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Hi! My partner and I are planning a little bike tour on our 29er mtbs through the high country in Victoria and NSW and are just looking for a bit of advice. The rough route plan is to train it up to Wangaratta from Melbourne, then ride from Wang to Bright, over hotham to Omeo, from there head north to benambra, suggan buggan, over the border taking Barry's Way, then cutting off that along Nine Mile Pinch Firetrail, along ingeegoodbee track up to Thredbo, then stop there for a couple of days to do some mountain biking. After that the plan is to ride to albury/wodonga and get a train back from there. So I've got a few wonderings in my head and any help would be very much appreciated!
Firstly - does anyone know a good route from thredbo to wodonga that's not on main roads?
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly - water! What are people's experiences of water availability and water quality along this route. We're looking at carrying around 5L each, but I'm wondering if this isn't really enough? considering investing in a dromedary.
Also, how long would this roughly take - say from Wang to Thredbo? Then thredbo to Wodonga? We've allocated around 16 days, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that that's a bit optimistic!
Finally, does anyone have any general advice for things to do on that route or certain trails/roads we should or shouldn't take?? We've spent time in the Bright area but never through the other areas.
I've done a lot of research on this trip and this is the filtered set of endless questions I started with that I can't find answers for online. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide
Just finished a tour through parts of the (Vic) Alpine National Park. The sections of our tour that relate to your question were Omeo-Benambra-Native Dog Flat (Cobberas)-Wulgulmerang, through to Gelantipy, or in your case Omeo to the Limestone Rd/Snowy River Rd (Barry Way) intersection, a few Km's North of Wombargo.
Average speed ranged from around 12 to 14 KPH. We spent about 5 hours per day actually cycling and the other 3 or 4 hours pushing uphill and/or resting and eating. I wouldn't plan on traveling at any higher speed especially if the weather is hot, cold, wet or windy. Fully loaded touring speeds on better sealed mountain roads elsewhere weren't significantly higher. We experienced mostly fine weather conditions so if factoring in inclement weather, fatigue, sightseeing and rest days I wouldn't plan on calculating an average speed/distance of anything more than about 10 KPH and maybe 50 kilometers per day. These are just my rough estimates but they may give you a starting point. All the participants on our ride were experienced tourers in good health, well equipped and fit.
I only carried 3 litres of water each day but also rode with an empty 10 litre Ortleib bladder, just in case.
Water on this section is available from Limestone Creek and the Buchan River. Nobody on our tour filtered water from the river but everyone boiled it. I used Micropur tablets. Feral horses are ever present in the High Country, especially near water courses, we saw and heard plenty of them. Don't assume the water is good, treat it. The horses extend right across the Bogong Plains, the Eastern Unit of the Park, across the Snowy River and well into NSW and the ACT. Cattle graze in most of the freehold land.
Good luck with the planning and eventual tour. Touring this region is hard work but well worth the effort.
These stats might help a little bit;
Last edited by Tim on Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Warning, warning !!!
The Nine Mile Pinch is a very harsh ride..... going downhill ! You are proposing to go up it? Good luck, I'll send flowers. It climbs 900m in 4.5kms (and there is some descent in there) ie. skywards of a 20% gradient, with about 30% over some of the 1-2m high waterbars.
This steep, and this rough . Even the ride from Benambra past Native Dog Flat to the Cobberas is not for the faint-hearted. We had low gears of 17-18" and many of us were walking a good few climbs.
I was organising the ride Tim has posted about. If you have a good deal of experience then riding the Barry Way right through to Jindabyne should be quite a good ride. This route takes you through the Snowy River valley then up the Jacobs Ladder climb - about 900m vertical over 13kms IIRC.
