High Country Trek

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 22:25
ThreadID: 55769 Views:2256 Replies:4 FollowUps:17
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Hi

I am thinking of taking the family on the Vic High Country Trek just after Easter and have a few questions which i would really appreciate any help with:

1. is it ok for a camper trailer (we have a Kimberley & Landcruiser)
2. how do you organise camping spots - is it first come first serve or is it all done months ahead!? and importantly can we have a fireplace at night? What are the best spots to camp?
3. is 5-6 days incl return trip from Melb ok for a leisurely trip with some down time included

Any other tips gratefully received!

Thanks for your help

David & family
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Reply By: geocacher (djcache) - Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 22:49

Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 22:49
G'day David,

Message me, or if you can't, contact me via my website (link in profile). I wrote those trip notes, and I'll give you my phone number.

Dave
AnswerID: 293895

Follow Up By: davidjo - Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 23:54

Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 23:54
Thanks Dave
.........cant get your profile to work. Do you mean you wrote the trip note under vic high country? I had a good look at those. It looks like a good trip & subject to further comments we will give it a go i think!
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Reply By: Crackles - Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 22:53

Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 22:53
Dave the High Country covers a very large area with a huge track network, the conditions changing all the time particually after rain making it very difficult to give acurate advice. Although it may take several years to see it all, 5 days will give you a taste of the many highlights. Unlike other National Parks campsites are spread everywhere, are free and often have toilets & fire rings. It's 1st in best dressed but finding a spot isn't really a big problem when you go off peak. Firewood is everywhere but it's always better to pick some up high rather than down in the valleys to ensure it's dry.
Trailers can cause issues on many tracks being particually difficult, often dangerous after heavy rain therefore I suggest finding a couple of key spots to base camp at then do day drives to the lookouts etc. The long draw bar of the Kimberly will also drag heavily on the hundreds of erosion control ditches found on the steeper hills.
The Rooftop series of maps are excellent showing the major campsites & places of intrest.
Talbotville near Dargo is possibly the most central main camp that gives day trip access to Wonnangatta, Blue Rag Range, The Pinnacles & Grant historic area.
In the Mansfield area King Hut or Pineapple flat are an easy drive to Craig's hut, The Bluff & Lake Cobbler.
Don't try & see it all in a week as it's just not possible. Pick an area & enjoy. 150km per day is about all you will do.
If venturing off the beaten tracks take a chainsaw, there's alot of fallen timber after the fires.
Cheers Craig.........
AnswerID: 293897

Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 22:59

Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 22:59
Well said Craig.

It's worth mentioning staying out of burnt tall timber areas in windy conditions, at risk of falling branches. I heard DSE & Parks were pulling crews on weed eradication work out once the wind picked up to more than a breeze, and from the number of trees that have either fallen or dropped branches in spots like Sarah Spur I can see why!

BTW - isn't it now Craig's Hilton?

I understand the wasting of several hundred thousands of tax payers money rebuilding a 1980's movie prop has now been completed.

Pity they didn't spend it on Lovick's & Bluff Huts instead.

Dave

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Follow Up By: davidjo - Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 23:56

Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 23:56
Thanks Craig, it sounds really good & just what I need! How cold do you thinkit will get at night?
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 07:35

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 07:35
Bluff hut is almost finished as well although not the rabbit warren it once was. Lovicks was actually pulled down not burnt as many think & I believe the Lovick family are doing the replacement, hence the delay.
How cold.......Depends. Up on top of the hills in April around 10 degree's but will drop below zero, often snowing above 1400m. Camping in the Valleys it's rare to have frosts by then varying between 4 & 21 (see link)
Hopping in the car right now & will be on top of Mt Stirling in 90 minutes. I love living near the High Country :-)
Cheers Craig.............
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 13:55

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 13:55
Well don't you just love technology. Sitting up at View Point just down the rd from Lovicks hut. Who said 3 G phone reception was no good ;-) Bush is pretty quiet for Easter so far.
cheers craig............
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Follow Up By: davidjo - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 14:23

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 14:23
Cool, i wonder if GPRS works up there?
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Reply By: splits - Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 23:31

Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 23:31
David

You will have to be very careful with that camper. I was down there a few months ago in a convoy that included one camper trailer. The leader was very experienced and knew exactly where we could and could not take it. Without that specialised knowledge you could easily find yourself in a situation where you can't go forward and are going to have a hell of a job going back.

Craig's suggestion of a base camp would be the best way to go.

Another thing to be careful of is river crossings. There is plenty of them so try and avoid tracks that include them if you are on your own or at least get last minute local advice if possible.

Brian
AnswerID: 293904

Follow Up By: davidjo - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 00:01

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 00:01
Ta Brian,
We do have a bit of expereince with it but I understand what you are saying having been pretty stuck a few times. We did Cape York last July & Aug which was great but apart from a few distinct areas it wasnt that hard as it was reasonably dry (unlike this year i reckon). Soft sand was the biggest problem. We did quiet a few river crossings without a problem. One question though, how deep can i expect them to be here?
Thanks

David
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 00:56

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 00:56
David,

Yeah. I did write that trek note, and also the other one from Corryong to Omeo via Davies Plain. Take a few weeks and join the two together and that's an awesome trip.

