Traversing the Razorback // Alpine National Park (VIC)

Traverse the Razorback with WAE Explorer Mitchell Hodge. Make your way along the ridgeline of the Australian Alps to Victoria’s second-highest peak, Mt Feathertop. 


Highlights

  • Victoria’s second-highest peak.
  • Constant, awe-inspiring views along the ridgeline.
  • A real sense of remoteness.

The Razorback

The Razorback is a walking track that runs along the sharp, treeless ridgeline of the Australian Alps, meandering its way from Mt Hotham, all the way to Mt Feathertop. At 1922m, Feathertop is the second-highest peak in Victoria.

Traversing the Razorback // Alpine National Park (VIC), Mitchell Hodge, mountains, ridge, hiker, snow-capped

While the Razorback trail isn’t the only way to access Feathertop, it’s certainly the most beautiful way to experience it. You only dip below the tree line for a few short sections throughout the walk, providing expansive 360° views of the surrounding mountains for the majority of the hike.

The hike is overnight and requires a stay at the remotely located Federation Hut, a kilometre or so from the Feathertop summit. Due to the exposed nature of the trail, be wary of weather and wind forecasts.

Diamantina Hut

The hike begins at Diamantina Hut, just before Mount Hotham Alpine Resort. It’s a four or five hour drive from Melbourne and with the relative flatness of the terrain, the whole hike can be completed comfortably in a weekend.

From the trailhead, the view is already spectacular, and the sharp summit of Feathertop is already visible in the distance, making your route clear. The trail is fairly well marked, visibly carved and easy to follow.

On the walk you will encounter exposed rocky peaks, grassy plains and some snow gum-filled gullies. The trees still clearly display the aftermath of the 2013 bushfires, with a good percentage of the snow gums burnt.

This provides a very eerie landscape on some sections of the walk. The walk is quite flat at the beginning, but slowly begins to undulate, climbing higher and bringing you closer to the dominating peak of Mt Feathertop.

Federation Hut

It is not uncommon for it to snow in the Australian Alps well into summer, with snow remaining on the sheltered and south-facing slopes of the track. We tackled the trail in early October, and while most of the track was snow free, we did find ourselves having to wade through near waist-deep snow on some of the climbs, turning what is usually a four hour one-way trip into a five to six hour haul.

Traversing the Razorback // Alpine National Park (VIC), Mitchell Hodge, hiker, snow, trees, trail

After a number of climbs, you will eventually see a small hut on a distant saddle, surrounded by snow gums – Federation Hut. It is recommended that you walk to the hut first, unpack your gear/setup and walk back to ascend the summit.

Unfortunately, due to crazy winds and the snow depth, we didn’t attempt the summit. The views of the summit itself were enough to satisfy us.

The hut has basic facilities (wood heater, long-drop toilet, benches) and cannot be camped in as it’s intended for emergency refuge only. Make sure you bring good fire lighting equipment in spring/autumn, as ALL of the available timber for the woodstove is damp and difficult to light.

REMEMBER: Do not attempt this walk in winter unless you have done it previously in another season, or are experienced in winter hiking.

Bungalow Spur Track

The next day, it’s back the way you came. If you organised a car swap or another form of transport back to your car, you can take the Bungalow Spur Track back to Harrietville. It’s a shorter walk (still 9kms), but is entirely downhill. This track can be a good fallback if the weather conditions change dramatically on the second day and it doesn’t feel safe to head back along the exposed Razorback.

Overall, this is an amazing hike, with some of the best views in Victoria. Hope you enjoy it!

Essential Gear

  • Camera gear, tripod etc.
  • Warm, waterproof clothing (weather can be unpredictable, even in summer)
  • Tent/bivvy and camping equipment (Federation Hut is for emergency refuge only)
  • Waterproof hiking boots (snow can stay on sheltered faces well into spring/summer)
  • Ankle gaiters (if it looks like there may be snow)
  • Food and water (UNTREATED water is available at Fed Hut)

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Photography

How To Get There

  • Trail begins at Diamantina Hut, a few kms before Hotham Heights on the Great Alpine Rd.
  • Can be accessed from both the Hume Freeway and through Gippsland/Great Alpine Rd from Melbourne.

Skill Level

Intermediate

Distance Covered/Elevation Gain

22km return/950m approx.

 


More do-able alpine hikes…

Overnighting on the Main Range // Kosciuszko National Park (NSW)

A Mini Glacier Adventure // Rob Roy Glacier Track (NZ)

Summitting Mount Kosciuszko in a Wheelchair – Krazy Kosci Klimb 2017

Watsons Crags // Kosciuszko Mini-Mountain Experience (NSW)