Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit
  • Length: 65km

  • Duration: 4 days

  • Grade: 4

  • Style: Circuit

  • Start: Bogong Village

  • End: Bogong Village

  • Location: Alpine National Park

  • Closest Town: Mount Beauty

  • Distance from CBD: 371km

  • State: VIC

  • Latitude: -36.8027122808

  • Longitude: 147.2242694603

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Alpine National Park...

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The Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit is a stunning 65km, grade 4 circuit hike, located in the Alpine National Park, Victoria. The hike should take approximately 4 days to complete.

Warning

While this is not an overly challenging hike, do not attempt this circuit during winter unless you are experienced in Alpine conditions and have the necessary equipment for hiking and camping in snow. This hike requires that you have a sufficient level of navigation experience, equipment (in good working order), fitness and self-reliance. It is vital that you take personal responsibility for ensuring you are prepared!

Hike Summary

The Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit will reward you with stunning views over the Victorian Alps. This is detailed as a four-day hike but can easily be varied based on how far you wish to hike each day. Once on the plateau, campsites and water are not difficult to find.

The hike commences at Bogong Village, approximately 15km from Mount Beauty. While camping is not permitted in the Village itself, you can drive through the Village to the Picnic Ground if you wanted to car camp for an early start. The alternative would be to find accommodation in Mount Beauty and leave you car at the trailhead.

Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit

To locate the start of the walk (Spring Saddle Track), follow the main road through Bogong Village until you reach the Bogong High Plains Road. Immediately to your left you will see a side road heading up hill towards what looks like a shipping container. It’s actually a water treatment plant. There is a walking track the continues past the treatment plant and heads directly up hill, following the power station fence line. After a few hundred metres you will easily locate Spring Saddle Track.

Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit

You will then climb gradually along a well-formed vehicle track for the next 7km to Spring Saddle. By the time you reach this point, you will have gained around 560m in elevation from the trailhead. At Spring Saddle, turn south (left) onto the Fainters Firetrail which continues to ascend past Bald Hill to Bogong Jack Saddle at an elevation of around 1550m. This is a large open area that is great for a lunch stop or overnight camp. Bogong Jack Hut can be located a short distance north of the campground. It is a small hut that has certainly seen better days. As with all Alpine huts, you can’t camp in it unless its an emergency.

The trail then continues above the tree line towards Mount Fainter North and Mount Fainter South where you will be rewarded with stunning 360-degree views over the Victorian Alps. Mount Feathertop is clearly visible to the west and Mount Bogong to the east. Camping on the saddle between these two peaks will allow you to experience amazing alpine sunsets.

Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit

Continue to follow the Fainters Firetrail onto the Little Plain and the start of the Mount Jaithmathang Range (pronounced Yit-ma-thang). The main firetrail continues south past the range to Tawonga Huts where you will find a walking track that leads back to the summit of Mount Jaithmathang. The downloadable GPX file at the end of these notes contains an off-trail section that traverses the Jaithmathang range to the summit and then follows the walking track down to Tawonga Huts. If you are not comfortable with off-trail navigation and rugged overgrown terrain, I’d recommend keeping to the fire trail as either way, you can still summit to appreciate the views.

Further along the trail you will reach Tawonga Huts and their associated cattle yards. These were built when cattle grazing was still permitted in the national park. The huts are a great place to stop for lunch or as an overnight camp. There is a nice running creek for water and large grassy area to rest for a while. If you are planning on camping the night, just be mindful that the hut area can be crowded with hikers and mountain bikers as it is an easy day walk from Falls Creek.

Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit

A short distance from the huts, the Fainters Firetrail turns east towards Pretty Valley and Falls Creek. Just before the track turns, keep an eye out for snow poles that indicate a track leading southwest over the Bogong High Plains into the Bundara-Cobungra Remote and Natural Area. You will now start to see a series of tracks, all marked with snow poles as they branch out across the plains. You will note most of the poles are numbered so look out for pole 333 which is the junction of the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT). It’s not really hard to miss as it looks like a street sign in the middle of nowhere.

You will now follow the AAWT east across the High Plains past Mount Bundara, Cope Saddle Hut, and Mount Cope before arriving at The Bogong High Plains Road and Bogong Chalet carpark. Walking through the carpark, follow the Langford West Aqueduct Road down towards the historic Cope Hut, built in 1929 as a ski touring refuge. Today it is still a refuge only to be used in emergencies, but you can book great camping platforms nearby or camp on the grassy plains areas among the snowgums for free. Cope Hut is part of the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing platforms so make sure you book your platform here.

Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit

From Cope Hut, the hike follows the Langford West Aqueduct Road. The aqueduct is an open channel with fresh flowing water so you will have no issue collecting water for the next few kilometres of the hike. Keep following the aqueduct past Langfords Gap until you reach a covered bridge that crosses the aqueduct. This is where the AAWT climbs north on a narrower walking track past Marum Point and The Park towards Mount Nelse at an elevation of 1882m. If you wanted to camp before the final steady climb up Mount Nelse, you will see side-tracks on the east and west of the AAWT that lead to both Edmonsons and Johnsons Huts. These are both great overnight camping areas located approximately 1km from the main trail.

When nearing the summit of Mount Nelse North, the AAWT continues to the north with the Spion Kopje Firetrail breaking to the west to follow the Spion Kopje Spur. A few kilometres from the junction the trail descends into a slightly lower valley and the head of Big River. This is a great spot to stop for a break, have a swim, camp for the night, and collect water as you may not see any for the next 8km. The firetrail continues west alongside Spion Kopje and Little Spion Kopje. If you feel like summitting either of these rocky peaks, be prepared to fight your way through very dense alpine brush.

Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit

On leaving the summit of Little Spion Kopje, the firetrail starts to descend quite rapidly down the spur. What starts as a narrow and rocky walking track soon becomes a disused vehicle track that is easy to follow as it twists and turns it way down the spur.

At around 5km down the spur and 5km from the end of the circuit, you will come across Rocky Valley Creek. This valley certainly lives up to its name as some of the boulders in the creek (river) are larger than cars. An important thing to note with this creek is there are no bridges. A rocky vehicle ford allows you to cross the creek, but you will get your feet wet. This river can flood after heavy rain and snow melt so be extra careful. The river flows quickly and if you are swept off your feet, it will not turn out well. When we hiked this circuit in January, the water level was thigh deep and was flowing quite fast.

Fainter and Spion Kopje Firetrail Circuit

The last 5km of the hike traverses beautiful alpine forests with towering gum trees as it winds it way, along the river, through the Bogong Village Picnic Ground and back to the trailhead at Bogong Village.

This is a spectacular hike that allows you to experience so much of the Victorian Alps without any serious challenge. The views are spectacular, the trail is easy to follow, and the campsites and water are plentiful. Just remember the warning, that in winter this would be a very different story unless you have alpine hiking and camping experience and gear.

Images: Darren Edwards. (Shown in no particular order).

About the region

The Alpine National Park is a national park located in the Central Highlands and Alpine regions of Victoria, Australia. The 646,000-hectare national park is located northeast of Melbourne. It is the largest National Park in Victoria, and covers much of the higher areas of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria, including Victoria's highest point, Mount Bogong at 1,986 metres and the associated subalpine woodland and grassland of the Bogong High Plains. The park's north-eastern boundary is along the border with New South Wales, where it abuts the Kosciuszko National Park.

Bogong Villag

Halfway between Mount Beauty and Falls Creek on the Bogong High Plains Road, Bogong Village is a restful place to kick back in a tranquil environment surrounded by the Alpine National Park and overlooking Lake Guy.

Originally built for workers on the Kiewa Hydro Electric Scheme, Bogong Village is steeped with history. The village today has great views, lovely gardens, rivers and lakes and perfect places for picnics and barbecues. Self-contained holiday cottages had been renovated and were available for rent however AGL has now ended all leases and the accommodation is no longer able to be booked.

Getting there

The trailhead is located at Bogong Village, only a 15 km drive from Mount Beauty and the Kiewa Valley and 15 kms from Falls Creek. Bogong Village sits between mountain ridges high in the Kiewa Valley where the Kiewa river meets Lake Guy halfway between Mt Beauty and Falls Creek. Albury on the Hume Highway is a little over an hour away at the opposite end of the valley or, if you’re arriving from the south, there are several options for crossing the ridge from the Ovens to the Kiewa Valley. The drive up the valley is a delight at any time of the year. Snowcapped mountains, dairy cows in lush green pasture, towering mountain ash and clouds that hang in the foothills as small towns roll by, create a sense of anticipation about reaching the top of the valley.

GPX File

Total distance: 65224 m
Max elevation: 1885 m
Min elevation: 660 m
Total climbing: 3013 m
Total descent: -3013 m
Download GPX File

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