Bushwalking guide books

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Contents

Australia wide

Australian Alps Walking Track: Walhalla to Canberra.

John Siseman. Australian Alps Walking Track: Walhalla to Canberra. 3rd [actually 5th] ed. Pindari, 1998. 152 pages. $28.
Book Siseman AWT5.jpg

John Siseman has been publishing versions of this book since 1978 and this fifth edition is the third to include N.S.W. and the A.C.T. He has evolved a good clear format with a nice blend of track notes and background information in a well designed package. The route described mostly follows the official path of the track, but departs from it where the bureaucrats that designate the route have bypassed notable features such as The Cobberas and almost the entire Main Range of the Snowy Mountains! It should be noted that the official extension of the track beyond Victoria is partly attributable to interest aroused by earlier editions of this book.

While this is an excellent publication and an essential companion for anyone undertaking a long walk on the track, it's age has led to a few errors, especially between the Omeo Highway and The Cobberas where the track now barely exists in places. The track north of Baw Baw has been rerouted and much more information is needed for areas on either side of The Viking. The book is designed for a south to north walk and notes for those traveling southwards are not as helpful as they could be. A new edition is apparently in preparation, but there is no word as to the publication date.

It is worth noting that John and Lyn Daly of the “Take a walk…” franchise, are currently preparing a competing guide to the track. --© David Sisson 01:31, 2 July 2007 (EST)

Bushwalking in Australia.

John & Monica Chapman. Bushwalking in Australia. 4th edition. John Chapman, 2003. 320 pages. $40.
Book Chapman oz.jpg

The Chapmans wrote the first three editions of Bushwalking in Australia for Lonely Planet Publications. This publisher generally commissions authors to write books but retains the copyright. Following a disagreement where the Chapmans were unwilling to sign over the copyright to Lonely Planet, they went it alone and published a fourth edition themselves.

The book is considerably changed in format from the earlier editions and while it remains restricted to overnight pack carrying walks, different areas are covered. It now has a much less cramped design and is in full colour. Guide book authors must decide whether they cover a few walks in great detail or a larger number of walks with less information on each. The Chapmans have opted for the former approach.

As it covers the whole continent, the coverage of individual states is slightly limited, but the depth of information for each of the 25 walks in the book is impressive. In addition to gradient profiles, terrific photos and comprehensive track notes, each walk has charts depicting seasonal temperatures and rainfall. Example of the depth of information in the book are the 21 pages covering The Overland Track in Tasmania and the 32 pages are devoted to Victoria's fortnight long Great South West walk, with interesting detail on the places visited.

There are no obvious errors or inconsistencies in the coverage of Victorian walks, and the descriptions and terrific photos of interstate walks are a strong enticement to venture further afield. Although it is not cheap, this is a book that regular overnight walkers will really appreciate. --© David Sisson 15:11, 1 July 2007 (EST)

Walking in Australia.

Sandra Bardwell, et. al. Walking in Australia. 4th edition. Lonely Planet Publications, 2001. 480 pages. $33.00.
Book LP Aust.jpg

As described in the entry for Bushwalking in Australia, the first three editions of this book were written by John and Monica Chapman. After the Chapmans went their own way and produced their own new edition, Lonely Planet commissioned new authors to write their Australian walking guide. So now we have two different books, both claiming to be the fourth edition.

The Lonely Planet book retains the somewhat cramped, but jam-packed with information, format of its predecessors, but differs in the areas covered. The walks tend to be a lot easier than in the Chapmans’ new book. The Victorian section has notes for 8 overnight walks and 11 day walks. The walks are covered in adequate, but not comprehensive detail, and there aren’t many photos to give prospective walkers a feel for an area.

This is useful guidebook, especially for those venturing interstate, but it lacks the local detail to reccommend it to those not planning to travel and it is not quite up to the standard set by the Chapmans’ “4th edition”. --© David Sisson 01:31, 2 July 2007 (EST)

Tasmania

Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair and Walls of Jerusalem National Parks.

John and Monica Chapman, John Siseman. Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair and Walls of Jerusalem National Parks. 5th edition, John Chapman, 2006. 192 pages. $35.
Book Chapman Cradle 5.jpg

John and Monica Chapman have been producing guidebooks to the more remote parts of Tasmania since the late 1970’s. In addition to five editions of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair… written with John Siseman, John Chapman has also written and published four editions of South West Tasmania. More recently they have written a couple of excellent guides to Victorian day walks, a guide to Tasmanian day walks and a book covering a selection of the best extended walks in Australia.

