High Country Fishing – Cobungra River, Victoria

With a weather forecast predicting 150ml of rain, we changed our original trip from a hike into Big River on the Bogong High Plains, to a slightly more sheltered destination. As fans of Rob Sitch and Tom Gleisner’s “A River Somewhere” a trip into the Cobungra River was always on our list of places to visit, so this was as good a time as any to visit this amazing alpine stream, also with the added bonus of Dibbins Hut to have cover if the weatherman was to be correct!


The Cobungra River starts in the valley’s just below Mount Hotham and makes its way east to where it joins with Big River and the Bundara River near the Omeo Highway. Be prepared for a hike to access the Cobungra, with some areas of high altitudes, including the area we visited around Dibbins Hut reaching the 1300m mark. The areas are isolated and weather is very unpredictable so make sure you cater for all types of conditions.

A good option to begin this hike is to park your vehicle at the top of Mount Hotham and hike down into the Cobungra Valley via the Australian Alps Walking track, but with the wet and windy conditions we encountered, a more sheltered option looked appealing. Heading down towards Dinner Plain, we left our vehicle at the Brandy Creek Mine access track and braved the rain to start heading down to the river.

The first 4 km took us through magnificent alpine forest as we descended down the ridgeline to the Cobungra River. Here we became aware that sometimes weathermen do get it right and within the first 300m of leaving the car the boots were looking rather soggy and I was rather glad for my ever reliable rain jacket!

As we rounded a bend to witness our first glimpse of the Cobungra, the clear beautiful little river wandered through alpine meadows with tussock grasses bordering either side of the river. We continued on, following alongside the Cobungra for a short time and then followed Swindlers Creek, one of many small tributaries, up into the hills. We finally crested over the adjoining ridge tops and headed back down into the Cobungra Valley. After 3.5hours of hiking through heavy rain and a bit of sunshine, we arrived at Dibbins Hut. Wet to the bone, this picturesque little hut with its pot belly stove, looked like the Windsor Hotel and  would be home for the next few days.

After a quick clothes change, lighting the fire and drying out our gear the rain had eased and we headed out for a fish. Waders on and the rods in hand, our first cast into to a nice little pool close to the hut, was also to be our last for the day, the heavens opened and we made a run for it back to cover. The rain didn’t stop until some time after midnight, and we woke the next morning to a raging Cobungra River, which had risen at least a foot or two, but at least it was still clear!

After brekky we geared up, the sun came out and we went in search for some slower water. Sections of the beautiful flowing river we had seen the previous day were now flowing way too fast to fish, but a few hundred metres downstream we did happen to find a nice pool with some slow sections, where Ben could cast his royal humpy and hares ear nymph dropper.

After his 5th cast a small brown trout was landed which had taken the hares ear nymph, and then followed up by another nice brown on the following cast. It started looking promising after all!We headed off 2km further downstream, through a magnificent large gorge section, and started fishing back up towards the hut. We came across plenty of slower sections which looked great but not having much success. We changed flies and varied our dropper lengths but still nothing. Luckily Ben eventually caught another nice little brown in a deeper pool which had a bit of cover, and that was going to be lunch.

The afternoons fishing was very uneventful, the water was slowly receding but was still very high and cold. As much as it would have been nice to catch a Cobungra trout it was easy to just enjoy the scenery around this spectacular river, and reassure myself that I would be back to visit the hut and river.

On the return hike, back the way we came, we made time to stop and fish some sections of Swindlers Creek, this small stream almost looked as good as the Cobungra, nice and clear but unfortunately also running high. Once again the fish were in hiding, and we couldn’t help but wonder if the quickly changed stream conditions had put the fish into heavy cover and they were not interested in feeding.

We eventually left the rivers and hiked our way back up to the car after 3 days of enjoying this magical wilderness to ourselves. A very close encounter with a mature Tiger snake did remind us about our emergency plan and what our plan would be in an emergency situation including what it would take for us to set off our EPIRB. I urge people to discuss these scenarios before they head off on your next remote adventure.

The last 4 km’s back up the ridge to the Great Alpine Road were slow and painful, and I kept asking myself what I could get rid of next trip to make my pack lighter, but in the end I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all again for another visit to the Cobungra.

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Published on: December 17, 2010

Filled Under: REPORTS

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2 Responses to High Country Fishing – Cobungra River, Victoria

  1.' Ivan says:

    Hi awesome photo’s and video, I am planning a trip to fish the Cobungra, Bundara and the Mitta Mitta, can I ask what time of year you went, also any info on the gear you took rods, lines, flies etc etc, stuff you carried in?
    Best Regards

    • Darren says:

      Gday Ivan, glad you liked the report. We went to the Cobungra in December, and normally that is a good time of year o go before the river gets too low and warm, but with this summer being so wet we ended up having too much water for really good fishing. Our theory is to travel as light as possible, so we dont really take anything that we know we wont use. So briefly, our basic kit is tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, Lightweight alcohol cooker with fuel, Food, minimal cooking gear/cutlery, waders/boots (weather and river dependent), 1 rod, 1 small fly box, clothes (lightweight and warm), and the few extra things like cameras, epirb, gps etc. It is not too hard to get a pack under 15kg for a 4 day hike. Email me if you want more details. cheers

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