The Cobungra Ditch
Before Hotham was the popular ski resort it is today, gold was what drove the first European settlers here in the 1860s, and now littered throughout the resort are remnants of a mining past. One of the most notable features that remains from that era is associated the with the Cobungra Diggings and is now the path of one of Hotham’s top bushwalking attractions.
An old water race
The Cobungra Ditch Walking Track follows the course of an abandoned water race that conveyed a stream of water for the hydraulic sluicing operations of the Cobungra Gold Mining Company. Commencing from the head of Swindler’s Creek and terminating at the Brandy Creek Mine towards Dinner Plain, the Ditch is retained for much of its 10.5km length by an impressive dry-stone wall.
Carving its way through Hotham’s lower ranges, the Cobungra Ditch offers bushwalkers a unique opportunity to experience significant natural and historic landscapes. The track is a 12.5km long and is accessible at both ends from the Great Alpine Road. The northern end of the walk is reached after a 1.4km descent along the Davenport Access Track while the southern end is entered via a short 500 metre trek along the Brandy Creek Fire Track.
What to expect
Overall, the track is well graded following the contour of the hill and includes some obstacles and short sections with steps before a gradual fall or climb (depending on your direction), heading towards or from the Brandy Creek Mine. Interpretive signs highlight some of the remarkable history of the Ditch as you make your way through areas of shady and sparsely open forest, damp gullies, and enjoy impressive waterfalls. In the New Year the Ditch is ablaze with a range of spectacular wild flowers and if you're lucky you'll encounter a grazing wombat or a foraging flame robin along the way.
About four hours should be allowed for a one-way walk along the Cobungra Ditch with some prior bushwalking experience recommended. A return circuit can be completed along the Hotham to Dinner Plain Trail that runs adjacent to the Great Alpine Road and will take your total journey to approximately 18km. You should carry food and water and with the potential for temperatures to drastically drop and for snowfall, also carry warm clothing, including a waterproof jacket and gloves.
Don't forget to download the Track Notes before you go!
About the Cobungra Ditch
- The water race was originally constructed in 1883-84 by the Cobungra Gold Mining Company
- Upwards of 120 men were employed by the Cobungra Gold Mining Company most on the ditch.
- The huge work force actually lived in a temporary workers camp known as the Cobungra Ditch Camp
- In November 1883 the company suddenly dismissed the workers on the ditch and in objection they banded together and held a protest march along the Alpine Road.