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Mount Buffalo National Park...
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The Constitution and Echo Point trail explores a lesser visited approach to Mount Buffalo. Commencing near the town of Ovens, Nine Mile Track follows a gently rolling spur as it climbs from around 240m on the Ovens River. The hike commences on Selzers Lane (near Selzer's hydroponic sheds) and follows an old fire trail south, then south east. It appears to be private property but is a public access road but be sure to close any gates that you open as you pass.
The first four kilometres show a steady ascent of around 300m before the ridge-line starts to narrow. Along the way you will enjoy views of Buffalo Valley to your left and the Ovens valley on your right. After approximately 8km you will reach The Constitution (a hill on the ridge). There are a number of spurs leading from the summit so ensure that you stick to the road which heads south from this point. Continue to follow the road until you reach a locked gate and the junction of the Mount Buffalo Tourist Road. Turn right and follow the road for approximately 800m. At this point you will find the walking track to Rollasons Falls. The Rollasons Falls Track is 4 km (1.5 hours return) if you decide to do this side trip. A further 100m along you will find The Big Walk trail on your right.
The Big Walk is perhaps one of the most interesting, diverse and naturally beautiful yet accessible full day walks in the North East. Beginning at the base of the mountain, the 11kms (or 15kms if you take in Rollasons falls) climbs through various terrain zones and can be taken at a pace that suits you and your walking crew.
The trail passes through an open montane forest of majestic Candlebark Gums and a Bracken Fern understorey. Look out for the shy Swamp Wallaby and listen to the abundant birdlife here, especially Grey Fantails and Thornbills. Cross the main road again, continuing past an old gravel pit reaching the road once more, turn left then 100 metres up to Mackeys Lookout. At 920 metres elevation there is a clear view of the Australian Alps. The forest has given way to granite slabs which form Mount Buffalo. Beyond here take care on the track. It is wet and slippery. This section was part of the original track up Mount Buffalo called the 'Zig Zag'. Follow the orange arrow track markers and take care not to cut corners.
Take a short 100 metre side trip to Marriott's Lookout for amazing views into the Gorge past Queen Victoria Pinnacle. Back on the track and again the bush soon changes. At 1150 metres, and near the snowline, Alpine Ash, often called 'Woollybutt', is common with a shrubby understorey of peas and grevilleas.
Continue along the trail to Manfields Junction, the highest part of the trail 1350 metres. From here consider a side trip to Manfields Lookout or Reeds Lookout, both about 500 metres. From Reeds continue on a loop returning further along back onto The Big Walk. There are two options from here to the finish. Turn right and follow the Gorge Heritage Walk looping back onto the main track or proceed straight on, either way is a similar distance. Wilkinson's Lookout is 300 metres to the left with breathtaking views from the 330 metres North Wall. Along the main track Pulpit Rock also has fine views of the sheer walls with climbers often clinging to them. Crystal Brook has carved out the Gorge over 360 million years. Proceed over the bridge turning left and continue past The Oval Picnic Area. The Heritage Walk plaques will bring to life the pioneering days of the area as seen through the eyes of Guide Alice. Gorge View Lookout provides a different vantage point into the depths far below.
Continue along the trail to the Gorge Day Visitor Area. There are toilets, picnic tables and a shelter nearby. At present the Chalet is closed. Around the day visitor area are several lookouts, such as Bents Lookout and Echo Point all with spectacular views of the valley below and the Australian Alps beyond. Other walking tracks head off from the lower carpark to the Underground River, the Monolith ad Lake Catani with the campground there.
About the region
An all-seasons national park, Mount Buffalo has sheer cliffs, imposing granite tors, tumbling waterfalls, snow gums and stunning wildflowers. First reserved in 1898, the 31,000 hectare park contains vegetation and fauna adapted to extremes of weather, as a result of its sub-alpine location. As you drive and walk throughout the park, you will see evidence of the recent fires, but you will also see the vivid colours as species begin to regenerate. There is plenty of wildlife to see including Lyrebirds, Eastern Rosellas, Wombats and Swamp Wallabies. Many animals can be seen along the main tourist road so please drive carefully, especially at dawn and dusk.
Follow Melbourne, take the Hume Fwy/National Highway M31 to Snow Rd/C522 in Wangaratta South. Take the exit for C522 from Hume Fwy/National Highway M31. Continue on C522. Drive to Selzers Lane in Ovens and park near Selzer's hydroponic sheds. You will also need a car parked at The Gorge Day Visitors area unless you intend on camping overnight on the platuea and returning the next day.
Hikers should be reasonably fit and have strong footwear as the trail ascends over 1000 metres in just over 21km. Water and snacks should be carried along with a jacket as it is often cooler at the top. Stop and enjoy some rests along the way and admire the beauty of the bush.
Max elevation: 1351 m
Min elevation: 229 m
Total climbing: 1638 m
Total descent: -536 m