The High Country – Nov 2017

This Cruise started out as one where we were thinking about staying in some cabins that we’d passed on an earlier trip but, for various reasons, a number of fellow travellers had to pull out and that just left two of us once again. After a lot of pondering, we decided to go to the Far East to the Davies Plains instead and, as we were doing this Cruise the week after the Melbourne Cup long weekend, we thought it should also be fairly peaceful. However, that can never be guaranteed as you can’t predict how many foreigners are doing a border crossing to Victoria to experience the good life that is denied them in the land of the cockroaches. Those north of our borders can laugh all they want about Victoria, but it still has the best and most accessible 4WDrving and camping in Australia. As it turned out, there were plenty of others about.

Lunch Stop - Gibbo River Victoria

Lunch Stop – Gibbo River Victoria

I started considering what path we could take to get to Davies Plains and thought that it would be interesting to come in from the Tom Groggin end rather than the western side. One reason for this is that we got fairly close to the western start for Davies Plains on our Jan 2017 Cruise, where we had to divert due to the track being closed and ended up on the Mitta Mitta River. The most recent time that we’d travelled the Davies Plains was on our Jan 2012 Cruise and the only time that we’d travelled from the Tom Groggin side was on our Jan 2008 Cruise. So not having done it this way for just on 10 years, if we were going to do this, why not go east to west. But to get there, and since we had four days, what could we do in-between? We decided to head up north on the Benambra-Corryong Road towards Nariel Creek, from where we could turn east and explore an area where we’d never ventured previously. None of this was hard and fast, we’d just pick a start point, make a rough outline and then follow where the tracks allowed. I was especially interested in some of the sections that passed by or ended on the Murray River.

Gibbo River Campsite - Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Gibbo River Campsite – Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Gibbo River Campsite - Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Gibbo River Campsite – Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Gibbo River Campsite - Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Gibbo River Campsite – Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Me, contemplating another photograph - (source: Grahame)

Me, contemplating another photograph – (source: Grahame)

Our Cruise ostensibly started at Omeo, which was swamped by visitors, both motorbikes, cars, caravans and RVs (the latter two coming there for the RV muster). So we headed onwards and stopped at Benambra for a top up. As we headed north, we travelled along a valley that had numerous nice campsites on the Gibbo River, which we noted as possible future places for a family camping trip. Some were large and open, others small and secluded, so lots of opportunities, From the Gibbo River we climbed up to Sassafras Gap and then descended down to the Nariel Valley. The first day’s drive was a long one, with Google maps suggesting nearly seven hours before we even locked the hubs. I thought this a bit odd as the journey to Omeo was marked at three hours, but then it was a very windy road from Omeo to Nariel Creek. Given that none of us are spring chickens anymore, seven or eight hours of straight driving is becoming quite tiring nowadays.

Sassafras Gap - Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Sassafras Gap – Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Blue Tongue Lizard - Glendart Track Victoria

Blue Tongue Lizard – Glendart Track Victoria

Blue Tongue Lizard - Glendart Track Victoria

Blue Tongue Lizard – Glendart Track Victoria

So rather than push ourselves for no reason, we had a plan to camp before reaching Nariel Creek. The maps indicated that there was a campsite at Stacey Bridge, which came up on Google search as a reasonable looking site, though right on the main road. Another option was the Glendart Campsite marked on the Hema map and located on the Dart River, which required going down the Glendart Track. I couldn’t find anything about this site on Google, but given that it wasn’t all that far off the main road, it was worth having a look. Further along there was also the Dart Campsite that from one report I found, was a reasonable looking site. As it turned out, it didn’t take anywhere near as long to reach the first campsite; Glendart, which was no more than a rest stop. So we continued on to the Dart River campsite, which turned out to be OK, but nothing to write home about. However, we found a secluded spot at the campsite and called it a day.

Dart River Campsite Victoria

Dart River Campsite Victoria

Making fire is possibly the singular most important human achievement and this apparently happened around one million years ago; bringing warmth, light and protection to the dark caves inhabited by our early ancestors. Despite the passage of time, we still have a fascination for fire (and more or less still live in caves) and probably have that same feeling towards fire as did those early ancestors whenever we light one. There’s rarely a High Country Cruise where we don’t have a fire going and this trip was no exception. However, finding firewood near popular campsites is always a problem, as every inch is usually scoured clean, which means we often have to go searching further afield. We were lucky and found wood nearby, but after a very wet Melbourne Cup long weekend, getting our first fire going was not easy. That said, having a river next to you makes it very easy to put the fire out the next morning.

