Seven Days in the Vic High Country

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2008 at 19:00

Member - Michael O (NSW)

Have just returned from a 7-day journey through the magnificent Victorian High Country starting and finishing in Bright.
From Bright we travelled to the roundabout at Porepunkah, below the high walls of Mount Buffalo. This is the Buckland Valley Road that we followed for some time before turning right onto the Goldie Spur Powerline road. This track climbs steeply under the powerlines and skirts the base of Mount Buffalo where we got our first look at the devastation of the 2006 fires, a sight we would see much more of over the following week.
Durling Track and down to the Abbeyard Track, then up the Rose River Road which follows the valley up to Bennies, then up the ridge to Lake Cobbler. This is a very peaceful spot for lunch and a walk to the highest falls in Victoria, Dandongadale Falls. Speculation Track then takes you down the rocky and difficult Staircase to the King River, past King Hut and on to a shaded campsite at Pineapple Flat, where we were quick to jump in the river to cool off. This was to be our base camp for two nights.
Day two saw us head along Weston Track and up a good climb to Number 3 Mount for smoko and terrific views of the heights around Mount Buller. Number 3 Track then heads up a spur to join the Circuit Road just north of Telephone Box Junction. The Circuit Road is a good dirt road that winds around the base of Mount Stirling but is heavily used by logging trucks that keep you on your toes! Up Clear Hills Track to the recently renovated Craig’s Hut. This Hut was burnt in the 2006 fires but has been rebuilt in a similar style (this time with a tin roof) Although not a very good place to build a hut (very exposed and no water…) the view over The Cobblers is sensational and the hut is one of the most visited spots in the region. Down Monument Track we returned to the Circuit Road, then dropped back down to the King River to our base at Pineapple Flat.
Day three had us packing up early and heading up Black Landing Track to the Circuit Road then turning South along Bindaree Road to Bindaree Falls. A short walking track leads up to the base of the very pretty falls, a welcome spot to escape the relentless January heat (and the flies…) Continuing south we reached the Howqua River and the Hut built for dwarfs, Bindaree Hut. The flats here would make for excellent camping but provided just a shady lunchspot for us.
Upper Howqua Road follows the Howqua upstream as far as Pike’s Hut (one of Rob Sitch’s favourite trout streams from the ABC series A River Somewhere) From here 16 Mile Jeep Track heads south climbing steeply into the snowgums to the ruins of Bluff Hut, another destroyed in the ’06 fires but it too is being rebuilt. The views along this ridge on Bluff Track are wonderful and we made it to Lovick’s Hut for lunch. Lovick’s is gone too but not much rebuilding happening here.
With the gate locked east of Lovick’s, we detoured down Cairn Creek Track then Brocks Road, then King Billy Track and the Howitts High Plain Road to camp the night way up on the snowplains at Howitt’s Hut.
Day four and we head down the well-known Zeka Spur track into the Wonnangatta Valley. Now this is some valley! Beautiful wide plains covered in grassland, beneath towering peaks on each side. The old Homestead burnt down in 1957, but under the shady elms at Duff’s Campsite if a magnificent place for a stubby!
Heading out of the valley, we decided to tackle the very steep Herne Spur Track up to Wombat Range Track. This certainly tested out the Patrol and made for an interesting afternoon. At times it seems like the floormats are going to curl back over your toes and the bonnet of the Patrol looked v e r y long over the erosion bumps.
Down the steep Station Track to Racecourse, then along the river to the old Talbotville town site, which we would make our base camp for the next 3 nights.
Day five and we headed along the valley of the Crooked River which you cross over 20 times winding up to the base of Bulltown Spur, another steep climb which leads up to McMillan’s Road. This leads past the old gold town of Grant and eventually to a bitumen (shock, horror!) road down into Dargo for a taste of civilisation and a counter meal washed down with some ice-cold ales. Just for fun we followed our route home which meant a steep descent of Bulltown Spur and through the river crossings again. My Dad drove this day and said it is the first time he has made 46 river crossings just for a counter meal!
Day six saw us following the meandering rivers between Talbotville and Crooked River before tackling the very steep climb up the well-named Billy Goat Bluff Track to The Pinnacles. The fire tower up here was also destroyed in those ferocious fires but has just been rebuilt. We got an impromptu tour from the young bloke working in the fire-spotting tower who warned us that a big electrical storm was expected that afternoon. As happens in the High Country, the weather was changing before our eyes, and the trip back to Talbotville was a hair-raising one as the storm arrived, bringing down trees all over the road.
Unfortunately, when we got back to Talbotville, the storm had devastated our camp. Our tent was destroyed and all our sleeping gear was wet. A quick change of plans saw us pack up and head for Dargo, where we managed to find a bed in the cabins next door to the Pub, and of course had to partake in the Friday night Dargo ritual of 50,000 beers…
Day seven was wet and miserable in the Dargo Valley but as we climbed up the towards Wongungarra, we drove through the fog and were treated to a beautiful sight as we were suddenly above the clouds and in clear blue skies, looking down on the valley filled with puffy white cloud, a gorgeous sight…
Fires in the Mount Hotham region saw us change plans a little and stick on the Dargo High Plains Road until the Blue Rag turnoff. Now this was the highlight of the week for me. Blue Rag is sensational! The track is narrow in places, boggy in areas and with a couple of scratchy steep climbs but at the trig point you feel on top of the world!
Backtracking we made for a hot coffee at Mount Hotham, and enjoyed the bitumen run down to Harrietville and home via Bright.
All in all a fabulous week, without any mechanical/tyre dramas, all for the price of a wrecked tent!

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