Many mountain people will know Josh Kynaston for the music he plays with his partner Evie as the duo Life Dreamers. They are regulars at many venues across the valley towns and mountains of north eastern Victoria. Joshua loves music. And walking in the hills. He has a plan to combine the two passions – doing a slow traverse of the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWR) in late 2022, starting at the southern end. And writing new songs and maybe an album as he goes.
During spring, he did a test run, hiking from Hotham to Thredbo (starting in Harrietville). It was a 12 day hike covering 250 km, the middle section of the Australian Alps Walking Track. There is a short film about the walk here.
He left Walhalla on December 5, heading towards Baw Baw Plateau. He says:
“Have just spent the last two days in Walhalla camping and checking out the town. What an amazing place. 54 days I plan to be on the trail. It was an epic week last week dropping all the food drops of. Feels a little funny right now that I am actually here and have started. Such a logistical thing to organise”.
You can follow his journey on the Life Dreamers facebook page.
SCROLL DOWN for updates from Josh.
Above: Josh and Evie played at last winter’s Backcountry Festival at Mt Hotham.
JAN 30. Heading home
I am sitting on a bus right now heading back to Mt Beauty. I arrived in Tharwa yesterday 56 days after leaving Walhalla. It felt a little funny when I started the walk 56 days ago and I have the same feeling now that its done and I am sitting here on the bus.
The last section was awesome. Very easy relaxing walking. Right after I got my food drop at Kiandra I meet two walkers at the first of many river crossings. Dirk and Will, they had just started and were heading to Walhalla. They had heard about me from the walkers in front of me. I was quite famous on the walk because I was carrying a guitar. Everyone I had meet had already heard about me. We exchanged numbers and I told them if they need anything when they are heading over the Bogong section to let me know and will help them out.
Then off we went in opposite directions. I made it to Witzes Hut that evening just before it started raining. Had a great night in the hut on my own and even had an old steel bed to sleep on next to the fire.
The next day I crossed the Murrumbidgee River and headed off track towards Millers Hut and stopped there for lunch. So many cool rustic huts in this section and was thinking this would be a really great area to come bike packing for a few days between all the huts. I made it to Hainsworth Hut early afternoon and made camp and decided it was time to wash my clothes.
From there I headed to Blue Waterhole across the Coleman Plain. What an amazing place. I camped at Magpie camp ground and had the whole place to myself because the road was closed into there. So much to explore here. That evening I walked 3km up the road in my thongs to check out Cooleman Homestead that was first built in 1839. Being a carpenter myself I loved checking out the old bush Carpentry they used to build the old slab house. It is so good that the homestead is still there and we can walk through it and imagine how it was back then.
The next morning I walked down Clarke Gorge and was absolutely blown away how beautiful it was. After 2 km I got to the water falls. On the way I had to cross the creek several times and checked out a couple of lime stone caves on the way. So much fun. There was even a second Gorge with bigger caves to explore but I had to get back to camp and get moving. I will definitely be going back there. That bike packing adventure I was thinking about earlier was looking real good now with Blue Waterhole added into it.
At this point I decided my food was getting a little low so I decided to put in a couple of big days and finish a day earlier then planned. So Murray’s Gap via Pockets Hut and Oldfield’s Hut. I made camp for the second last time right on the border of NSW and the ACT. The flat section was over now and walking got a little harder from this point. I made it to Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station Site where I spent my last night with lots of other campers. I could feel that I was leaving the remote bushland behind me and getting very close to Canberra. I spent my last night camping under a pergola on a concrete slab with a picnic table under it to get away from the crowds down at the main camping area.
The last day was a 5 hour hike in the rain to Tharwa. The end of my long walk. What a bloody amazing time I had. Have so many new adventures to do just from this one big adventure, and I managed to write quite a few songs on the way. They all ended up being about the Australian Alps Walking Track. So I think I will polish them get them recorded and release the first ever album about the Australian Alps Walking Track. I will keep you posted when its done. Before that I am playing at Don Mungo’s in Bright this Friday the 3rd. Might even play a couple of the new tunes and give them test run.
