High Country is more than soaring peaks and ski resorts. Down in the Upper Kiewa and Upper Ovens valleys lie lush lands, fuelled by snowmelt and sunshine. Welcome to Harrietville and Mt Beauty.

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Dhudhuroa and Yaitmathang Nation, the traditional Country of the Dhudhuroa and Yaitmathang people who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

I know, I know, ‘Mt Beauty’ isn’t a great name for a town down in the valley. The town is actually at the foot of Mt Bogong (Warkwoolowler), Victoria’s highest mountain at 1986m.

The thing is though, although this is almost 200m shorter than old mate Kosciuszko, the town of Mt Beauty sits at 366m above sea level. It’s the same in Harrietville, at 510m, with the 1922m Mt Feathertop soaring above. Both towns can be found about a four hour drive from Melbourne.

Lots of numbers, I know, but the point I want to make is this: the valleys of High Country offer a mountain town experience that you simply don’t get anywhere else in Australia. The ridgelines are sharp, the air is crisp, and the hiking is excellent. So let’s find you some hikes and swims eh?


Mt Beauty

Mt Beauty was built in 1949 to house workers from the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme but has since grown into a thriving mountain town. The trails surrounding Mt Beauty (and delicious eats within) attract athletes from all over Australia looking to accelerate their training.

Hiking in Mt Beauty

Mt Beauty is the gateway to the alpine high country of Falls Creek, but it has fantastic hikes of its own that weave beneath River Red gums or venture down granite gorges.

The Gorge Walk

Distance: 5km return
Difficulty: Intermediate

This one totally blew me away. After walking for about a kilometre down a management trail from the car park at Big Hill Mountain Bike Park, you cross a suspension bridge over the West Kiewa River and hit the Gorge Walk proper. For a while the cliffs climb higher and higher above your head until, suddenly, you’ll have to swim!


While the views are great from this endpoint, bring your swimmers (and bravest face) to swim, wade, and scramble 400m further up the gorge and into the canyon. Best done on a hot day, around midday when the most light can get in.

Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes


Fainter Falls

Distance: 1.5km return
Difficulty: Beginner

On the Bogong High Plains road up to Falls Creek a little stop off is well worth your while. After a short walk following Pretty Valley stream you’ll come to Fainter Falls – a series of stunning cascades surrounded by large ferns and gums that reach to the sky. Best of all, it’s almost always flowing strongly, thanks to the cloud-catching mountain ranges above.

Kiewa River Walk

Distance: 4km return
Difficulty: Beginner

As with most popular walks, this one has many names. Also known as the Mt Beauty River Walk and Pebble Beach Walk, it’s a sealed trail that follows the Kiewa River to a delightful little beach that’s excellent for a swim come summer. Just beware of that current!


Hike Mt Bogong

Distance: Multiple routes
Difficulty: Advanced

Are you really gonna visit Mt Beauty and not climb Victoria’s highest peak Mt Bogong? Didn’t think so! There are multiple routes up Warkwoolowler, a Waywurru and Dhudhuroa word meaning ‘mountain where you collect the bogong moth’. Interestingly, the word bogong actually means ‘bigfella’.

Check out this We Are Explorers article that covers all of the ways up the mountain. However you do it, you’ll be up to 1600m above Mt Beauty, at 1986m, breathe in that prominence baby!


Where to Eat in Mt Beauty

Pre and post hike feeds are essential, luckily, Mt Beauty has you covered! While you’re still crusty-eyed hit up Mt Beauty Bakery, the coffee is excellent and the turkish bread will fuel any crazy pursuit you’ve got your eye on. Oh, and they’re licensed, in case you have to swing by afterwards.

After your hike, check out Crankhandle Brewery. They’ve recently reopened and are serving traditional craft beers along with pizza, tacos, and nachos made from locally-sourced ingredients.


Photo thanks to Crank Handle


Alternatively, head to Stockpot for classic burgers, pizza, and beers, or Templar for local produce, a curated wine list, and a converted masonic lodge!

