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 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.
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.
Having travelled the Victorian High Country extensively for over 40 years (by foot, ski, 4WD and even once by horse), I simply love and appreciate everything that it offers and, for me, there is no better place in the world. Given the option of say two weeks in the High Country or two weeks travelling the world, I’ll take the High Country every time. I also appreciate and try to understand the history of the High Country, especially the huts which have provided shelter, comfort and enjoyment over so many years. So it’s with some surprise to read what one organisation thinks are the ‘rules of engagement’ when it comes to using the High Country Huts.
When it comes to our High Country Cruises, meals are naturally an important part of any journey. However, when I first started going bush in the mid-70s, my meals mainly consisted of cans of baked beans and/or braised steak and onions, high cuisine it was not. As time and taste buds progressed, I began experimenting with various pre-cooked meals that could be heated up simply by boiling them in a billy. I was always looking for the easiest means by which to have meals that didn’t need too much effort or require a lot of cleaning up afterwards (and with no portable fridges available, fresh food was always an issue). There were many failures in those early days and basically it was the food back then that was usually the point of failure (we may have moved on, but the memories of bad tastes linger).
The huts of the High Country are many and varied, and are very much a part of Australian folklore, being so integral to the story of the Australian stockman. This was highlighted in the movie The Man From Snowy River that featured a hut located in the Victorian High Country (a totally mythical hut and built purely for the film) which, after the film crew had departed, became an icon and it’s mandated removal was challenged by an determined group of people from nearby Mansfield who wanted to preserve the hut and all that it represented. They succeeded and the hut subsequently became a major tourist venue. Unfortunately, Australian bushfires had more say in the hut’s survival than the Department of Environment and the original, as well as further rebuilt huts, were totally destroyed. The latest version is somewhat more fireproof and still draws the crowds.