In early February I headed up to the Bogong High Plains for five days of solo walking. My aim was to test out my new tent (the Mont Moondance 2) and sleeping bag (the Mont Helium 450), however – and I’m not complaining – I was greeted with near perfect weather, with barely a breath of wind nor a single drop of rain.

With temperatures remaining high the entire week, I rarely used my tent fly; and it was more a test of the thermal properties of my inner sheet in lieu of my sleeping bag. So while my gear remains free of rigorous testing, I instead had the perfect conditions for a lazy romp through the bush, complete with long lunches near creeks and beautiful sunsets every evening.

The high plains are an amazing place for hiking, with many trails of varying difficulty and length. And, with a bus service running right up to Hotham three days a week all year round, it’s surprisingly accessible by public transport.

My highlights for the trip would have to be the couple of close-range animal encounters. Walking alone, I was a lot quieter than most walkers and managed, entirely by accident, to startle both a brumby and a big stag, who were also using the trails. While the stag promptly bolted when it realised I was there, the brumby tried to show me who was boss (it was definitely him). He watched and then followed me from about ten metres away in the trees as I gave him a wide berth and trying to look harmless. I’m not sure which of us was more scared! While I am used to encounters with snakes, spiders and other typical Australian creepy crawlies, it was amazing to see these bigger creatures up close. But I took to giving all the other brumbies I saw a wide berth.

All in all, it was a perfect way to refresh at the start of the year. I’ll just have to get out again soon to really test out that gear!