Friday, January 15, 2016

Wodonga Walks: Fell Timber Creek, Huon Hill and Kiewa River

Apart from the Murray River corridor, it's flat, dry country around Wodonga, but, the town does have some great parklands with lots of walking and biking tracks easily accessible from just about anywhere in Wodonga. 

On the west side of Wodonga is Fell Timber Creek Reserve which has a couple of walking tracks and a whole slew of mountain bike tracks. There are various access points: in the south off Felltimber Creek Road, from Inghams Road in the east, or Coyles Road in the north. I've used them all, but Coyles Road is the best for me as the bicycle I am borrowing has no brakes and Coyles Road involves the least amount of hill-riding, ergo, the lowest possibility of me dying in a car crash because I could not stop the bicycle. 

However, if you come in via Felltimber Creek Road in south you can do a really nice loop walk over a series of hills and ridges that is about 10 km long. Park at the first entrance to the reserve just beyond Inghams Road as you are heading west along Felltimber Creek Road from Wodonga and take the Ridge track that switchbacks north up the little hill. Pretty quickly you join the track from Inghams Road and turn to the west along a little plateau. In a few minutes, you'll see a faint track heading straight up hill (no sign) which crosses a swampy little creek on rocks and then follows a fence line uphill and north. It's a tad steep and slippery, but soon lays back near the top of the hill where it veers off to the right (east) and leads to a open area where you can look out over Wodonga. This is the unnamed little summit at about 440 metres on the topographic map. 

Clouds over Mcdonald Hill

Turn to the west and walk along the ridge top on the height of land. There is an old track but it actually drops below the ridge line and it is much nicer, and very easy, to simply walk along the top of the ridge. Heading west, you'll drop down to a saddle, then up to another little peak, then there is a longer descent down to another saddle where Coyles Road (dirt and closed to traffic) crosses over the reserve. From this point on the walk is all on a good track and makes a big loop around the open grassy hillsides to the west. 

Follow the track up to Mcdonald Hill, then turn east and take the track down a spur ridge that runs southeast back down to intersect Coyles Road. Turn left and wander up Coyles Road until you get to a stile over the fence, then head east on any one of many mountain bike tracks, or simply walk east, until you rejoin the Ridge Track and walk back to the start of the walk. No need to take any food on this walk as there are fig trees, apple trees, and blackberry bushes along the way. 

Felltimber Creek Reserve
On the east side of Wodonga, among all the new subdivisions the Kiewa River runs north to join the Murray River and Huon Hill offers good views of the surrounding plains. This is another walk that is on a mix of grasslands and tracks. Get onto Kenneth Watson Drive and, resisting the urge to drive to the top of Huon Hill, park at the gate and information sign at the entrance to Huon Hill park. 

Hop over the stile on the downhill (east) side of the road and walk out to the Kiewa River where you join the Kiewa River track. Stroll downstream to the confluence with the Murray River (about 3.5 km). Shortly before the Kiewa River joins the Murray River, you'll pass the Bundy track. After strolling along the Murray River, return to the Bundy Track and turn to the southwest along this track. Initially, the track follows a dry creek upstream before it breaks out of the creek bed to the north and follows a ridge line up to a trig point at 356 metres. I completely lost the track here as it runs with scant markers through grasslands. The track, however, is not really necessary as it is all open grassland so just wander uphill until you reach the top of the ridge. I passed a big stately gum sheltering about 50 kangaroos when I walked up there. 

Looking back at Wodonga from Mcdonalds Hill

The track turns to the south and is quite distinct going down to a saddle before the final 100 metre climb up to Huon Hill. Although there are a few markers here, there is really no track, so just wander through the grass until you cross the access road and reach the lookout. The Lions Club has built three little lookout platforms which all offer lovely views. 

You can take a track off the summit back down to your parked car, but I did not have a map with me and the map displayed at the summit is completely illegible, so I just wandered down the ridge heading due east until I intersected Stringybark track about two minutes from my car. I don't know how long this walk is, probably about 10 km at a guess. If you are a rock climber, there is bouldering at both of these parks on scattered granite boulders.

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