Vic­to­ria’s High Coun­try

Show the kids some Man from Snowy River coun­try - you’re in for a rugged time.

Caravan, Camping and Holiday Parks with Kids - - Contents -

In 1890, a dis­tant 123 years ago, The

Bul­letin news mag­a­zine pub­lished a poem by Aus­tralian bush poet An­drew Bar­ton ‘Banjo’ Paterson called The Man from

Snowy River. It was to be­come one of Aus­tralia’s most well-known and best-loved pieces of lit­er­a­ture. The 1982 movie of the same name star­ring Tom Burlin­son (Jim Craig) and Sigrid Thorn­ton (Jessica Har­ri­son) im­mor­talised this story af­ter tran­scrib­ing it onto the big screen. The poem was fur­ther ce­mented in his­tory in 1983 when an ex­tract

of verse was in­scribed onto the Aus­tralian $10 poly­mer note along­side Banjo Paterson’s im­age and name.

The Man from Snowy River de­scribes where the man comes from rather than set­ting the scene for where the ad­ven­tures ac­tu­ally took place, Vic­to­ria’s High Coun­try. The poem aside, it was the movie that in­spired many to visit this re­gion and the fa­mous ‘Craig’s Hut’ that was built specif­i­cally for the movie. The hut over­looks an in­spir­ing coun­try­side many had never imag­ined ex­isted.

You find your­self driv­ing along a moun­tain spur with views that make you feel on top of the world.

To­day the Vic­to­rian High Coun­try is alive with vis­i­tors; some look­ing for a week­end away while oth­ers are seek­ing adventure. Lo­cated in the north- east re­gion of Vic­to­ria and ac­cessed from the south, or from the north down along NSW alpine re­gions, this re­gion at­tracts vis­i­tors all year round.

There are three rea­sons why the Vic­to­rian High Coun­try may be in­ac­ces­si­ble, and that’s dur­ing snow falls where cer­tain gates are closed and locked, when bush­fires rav­age the area, or when ac­cess is not ad­vised dur­ing wet or bad weather. Such is the na­ture of the area that the risks dur­ing this time are too high for vis­i­tors to safely visit the re­gion.

Whilst there are some easy ac­cess tracks and trails for light 2WD ve­hi­cles, the real at­trac­tions are lo­cated in some of the more in­ac­ces­si­ble ar­eas, and ac­cess is rated as you would find in any snow­field. Rat­ings of green, blue, dou­ble-blue, black and dou­ble-black di­a­mond note the in­creas­ing dif­fi­culty and rugged­ness of the tracks through­out the re­gion.

Adventure may mean dif­fer­ent things for dif­fer­ent peo­ple, so ex­pect to see 4WDs, the odd camper trailer in tow, mo­tor­bikes and even the odd postie bike as you make your way around the ridges and val­leys of the Vic­to­rian High Coun­try.

Thanks to mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, GPS re­ceivers, dig­i­tal maps and real-time po­si­tion­ing make trekking across the high coun­try rel­a­tively sim­ple. The key to any trip is prepa­ra­tion, and no mat­ter how much ef­fort is put in be­fore leav­ing, trav­el­ling with oth­ers is the safest de­ci­sion that you could make.

Our 230km four- day trip from Jind­abyne, through the Vic­to­rian High Coun­try and fin­ish­ing at Tom Grog­gin within view­ing dis­tance of Mount Kosciuszko, be­gan to­wards the south of Jind­abyne off the Barry Way. Although the Barry Way is rel­a­tively tame and well main­tained in com­par­i­son to the rest of the jour­ney, the views of the Snowy River along the road are sim­ply breath­tak­ing and it’s well worth stop­ping at the des­ig­nated view points to take in some of the spec­tac­u­lar scenery.

Ingee­good­bee may sound like a funny name but it is def­i­nitely a fan­tas­tic track and rep­re­sents the start of many kilo­me­tres of driv­ing in low range. Your turn-off from the Barry Way, which is a gen­tle dirt road in com­par­i­son to the rest of the track, will quickly high­light that things are about to get in­ter­est­ing.

Ingee­good­bee leads you right onto a spur be­fore de­scend­ing down­wards into the Vic­to­rian Alps ahead, and from here it is not long be­fore you reach a magnificent clear­ing which gives you that first ‘High Coun­try’ ex­pe­ri­ence that you’ve been look­ing for, with alpine trees bleached and bare from the win­ter snow falls.

McFar­lane Flat Track is the next trail you will en­counter and this makes no al­lu­sion to be­ing flat. There ap­pears to be a never- end­ing de­scent be­fore it too rises and, once again, you find your­self driv­ing along a moun­tain spur with views that make you feel as though you are on top of the world.

Cob­beras Trail is the least-known trail that we trav­elled along. Although rel­a­tively sim­i­lar to the other trails on this trip, it stood out as the most in­ter­est­ing with one par­tic­u­lar sec­tion prov­ing a chal­lenge for all ve­hi­cles, es­pe­cially those with camper trail­ers in tow, to as­cend. And even though no winches were re­quired on this trip, it was com­fort­ing to know that our con­voy of well-set-up tour­ers had them fit­ted if needed.

Davies Plain Track has loose sec­tions but noth­ing too con­cern­ing. If you’ve ever won­dered what the pur­pose of high plains huts were, they are past rem­nants of cat­tle­men’s homes away from home. Run­ning cat­tle in the high coun­try and the re­mote­ness of the area cre­ated an is­sue when round­ing up cat­tle. This would of­ten take days on end, so the cat­tle­men from the by­gone era built huts at sig­nif­i­cant points along their mus­ter­ing jour­neys. Some were in­hab­ited full time while oth­ers were used as a stopover or for months on end. Some are more elab­o­rate than oth­ers, while only a few of the ‘orig­i­nal’ dwellings still stand to­day. Davies Plain Hut is a fine ex­am­ple of a Cat­tle­man’s stopover.

There are var­i­ous camp­ing ar­eas along this trek. The most no­table are Davies Plain Hut, Char­lie’s Creek, The Poplars, Na­tive Dog camp­ground, Lime­stone Creek, Ja­cobs River camp­ground and, of course, Tom Grog­gin. Af­ter stay­ing on the Barry Way the first night, our sec­ond night stopover was at Na­tive Dog camp­ground, be­fore mak­ing our last night stopover at Tom Grog­gin.

For those ad­ven­tur­ers among us, there is a wa­ter cross­ing through the river to the east­ern bank at Tom Grog­gin that opens onto a large open camp­ing area pop­u­lated by hun­dreds of kan­ga­roos and within walk­ing dis­tance to the river. It’s ideal for a quick dip dur­ing the sum­mer months.

This may be a short trek by dis­tance, but the scenery is for­ever chang­ing. Peo­ple need to be fully self-suf­fi­cient, and thanks to those vis­i­tors who con­tinue to take all of their rub­bish out with them, the area re­mains in pris­tine con­di­tion and await­ing the next load of vis­i­tors.

The only dis­cour­ag­ing point about this trip is that it fin­ishes on the Alpine Way, a road paved in black which leads back to civil­i­sa­tion and all that is as­so­ci­ated with it. How good would it have been to turn around and do it all again? Well, maybe next time.

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02 01 Craig’s Hut. Photo Peter Dun­phy 02 Be­friend­ing kan­ga­roos 03 Campers are spoilt for choice 04 Steep de­scent 05 Rus­tic stopover spot

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