I was in the Wonnangatta on the weekend before last and according to my 8 year old we did 47 river crossings in 3 days.

I towed my camper in and base camped at Talbotville on this trip.

I would tow my camper into the Wonnangatta from Myrtleford quite happily but only by one of the availabe routes, and there'd still be a few interesting moments. But any other route in or out of the Wonnangatta is off limits.

A few things to remember about towing in the high country.
1. Many tracks are extremely steep. That goes for all four other routes in and out of the Wonnangatta. I've got some video of a Tvan trying to step out and overtake the Patrol towing it in the dry going down Harry Sheppards.

2. The same tracks while difficult in a well set up touring truck (which is not towing) in the dry go up a level or two of difficulty once towing.

3. One or two showers and some tracks are impassable without towing. Better to stay an extra half day or day if it's been wet and get to your next camp safely - it only takes a half a day of sunshine and a bit of a breeze to rectify the problem.

4. You will chew through far more fuel towing in low range, and it's much harder on your vehicle.

5. The tracks have hundreds of erosion crossovers some of which are well within towbar dragging range without another 100kg of downweight on the ball.

6. The tracks in many cases have verticals on both sides and are only wide enough for one vehicle. Reversing up to a passing opportunity is bad enough without towing. They also have near 180 degree switchbacks some of which are very steep which are extremely difficult to negotiate when towing, particularly if you have to reverse the trailer uphill a few times for a four point turn in shaly & cut up corners where traction is a bit of an issue.

7. If towing as part of a convoy of non towing vehicles you have to go through a gear or two lower than everyone else and slow the speed of the convoy. This can turn a 4 hour day in a vehicle moving from camp to camp into a 6 hour or more day in a vehicle without even allowing for a recovery or removing a tree or two from a track.

There's just a few of the reasons why I'm set up to tow a camper to base camps, or into the outback quite happily. But despite the protestations of the dear wife who loves the camper, when we do touring trips like those I wrote up we camp in tents.

Sorry the link didn't work. My website is found here. (LINK) There's a video of a few of the river crossings on there. Don't panic. The same rivers a week and a half ago didn't wet the sidesteps, but it goes to show what a couple of thunderstorms can do.

The email link's on the bottom left side of the page. Flick me an email and I'll send you my phone number if you want a chat.

Have a look at the average climatic conditions for Buller if you want an idea for weather in the higher areas, and Omeo or Mansfield for the lower areas.

Dave
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 01:00

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 01:00
Bugger. Link didn't work.

Something else to consider also, if you have the Kimberley that came with a honda genny. Generators aren't allowed in the Alpine National Park, but some of the basecamps like Talbotville are in State Park just outside the NP and they are fine there, and once school holidays are finished you should be able to get a good spot far enough from your neighbour that the genny won't bother them too much.

(I still prefer solar.)

Dave
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Follow Up By: splits - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 12:13

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 12:13
David

The depth varies depending on the weather. When I was there it was hot and the tracks were very dry and dusty but it had been raining in the area a week earlier. We drove through one particular river and the water came up to about the bottom of the headlights. The next day we went through the same crossing in the opposite direction and it went well up over the front of the bonnet. The water from the rain had obviously flowed into the river and was moving down it.

It is hard to accurately describe the difficulty you could experience with your camper on some tracks. These tracks cover the steepest part of the highest mountain range in the country. Some of the cars in our convoy lost traction on a few hills and had to either make repeated attempts to get up or we had to fill holes with rocks to help them through. They would have had little chance with a half a ton or more hanging off the back.

The errosion control ditches that the others have described will make camper travel very interesting. They are as frequent as traffic lights in a big city. You drive up and your bonnet points to the sky so you can't see a thing. As you roll over the top, and really test your ramp over angle, you then find yourself pointing down and hanging in the seat belts. Within about a car length and a half you are past them and are pointing back up into the air again as you climb further up the track. You soon realise why the military does not make their box trailers as heavy and long as many camper trailers.

Brian
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Follow Up By: davidjo - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 15:29

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 15:29
Guys

Thanks for all the help and advice. One thing I am not clear on in relation to the trek notes from mansfield etc, is that route itself just like any of the other treks (ie rough) and not suitable for the trailer or is it only once you get off it on to side treks that it becomes all too hard? If this is the case it seems the only way into Wonnagatta is from Myrtleford?

thanks again

David
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 21:47

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 21:47
Hi David,

That route into the Wonnangatta is like all of the other tracks in the high country for bits of it. Other bits are good gravel 2wd road (eg. Merrijig into Sheepyard Flat & up to Bluff Track.)

If you want to see all of it I'd probably base camp at Frys Hut (near Sheepyard Flat) for a few days and explore everything out of there.

Then here are two options.

Option 1.
Then come back out and go to Dandongandale & Abbeyard via Whitfield fueling up at Mansfield on the way.

That will get you onto the Myrtelford access road but about 20km out of Myrtleford. Head into the Wonnagatta from there via the East Buffalo Track.