Of course if you wanted to skip Suggan Buggan, the Snowy River and the fleshpots of Jindabyne, you could *cough* ride along Cowombat Track through the Cobberas (it just says "walkers only" not no bikes), cross the border at Cowombat Flat then ride the Pilot Track to Tin Mine Huts and on to Cascade Hut and then to Thredbo. All a real bush trek. It would take you 3-4 days from Benambra to Thredbo with no supplies at all, no other vehicles at all (minimal suport if anything goes wrong) once you turn off the Limestone Rd onto Cowombat Track. But you pass through some gorgeous high country in the Kosciuszko National Park. Stevage has just done this section (north-south)
From Thredbo to Wodonga. The first section will have to be the main road down Dead Horse Gap to Tom Groggin - there are somne rough tracks through the KNP, along the Schlink Track and out to Scammels Spur, but I know little about this. After Tom Groggin go on to Geehi then climb up the hill for a couple of kms to turn left and ride along the Geehi Fire Trail (Major Clews Track), past Major Clews Hut to Khancobn. from there ride towards Corryong, in to the town, or take the Toowong Hill Rd to avoid the worst of the hills. Go to Toowong and through Tintaldra, Walwa and near Granya on the Murray Valley Hwy to Albury. This highway is extremely quiet riding.
It should not take you more than about four days to ride Thredbo-Albury, then if you need to go to Wangaratta, ride the scenic route through Yackandandah and Beechworth (allow two days to explore).
...and a very well organised and very enjoyable tour it was thanks Pete.
Great company, great countryside and a memorable trip.
I'm pining for the High Country and the companionship.
Last edited by Tim on Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
I think I've been in a bit of denial about how hard that route is, reckon we'll avoid going up nine mile pinch after your warnings! So you're saying that Barry's Way is less extreme that my original route, but also pretty tough, and the cowombat track also less extreme, but potentially longer and more remote? Is there much traffic along barry's way, in case something comes up? Judging by the map taking the ingeegoodbee track all the way from where it starts (just east of suggan buggan) also looks possible as a way of avoiding nine mile, although potentially not advisable. I'm starting to think that the whole trip might be done better in reverse - starting at wodonga, heading up to thredbo, then south and west back to wangaratta.
You also mention supplies - do you know if there are any supplies between benambra and jindabyne, were we to take barry's way?
Great, that's awesome to hear - tracks are better but a quiet rode is also very excellent. I'll have a little search about the feasability of those tracks you mention. It looks like really beautiful country, but as everyone mentioned very hard work, so we're trying to make the best route possible and get in all the good stuff:)
Thanks for that advice Tim, I should probably add a couple of days to my original estimate just to be on the safe side. We're both decently fit and ride a lot, but I've certainly never done a tour where significant portions of the day were for pushing the bike! The weather looks incredibly erratic in that area - some places dropping to almost freezing at night from the weather reports, and not just up at thredbo, but really hot during the day. I feel like you have to be a bit ready for everything.
Also, in terms of water, I've had a look at the map and can see where those rivers/creeks are, but it doesn't look like the track crosses them very often - are you saying you were able to pick up water more than once a day? Good news, regardless, my 5L capacity should be okay.
Cheers for everyone's advice, especially since it comes from experience that seems very hard-earned, really appreciate it!!
Five of the seven in our party resorted to pushing at some stage. I found I could walk/push at 4.8 KPH and almost keep apace with those still riding at maybe 5.5-6.0 KPH. Pushing actually relieved and rested the cycling muscles, and cycling relieved the pushing muscles.
The temperature on the road rose to a maximum of 44.9C on the way up to Swifts Creek. A couple of days later at Native Dog Flat (Elevation 1300m) it dropped below zero. Spilt water on the campground table froze overnight. Be ready for anything including heavy summer thunderstorms and downpours.
I noticed Google Maps indicate that Limestone Creek and Buchan River don't cross the Limestone Rd. They do.
For a trip like yours I'd suggest using good Topographic paper maps and/or the Rooftops series of maps for better detail and other interesting information. Proper maps are also a little bit water resistant. Don't rely just on Google or a GPS.
We picked up water along the way but don't rely on my word. Our route only partly coincides with yours. Check with other more informed sources than me!
It is handy and advisable to have a greater water carrying capacity if for no other reason than washing up at camp. A folding kitchen sink is on my reviewed list of camping goodies. ilPadrone and others had them and they are worth their weight in gold. In other words light, compact and relatively cheap for the convenience.
I don't know about the other sections of your ride. Buy a bladder. It might save your life.
Sign at both ends of the Limestone-Black Mountain Rd. Heed the warning.
Photo thanks to ilPadrone.
A fit looking bunch of cyclists and walkers at the top of a big hill. I walked it, those in the foreground rode it.
