Two days on the Razorback

The Victorian Alpine country is beautiful, and is recovering from the gigantic fire of 2013, and smaller fires of the last few years. Below the treeline, the fire-ravaged Snowgums are beginning to sprout again, with white, weathered branches standing over round bushes of juvenile growth.

Above the treeline, flowers were everywhere - Dandelions waving in the breeze, but also natives - a range of everlastings and the fascinating trigger plants, which breed by whacking bees on their backs with their pollen-laden hammers.

Between Diamantina Hut on Mount Hotham and Federation Hut at the base of Mount Feathertop runs a high crooked ridge called the Razorback. Below and to the east, the Diamantina River flows into the Kiewa River. Below and to the west, a maze of creeks arrange themselves into the upper reaches of the Ovens river.

In some parts, the ridge is literally two metres across. The track perches precariously on top reminding hikers to stay alert for wind gusts. In sheltered areas, the sounds of nothing but insects buzzing can quieten the most anxiety-ridden mind.

Seeking the vision splendid, Emma and I hiked the Razorback in January, at a time when the weather was perfect - not so hot as to be dangerous from fires, and not so cold as to be dangerous from blizzard. It was an easy hike, with only one night at the Federation hut site and a quick side trip to the Feathertop Summit, but I still decided not to take a binocular. It was a decision I came to regret, having seen the birdlife and views.

Below the treeline, Flame Robins were common, but it was only the males we saw singing from dead branches that stuck out from burned Snowgums. The females remained quiet and out of sight.

Also in the wooded areas, a few Magpies flew purposefully around, calling rarely. Far below, in the valleys, we could hear Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos crying their "weird, weird" calls, answered only by Pied Currawongs. A couple of Grey Fantails and unidentified Thornbills scolded us as we passed.

Ravens were also around, and provided some level of furrow-wrinkling for the birdo. We'd heard Australian Ravens down below in Harrietville, but the ones on the highlands had a different call. Rather than wailing like the Aussies, they just made "awwk awwk" calls, more reminiscent of Little Ravens. I've still no idea what they were.

After pitching our tent we ascended Feathertop. The sign said 1.5 kilometres, but whether that was horizontal or vertical was left to the hiker. A spring, just down the track to the geodesic Melbourne University Mountaineering Hut, provided clear but very cold water.

High above the treeline, birds were scarcer, but Australasian Pipits would often run away from the track in preference to flying.

Perhaps the reason for this was the presence of a hovering raptor. It was distant, and without a binocular I wasn't able to identify it. Brown Falcons hover, although they look a little incompetent when doing so. Thinking back, it might have been a Kestrel.

Two days is too short a time to be replenished by the Razorback. Regretfully but inevitably, we descended to the too-warm valley floor of Harrietville and Bright, and swapped the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars for those dingy little offices of Melbourne.