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Ferns beside a still pool

Upper Murray Hiking and Camping

From Mt Kosciuszko down to Bringenbrong Bridge

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Alpine Track Info

NSW 1:25,000 Maps

The area is covered by NSW 1:25,000 scale maps:

Mt Kosciuszko:
Perisher Valley 8525-2S and Chimneys Ridge 8525-1N
Cascade and Cowombat Tracks:
Chimneys Ridge 8525-1N / Tom Groggin 8524-4N, Davies Plain 8524-4S / Charcoal Range 8524-1S and Suggan Buggan 8524-S (1:50,000)
Upper Murray River
Suggan Buggan 8524-S (1:50,000), Davies Plain 8524-4S, Tom Groggin 8524-4N
Murray Gorge:
Tom Groggin 8524-4N, Youngal 8525-3S, Scammels Lookout 8525-3N & Swampy Plain 8525-4S

These can be downloaded as free PDF's from NSW Governments e-Topo service (limit of 5 per day) or printed maps can also be purchased.

Victorian Maps

These can be purchased online here.

National 1:100,000 Maps

8524 - Jacobs River
Thredbo to Source Murray to Tom Groggin
8525 - Kosciusko
Murray River Gorge to Bringenbrong, including Mt Kosciusko

All other 1:100,000 topographic maps for the Murray River can be found online here, including 250,000 and 1:1,000,000 maps.

I highly recommend the 1:25,000 maps for any non-standard treks in the area. I was using a 1:100,000 that proved inadequate with low visibility conditions. However, if you are staying on the main fire trails, these are very easy to follow on the NSW parks side.

3D Map
Google Earth with tracks and other features marked of the upper Murray River. Snow Gums trail does not extend all the way down to the Poplars and the Ash Fire Trail is likely overgrown.

Mount Kosciuszko

Merritts Nature Track
4 km on a steep track directly up. This starts from the valley terminal where you head down the valley past the Bobsleigh and then straight up. Fairly well signposted and crosses multiple mountain biking tracks.
Kosciuszko Walk
13 km grade 3 track to the summit and back, mostly on a steel platform walk.
Dead Horse Gap walking track
Part of the Australian Alps walking track, this fairly steep track wides down to the trailhead of the Cascade Hut Trail back down in the valley. The start of the track is about 250 m from the Eagles Nest Cafe and was unmarked. It is the stone laid track heading towards a chairlift hut.
Thredbo River Track
Follows the track down the river to Thredbo.

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Source (Pilot Wilderness Area)

Cascade (Hut) Trail

Stay on this trail, past Cascade Hut (9.7 km), past the Tin Mine Trailhead (21.9 km) down to the Tin Mine Huts (25.6 km).

I did not notice the Ash Fire Trail that heads west as the Cascade Trail turns east at about 20.5 km mark. This trail was part of a track that lead to a now abandoned BOM water gauge and is likely overgrown / non-existent now.

Water should be easily obtainable from the Thredbo and Cascade creek crossings as well as from nearby streams around both the Cascade and Tin Mine huts. Less reliable water can be found in a few streams about the 13 km mark.

Cowombat Flat Fire Trail

The Cascade Trail ends as it diverges at Tin Mine Huts. Take the Cowombat Trail that heads south west, not the Ingeegoodbee Trail that heads south east following the Ingeegoodbee River.

At 7.7 km the Snow Gums Trail heads off to the right / west. Keep left traversing around The Pilot (1,828 m) on its western flank down to Cowombat Flat, 17 km along from the Tin Mine Huts.

Water should be easily obtainable from the Tin Mine Creek crossing. The only other water source I found under the dry conditions was a poor seep that crossed the road before the start of the Snow Gums trail. This would be unreliable in drier conditions. A decent enough seep was flowing at the track crossing of the Murray River at Cowombat Flat. This quickly dried up going upstream.

Snow Gums Trail

This is an alternative trail on the Pilot or Cowombat Ridge (the proper name given by GEO Australia). This provides nice views of The Pilot, before also heading down to Cowombat Flats via the Pilot Creek Firetrail.

The Snow Gums trailhead is at 7.7 km from the Tin Mine Huts and clearly marked. It heads right (west) across a small saddle.

About 850 m, the Murray River Fire Trail heads N along the Pilot or Cowombat Ridge, but stay on the Snow Gums Trail heading SW along the same ridgeline. This had an unreadable sign marking this old firetrail.

