Walking Since 1939

Xmas Pack Carry/Base Camp: Mount Howitt / Viking Circuit


Trip Overview

Camping at Vallejo Gantner Hut at MacAllister Springs, this event captures a number of the most spectacular but remote hikes of the high country into an accessible package that is bound to appeal.

GPX files are available from the usual sources (trailhiking.com.au or AllTrails), although I expect to be doing most our hiking using a map and compass.

This event is a base camp, but note that the base camp is around 5 kilometres from the cars. You therefore can leave additional supplies in your car if you are prepared to traipse back and forth. Regardless, this idea has merit.

This is something of an exploratory event, but we’ll be on actual trails for all of our hikes. I did explore the possibility of doing overnight pack carries in the area, but I have some pretty strong reservations about the water supply in areas other than where we are camping. There is also an element of pragmatism about treating this a base camp; some of the areas require a serious 4WD to get into, or are simply too far apart by road to consider doing a through hike. (It will take almost two days to set up the car shuffles!).


It’s a base camp – so bring your own!

Water can comfortably be carried in your car should we incur difficulty in sourcing a natural supply. There is, however, a natural supply at MacAlister Springs that I expect to be reliable.

The actual camp site is about 5 kilometres from the cars, so you need to prepare as if for a pack carry. Anything extra that you decide to take is entirely up to you, but you need to be prepared to carry it.

As we are effectively doing day hikes from the base camp, you will need to carry both your overnight pack and your day pack.

Itinerary and Walk Descriptions

Distances vary for these hikes, but expect some tough and fairly long days. My plan is to do 8 hour days max.

Wednesday, 27 December: Arrive at Mount Howitt

It’s a l-o-n-g drive from Melbourne to McAlister Springs, where we commence our adventure. This road is doable by 2WD (or at least, it was when I did it).

McAlister Springs has a reliable water supply, a hut, a bush toilet and some of the most relaxed camping in the high country. It is a 5 kilometre hike to get there from the carpark, so no yobbos with their loud drinking and stupid country music from the 1980s. Who even likes The Gambler anyway?

Thursday, 28 December: Crosscut Saw and Mt Speculation

One of the most spectacular but remote hikes in the high country is suddenly available and beckoning. Bring plenty of water – you will be exposed to the sun with no respite, and water may not be available on the way.

Friday, 29 December: Howitt Spur and the Thorn Range.

We leave from Clear Creek Road where we park the cars. 14 kilometres for day one, Camp at Mount Clear?

Water is available on route according to my information.

Saturday, 30 December: Mount Howitt to Mount Magdala/Helicopter Spur

Don’t know if we’ll achieve all of this but let us try.

Sunday, 31 December: Return home

Unless you wish to spend New Years up here! If so, we can easily organise Wonnangatta Spur (although I doubt we’ll get into the Wonnangatta Valley). Alternatively, we could drive to Bryce’s Gorge and do some day hiking around there, or even relocate our camp spot if we feel like it. We can leave drinks and nibbles in our cars . . . but we’ll have to be selective to ensure our food won’t spoil.

Monday, 1 January: Return home (if we stay overnight)

Expect your return journey to take the bulk of the day.


Transport to and from the walk location is by car. Please indicate your transport requirements and preferences on the booking request form when you book in.

If you don’t have a car, we can’t guarantee to provide you with a lift – this will depend on available drivers and their locations.

Passengers must pay the driver their share of car-pooling costs as described on the Car-pooling page. Please discuss the preferred method of payment with your driver.


Booking is required for this trip. Please indicate what similar walks you have done recently (i.e. in the past few months) to give the leader confidence that you are capable of doing this one. Refer to Walking Grades which, in conjunction with the walk description, will help you assess whether you have the required walking fitness and experience to do this walk.

The Leader will confirm your acceptance on the walk, or not, via email.  The leader will provide details of where and when to meet.

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Booking Fee:
Members: free.     Non-members: $10.

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There will be no refunds, so please do not book unless you are fully committed to walking.

What to Bring

• All the equipment, clothing, food and water you will need for the walks and overnight stays (refer Trip details above).

• To help manage the Covid risk, the following may be useful: Hand Sanitiser, Face Mask(s), RAT test(s).

Refer to our Gear Checklist page for more details, or discuss with the leader.  If you are not properly equipped, the walk leader can decide not to let you participate on this walk.

Emergency Club Contact

The emergency club contact for this walk is Ken.  The leader can provide you with the contact’s phone number, if you wish to pass this on to any friend/family member who may be concerned if you return late.

COVID-19 Requirements

  • You should not be attending this event if you are Covid-19 positive and/or are required to be in quarantine or isolation.
  • If you have any Covid-19 symptoms or are a contact of someone with Covid-19, please follow the instructions in the Coronavirus Victoria website.

Safety and Ambulance Insurance

We strongly recommend that you have Ambulance cover. If conditions are hazardous, the walk may be cancelled. If any doubts at all, check your emails the night before and the morning of the event. For more details refer to: Joining a walk and your safety


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Activity Date(s)


December 27, 2023 2:00 pm


December 31, 2023 12:00 pm







Craig B

Booking Request

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