Mount Pinnibar: reaching the alpine peak
March 19, 2019 • Glenn Marshall
5 min read
Mount Pinnibar is one of the most challenging peaks to reach in Victoria. From its summit, you can see Mt Kosciuszko to the east, Mount Beauty to the west and the Cobberas to the south. It used to be the highest peak that you could drive to during winter snows, and is a challenge even in the dry. Mount Pinnibar is also my favourite mountain that I have successfully tackled many times. Would it be the same this time?
An extraordinary alpine panorama
The Murray River
The first challenge is crossing the Murray River at Tom Groggin. You see, there isn’t a bridge – just a ford whose water levels can change at any time. Just pick your gear and cross smoothly in an arc heading downstream before turning upstream to reach the exit track.
The base is covered in river stones and the water is crystal clear mostly. A set of polariser sunglasses certainly helps you pick your line, but if in doubt, always walk the crossing first – on a hot day it is well worth it. In fact, I do believe this to be the only place you can now ford the Murray River.
Driving across the Murray River is always a thrill
Tom Groggin Station has a link to A.B Patterson’s “The Man from Snowy River” when Banjo visited the property in 1890. Here he met Jack Riley, station manager at the time and a renowned horseman. It is thought that Jack was the inspiration behind the poem, and Jack’s grave can be found in the Corryong cemetery.
Just over the Murray River and accessed via the Tom Groggin Track, Dogman Hut is a great place to base yourself if you want to tackle Mount Pinnibar on a day trip. The hut was constructed in 1964 by the Lands Department for the bloke who was trapping feral dogs in the area. Just a short walk to the Murray, it is a great place to try your luck trout fishing. Camping at the hut is free but remember to take only photos and leave only footprints.
The campsites at Tom Groggin come in a range of sizes to suit all
You can also camp on the NSW side which is part of the Kosciuszko National Park. While camping is free, you will need to pay an entry fee of $17 per vehicle per day, except between the June and October long weekends when you will be charged $29 per vehicle per day. You can buy a pass at Khancoban Visitor Centre 24 hours a day or at the pay point between Jindabyne and Thredbo.
If you can snag the Dogman Hut as a camping spot, you’re on a winner
Time to tackle the mountain. From the turnoff to Dogman Hut, the Tom Groggin Track soon begins to climb steeply. Lock it in low and pick the right gear to just crawl up the track. When dry, traction is good but in the wet, it is a totally different story. I think it would be fair to say that the track would be almost impossible after good rains.
A good set of AT or mud tyres are needed in the high country
Once you reach the Mount Pinnibar Track, it flattens off for a few kilometres, but don’t let that fool you. There are some gnarly steep sections that will have you scrambling for traction, and sections with some well-defined moguls too. Towering Mountain Ash dominates the hillside, and the last 4km will really challenge your skills and your vehicle, so take your time.
It is steep in this neck of the woods
Once you reach the junction with the Mount Gibbo Track, there is only 1km to the summit. That final kilometre is rough and shaly but the views that smack as you crest the hill will blow you away.
The last scramble is a real wheel spinner
Don’t forget to capture the mandatory image of you all standing there under the trig point. Park your 4WD with wheels turned on the hump for that epic magazine shot, or just find a spot to sit and take in those stunning alpine views. At 1772m, you are afforded great views of the Victorian and NSW High Country.
The perfect sunset can be captured from atop Mount Pinnibar
Where to from here?
There are quite a few options from here. You can retrace your steps back down to Tom Groggin, enjoying the climb down the mountain. The whole route can easily be completed within a day.
Another option is to backtrack to the Wheelers Creek Log Trail and then take the Mount Gibbo Track and check out the views from Mount Anderson (1650m) and Mount Gibbo (1757m).
The views from Mount Gibbo are just as spectacular
If you climb down Shady Creek Upper Track, you will be able to check out Wheelers Creek Hut, another great camping spot on Wheeler Creek. If you continue down the Pinnibar Track to Dead Finish Track then turn left onto Dunstans Logging Road, you will find Gibsons Hut nearby.
Corryong is close by too. You can get there by turning right on Dunstans Logging Road from Dead Finish Track or navigate to Walkers Log Road then Nariel Gap Road, with both routes accessing the Corryong Benambra Road.