Craig's Hut - King River Day Trip - 17th January, 2004


Mark, Pius, Smitha, Praveen and Suresh

Smitha taking a photo with Maroondah Reservoir in the background

This was the first of what I hope will be many trips into the Victorian Bush for our Bangalore team mates as they come out to visit Australia.

Pius was kind enough to round everybody else up and bring them to my place, from where we began our journey shortly after 9:00am.  We headed out past Healesville, and had the first of many smoko stops for Suresh at Selover's Lookout, looking over Maroondah Reservoir.  The weather wasn't looking good, but we were hopeful it would clear up by the time we reached the High Country.

Winding through the Black Spur

We continued through the Black Spur, winding amongst the lush Tree Ferns and Victorian Mountain Ash.  The Ash is the tallest tree in Australia, which can reach heights of 100 metres.

The road proved too slippery for one car, which had run off the road down the embankment just before St. Ronan's Well.

Recovering the Troupie which had rolled down the embankment

We had to wait half an hour or so whilst the car was retrieved.  A little bit of excitement for the trip!  The planned stop at St. Ronan's Well to sample the mountain spring water was given a miss, since the traffic built up from the blocking of the road would have kept us delayed much longer still.

Suresh, Praveen and Pius near Goulburn Valley

On the move again and we stopped near the Archeron Cutting for a quick morning tea, to enjoy the views of the Goulburn Valley, and to give Suresh a smoko.

After passing through Alexandra, we moved off the highway onto a shortcut to Bonnie Doon which took some time off the journey, as well as taking us through some scenic, if dry farmland.  Coming around a corner over a small bridge there was a snake lying across the road.  It appeared dead, and there was no chance to stop or swerve to avoid it, but on reversing back to see if it was Ok or not, it was nowhere to be seen.

Back on the main road towards Bonnie Doon we spotted three Wedge Tailed Eagles soaring over the road.

Sheep Herding near Merrijig

After passing through Mansfield we came across a farmer herding his sheep with a quadbike and two sheep dogs.  I asked the guys if they used dogs to round the sheep and goats up back in India.  Praveen said it was much cheaper to have a human round them up then to train a dog!

Climbing Mt Stirling from Howqua Gap

We turned off the sealed road just before Mt Buller at Merimbah and started heading up the mountains.  We passed Telephone Box Junction, with it's many cross country skiing trails now being walking trails during the summer.

We continued along Circuit Road and almost missed the turnoff at Howqua Gap.  Changing down into real 4WD, we started our ascent of Mt Stirling.  The road was in very good condition having been recently graded by its appearance.  Still it was a real taste of off-road, especially as we crawled over the many cross-cut drains and through a couple of tight switchbacks.

The track levelled off amongst the Snow Gums, which was a perfect place to stop, stretch the legs and spines and take some photos.

Praveen, Pius, myself and Smitha Rest stop by the Snow Gums on Mt Stirling
Watchful cows

We spotted some cattle left to graze through the bush, but they moved off to a safe distance as Suresh approached.  The cows in Australia aren't quite as friendly as the cows back in India.

Bidding the cows farewell, we were back in the car to make our way to Mt Stirling summit.

Smitha, Pius, Suresh and Praveen on the summit of Mt Stirling

A short climb brought us to the peak, which had panoramic views across the High Country and back to Mt. Buller, where Suresh and Praveen had both visited on a previous trip during the snow season.

Pius enjoying the 'on top of the world' feeling

There was a crisp breeze, so it was jacket time for most but the weather was starting to fine up nicely.  We passed a father and his young son who were hiking across the hills as we continued on to Craig's Hut.

'Those aren't real graves are they?'

The views from Craig's Hut are always fantastic, and even the cloudy day couldn't spoil them.  We explored around the hut, and were almost able to convince Suresh that the graves were real.

Smitha, Pius, Praveen and Suresh at Craig's Hut Enjoying the view but not the flies

Lunch at Craig's Hut

After exploring the hut, it was time for lunch before backtracking a little to The Monument, a peak half way between Craig's Hut and Mt Stirling.  We made our descent off the mountain down Monument Track, which wound down fairly steeply in some parts, passing over some rocky shelves along the way.

We drove down to Bindaree Falls, where the bridge over Bindaree River was out. We drove down the ravine and through the creek to the other side of the bridge and made our way up the walking  track to the falls.

Crossing Bindaree River Bindaree Falls

Group shot beneath Bindaree Falls

The walking track passed under the falls allowing a scenic view through the cascade and past the tree ferns back down the river valley.  We were soon back into the car and making our way towards King Hut. 

Suresh enjoying one of the many river crossings

Another bridge was unsafe to cross, so we took the small ford alongside it; a photo opportunity Suresh couldn't miss.

Cows relaxing at King Hut

Not too much longer and we arrived at King Hut.  Can you believe it, more cows!  We put the Billy up to boil, and made our way down to the river.  Suresh slipped on one of the cobblestones and got a foot wet, but most unfortunately I missed the photo.  We enjoyed the cool water and the serene location by the river for a while, and then returned to the hut for our afternoon tea break.

Smitha on King River Suresh cooling off in King River

Coffee by the Hut

After coffee and Oreo's, we drove along King River Basin, crossing the river some 6 times before arriving at Pineapple Flat camping area.  The river was quite low, barely coming up to the steps on the car with the crossing into Pineapple Flat being the deepest.  A couple of kids fishing by the river crossing probably didn't appreciate our arrival!

More leg stretching and exploring along the river to help break up our drive.  A number of people where camped here, it truly is a popular camping spot.  We crossed the river again on our way out, with the kids still fishing beside the river crossing.

Our track blocked by a fallen gum tree

We thought we were on our way back out of the forest heading home, only to come around a bend in the track to see a gum tree fallen and blocking the way out.

We made it through!

After attacking the tree with an axe, a drag chain, a winch and the muscle power of 4 guys, 20 minutes later we eventually cleared enough of the tree off the track to get through.  The rest of the trip off the mountain into Mansfield was thankfully uneventful.  We stopped at Flakeout in Mansfield for dinner and spent another two hours on the road, arriving home at my place at 10:30 in the evening.  I didn't envy the rest of them who had another 45 minutes or so of travel back to their respective homes!  A long but enjoyable day.