The new edition of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair… is a stunning contrast to the rather basic and monochromatic book design of previous editions. Not only has the title been thoroughly revised and its coverage extended, but it now features colour on every page with gradient profiles, photos, good clear maps and diagrams of seasonal weather conditions. The book essentially covers the mountains north of the Lyell Highway. It includes the Overland Track and other routes between The Cradle and St Clair. In addition it covers the Penguin - Cradle Trail from the north coast, the Walls of Jerusalem area and alternative access routes, including a couple from the Central Plateau near Great Lake. The walk descriptions are clear, complete and unambiguous.

I’ve written some rather scathing reviews of guidebooks, but this is one book that is hard to fault. If pressed, I’d offer that it might have covered a little more of Tasmania’s Central Plateau and there could be a few more suggestions for campsites. --© David Sisson 17:07, 30 June 2007 (EST)

Overland Track.

Book Chapman Overland.jpg
John and Monica Chapman, John Siseman. Overland Track. John Chapman, 2006. 64 pages. $18.

The Overland Track is a cut down version of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair intended for those who only plan to walk the Overland Track without venturing further afield. It excludes walks beyond the Overland Track, Pine Valley and side trips. It also omits some interesting but peripheral information such as the natural history section. It is produced to the same impressive standard as the other title, but is half the price and less than half the weight.--© David Sisson 18:00, 30 June 2007 (EST)

South West Tasmania: a natural history and visitor’s guide.

Ken Collins. South West Tasmania: a natural history and visitor’s guide. Heritage Books, 1990. 368 pages. $40. (Out of print.)

This unique book is as much as an appreciation of the south west as a guide to it. It’s colour pages are absolutely packed with all a reader could want to know about the area. The book covers flora, fauna, geology (including some fascinating glacial maps) and walking track notes for many routes, although these are now a bit out of date. The only thing not included is history.

The book is well written, has an attractive format and is divided into logical sections. The only problem is it’s relatively small size, and a few to many photos of sweeping landscapes are reproduced at business card size.

The track notes are briefer than those found in John Chapman’s book and they are now a bit out of date. While a few unique walks are included, most of the routes are also included in more recent guidebooks. The rest of the book is timeless and the natural history section and the photographs continue to be relevant. Well worth tracking down at a second hand bookshop.--© David Sisson 15:11, 4 July 2007 (EST)

South West Tasmania: a guide book for bushwalkers.

John Chapman. South West Tasmania: a guide book for bushwalkers. 4th edition. John Chapman, 1998. 192 pages. $27.
Book Chapman SWTas4.jpg

This book covers the area between the Lyell Highway and the south coast. It includes descriptions of most of Tasmania’s famous epic tracked walks, with brief descriptions of some off track routes such as the Frankland Range and the West Coast thrown in to complete the picture. However there are no descriptions of “hero walks” like the Prince of Wales Range or Vanishing Falls. The text is clear and well written with useful supporting information on subjects like planning and natural history, as well as fairly detailed walk descriptions.

While the guide is entirely in black and white, it includes plenty of photos and the layout and book design is fairly user friendly. The only drawbacks are that coverage of off track walks is necessarily brief and the book is almost a decade old. However very little has changed in the South West except for a few rerouted tracks that are clearly signposted, so the book is still valuable and not as obsolete as a ten year old guide would be in more civilized areas. Updates are available on the author’s website. Chapman is currently preparing a fifth edition which may be out by the end of 2007. --© David Sisson 01:55, 2 July 2007 (EST)

120 walks in Tasmania.

Tyrone Thomas. 120 walks in Tasmania. 1st [actually 5th] edition. Michelle Anderson Publishing, 2001. 377 pages. $24.
Thomas Tas 5.jpg

Tyrone T. Thomas published four editions of 100 walks in Tasmania, before increasing the number to 120 for the fifth edition. While many of the walks described are very easy ‘family walks’, barely lasting a couple of hours, there are still a great number of interesting walks, and the selection of routes is very good. Despite the high number of walks covered, each walk description has sufficient detail for a moderately attentive navigator to complete without getting lost.

As with Thomas’s other guidebooks, the greatest drawbacks are the murky and difficult to interpret maps and the complete lack of book design. With the exception of a few pages of photos, it really is just a typed description of walks, black and white throughout, with no attention paid to how the pages look to a reader browsing for ideas. As such, it looks more like a product of 30 years ago than a modern guidebook. This was one of the last books Thomas wrote before his retirement, and while it has many good ideas for walks, it is getting a little out of date. --© David Sisson 18:05, 30 June 2007 (EST)

Day walks: Tasmania.