The Snow Gums Trail continues on about 2 km from the Pilot Creek Trailhead along Pilot or Cowombat Ridge. This firetrail terminates at a small rocky outcrop with thick surrounding bush.

I found no water sources allow this trail. Following the ridgeline down off trail, the first water of significance was the Murray River itself at the bottom of the valley, approx 5 km of rough offtrail hiking in dense bush.

Pilot Creek Firetrail
This drops off the ridge to the left (east) down into Cowombat Flats from the Snow Gums Trail. Starts approximately half way down the ridgeline, 5.4 km along the Snow Gums Firetrail.

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Murray River Gorge

Harrington's Track

This 17 km historic bridle trail stretches along the Murray River from Tom Groggin to Bunroy Station. The walk is steep and challenging at times. This trail terminates before exiting the gorge and is also popular with horse riders.

You rejoin the Murray River near Hermit Ck, the last of the class 3/4 sections is just downstream of the Hermit Ck confluence, maybe one of the most difficult rapids in the gorge. Easier shorter mostly class 2 sections could be tackled with a packraft from below this particular rapid.

Elevation profile graph
16.6 km
880 m
1,009 m
4h 52min

You can access this from the foot bridge at Tom Groggin Station entrance, following close to the river frontage, fording Omeo Ck (~1km from footbridge), down to the Stoney Ck track (at 3.75 km) that leads to the start of the Harrington's track (combined distance 5.1 km). Alternatively, start from Tom Groggin camping area, crossing the ford to Dogmans Hut. Follow Tom Groggin Track to Mt Pinnibar Track that joins up with Stoney Ck track. (10km total). A third option is to swim across from Grassy Flats Rd directly to the start of the track at Stony Ck camp.

Exiting the track via Bunroy and Upper Murray Rds.

NSW 1:25,000 Maps

Tom Groggin 8524-4N and Youngal 8525-3S. Scammels Lookout 8525-3N and Swampy Plain 8525-4S cover the remaining section of the gorge down to Bringenbrong Bridge.

Victorian 1:50,000 Maps

Geehi 8525-S and Tom Groggin 8524-N should cover the track.

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Camping Options

Upper Murray

Summit to Source

I was warned from fellow hikers to avoid sleeping in the huts as they often have healthy mouse populations that may be problematic. However there are ample flat grassy spaces for a tent at either location.

Cascade Hut (1,474 m)
Approximately 10 km down the Cascade Trail
36° 32' 24.7" S, 148° 16' 36.6" E
Tin Mine Huts (1,271 m)
Approximately 25.5 km down the Cascade Trail
36° 42' 0.6" S, 148° 15' 1.3" E
AAWT Camping Area
Approximately 2.5 km down the Cascade Trail, just after the first stream crossing. Effectively backcountry camping.
36° 32' 24.7" S, 148° 16' 36.6" E

Murray River

The Poplars, VIC (853m)
Heading west down the Murray will lead directly to this 4wd access campsite.
36° 46' 36.2" S, 148° 6' 27.7" E
Tom Groggin Campground, NSW (527m)
Likely base camp for the trip.
36° 32' 32.8" S, 148° 7' 43.4" E
Dogman Hut Camping Area, VIC (519 m)
VIC side by Tom Groggin Campground.
36° 32' 7.7" S, 148° 7' 58.3" E

Backcountry

Majority of my camping sites were by the trails or the river itself. Remember to:

  • bury human waste at least 100 m from waterways and at least 15 cm deep
  • only use detergents, toothpaste and soap if you're at least 50 m from any waterways
  • most importantly, leave no trace
Alpine National Park VIC
Dispersed bush camping is permitted throughout the area
Kosciuszko National Park NSW
Back country camping is permitted, but a number of restrictions do apply.

Davies Plain & VIC tracks

There may be an easy escape trail on the VIC side using Davies Plain track to Tom Groggin if the river is impassable below the Poplars.

Charles Creek, VIC (1,567m)
Maybe around the creek crossing south 250 m. Toilets apparently.
36° 43' 54.4" S, 148° 4' 22.7" E roughly +/- 100 m
Davies Plain Hut, VIC (1,404m)
36° 39' 6.3" S, 148° 7' 31.6" E

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