Bid farewell to our lovely hosts in Wangaratta and finally, after more than a decade of talking about it, set off to traverse the Great Alpine Road.
On the drive to Porepunkah we passed many pretty vineyards and some more old tobacco kilns. Our main destination for the day was Mount Buffalo National Park. Our first stop was The Gorge viewpoint, which in the early morning light was spectacular, giving us an enticing look at what was to come.
Continuing up the mountain, we travelled along the steep and winding road which curls its way up from an elevation of 300m, to 1630m at The Horn car park.
The vegetation at lower altitudes is wet woodland, lots of ferns and towering alpine ash, up on the plateau it is snow gum woodlands and sub-alpine grasslands.
Up at the higher elevation we stopped to do our first of three walks for the day. The Monolith track took us through the snow gums, where we encountered a specialty bird of high altitude habitat; the stunning Flame Robin. The Monolith itself is a granite tor which we climbed right up to for 360-degree views of the Victorian Alps and Lake Catani.
For lunch we stopped at the lake shore, which was pretty, but we were being harassed by millions of pesky flies so didn't stay long.
We decided as we had come this far we might as well go all the way. We drove until the paved road ran out and then kept going another 3.5km up a steep, windy, unsealed, corrugated road, but that's just the way we like them. From the car park we walked another 750m, rising to an altitude of 1723m atop The Horn. This the highest point in the park. From this vantage point we had 360-degree views of rugged granite peaks and seemingly endless distant mountains, including Australia's highest; Mount Kosciuszko.
Back on the road we made a quick stop at The Leviathan, a massive granite boulder, and then headed for the Mount Buffalo Chalet. The chalet is not operational anymore, but it has recently been restored and will hopefully reopen soon. From here a clifftop lookout gave us great views down The Gorge.
Further down the mountain, at about 800m elevation, we stopped and did the Rollasons Falls walk. This was a steep 2km trek down the mountain, to a waterfall with a crystal-clear pool at the bottom. Some people were swimming but none of them stayed in the icy cold water long.
Of course, trekking down the mountain meant we had to trek back up, but the long, hot, tiring walk was made bearable by spotting not one, but three male Maratus harrisi along the way. For anyone unfamiliar with our latest pursuits, Maratus are Peacock Spiders. These particular harrisi are the Victorian variety and therefore a little different to the ones we found in the ACT back in October.
Totally exhausted after a big day of exploring we headed to Bright for the night, the first of only two nights paid accommodation on this whole trip.
Mount Buffalo National Park is a magical place and definitely somewhere that we would visit again.