John and Monica Chapman. Day walks: Tasmania. John Chapman, 2003. 192 pages. $35.
Book Chapman Tasmania Daywalk.jpg

By contrast with Tyrone Thomas's book, John and Monica Chapman’s Day walks Tasmania is superbly designed with an easy to read format, plenty of photos, clear maps, gradient profiles and is printed in colour throughout. While it covers only 41 walks, those selected are among the best and include appealing day trips in all areas of the state, although a few of Tassie's most appealing and popular walks are not included including Bishop and Clerk on Maria Island. The walk descriptions are detailed and clear. Highly recommended--© David Sisson 21:21, 30 June 2007 (EST).

Family bushwalks in Tasmania’s Huon Valley

Nell Tyson and Annie Rushton. Family bushwalks in Tasmania’s Huon Valley. Driftwood Publishing, [1995]. 89 pages. $??.
Book Tyson Huon.jpg

Unlike some guidebooks with the word ‘family’ in the title, there is no doubt that this one is aimed squarely at the easier end of the market. It contains hints on how to handle small children in the bush and only a few more challenging hikes. All of the walks described are between 5 minutes and 3½ hours long. At times a reader may feel that the authors are ‘holding their hand’ through the walk descriptions, but to be fair, this has to be expected in a book of ‘family’ walks.

While it is entirely in black and white, the book design is very good, the pages are uncluttered and the book is easy to browse. The 24 walks are logically arranged by locality and most are accompanied by a basic map and a photo. Among the few trips that may appeal to more experienced walkers are descriptions of walks in the Hartz Mountains and an exploration of Mystery Creek Cave.

In summary, quite a good guide to short walks in the far south of the state, although it is rather out of date. --© David Sisson 13:20, 20 July 2007 (EST)

Peninsula Tracks.

Peter and Shirley Storey. Peninsula tracks: 35 walks in and around the Tasman National Park. 3rd edition. Tasmanian Conservation Trust, 2004. 100 pages. $20.
Book Storey Tasman.jpg

The book contains a good selection of walks of all grades around the Tasman and Forestier Peninsulas including all popular tracks and a few interesting, but less frequently used, routes. The text reads clearly, has estimated walk times and useful hints in a few areas where navigation may be ambiguous. The monotone book design is clear, albeit a little crowded, and there are 25 black and white photos grouped together in sections of plates rather than illustrating individual walk descriptions. Despite a few comments on park management practices, politics don’t intrude into the text.

However maps do not accompany the walk descriptions, instead they are in appendix of black and white photocopies of colour TasMaps. The 25 single page, hand annotated, murky 11 x 18 cm maps aren’t terribly helpful, and it would be more useful if users of the book had their own maps to refer to while reading the text.

Overall, a well written and useful book, but handicapped by the lack of photos and maps next to walk descriptions which makes browsing and selecting walks more difficult than other guidebooks. --© David Sisson 13:38, 18 July 2007 (EST)

50 family walks around Hobart.

Jan Hardy and Bert Elson. 50 family walks around Hobart. Hillside Publishing, 2003. 118 pages. $17.
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50 family walks around Launceston & northeast Tasmania.

Jan Hardy and Bert Elson. 50 family walks around Launceston & northeast Tasmania. Rev. ed. Hillside Publishing, 2006. 118 pages. $17.

Family walks in northwest Tasmania.

Jan Hardy and Bert Elson. Family walks in northwest Tasmania. Rev. ed. Hillside Publishing, 2003. 97 pages. $16.

More family walks around Hobart : a selection of 40 day walks suitable for all ages.

Jan Hardy and Bert Elson. More family walks around Hobart : a selection of 40 day walks suitable for all ages. Rev. ed. Hillside Publishing, 1997. 98 pages. $??.

Mount Wellington walks : a selection of day walks on the slopes of Mount Wellington and along the Wellington Range

Jan Hardy and Bert Elson. Mount Wellington walks : a selection of day walks on the slopes of Mount Wellington and along the Wellington Range. Rev. ed. Hillside Publishing, 2006. 104 pages. $17.

Despite being entirely in black and white, the Elson’s series of guides are pleasantly laid out with good clear maps, in most cases each walk description covers two facing pages. The walk descriptions are clear and moderately detailed. The only drawback is that the paucity of photos means it is not always possible to get a feeling for the nature of a walk - what it involves and what you will see. While the walks are mostly fairly tame, quite a few challenging walks are included, so don’t let the word “family” in the title of most of the books put you off.

