the Harrietville side of the mountain.  The location can be found on Google maps.  Follow the Alpine Road to Harrietville, Mount Hotham. and Diamantina Hut are clearly signposted.  There is ample parking nearby and the road is 2WD accessible.

The walk:

The Razorback is the ridge that links Mount Hotham and Mount Feathertop.  This walk is not a loop, but a return trip.

The first part of the walk is is pretty easy going, edging along the side of the mountain and varying between downhill and uphill.  The track alternates between rocky and flat; hiking boots make it a lot more comfortable but are not essential.

The track stays above the treeline for the first third, which makes for a superb view and heaps of sun.  This does mean that in harsh conditions you are extremely exposed.  The weather on Mount Hotham is liable to change, so even if it looks sunny about, a raincoat and an extra layer are a good idea.

The middle third of the hike increases considerably in incline and ducks in amongst the trees.  We had to stop for a rest around here more than once.  For this part the track is quite narrow and you will have to step aside for other walkers.  If you are one who walks for solitude, Mount Feathertop may not be the hike for you.  We went on the Easter long weekend and were surrounded by other groups for the entire hike. 

For the final third of the hike you pop out of the treeline and approach Federation Hut; the camping area for those on the loop.  This is the only place on the mountain where there are toilets (BYO toilet paper) and water (BYO iodine). 

The summit is steep going.  Take it easy on this part because it would be very easy to slip and fall.  As tough as it is, it’s well worth the effort.  The view is magnificent and there is plenty of space to sit/lie down and have a relaxed lunch.  For the entire walk, there and back, the track is clearly marked.  It would be very difficult to get lost so there is no need for a compass or map.

Mount Hotham is a truly beautiful part of Australia.  I would highly recommend making a weekend getaway of it, as there are plenty of other outdoor activities to do in the area.  Shorter hikes can be found all round and mountain biking is another popular pastime in the surrounds.

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