Walking the Hume & Hovell Trail

Daniel Coghlan and Robyn Lindner set off from Paddy’s River Dam to tick off another section of the track. PHOTO: Mark Simpson

WITH the Hume and Hovell Track now all but fully open, walkers are once again taking on the challenge and beauty the trek provides.

Two such walkers have recently returned to tick off a few more sections of the track, a mission interrupted by fires, floods and Covid.

Robyn Lindner and Daniel Coghlan, from Sydney, set out in 2019 to do the full 420km track from Yass to Albury piece-by-piece, mostly in single day walks.

October 2024 marks the 200th anniversary of the original Hume and Hovell Expedition from Gunning to Port Phillip Bay, near what is now Geelong.

“We hoped to be finished this year to coincide with the anniversary but with the closures after the fires and then Covid that just wasn’t going to happen,” explained Ms Lindner.

“So, we’ll just keeping going till it’s done,” she said.

The Black Summer bush fires in 2019/20 led to the complete closure of the track effectively from Blowering Dam to Woomargama. Wooden bridges, walkways and safety infrastructure had been destroyed as well as walkers being in danger of falling dead trees and wash aways along much of the route. Before reconstruction could barely begin the region was hit by a series of flood events which caused more damage and impacted repairs already done.

“We started at Yass and had been doing the track section-by-section and we got as far as Blowering. So, while the track was closed we skipped forward and did sections which had reopened south of Tumbarumba,” said Ms Lindner.

In 2023 they covered the track from Henry Angel Track Head on Burra Creek to Mundaroo West Road off the Jingellic Road.

Last week the pair returned to fill in some of the now open sections to the north covering Buddong Falls to Burra Creek.

“This will make 12 days walking we’ve done so far,” she said.

“We’ve now done more than half the track and reckon we’ve got about 190km to go.”

All downhill from here then?

The day walk strategy involves some tricky transport plans and organising shuttles to pick up and drop off points along the track, returning nightly to accommodation in nearby towns or B&Bs along the route.

These walkers are keen and fit and can manage to cover 20 or more kilometres in a day which has suited their strategy to date.

“There are some long stretches ahead of us with some access issues so we might have to consider some overnight camping but so far we’ve been able to do it in day walks,” the pair said.

The Hume and Hovell Track was opened in 1988 as a bicentennial project with a formed and marked track from Hume Cottage near Yass to Albury where the expedition crossed the Murray River. Maintenance of the track has mainly been the responsibility of local councils along its route which goes through Yass Shire, Snowy Valleys (formerly Tumut and Tumbarumba Shires), Greater Hume Shire and Albury City. Over the years many parts of the track have fallen into disrepair with wooden bridges and walkways deteriorating and the track often overgrown with undergrowth and the ubiquitous blackberries.

The restoration after the fires and floods provided the opportunity for a lot of this to be replaced and cleared as well as some upgrades such as the new suspension bridge across Coppabella Creek north of Jingellic. It has been a major investment and taken years to complete.

Earlier in 2024 after considerable public consultation and input, a strategic plan for the future of the track was released coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the expedition. The plan considers options for access and use of the track and promote it as one of Australia’s premier long distance walks.

While many visitors take the opportunity for day walks or short one or two night walks such as those in the Tumbarumba-Batlow-Tumut area, the plan also acknowledged that there are still walkers who were keen to take on the challenge of the whole 420km track.

This week The Times also met another walker while he took a couple of days rest in Tumbarumba on his walk of the whole track.

Geoff Gill from Brisbane started at Burrinjuck Dam at the end of April and had made it as far as Mannus Lake before suffering an injury which has forced him to abandon his quest – for now.

The section of the track from Blowering through to Henry Angel at Tumbarumba traverses the Bago State Forest and is renowned for being possibly the most scenic section of the track with days of walking through the giant mountain ash forests of the high plateau.

The authors of the new strategic plan are hoping that with improvements to access, facilities and maintenance, the track will attract many more walkers and visitors.

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