The Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend in June is not only the start of the official ski season, it’s also the last weekend until November (nominally the Melbourne Cup Weekend) when you can go to the most popular locations in the Victorian High Country. This year the snow had come early and the long weekend was going to be an ideal time to get in some snow driving and bush camping before the closure of the High Country.
Our late Nov 2014 Cruise was just a three day trip that took us up to the Bentley and Nunniong Plains for a bit of a look around and an opportunity to get out. We more or less started at Ensay, where we stopped over at the Ensay Pub to have a beer, something that we don’t normally do, but we’ve always pondered stopping there and, as the weather was amenable, it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. We’d actually stopped to look at our maps and thought why not drop in while we were here and given that it was late afternoon and we weren’t in any rush, why not. It actually made for a nice break given the drive to get here and the early start. Anyway, we enjoyed the ultra cold beers and were soon on our way.
Our April 2014 Cruise was another two traveller journey which started at Morwell and took us on a long circuit to Nunniong Plains, across the High Country almost due west along tracks that eventually brought us out at Licola. From my track record, it was nearly an 800km trip, with virtually half that on dirt roads or off-road. The weather was generally very good, except at the Sentinels, with some very cold nights throughout that weekend, especially in the higher regions. On the Nunniong Plains, it was almost snow conditions, with heavy frosts in the mornings, but because of the clear skies, rain wasn’t about so neither was the snow.
In Apr 2013, we decided to venture out to the far east of Victoria once again, to the Vic-NSW border, starting at Morwell and heading out to Bairnsdale, then Bruthen, and north-east to Suggan Buggan. For some reason we went from Morwell to Sale along the Princes Highway that day, contrary to our normal backroads route, and found the journey from Traralgon to Sale absolutely abominable due to roadworks along almost the entire 50km of the Princess Highway. As both Traralgon and Sale keep expanding along the highway, the traffic is increasingly reminding me of parts of Melbourne, where the freeways offer anything but freely flowing traffic. We knew not to try that route again on future Cruises.
Our Mar 2013 Cruise took us on a long circuit from Morwell to near the Nunniong Plains, Bruthen and then back home. It was a four day Cruise with five travellers and one other that we met for a day along the way. We started from Dargo and headed off to some tracks that we hadn’t looked at for some time. The intent was to stay off any main roads as much as possible this weekend, but the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. And so it was that at the very start of our Cruise we encountered unexpected obstacles and had to detour to more staid tracks to make headway that first day.
Our Cruise this weekend became a short, one-night, venture and started at the Moe BP service station, with just two happy travellers. This Cruise was going to be a simple overnight trip to reconnoitre some tracks around the Walhalla area, so we weren’t working to any set plan. However, we did want to check out a hut that we’d never been to before, was marked on one paper map only and which appeared to be somewhat unknown. I’ve written about this hut previously, but this Cruise was the first time that we’d been there and it took a bit of hunting to find, being well off the track and the entry (or entries) very poorly defined at the time.
Our May 2012 Cruise was quite a long one, starting on a Friday and ending on a Monday, with us doing quite an extensive circuit that began at Licola (if you discount our meeting point at Moe), across the High Plains, through to Dargo and eventually ending up in Bairnsdale. The weather this weekend was outstanding, with clear skies all the way, but with the inevitable cold nights. There were four travellers on this Cruise, so finding camping spots wasn’t going to be a problem, especially as this was not a long weekend. I had a bit of trouble trying to work out this trip due to the limited photographs that I’d taken, but our ever resourceful fount of knowledge (Grahame) came to the rescue, both with additional photographs, as well as the trip route.
Another Australia Day long-weekend came about and so once again we decided to head to the far east of Victoria, well aware that the High Country could be busy but, as I’ve mentioned in previous stories, there’s a greater chance of things being quiet the further you go from Melbourne. This is another one of those trips where a few memory gaps occur; however, it’s not as bad as one of the others. We started off from Benambra and headed for the Davies Plains, then Mt Pinnibar, before turning westwards and ending up south of Dargo in the Mitchell River National Park. I remember sweltering during those days but, fortunately, welcoming shade was available whenever we pulled up to camp and we managed a good fire for when the sun went down and it became cold.
Our Nov 2011 Cruise began at Moe, from where we headed to Walhalla and then north to have a look at the famed Cricket Ground, located high above Walhalla. When you get to the cricket ground, you really do wonder about the stamina of the people of those days, as men, women and children would climb the steep hill in their best gear to watch the cricket matches. The climb can still be done today, but you’d better be prepared as it’s not something for the unfit. Mind you, the cricket ground wasn’t anything like it must have been in its heyday, for there was nothing really recognisable as a cricket ground on our visit and I’m quite glad that we drove there. From the cricket ground we followed the road up to the the Thomson Dam where we took a short break to look at what appeared to be a reasonably full reservoir.
This was one of those Cruises that started off with very pleasant weather but, as the days wore on, things became worse and worse. This was a four day trip that would take us from Bairnsdale to Mansfield on an often zigzag route as we went in search of places we hadn’t visited previously or for some time. I can’t remember whether that was our original pan, but that’s how it ended up. All told, the Cruise took us from Bairnsdale to Pioneer Racecourse near Talbotville and then eventually to the Buffalo River, so it was quite a long journey and a very varied one at that.