A couple of days in the Wonnagatta and you can relax, have a look around and head back out to Myrtleford.

Option 2.
Head for Mansfield, then Hume Fwy and turn off for Myrtleford at the snow road. Fuel in Myrtelford and head to Porepunkah. Up the valley from Porepunkah you will find Beveridges Station. This is a great spot to base camp and explore. Lots of mining history here, but not much of it marked. You can day trip into the Wonnangatta from here.

Then after either of the above options have been enjoyed, head up the Great Alpine Road toward Hotham.

Leave the bitumen at Mt St Bernhard and turn south to Dargo. You can either base camp at Dargo or turn in to McMillans Road about 20km north of Dargo and go in past Grant to Talbotville.

Talbotville is a great place to base camp and lots of mining history to explore here too. Plenty of day trips to do (Pinacle via Billy Goat Bluff, Blue Rag Range, Crooked River Tk, Bulltown & Grant township sites, or just relax.)

If you still have time after all of that you could head back up to the Great Alpine Road and go to Omeo. Fuel up. Remember to allow fuel to get to Omeo or leave Talbotville via Crooked River Tk coming out 8km south of Dargo and turn north from there fueling in Dargo.

Once you get to Omeo, head out via Benambra and the Limestone Road and do my Corryong - Omeo trek note in reverse. You could tow the camper through there, I would. The Murray River crossing at Tom Groggin will be no problem if you approach it right. It's a horse shoe shaped crossing - don't go straight across.

Tom Groggin will get you back on bitumen where you can go up to Thredbo or back into Vic via Corryong.

All of that should keep you busy for a few weeks, without getting the camper stuck or damaged anywhere.

Dave
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Reply By: Member - David P (VIC) - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 14:08

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 14:08
The one place where BIG is not better is the Vic HC. The short wheel base/tighter turning circle would be my choice and as stated elsewhere DONT take the trailer on tracks unless you like STRESS......silverbacks
AnswerID: 293976

Follow Up By: davidjo - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 14:27

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 14:27
No I really dont like the stress that happens when you get into the S__T so we will take it easy and look for a couple of good spots to spend a few days at each. We only have the 1 off road car so the cruiser it will be!
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 15:46

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 15:46
Well said DavidP.

My younger son's Suzuki Sierra does better in that country than most "serious" 4WDs.

DavidJo:
I suspect you have got the idea from other posts by now to exercise caution. Most river crossings should be pretty low at present but rain is forecast for this week so if you can't see how deep a crossing is then walk it first. And, as others have said, an easy track may become impossible after rain.

Of more concern to me are the steep inclines of the HC - it sounds like you have little experience of the area so I suggest cowardice is, by far, the better part of valour :) If it looks too steep (either up or down) then it certainly is. If you use the Rooftop maps pay heed to the notes about steepness.

I’ll be around and about up there, on and off, over the next few weeks – let me know where you’re heading and I’ll give you a shout on UHF CB 40.

Fires are fine – normal common sense applies.

If you don’t have a chain saw then I suggest you purchase a bow saw with a blade for wet timber.

Ensure everyone has (more than) enough warm clothes and sleeping wear – beanies all round are good. The HC makes it’s own weather – at any time of year it may fall below freezing or snow. Water is not usually a problem but take some extra (high energy) food in case you get stuck.

Stay within your depth and you’ll be find and have a great time – try to be in camp at least 3 hours before sunset so you can set up and unwind in a relaxed manner.

Enjoy :)

Mike Harding

mike_harding@fastmail.fm
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 21:53

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 21:53
Bow Saw!?! He already says he doesn't like stress Mike.... :o)

If you don't have a chainsaw buy one, and learn how to use it.

Sell it when you get back. You won't lose much on a brand name saw selling it near new.

The Stihl DVD isn't bad at all if you can't get into a chainsaw handling course before you go.

Dave

PS. Davidjo, I know bow saws are versatile, but it's likely to be an 18"-24" dia gum tree that stops forward progress. It's not like pruning the lemon tree in the back yard. DJ
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Follow Up By: splits - Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 23:49

Friday, Mar 21, 2008 at 23:49
"PS. Davidjo, I know bow saws are versatile, but it's likely to be an 18"-24" dia gum tree that stops forward progress. "

You are right there Dave and as sure as can be the thing will be suspended five feet off the grouind!

Brian
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Saturday, Mar 22, 2008 at 06:36

Saturday, Mar 22, 2008 at 06:36
Wimps! The pair of yer! :)

Actually they're quite right Davidjo a chainsaw is, pretty much, an essential in the HC but if you don't wish to buy one a bow saw is the next best thing. Providing you stay on the more main tracks and given that people going through over Easter will have cleared them you probably won't have any tree work to do.

My sons and I did one very little used track about 6 months ago and on one stretch had to clear a tree about every 500m Younger son complained he couldn't listen to a full track on his CD without having to stop for another tree. One of the reasons I like going bush with my two grown sons is I don't have to do any tree clearing :)

Mike Harding
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