Let's start with the good things: The trail goes through some really wonderful landscape and forests. You will see wild waterfalls, lots of wildlife and more temperate rainforest than you expected. Truly beautiful stuff that I have not seen on any other Australian trail.
There are really nice campsites all along the trail spaced about 10 to 25 km apart. They all have a toilet and a covered picnic area plus some more or less decent camp spots. They either have a water tank or access to water. And hopefully by the time you hike it the flood damage to some of these campsites has been repaired.
|Echidna on the trail|
Maps / Waypoints: There is a decent set of maps for the Hume and Hovell but the scale is 1 : 100 000 and that makes navigating with a GPS going cross country really difficult. The Heysen Trail has its complete track with waypoints on the website making navigation really easy. Unfortunately there are no GPS waypoints for the Hume and Hovell - not on their official website nor anywhere else. I was sort of lost almost every day...
Trail conditions: The Hume and Hovell uses a mix of about 50% old forest roads (thank God for that), 10% paved roads and 40% foot trail. Usually I would rather hike on foot trail than anywhere else, but not on the Hume and Hovell. The foot trail has been created about 10 years ago and sometimes it looked to me that they have not done any maintenance ever since. Foot trail was generally so overgrown and/or full of blowdowns that you are down to 2 km/hour of less. I scratched my legs and arms with all sorts of poisonous bushes, grasses and trees and I still look like an accident victim. I even tore my backpack climbing over blowdowns.
|Note the driftwood on the table|
In hindsight the Heysen Trail was a piece of cake compared to the Hume and Hovell. The Heysen has difficult sections but at least the waymarking is generally good. And due to the Friends of the Heysen Trail it is generally maintained pretty well. Apparently there is no such a support organisation for the Hume and Hovell. I have not met ANY hiker on the whole Hume and Hovell - and in hindsight that does not surprise me. The trail is in such bad shape that hiking it is just no fun.
Bottom line: The Hume and Hovell could be a great and beautiful trail - but due to mismanagement and negligence is has turned into a hiker's nightmare. It is such a pity....