Distance: 20km (approx)
Duration: 6 1/2 hours
Type: Point to point. (Car drop-off recommended)
Start: Mt William Carpark
End: Jimmy Creek Campground
Closest Town: Halls Gap – 23km
Distance from Melbourne: 275km (3 1/2 hour drive)
Location: Grampians National Park
Summary: Described as a “classic mountain walk”, the Major Mitchell Hike takes you through exposed sub-alpine conditions along the plateau. The hike links the two highest summits in the Grampians, with Mt William and Durd-Durd sharing the same elevation of 1167m.
The Major Mitchell Plateau is a recommended 3-day / 2-night hike through the Grampians. Starting and finishing at Sheep Hills Carpark (approx 40km in total).
It was a last-minute decision for Tom & me to hike the Major Mitchell Plateau. With the long weekend approaching, and the kids off with family we decided to take the opportunity to hike from Mt William to Jimmy Creek Campground.
While not doing the full circuit or camping overnight, we packed out daypacks and left a car at the Jimmy Creek campground.
With the other car, we drove to the car park of Mt William. With a winding foggy road, we broke through the clouds, to be met with the most spectacular view of the valley below us.
Yes, it was going to be a spectacular day. What a magic day for a hike!
The first 1.8km of our hike are on a bitumen road, but at a grade of anywhere from 14-18% it was a slog, and all at the beginning too.
Yet it’s safe to say that the view at the top makes it all worthwhile.
See just magic!
Now the real hiking begins.
What goes up must come down.
We were now on our way to Boundary Gap.
Tom mentioned, “don’t hate me”. At first, I wasn’t sure what he meant, but then I understood.
The track down to Boundary Gap is rocky, soft, and steep.
While we were coming down the mountain, Tom & I were discussing electric and hydrogen cars. It was then we encountered our first hiker on the track for the day (going the opposite direction).
He was having a rest while waiting for his partner. He was able to answer the question we had (about hydrogen cars). We had time to spare so we were on for a chat. We talked about energy-efficient housing and other environmental stuff. We were there for a good 15 minutes, that’s how far behind his partner was.
Down in Boundary Gap, there is a small area for camping, but the preferred camping stop is First Wannon.
To get to First Wannon however you have to go back up.
It may only be another 300 or so metres until you reach the start of the plateau, but it’s steep, it’s rocky, it’s a scramble, and it’s basically a 100m vertical climb.
I could only imagine how long it would have taken with an overnight hiker pack. Respect to those that have done it with one of those on your back.
Once on the plateau, it was a gentle climb through sub-alpine scrub to First Wannon campground.
We stopped here for a snack and to apply sunscreen.
As we arrived we met a family with 2 young kids doing the 3-day hike. The mum and dad were both wearing huge backpacks. They had a goal to get to Jimmy Creek, there is no doubt in my mind they made it. We took a family photo for them up on the Plateau. Something they have to remember about their adventure.
There is a Geocache up on the plateau, but we totally forgot because we were enjoying our adventure too much.
We were only 1km away from the cache. But that would mean an extra 2km on top. It’s always going to be there, we come back and do it another time.
There are sections of the walk that have this mesh walkway, it’s cruisey to walk on, and helps the track to rehabilitate where it has eroded away.
It is recommended to walk the plateau during the cooler months. This is for a number of reasons:
- Fire risk, no exit points
- No shade
- Limited water
I carried 2l in my hydration bladder (I don’t have anything bigger), and Tom carried 3l. I ended up running out with about 5km left to hike. At least next time I know that I need a minimum of 3.
We had the intention of stopping for lunch at Durd-Durd, but we were making good time, so we decided to continue on, and have lunch at Stockyard Saddle instead.
Of course, I had to add my bit of height to the cairn. If you look in the background, the east side of the Grampians was still shrouded in clouds. You can just make out the peaks of Mt Abrupt & Signal Peak too.
With lunch replenishing our energy we continued to trek on.
The previous day, a few of my running friends ran from Sheephills car park, to Jimmy Creek Campground & back. Somewhat of 50km plus with over 2,000m of elevation. It took them about 12ish hours. I seriously have no idea how they ran some of those sections.
That being said, there was a section of the track coming down to Stockyard Saddle Hiker camp, where I decided to run it and have some sort of control on the track than walk it and not have any.
Not long after I picked up a stick to walk with.
At the hiker campsite, we met up with a couple breaking for lunch, and a solo female walker about to embark on her last leg, down to Jimmy Creek.
We walked with her for a while. She told us that she loves hiking, but none of her friends do. She figured if she wants to do it, she should just do it. Good on her for getting out there, doing it solo but most importantly having a crack at it, and having fun.
If we wait around for the right opportunity, the right opportunity may never come.
With my trusty stick, we reached Jimmy Creek.
Stick has been left at the start of the track, for the next would-be adventurer.
It took us a respectable 6h 41m hike on the Major Mitchell Plateau. Not bad I say.
So glad we did it and ticked it off the Grampians Bushwalking list.
Check out our other hikes, walks and trail runs in the Grampians/Gariwerd here.