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.
The first day turned out to be another one of those miserable Winter’s days where it rained most of the time and was freezing cold to boot. There was nothing overly memorable about the first day’s driving, but it was quite late and pouring down rain when we finally arrived at Bentley Plain. Another group of campers had commandeered Moscow Ville hut and another group the small hut at the campsite further down, but the central shelter was free and, as we had no desire to set up tents in the current weather, the shelter was ideal. We did our best to seal the shelter with tarps and everything that we had to keep out the wind, rain and cold, and it turned out partly successful. No one took their cameras out this night, as it was just too miserable to even try. I can’t even remember whether we got a fire going that night or not, as it was very late and dark by the time we had things set up.
It was a long night and I think we all looked forward to the morning, when we could move on. Our first destination was to have a look at a heritage listed steam driven winch, not far from that night’s camp, known as The Washington. The Washington was used to haul logs from the deep valley atop which it sat and the cables etc used for this task are still connected, so it’s easy to see how it was all laid out and worked back in the day. These old steam driven devices never cease to fascinate me and it’s always a joy to find even relics of these old devices on our trips, even if it’s just bare remnants that make you try and piece together what they were once tasked to do.
The stopover at The Washington also provided us with a short respite from the weather, which had toned itself down to an intermittent light drizzle, mixed in with an early morning mist. The break also gave us a chance to review out trip planning before heading off once again towards the Nunniong Plains. We were planning to go north of Nunniong Plains up towards Cobberas, but part way up Garron Point Track, we hit black soil that made it impossible to go forward, so we turned around and headed back to Nunniong Plains. We managed to make the second campsite in daylight, so it was a lot easier to set up, but this was going to be another very cold night and the rain turned to a mix of sleet and snow during the night, with the morning being very frosty indeed.
From Nunniong Plains we headed east once more towards Mt Deception, to see if we could take an alternate route to Cobberas. But once again we stared at defeat, as an innocuous looking hill turned into a slippery slide that required our forward scout to winch back down in reverse, as all forward progress had ceased. It took us some time to get the vehicle back to the bottom of the hill, despite the fact that It hadn’t ventured that far up in the first place, as the surface was truly diabolical. Once out of there, we saw some light at the end of the tunnel and clearer skies as well.
Once out the gloom and doom of the valleys, we rose up high onto the mountain tops and other than one narrow, greasy, pinch along a fence line, came upon some great views and warming sunshine. And while stopping at this marvellous lookout for a late lunch and a rest before heading on to Glenmore, our third night’s campsite, we became person’s of interest to the locals. We could have stayed here for a lot longer enjoying the sunshine, but it was getting late and we couldn’t linger, not knowing what was ahead. However, the remainder of the journey was uneventful and for the first time this weekend we managed to set up camp at a reasonable hour and get to relax.
The Glenmore campsite proved to be a top spot, with plenty of firewood about and for once it looked like we weren’t going to have to suffer rain. Being reasonably early, we had a chance to check out Mt Stewart and the lookout, as well as the Mellick Munjie Falls, both of which were close to the campsite. This night we were determined not to be cold and made sure the fire was going to have plenty of coals to keep things warm. It actually stayed dry all night and we were really able to wind down for the first time that weekend. To top things off, the next day was looking good weather wise and the views on the way back to civilisation were pleasant indeed.
This was one of those ‘memorable’ trips where you can’t quite remember every aspect of the trip (though writing about it puts things in their place), but there are often events that happen along the way that you never forget. One thing is for certain, Dave will never forget The Washington.