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 ostensibly started at Bruthen from where, not long after, we took Playgrounds Road, Elizabeth Jeep Track, McLean Track and then Johnston Road to Timbarra Road and then Nunnett Road, eventually reaching the Nunniong Plains. The Plains looked to be well occupied from what we could see from the main gate and so we dropped down to another spot just over the hill and south of the main plain. There are many such spots throughout the Nunniong Plains Reserve, so it’s not overly difficult to find a campsite even at the busiest of times. There are also several nice campsites off Nunnett Road and on the Nunnett Plain Scenic Reserve, but the scenic reserve was somewhat boggy and the two good campsite were occupied by horse riders. Horse riders tend to be frequent visitors to the Nunniong Plains area. The campsite that we found was actually quite good, with a clear creek running a short distance away. The campsite was open and flat, with enough wood about for a good fire and, as night fell, the sky erupted with stars.
The next morning was a completely different story, with frost covering just about every inch of ground in the area.The only bits that didn’t have frost were the tracks running through the plain, which clearly had no water to develop frost. The morning was nice and crisp, and clearly a precursor to a rather pleasant day ahead. And indeed it turned out a fine day after we packed up and started our journey onwards, first going past Moscow Villa, which was occupied, and then following Bentleys Plain Road to Ensay. From Ensay we turned north until we reached Swifts Creek, where we turned west towards the Cassilis Historic Area. We’ve never stopped to explore the area and probably should do that one day, as I understand that it’s quite interesting.
From the Cassilis Historic Area we followed Mt Delusion Road until we reached King St and stopped to have another look at McDonalds Hut. McDonalds Hut hasn’t really changed much over the years, with most of the cracks and gaps remaining much the same despite visits over many years. From there we followed McDonald Road which became Dane Track and followed that to the Upper Dargo Road and took a short cut down to Collins Flat for that day’s camp. Collins Flat was empty, but I recall quite a bit of rubbish (including a large apple pie) being left at a fire pit, with the fire still burning, so the first thing we did was burn the rubbish and then put out the fire. It beggars belief why people do this and it seems very common in places where access is relatively easy. Anyway, the camp that night was quite pleasant and much warmer than on the Nunniong Plains.
Next morning we followed the Upper Dargo Road the to the Dargo High Plains Road and then took Grady’s Creek Road to Hibernia Road and then Conway Track. I can’t remember which part we were on, and it may have been the end of Hibernia Road (which wasn’t a road), but just before the bottom of a creek crossing, I staked the sidewall of a tyre, which needed replacing on a very awkward spot. Once that was done, we dropped down Conway Track and then, shortly after, started our climb up Billy Goat Bluff Track. That was all quite uneventful and we bypassed all the usual spots and continued on along Moroka Road until we reached the turnoff to the Mt Wellington Track. We’d never been along this track, so we were fairly interested as to what it was like.
The first part of the Mt Wellington Track is typical High Country bush, until it opens up onto a ridge line that consists of low alpine scrub for many kilometres.This keeps on until you’re almost at Millers Hut, which sits above Lake Tali Karng and is used as a staging point for walkers going to Tali Karng. I’m certain that I took some photos of Millers Hut, but I can’t find any. The track from Millers Hut is actually the shortest way to Tali Karng, but probably also the steepest. From Millers Hut it’s a narrow, muddy, rutted and rocky, track that takes you to The Sentinels, which overlook the valleys to the south. The last part of the track was quite overgrown and seemed to take forever, despite it not being all that long a section. The return journey wasn’t much better. I’m certain that I took some photos of Millers Hut, but I can’t find any.
The carpark just before The Sentinels was a wet and blustery affair when we finally got there and the walk to The Sentinels involved a bit of scrambling and careful judgement. It wasn’t a difficult walk, but we had to keep a close eye on the path, as it wasn’t always obvious. Once at the top though, the views were fairly impressive and you could even just see Lake Tali Karng way down at the bottom of the valley. That The Sentinels are subject to cold Winters and hot Summers was in clear evidence by the cracked rock faces throughout area. The fractured rock faces were everywhere and we had to scramble over the fallen pieces throughout the short walk to get to the end. There is a walking path that apparently takes you down to Golden Point Hut way down south, but I couldn’t see any evidence of such, no matter how hard I looked.
Leaving The Sentinels, we turned around and went back to Moroka Road, from where it was just a short journey to McMichaels Hut on the Lost Plain. Once again we were fortunate that it was free, as the weather was again changing like it often does in the High Country; beautiful one day, and sodden and freezing the next. McMichaels Hut has been sort of a regular stopover throughout the years and it’s ideal for two or three travellers. The photographs belie how small the hut really is, making it look much larger than it is in real life. What’s also nice about the area is that it has a stream flowing past just a few metres away and, while the water may need to be boiled, it’s always very clear and clean looking.
From McMichaels Hut it was a relatively easy journey back down to Licola, but not before we had to stop for some minor vehicle attention. I’d noticed something odd hanging from the rear of the Jeep and so we stopped for a look and it turned out to be a broken shock absorber mount and, after further inspection, the other shock absorber had suffered a similar fate. It appears that the shock absorbers had been slightly too long for the mounts and the constant jarring on our Cruise had eventually been too much and caused part of the mounts to break. All was good after the shock absorbers had been removed, albeit, the ride and handling was anything but pleasant from what I was told.
Anyway, we weren’t far from the blacktop and eventually home, so while the return journey was slower than normal, and had its moments, it went without further incident. I must say that it’s quite interesting to see the rear of a vehicle, which has no rear shock absorbers, bobbing about when the road gets a bit undulating. But there isn’t much that you can do under the circumstances, other than to be careful and take things easy. There was no rush and once on the freeway, the worst was over and things were a lot easier, more or less.