Where to Stay in Mt Beauty

Got a crew with you? Why not book out the Eco Villa? Surprisingly affordable when spread across a bunch of mates, this luxury home has stunning mountain views and a spa to recover your weary legs.

For a bit more intimacy, check out the Kiewa Country Cottages. Located in a bushland setting yet still only a short walk to town, you’ll feel like you’ve nabbed yourself a bit of country living.

Or you could go full-country and book a stay at Spring Spur



This working property just 10 minutes from Mt Beauty features stunning king-ensuite rooms, hand-built by the Baird family, that are used as a basecamp for their Bogong Horseback Adventures. Fancy a five day ride and camp through the High Country? These are your guys.


In the foothills of Mt Hotham lies Harrietville, a quaint town that had its beginnings in the Victorian Gold Rush. Now it’s a tree-lined launching point for hikers looking to explore the Ovens River and the surrounding valley.


Hiking in Harrietville

Some of the best hikes in Mt Hotham can also be accessed from Harrietville. Then there are river walks where you can throw a line in, go for a dip in the fresh mountain water, or simply kick back on the riverbank in the sunshine.

Harrietville’s a quaint town that escapes the hustle and bustle of busier towns like Bright, just be sure to fill up on fuel before you get there, there’s no servo in town!


Hikes up to the Razorback and Mt Feathertop

Bungalow Spur Track to Mt Feathertop

Distance: 22km return
Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced

This track takes you from Harrietville, past Federation Hut to the top of Mt Feathertop. It’s a big climb, from around 500m in the valley to Feathertop’s sharp 1922m peak. Expect to take at least eight hours, or plan to camp out near the hut where toilets and tent sites can be found.

Bon Accord Spur

Distance: 12.5km one way
Difficulty: Advanced

The Bon Accord track takes you to near the start of the Razorback walk. You’ll follow the east branch of the Ovens River before climbing the steep spur, past the ruin of Bon Accord Hut, and onto the Razorback itself. 


The Best Hikes in High Country Victoria, Tim Ashelford - Victorian Back Country, hike, mt Hotham, The razorback


Now it’s up to you! Do you turn right and find a lift at Diamantina Hut or turn left and climb Mt Feathertop, then walk down Bungalow Spur? Whatever you do, make sure you plan for changeable weather and don’t bite off more hiking (and climbing) than you can chew.

Tronoh Dredge Hole Walks

Distance: Varies
Difficulty: Beginner

Ok, the Tronoh Dredge Hole could do with a rebrand. But the huge hole that was originally dug for mining operations is now a picturesque lake, complete with jetty, rope swings, and a pine forest. Seriously you’d be forgiven for thinking you walked onto the set of some US college rom-com. There are great walks all around the dredge hole, with mining history and picnic areas galore.

Both Bungalow Spur and Bon Accord Spur walking tracks end near the Dredge Hole, so it’s perfect for a post hike swim!


Riverside Walk

Distance: 1.5km
Difficulty: Beginner

This well-signposted walk is great for families or a post-dinner stroll. You’ll track the east branch of the Ovens River through town, crossing bridges, past interpretive signs and under the broad trees that line the main road through town. Find a spot to chuck in a line or seek out the site of an early Chinese mining settlement that dates back to the 1860s!

Extend it! If you want to keep going, the shared trail keeps going all the way to Bright. It’s recently been paved, so it’s particularly good for runners and cyclists.

Where to Eat in Harrietville

Check out the Snowline Hotel. With beers till late, live music, and an extensive menu (try the gnocchi with pork ragu, trust me) it’s sure to replenish weary legs and rehydrate thirsty lips.



For your morning coffee fix check out the retro coffee van out the front of the Mountain View Holiday Retreat for a reliably delicious brew!

Where to Stay in Harrietville

It’s gotta be the Snowline Hotel again. The place is an institution, with simple (and affordable) rooms, great grub next door and access to the best hiking trails from your motel room, it’s the perfect home base to explore the hiking around Harrietville.