2013 Deua NP, Vic High Country & Beyond .. Part 2

Saturday, Nov 02, 2013 at 09:02

Navigator 1 (NSW)

Part 2 Friday 26th April – Friday 3rd May
We awoke to a glorious morning and headed into Omeo to refuel and have a chat to the officers at the Victorian Parks Office before heading to the bakery for a pie and coffee. The idea of finding some treasures at Cassillis fascinated Steve so we headed off. True to form the tracks we needed to go on were closed so we ended up at Cassillis Cemetry for the night. Modern amenities were provided and to walk through the cemetery and read the headstones was very interesting. It was a very quiet evening!
Steve, having never been in the High Country and being a keen photographer, wanted to get to an area with spectacular views over the alps so, we headed off to Hotham Heights.
We parked in an area with a fantastic vista and Steve was in camera heaven. As far as the eye could see the area had been devastated by the two recent fires.

We continued on past Hotham Heights, a ghost town as it was still 3 weeks before the ski season opened, and onto Dargo High Plains Road. This dirt track headed south over the alps to Dargo. A short way south we turned off onto Blue Rag Track with the intention of driving up to the trig and then south to Talbotville. Just before the final ascent to the trig was a rather steep, wet, slippery descent. We told Steve to stay put while we checked it out. Although our truck had good tyres it was very dangerous with such a heavy vehicle. We returned to Steve’s location and plans were amended once again!
Continuing further south along Dargo High Plains Road we reached the ruins of Gow’s Hotel where little remained other than a few piles of rocks. We stopped for lunch and then 20km NE of Dargo we turned off to Grant Cemetry and the former township of Grant.
Thanks to the efforts of the Overlanders 4WD Club, in conjunction with Parks Victoria, a small section of the cemetery was maintained so visitors could read the headstones and learn a little the folk who once lived and worked in the area. The cemetery once occupied an area of 2 acreas!

Several km on we turned off to the former township of Grant. Today nothing remains of the town. A map showed the layout of the town and information boards marked the position of various buildings and stores that once stood there. Over 2,000 people once lived in this town brought to life by the Crooked River Gold rush. We made camp and had a walk around the ‘town’.
Early morning we set off along the Jolly Sailor Mine Walking track leading to the battery site 2km away. This also was a non event as the track ran out only 100m from the start.
Things had to get better!
Leaving Grant we passed Collingwood 4x4 track on the left and continued along McMillan Track which led down to Talbotville in the valley. It was windy and narrow but very picturesque. In several sections we found ourselves hard up against the cliff to allow to cars leaving the valley to get past. Once in the valley we thought we had struck gold! Before us was the greenest, most well maintained campground one could wish for. We were on the site of the former township of
http://www.gippslandinpicture.com/locations/talbotville/home.html, yet another gold mining town that sprang to life in the mid 1860’s.

We settled in for a wonderful afternoon even though we had just found out from a Vic Parks sign at the ford that the Crooked River Road was closed due to a burn off. Our plans had been to cross the ford, travel along Crooked River Road, up to Cynthea Ridge Road and down into Wonongatta Valley. Once again this information was not on the net so these plans did not eventuate.
Early morning we left the valley, fortunately not meeting any traffic heading down, and made our way into Dargo. We settled into the outdoor area at the General Store, had coffee and a chat to the local visiting police officer before heading over theDargo Hotel for lunch. We were informed that the Eaglevale Track, on the opposite side of the range to Talbotville, was due to open in several days. This track also led up the range to Cynthea Range Track. The news we wanted!

After lunch, a leisurely drive took us along Wonangatta Road to our campsite at Black Snake Creek. Here Steve finally saw a hut! The river was wide and very pretty with the trees displaying their autumn colours.
In the morning we continued along Wonangatta Rd, past the Crooked River Road turn off, and into Eaglevale. Unfortunately Steve’s truck had developed mechanical problems and after the boys found the situation was beyond them, a recovery team came in with a tilt tray and took Steve and his truck away. By this time it was well into the night so Chicka and I settled in at the camping area. We were now on our own!

Early in the morning we set off with great optimism of reaching Wonangatta Valley.
The track had only just opened after being graded and we were the first vehicle to use it.Well it was a shocker! The track was laying off towards the fall off, it was very, very loose and the ‘wash away humps’ were the steepest and highest we had ever seen.
Two km up the track Chicka climbed a beauty, we were looking up at the sky they boom. The truck came down on top of the mound, right on the tail shaft. Instantly I thought ‘Oh no! How much is recovery going to cost way up here!’ Next thing we knew, young Mr Testosterone, not being able to wait even ten minutes, came roaring upon on our left hand side and joined us on top of the mound. At least our wheels were still on the ground! He was definitely going nowhere with only one wheel on the ground! He said, ‘I’ll put the lockers in’ to which Chicka replied, ‘I think you need a propeller’.
Chicka cleared the dirt away from under our tail shaft, placed a big rock behind each of the two front wheels and calmly backed off the mound. He ran a snatch strap to our young hero and pulled him back. With the strap removed he roared up the track banging and bouncing till he was out of sight.
We were half way up Eaglevale Track and with no way of knowing if conditions would improve Chicka reversed to an area where he could do a six point turn and we slowly made our way back down to the EAGLEVALE campground on the Wonangatta River.

It was by the fire that evening that we decided that this was perhaps not the best time to be in the High Country with all the track closures for burn offs and maintenance. We also concluded that, although the truck was very capable of handling the worst of the tracks, it would be a very expensive exercise indeed if we were to break down and need recovery.

Continued in Part 3
The outback calls
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