Dart River Campsite Victoria

Dart River Campsite Victoria

Dart River Campsite Victoria

Dart River Campsite Victoria

Dart River Campsite Victoria

Dart River Campsite Victoria

The next morning turned out to be another fine day and we were on the road fairly early and when we reached Staceys Bridge camping area, we realised what a good decision it was to stop at Dart River. The campground was packed. There was a 4WD club taking up the major side of the campground and the other side was taken up by individual campers. We continued north and then east towards the Murray River, but not after having done some diversions as entrances to tracks couldn’t be found and dead ends were encountered. After finally getting into low range, we could see snow again in the distant mountains. As we traversed along Mt Elliot Ridge Track towards the Murray River, we came across some steep side tracks off Indi River Track that looked inviting but, on closer inspection, not so inviting. Eventually we came to Bunroy Station but couldn’t get through, so we kept following the Indi River Track until we eventually came to Surveyors Creek Track.

Staceys Bridge Campsite - Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Staceys Bridge Campsite – Benambra-Corryong Road Victoria

Falls Creek Snow - Nariel Gap Track Victoria

Falls Creek Snow – Nariel Gap Track Victoria

Halls Paddock Track - Off Indi River Track Victoria

Halls Paddock Track – Off Indi River Track Victoria

Halls Paddock Track - Off Indi River Track Victoria

Halls Paddock Track – Off Indi River Track Victoria

Bunroy Station - Bunroy Road Victoria

Bunroy Station – Bunroy Road Victoria

High Country Tracks – Dusty Hill

We followed Surveyors Creek Track until we reached Blue Gum Ridge Track, which we then took down to Riley’s Monument. This was a waste of time except for the fact that on leaving, we came upon a Victorian Parks guy with useful information. While the maps show a shady camping spot, it’s anything but, and not much to see. Anyway, I stopped to chat with he Parks guy and thankfully I did, as he informed us that Davies Plains was closed until 1 Dec. Had I checked beforehand on the Parks website I would have found this out, but I didn’t give it a thought. So we continued on and arrived at Mt Pinnibar where a large group had already gathered at the top. We parked a little lower to take some photos of the snow capped mountains before heading off along Mt Pinnibar Track to Grassy Flat for that night’s camp.

Falls Creek Snow - Blue Gum Ridge Track Victoria

Falls Creek Snow – Blue Gum Ridge Track Victoria

Falls Creek Snow - Mt Pinnibar Victoria

Falls Creek Snow – Mt Pinnibar Victoria

Falls Creek Snow - Mt Pinnibar Victoria

Falls Creek Snow – Mt Pinnibar Victoria

Falls Creek Snow - Mt Pinnibar Victoria

Falls Creek Snow – Mt Pinnibar Victoria

Snow Gums - Mt Pinnibar Victoria

Snow Gums – Mt Pinnibar Victoria

Mt Pinnibar Track - (source (Grahame)

Mt Pinnibar Track – (source (Grahame)

View from Mt Pinnibar

High Country Tracks

The Parks guy said it was a very long trip to Grassy Flat, but we managed to get there before 4:00pm, giving us plenty of time to set up and relax. Had it been Winter, it would have been a different story. The drive into Grassy Flat was quite uneventful and, other the the drop from Mt Pinnibar, not much to talk about. We weren’t sure whether Grassy Flat would be occupied, but it wasn’t, so we had a large area all to ourselves. Grassy Flat is actually a very nice camping spot, close to the Murray River and well laid out with grass throughout. The only thing missing is a long drop, which is quite surprising given the nature of the campsite. It’s apparently a starting/end point for a lot of walkers, so it probably gets support crews through the Summer. A thunderstorm loomed in the distance but soon moved on and the morning was very fog bound.

Grassy Flat Campsite - Murray River Victoria

Grassy Flat Campsite – Murray River Victoria

Grassy Flat Campsite - Murray River Victoria

Grassy Flat Campsite – Murray River Victoria

Stony Creek - Murray River Victoria

Stony Creek – Murray River Victoria

Stony Creek - Murray River Victoria

Stony Creek – Murray River Victoria

Grassy Flat Campsite - Murray River Victoria

Grassy Flat Campsite – Murray River Victoria

Grassy Flat Campsite - Murray River Victoria

Grassy Flat Campsite – Murray River Victoria

One of the interesting things about the High Country is the wildlife you find, many of the birds are pretty common to what we get in Mirboo North, but then from time to time you come across ones that you’ve never seen before. And every so often a common, but skittish, visitor also comes to see what’s going on. The kangaroo didn’t seem to be bothered one bit by our presence and did a circuit around the campsite, not all that far away. Then there are other oddities living under bark and whatnot.

