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.
This Australia Day we were going to do some camping with friends, but circumstances changed for several of the wives, so three of us decided to go on a Cruise instead. Being the Australia Day long weekend, it was going to be busy, especially as we had decided to stay reasonably close to Melbourne, but I’d managed to rustle up a plan for day one and left the remainder of the weekend on a suck it and see basis. On weekends like this, too much planning usually involves changes at every turn anyway, so better to just play things by ear and see what happens. As it is, it turned out to be a much, much, better Cruise than anticipated.
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.
The first Cruise for 2010 saw us head out to the Thomson Reservoir, north of Rawson, where the trip more or less started officially. It was a four day trip and the weather this weekend wasn’t looking all that great when we arrived at the reservoir; however, in this neck of the woods, you can never tell what sort of weather you’ll be getting from one day to the next. Forecasts for Melbourne usually bear no resemblance to what the High Country will get and so it was, as the weekend turned out to be quite a hot and enjoyable event.
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.