2013 Deua NP, Vic High Country & Onwards .. Part 1

Saturday, Nov 02, 2013 at 09:00

Navigator 1 (NSW)

Monday 15th April – Thursday 25th 2013

Ahead of us lay a trip into the Deua NP, SW from Moruya on the south Coast of NSW and then further south into the Victorian High Country.

We left home too late to make it into the Deua in daylight so we spent the night at Shelly Beach in Meroo NP, 4.3 south of Lake Tabourie. After breakfast and a walk on the beach we set off. It was 40km south to Bateman’s Bay then a further 27km to Moruya where we turned off for the park.
We followed the well known access along Little Sugarloaf on flat land for quite a while before starting the ascent to the top of the range. The track was dry, in good condition and the trucks negotiated the wash away humps with ease. It was a little bit of a roller coaster road to the top – one minute we were climbing, next we were descending. Finally, it was the descent into Bendethra valley.
A lot has been written about the history of Bendethra Valley of which I made note in my Blog, ‘2012 Feb Down into Bendethra Valley - Deua National Park’ so I wont elaborate further here.
Once across the Deua River we entered the expansive campground but, due to recent rain and the ground very wet underfoot, there was not a camper in sight. Our intention was to camp in this area and walk to the old Homestead Precinct but plans were amended and we drove.
This too was a large camping area with the river rippling past, an old grave reminding all of the hardships endured by the settlers, the old bake house ruins and not far away, the Bendethra Caves. This was just to be a quick overnight trip into the valley via the eastern access and then out via the western so all we had to do was take out the chairs and settle in for a glorious afternoon and evening.

It was around 10.30, after a breakfast of eggs on toast, we left our campsite in glorious sunshine and headed out west, up the mountain range, on the Dampier Fire Trail.
We stopped at the intersection of the Minuma Fire Trail for a few pictures (of the trucks of course) and continued on to the Dampier Trig. An obligatory stone was place on the Trig and, after coffee and chocolate biscuits, we continued onto Middle Mountain Rd and eventually out of the National Park once we reached Krawarree Rd.
It would be a total of 4 ½ hours and 74km before we reached a suitable campsite alongside the Badja River near the town of Numeralla (S36 10.454 E149 20.937). I’ll bet a lot of you couldn’t keep up this hectic pace!! The weather was chilly so after dinner we retreated and watched a movie in Hugo.
Before leaving for Cooma the boys were ever mindful of the need to keep a close check on the vehicles so they checked for loose nuts, tyre pressures, oil levels, fan belts and all those other things ‘under the bonnet’.
We took time out in Cooma to look around and check out the bakery before heading off to Tom Groggin, S36 32.534 E148 07.740, a total of 165km for the day. It is funny how time dims the memory because the campground, although very big, grassy and dotted with facilities, it was not as I remembered it.
From this point on our adventures met a few blank walls. It all started off with me not wanting to takes the trucks over the over the Murray River ford – perhaps the boys should not have listened to me. Then, Steve could not find his wallet which would leave an unsettling feeling on anyone’s stomach. We pulled the truck apart only to find it in ‘the secret hiding spot’.
We changed plans and decided to go to Corryong and then head south to Mount Pinnibar on Nariel Gap, Thowgla, Walkers Logging and Marginal Roads. This drew a blank when we came to a fallen tree, only about 13 km from the mountain. It was just a bit too big to move and so the boys exercised their skills at reversing the trucks back along the track until it was possible to turn the vehicles around. With evening upon us we pulled over for the night further back along the track at Bullocky Creek Recreation Site. It was very pleasant and very quiet. Nobody else was silly enough to venture down this track OR perhaps they knew of the fallen tree!!
Not to be defeated it was back to Benambra/Corryong Rd then south to Lake Dartmouth. Chicka and I had been there before so he had no problems with ‘The Navigator’ finding the exact spot. But, instead of staying on Eustace Gap Tk I got excited when I saw Dartmouth Track and said, ‘Turn Here’. Well, I led us down the garden path until the track became overgrown. Once again the boys performed the imposible and got the trucks out of there. I had the position of the campsite on GPS so why I didn’t just to a ‘Go To’ I do not know.
As you may expect ‘The Navigator’ was given the sack and Chicka said, ‘I’m going to Omeo, are you coming with me?’

We passed through Benambra and onto Omeo where we took Steve to visit The Cuckoo Clock Shop and then to sample a treat at the bakery before heading 41km SE to see The Washington Winch . This old workhorse is now preserved as part of our history.

We were excited to see small pockets of snow on the ground near the winch but were not expecting to see what followed as we climbed higher up the mountain on Nunniong Road. The whole area was blanketed in snow and the road was slippery. Fortunately, after we commenced the descent to Moscow Villa, 3.3km along Bentley Plain Road, we were below the snow line and in a lovely grassy area on the Bentley Plains. S37 13.655 E147 55.422

Bushman Bill Ah Chow finished this log and stone gem in 1942, on the day the Battle of Moscow was won. When local officials objected to the name, he allegedly told them it was actually an acronym for ‘My Own Summer Cottage Officially Welcome Visitors Inside Light Luncheon Available’.

We camped near the hut and enjoyed the forested surrounds.
Early morning, once the chill had lifted, we took a walk through the Douglas Reserve and along Bentley Creek. Before leaving we had our morning cuppa with the 2 families camped in the Villa.
We retraced our steps back up Bentley Plain Road and onto Nunniong Road enroute to Limestone Creek Campground, west of Benambra. Once again we passed through snow covered country until we reached the clearing at Brumby Hill Trig. S37 01.370 E147 59.476 It was picturesque with a little snow on the ground a blue sky and white fluffy clouds.
All was going well till I suggested we take a short cut along Native Cat Track. In the cars we would have been fine but the trucks could not get through without a lot of pruning. Chicka said, ‘We’re out of here’, and we headed back to the well maintained Nunniong Road and into Limestone Creek Campground without any more incidents.

It was an excellent, grassy campsite alongside a running creek with the sun shining. We took the chairs out and made a fire in the fire ring. It was magic, so good in fact that we made the decision to make the next day, a rest day.
Well, it was not to be! The sky was overcast, the wind was blowing and it was cold. There was no point in staying so we headed north along Limestone Creek Track – our eventual goal, Tom Groggin.
The track was good, with only occasional pruning needed, until we came to a washed out section. This required careful consideration of the best path through and the exact placement of the wheels. We were glad when we finally reached The Poplars Campground.
Once again, we were all alone in the wilderness. S36 46.695 E148 06.390

We were excited the next morning to carry on to Tom Groggin but we discovered the road to the north was closed for a controlled burn. None of this information was on the net but that’s how it goes. Our only option was to retrace our steps back to Limestone Creek Campground for lunch then off to the Benambra Pub for a beer.
The publican was quick to point out an excellent campground just to the west – Hinnomunjie. It was a very lovely campsite by the Mitta Mitta River with the old hand sawn wooden bridge still standing. With such pleasant weather we decided to stay in camp and head off once again to Omeo before trying our luck in another area of the High Country.

To be continued in Ambling through the Deua NP and the Vic High Country .. Part 2

The outback calls
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