Noisy Friarbird - Grassy Flat Victoria

Noisy Friarbird – Grassy Flat Victoria

Noisy Friarbird - Grassy Flat Victoria

Noisy Friarbird – Grassy Flat Victoria

Noisy Friarbird - Grassy Flat Victoria

Noisy Friarbird – Grassy Flat Victoria

Grey Kangaroo - Grassy Flat Victoria

Grey Kangaroo – Grassy Flat Victoria

Grey Kangaroo - Grassy Flat Victoria

Grey Kangaroo – Grassy Flat Victoria

Scorpion Spider - Grassy Flat Victoria

Scorpion Spider – Grassy Flat Victoria

Deer and Dogs

From Grassy Flat we headed back up the track to the Mt Pinnibar Track and then on towards the start of the Davies Plain Track. The Parks guy that we met at Riley’s Monument said that a new track had been put through, but where he indicated on the map we saw nothing on our way down. It was only when we’d reached the end of the track that we saw a signpost pointing one way to Grassy Flat and the other to Davies Plain. The track on our Rooftop map was completely wrong and the new track was a quick run to Tom Groggin and Dogmans Hut. We had a short stop to check out the hut and then moved on.

Dogmans Hut - Tom Groggin Victoria

Dogmans Hut – Tom Groggin Victoria

Dogmans Hut - Tom Groggin Victoria

Dogmans Hut – Tom Groggin Victoria

Dogmans Hut - Tom Groggin Victoria

Dogmans Hut – Tom Groggin Victoria

Tom Groggin Station - Tom Groggin Victoria

Tom Groggin Station – Tom Groggin Victoria

From Dogmans Hut we went back and took Tom Groggin Track to the Anderson Road junction and then took Mt Hope Road down to Buckwong Track, McCarthy’s Track and onto Limestone Creek Track. That took us to Limestone Creek Road and then Nunniong Road. Soon enough we were on the Nunniong Plains looking for a campsite. We did a full circuit of the plains and no one was about, so we had the pick of the campsites. Not only did we have the pick of campsites, our campsite came with cut wood and there was more just around the corner. A pity that whoever vacated the campsite left the fire going. While there was minimal chance of the smouldering fire going out of control, getting into a habit of leaving things to chance could lead to dire consequences.

Sentinel - Mt Anderson Road Victoria

Sentinel – Mt Anderson Road Victoria

Sentinel - Mt Anderson Road Victoria

Sentinel – Mt Anderson Road Victoria

Nunniong Plains Victoria

Nunniong Plains Victoria

Campsite - Nunniong Plains Victoria

Campsite – Nunniong Plains Victoria

Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson - Nunniong Plains Victoria

Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson – Nunniong Plains Victoria

Wallis and Matilda – Clancy of the Overflow

In quiet contemplation - Nunniong Plains Victoria

In quiet contemplation – Nunniong Plains Victoria

As the evening settled in and the wind died down, things became quiet on the plains until the wild horses came to graze. We counted around 20 in the distance. One thing we noticed was that a new conservation area had been declared and fenced off to protect it from access by animals. We both pondered what the purpose of this area was, as these places never actually tell you what is important and why they’re closed off, you’re just left guessing. As night settled in, so did we and pondered the changing landscape, the night sky and a few other oddities. It’s strange that it’s illegal to catch the wild horses, yet the government is on an eradication program to kill these horses. I’ve always said that governments work in mysterious ways.

Wild Horses - Nunniong Plains Victoria

Wild Horses – Nunniong Plains Victoria

Wild Horses - Nunniong Plains Victoria

Wild Horses – Nunniong Plains Victoria

Wild horses on Nunniong Plains

Ominous Cloud - Nunniong Plains Victoria

Ominous Cloud – Nunniong Plains Victoria

Warming Fire - Nunniong Plains Victoria

Warming Fire – Nunniong Plains Victoria

There wasn’t much more afoot the next day but to try and dry our tents and then make the long journey back home. We decided to take Nunnet Road back as it’s a pretty good dirt road for most of the trip before it turns into a sealed road for the last part. It was along this stretch that we came upon the Green Hills Huts and then further down the road where the recent fires had passed through. Everything along this latter part looked like Autumn had arrived, apart from the blackened tree trunks.