Last edited by Tim on Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
The Barry Way is a regular road, albeit gravel and fairly remote. Depending on the time of year you will have some occasional traffic going by, local and travelling 4WDs right now, but quieter as we move into autumn and winter. The Ingeegoodbee, Nine Mile Pinch, and the Cowombat Track/Pilot Track routes are 4WD tracks with NP gates closing them to traffic. They are quite rough with many short and longer steep grades.
Ingeegoodbee Track looks like this, some sections are a delight, others are steep enough to require granny gear or pushing. There is a lovely campsite at Tin Mine Huts, and also at Cascade Hut.
We travelled the route from Albury to Bairnsdale. It's all downhill that way - don't you know ??
There is no township nor supply point at all between Benambra and Jindabyne, travelling via the Limestone Rd and Barry Way.
Temperatures will generally be quite cool at night - we had a below zero morning on New Years Eve. You are in the high country, it can snow at any time of the year. Mostly there are running creeks in the area that you can take water from, and along the Snowy you have the river of course. As Tim mentioned, in some areas there are a lot of horses about, especially in the Cobberas, so boiling, filtering, or chemical purification may be wise. Out of Bemambra we rode for about 25kms or more without seeing any reliable water, and there was a lot of steep climbing on a warm day, so we emptied 2-3 water bottles each.
High country touring can be like that. We once had a day where our mileage did not get into double figures and almost all of that was pushing the bikes (9kms and 1200m vertically, from the Macallister River bridge to near King Billy). We did walk up Mt Magdala in the afternoon though.
It makes for memorable touring
Eek, lots of dried mushrooms and tvp for us then:)
Yep, I got a couple of the Rooftop maps, they look pretty good - although there are some awkwardly placed photos that cover some of the sections of the trail we'll be taking! Also, cheers for the update on water - we've got a couple of bladders and then some bottles, but might get something else, we'll see how we go. As a side note - why the kitchen sink? Apart from washing dishes how does it earn a place in the touring kit??
Thanks to Tim and Ilpadrone for all your awesome advice, as well as some very inspiring/threatening photography! We've decided to start Wodonga and end Wangaratta, the reverse of what we'd planned, so if after thredbo we want to take ingeegoodbee instead of barry's way then its a more feasible option.
I'll write up a little report after going if I discover anything to add to the collective wisdom I've also got some fun new ultralight gear that I'll write up about if inspired by them
No TVP in Benambra - it is a very small general store. The nearest supermarket-style store is in Omeo. In fact, if riding from the north I reckon your last source of such 'yuppie' items will be Wodonga
Convenience more than anything. Fill the Ortlieb bucket with up to 10L and you have all the water you need for dinner, handy and easy to access. Bladders need to be poured, creeks need to be walked to, with the bucket you can just dip into it.
Be aware that coming from Wodonga, the climb of Dead Horse Gap is long and steep - 20kms and generally about 7-8%. All laoded up we spent 3hrs on the climb (lunch stop half-way at Leather Barrel Ck) and by the end I was standing up in bottom gear (18"). At least it's all sealed road now.
Last edited by il padrone on Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Benambra has a Local Post Office, so you could send stuff to yourself there. I think there is a pub there too? Strangely I've not used it myself so cannot be sure. Those AussiePost satchels are the way to go. For operation hours http://auspost.com.au/pol/app/locate In fact if you do want to be certain of getting certain supplies AussiePost is fairly good.
For the kitchen sink - I'm thinking of one of those 'camp showers' things - warms the water up in the sun, can be used for cleaning me (warmer than the creek), dishes and camp water storage.
Indeed there is. I walked into the pub wearing the chacoal and white Sardegna jersey pictured above, to the comment "You're not in Melbourne now". A fellow rider came in and asked for a capuccino.... producing a vaguely enraged look from the publican and the comment "This is a PUB !!"
Big Hat country!
I was asked if the motorcycle I was riding was an automatic once passing through there. I was asking about Limestone Rd being open after some fires.
I've had tea in a SA pub, it was a ruddy cold day. No problem with the tea there though he did have to go out the back, probably got the pie there too.
On the northern side of Limestone Rd .. you can find the start of the Murry River.. take a GPS.
Lygon St, Carlton, Benambra Hotel. Similar sort of atmosphere really.
The clientele all carry guns.
