Alpine National Park - Cup Weekend 2002
Saturday 2nd November 2002
Well I just have to say that this was an absolute magic long weekend. We did some exploring along some fantastic parts of the Victorian High Country which I had only previously heard about, but of course there is so much more to see so I look forward to many more trips into this magnificent area of Victoria.
Henric and I made off early on Saturday morning towards Mansfield. At Mansfield we stopped for some last minute supplies in an extremely busy town. Cup Weekend is the Mansfield Cup weekend as well, and judging by the throngs of people and seas of cars, it is very popular. Out of Mansfield we drove up Buttercup Rd which follows Buttercup Creek and had a number of nice campsites which didn't appear to see too much use.
From Buttercup Road onto Carters Road, and we passed through some recently logged areas as we continued our climb. We drove past Tomahawk Gap, for some reason missing Tomahawk Hut so I'll just have to travel up that way again. We drove along No. 3 Road, which had some very nice views across the high country, and explored Mount No. 3 Hut, complete with timber rocking chair. We continued along the Razorback to Circuit Road, and then travelled down the valley along King Basin Road to our lunch location at Pineapple Flat.
This is a very nice campsite on the King River, and was also very popular. We stopped on a little side track near the river and spent about half an our trying to open the back of my car because the picnic table had jammed against the door lever on the inside. Somehow we managed to get a contrivance of ockie straps and rope around the cargo barrier and shelving units to hook onto the picnic table and pull it through 90 degrees away from the door handle! A quick fish also proved more complicated with my reel turning belly up, so a thorough cleaning of the reel got it back into working order. The fishing was nonetheless futile, so we packed up and drove along King Basin Road as it followed and crossed the King River a number of times until we reached King Hut. This also was a very popular camping area.
From here we ascended the Staircase, a very rocky piece of road, which the Pathfinder danced up with at least 2 wheels on the ground at any one time. We drove down into Lake Cobbler which we explored around as far as we could looking for the best campsite, before settling down on the lakeside not far from the hut.
There were a few other people camping here, but it certainly wasn't crowded. I tried fishing again, but didn't see any sign of any fish.
As it was a total fire ban, we sat in the cold and ate cold chicken. It was soon raining, so we sheltered in the car until it cleared again. There was no chance of a fire getting out of control today.
Sunday 3rd November 2002
Packing up camp, there was little sign of the thunderstorm that had passed through the night before. Driving down from the Cobbler Plateau, we had a fantastic view of Dandongadale Falls, which I believe are the longest falls in Victoria with a 255 metre drop.
We drove along Abbeyard Road down McIvers Spur to McIvers Picnic Ground, where a quick fish of the Buffalo River also was fishless. We followed the Buffalo River upstream through lovely green valleys with cattle grazing and then turned back onto some 4WDing up Razor Track. Razor Track followed the ridge for some distance before descending through some steep sections and across a couple of ferny creek crossings.
At the junction of Razor Track and Harry Shepherds Track we stopped for lunch beneath tall trees and verdant grassy undergrowth with King Parrots alluding the camera.
We climbed Harry Shepherds Track, and made a wrong turn down the Alpine Walking Track. We soon realised our error, and backtracked onto Van Dammes Track, and then made our way down into Wonnangatta Valley.
The Valley is certainly a very popular location, with many people camping along the river and across the flats. We explored the homestead site and cemetery, and continued on through the valley before climbing out on Cynthia Range Track. We followed this track which had been recently regraded, past Mt Cynthia and down Eaglevale Track into our campsite on the banks of the Wonnangatta. Henric went off in search of firewood, while I tried again in vain to catch a fish.
Henric was soon returning with a good sized log chained behind his car, which with the help of his chainsaw, gave us enough wood for the night, and our nearby campers wood for the next day. After a top BBQ dinner, and some chatting with the family camped adjacent it was time to call it a night when I heard some large animal rustling in some tall bushes near the campsite. Some nervous exploring with the torch unearthed nothing, so a hasty retreat was called for.
Monday 4th November 2002
Bacon & Eggs for breakfast, packed up the tents and we were off. We continued along Wonnangatta Road until we reached the famous Billy Goat Bluff Track. I really enjoyed climbing this track, which had some steep sections which often saw the Pathfinder with a wheel left high in the air. There was one section where the track ran across a rocky escarpment where I would have loved to have taken a photo, but there was a little too much traffic that day. We continued to the top of Billy Goat Bluff, and visited the fire lookout at the Pinnacles with some light snow falling.
From the Pinnacles we drove along Moroka Road and stopped to visit MacFarlane Hut. We walked some distance along the walking track but never found it. is it still there? I think the track went all the way to Lake Tarli Karng. Back into the warmth of the cars as the snow was starting to get heavier and we continued on through Arbuckle Junction and along Howitt Plains where the snow was quite heavy and the countryside was covered in white.
We stopped for lunch in the shelter of Howitt Hut, where Henric cooked some mighty tasty lamb kebabs.
We passed Zeka Spur Track, which I must try out on another trip, and made our way down King Billy Track. This was a visually amazing track, descending down past huge rockslides which I'd love to know the history of. Into and through the valley, we were soon climbing the slopes of King Billy, and came to the junction with Brocks Road.
The snow had been falling quite heavily, and the tracks were becoming very wet and slippery, though we got through it all without need of recovery. Driving along King Billy we came across a Patrol heading towards us, who had to reverse a good distance back down the track until we were able to pass. We waited to make sure he could get back onto the track, which was just as well as the slope and snow proved too much, requiring him to winch himself back out of trouble. Travelling down and past the ominous King Billy, we found ourselves at Lovicks Hut, and onto Bluff Road.
We travelled past Bluff Hut, Refrigerator Gap and down into Sheepyard Flat for an Afternoon Tea revival before heading home after a very enjoyable and memorable long weekend 4WDing.