For this Cruise, we decided to undertake the mighty Deddick Trail in the Snowy River National Park that starts north of Orbost and ends at McKillops Bridge on the Snowy River (depending on which way you travel). It’s been on our ‘to do’ list for some time and this year we decided that it had to be done. The Deddick Trail has long been noted as a somewhat difficult and especially long trail that requires a number of days to complete. For that reason we decided to start at the southern end, as we left Melbourne early, giving us plenty of time to negotiate the track and, should time get tight, the return trip via the Gelantipy Road would be a lot faster.
Now as we’d had a very long day just getting to the start of the Deddick Trail, we were at the point of looking for a campsite before going any further. Fortunately, not far at all down the Deddick Trail, we found a perfect campsite by the road that could accommodate all of us. It was the first campsite that we’d ever set up at the top of a mountain range, so this was also something to add to our experiences. We weren’t too sure as to what to expect as night fell, so we stocked up on wood so that we’d have a good campfire by nightfall. As it turned out, the night was rather pleasant and not the cold, windy, weather that we’d expected. And the next morning was a pleasant indication of the day to follow.
So with a glorious day ahead of us, we were all looking forward to what the Deddick Trail could throw at us. As we travelled onwards, the trail remained quite tame and easy going, with magnificent scenery along the way. The views along the Deddick Trail were simply splendid on a clear day such as we had today. But as we travelled further on, the trail remained much the same and in the most part, could pretty much have been undertaken by many regular vehicles, a 4WD was most certainly not required (though that may not be the case today).
As we progressed, we soon caught sight of the Snowy River and then not long after that, McKillops Bridge. This didn’t seem right, as we’d only been on the trail for maybe an hour and a half, with stops along the way to take photographs of the scenery. Unfortunately, we weren’t imagining things and what we saw were indeed the Snowy River and McKillops Bridge. What was supposed to have been a trip that should take several days, turned out to be one completed in a couple of hours.
And indeed, within about two hours of starting that morning, we were crossing the McKillops Bridge over the Snowy River. After all the stories we’d read about the Deddick Trail, the difficulty and the length, it turned out to be a real disappointment. Had we known that this is what we could expect, we would have made quite different plans for the weekend. As it was, we now had to do some new planning, as we had quite a number of days up our sleeves and no formal plans on what we should do.
So we ended up finding an earlier camp for the day, where we could plan for what we’d do in the following days. As most had never camped on the Snowy River before, it was as good an excuse as any and so we set off to see what we could find. It turned out far easier than we’d anticipated, for when we turned off McKillops Road onto Little River Track (or Little River Junction Track), not far from McKillops Bridge, it took us to a large campsite overlooking the Snowy River. With even a long drop on site, camping here was looking better all the time. It was just a short walk down to the Snowy River, so fresh water was also available, and so it wasn’t long before we were well and truly settled in.
The issue was what were we going to do for the next few days, seeing as we’d arrived at the Snowy River so quickly. So we decided to head north once more to Suggan Buggan and then Ingegoodbee Track, McFarlane Track and then Cobberas Track. Along the way we somehow missed the McFarlane Flat Track turnoff and kept heading towards the New South Wales (NSW) border. We ended up at a very picturesque area, but also a dead end where a locked gate separated Victoria from NSW. A pity really, as the track on the other side of the gate looked quite good. Anyway, we turned around and found McFarlane Track and continued on. It really is a shame that everything on the NSW side of the fence is closed off to all but walkers.
Not far from where the Cobberas Track joins Limestone Road, we came across Native Dog Flat camping ground. This was the first time that we’d been here and it took us years to find it again, as we didn’t really note where it was located. I most recently wrote about another Cruise where we stayed here, but it was nothing like this first visit with lush green grass and sheltering trees. During the late evening, even a Brumby stallion came to see what was going on, but didn’t linger for very long. Brumbies are protected species and can’t be captured, but for the life of me I don’t understand why, as they are an introduced feral animal. After a rather cool night, the land was covered in frost and the Buchan River running around the campsite was covered with a layer of ice.
The next day we took Native Cat Track down to Nunniong Plains and stopped at Lake Hill to look at the Lake. Back in 2009, you could get easily to the lake and even camp there, today it’s a longer walk across scrubland and no camping anywhere near the lake. Mind you, the last time that we were there not so long ago, I’d prefer to camp anywhere but near the lake, it looked nothing like the pristine lake it was in 2009. From there we headed out towards Mt Shaw to have a look at an old mining camp that didn’t really have much to show, other than rusting and crumbling corrugated iron, and then it was on to Benambra.
From Benambra we headed south and to Omeo where we had a short refueling stop and then took the great Alpine Road to the Victoria River Track where, after a short drive, we found a great camping spot that looked down the valley and provided some stunning sunset views. Another fairly long day of driving had taken its toll by the time night had fallen but, surprisingly, we were still kind of awake at 11:00 pm.
The drive from the Victoria River Track took us to Dinner Plain Track and then Birregun Road. We bypassed Dogs Grave and then some kilometres later, took a shortcut track that dropped us down to the Upper Dargo River to a campsite at Collins Flat. The shortcut track was the first indication of the bushfires that had raged through here not long ago, with everything still far from recovery. We took a short drive to Harrisons Cut (a section of land where the river had been partly diverted) and along the way came across a hunting ‘cabin’, which must have been recently (partly) rebuilt, as the evidence of the fires was still very fresh.
I’m not sure what occurred on the last night of our cruise, as the only photograph that I have of the campsite is of a ‘throne’ carved out of a large trunk. This throne has been chopped, hacked and burned to the extent that it’s barely recognisable today, as such is the way of all things in the bush. So at least there’s a memory of what it used to look like back when it was first completed (for what it’s worth). I suspect the days had caught up with all of us and that we most likely had an early night, so that we’d be reasonably fresh for the trip back home. The next morning it was a short drive to Dargo and then a longer drive back home.
Notwithstanding that the Deddick Trail was a dismal failure, as far as driving excitement is concerned, the overall trip provided some great driving and we managed to visit places where we hadn’t been previously. So from what started as a bit of a disappointment, turned out to be quite an enjoyable trip in the long run.