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.
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 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.
The June 2007 Cruise saw us on another Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend trip and it’s been an entire year between trips because of the 2006-2007 bushfires. Generally we don’t care that much for Cruises on long weekends, as it often means World + Dog will be doing the same, but when we venture to the far eastern side of Victoria, it tends to be less popular compared to those areas closer to Melbourne and therefore quieter. This trip we headed east to Bairnsdale and then to Bruthen, from where we turned north towards Ensay and about halfway between Ensay and Tambo Crossing, we turned east once again and then via a fairly circuitous route headed towards Bentley Plain.
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.
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.
One of the things we’ve always enjoyed on our High Country Cruises is the ability to stay in one of the many High Country Huts, especially when the weather turns foul. However, as I wrote in my most recent High Country story, after bushfires in 2013 and earlier, many of the old High Country huts have been destroyed and some have recently been replaced with what are ostensibly metal garages. On seeing the first of these, Jorgensons Hut and then Junction Hut (we haven’t been to Goonans Hut), I mentioned that I felt that the new style lacked the bush character of the older, rustic (rusty?), and mainly timber huts that we’ve visited over the years. That was my initial reaction and I may have been somewhat unfair in my assessment, so I took the opportunity to gain a better idea when my wife and I decided to do a short camping trip to Donnelly Creek.
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.
One of my favourite activities has always been going bush with a bunch of friends and enjoying the travels, company and new experiences that such trips entail and especially getting away from the maddening city life. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember and for the last 13+ years I’ve been going out with a close group of friends into what’s called the High Country in Victoria Australia. It’s a fantastic place regardless of the time of year.