Not much to add here other than if you cross the Murray on the free Wymah ferry just above the Hume Weir you can avoid the traffic, that's over to the NSW side with it's dusty road. Then you can stay at the fabulous and free Jingellic campsite but, danger, be warned it's right behind the excellent Jingellic pub. There's a nice swimming hole in the Murray River and you can camp right next to it.
From Khancoban you can avoid the up and down and the narrowness of the Alpine Way, with all those suburban drivers gone feral, by turning off just after crossing the Khancoban River, before any major climb on the Alpine Way, and head up Power Station Road and Waterfall Farm Road so you can get onto the obscure 4WD track through to Geehi. The problem is that the track is unmarked and has a keep out sign on the gate but after about 1km push up a hill you get into the National Park and it's all good. It's actually part of the National Trail so you are allowed to use the track, just not supposed to in a 4WD.
I've got a few photos of the road/view on my blog.
Ha, it was strange to read what I wrote this time last year as I was riding through there:
Last edited by GJ_Coop on Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
But don't ride the road on the NSW side between Tintaldra and Khancoban. It has three loong steep hills - you know, the sort most car drivers would not notice but are gruelling on a bike. Looks easy in the photo, but most assuredly was not! We were wrongly advised by someone in Tintaldra that this was an easier road to avoid a hill near Toowong on the main road. But you can avoid that hill (and skip Corryong) by taking the Toowong Hill Rd as a short cut.
We rode the Geehi Fire Trail in 2004. The start of it looks like this. You'll find it on the left (behind that gate) about 2kms past the pipelines to the Murray 1 power station. It does get better after a kilometre or less. A feature along the trail is Major Clew's Hut. Overall a very nice trail with great views of the Main Range, and a thrilling descent of Geehi Walls.
I've just done a 7 day trip through this area - Junee to Bairnsdale via Cabramurra, Thredbo, Cowombat Track, Benambra, Swifts Creek. The thread about it: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=70409
And the route itself: http://bit.ly/1eBfuC5
All of the part after Thredbo was pretty rideable, although the Cowombat Track had lots of short sharp pinches - like pushing for 100m. Highly recommend the Cascades Trail. I spent quite a long time looking at various options between Thredbo and Omeo (eg, Daveys Plain, Tom Groggin Track, Barry Way + 9 Mile Pinch), and it looked like the best. All the others looked like they'd have a serious push in there somewhere.
We did Thredbo to Swifts Creek in 1.5 days: half a day down to Cowombat Flats, then the second day late lunch in Benambra, dinner in Omeo. A pretty strenuous schedule.
Or try the Deddick Trail in Snowy River NP. Start at McKillop's Bridge. Ride about 3-4km of dirt road, then push up a hill for 10km (gaining maybe 1000m vertical), then ride about 1km. Camp. Next day, ride 1km, snap a derailleur hanger, then coast all the way down.
Hi folks, just got back from our little trip away and wanted to drop by to say thanks to everyone for your advice on the route and everything else - it was an amazing trip! I think it fairly qualified as jumping in the deep end in terms of touring, as although we both cycle a lot we haven't toured much, and the alpine region is pretty full on, as everyone above quite sensibly pointed out. So just to give a bit of a run down...
First night we stayed on lake hume near wodonga - it's along the excellent Wodonga to Cudgewa High Country Rail Trail and is littered with amazing lakeside camping. Then along to corryong and khancoban. From Khancoban we should have taken GJ_Coop's advice to get on the 4WD track and avoid the climbs - it was mid-high 30s that day and the climbs were brutal. It was a rush to leave and I hadn't quite cottoned on to how much of a good option it was!!
Khancoban to Geehi is a whole lot of climbing, but Geehi is amazing and makes it all worthwhile. The river is beautiful, and there's an amazing hut that you can stay in - the march flies were enough to down an elephant all the way from khancoban-thredbo so the hut was nice respite. My partner ruined her new knicks by putting 80% deet mozzie repellant on as they were biting her through her shorts! The ride to thredbo is amazing, some of my favorite scenery, although a pretty incredible climb. We hadn't realized that from deadhorse gap you can ride across the tops over to the thredbo trails instead of taking the road down to thredbo village.
