Photo credit: Ricky French

Stone steps lead up through marble-trunked snow gums and mountain pepper trees. Frogs croak and a thousand insects flitter above the cool sphagnum moss in this high-altitude alpine marsh on the Mount Buffalo plateau in Victoria’s High Country. Technically we’re hiking, but the strange thing about this place, the Corral, is we’re not often walking on the ground. Rather, our party of four is boulder-hopping atop giant chunks of granite, following not so much a track as a raised route of least resistance through a vast boulder field.

The late afternoon sun bounces off the rocks, warming our faces as shadows lengthen in the lichen. We reach our destination, a ruin of giant broken pieces of granite called Mahomet’s Tomb, and amuse ourselves by clambering between the oversized rocks, squeezing into the caves created below and paying solemn heed to a sign that warns of the folly of proceeding further. A quick peep confirms that one more boulder hop could send us cartwheeling to the bottom of the Buckland Valley, potentially making us late for the promised afternoon canapes.

Our eye-opening afternoon jaunt is part of boutique guided hiking company Hedonistic Hiking’s Escape to Bright package. After enduring a long Melbourne winter of lockdown, I’d be happy to escape to anywhere, quite frankly, but this is truly remarkable…

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