This is the second of our series of Epic Circuits for Day Hiking and Trail Running in the Victorian High Country. These mega mountain circuits have been chosen for those looking for a challenging day walk, or who are wanting to take their trail running to the next level.
This fantastic route passes iconic high country huts, climbs one of Victoria’s most challenging ascents, and traverses one of the alpine region’s most spectacular ridges. Its 29 kilometre length includes tough descents and ascents, as well as the opportunity to stride out some quick kilometres on relatively easy terrain. And with easy access on the Great Alpine Road near Mount Hotham, this one is well worth checking out.
Important Warning on the Epic Circuits Series:
These circuits are for experts only. As well as being long, these circuits cover rugged terrain in remote environments. You need to be physically and mentally capable, as well as being experienced and competent in the outdoors, and carrying all the necessary equipment and supplies. You should know how to navigate, and will need to take heed of weather conditions.
Some parties may prefer to complete these circuits in two or three days. Although not described here, all of the circuits do provide great overnight camping options.
Route: The Diamantina Circuit
Elevation Gain: 1,430m
Map: SV Maps Bogong Alpine Area
Download GPX file (coming soon)
The route starts at Diamantina Hut, on the Great Alpine Road at the southern end of The Razorback. For the first couple of kilometres you’ll be keeping to the bitumen on the Great Alpine Road up to Mount Loch car park. You then follow a rocky vehicle track that goes around the rim of the ski area in Mount Hotham Alpine Resort, gaining some nice views out to Mount Feathertop and The Razorback as well as back toward the Mount Hotham village.
After about three kilometres you will get to the final lift of the Mount Hotham Resort (The Orchard) near Mount Loch. At this point you leave the vehicle track and follow a foot track that continues around the back of the resort before dropping down to reach Derrick Hut after about a kilometre.
The trail then descends, quite steeply in parts, for almost four kilometres before reaching the iconic Dibbin Hut, seated on the picturesque plains of the Cobungra River. Follow the trail for a further 400 metres to reach Cobungra Gap, then continue north for three and a half kilometres, passing Red Robin Battery en route to Blair Hut. You can either take the side trail to visit Blair Hut, or stay on the more direct vehicle track which passes Blair Hut on the other side of the West Kiewa River. About two kilometres further on from Blair Hut you will reach the trail head for Diamantina Spur.
Often regarded as the most difficult ascent in the Victorian Alps, Diamantina Spur gains almost 800 metres over its four and a half kilometre length. The first section is particularly steep, and even involves some moderate rock scrambling in places. Once you break out of the trees you are rewarded with great views of the south face of Mount Feathertop, and the gradient also eases off a little.
It’s hard to not be fooled by the false crests, and false sense of hope, that this spur continues to dish out. My advice is to take a Zen approach, pace yourself, and assume that you’ll be continuing to climb until such time that you are standing next to the sign that marks the departure of the spur from The Razorback!
Once you do reach The Razorback it’s around eight kilometres along a well formed track over undulating terrain to return to the start point of this circuit at Diamantina Hut. This is a great time to lengthen the stride and pick up the pace, but make sure you also stop and take your eyes off the trail long enough to absorb the sweeping views as you travel along this spectacular ridge. You’ll see Mount Feathertop to the north, the Jaithmathangs to the east, Mount Hotham to the south, and Mount Buffalo and the ranges beyond to the west.
This is a fabulous circuit for getting out and enjoying the high country whilst taking on some demanding terrain without getting too far off the beaten path. Access is easy and involves a beautiful drive up the Great Alpine Road. The trail itself takes in some spectacular Victorian scenery including historic high country huts and stunning alpine vistas.