There have been many hits on “Our Hiking Blog” looking for information regarding access and track conditions in the Mt Howitt area following the fires in late 2006. We are not very familiar with this area, but hope the following information is useful and points you in the right direction. If you are heading up that way this summer, enjoy.
We are subscribed to aus.bushwalking , an excellent bushwalking discussion group hosted by Google, and there are several posts discussing access to Mt Howitt and the Australian Alps Walking Track. The posts regarding Mt Howitt access are quite detailed. Australian hiking guru and author John Chapman is an active member, and he posted this information following a recent trip to the area.
John has indicated he is happy for the information to be reposted here. His excellent website is a great resource for anyone interested in bushwalking, ski touring, rock climbing and photography in Australia. We have several of his books.
This is John’s report:
I have just returned from the area. I spent three days with the ranger
marking the AAWT track from Catherine Saddle through the Razor and
Viking to Barry Saddle.
Please don’t remove the tape markers – they are essential at present for track workers to go in in 2 weeks time to cut all the logs and clear all the fire debris off the track. Track workers are not walkers and need plenty of tapes to make sure they dont get lost.
We ran out of metal triangle AAWT markers and Parks intend to rip down the tapes and put up more spaced new AAWT markers as soon as new markers get made. Without the tapes the track is currently impossible to follow. I knew where the track went hence why I was in helping Parks mark it.
Parks intend opening all of the AAWT soon – at present they have remarked some long sections between Mt Wills and the Cobberas and are working at clearing much of the regrowth from the 2003 fires and some of the fallen timber from the 2006 fires. It seems some significant funds were allocated by the government for repairing fire damaged tracks recently hence the activity.
Regarding roads, the road to Cobbler Lake from the Rose River is open and suitable for 2 wheel drives – needs care but is OK. Also you can come in from Stirling on the Circuit Road – they are doing some logging and sometimes close the road for a few hours as they load jinkers however if you know how timber workers operate its easy to miss the closed times.
Basically use the road in the afternoons and at night and its nearly always open – the timber workers start very early and finish by early afternoon most days.
According to the ranger the roads are also open down to Binadaree Hut and along the river to the Upper Howqua Camp – from there you can climb directly up onto Helicopter Spur or its a short walk to the base of Howitt Spur.
The road from the Circuit Road down to the King River is also fine at present for almost all vehicles.Past the river up the Staircase to Cobbler Lake – at present its very rough and 4wd only and if you value your 4wd or are at all tentative
about big rocks then don’t use it – it took us almost an hour to drive
down it and the ranger knows the road – it was the roughest he has ever
seen it as recent thunder storms and flash floods in the last 2 weeks
have caused significant damage.
As for Brocks Road from the Upper Jamieson into the Howitt Car Park – the ranger has not driven it for a few weeks and was not sure whats its currently like given the damage he has seen on other roads recently.
My information is the Tamboritha Road will be closed for a long period as there is no road formation left through some gorge sections.
Note – if walking in the area expect to get pretty dirty from burnt
sticks and logs – the ash has not yet washed off. Some of the area looks
like it has been nuked but that’s the exception. Overall, it will return
to something like its former state in a few years.