We rested in thredbo for a couple of days, did some walking and a spot of mountain biking, and stayed at ngarigo campsite, which is also really nice. We weren't feeling so confident about taking fully loaded bikes down cascade/ingegoodbee tracks, so opted for heading via jindabyne and along barry's way. The rumours are true: barry's way is biker heaven! Just after you enter the park from the north there's what must be a 10km downhill to cool sweaty riders. There are also campsites galore along there - but try and stay at Willis campsite (around the Vic/NSW border) as it's definitely the most picturesque.
From there to Suggan Buggan it was more intense heat and brutal climbing (which was a strong theme on the trip). At the intersection of limestone and snowy river road we started heading west to benambra, but just as we were pitching our tent a bit along limestone road we became engulfed in smoke and the sky darkened due to bushfires. We backtracked, spoke to some farmers who were unsure about the risks, and decided to spend the night nearby and reassess the following day. For those interested, there's an amazing 'recreational reserve' that we got directed to, about 8km south of the limestone/snowy river road, just passed wombargo accommodation. It has hot water showers, powerpoints, benches/tables, the works, real five star luxury for the weary traveller, highly recommended, all for a $5 donation.
Anyway, after that decided to head south instead of risking more bushfire danger. We have access to a beach house in Inverloch, so thought that would be a good place to more or less end the trip. After spending a night in Buchan seeing the caves (highly recommended!!), we hauled ass from Buchan to inverloch along the south gippsland highway in 3 days (over 330kms!). There are great rail trails along this route - the east gippsland rail trail runs from orbost to bairnsdale, and I can attest that the section we took from bruthen to bairnsdale is really nice and mercifully flat. Also, from somewhere before foster to fish creek there's another rail trail (great southern rail trail) that's also beautiful, and a much better option than the shoulder-less road.
After some beachtime at inverloch we rode to philip island, saw the penguin parade, spent the night and then took the ferry and train back to melbourne. For anyone wanting to wild camp at philip island, the area around the penguin parade is patrolled and they'll move you along - we camped at Elizabeth cove in Ventnor, which is prime wild camping territory. Also, bikes are welcome on the Cowes-Stony point ferrry.
A few novice reflections/advices after the trip...
- In summer be prepared for rivers that are otherwise flowing to be stagnant if the summer temperatures soar. We were carrying about 10L for two people and had water issues a couple of times. On the flip side, when water was available we just used iodine tablets and never boiled water and it worked out fine for us.
- There's free camping all along this way - both in national park campsites and in random other locations - we only paid for accommodation two nights out of the entire trip, and most of our camping was in legitimate campsites
- Its hard to avoid the heat!!! It was upwards of 35C for much of the trip, which combined with the climbing made for some overwhelmingly hot days. We were out by 6:30 most days but still had trouble getting where we were going without riding through the hottest times of the day. We found it psychologically difficult to sit around not riding for 3-4 hours during the day when it was really hot, as you kind of feel like keeping on moving and getting there. We hit the electrolyte drinks pretty hard, which helped a lot:)
- careful of possums!! At jacob's river along Barry's way we had a possum having a go at our food supply, so had to move it inside the tent. later in the night while trying to sleep, I saw a flashlight in the area. It's very remote there and I started getting a bit paranoid. It was closeby, but flashing around haphazardly, and I wondered who on earth would be there at midnight. Eventually it stopped just near our tent, on but not moving, and I heard a possum running away. I went out to find my bikelight nearby with possum bites in it! The little bugger had somehow detached it from my bike (which is not easy even for human hands), played with the switch, turned it on, freaked us out and then gotten bored. The moral of the story is that anything, no matter how inedible, is up for grabs if left out at night.
- Huts are the way to go. We only stayed in the one at Geehi, but would plan for more in future.
- research rail trails beforehand and make sure and use them - it's worth planning a trip around them.
- Don't bother with a map unless you're going offroad. We used the rooftop maps, but it was largely unnecessary as the maps from info places are usually sufficient, and have extra local information on them, plus tend to be smaller, simpler to read and you don't worry about destroying a $12 map. On the other hand, topographical information is important, and in future I'd learn about where the major climbs will be - we had a few surprises!!
I was going to post some pics, but am a bit of a noob to the whole forum thing and don't know how.
Anyway, thanks again to the good folk here for all the advice, and to anyone thinking of going through these areas I say do it! But get your climbing legs in shape beforehand:)
There's a saying around here; photos, or it didn't happen.
