I went for a 34km hike in rugged country south of Porepunkah yesterday. The eight-hour trek started up the Buckland Valley where the Clear Creek Track joins the main road.
I walked along Clear Creek for 8km until it joins the Demon Ridge Track.
The beginning was easy and interesting along creek flats. There were some cattle grazing in several clearings, I could hear and see the creek (which is nearly as big as the Buckland River) and there was evidence of past alluvial gold prospecting.
After about 5km the track crosses the creek into a wide clearing, where there were some people camping. The track then ascends from 500 metres to 1150 metres in just over three kilometres. Although very steep, it's a well-made road and I came across two people riding trail bikes.
I then followed Demon Ridge to the Albion Track and took a link trail to the Paddys Hill Track. There was a steep climb to reach an unnamed ridge above 1250 metres in snowgum terrain with spectacular views, including the snowcapped peaks of Mount Murray, Hotham and Feathertop.
A few steep undulations between 1150 and 1250 metres followed. The track here was poorly maintained, with many fallen trees blocking the "road". Unlike the Clear Creek and Demon Ridge, I doubt there had been any vehicle traffic here for at least the past couple of years.
There was a steep descent from the winter snowline to around 900 metres, followed by a pleasant ridge walk in mountain ash before yet another climb to Paddys Hill, elevation 985 metres.
From there it was a steep and tricky downhill climb back to Clear Creek and my car, which I had left on the other side of the Buckland River, fording the stream in bare feet.
My feet froze in the morning crossing, but welcomed the icy water on the return effort.
I have confidence now in my physical fitness to complete an ambitious walk like this one, and pulled up okay this morning apart from some sunburn and small bruises on my heels.
Not everyone would like the steeper aspects of this hike, but I can strongly recommend the flat section along Clear Creek for a casual stroll in an interesting landscape.