vic highlands alone-how hard is it?

Submitted: Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 19:58
ThreadID: 23309 Views:2885 Replies:7 FollowUps:7
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Im looking at heading to the highlands over xmas with my family. But how just hard are the tracks?- particularly if I have to rely on myself for recovery.

I understand from searching other posts that rain can make even the medium tracks pretty hard. I have a 120 series Prado, AT tyres, 50mm lift, air jack and a winch and rear air lockers (or possibly the new front lockers due in 3 mths) on the shopping list prior to the trip.

Ive read the ratings in the trip log and the boiling billy lewis/savage guide but need a bit of first hand info. I would say Im a keen but not overly experience 4wd driver eg bit of LCMP,black duck creek, fraser,Rover park etc.

Any advice appreciated.

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Reply By: snailbate - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 21:00

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 21:00
hi mas
Join a club
You can go around the outskirts of the (HIGH COUNTRY ) AND ENJOY the trip but you should join a club to realy enjoy the real high country The real high country of the Alpine nat park needs a BACK UP to give you some escape of when you could have a incendent
A 4wd club does not cost a lot should be under $100.00 A YEAR with some driver training throwing in but with a lot of knowledge of the trackes and meckanicle (sorry mispelt ) knowledg you get the picture
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AnswerID: 112888

Reply By: bazza - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 21:10

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 21:10
g'day Mas - go for it mate - Just do plenty reading of tips - good maps - It appears u r sensibly set-up - Rain is worse enemy so if fairly wet all around dont go crossing 2 many rivers 'cos may have to back-track only 2 find too high. i've roamed the High Country for years - mainly on own - just be sensible about going on doubtful/unused tracks - plenty of fellow 4wdrs a'roaming around that will help if in trouble. Just expect if u do get in trouble u may have to walk a few miles 4 help however you'll eventually find a high hill 4 your Mobile INSTEAD of ACTIVATING your EMERGENCY BEACON :-) - thats the price of wandering alone - good luck and i'm sure u will be getting plenty of info in here - great gals/guys - if in Bright drop into the FIRE STATION .... BAZZA
AnswerID: 112890

Reply By: Truckster (Vic) - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 21:37

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 21:37
Correct. 5 Mins of rain on some tracks can make them impassable. that was with 36 swampers, twin lockers, winches, lift yadda yadda yadda..

Lot more on your, preparation, and experience to read the conditions and drive according to them. Certain tracks may "look" easy, but as we all have had happen, they can change drastically... We had one trip where we went down a hill in the dry, had muchies at bottom for about 1/2 hour... in that 1/2 hour we had 10 mins of rain, and there was no way we were going back up the hill. So, we trekked onwards, to find a fallen tree about 4ft round blocking the track, with a mountain on one side, and a 400ft drop on other.. Lucky for us we had a chainsaw with us, or it could have been a VERY long cold night.

If you buy "HUTS OF THE HIGH COUNTRY" map, that will take you to most of the sites you wanna see, and if you follow that, its wee easy. I ran a Novice trip for our club up there, and had a lady driving a Pathfinder with AT's on. She did extremely well, and did all but 2 tracks we did (I had to have some interesting bits in there for the modded trucks ;) )...

Be smart, learn how to wheel, join a club, learn recoveries the correct way.. Also dont travel alone in regions where you may get into chit.. You may find someone in your club runs a trip to the High country, you could tag along with them.

... lockers can get you into more chit than out.... I'd rather driving skills to lockers in some situations.
AnswerID: 112901

Reply By: Mike Harding - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 06:56

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 06:56
I regularly go into the High Country on my own - but I'm not so sure I would if I had young children with me. Your vehicle sounds fairly well kitted up but, as others have said, even a small amount of rain can _totally_ change the track conditions and I would not want to be stuck up there with a family. I was over the eastern side in January and camped at 1200m for one night when we had heavy rain, _heavy_ hail and the night temperature at 2 deg. C!

Ensure you have a vehicle mounted UHF CB (and a small handheld one) and a good antenna, ideally an HF radio or sat phone too. Stick to easy to low medium tracks - you're there to have a good time not prove how tough you and the vehicle are. Always keep a mental note of the track state you have travelled in on and if it rains make a judgement about packing up _now_ and heading out. You can pretty much forget the weather forecast up in the hills - they make their own weather.

Mike Harding
AnswerID: 112935

Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 09:50

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 09:50
Hiya Mason,

I have found that many of the "difficult" tracks up in the high country are fine if taken carefully and not bull at a gate. If you camp somewhere like sheepyard flat you may be able to team up with another couple and then you have the assuredness of another vehicle with you. If not, then just be careful and dont go where you dont think you'll get out. As others have said UHF and handheld are useful, and rain is bad for the tracks, but theres heaps of easy to middle range stuff to see and experience. If you need some help with where to go I may be able to help, so will many others here (Trucksters been everywhere up there I reckon), just email me mate.


