We decided to do a four day Cruise between the Labor Day and Easter weekends, in the hope that things would be fairly quiet on the tracks. As it was, it wasn’t too bad, but there were still a surprising number of vehicles about, especially as the Friday and Saturday were supposed to be wet, very wet as it turned out. Our aim was to head east from the Thomson Dam and make our way to Licola after exploring the area in-between, which we hadn’t done extensively for some time. I think we were given a warning of what to expect as the rain pelted down while I waited at the Moe BP station for our Melbourne travellers to arrive.
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.
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.
While my last High Country Cruise report had a few gaps, at least this one was duly recorded and mapped. We started the Cruise from Licola and headed off to the Macalister River via Glencairn and Black Soil Gully Track, which is the usual way most travellers opt to take. Being April, the rivers are all usually well down at this time of year and with the tracks being quite dry, there was little likelihood of any issues. This was only a three day trip, so we stayed fairly close to Melbourne, especially as we were planning on staying off-road as much as possible, so that meant not travelling great distances each day and it looked like it was going to be quite a pleasant trip, especially weather wise.
My memory fails me somewhat as to where we started this Melbourne Cup Weekend Cruise, but I’m fairly certain that it was Licola and that we headed out towards Glencairn and the Barkly River on our first day. This time of year it’s always going to be somewhat wet and, with a collection of eight vehicles, it was important that we could find large enough camping sites for each night. There are a lot of gaps as to where we went on this Cruise, and trying to piece things together was not an easy task and is likely fraught with many errors. Anyway, there is a sort of start and finish to this story, and some bits in between.
Australia Day in 2009 saw us travelling from Mansfield to Mt Stirling, Lake Cobbler, into the Wonnangatta, back up to the Howitt High Plains and then to the Macalister River. It was a fine-weather weekend, rising to one of fairly extreme temperatures during the last days when along the Macalister River. The trip covered quite a bit of the High Country, with various twists and turns as we explored the northern part of the national park. We were expecting hordes out this weekend but, surprisingly as it sometimes happens, that turned out not to be the case. This was especially unusual considering how close to ‘civilisation’ we were most of the trip.
Our June 2006 Cruise took us from Mansfield, down to Jamieson and then east along the Jamieson-Licola Road to Wren’s Flat, with the intent of passing through Mt Sunday and then down to Licola, but along the way we took a wrong turn and ended up heading north. In some ways, that was possibly a blessing in disguise, as the weather was turning foul, wet and cold, and the Mt Sunday Track that we were looking for would have been atrocious that weekend, as we found out on a subsequent, more benign, trip. As it was, the start was looking fairly ordinary from the outset.
After the first of my High Country posts, I revisited my photography archives and thought I might create a series on the trips that we’ve done over the last decade or so since 2002, which we call High Country Cruises (unfortunately, so far, I haven’t found any photos/negatives from before 2004). Each of these trips is quite unique and ostensibly a three to four day cruise somewhere around the High Country.
I also must thank Grahame, one of our fellow travellers, for keeping a formal log of our cruises and compiling an excellent map book that has recorded all of our cruises from 2002 until 2011. This book has and will help immensely down the track in getting the locations and chronology right when I compile these posts.
While pondering our next High Country Cruise, it struck me that over the years we’ve probably enjoyed more of our own backyard than most people could ever dream of doing and perhaps even wanting to do. While many do go out and about visiting Australia to experience that 4WD adventure, far more just prefer to hop on a plane and find a different sort of ‘adventure’. In a similar vein to my story about The Last Photography Frontier, for many people adventure is found somewhere else in the world, such as those ‘little known’ places that I mentioned in that story. For others, the likes of an Alaska, Rhine River or South Pacific cruise is the adventure of a lifetime. Adventure does mean different things to different people.