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BTAC Activity: Duane Spur/ T Spur/ Cairn Creek Hut Track 26-29 October 2023

Remote Tracks Cleared

AAWT walkers and other hikers will be delighted that Duane Spur and T Spur in the vicinity of Mt Bogong are now much easier to traverse. It is now also easy to get to Cairn Creek Hut after BTAC volunteers spent two long days working with rangers from Parks Victoria to clear the tracks, repair the chain across Big River and do maintenance works on and around Ropers Hut.

On the afternoon of 26th October, 15 Bushwalking Tracks and Conservation (BTAC) volunteers and Parks Victoria ranger, Al, met at Falls Creek for a trip by 4-wheel drive vehicles to Ropers Hut where they set up camp. The following morning in sub-zero temperature, they formed three groups.

Most of the team at Ropers Hut

A small crew of three volunteers spent the day carrying out tasks within the immediate vicinity of Ropers Hut. The first was to identify, mark and clear the short section of the AAWT from the Big River Fire trail to the Ropers Hut Camp Site. This had become overgrown as hikers were continuing along the Fire Trail. The next project was to clear the overgrown water access track from the camp site to Duane Creek.

A group of 5 volunteers plus Ranger Al descended Duane Spur, crossed Big River and set about ascending T Spur, clearing as they went.  There was a considerable amount of brush-cutting and hedge-trimming low down on T Spur, while the chainsaw contingent climbed most of the way (approximately 2.5 km, ascending  540 metres) to T Spur Knob, clearing fallen timber.

The third group were joined by another ranger, Sam, and descended Duane Spur, clearing as they went, using brush-cutters, hedge trimmers and a chainsaw. There was a large log jammed against the chain spanning Big River, which was cleared with some ingenuity: the chain had to be cut, the log sawn, then the chain re-joined.

For both of these groups, there was a demanding walk back to Ropers Hut at the end of the day, ascending approximately 740

Clearing the walking track on Duane Spur

metres over 3.7 km, carrying the power tools. The hut crew had started preparation for the evening’s barbecue meal with ingredients kindly provided by Parks Victoria. All ate well and slept well that evening.

Saturday was another freezing morning.  Three volunteers stayed to do work on Ropers Hut. The maintenance works included installing a support beam in the roof, sanding and painting all the window frames, the door and the inside cooking bench. The front stone porch was repaired and concreted, and the surrounding earthen drains were reinstated.

Rarely visited Cairn Creek Hut

The other12 volunteers and, now, three rangers drove along Timms Spur in 4WD vehicles to Bogong Creek Saddle and walked along the Cairn Creek Walking Track as far as it was clear before commencing work to clear the, in places, heavily overgrown track, which ranger, Rich, had located and taped with pink ribbon the previous day.

The 2.5 km track goes to an old hut built to facilitate surveying the height of Big River where it is joined by Cairn Creek.  The track has been very difficult to walk for some years, being lost among fallen timber and overgrown by  bush.  Parks Victoria rangers had made a number of previous attempts to clear the track but the huge amount of work involved and the difficulty of identifying the line of the track had previously proved too daunting.

It took a very determined effort by the team involved but by the end of the day, there was a clear path all the way through to Cairn Creek Hut.  This was a really remarkable achievement and provided great satisfaction to everyone involved.  The 300 metre steep climb out of the valley provided another taxing end to the work, before the drive back to Ropers Hut.

Relaxing at the end of the day

Despite the freezing nights, the weather was pleasant for working.  There was a great sense of achievement and camaraderie from the 15 volunteers working with the three rangers as a united team.  The volunteers contributed over 300 work hours and spent over 200 hours travelling to and from the activity.

Before we drove back to Falls Creek on Sunday morning, we were already starting to plan another clearing activity in nearby country in a year’s time.

More photos can be found HERE.

(This report provided by John Green, BTAC volunteer and Project Coordinator.)