JAN 24. On the home stretch – huts and high country in the Snowy Mountains
I am almost there. Plan to have this wrapped up in the next 6 days. Have been loving this last section. Beautiful open grassy meadows, no off tracks and horizon all day long.
I left Thredbo early morning and hiked to Dead Horse gap to climb Rams Head Range and was not disappointed. The Rocky peaks and treeless terrain was a pleasure to walk through. I got to Mueller’s Pass and made camp.
The next morning the weather looked good and I packed up camp and got away early. Was planning to put a big day in and get White River Hut. About a 9 hour day. But the weather turned very quickly and I had to turn back and head down to Charlotte Pass where I took shelter in the toilet trying to work out whether I do the road bash up to White River Hut via Munyang or go back track up to Seamans Hut and end up losing ground that day. I decided to go backwards and am glad I did.
Ended having a great time at the hut – there where 12 people there all getting out of the bad weather and I got the guitar out and we had the fire going and all talking about our adventures on the trail. It was awesome.
Then next day the weather cleared and I made it to White River Hut and it was the most amazing day. The Hut was incredible and a great spot to go in the winter for some backcountry splitboard mission. The next Hut I got to was Grey Mare Hut and that was even better, with all the old gold mining machinery left around the Hut like a museum.
The next day I walked around Mt Jagunal to Mackays Hut. This Hut was a little more rustic which I liked alot. I got very lucky with the weather: from this point it would rain very heavy during the night and the days were sunny.
Next stop was Happy Hut and was keen as to see what this Hut was going to be like but when I got there I was very disappointed because it had burnt down. I am guessing that was in the 2020 bush fires that took out Selwyn Ski Resort that year. Very sad, I was thinking I would love to rebuild it. What an awesome project that would be.
Next Hut to check out was Four Mile Hut. I was loving the easy walking and going from Hut to Hut. Just before I got to Four Mile Hut I thought to myself what if this Hut has burnt down too, and sure it enough, as I walk down the knoll I could see it had burnt to the ground as well. I felt a little sad again.
This morning I will be in Kiandra for my last food drop and head for Whites Hut. Hopefully this one is still there.
January 16 – Thredbo
My Plan from Cowombat Flat Track was to go off track and camp in the saddle between Moscow Peak and Middle Peak and climb all five Peaks of the Cobberas, but with a fresh food supply I decided my backpack was to heavy to navigate the difficult terrain.
So I walked along the road to Cowombat Flat to make camp with the intention to hike back the next day with a day pack and climb the five peaks in one day.
The day started well and I was at the point where I was going to go off track by 9am. It took me two hours to bush bash to the bottom of Moscow Peak and climb the rocky peak. The views were something. I could see all five peaks and was blown away by it at first and I got a little spooked. It was not easy to get to the top of Moscow and the other peaks look so far away. Something didn’t feel right and I decided I would retrace my steps back and get out of there. The five peaks could wait for another time.
I ended up spending two nights at Cowombat Flat and had a great time exploring.
The next camp was Tin Mine Huts. I love the Tin Mine Huts and have spent a lot of time there in the past. Its a great MTB ride from Dead Horse Gap.
One thing I have never done was try and find Tin Mine Falls. So on my way to Dead Horse Gap, I left my pack on the side of the road and went off track again to find the Falls. It was not easy to find them and when I did I was a little disappointed because I could hear them but could not see them from the view point I got to.
The bush bash out felt a lot harder then going in. I was so happy to get out of there. I still had a five hour hike to Dead Horse Gap, it ended up being a very long day.
I am in Thredbo now writing this now. I have spent two nights here recharging the batteries so to speak. Today I will hike back out to Dead Horse Gap and climb up the Rams Head Range and start the crossing of the Main Range. I guess I am on the home stretch now and I am feeling great about it.
