Mount Torbreck (1516 metres high) is a rocky mountain half way between Marysville and Eildon. It is the westernmost mountain in the high country over 1500 metres and was briefly a designated ski resort in the 1980’s, although the only infrastructure built was a picnic table.
From your car, head up the steep road cutting, through a pair of gates that restrict winter access and walk along the unsurfaced Barnewall Plains Road for 1500 metres. At a more open saddle you will see a picnic table to the west (your left) and a signpost to the east indicating the walking track to Mt Torbreck.
The track climbs in an easterly and then south easterly direction, getting steeper around the area where the predominant trees change from woollybutt to snow gum. The track is fairly well defined and orange metal triangles attached to trees make route finding fairly easy, even in winter when the track is covered in snow. It climbs beneath a series of huge granite boulders before reaching the top of Conn Ridge. The route then veers to the north, climbing through boulder studded, open snow gum woodland towards the summit on a more modest gradient.
Trees are more sparse in the summit area which boasts a steel framed trig point and a large rock cairn. On a clear day, views of ranges of hills covered in ash forests in all directions are impressive, as are the views of nearby Lake Eildon and the higher ranges near Mt Buller. Return to the car the way you came. There are good views along the southern part of Conn Ridge, so if you have the time and energy it’s a worthwhile off track diversion to head out towards Conn Hill before heading down the mountain on the track.
From Melbourne head for Lilydale and continue on to Healesville on the Maroondah Highway B 360, follow the highway over the Black Spur and on to the small town of Taggerty. Turn left and take the C 515 to Thornton. Then follow the Goulburn Valley Highway B 340 to the Snobs Creek pub (aka Eildon Holiday Resort Hotel), 5 km before Eildon. Turn right on to Snobs Creek Road and drive south for 14 km. The road is sealed at first, but the latter section is a well maintained gravel road. At a regrowing logging coupe turn left and drive 800 metres up Conn Gap Road (this road is rough but should be suitable for 2WD vehicle if you take your time), to a junction just before a bridge. Park your car here.
It is possible to drive to the start of the walk from the south via Marysville and Cambarville, but the gravel roads can be rough and access from the north via the Snobs Creek Pub is the fastest route from Melbourne. The walk can also be accessed from the Eildon – Jamieson Road, by turning south west on to the Barnewall Plains Road, 100 metres past the Jerusalem Creek Road junction. This road leads to a gate just north of the picnic table at the start of the walking track. However the road is winding and is not always well maintained. Note that Barnewall Plains Road is closed between the Queen’s Birthday weekend and Melbourne Cup weekend.
There is a large, flat and open camp site on Barnewall Plains Road at the start of the walking track. Note that Barnewall Plains Road is closed between the Queen’s Birthday weekend and Melbourne Cup weekend. Is accessing this from Conn Gap Road you will require a 4WD.
Mt Torbeck can be climbed in winter by an experienced group and it is rare for more than light snow to be found at the start of the walk, so driving up Conn Gap Road shouldn’t present any problems. From the Barnewall Plains picnic table, the snow gets a little deeper, but the orange arrows indicating the route can be followed with care and the track can often be identified by a slight indentation in the snow. On the way down, be careful to follow the footprints you made on the way up. The route to the top is far too rocky for skis to be worthwhile and even snowshoes can be a bother. Usually it’s possible to walk all the way in no more than knee deep snow.
Summary provided by: David Sisson | www.australianmountains.com
Max elevation: 1510 m
Min elevation: 994 m
Total climbing: 616 m
Total descent: -615 m