Economically priced and continually revised, the books have sold well for almost 20 years. --© David Sisson 11:25, 6 July 2007 (EST)

New South Wales

Snowy Mountains

Best river & alpine walks around Mt Kosciusko

Matt McClelland. Best river & alpine walks around Mt Kosciusko. Woodslane Press, 2010. 250 pages, $30.
Book McClelland Kosci.jpg

Finally, a decent popular guidebook for day walks around the Main Range and the Rams Head Range. The book also has a walk at Geehi and a couple along the Khancoban - Cabramurra road. It is well designed and attractively laid out with descriptions of 41 walks... well not quite. Some of those 41 walks are extensions of walks described on the previous page and others are snowshoe walks with routes that would be awkward to replicate in summer. But that still leaves over two dozen distinct walks in the area for summer visitors.

The book is attractively designed with plenty of information on each walk giving a good impression of what the experience will be like. The notes are clear with plenty of detail as well as gradient profiles, a walk grade, distances and time estimates. The maps are easily read at a glance and attractively designed, but tend to be an artistic crescent or blob shape, only showing the immediate confines of the walk and often omitting nearby landmarks. Sometimes this approach makes it a little difficult to locate short walks in relation to the overall area, so this book can't really be used without a good map of the area such as those published by SutMap or Rooftop.

Of course no guide can cover every walk in an area and while this is a popular guide for day walks, it does include a few more challenging walks. But it's sad to see that the commonly used off track routes to Mt Townsend, North Rams Head, Club Lake, Hedley Tarn or the Chimneys are not covered. These omissions are compensated for by the inclusion of short walks at places like along the Perisher road which are overlooked by some guidebooks. Overall it is a very good guide for walkers with clear and detailed descriptions for most of the better day walks in the area. --© David Sisson 15:35, 2 March 2011 (EST)


Take a walk in Kosciuszko National Park

John & Lyn Daly. Take a walk in Kosciuszko National Park. Take a walk publications, 2010. 255 pages. $35.
Book Daly Kosci.jpg

There has been a need for a decent guidebook to the Snowy Mountains for many years. The old Geehi Club guidebook is now rather elderly and it has never been the easiest book to find walks in, so a new guidebook is welcome. The Daly's have improved their standards since the publication of their Victorian guide (see review elsewhere on this page). The book design is still a bit amateurish and distinctively theirs, but it has been finessed so it no longer looks like a school essay shrunken to fit on an A5 page. It now features large photos, text boxes for side trips and stories which add background colour, and generally more information. While still fairly basic, the maps have been improved too. Overall it is a much more pleasant book to both browse and read. Most guidebooks have a few minor errors and this is no exception.

But what of the walk descriptions? Covering such a big area in detail would mean either a huge book or overly brief notes on each walk. The authors seem to have abandoned the quantity over quality approach evident in their Victorian guide and 51 walks are described in reasonable detail, averaging a couple of pages each. All but seven of the walks are day walks. Each walk description has a a difficulty rating, a distance, a time estimate and is accompanied by a gradient profile and a basic but easily read map. The walk notes tend to be a little briefer than most, but are quite adequate for the majority of walkers. Most of the better day walks in the area are covered, including a few interesting off track walks. The walks are fairly standard and there are no descriptions of interesting walks in remote and rarely visited areas, but this book aims to be a popular guide rather than a guide to difficult walks in out of the way places. The author's strict adherence to park boundaries is less important here as, unlike much of Victoria, the great majority of the appealing and popular walks in the area are inside parks. In addition to the usual table of contents, the book also includes a useful index to walks at the back.

Notes for the entire length of the Australian Alps Walking Track are a welcome bonus and occupy the last 100 pages of the book. While this section is relatively brief for a 670 km route and is not as detailed as the terrific book by Chapman and Siseman published in 2008, the Daly's give a good overview of the full walk. The description sticks to the bureaucratic definition of the route, but it does include information on side trips and alternative routes that are followed by most people who walk the full length of the track. --© David Sisson 15:35, 2 March 2011 (EST)

Victoria

General walking guides

Day walks around Melbourne.

Glenn Tempest. Daywalks around Melbourne: exploring 100 of Melbourne’s best daywalks. Second edition. Open Spaces Publishing, 2005. 240 pages. $35.
Book Tempest Melb day 2.jpg

The first edition of this guide revolutionised walking guidebooks in Victoria by introducing attractive book design and colour througout the book. These apparently cosmetic changes made browsing and walk planning a much more pleasant experience. The second edition of Glenn Tempest’s Daywalks improves on the impressive standard of the first edition by making contours a little clearer on the maps and adding 20 extra walks. The great majority of walks are well thought out circuits and the book includes a number of routes that have not been described in recent guides.

