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Best Hikes In Australia: The Bluff Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: The Bluff Trail
  • Where: Alpine National Park, Australia
  • Elevation: 5,659 feet (1,725 meters)
  • Distance: 7.5 miles round-trip (12 km)
  • More Information: Parks Victoria

the bluff trail victoria

Narrative

One of the lesser known but quite possibly one of the best hikes in the Victorian high country is the spectacular rocky plateau known simply as The Bluff. The Bluff is located across the Howqua Valley from the popular ski resort on Mt. Buller. To undertake this hike you have to leave early in the morning and head towards Mansfield. From Mansfield it is about two hours of dirt road driving to reach the Bluff trailhead near the Shipyard Flat Campsite:

The dirt road is called the Howqua Track and is the same road I traveled on earlier to check out the damage from the 2006 bushfires. It was interesting to see the further regeneration of the forest from the fires:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

Many of the tree tops are still scorched, but the ground is quickly recovering and filled with new ferns and other plant life. A thick green moss could be seen climbing up many of the trees as well:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

About an hour into the ride up the Howqua Track I reached the Sheepyard Flat Campground, which the Howqua River runs through:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

As I traveled further up the road the fire damage was less evident:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

Not too far passed Sheepyard Flat I officially entered into Alpine National Park:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

The road was becoming rougher and I was definitely gaining altitude as I proceeded further into the park:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

The gain in altitude was beginning to give me some outstanding views of the surrounding Victorian high country:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

Before long the Bluff came into view and was quite an impressive sight:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

Above me was the mountain I was planning on climbing which I found to be one of the most impressive mountains I have seen in all of Australia. Not too far from where I first spotted the mountain I came upon the trailhead:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

The summit of the Bluff reaches to a maximum altitude of 1,725 meters and was going to be one of the highest mountains I’ve hiked up since I’ve been here in Australia. I was definitely looking forward to it.  The initial part of the trail up the Bluff located in Victoria’s high country proved to be quite steep. The trail gained altitude very quickly up the steep rocky cliff face of the mountain:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

This is what the steep rocky face of the mountain looks like from the top of the mountain:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

When I reached the top of the mountain a large grassy plain speckled with rocks opened up before me:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

The Bluff used to be used as grazing land for livestock since the 1800’s and grazing was only stopped a few years ago due to the environmental movement claiming the grazing harmed the environment. The ranchers that herded the cattle up the mountain were from the Mansfield area. They would slowly work the cattle up the mountain to first Sheepyard Flat to graze before ultimately reaching the top of the Bluff. As fall hit, the ranchers would then drive the cattle back from the high country to the Mansfield area for the winter. These cattlemen are what inspired Banjo Patterson to write The Man from Snowy River.

On this day there was no man from Snowy River on this mountain it was just me and it would be that way the entire day. I was literally the only person on this mountain. Before long I reached the summit of the Bluff:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

The views from the summit were spectacular to say the least. I could look all the way down the Howqua Valley too the west that I had drove up to reach the trailhead:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

To my north loomed Mt. Buller:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

I could quite easily make out the ski resort located on the top of the mountain:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

To my south loomed more large mountains and a spring bubbled to the surface just below the ridge line I was standing on creating a large marsh:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

From the summit I continued down the trail and further across the stunning Bluff:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

As I proceeded down the trail from the summit of the Bluff in the Victorian high country, I began to lose some altitude and reached an area of the trail known as the Blowhole:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

The Blowhole provided a great view looking up a mountainous valley where the Howqua River flowed from to the north. From the Blowhole I then had to again hike up some steep terrain to regain altitude on a second high mesa. As I hiked up the mesa it had a striking resemblance to some of the mountains I hiked up in Victoria’s Grampians Mountains:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

In the below picture you can actually see the summit of the Bluff on the far plateau in the distance:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

The ridgeline running from the far plateau is the route the trail took towards the Blowhole and eventually to where I’m standing to take this picture from. As I climbed up to the cliff’s edge of this mesa I had another great view of the surrounding mountains:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

I climbed down the mesa and went down the trail towards the tree line:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

As I entered the tree line I also entered an area that was highly scorched from last summer’s bushfires:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

I continued to drop in altitude through the scorch forest until I reached the burned out remains of Bluff Hut:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

Picture from The Bluff Trail

This part of the mountain has been extremely scorched by the bushfires and all around me was burned out trees. From the hut I could look back towards the high plateau of the Bluff and see how scorched the side of the mountain is that I walked through:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

However, just like other scorched areas, the forest in this area is also regenerating itself.  From the Bluff Point lookout there are plenty of fabulous views of the surrounding high country, especially towards the north:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

From Bluff Hut the trail actually becomes part of the four wheel drive road that takes you up into the Victorian high country. It was just a simple matter of me walking down the road and back to my Jeep at the trail head. Along the way I was reminded once again of the devestation of last summer’s bushfires:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

But once again along the road I saw signs of nature recovering as well:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

Conclusion

Before long I was back at my Jeep and ready to drive back to Mansfield. The hike took me 6 hours and I really didn’t kill myself to do it. This hike I highly recommend for people living or visiting Victoria and are into bushwalking. This is one of the best one day hikes I have been on in Australia. The only down side to the hike is that it is a remote place to get to. It was another two hour drive on the Howqua Track to get back down the mountain to Mansfield and then another two hours from there to get back home. However, I did get to take in a stunning sunset from the Mansfield high country before heading home:

Picture from The Bluff Trail

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