Mt Wills to Cowombat Flat
I made it down to Sunnyside for my third food drop and the start of the fourth section of the long walk.
The first day of this section was a long but easy walk to Taylor’s Crossing. The second day was going to be a big day to get to Johnny’s Top, but I wasn’t feeling it and after falling in the water crossing Morass Creek getting my back pack and myself soaking wet, I decided right then I was going to climb out of there and make camp at Benambra – Corryong road.
It turned out that I made camp by 2pm everyday on this section and made for very enjoyable afternoons chilling out, playing guitar in the bush and I loved it.
The third day was an easy cruise to Johnny’s Top. When I did this section two years ago, I had a very difficult time. (You can check out how hard in my film on YouTube). I reckon that I wasn’t feeling it the day before.
Matt and James caught up to me on the way to Johnny’s Top. A father and son who left 10 days after me. It was a so nice to walk with them up to the fire road. They were on a tight schedule and bypassed Johnny’s Top to Buckwong Creek. I don’t know how they did it. They had a really massive day.
Shortly after arriving at camp Laura and Jenna turned up. They started the walk 13 days after me. We had dinner together and they told how they crossed Morass Creek in the dark under head torch, barefoot. I decided straight away that I wanted to cross the swamp section of Buena Creek with them the next morning. So we all got up early and got through with out any drama’s and made good time. The three of us made a good team. I was sad to see them go. I stayed and made camp on the other side of the swamp and the girls continued to Buckwong Creek.
The fourth day I woke up feeling awesome after an incredible afternoon exploring and swimming in the Creek. Just before Buckwong Creek I decided to do a side trip down to Mt Murphy Mines. After a two hour return trip I was a little disappointed with the trip. There wasn’t much there except for a concrete foundation of the old crushing plant that looked a bit like an old ancient lost city. Which was actually pretty cool.
Just before I got to camp that afternoon I meet Zach and Molly walking the opposite direction. They told me that I had just missed Addin and Josh who had passed me again when I was checking out the lost city. I meet them a week before crossing the Bogong High Plains. I had meet so many people that week, it was a bit weird after not seeing anyone at the beginning.
The fifth day I got up a little flat, feeling lonely, thinking everyone had passed me and I was on my own once again. I missed this section two years ago when I walked from Hotham to Thredbo because I lost the guide book through the swamp section. I realised exactly what I did wrong on my way to Buckwong Creek. I turned off to early and walked 20 km to the end of Misery Fire Trail. If you want to know what happened next its in my film (here). This section proved to be a very challenging navigational process leading up to the fire trail. Then it was a breeze to Limestone Creek. I believe it’s the best marked part of the whole walk. Every time you need to see a yellow triangle to show the way it was there. It was perfect and made for an easy afternoon walking.
The next day I made it to Cowombat Flat Track where my next food drop was and the start of the forth section.
January 3 – crossing Bogong
I have had the amazing week crossing the Bogong High Plains then heading up Quartz Ridge. Its the first time I had walked up there and it was so beautiful. I spent new years at Bogong Creek Saddle then headed for Maddisons hut site. On the the way I just had to check Howman Falls and have a dip in every water hole along the way. It had so many little places to jump in before you get to the very impressive cliff right at the the end of the the trail. I will definitely have to come back and try and find a way down.
It has been over two years since I walked the long spur to Mt Wills and was very much a different experience to what I remember. Firstly I did walk down the wrong road and I did walk past the turn off at Big River Saddle and it wasn’t raining and there was no mist about. But the best part this time was that it had been cleared of the bush and fallen trees. It made for a very pleasant relaxing walk that I enjoyed so much. It really has been a fantastic week.
I have run out food but have a food drop at Sunnyside. Planned that to perfection. So I will have bit of a rest day, play some guitar and get ready for a couple of big days to get down to Taylor’s Crossing then up to Johnny’s Top. I have done this part before so I know what I am in for.