Together with John Chapman’s recent Victorian guidebooks, Tempest’s publications offer an excellent selection of walks, accurately described and in an attractive colour format. Perhaps the main difference between the two authors is that Tempest covers more walks, but in slightly less detail and with less photos. While there are a few longer and more challenging walks, those in Tempest’s book tend to be shorter and more ‘family’ oriented than in Chapman’s books. Most walks in this book are timed at three hours or less. In this respect Daywalks around Melbourne is a successor to Tyrone Thomas’ 120 walks in Victoria, although with infinitely better book design and highly legible maps.

Highly recommended for those who prefer shorter walks. --© David Sisson 23:42, 30 June 2007 (EST)

Weekend walks around Melbourne.

Book Tempest weekend Vic.jpg
Glenn Tempest. Weekend walks around Melbourne. Open Spaces Publishing, 2003. 160 pages. $32.

Glenn Tempest is relatively new to writing walking guidebooks, although in the past he has been a regular contributor of walking notes to outdoor magazines and has written a number of rock climbing guides.

This guidebook is one of the best published covering Victoria. It is well designed in full colour, the maps are informative and fairly clear and the routes are well chosen and clearly described, although the coverage of some is a little brief. Weekend walks has reasonably detailed descriptions of 17 walks, lasting from two to four days. It ranges a little further afield than the day walks volume, with the coverage extending to places like The Prom, Cape Otway and Castlemaine. --© David Sisson 11:33, 1 July 2007 (EST)

Day walks: Victoria.

John and Monica Chapman, John Siseman. Day walks: Victoria. John Chapman, 2001. 192 pages. $33.
Book Chapman Vic.jpg

Along with Glenn Tempest’s books, this guide raised the standard of Victorian walking guidebooks immeasurably. The Chapman’s have been writing walking guides to western Tasmania for many years and also wrote a weekly newspaper column covering Victorian day walks. John Siseman has written a number of guides to the Victorian high country and has also collaborated with John Chapman on Tasmanian guides.

This full colour book is produced to a very high standard. It has an excellent selection of 50 walks in many parts of Victoria and they are covered in a little more detail than those in Glenn Tempest’s Day walks around Melbourne. The walk descriptions are clear and comprehensive, the maps are detailed but uncluttered and for those apprehensive about hills, there are even gradient profiles. John Chapman’s website provides details of changed conditions on a few of the walks. Overall this is an excellent guidebook. In 2005 the authors published a complementary volume Day walks: Melbourne concentrating on walks near Melbourne. While this guide is getting a little dated, it is still a valuable resource covering a useful selection of day walks across the state.--© David Sisson 11:18, 1 July 2007 (EST)

Day walks: Melbourne.

John & Monica Chapman, John Siseman. Day walks: Melbourne. John Chapman, 2005. 192 pages. $35.
Book Chapman Day Melb.jpg

This attractively designed book describes 41 walks in detail with clear walking notes, comprehensive maps, gradient profiles and interesting photos. It complements Day walks: Victoria by the same authors, published in 2001.

As with the previous book, the selection of walks is hard to fault. In addition to familiar locations such as the You Yangs, Kinglake and the Cathedral Range, there are six walks through bushland in the suburbs and a few walks not described recently such as the Lal Lal Forest near Ballan and Archer’s Hill (west of Dom Dom Saddle). A few obvious locations such as Werribee Gorge, Cape Schank and Mt Worth are not included because they are covered in the earlier book Day walks: Victoria.

Although there are a few challenging walks, it would be fair to say that the majority of routes described are not terribly intrepid and that this book is best suited to those who enjoy walks graded medium or easier. Highly recommended for those who prefer this type of walk.--© David Sisson 00:32, 1 July 2007 (EST)

150 Walks in Victoria

Tyrone Thomas and Andrew Close. 150 walks in Victoria. [8th ed.] Explore Australia Publishing, n.d. 427 pages. $35
Book Thomas Vic 8th.jpg

This new edition of a guidebook that was first published in 1975 is veteran author Tyrone Thomas's response to the new generation of well designed guidebooks from authors such as Glenn Tempest and John Chapman. It retains much of his old format, but adds colour, better book design, photos, a table with information for each walk and slightly clearer maps. As such it is much easier to browse and read but the walk descriptions remain large slabs of unbroken text.

The book covers 136 day walks and 14 extended walks in all parts of the state. What distinguishes this book is the huge number of day walks covered, (many of them a long way from Melbourne) and Thomas's intimate knowledge of them. This makes the book a useful purchase for those looking for an accurate guide covering less well known day walks in all corners of Victoria.

120 walks in Victoria.

