Dave Byrnes' Adventures

Australian Alps Walking Track - 2011

Overview     Planning     Schedule     Map     Diary     Pictures


I will be using the "Australian Alps Walking Track" guide by Chapman & Siseman.  It provides detailed notes and maps of the official route as well as describing alternative routes and side-trips offering scenery or easier going.  I will make up my mind whether to use the alternative routes as I go along, but do intend to follow his suggested route across the Main Range in Kosciusko National Park rather than the less-interesting valley route unless bad weather intervenes.  To aid in navigation, I have purchased the recommended topographical maps and will be carrying a GPS which has a detailed topographical map and two recorded tracks tracing the AAWT, one prepared by me on my computer and the other a copy from the GPS log of a previous AAWT hiker.  Maps and batteries for the GPS will be stored in the food drums secreted along the trail (see below).


Given the risk of snow storms and very cold weather at higher altitudes and knowing how arduous and rough the trail will be in places, I will be using high-quality lightweight gear with a few compromises on weight in favour of durability.  As a contrast to previous hikes I will be wearing some serious hiking boots (Lowa Khumbu Mid GTX) and gaiters (Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiter) to provide greater protection to my feet and legs.  I have also acquired a larger rucksack (Arc'teryx Bora 80 Backpack) than used for last year's Lands End to John O'Groats hike because of the need to carry more food and other gear.

Entertainment & Communications

I will have a small Sony AM/FM Walkman Radio (because I love listening to the local radio stations, want to be aware of the weather forecasts, and am a current affairs addict) with me along with my iPhone 4 and its store of the 750 greatest songs of all time.  I will also use the iPhone for staying in touch and updating my blog.  Because I may not have access to mains power for the four weeks duration of the hike, I have acquired two weather-proof solar chargers (Solio Rocsta Solar Chargers) that are capable of charging the iPhone and my camera.  In case of emergency, I am carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (Kannad Safelink SOLO) which can be set off to alert authorities to my location and need for assistance (hopefully, never to be used).


I plan to begin hiking on Tuesday, 15 March 2011, from Walhalla, an old gold mining town in Victoria.  I will travel by train on the preceding day from my home on the NSW Central Coast down to Trafalgar in Gippsland, Victoria, where a friend has kindly offered me a bed in his home and a lift the 60km to Walhalla the next morning.  Optimally, it would have been better to start earlier in the year when the days are longer and the chances of snow less, but I want to run in the 45km Six Foot Track Marathon trail race in the Blue Mountains on Saturday, 12 March 2011.  On the upside, the average weather conditions should be more conducive to hiking, i.e., cooler, and the chances of bushfires will be less (although the summer has been so wet, this possibility is much-reduced anyway).

Daily Schedule

I have planned a schedule that will have me completing the hike in 26 days without rest days.  This quite an aggressive schedule, given the terrain, but gets me to the finish at Tharwa, 30km from Canberra, on Saturday, 9 April 2011, the day before the Canberra Marathon and Half Marathon.  I won't be running, but have some friends who will be and I would like to cheer them on.


The AAWT does not pass through any settlements at all, although it does pass within a few kilometres of two ski resorts, Mount Hotham and Thredbo, along the way.  I will be carrying a light one-person tent and am planning to camp out for the entire hike, though don't rule out detouring into Mount Hotham and/or Thredbo for a shower, a real bed, and some junk food.  There are a number of mountain huts along the route, in various states of repair, that can be used for shelter in the case of bad weather, and I might use them if it makes sense at the time.


Because there are no stores along the route and only limited supplies available in the two ski resorts, Mount Hotham and Thredbo, I am planning to be self-sufficient, food-wise.  I have hidden five plastic drums of food at points along the route containing sufficient food, I hope, to get me to the next drum.  I'm hoping to keep my food weight down to about 1kg per day and expect to eat as follows: Breakfast - muesli (pre-packed with powdered milk) and coffee; Lunch - dry biscuits and peanut butter; Dinner - soup, dehydrated meal, Mars Bar and hot chocolate; Snacks - pre-packed daily gorp/scroggin packs (peanuts, M&Ms, sultanas mix).  At each drum, which I have planned to be at the end of a day's hike (but, of course, may not be!) I have included additional "treats" such as corn chips, chocolate, preserved fruit, rice-cream and cola for that night's consumption.  I hid the food drums in early February in locations where I don't think they will be found be people, but do have concerns about animals (rats, wombats and goannas) gnawing their way through the plastic.  Each drum has been placed inside a dark green garbage bag (to help with camouflage) and I have sprayed insecticide inside and around the garbage bag in the hope that the smell will mask any food aromas and deter predators.  The drum locations are about 50 metres off the walking track adjacent to points I believe I can remember.  I have also taken GPS locations.  If, for any reason, my food drop is unobtainable then I will have to hike out to a road and hitchhike to the nearest town where I can resupply.  Any such trip is likely to cost me about three days.


Obtaining drinking water can be a problem during the first half of the route in the parts where the trail follows long ridges.  I will have the capacity to carry 5 litres at a time and have also left water with the food drums.  Generally, at higher altitudes I will trust the water quality straight from streams.  However, I will be carrying water purification tablets which I will use when in doubt.


I intend to wear lightweight and quick-dry shorts and a T-Shirt for hiking along with boots and gaiters.  To deal with colder weather, I will also be carrying some high quality lightweight thermals, a lightweight synthetic sweater (MontBell Ultralight Down Inner Jacket), beanie and inner and outer gloves in case it gets colder.  I will also carry a high-quality lightweight rain-jacket and trousers and a spare pair of shorts and a T-Shirt for camp use.  I will carry a pair of trail-running shoes to wear around camp and, maybe, to cross rivers, as well as being spares for hiking.


Despite a chronic right knee problem which is generally always painful (even when lying in bed!), I have worked out a regime to manage it and have been consistently running about 80km per week so my cardio-vascular fitness will be good.  I will use trekking poles to take the pressure off my knee while walking.  However, I haven't been doing much backpacking as a lead-up to this trip and know it will be hard work for the first week and maybe longer. 



Round Ireland

Hume & Hovell Walking Track

Via Alpina

Australian Alps Walking Track

Land's End to John O'Groats

Round Oz Bike Record Attempt

Round Oz Bike Record Attempt

Round Oz Bike Record Attempt

Australia Tip to Top MTB

Adelaide to Darwin MTB

Sydney to Melbourne MTB

Three Peaks Race

Appalachian Trail

Alpine Track

You can email Dave directly at dave@davebyrnes.com.au or subscribe to his Adventure Blogs here.

You can see Dave's Running Blog here.