If I can do it, anyone can; http://www.bicycles.net.au/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=23303
I'd love to see some images, bikes, campsites, scenery, people, anything.
Sounds like a great trip. Congratulations, that really is jumping in the deep end. A bit of everything from mountains to beaches.
The possum episode makes for brilliant after ride story telling. Love it.
fair enough, i shouldn't shirk my duties here's a few choice photos from the trip
Camping at Huon Reserve at Hume Lake
Brutal climbing from Khancoban - it was about 37C that day with almost no shade.
our bikes and gear at snowy river hydro plant
Geehi - awesome hut we stayed in, highly recommended!
The morning at geehi - roos in the mist
fancy panorama shot near Tom Groggin
Riding along Barry's Way, near Willis campground
A very happy moment: finding the recreation reserve with hot showers and all after our bushfire scare.
Rail trail west of Inverloch
Thanks for a great write-up and reflections. Some comments, comparing your trip to ours just before Christmas (Junee to Bairnsdale via Thredbo, Benambra):
> In summer be prepared for rivers that are otherwise flowing to be stagnant if the summer temperatures soar. We were carrying about 10L for two people and had water issues a couple of times. On the flip side, when water was available we just used iodine tablets and never boiled water and it worked out fine for us.
We didn't run into this problem at all - I guess the difference between early and late summer. Although the weather was scorching, all rivers were flowing strongly, and had plenty of water in all the creeks through the Jagungal area in particular. A lifesaver!
> Its hard to avoid the heat!!! It was upwards of 35C for much of the trip, which combined with the climbing made for some overwhelmingly hot days. We were out by 6:30 most days but still had trouble getting where we were going without riding through the hottest times of the day. We found it psychologically difficult to sit around not riding for 3-4 hours during the day when it was really hot, as you kind of feel like keeping on moving and getting there. We hit the electrolyte drinks pretty hard, which helped a lot:)
We didn't quite manage to get up so early, but did sit out a couple of really hot periods, in Talbingo, Cabramurra and Thredbo. Probably a lot easier when you're in a town with aircon.
> careful of possums!! At jacob's river along Barry's way we had a possum having a go at our food supply, so had to move it inside the tent. later in the night while trying to sleep, I saw a flashlight in the area. It's very remote there and I started getting a bit paranoid. It was closeby, but flashing around haphazardly, and I wondered who on earth would be there at midnight. Eventually it stopped just near our tent, on but not moving, and I heard a possum running away. I went out to find my bikelight nearby with possum bites in it! The little bugger had somehow detached it from my bike (which is not easy even for human hands), played with the switch, turned it on, freaked us out and then gotten bored. The moral of the story is that anything, no matter how inedible, is up for grabs if left out at night.
Good to know. We're planning a trip down this way in April.
> Huts are the way to go. We only stayed in the one at Geehi, but would plan for more in future.
Yeah, huts are awesome. So many in Kosciu NP. Only problem with cycletouring is you tend to move too fast to get to stay at many. We stayed at Dershko's and Seaman's.
> - research rail trails beforehand and make sure and use them - it's worth planning a trip around them.
Check out http://railtrails.org.au or http://cycletour.org
> - Don't bother with a map unless you're going offroad. We used the rooftop maps, but it was largely unnecessary as the maps from info places are usually sufficient, and have extra local information on them, plus tend to be smaller, simpler to read and you don't worry about destroying a $12 map. On the other hand, topographical information is important, and in future I'd learn about where the major climbs will be - we had a few surprises!!
What I did on this trip was print out screenshots from cycletour.org on A3 paper, roughly 1 per day. It was so convenient being able to pull out a map from my shirtpocket, not worry about it being sweaty etc. Much more convenient than a commercial printed map.
I've had wallabies unzip a pannier to get to my bread .. entry to Wine Glass Bay, Tassie.
I've heard of dingoes taking shoes beside tents .. muching on them and then leaving them some distance away. Apparently took some hours of searching to find them. Maybe the smell appeals to them? Dead meat? Simpson Desert.
Wild animals are smart - they have to be to survive. The safest place for anything is inside the tent with you?
Huts tend to have resident animals. Don't encourage them by feeding them! The other thing about huts is that they are used for emergencies - if someone in danger needs to be sheltered by the hut then you need to be able to move out. So even if you plan on using a hut - take a tent.
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