Book Thomas 120Vic.jpg
Tyrone T. Thomas. 120 walks in Victoria. 7th ed. Michelle Anderson Publishing, 2000. 457 pages. $?

Tyrone Thomas produced seven editions of this book over 25 years. In each edition he varied the walks and refined the format. The selection of walks covered has always been good, earlier editions featured quite a few challenging walks, but by the 1990’s, the book featured more shorter ‘family walks’. By the final edition, the walk descriptions had evolved to a fairly user friendly format, but one thing Thomas never managed to get quite right was book design, later editions were less cluttered, but the maps, in particular, were never comfortable to read.

By now, even the seventh edition is getting a little dated, so the walk descriptions can’t be completely relied on. But Thomas’ books remain a wonderful source of ideas for hikes, throughout Australia. --© David Sisson 14:32, 5 July 2007 (EST)

Some of the maps are very confusing, particularly those of the walks around the dandenongs. The small size of the book and the desire to have small scale maps means that sometimes it's impossible to tell which walk is which, and where they go.

Take a walk: in Victoria’s national parks.

John & Lyn Daly. Take a walk: in Victoria’s national parks. Take a Walk Publications, 2005. 367 pages. $30.
Book Daly Vic.jpg

This book covers a phenomenal 205 day walks and 17 overnight walks. The authors have written a number of successful walking guides to Queensland and northern N.S.W., so I had hoped for a book that was comprehensive, well written and offered a fresh perspective compared to the work of Victorian authors.

Sadly, being from interstate, the authors simply don’t know enough about Victoria to write a really good walking guide. For a start they restrict themselves to ‘national’ parks. This means that walks on almost all other Crown land, including most state parks and state forests are omitted. While this may be a reasonable approach in Queensland, in Victoria it makes no sense and excludes half of the best walks in the state. Thus there is no mention of the Cathedral Range, Mt Cole - Mt Buangor, Werribee Gorge, the whole area between Daylesford and Macedon, much of the High Country and most of the Otways. Conversely, several relatively dull locations are included, presumably because they are in National Parks rather than State Forest. The result is a book covering an arbitrarily designated selection of places to walk in Victoria.

However the book does include some walks in the Mallee, Little Desert and Northern Country, all areas that have been neglected in recent guidebooks. There is also a useful selection of walks in East Gippsland (national parks only of course), so those intending to walk in these parts of the state should consider it.

Despite its very limited coverage, I tried hard to like this book. However the inclusion of a lot of rather average walks, brief and occasionally ambiguous walk notes, very poor maps and a cramped book design that could best be described as ‘typed’, make it hard to be keen on. Put simply, the book has too many flaws for it to be recommended to a Melbourne day walker. It was fairly brave for the Daly’s to enter the Victorian market, but Take a walk… is sadly lacking in comparison to its competitors and has relatively little to recommend it.--© David Sisson 00:34, 1 July 2007 (EST)

Victorian High Country guidebooks

Victoria’s Alpine National Park: a bushwalker’s guide.

John Siseman. Victoria’s Alpine National Park: a bushwalker’s guide. MacStyle Media, 1997. 180 pages. $20.
Book Siseman AlpNP.jpg

Despite it’s age and changes in conditions that have occurred in the last decade, this book remains by far the most useful guide for walkers in the area. Essentially it is a revised and updated edition of the author’s previous books Bogong National Park and Wonnangatta - Moroka N.P., with a few extra walks around The Cobberas which were beyond the scope of the earlier books.

Unlike its predecessors, this book does not aim to cover all tracks in the area, but most of popular routes are included. While the information was fairly up to date on publication, the constantly evolving nature of the high country; roads, tracks, huts and of course fires, has led to a few minor inaccuracies. There are a few minor errors of fact (Victoria Falls was not Victoria’s hydro scheme, it was preceded by at least six others dating back to 1889.), but there are no errors in the walk notes that would affect navigation.

A useful appendix contains a table of some of the more commonly ‘bagged’ peaks and an interesting, but incomplete, list of huts that existed at the time of publication.

Bushwalks in the Victorian Alps.

Glenn van der Knijff. Bushwalks in the Victorian Alps: exploring the High Country. Open Spaces Publishing, 2004. 192 pages. $33.
Book GVDK vic alps.jpg

As older guides become increasingly out of date, there has been an increasing need for a well designed modern guidebook to the high country with clear maps and gradient profiles. Bushwalks in the Victorian Alps concentrates on the two best walking areas in the mountains, the Bogong - Hotham and Buller - Howitt - Wellington regions with a few walks on the Buffalo and Baw Baw Plateaux and a walk on Mt Torbreck, but sadly the book is a bit of a disappointment.