Green Hills Huts - Nunnet Road Victoria

Green Hills Huts – Nunnet Road Victoria

Green Hills Huts - Nunnet Road Victoria

Green Hills Huts – Nunnet Road Victoria

Green Hills Huts - Nunnet Road Victoria

Green Hills Huts – Nunnet Road Victoria

Bushfire remains along Timbarra Road, Victoria

From the Buchan turnoff it was a fairly easy run back home and, thankfully, not a lot of traffic.

I have a whole pile of video to go through and will update the story over the next few days as I sort out the video into meaningful or worthwhile bites. My cheap action cam failed this weekend (didn’t record a thing), so a lot of good footage is gone.

14 thoughts on “The High Country – Nov 2017

  1. Shawn K.

    I hope the people that bailed on the cruise regret pulling out.

    I look forward to the updates.

    Reply
    1. Ray Post author

      I’m sure that everyone would prefer to go on a Cruise, but sometimes they just can’t. I’m not sure if I’ll have any more updates. I’ll have to see if there are anymore video worth posting.

      Reply
  2. Shawn K.

    Well, that’s no good. I hope the new Sony clears up that deficit.

    I’m cleaning action cam files off of cards and enjoying some clips from last May. I should probably do something more with them.

    Reply
    1. Ray Post author

      I certainly hope that the Sony is better than the cheap action cam. Disappointment shall be in the extreme if it’s not.

      Reply
      1. Shawn K.

        You’ll probably love it. It’s a big step up from the old one, iirc.

        If you ever decide to give the GoPro form another try, YI is very good. I’ll upload some clips from my bumper this week.

        Reply
        1. Ray Post author

          I seriously considered the Yi, but I wanted to try a fully commercial product and not a GoPro look alike. One of the major issues with the Chinese products is the software, some time it works and sometimes it doesn’t: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLso0ZBqOi4. Had I unlimited funds, I’d go out and buy a few Blackmagic Cinema Micros and bask in their glory. I’d still like a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

          Reply
  3. Shawn K.

    If you take a liking to video production, I have a feeling that a BPCC will be in your bag soon. That will also justify buying at least a few MFT lenses to go along with your excellent 4/3 glass.

    Reply
    1. Ray Post author

      If the BMPCC had the full m4/3 sensor, I probably would own one now. But it has a crop factor of around 2.66, which make all my lenses much longer and less usable.

      Reply
      1. Shawn K.

        The m9-18 is a very small lens, and whatever an IQ snob may say about it for stills, I think it’d be just fine for video. MSC rated, so quiet & fast operation, too. If you get serious about a dedicated MFT mount video cam, it’d be useful.

        “The lens size has been dramatically reduced thanks to the short flange back distance of the Micro Four-Thirds format (approx. 50% shorter than that of the Four-Thirds format) as well as the retractable lens mechanism design. When compared to the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6, its volume is 50% smaller, and mass is 60% smaller. Ultra-compact, this is a lightweight lens you have never seen before.”

        http://asia.olympus-imaging.com/product/dslr/mlens/9-18_40-56/feature.html

        Reply
        1. Ray Post author

          I agree and it’s an option that I have considered. The only thing that would hold me back is whether it would exhibit the same focus movement that my 17mm did. That’s why if I went the BMPCC, I’d probably consider a wide, manual focus, lens.

          On further study, the angle of view multiplier is 2.88 for the BMPCC, which means all m4/3 lenses will have the angle of view significantly narrowed. I might as well stick with the MkI and look at something like a Samyang manual 12mm cine lens. Reviews seem to rate it pretty highly and it’ll be a much cheaper option.

          Reply
          1. Shawn K.

            It should lock focus if in MF mode, but your other lens should’ve, too. I have the 9-18, and can experiment on my E-M1 MkI to see what it does, but I’m still curious about the results you had with focus drift.

            Reply
            1. Ray Post author

              I thought that the focus would remain locked but, unfortunately, it didn’t. What it did was go out of focus and then come back into focus and then wander out again. There was no consistency, which concerns me using any AF lens in this particular application.

              Reply

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