Mt Pinnibar and the Snowy River

Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 10:27

Member - Michael O (NSW)

Day 1 January 6 2009
Myself and son Daniel (8 yrs) had a few days off in January and decided to head for the Mountains in the Patrol. All packed and full of shopping, we hit the road out of Wagga and aimed south, crossing the Murray River at Jingellic.
Passed Farran’s Lookout near Tintaldra, where the blue waters of the Murray made a stark contrast to the brown of the paddocks all around. Out to the beautiful reserve at Bringenbrong which was full of campers and families floating down the Murray on airbeds. It was a hot day and looked like a cool pastime!
Past Towong, scene of the famed country race meeting, and into Corryong for final supplies and to top up with fuel. Turned south at Colac Colac and south up the Nariel Valley to where we turn off the bitumen at Scrubby Creek Track. This track climbs 600 m steeply and provided us some novelty as an emu with 7 chicks in tow ran along the track in front of us for almost 2km. “Why doesn’t she just head for the bush?” says Mr 8.
Near the junction with Ski Hut Track we found the track torn up and difficult and on a blind corner found the reason, a small bulldozer was in the process of repairing the track but the job was only half done and it was a shambles for a few km, as well as throwing up a challenge just to squeeze past..
Ski Hut Track saves some distance and joins Six Mile Ridge Track for the run across the tops with views to the east and west. Fresh foliage was encroaching on the track, ensuring some new pinstripes on the Nissan…The track then descends steeply to join Wheelers Creek Logging Track for the picturesque run down to Wheelers Creek Hut for a lunch stop.This hut is a relatively recent addition, built in 1976 for forestry workers and as a fire-fighting base.
The weather was hot and we spied the swimming hole down near the bridge so it was into the creek for a cooling dip. The only downside were the biting March flies (dubbed Marchuary Flies by Mr 8 who couldn’t figure out what March flies were doing here in January…)
Wheelers Creek Logging Road is a good dirt road plied by the large logging trucks and it leads to Buenba Road and onto to junction with Pinnibar Track. Again this track is a little overgrown with fresh saplings, which lessen as the track climbs up a spur to Mt Gibbo at 1750m. Photos at the trig and wonderful views before we moved north on to the summit of Mt Anderson for a camp at the helipad at 1650m. The stars were spectacular as we climbed into the tent after a long day.
Day 2 January 7 2009
Pinnibar Track is in good condition and we made an early start, climbing up to the junction with the Pinnibar-Tom Groggin Track. This heads straight up to the summit of Mt Pinnibar in a couple of steep pinches for the fabulous views from the trig. Mt Pinnibar is apparently the highest driveable road in Australia at 1771m and from the top you have panoramic views in all directions. At this point we still hadn’t seen another vehicle but were actually able to get a connection to send an email home! Great views across the NSW main range and way south to The Pilot and The Cobberas. From 1771m at Pinnibar it is all downhill, some place quite tricky to the Murray River at Dogman’s Hut. Dogman’s was built in 1964 for the dingo trapper that worked on Tom Groggin Station and he had a terrific place to call home, only a stone’s throw from the Murray and plenty of shade. Unfortunately some of the latter day visitors aren’t so appreciative and there was quite a bit of rubbish around the Hut and the fireplace.
I had promised Mr 8 a trip into NSW “without going over a bridge” so it was into the Murray at the Tom Groggin ford, which was very shallow and a piece of cake. The “causeway” follows an arc on the downstream side of the crossing and presented an ideal chance to get out and have a cooling dip, before heading into the Tom Groggin camping area for lunch.
Back across the Murray, we picked up Davies Plains Track for the run south, passing a delightful camp spot at Buckwong Creek on the way. Here we passed our first vehicle for the trip, a couple of trout fishermen from Tumbarumba, before reaching Davies Plains Hut. It is in a grassy clearing and some old stockyards are hidden in the bush nearby.
