Buller-Howitt Outdoor Recreation Guide

By Pat Kinsella 27 March 2014
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
Enjoy digital guided walks in the Mt Buller-Mt Howitt region straight from your iPhone.

DEVELOPED BY Spatial Vision, also the makers of a Wilsons Promontory app, this app provides a digital guide to walks in the Mt Buller-Mt Howitt region.

The collection includes four multi-day walks and eight day walks, ranging from 4km to 15km. All are accompanied by an image taken at an eye-candy spot along the route and are marked on a digitally rendered topographical map of Alpine National Park, centred on Mount Buller Alpine Park. As you click through to the map from each individual route description, you’re taken to the trailhead of the relevant walk. Great in theory, so long as you can follow the track on the small screen (Spatial Vision’s cartographer advises people to use the app in conjunction with an old-school map).

The Buller-Howitt app has been optimised for iPhones, rather than tablets. This is obviously for portability reasons – the app is designed to be used on the move and you’re far more likely to be ambling around on the flanks of Mt Buller with a phone in your skyrocket than you are to have a tablet in your trousers. These apps would benefit from universal optimisation across all devices, but to be fair you can switch to a (slightly pixelated) 2X view with one button tap.

In addition to practical information on walking routes, the app also provides  interesting background information about the region, including a potted history of three storied settlements in the area: Wonnangatta Station, Howqua Hills and Mitchell’s Homestead. There are also tabs dedicated to safety, terrain assessment and instructions on how to restrict your impact on the area.

The detailed map comes complete with a comprehensive legend – spelt Lengend on the menu… oops!

Every hut in the region is marked on the map. You can tap through to find out about their history and to see what facilities are available. Besides bushwalking, there is (very high level) information on other activities in the region, including mountain biking, horse riding, fishing, four-wheel-driving, bush camping, skiing and, slightly incongruously, car touring. 

Logic is a subjective concept, but I found some of the navigation slightly opaque. The key to how the walks have been rated in terms of difficulty is under the main “safety” tab, for example – when surely the main menu would be a better place for such essential information. Also, information about alpine huts falls under Activities, which seems odd.

While there is good, solid information on this app – much of it provided by the highly experienced writer and walker Glenn van der Knijff – it does seem a little limited for the price. If you put all the unique information contained within this app into a book, it wouldn’t take up much bookshelf real estate.

My other criticism is the lack of interactivity. On other map apps I’ve used – the OS series for example – it’s possible to record (and even time) routes that you’ve walked and to plot others that you’d like to do. None of this appears to be available yet on this series, which means the medium isn’t being exploited to the extent that it should be. 

However, I do look forward to this series being developed further. In this format, it should be possible to make a much more comprehensive digital guide, one that covers vastly more ground, loads more good walks and offers many layers of interactivity and customisation. Bring it on.  

RRP $9.49 AppStore