WE’VE HAD a couple of American overlanders staying with us over the last few weeks and, of course, the conversation doesn’t stray far from where we’ve all been and where we’re heading to next.
Tim and Shannon have been touring Australia for the last 10 months in their well-set-up and maintained old Range Rover; and Rick and Kathy (www.travelintortuga.com) have been touring our country for the past 11 months (they’ve been touring the world for 10 years or so). While both couples were in Tassie at the same time, they never managed to catch up until they met at our place.
The conversation eventually got to where they had both been and what area they had enjoyed the most in Australia. While both couples took different routes – clocking up miles in their respective rigs and loving the many places they visited, the people they met and the experiences they were all exposed to – the region they enjoyed the most was the Victorian High Country.
Sure, they hadn’t seen the entire continent, but they had spent plenty of time in northern or central Australia, with both parties wandering down the west coast of the country. And, unlike us, who may take much of our country for granted, they bring fresh eyes and opinions to what is often a parochial view on what is the best part of the country.
I wasn’t surprised the High Country figured so prominently in their opinions. I remember a young Queensland couple paying us a visit when I was in the Ed’s chair after their 12-month circumnavigation of Australia, where they raved about how great the High Country had been and that it was the absolute highlight of their trip.
After an absence of five years or so, recent travels have reinforced how good the Victorian High Country is as a 4WD destination. Just this year, I’ve spent at least six weeks wandering different areas of the mountains; poking my way down a track for the first time, or finding a camp spot tucked beside a mountain stream I hadn’t visited before. Then there are the great vistas and views you get when atop a mountain, such as the famous Blue Rag trig point, the Billy Goat Bluff Track, or on the not-so-well-known Mt Pinnibar.
Before you claim I must be a biased Victorian, I was born in the NT and lived most of my early life in the back blocks of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. I’ve also done more than 40 trips to Cape York, 20-odd trips to the Kimberley, and I’ve covered the continent reasonably well. However, the Victorian High Country takes a lot of beating.
If you’ve never been there, now is the time to start planning your trip for when the tracks open again later this year – most will close after the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend in the middle of June. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how bloody fantastic it is.