Continuing south we passed a Hummer heading up from the South. Looked like a block of flats approaching through the trees but we managed to squeeze past without drama before setting up camp at Charlie’s Creek. The Hut here was burnt in the massive 2003 fires but the clearing by the Creek makes for a perfect camp spot, and enough grass for a game of cricket and a kick of the footy…It was looking like a storm and I must admit to a little trepidation at being so far from Native Dog Flat if the heavens opened…
Day 3 January 8 2009
Back on the road ever southwards, to the junction with McCarthy’s Track which we followed until the small clearing at The Poplars, then along Limestone Creek track, past the clearing at Limestone Creek itself until reaching the 2WD road to Native Dog Flat, where we stopped for lunch. The weather had turned cold and the wind was from the south and low cloud covered the ranges, enough for us to leave a climb up to the summit of the Ram’s Horn for another day.
At the turnoff to the Cobberas Trail, we met the Queensland Nissan Patrol Club on a 3 week journey down to the High Country and it was certainly reassuring knowing they were about half a day behind us as we headed north into an area known as The Playgrounds.
The Cobberas Track is very rocky and slow going but the low mist and the alpine air made for a beautiful drive, despite the fact we couldn’t see much of the Cobberas Mountains themselves. A couple of steep rutted areas slowed our progress until you reach The Playgrounds where the track becomes very easy, eventually reaching the old turnoff to Cowombat Flat at Moscow Creek. This heads to the source of The Murray, but a locked gate prevents access to all but bushwalkers and bike riders. Not long afterwards we disturbed a fine black brumby feeding on the track and then had to clear our only tree of the trip. I don’t carry a chainsaw but have an axe and an old bush-saw and we were soon mobile again, before finding a clearing at MacFarlanes Flat for camp.
Day 4 January 9 2009
Our coldest morning so far had us lighting the fire early to warm up before heading down the steep track to the crossing of the Ingeegoodbee River. A clearing on the western bank would make a good camp but we had distance to cover so through the crossing and up probably the steepest track of the entire journey. The track climbs 400m in a kilometre and is rutted and scratchy with a testing hairpin right half way up. We made it with the chatter of the 4WD Club behind us, and made for the trig at Mt Menaak then down to the helipad. The view from here is sensational in all directions and a terrific finish to the 4WD part of our adventure.
Down into Suggan Buggan to inspect the 1860 schoolhouse (and marvelled at how it ever survived the 2003 fires…) before taking the windy (and VERY narrow) road out to the plains at Wulgulmerang and the service station at Seldom Seen. Here we met one of the great characters that make remote travel such a joy for me, Dave Woodburn. Dave is English born, but has spent many years at Seldom Seen and was all but wiped out in the ’03 fires, sheltering in the nearby dam with his dog and a stray goat.
It’s the first time I have ever pulled up at a roadhouse to be asked “want a coffee mate?” I agreed, as long as he made a Milo for Mr 8. “Got none of that fancy stuff here,” he protested until Mr 8 said “you can make it with mine…” We also met Di, a social worker from Bairnsdale who calls on the remote areas inhabitants and shared a pastie and a coffee and a free philosophy lesson from Dave.
Too often people skip past places like Seldom Seen or are threatened by the eccentricities of the locals but we spent a very entertaining 2 hours there with Dave…
Across the green plains out of Wulgulmerang to the Little River Falls. A short walking track leads to the top of the falls, which were still running despite the January conditions. The road descends in never ending loops and hairpins down to the Snowy River at McKillops Bridge.
With the freeing up of some of the old irrigation water, the Snowy is flowing again. Although a shadow if its former self, its still better than I remember from my last visit 17 years ago… We had lunch in the shady McKillops Camping area before heading down to the River for a delightful swim. A sandy beach and easy access made sure we spent a long time in the water…
Down to the bridge for photos before heading east down the road through Deddick and Tubbut. This part of the trip is very easy going although time was against us and we had to leave a side trip up to Mt Tingaringy for another day before spending our last night at the camping reserve at Delegate.
Michael O
Monday I have Friday on my mind...
The Easybeats 1966
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