The Twins (1703 m) are a bulky, almost hump-backed mountain just south-west of Mt St Bernard in the Central Alps.
If you drive up to Mt Hotham from Harrietville, you will travel close to The Twins, Mt Murray, Mt Sugarloaf and The Gunns. These are often over looked in favour of the higher peaks, but are great ranges in their own right.
If you look westwards from the mountain top your view is partly obscured by a high ridgeline – a snake-like twist of higher ridge country that leads from the Twins – part of the Great Divide – past an obvious (un-named) ridge and on to Mt Murray. Beyond this the Divide is mostly high enough to be covered by alpine ash and snow gum as it heads west to the higher peaks around Mt Howitt and Speculation. The middle area, especially the ‘dry Barry’ mountains, is remote country, full of silence.
The Twins and slighter lower Mt Murray are the outliers to the higher alpine country that crests to the East in Feathertop, Hotham and the High Plains. Off south are the Dargo High Plains and the Blue Rag Range. It feels like you’re in the heart of the Alps, as you look out into the forested valleys and ridgelines, or into the higher ranges on either side.
This mountain was burnt in 2003, and has a ragged feel to it as thickets of trees sprout new growth and dead limbs fade to silvery grey. Some sections of the forest were not badly burnt and the open snow gum forests around the junction of Twins Road and the old 4WD track that goes to the summit are especially beautiful.
The surrounding forested ranges have an incredible mosaic of fire regeneration and dead trees.
The Twins lie on the Australian Alps walking track. The easiest way in is from the Great Alpine road – park just at the junction with the road to Dargo and follow the sign posted 4WD track from there (Twins Road). This is a good dirt road, which is open in summer, and subject to seasonal closures during winter.
This is a great day walk. Allow 3 1/2 – 4 hours for the round trip from the Dargo Road. Be aware that because the area has been heavily burnt, it is quite exposed to the sun and so can be quite hot walking. There is only one point that normally has water along the way (see notes below).
.[ABOVE: the starting point is marked ‘Schnapps’, at the top right (junction of Great Alpine Rd and the Dargo Plains rd). Follow the Twins road to the low point where the road cuts across the north side of the mountain. The Alpine Walking track leads from here to the summit – marked with the blue circle. Then follow the obvious 4WD track north west from the summit to re-join the Twins road.]
From this side there are two ways up the mountain:
via the Twins road
As you climb the mountain after passing Mt St Bernard on Twins Road, you descend for a bit more than a kilometre along a mostly burnt ridge – although there is one pocket of older alpine ash – and then turn rightwards to then pass along the broad north face of the mountain, through open and regenerating forest of snowgum. About half way across there is a stream that jumps down from the gully above, offering the miracle of fresh water on a hot summers day … If you keep walking for another kilometre, when you crest an obvious ridge line and start to turn south, you can then turn off onto the old 4WD track that heads straight up the ridge above you on your left to gain the summit. It is a steep climb of about 1 km from here.
via the Alpine Walking Track
The other way to access the mountain is to turn off the 4WD track (Twins Rd) and follow the Australian Alps walking track as it heads straight up towards the summit, walking then steeply climbing south west to the tree line. The turnoff is at the obvious clearing, at the lowest point in the track as you head south from Mt St Bernard. There is only some plastic tape in a tree to mark the start of the route, so keep your eyes open – if you start to climb you have gone too far.
This area was burnt and the track is not marked (as at Jan 2018). You just need to stay on top of the ridge – ocassionally moving slightly to the left – and follow the line of least resistance through the regenerating undergrowth. Just keep climbing straight up towards the peak above you and as the vegetation starts to thin, you will see the old trail. Pass through the tree line to an obvious highpoint, marked by a pole. You will see the higher Twin nearby, marked by a trig point.
The summit ridge is long and thin and even though you look up to the night time glow of Mt Hotham ski village, it feels remote and in another time. Although it is incredibly exposed to any weather that might pass through, it makes for a great place to camp. You will need to bring water with you.
The south face has some non-technical but steep skiing and boarding options. It is best visited in heavy snow conditions so as to be able to ski in rather than having to walk in to the mountain along Twins Road. Even in poor conditions, where you may need to walk to the base of the mountain, the southern face tends to hold snow well.