4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - RON MOON

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.trav­elin­tor­ 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.

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