The choice of destinations is excellent, with all the best spots covered, but the principal failing of the book is route selection. An awful lot of the routes described go to the destination and return the same way, when there are good alternative return routes. Even where the author describes a circuit, his choices are sometimes questionable. An example is the recommendation to walk the unpleasant switchback road between King River Hut and Cobbler, instead of the easier and more enjoyable Muesli Spur track.

The second problem is the number of factual errors and questionable judgements. A few examples for the case of Mt Feathertop: van der Knijff describes the huge $200,000 Federation Hut double decker dunny as ‘small’, rates the notorious trackless route on Champion Spur as ‘moderate’, and confuses the old Feathertop Hut with its former neighbour the Feathertop Bungalow. There are at least a dozen similar errors elsewhere in the book. In many cases these errors make an informed reader question whether the author has recently visited or even read about the areas he describes.

However a number of interesting walks are described that have not been covered in any guidebook published in the last 30 years, notably a route from Moroka Gorge direct to Snowy Bluff. But excellent book design and a few interesting new routes don’t make up for the book's many failings, so John Siseman’s Victoria’s Alpine National Park: a bushwalkers guide, (1997) remains the best walking guide for the area, despite its age. --© David Sisson 22:29, 1 July 2007 (EST)

Huts in the Victorian Alps.

Book Hueneke vichuts.jpg
Klaus Hueneke. Huts in the Victorian Alps. Tabletop Press, 2003. 256 pages. $40.

After writing half a dozen books on the Snowy Mountains and their people, as well as publishing a number of other books on the area, it was inevitable that Klaus Hueneke's gaze would be drawn south of the border.

This is the first book that attempts to cover the huts of all of the Victorian high country and while a few notable huts are omitted, Hueneke has produced a well written, well researched book. He writes in a pleasant anecdotal style and avoids the dryness of a more academic approach or the haphazardness, errors and inconsistencies of many self published books. Huts in the Victorian Alps is an excellent and entertaining background to the history of the huts of the high country.--© David Sisson 02:09, 2 July 2007 (EST)

Discovering Mt Buffalo.

Phillip Ingamells. Discovering Mt Buffalo. Victorian National Parks Association, 2001. 80 pages. $??.
Book Ingam Buffalo.jpg

This is a useful little guide to Mt Buffalo. The title is something of a misnomer, as it is essentially a walking guide with only a little on natural history and skiing and nothing on climbing. Despite the lack of an index, it is well laid out with informative text and an unusual style of map which is mostly suited to Buffalo’s escarpments, woodlands and snowplains, although rocky outcrops are not shown clearly. The book is relatively unburdened by the heavy handed political agendas that mar this authors book on Wilson's Promontory.

This book fills an important niche for a lightweight walking guidebook to Buffalo that has been left vacant since John and Sue Brownlie’s excellent 1979 guide to Buffalo went out of print.--© David Sisson 02:09, 2 July 2007 (EST)

70 walks in Victoria’s Bright and Falls Creek districts.

Tyrone T. Thomas. 70 walks in Victoria’s Bright and Falls Creek districts. Hill of Content, 1996. 183 pages. $??.
Book Thomas Bright.jpg

This book offers an even number of lowland walks (in the Ovens and Kiewa valleys) and mountain walks spread between Beechworth and the Barry Ranges. The guide follows Thomas’ familiar style with informative commentary and directions but it is burdened with poor design and unattractive maps. Another failing is that unlike other guides, headings for walks only have names and the full text of an entry must be read to discover the precise route of a walk.

The guide is accurate and well written and provides a useful resource for planning short walks in the area. It concentrates on walks near towns and roads with only a few extended or remote trips. Most walks follow familiar routes and there are only a few ideas for non standard walks. While it is still on sale, this book is showing its age and users should be aware that conditions have changed on most of the walks described. --© David Sisson 17:34, 2 July 2007 (EST)

Grampians guidebooks

80 walks in the Grampians.

Tyrone Thomas. 80 walks in the Grampians. New [6th] edition. Michelle Anderson Publishing, 2003. 257 pages. $20.
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In his latest Grampians guidebook, Tyrone T. Thomas has expanded the number of walks covered from 50 to 80. Many of these new walks fall into the ‘family walk’ category, often quite short strolls from a car park. Over six editions Thomas has refined his notes and they are clear, concise and describe a comprehensive selection of routes. However Thomas’s favourite walk on Hollow Mountain has been omitted as it followed a route that the authorities took exception to. This resulted in them refusing to sell the 5th edition in P.V. shops.

