The High Country – May 2012

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.

Early Morning - Howitt High Plains Victoria

Early Morning – Howitt High Plains Victoria

The first day, after leaving Licola, took us along the Macalister River Track, up Butcher Country Track and then along the Caledonia Track, and finally up Dingo Hill Track onto Howitt Road. We’d cut across via Scrubby Hill Track onto Kellys Hut Track, found McMichaels Hut taken and further along (from memory) Kellys Hut was also taken. So we travelled on and found camp just off the Howitt Road off Kellys Hut Track near The Gorge, at a spot often used by horse riders. The campsite is quite good, but we had to go to some effort to find wood, as it looked like it was going to be a very cold and somewhat windy night. The frost that covered the plains the next morning was clear evidence that it had been very cold overnight, though the morning and the rest of day was absolutely perfect.

Setting up camp on Howitt High Plains Victoria - (source: Grahame)

Setting up camp on Howitt High Plains Victoria – (source: Grahame)

Camping on the Howitt High Plains Victoria - (source: Grahame)

Camping on the Howitt High Plains Victoria – (source: Grahame)

Frost on the plains - Howitt High Plains Victoria

Frost on the plains – Howitt High Plains Victoria

Camping on the plains - Howitt High Plains Victoria

Camping on the plains – Howitt High Plains Victoria

From the Howitt High Plains we turned down Moroka Road to head towards Billy Goat Bluff Track, but along the way we turned off the track to have a look at the Pinnacles Fire Tower. On a day like this, it would have been a shame not to go to the Pinnacles and enjoy the spectacular views afforded from the fire tower. And, even more so, it’s on days like this that you really want to be out here in the High Country, taking in views that many never get to see. From the Pinnacles, we descended Billy Goat Bluff Track to the Wonnangatta Road and then climbed Conway Track to Hibernia Rd, onto the Dargo High Plains Road and then down to Dargo for a fuel stop. Once fuelled up, we turned around and headed along the Upper Dargo Road to finally camp at Collins Flat on the Dargo River.

The Pinnacles Fire Lookout - East Pinnacle Victoria

The Pinnacles Fire Lookout – East Pinnacle Victoria

Views from the lookout - East Pinnacle Victoria

Views from the lookout – East Pinnacle Victoria

Billy Goat Bluff Track - (source: Grahame)

Billy Goat Bluff Track – (source: Grahame)

Conway Track Track - (source: Grahame)

Conway Track Track – (source: Grahame)

During that afternoon, while setting up camp next to the Dargo River, a hunting hound came visiting, obviously separated from the main pack. You can see the radio antenna on the collar, which is something that’s very common nowadays. We put a lead on the hound so that it wouldn’t wander off, knowing that the owner would be around some time that afternoon, as they did. But, as I’ve done before, I always ask for specific details of the dog, such as the tag number, to ensure that it is the rightful owner. These hunting dogs have to be the most pleasant animals that I’ve ever come across and they are always so friendly. Not much else happened that night, other than a late dinner and I can’t remember whether we had a late or early night.

Lost Hound - Dargo River Victoria

Lost Hound – Dargo River Victoria

Dinner - Dargo River Victoria

Dinner – Dargo River Victoria

The next day we set off across the Dargo River to the Birregun Road and then followed Murdering Spur Track to Wild Horse Creek Track, and then Pheasant Creek Track where we hoped to take a short cut to Friday Spur Track. Unfortunately, we had to turn around as the track was blocked and take the long way via McDonald Road to Friday Spur Track. The one thing that I always remember about Friday Spur Track is that it was utterly overgrown, in places we couldn’t see the track or the sky, as both were completely invisible as we ploughed through dense bushes (great for producing pin stripes). The last part of Friday Spur Track was fairly steep and the entrance to the Wentworth River had a sharp and rutted drop off to the river; though from the drivers seat it looked far worse that it was in reality.

Friday Spur Track - (source: Grahame)

Friday Spur Track – (source: Grahame)

Friday Spur Track - (source: Grahame)

Friday Spur Track – (source: Grahame)

Friday Spur Track - (source: Grahame)

Friday Spur Track – (source: Grahame)

From the Wentworth River we travelled a short distance to Wallers Hut, where we planned to camp, but it was occupied so we turned back to the Wentworth River to a campsite closer to the river. I can’t remember much about camp that night, but I do remember that it wasn’t a bad spot at all. The next morning we took Storer Track to Morris Peak Track, onto Bullumwaal – Mt Baldhead Road and down to Bairnsdale. That was pretty much the end of the trip, with everyone taking the usual route home via the back roads from Stratford.