Victoria: High Country - Day 23

Monday, Jan 17, 2005 at 01:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

We slept out in swags last night but we had more rain in the morning. The Melbourne sun didn't appear until 9.30am, so this made yet another late departure at 10.30am.

We continued north on the track we'd come in on, which winds through the Goulburn State Forest and becomes the Nine Mile Road. The scenery is just magnificent, and crimson rosellas seem prolific in this particular area. We had quite a scary moment in the middle of driving through the most beautiful mountain ash forest when we stopped to get out of the vehicles for a look around. We had not seen another vehicle all day, so we simply stopped the vehicle by the side of the track without serious thought about possible traffic. We were looking at wildflowers in the ditch on the other side of the road when a speeding logging truck came around a blind corner and was suddenly upon us. Everything happened so quick but the driver would have been challenged to negotiate the tight corner with his oversize truck at such speed, and then somehow try to avoid us. From where we were standing it looked like he managed to avoid us, but in doing so had to aim his truck straight towards my parents vehicle with them still inside it. We all believed they were going to be hit. I watched in horror as my parents tried to open their doors to escape at the last second but then somehow the truck corrected itself and thundered on past without hitting anything. We were all left shaking in disbelief and were a lot more cautious from here on.

Nine Mile Road eventually pops out at the junction of C511 on the edge of the Yarra Ranges NP directly opposite a camp/picnic area called The Triangle. Turning right we continued on a good dirt road and started to climb the Dividng Range through the tiny settlements of Matlock and then into historic Woods Point (worth a good look around).

The pictures above show some of the buildings in the main street, standing empty but there is a small local community, a general store, pub and the servo above actually sells fuel! Colin's Patrol needed additional fuel to make the range we were expecting until our next refuelling opportunity but the servo wouldn't sell him enough - said she needed it for others who had emergencies but he did manage to take 30L. We thought it would be an emergency if he ran out of fuel in the middle of an little-used 4WD track, but there was no arguing with her and Dad was just happy to get what he could. He also knew that our tanks held a ridiculous range of fuel so we promised not to leave him stranded if he ran dry.

Using Natmap on our laptops we had roughly worked out a route from Woods Point through to the Bluff Track near Lovicks Hut but once we visited the Woods Point general store and spoke to the locals we decided to buy a paper map of 1: 100,000 scale published by a mapping publisher we'd never heard of called Rooftop Maps for better detail. The descriptions on the map were great for what we were about to do and so we bought one for the area we were planning (about $9). We sat in the town reserve, eating lunch and devising our precise route then headed off about an hour later. The route seemed a straight line shortcut directly NE of Woods Point to Lovicks Hut bypassing Mansfield (through the Goulburn and Macalister State Forests) as we'd become bored with the easy tracks we'd been on and wanted to get into some real 4wding action immediately. Well, we got it!

The main road here continues in a northerly direction to Jamieson, but we turned off just out of Woods Point up a very steep rocky hill on the right, called the Brewery Track. This certainly prepared us for what lay ahead, with extreme hill climbs, sheer drop offs, and a narrow track but the scenery was wonderful. Our route then followed the Old Coach Rd and Webber Spur Trk, before we took a steep descent to a small campsite at a junction of the Goulburn and Black Rivers where we planned to stop. We were a little surprised to find another vehicle here, but he told us 4 cars had passed through the day before. He was staying put - panning for gold in the river with what appeared to be some success. So, although it was 4pm, we decided to drive on as the camp site was really too tight to fit us all comfortably. The river crossing here was straightforward, even though the exit climbed a steep hill. From here on however, the track became more challenging. Just a few hundred metres along we came to a confusing junction even though we had OziExplorer, topo 250K maps on computer and the Rooftop Map - the sign confused us and we soon found ourselves climbing the Champion Spur Track but heading in a southerly direction which was not right. It took some time to find a place to be able to turnaround and take the other track from this junction. We believe this is still called the Champion Spur Track but the Rooftop maps indicates it is called the Black River Track (the reason this confused us was that the signs never call it Black River Trk). Eventually, after massive hill climbs and descents, we reached a helipad (seen in the distance it seemed impossible) but the camping options were not good so we continued on further.

We came to another small and easy creek crossing over the Black River but found we couldn't climb the exit. The previous group of vehicles had made a mess of the track and we found it was severely rutted and narrow. The ruts, and muddy base of the hill climb exiting the creek forced us to hit the side wall of the track and therefore lose momentum. See pics below where we had to cut away some of the road wall and fill the ruts to get some traction on all wheels. It took about an hour to get both vehicles through.

At this point, we had been travelling for 2hrs since leaving Woods Point and had only travelled about 11km. It was all low range 2nd. If we weren't looking for a camp and didn't have the little kids with us, we could have really been enjoying a great drive but we were starting to feel as if we might take many hours yet to come to a clearing suitable for camping. In fact, not more than 150m on from here we came to a very steep hill climb with some bends that had deep, wide ruts. David took the hill first but used the "drive in the ruts" approach since the track was dry. But inside the ruts (3 foot deep) was loose, small rubble. This terrain is certainly one where having double diff locks would be a distinct advantage but we have never found we've needed them before. I guess if you had this kind of terrain on your back doorstep you would make the effort to install them. We found we couldn't get enough traction so we reversed back to redo the hill climb using the "on top of the ruts" method. David reached the top of the climb and signalled for Colin to come up but coming around a bend one of his wheels slipped off the ridge of a rut and was in the air so he had no traction (also without double diff locks). The boys agreed that rather than more road building to fix the situation they should hook up Colin's power winch to the back of David's vehicle sitting at the top of the hill. The winch cable did not have a direct straight path and there were no trees but the banks of the ruts were about 4 feet high on the bend and very solid so that's how they managed it. (ie. using the bank for purchase to support the bend in the winch cable).

Once we were on the go again, the track started to meander through rainforest terrain and became increasingly easier and travel become significantly faster. We finally reached the end of the Champion Spur Tk (or Black River Tk according to the Rooftop map) and turned right onto the Lazarini Tk. By this stage we were getting pretty desperate to find any patch of semi-flat ground where we could set-up camp before finding the next obstacle, however as luck would have it we spotted a great camp on the left side of road just past the junction - phew!

Poor Mum has had it. It's been a long trip for her with osteoarthritis, and various other "itis" complaints but I fear today we have reached the limit of her interest in 4WDing. She's been on many of Australia's remote tracks but it would be fair to say that you just don't see this sort of rugged terrain in the outback - she described it as "extreme". I do agree that it was hard work just being a passenger, but David assures me that Dad is just loving it, and I admit I was too. Even our little kids were giggling and laughing as their seatbelts pulled hard against their bodies supporting them from falling forward as the car plummeted downhill on what feels like extreme angles. On some hills, I was asking what degree the vehicle could hold and I was amazed at how much further they can apparently go. This is one sport where you really have to feel it - videos and photos just don't it justice.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
BlogID: 528
Views: 11150
Blog Index

Sponsored Links