Mt Bryan, Mt Bryan Range and Razorback Ridge in the Mid-North.

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This page gives a brief introduction to the Mt Bryan Range in the Mid-North and its significance for snow in South Australia.

The Mt Bryan Range, which includes Mt Bryan the mountain, Razorback Hill and Razorback Ridge, lies on the east side of the Barrier Highway between Burra and Peterborough, approximately north of Burra and north-north-east of the township of Mt Bryan. Mt Bryan the mountain is east-south-east of the township of Hallett. A prominent multi-summited ridge called Razorback Ridge joins Mt Bryan near the northern end of the Range with Razorback Hill near the southern end.

According to Bonzle here the highest mountain in SA is Mount Woodroffe (Ngarutjaranya) 1,427m, Mount Bryan in the Mid-North is 929m and Mount Lofty is 727 metres high. Mt Bryan is the tallest mountain in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, but in comparison to Mt. Lofty, its summit is rarely visited during snowfalls or when snow is on the ground. Access to the summit by the public is by way of a walk of more than an hour there and more than an hour back, along the Heysen Trail which traverses the summit.

Before I continue, a word about nomenclature. In the searchable online "Gazetteer of Australia 2010 Release" on the website Geoscience Australia here http://www.ga.gov.au/place-names/ Mt Bryan is given the feature code "MT", while Razorback Hill, which looks like the South Australian idea of a mountain to me, is given the feature code "HILL". Razorback Ridge is given the code "RDGE". My interpretation of this is that the correct name for these three features are Mount Bryan (usually abbreviated to Mt Bryan), Razorback Hill (widely called simply Razorback), and Razorback Ridge. When you see Razorback Ridge close-up you can appreciate why this striking feature has an official name.

What doesn't seem to have an official or unofficial name is the range these three prominent features are part of. Perhaps Razorback Ridge in the Mid-North vernacular implies the whole range as well as the specific ridge. It definitely needs an official name, and the two contenders that seem to me most appropriate would be Mt Bryan Range and Razorback Range. Personally I like both those names but as Mt Bryan is the highest mountain in the Mt Lofty Ranges I guess Mt Bryan Range would be the most appropriate. So I'm calling the Range the Mt Bryan Range on this website unless or until I am persuaded otherwise :-)

Now for three images from Google Earth and Google Maps showing the location and topography of the Range.

Above: Mt Bryan Range is in the Mid-North Region of South Australia, approximately north of Burra and just east of the Barrier Highway. The two nearest towns on the Highway are Hallett and Mt Bryan, and a nearby town to the north-east is Mt Bryan East. The Range lies within the rectangle I've added to this Google Earth satellite image. There's an unsealed road called "Mt Bryan East Road" running between the towns of Mt Bryan and Mt Bryan East which provides excellent views of the eastern side of the Range, and one branch of this road runs through the woody lower northern hills of the Range to Hallett. There are also other unsealed roads on the western side of the Range.

Above: This image shows the summit of Mt Bryan marked by the little green marker a bit upper right of the image centre, and the surrounding rather rugged terrain. 

Above: This is a Google Maps terrain image showing the complex topography of the Range and the locations of Mt Bryan and Razorback Hill near the eastern edge of the Range. The many-summited 6 km long Razorback Ridge links and includes the two. The Range drops steeply from the Ridge down to a dissected sometimes hilly plain on the east side. On the west side the topography is a lot more complex, with hills and ridges and valleys running westwards for up to several kilometres.

The only first-hand reports I've been able to find of snow falling on the summit of Mt Bryan, were made by two expeditions to the summit in 2014. Fortunately there have been many times over recorded history when snow-cover on Mt Bryan has been observed and reported by observers in the surrounding districts.

Mt Bryan and the Mt Bryan Range on the upper slopes and summits are mostly bare of trees and there are few shrubs. Its vegetation cover is mostly grasses and other ground cover plants grazed by sheep and a few kangaroos. When a carpet of snow accumulates, it can be seen for many miles away when there is no low cloud on the mountain to hide it.

By contrast the upper slopes of Mt Lofty are almost entirely covered by Eucalypt forest except for some modified and cleared areas on the side facing the eastern half of the compass. Snow doesn't tend to accumulate on the Eucalypus tree leaves so snow-cover that can be seen from miles away on Mt Bryan would be invisible or mostly invisible on Mt Lofty from a distance.

