Baw Baw Plateau
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Baw Baw Plateau is gentle, undulating country, so offers less for the backcountry skier wanting big slopes compared with the other major areas covered in this section. However, it does provide a sense of remoteness and some great off track skiing and a few good downhill sections. It is also relatively close to both Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley and most people ski out from either the alpine village or St Gwinear carpark, meaning there is no walk in.
- Backcountry Run Rating
- RATING: Approach Steepness
Access and Trip
There are two main approaches:
from the south or west – to the Alpine Village (if driving from Melbourne you can take either the Princess Highway and then head north to Noojee or head through the eastern suburbs to Lilydale, Launching Place, Powelltown and Noojee). Beyond Tanjil Bren the road is narrow, winding and rough in places as it climbs to the village.
From the south/ Latrobe Valley – to the Mt St Gwinear carpark on the eastern side of the plateau. There are few facilities on this side, compared with the cafes, ski hire, etc in the village
For the more hardy (or stingey?) there are some other options which generally require some extra effort:
- from the southern side up to the Mount Erica carpark, if the road is open (if not continue on to St Gwinear). This may require a walk in, but it passes by the very atmospheric Mushroom Rocks
- From the Thompson Valley road, then by foot/ ski up to Rocky Knob. This can be quite slippery, so make sure you carry chains, and the road is not patrolled in the winter months. It can be quite a walk up the mountain if snow conditions are poor.
The cross country trail network is fairly straight forward, with groomed circuits around the alpine village getting most traffic, and also around St Gwinear. Once you are off these trails and the Baw Baw to St Gwinear route there will be a lot fewer people and better navigation skills are required. A ski to the northern end of the plateau puts you into remoter country.
There are some nice runs from the St Phillack saddle area into Mustering Flat.
The southern end of the plateau also feels nice and remote. There is a good (mostly) downhill run through the trees and along the ridge from Mt St Phillack past the St Gwinear turnoff to Mt Erica. This is a great night time ski if you have a full moon, you get the glow, on a clear night, from the Latrobe Valley and a good, fairly wide trail to ski on. From Mt Erica, if you're lucky enough to be there in a good winter, think about continuing on to the Erica/ Mushroom rocks - it can be a great run down from Mt Erica (its a fair bit lower so not always skiable). If you're up for something different to tent camping there is a nice bivvy cave (a giant overhang) amongst the rocks, its reasonably easy to find (has an obvious line of silica on the roof to stop water drips). Its good for about 3 people with bivvy bags.
Like all alpine areas, weather can deteriorate quickly, so make sure you have all the right gear. The plateau is mostly forested and navigation can be hard once you are away from the main pole routes. If lost, stay where you are and DO NOT descend unless you know exactly where you are. You will end in steep country with thick vegetation - never fun and often dangerous in winter conditions.
Mobile Phone Coverage
It drops off quickly after you leave the village area on the Baw Baw side, although you can often get coverage from the hill tops. It definitely fades off on the north side of the plateau.