Our Nov 2011 Cruise began at Moe, from where we headed to Walhalla and then north to have a look at the famed Cricket Ground, located high above Walhalla. When you get to the cricket ground, you really do wonder about the stamina of the people of those days, as men, women and children would climb the steep hill in their best gear to watch the cricket matches. The climb can still be done today, but you’d better be prepared as it’s not something for the unfit. Mind you, the cricket ground wasn’t anything like it must have been in its heyday, for there was nothing really recognisable as a cricket ground on our visit and I’m quite glad that we drove there. From the cricket ground we followed the road up to the the Thomson Dam where we took a short break to look at what appeared to be a reasonably full reservoir.
From the Thomson Dam we turned onto Dream Creek Track and crossed the Aberfeldy River, which was flowing quite well and fairly deep. We then followed One Speck Track until we hit Williamson Spur Track and from there we followed McEvoys Track until we reached Green Hills Track which we followed down to the Macalister Gorge Scenic Reserve. Many years ago we came down Green Hills Track and part of it was like driving down a track that had been laid with gravel the size of cricket balls. It was a hairy section of track to say the least, as it was steep and offered very little control on a very hot and dry Summer’s day. This time things were much more sedate and we were at the gorge in no time. This was also the largest Cruise group we’ve had, with a total of nine vehicles attending.
The floods that went through the Macalister Gorge Scenic Reserve recently were most certainly evident with massive amounts of trees piled up blocking the old track and the other side of the river crossing was eroded away more than usual. The river was flowing and being so dirty the depth was a little uncertain, but this section usually isn’t that deep, so it was more a case of picking the right entrance. As it was, the one that I took appeared to be the most used and probably was given the hole that was there at the start. So the others decided to ponder a different route, giving them a better entrance, but still ending up much the same depth of crossing overall.
After watching my crossing, some decided that perhaps it was best to walk the river and see what it was like, which more of less confirmed that it was only the entrance to the river that caused any issue with my crossing efforts. Starting a bit higher up the river and driving down river and across proved an easier task. In hindsight, it does make more sense to start up river under such conditions, for if the current is reasonably strong, it will only carry you along the way that you want to go as you move across to the other side. This is what I usually do, so I’m not sure why I decided to take the route that I did. If you can walk through waist deep water, you can generally drive through it as well.
We then continued up Burgoyne Track to the Licola Road and then to Licola for a short break, which is almost a mandatory stop for some reason. I guess it’s usually the last semblance of civilisation before we once again hit the High Country. From Licola we followed Tamboritha Road to the Wellington River for camp that night. This being a trip after the Melbourne Cup long weekend, we had no trouble finding a suitable campsite along the Wellington, Muttonwood campsite to be exact. There are many campsites along the Wellington River on this stretch of road, but because of the the size of our group, we needed something a tad larger than usual and the campsites further up Tamboritha Road are usually more accommodating. With a large group, it also helps to have a long drop nearby.
The next day we turned back towards Licola and then headed up Mt Margaret Track. After a brief stop at the Mt Margaret Track helipad (the helipad is actually well before Mt Margaret), we then continued onwards until we reached the Chromite Mine Track, which we followed down and then went up the B1 track back to the Tamboritha Road. This part is almost a reversal of one of our recent trips, mind you, these things are always likely to happen as you criss-cross the High Country every year. From Tamboritha Saddle, we headed down Dingo Hill Track to the Caledonia River, where we found a suitable campsite next to the river for that night. Once again, it’s fortunate that there are a couple of good sized campsites along the Caledonia and that we weren’t out on the long weekend, as otherwise we would most certainly have had to camp in separate groups.
The next morning we headed up Butcher Country Link Track and then down the Butcher Country Track to the Macalister River, which we followed back downstream through its numerous crossings to Black Soil Gully Track which took us to Bull Plain Spur Road. At the junction of Bull Plain Spur Road and Barkly River Road, we took the Barkly River Road down to Middle Ridge Road from where we then rose up Morris Road onto the Jamieson-Licola Road. From the Jamieson-Licola Road we took Champion Spur to Black River Link Track and then Queen Bee Road, which brought us onto Mt Selma Road. It was beginning to get late at this stage and a campsite was in order; however, we were pretty high up on the ridge line now and where we were, there were no known good campsites readily available.
While Mt Selma Road was a good 2WD road, it was going to take us far too long to get to any low lying camps that we knew of, such as Comet Flat near Woods Point. The best that we could do is continue on and see if we could find an open area suitable for our group, which we did at Fiddlers Green, or thereabouts. We came across a large open area next to the road and I don’t know what it once was, but the ground was as hard as rock and I had a devil of a time getting in my tent pegs. The weather also turned foul with rain and a strong wind picking up, which continued all night and got worse as darkness fell. It became so bad that my tent collapsed because the pegs weren’t in solidly enough and the only thing I could do is retreat to my car and sleep the night inside for a very uncomfortable, but dry, night.
The following morning was thankfully dry (small consolation) and after packing up we continued along Mt Selma Road towards Matlock. At the Walhalla Road junction I said farewell to the group as I headed south and the remainder headed west to the Warburton-Woods Point road and back to Melbourne. Considering the large number of vehicles, this turned out to be quite a good trip, with memorable moments, notwithstanding the awful weather on the last night.