Warburton - 10th April 2005

I felt like getting away and trying on some easy 4WDing, so bundled myself up to explore around the Warburton area.

I wanted to drive up Mount Little Joe, and explore the old mines indicated on my map near the summit. But all the tracks were gated, so I headed up Old Warburton Road to revisit some tracks I'd driven on previously.

Edwardstown Road, in the picture was quite rutted, but as it was dry it didn't prove any problems.

I then turned up Guidehouse Road and down a side track near the timber mill. This crossed Britannia Creek, where an extremely steep track continued up the hill side. Don't think I'd try this one with company, let alone on my own!

The track past the timber mill was also very rutted, and good fun to meander over. This track is now unfortunately closed off. More and more tracks are disappearing before my eyes, especially in the Warburton area.

This track of which I'm not sure of the name since all of the tracks around here had been realigned from what's recorded on my maps, looked a little too rutted for my tastes today.

It was somewhere in the vicinity of Britannia Firetrail, where I continued along an unmarked track.

The ruts along here were quite impressive, allowing underbody work to be undertaken if desired. I decided to take the high and low road at the same time. The angle was quite pronounced, but not enough to risk a rollover. Driving fully in the rut (or was it a dried up boghole?) would have been very tight, and I didn't feel like widening the hole with my sidebars and steps.

I passed a few good bog holes before joining up with Buffer Track. Here the track was interspersed with some large boulders, and I managed to get some good angles happening as I crawled up and over.

The track rejoined Britannia Fireline, and I then started descending Ellis Track. There was quite a steep section which I made it down without drama, but the track further ahead looked very rocky, rutted and steep. It didn't feel a good idea to continue on my own, so after a multipoint turn, I eventually made it back up to the track junction. A good bit of careful wheel placement over ruts was required, but I made it in the end. The article in the March 2006 4WD Monthly on the Warburton area showed I made the right decision! Ellis Creek track is apparently quite a challenge.

The track became quite overgrown just before Taylors Track, with lots of small trees encrouching the road. Most likely regrowth after logging in this area.

I headed north along Taylors Track, joining up with Portas Road, a good quality 2WD gravel road. I passed up the shortcut of Lady Walkers Track, it was very overgrown, and headed down the mountain along Portas Road to Britannia Creek Road instead. Passing the bottom of Lady Walkers Track told me I made the right decision.

From here I drove up Justice Creek Track, which is pictured. A lovely drive through the mountain ash.

The road joined up with the lower portions of Cemetery Track, which descends quite steeply in sections down to Edwardstown Road. The spoon drains are quite pronounded, and the views across the Yarra Valley beautiful.

I decided to do one last circuit, driving up to Mt Tugwell and back down Cemetery Track before heading home. Rain was threatening, but I thought I would make it before the heavens opened up.

This was not to be. It started raining quite heavily as I drove along Cemetery Track.

The rain turned the top inch of track into slippery, slimmey, claggy mud. I felt the initial loss of traction just as I was approaching the first spoon drain before the big steep descent down Cemetery Track, and managed to steer and slide off the track into a washout. Very lucky, as the track past that drain was very steep, all the way to the bottom. I had no idea that the track could get so slippery so quickly!

Recovery was quite an effort. I let some air out of the tyres, but even with diff locks on I was only able to move a couple of metres back towards the track from the washout. The thick mud turning my tyres into slicks.

I hooked the winch up to a tree on the left of the track, and managed to winch the front of the car around so that I was at least facing back onto the track.

From there I did 3 or 4 pulls back up the hill to a point where I thought the track had leveled enough and I wasn't at risk of sliding back down.

On the last pull, a group of dirt bikes came past and offered to help, but I was pretty much there. They considered driving down the track, but wisely decided to head up and out, having enough trouble doing that on the slippery clay.

My winch siezed up on the last pull, but with difflocks engaged I was able to continue up the last of the slope, and head on back home.