With appropriate footwear (eventually) acquired, Isobel and friends set off on the beautiful Mt Cobbler Plateau Circuit in Victoria’s Alpine National Park and were rewarded with a stunning sunrise and sunset from their campsite near the summit.
- Plenty of fun rock scrambling to satisfy any climbing cravings
- A serene lunch spot at Lake Cobbler
- Spectacular double whammy of sunset and sunrise at Mt Cobbler
- 360-degree views across the Victorian High Country
- The highest waterfall in Victoria
The Mt Cobbler Plateau Circuit Track
There’s nothing quite like heading off for a Grade 4 hike, only to realise the only piece of footwear you have is Birkenstocks. Luckily some quick(ish) thinking on my part meant the hiking boots were rescued with only 30 minutes of wasted driving…
With footwear all under control and the sun shining, we headed off (for the second time) towards the Victorian High Country for a stunning weekend of hiking the Mt Cobbler Plateau Circuit.
Just over an hour and a half from Mansfield, the start of the trail is tucked in behind Mt Stirling, with a nice little camping area and stream perfectly positioned five minutes away. The first day of the hike is the longer of the two, so arriving on the Friday night ready for an early morning is a top option and makes for a much more relaxing time.
The hike starts with Muesli Spur Track, which is essentially two hours of slogging it up a steep hill, before getting into a fun bit of rock scrambling to top it off. This bit left some of my comrades questioning why exactly they had let me choose the hike, but looking out at the sterling mountain views provided plenty of motivation.
Next, you cruise along a few 4WD tracks down to Lake Cobbler. This part of the hike lacks your typical bushwalking serenity thanks to the 4WDs and somewhat boring track, but it certainly gives the legs a bit of a break!
Standing surrounded by eucalyptus trees, edged with warm yellow reeds, and complete with an exceptionally clean drop toilet, Lake Cobbler is the perfect spot for a peaceful lunch break. Don’t forget it’s also the last place to stock up on water for the rest of the hike.
As a short side-trip from Lake Cobbler, Dandongadale Falls is certainly a worthwhile detour. Visiting just after summer there wasn’t a heap of water, but it’s the highest waterfall in Victoria at 255m and the stark rock faces and striking views out across the Alpine National Park make it a worthwhile stop all the same.
You can also conveniently ditch your packs at Lake Cobbler for the walk. On the way don’t get distracted by the decoy waterfall – we fell for that one and definitely proved that our navigation skills need a bit of work. When the trip there takes 45 minutes, and the trip back takes 15 minutes, you’re clearly doing something wrong…
With packs back on, you then follow the rocky and slightly overgrown trail up towards the Mt Cobbler summit. There’s a little camping area at the saddle point which is perfect for setting up for the night. Initially, the plan was to make the half hour walk up to the Mt Cobbler summit for sunrise the next morning, but as we approached the camp spot, the temptation of sunset was calling.
With camp set up, head torches in hand, and once again free from packs, we dragged our weary bodies up to the peak. As you make the hike up you will see the true Mt Cobbler peak sitting to your right, which at first glance looks separated by a huge, rocky canyon-valley. The reality is not nearly as dramatic, but as the light rapidly faded, we decided the rock scrambling journey across in the dark was a bit of a dodgy option.
However, we weren’t just going to leave it at that! Less than 12 hours later, perhaps questioning our sanity, we were trekking along the same rocky path in the dark in search of sunrise and the true Mt Cobbler peak. Man, it was worth it. I would 10/10 recommend the double whammy, as both sunset and sunrise were spectacularly brilliant, but in completely different ways.
Also, definitely give the rock scrambling up to Mt Cobbler a go – it’s not nearly as hard as it looks, and the 360-degree views overlooking layers and layers of blue mountains are cracking. The climbing is also a lot of fun in its own right! In fact, my tripod loved Mt Cobbler so much, that it decided to stay indefinitely…
The Walk Back
The walk back from the saddle point to the car is quite easy, which makes for a nice, relaxed final day. You start by hiking through bush and alpine meadows full of little lizards constantly darting off, before zigzagging downhill along a particularly scenic section of 4WD tracks into the lush greenery of the valley below.
With this last section all wrapped up in 3 hours, we were done in time for lunch. Tired, and with adventure cravings temporarily satisfied, I was extremely glad I’d had more than glorified jandals (thongs) to tackle the superb Mt Cobbler Plateau Circuit.
How To Get There
The start of the trail is at the intersection of Speculation Rd and King Basin Rd, which is a 4.5-hour drive from Melbourne. From Mansfield, head to Telephone Box Junction at Mt Stirling, then take Circuit Rd and stay on Circuit Rd before turning right onto Speculation Rd. Make sure you don’t blindly trust Google Maps as it might try to take you along King Basin Rd, which is 4WD only. The camping area is on the right-hand side of Speculation Rd, approximately a 5-minute drive before the intersection between Speculation Rd and King Basin Rd.
There’s about 1.5 hours of driving on gravel roads, but the roads are pretty smooth and the Suzuki Swift parked at the start of the trail should be a good indicator that your car will be fine!
The road onwards from Telephone Box Junction is shut between Queen’s Birthday weekend and Melbourne Cup weekend, so if you want to make the hike, make sure you avoid these few months!
This is the route we followed for the hike.
- Rock scrambling
Intermediate (some steep rocky sections, but otherwise easy walking)
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
14.5km (not including Mt Cobbler summit), 6 – 8 hours, with 900m ascent, 300m descent.
13km, 4 – 5 hours, with 200m ascent and 800m descent.
We acknowledge the Bidawal, Dhudhuroa, Gunaikurnai, Jaithmathang, Taungurong and Nindi-Ngudjam Ngarigu Monero who identify the Alpine National Park as their Traditional Country.