December 27 – back on the track
After heading off the track for Christmas, Josh is back, taking a direct route to the High Plains rather than following the AAWT:
‘I spent boxing day in Mt Beauty kayaking down the Kiewa River with friends were I meet Coral who told me about a beautiful water fall with a swimming hole not far from the Australian Alps Walking Track on the Bogong High Plains. So I had decided I was not going to follow the AAWT when I got back on track after my two day break.
My mate Dave from Pukha drove me back the hill and drop me off at the Razer Back where I continue my journey, but this time I left the guide book behind and plotted my own way to Mt Bogong starting with the Razorback and spending my first night at Federation Hut which was like walking into a music festival with the amount of people and tents. Not what I have been used to so far. Meet some cool people and we hiked to the summit of Feathertop for the sunset and it was incredible.
Next Day my new friend Callum walked with me to Diamantina Spur were we parted ways and promised we would hike together again in the near future. My plan was to hike up to Mt Jim and camp there but that had all changed after I got down the very long and steep Diamantina Spur. Got to Blairs Hut and meet Mark who used to be a cattle man back in the day when they grazed cattle on the high plans. He was a very interesting fellow and every year he comes with his brother and a chainsaw and rides trails and clears them from the fallen trees. We talked about the brumby problem and he had some great ideas I thought. I am not going to go into that here right now.
Time got away from me and I decided at the very last minute that I would go up Weston’s Spur Track and stay at Weston’s Hut to avoid the crowds at Dibbins Hut and get up out of the Valley for a good head start to go find the water fall I was told about. Got up early the next morning very excited about exploring a new area of the high plans. Was such a peaceful walk up to pole 333 with the mist slowly lifting as I hiked up the remaining part of Weston Spur. I had never check out Mt Jim before, always just passed it on the pole line so this was the time. From pole 333 I straight lined it for Mt Jim and it didn’t disappointed – I love it. Felt like a hidden little park separate from the rest of the high plans. There are a hole lot of rocks coming off the the top that look a bit like a rock glacier. I thought that was pretty cool.
From there I found some really old snow gums in a meadow that would make a great camp. But my big plan for the day was to find a water fall with a swimming hole. So from there I could see the aqueduct I was told to follow. So I straight lined it for the aqueduct and with in an hour I had found a foot track that was going to lead me to the water hole. When I got to the end of the track there it was and it blew my mind. I had found the oasis of the Bogong High Plains. I stripped off to my birthday suit and jumped in. Was an awesome afternoon. I spent three hours there having lunch and quick dips. Then I found a great camp site directly above the water fall and stayed there till midday the next day.
I am at Edmondson Hut this morning, planing to head up Quartz Ridge via Timms Spur. Which will be enough for me. I have crossed the Bogong High Plains many times but this time it has proven to be even more special than any other crossing that I have made.
December 24 – made it to the Great Alpine Road
Made to Selwyn Creek Track yesterday and managed to set up camp and grab my second food drop just before a thunderstorm rolled over. I get very excited when I get to a food drop. Means I have finished another stage of the walk and I have fresh treats and more toilet paper.
Well the last few days have just been incredible. I put in a massive 12 hour day to get from the Bottom of King Billy 2 to the top of Mt Speculation. It was hard work but the views are something else and I just loved walking on the edge of the rocky ledges of The Cross Cut Saw.
I finally meet some people when I got to camp at Mt Speculation. A father and son doing the Viking loop trial. It had been 10 days since I had seen anyone. It was nice to camp with them for a couple nights. I got the guitar out at the Viking Saddle and we had a little sing a long around the fire we didn’t light that evening.
The Viking has to be the high light of the walk so far. So much fun scrambling up the rocks and hauling my 30kg bag and guitar through the chimney. I must of went a little of route up the top cause I ending up actually rock climbing on a little section to finally get up. Had lunch on the summit and for the first time after carrying it all this way pulled my drone out and had a fly. It was an awesome day.
