Broken River Hut
16-17 April 2016
Flock Hill’s manager, couldn’t be contacted for permission to take the Winding Creek route to Broken River Hut but four of us set out for the area anyway. We dropped in to the Flock Hill HQ and asked directly but that met with a firm NO. Plan B was to drive almost to Cass and take the Craigieburn Road with its many rail crossings and fourteen gates to a car park just short of Avoca Homestead. DoC has lovingly restored this house built in 1906 and it’s now a unique hut. See the video describing it and surrounds at:
A real 4WD can cross Broken Rr and drive right up to the hut. In fact 50 4WDs can park on the large front lawn and they did on the Sunday as part of a fund-raiser for a Malvern district church. We parked at a service area near a railway viaduct, walked back along the road a few hundred metres and then along a vehicle track, under the viaduct, over the river to the hut. Two hunters had gear on beds so we four spread ourselves around the three bedrooms. The hut sleeps six.
After a leisurely lunch we walked up a vehicle track to point 667 to sit in the sun and look down on rail tunnels and viaducts. If we’d waited another 40 minutes we could have seen the Trans-Alpine on its way east. Back at our base we had soup then a poor imitation of spaghetti bolognaise made with Leggos Pizza topping and an onion soup. As cook I can write this. The custard with gingernuts and chocolate buttons was a success. The hunters turned up and while they were eating their dinner we sang them ancient TV jingles we thought they should know about—Chesdale, BP and Griffins gingernuts. This may have driven them out to sleep under the big pines or perhaps they decided the hut was too warm for a comfortable sleep as we’d got the wood stove going.
Sunday dawned fine and cool. It would have been nice to wade up-river to the abandoned coal mine but we didn’t relish the thought of chilling river crossings so we decided to see if there was a way up-river using the track we’d gone up the day before. The track stayed high and near a patch of beech forest it stopped so we decided to go up 1286m Bold Hill. We chose to follow a strip of tussock alongside a deeply eroded gully. Further up, the terrain became scree and rock, with minimal vegetation. The view from the top down to Waimak Gorge, Staircase Gully and out to the plains is impressive.
Back at the hut there was a 4WD with a man and excited kids. As we packed up the guy offered to give us a ride back to the car to speed us on our way and save us getting wet feet. We accepted gratefully. The road out was just as dusty and corrugated but seemed even longer than it was the day before. The homestead/hut is a great little retreat and quite accessible by car. Be sure to take willing gate openers with you. In summer-time the river walk to the old coal mine or on to Broken River Hut would appeal. We were: Margaret Clark, Graeme Hunter, Jane Smith and Kerry Moore. (KM)