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AnswerID: 112958

Reply By: floyd - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 12:15

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 12:15
You should first get experience and learn from others. Take enough supplies in case you have to sit out a storm. Carry a chainsaw always up here. Trees fall down anytime anywhere. I got caught by one on the Staircase 2 weeks ago and just cut it up and towed it away.

Carry communication that will work. Satphones out perform HF here in most situations. If you are in a steep valley an HF radio most times will fail. A satphone may also fail in steep valleys however you can carry it up to the top of a hill easily. Try doing this with an HF, Autotune and 4WD battery.

Don't assume that your winch and diff locks will get you unstuck. Learn how to use them correctly. AT tyres are ok up here as long as you dont get them too bogged up with mud. Once muddy ther are not the best.

Remember that the Vic high country is extremely rocky and this will make the going tough for any vehicle. The rocky terrain is also extremely harsh on motorcycles. Most bikes up here require 10 times the maintenance than off road bikes in other areas. Your vehicle may take a hiding up here depending on how much travel you do and what tracks you take.

Drop in at any of the towing places at Mansfield and view the hundreds of photos of wrecked, rolled, smashed, flooded, and totally stuffed 4WD vehicles that they have recovered over the last 20 years. I see about 4 vehicles per weekend taken out of the Buller/Stirling area alone. RACV towing does big business up here.
AnswerID: 112987

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 17:54

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 17:54
>I see about 4 vehicles per weekend taken out of the
>Buller/Stirling area alone.

Four per weekend?!

What ever do people do to them to write off / damage beyond driving at that rate?

Mike Harding

PS. HF radio should not fail because of a valley.
FollowupID: 369205

Follow Up By: floyd - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 18:34

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 18:34
Hi Mike,

My codan is programmed with all HF 4X4, radphone, RFDS etc... and ametuer radio frequencies, Marine and Dept Met channells. Believe me it has not worked in many situations in the bottom of steep valleys. Try getting out from Big River, Goulburn above Woods Point, Walhalla and other places. It doesnt. They are not the bees knees with communication but then again neither are sat phones.

Where are you in Australia?
FollowupID: 369213

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 19:13

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 19:13
Hi floyd

Melbourne. South of it anyway.

I'm not on VKS737 but I do have an Amateur Radio licence and usually take my HF set with me when I go bush and I've camped in some very deep valleys in the HC - I know the Goulburn well in the area you mention :) Because of the nature of HF propagation it should not be affected very much by valleys - a little attenuation maybe, but not a lot - as opposed to VHF and UHF which are both "line of sight" and suffer very badly in the HC.

It may be worth checking your antenna system - I usually use a wire "inverted vee" antenna which I hang about 25+ feet up in the trees (normally much to the amusement of anyone who happens to watch the process! :) And, to be fair, even a basic wire antenna will normally beat a whip type vertical - especially a vehicle mounted one. But if you do want one of the best vehicle antennas I have ever heard do a Google on "FAMPARC".

Here’s the full link:

btw way it was a serious question regarding how they manage to stuff up 4 4WDs a weekend?

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 369219

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 19:50

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 19:50
Wouldn't a deep valley be detrimental to the take off angle Mike, you may be shooting up at 45 degrees which is not a bad thing if only trying to communciate 700 or so k on the low bands but it would be a killer trying to work dx on 20m.....That's the way I see it anyway.
FollowupID: 369224

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 20:11

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 20:11
By the way mike great pic of you on....where was it...QSL or QRZ...something like that....sitting around the fire with radio and I think dog.....very nice pic indeed
FollowupID: 369230

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 20:27

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 20:27
Hi Ray

You may be correct - RF is not really my field but I have made a lot of both local and DX contacts from valleys in the HC - certainly never had a problem on 20m and I just _love_ the absence of electrical noise up there :)

I did a bit of a Google and this site look interesting:

It discusses Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) and may go some way to explaining why floyd has problems with his vehicle mounted whip and I don't with my inverted vee?

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 369234

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 21:15

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 21:15
Yes Mike I've played with NVIS antennas and have unintentionally erected a few over the years....LMAO... but yes for short distance up to 700k they are good.

The efficiency of a HF whip is around the 10% mark, I guess the only saving grace is being vertical they have a lower take off angle than a horziontal antenna.
FollowupID: 369241

Reply By: mas - Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 18:34

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 18:34
Thanks guys for all the feedback - much appreciated. I take it that the Highlands are to be treated with a high degree of respect and caution. I'll look into some of the tracks that I was considering and post again to get some specific feedback but will definitely looking at some of the easier tracks in the area. Joining a club in the near future is also definitely on the agenda. See you out there!

AnswerID: 113051

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