Mt. Cope Circuit, Bogong High Plains

A one-day hike on Bogong High Plains near Falls Creek, Victoria, featuring lovely views and a short section of off-trail bush bash fun. To be remembered as an “Up the mountain, down the mountain, round the mountain” walk.

With our kids getting older (6 and 10 this year), we have raised the bar for day trips. For half a day walks, we aim for about 6 to 10 km or between 12 to 18 km for a full-day hike. So, once we had enjoyed a day off after a two-day adventure on Mt. Feathertop, we started looking for a day walk in the area.

The walk up Mt. Cope starts just a few hundred meters from the campsite. Not having to drive far for a single-day walk is always a bonus. We also remember lovely views from the top of Mt. Cope from a visit a few years back. Only this time, we want to do a bit more than just the signposted 3 km return walk to the summit and back. After all, our kids are not 3 and 7 anymore, and we need more of a challenge, remember?

Consulting a map, there is an almost obvious round trip that can be made – the signposted walk up Mt. Cope’s summit, and then an East Cope Aqueduct Road circling the mountain back to the start. About a kilometre of a missing path between the summit and the aqueduct should not be a big deal. After all, as experience from a few rogaines taught us, our kids seem to enjoy some good bush bash (off-trail hiking) more than a boring walk on a graded fire trail.

Explaining the plan to Anika and Tobias is easy. “Remember the story from the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton? Where did the kids ask the teddy bear for directions to the Three Bears’ house? Up the lane, down the lane, round the lane… That is what we will do. Only we are going up the mountain, down the mountain and round the mountain.” Easy.

So pack the water, snack and raincoats, and off we go.

Up the mountain

The first part is the easy signposted bit. The path gently climbs up to the summit. It does not take long, and views around the High Plains open up.

We get a bit startled when Anika discovers a black snake curled next to the path where Daddy just walked. Usually, snakes hear you from a distance and slither off. This one is not going anywhere. The weather is fairly cold, so we reckon it must be hibernated, or dead, but we’re not going to touch it to test the theory.

Down the mountain

After enjoying the views at Mt. Cope summit, we get enough of the cold wind and decide to get to the fun part of the walk – the downhill bush bash. Part of the Aqueduct road is visible from the top, so we take our bearings and walk off along the ridge. The walk is mainly through easy open terrain. A few exceptions to this are parts where we cross small creeks, which tend to have extensive wet marshes around them. Here the choice is to get our boots wet or go through scrubs. After about a kilometre, we hit the aqueduct.

Round the mountain

The final part is an easy walk along the level East Cope Aqueduct Road towards Cope Hut. Clouds start to gather and the overcast creates amazing diffused light, in which autumn colours of the surrounding scrubs come out beautifully. After we pass the Cope hut, the clouds come down a bit more, and for the last leg of the walk, we end up with a bit of drizzle being blown by the wind.

Fast facts

WhatMt. Cope Circuit, half a day walk with an off-trail part
WhereBogong High Plains, near Falls Creek, Victoria, Australia
How farapprox. 8 km
Kids agesTobias just turned 7, Anika 10.5 years

Practical tips

Dress wellTake extra clothes. You are on the high plains, and the weather can change rapidly. We carried extra jumpers and raincoats, which both came in handy after the sun hid behind a cloud and the drizzle and wind picked up.
Take compassDepending on your orienteering skills, a compass comes in handy for off-track navigation – particularly if the visibility changes with an oncoming cloud.

What was fun for kids

SnakeThe encounter with the snake was definitely an adventure
Off trail bush bashOur kids, particularly Tobias, enjoy scrambling over boulders and through the scrub and climbing up the lookouts on rocks to plot our next course. Guess just about every boy enjoys being an explorer.
Jumping the canalLooking for the right spot to cross, and the challenge of making it across dry.
Memories of the taleSetting the theme as “up, down, round the lane”, like in the Faraway Tree was a hit – on the flat part, kids have kept themselves entertained with stories from the book.

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