I am at camp now just below Mt St Bernard and have decided I am going to hitch a ride into Bright and pick up some new walking sticks, mattress, sunglasses and tent pegs all things that have lost or broken on the way. Then my plan is to celebrate Christmas with some friends in Porepunkah and get back on the trail after boxing day.
Merry Christmas to everyone hope you all have as much fun as I am having on this amazing walk.
December 19 – heading to Howitt
After all that weather and bush bashing, things have turned around. Had a blast over Mt Mac Donald and Mt Clear. Meet another Tiger snake coming down Mt Mac Donald. They are really not friendly. Camp at the bottom of King Billy 2 last night and the morning looks amazing.
Planing a big one today. King Billy 2 and 1, Mt Magdala, Mt Howitt, Cross Cut Saw, camp at Mt Speculation. I am up early and very excited for the day.
Didn’t make it down low saddle. Turned into a bit of a survival mission. No track (or I missed it). Very steep full on bush bash. Ended up way day in a gully with massive ferns over my head and it was almost 8pm. Found the smallest little clearing at 8:20, put my tent up, no pegs. Jump in and went to sleep no water too. I got this morning at 11am to low saddle. It was not fun. Lost my walking sticks too. But I have some new wooden one now. Proper sticks haha.
On my way to Mt McDonald then Nobs Track to camp tonight.
I was heading to Fiddlers Green the last time I messaged. Well it started to rain about an hour before I got there and I could see that there is a hut just before Fiddlers Green up a little side road. Called Bob’s Hut and sure enough it was there and open. I couldn’t believe my luck cause the weather got really wild that night. So I had a very pleasant evening in the hut. Washed my cloths, got a fire going even wrote my first song for the trip. Its called “Bob’s hut saved the day”.
That morning the weather was still not good but I decided to head off to Black River anyway thinking it will get better. No problems getting to Black River. But finding the camp site when I got there was not easy. Very over grown and it was raining hard. After a couple of hours bush bashing I finally find the camp site on the N15 track and made camp. I managed to get dry, warm and feed.
The following morning the rain had stopped and it was clearing up. Now I had to cross the river two more times and find the track heading north up a spur to Mt Shillinglaw. It started with a very long log crossing where the river turned 90 degrees with the water flowing high and fast underneath. At the end of the crossing I had to jump off over another big log and found my self bush bashing through black berry bushs up a steep slope to get to the other side of the N15 track which is now the Spur Link Track.
Then it took about an hour to bush bash to get to the second river crossing where there was another log crossing. This time the log was way to slippery to try and cross it so I had to jump in the river knee deep and cross it. At this point I was thinking I should have just walked through the river to get here and saved all the bush bashing, I was soaking wet anyway because of all the wet branches. I found the track out of there and couldn’t be more happy to leave Black River behind.
Once again about an hour before I get to Rumpff Saddle it starts raining, and before I get there its raining even harder and the wind picks up. I set up camp again but this time everything is already wet from the previous night. The good thing was that I had a fresh food supply with snacks and kombucha. I get dry and warm, once again. Then have a good night’s sleep. It did get a little cold towards the morning.
I woke up and realised that it had been snowing during the night and was still snowing. And not not just a little bit. My shoes, clothes, wet weather gear are all soaking wet except for what I am wearing. I have to sit tight in my tent for the second time in 10 Days. Not to worry, it gives me a chance to read up on the next section across the Barry Mountains which I am really looking forward to.
It looks like there will be a good weather window to cross The Viking and get to Mt Hotham.
‘Woke up with the tent semi caved in this morning at Whitelaw Hut Site. Manage to push all the snow off and prop up the little awning I made the evening before with getting out of the tent. Wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Have checked the weather, looks like it will snow till the evening and winds will ease. No rain tomorrow but overcast. So going to stay put in the tent for the rest of the day and read a book. Cant play guitar cause it is under snow. Don’t have to worry about water cause I will melt snow. I am warm and cosy in my tent’.