Last weekend I walked to the summit of Mt Duval (cue applause). “Summiting” a mountain sounds like a grand, epic adventure. Walking to the top of Mt Duval was a pleasant day walk. A few sections challenged my lungs a little, but all in all, it was an easy, gradual climb through open eucalypt forest, stands of grass trees and interesting tors.
Australian mountains, in comparison to those you might find in Europe, Asia, or North America are just hills*… really…
The summit of Mt Duval is an un-lofty 1400 m and given you are already 980 m above sea level when you park your car, the rise is only 420 m. By contrast, Everest is 8,849m, and Mt Kosciusko is a quarter of that at a mere 2,228m; albeit it being our highest peak.
Calling any peak in Australia a “mountain” and any walk to the top a “summit walk” is perhaps an overstatement. Geologically speaking, Australia is boring. That’s a hard thing for a geo-nerd like me to say – but nothing new is happening in them-there-hills! (or plains)
Australia is an old, old continent, and all the poky-up bits have been worn away by millions of years of erosion. We are smack-bang in the middle of a tectonic plate, so no convergence boundaries happening anywhere near here! No subduction! No hot spots! No (live or dormant) volcanoes.
Nada! Nil! Nothing! The occasional intra-boundary shake, but otherwise all pretty calm around here!
Nonetheless, the view from the top of Mt Duval was lovely, and my walking companions great company! What more can you need?
How to get to the Mt Duval trail.
If you visit Armidale, this could be something you can easily add to your itinerary. The start of the track is about 11 km out of Armidale, off Newholme Road. Head north out of Armidale on the New England Highway towards Glen Innes and turn left soon after the kennels.
The trail starts about 50 metres after the big solar-powered gate. (Remember – if you open a gate, you close the gate!) There is a sign pointing to the right. The land is managed by the University of New England. You can find the route on most bushwalking/hiking apps, like Alltrails.
You can ignore the sign and just walk up the hill, but the marked track is easier. If you go by the track, there are gates, otherwise, you have to jump fences. Either way, you’ll get to the top in a couple of hours and the good thing about the way home? It’s always downhill!
Armidale Bushwalking Club
This was my first walk with the Armidale Bushwalkers Club. They offer local guided walks nearly every weekend. You can find them online. (their site was down when I published this) They made me feel right at home and welcomed me heartily. Allow about 4 – 5 hours for the walk. That way, you can have a leisurely lunch at the top as well as morning tea. We’re not looking to break speed records here!
*And here I digress to one of Hugh Grant’s Movies: The Englishmen who went up a hill but came down a mountain. Back in the olden days in the UK, a mountain had to be over 1000 ft. I watched it during my (unofficial) Hugh Grant Film Festival during the first COVID lockdown.