My involvement with Mt Bryan didn't begin until about 2012 or thereabouts. Never having been there or knowing anything about it, and reading about its propensity for snowfalls, I wondered about such things as indoor parking facilities and the star ratings of the motels on the summit - the kind of thing any rugged Australian snow-chaser used to roughing it in the wilds would want to know.

Well, I eventually got over the shock of finding there are no motels up there or even an air-conditioned visitor's centre. I did find out that the Heysen Trail traverses the summit which is fortunate because I gather the Mount is private property except for a small area encompassing the summit which is designated as a water reserve.

Judging by the photos I'd seen I thought it would be a pleasant walk to the top from the east side along the Heysen Trail on a fine sunny day, but in a fresh southerly wind with rain, hail and sleet falling and a temperature of about zero not counting wind-chill, the walk and the summit could be a very different proposition.

On the afternoon of Sunday 22nd September 2013 I climbed to the summit of Mt Bryan along the Heysen Trail coming from the east side, from the point where it leaves the Mt Bryan East gravel road and heads in the general direction of west across private property towards the summit of Mt Bryan. My primary aim was to assess this eastern walk for snowchasing and compare it with the walk in along the Heysen Trail from the west side. I've written an account of this walk from the eastern side with photos here.

On the afternoon of 6th October 2013 I made a foray along the Heysen Trail from the western side of the range from the point where it leaves the gravel road and heads in the general direction of east across private property towards the summit of Mt Bryan. There's an account of this walk with photos here .

It seems from my reading that the existence of the Mt Bryan Range and its association with snow is unknown to most South Australians beyond the Mid-North, or is known only as a prominent range seen in the distance when driving along the Barrier Highway. This has prompted me to create several more web pages with many photos taken from various locations.

Here are links to these other Mt Bryan Range pages:

Miles Peachfield..."Razorback Ridge inc. Razorback Hill and Mt Bryan from east."

Miles Peachfield..."Southern part of Razorback Ridge seen from west side."

Miles Peachfield..."Mt Bryan ascent from east side on Heysen Trail."

Miles Peachfield..."Mount Bryan from the west side along the Heysen Trail"

Miles Peachfield..."Mt Bryan - views of the summit taken on the summit."

Miles Peachfield..."Views from the summit of Mt Bryan."

The undoubted highlight of the 2014 snow season in South Australia was that two expeditions in 2014 reached the summit of Mt Bryan and observed both falling snow and snow on the ground. One was a Heysen Trail walk by members of the "End-to-End Minus 1 group" that arrived on the summit during a snowfall by chance, and the other was a solo snowchase by Mark Dawson. Here are links to accounts with photos of those adventures.

Go here 2014 June 28th: Snow on the summit of Mt Bryan in the Mid-North for a report I prepared for this website on the End-to-End Minus 1 group's adventure.

Read Mark's full report with graphic photos and videos on his blogging site "Mark Dawson Photography" here Deep Low cold pool with snow 9 July 2014, and a report I prepared for this website on Mark's adventure here 9th July 2014: amazing déjà vu snowfall on the summit of Mt Bryan!! .

Another source of information you may find valuable if you're planning a walk to the summit of Mt Bryan from either east or west along the Heysen Trail, is a travel blog report with photos by John Muir on a walk he and his son Dan undertook up the east side and down the west side of the mount in 2006, including some info on how long it took and where to start the walk, here .

Below are a few key photos of Mt Bryan and the Range.

Above: Mt Bryan (right of centre with a communication tower visible on the summit) seen from the east side of the Range.

Above: a view of the summit of Mt Bryan.

Above: This is a miniature of a 13-photo panorama of Razorback Ridge taken from the east side, approximately equidistant from Mt Bryan forming the northern end (right of screen) and Razorback Hill occupying the leftmost or southern third of the image. The distance from the summits of Mt Bryan and Razorback Hill at each end of the Ridge is pretty close to 6 km. On this eastern side you can see that the Ridge drops quite quickly to the undulating plain below. On the other side the Range extends long ridges westwards with deep valleys between. Go here and then click on the image that displays to see the panorama at full size.

Above: the impressive bulk of Razorback Hill lies at the southern end of Razorback Ridge, seen here from the western side of the Range.



Above: a zoomed-in view taken from the summit of Mt Bryan, looking approximately south down the 6 km Razorback Ridge with its many summits, to Razorback Hill at the southern end of the Ridge.

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