La Trobe River State Forest
I have been on two trips into this forest, both trips loosely based on the 4WD Trips Out of Melbourne Book.
December 15th & 16th 2002
The first trip intended to follow the set route in the reverse order. Willowgrove Road is a beautiful windy drive through the forest, but we had a bit of trouble finding the Kings Rd turnoff, driving right past it for some distance before returning and using the GPS to locate it. Kings Road brought us down to Hawthorn Bridge, reportedly closed but it seemed in OK condition and didn't collapse on us. There was a really clean and new toilet built here and lots of possible camp sites, so we setup camp and tried some fishing before cooking a succulent chicken in the camp oven and relaxing around the fire.
Later in the evening as we were enjoying the quite and solitude, we could see two possums climbing out on a tree branch silhouetted against the moonlight sky high overhead. It seemed strange for them to be climbing along the dead branch towards the edge, until one after the other they leaped off the branch into the air, spread their legs wide and floated down onto the trunk of another tree. What a fantastic sight, our first observation of gliders in the bush.
Still later, we were startled as they one after the other crashed into the trunk of a tree just beside where we were sitting. We were able to get a very good look at them and identified them as Greater Gliders, but I couldn't get the camera from the car before they had climbed up into the trees.
The next day we drove out along La Trobe River Road, finding another great campsite only accessible by 4WD. I took a wrong turn missing H Tree Extension Road so we gave up on the planned route and just drove along, ending up on the Old Sale Road, and doing some 4WDing along Webbs Road along the back of farmland, eventually arriving into Neerim South via McDougals Rd.
January 1st 2003
I wanted to revisit this area and follow the trip notes in the book, so I packed up my two sons and headed off on New Years Day. Again there was nobody else camping in the whole forest, and we only came across the odd car and trail bike rider.
We travelled in from Neerim South, and saw some Jersey cows which we stopped to feed. We continued along the trip notes, and found a nice little camp site on H-Tree Extension, though the river that flowed through nearby hadn't seen water for quite some time.
We soon arrived at the campsite near Hawthorn Bridge that I discovered on the previous trip, and setup camp while the kids enjoyed a swim in the river. There were a few March Flies around, one of which chased James and Liam in circles around the picnic table, but they soon disappeared as the evening became cooler.
We cooked and ate our dinner, and settled down to play some games when it started to drizzle, so we moved into the tent as the rain started.
The next day we explored around a little, before packing up and heading off to explore wider. We crossed Hawthorn Bridge, and headed North into Noojee State Forest along a track unnamed on my map. We explored a side track that came back down near the north shore of the La Trobe, but the track was overgrown and became impassable near the bottom, so we backtracked and continued along the ridge. A number of side tracks which according to the map went back down to Hawthorn Creek Road could not be found, so we continued on until we reached Suckling Road, which took us down through some rutted track to Hawthorn Creek Road which I planned to follow out. Surprisingly, the bridge was out so after a review of the maps, we drove back up Suckling Creek Road a short distance, taking the first track on the right which we followed up the ridge to Vesper Road, and onto Mount Baw Baw Tourist Road.
We then drove up to Toorongo Falls, which were flowing well with the help of the rain overnight. After our walk to the falls, we drove up Fawcett Track, which was overgrown at some points but came out on some really nice clear tracks which took us down to Loch Valley Road, which we followed on out to Noojee and home.