The problem with Thomas’s books has always been the maps. If you are prepared to concentrate, there is a wealth of information in them, but they tended to be cluttered and difficult to read. Perhaps I’m just getting used to them, but there appears to be a slight improvement in this book, particularly on those covering shorter walks.

Discovering Grampians-Gariwerd.

Alistair and Bruce Paton. Discovering Grampians-Gariwerd. Victorian National

Parks Association, 2004. 112 pages. $20.
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The selection of 45 day walks includes most of the old favourites and they are covered in adequate but not comprehensive detail. The book has only three overnight walks: The Major Mitchell Plateau, Mt Difficult - Briggs Bluff and a walk to The Fortress on the Victoria Range returning the same way. Like the day walks, they are covered in adequate detail, but there is nothing new here.

The maps are rather the opposite of those in the Tyrone Thomas book, there is too little information rather than too much. Only creeks, roads and tracks are included and without any contours, shading or even cliff lines shown, it is very difficult to get a feeling for the lie of the land from them. The book is also handicapped by the lack of an index.

The thing to remember when reading any book produced by the V.N.P.A. is that the publisher is a political lobby group. Previous V.N.P.A. books, such as the Prom guide, have been burdened by political point scoring, but apart from a brief, but rather revisionist history section, this book isn’t too bad. The only significant point is that the traditional name for a feature is almost always prefixed by an Aboriginal name, which is a little cumbersome. However in a few cases the traditional name for a well known location is omitted altogether. This renders descriptions of a few walks nearly incomprehensible to those familiar with the area and it may have been better to include the more familiar names in brackets.

The Grampians walks: a selection of walks throughout the Grampians.

Garry Van Dijk. The Grampians walks: a selection of walks throughout the Grampians. [3rd edition] Garry Van Dijk, 2003. 68 pages.

This interesting self published book is well worth having a look at, but it is rather hard to find in shops. However the first edition, published in 2000, can be downloaded from this site It covers 31 day walks, concentrated on the area around Halls Gap but extending north to Mt Zero, south to Mt Sturgeon and west to Mt Difficult. There are no descriptions of locations in the far west such as the Victoria Range and Asses Ears.

The notes are clear and fairly detailed with few ambiguities. All the popular areas are covered plus a few of the author’s favourites. Walk times vary between one hour and ten hours and some of the longer ‘day’ walks such as the Mount Difficult Range and the Major Mitchell Plateau might be better classified as overnight walks. The maps are clear, easy to understand and show vital features such as landmarks, creeks and cliff lines. They are about as informative as is possible without showing contour lines or using colour printing. Summed up, a very impressive effort, especially for a self published book.

Summary of Grampians walking guides

While Garry Van Dijk’s book is quite good, it has only limited coverage and is very hard to obtain. Essentially the Paton’s book doesn’t offer anything that Thomas’s book lacks and as the Paton’s book has much less information I would tend to favour the Thomas book. Whichever one you use, be sure to take some decent maps with you.--© David Sisson 00:06, 1 July 2007 (EST)

Other regional guides

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Glenn Tempest. Melbourne's western gorges: a walkers guide to the Brisbane Ranges, Werribee and Lerderderg Gorges. Open Spaces, 2011. 89 pages. $20

A useful guide covering 20 walks in the hills to the west of Melbourne. The book is clear and well designed, the maps are easily readable and the routes are well chosen. However the book is rather thin and is not a regional guide; it only covers the three areas in the subtitle. Therefore it and omits other popular walking areas nearby such as the Long Forest, Enfield Forest, The You Yangs, etc.

The walks of the Mornington Peninsula.

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Ken Martin. The walks of the Mornington Peninsula. Third edition. Seadrift Publishing, 2004. 40 pages. $13.

The walks of volcano country.

Ken Martin. The walks of the volcano country. Second edition. Seadrift Publishing, 2005. 32 pages. $12.

Book Martin Volcano.jpg


Ken Martin’s books are very much a personal production. In Walks of the Mornington Peninsula, he describes 40 well chosen walks and in Volcano Country, 27 inland walks in the Western District. The booklets are without design and each walk is on a closely typed A5 page. The walk descriptions are well written and informative, with distances and estimated times, but the routes are hard to trace without maps - which have been a standard feature of other walking guide books for 30 years. The lack of photos also handicaps the walk descriptions, as there is no better way to get a real feeling for a walk than to see parts of it.

In summary; these are well written amateur guides with a good selection of walks, but handicapped by their lack of design, maps or photos.--© David Sisson 21:28, 30 June 2007 (EST)