High Country 26th - 31th December 2006

Participants: Henric, Cory, Mark and Liam

Day 1 - Tuesday 26th December

Ah, travelling back up into the High Country after Christmas. I look forward to this trip each year. This time Henric and Cory came along, and James piked out.

It was a routine, uneventful drive down the Princes Freeway, though we did try unsuccessfully to find a sports store to pick up a baseball bat for Liam. We stopped at some relatives of Henric's on the farside of Bairnsdale fr a cuppa and a chat then made out way up along the Tambo then out past Omeo.

Roadside grazing is becoming more popular with the extended drought, and Henric took a turn at herding the cows back into their paddock. We think the farmer was appreciative, he waved at least.

We really had no idea where we were going to camp, apart from that we wanted it to be a nice private spot on the Mitta Mitta River. The campground at Taylor's Crossing was looking like a descent fallback option, but I was hoping that Kennedy's Hut might offer a nice camping spot.

Kennedy's Hut was indeed a nice place, but it was located right on the track edge, and there was very little clear ground to set up two camper trailers. It was a lovely spot on the river though. We cahtted with some bikers, saw a Spotted Pardolote and then continued our exploring for a campsite.

Our journey took us very late into the afternoon before we found a suitable location. We did some exporing around Kennedy Hut, clearing a tree from acrosws the track to find what seemed like a secluded spot, only somebody had beaten us to it. Not sure how he got there past the tree.... he was interesting old character, telling us of an epic battle between a kangaroo and a wild dog, amongst other stories.

We returned to JP Gap track, with Henric breaking a safety chain on his trailer going one way, then a lockwood padlock on the return journey, passign down into a gully which tested the flexibility of the hitch setup on the trailers.

From the river, we made out way up the mountain along Four Mile Creek Track, with the aim of camping further upstream on the Mitta Mitta. A wrong turn, then a long shortcut brought us onto Kelly Road, where we checked out some side tracks, which were all starting to lead nowhere.

We found a likely spot, but continued up river exploring further just in case there was a better one, before returning and setting up camp.

Day 2 - Wednesday 27th December

Early morning and it was down to the river to try some spinning for trout. I hooked up a nice trout which was very tasty cooked in the coals of the fire. Liam hooked a trout too, but he managed to fight his way free. A bit dissapointing, but it was Liam's first wild trout so it was some good excitement.

It was quite warm, so we spent some time relaxing in the river. Henric got the chainsaw out and cleared a wider path through the wattles to the river side from the camp, and we spent a car driving free day relaxing and tinkering.

In fact I think I fell fast asleep for most of the afternoon, waking late for dinner, and missing out on playing with the RC!

Day 3 - Thursday 28th December

Thursday we were off exploring again. We turned up Eight Mile Loop Track and then Wombat Divide Track. Wombat Divide posed some challenges. The main track hada a large tree across it, so we made our way down a bypass track, which had another tree across it. We spent some time trying to cut our way through this tree, winhc and verything all setup to clear it, but the chainsaw was having problems with feeding oilto the blade. We backtracked to the original tree, and made our own way around it.

A couple hundred metres further on brought us to the track closed sign!

Tom Link Track brought us back to Four Mile Creek Track, which eventually brought us to the Wombat PO, our lunch stop destination.

Wombat Creek Track took us steeply back out of the valley, with the odd tree again giving us some challenges. This one required driving around and our first recovery for the holiday with Henric stitting on his floor pan on a dirt mound spinning wheels.

The track took us along the Razorback Spur with typically scenic High Country views. Top stuff. Oh, and another tree to clear off the track...

Off the 4WD track and onto the Omeo Highway, we got caught in traffic! Well, behind a slow 2WD anyway.

We stopped off at the mine I'd seen on the road side on my previous trip up here. The ferns had regrown at the entrance, so you would be hard pressed to find it if you didn't know it was here, despite it being right on the edge of the roadside.

A quick explore around Sunnyside, but we didn't find half as much as we did on our previous visit. I couldn't even find the ruins I'd found before. This place deserves a longer stay and exploration.

We then drove onto Knocker Track which completed out circuit at Eight Mile Loop Track. A tree that we'd driven over on the way up proved impassabl for me at the wrong angle, hooking my diff up and requiring our second recovery for the trip.

On a whim we explored a side track that we missed on our first day hunting down campsites, and found the perfect spot. We quickly packed up camp and moved into the best little spot on the Mitta Mitta river, and settled down for dinner.

Day 4 - Friday 29th December

After some unseccuessful mornig fishing, we headed into town (Omeo) for an explore around and to pick up some tennis balls.

We walked around the various buildings, reading the historic info boards and also spent a good deal of time browsing the gadgets and stufgf in the local hardware store. We had a top hamburger forlunch in the main street, then headed off to walk around the oriental Diggings.

It was quite warm, but we did one of the shorter tracks which highlighted a lot of the digging work as well as the sluicing that had gone on here. the amound of gold removed was very impressive.

A short drive up to the lookout gave a great appreciation for how much earth had been washed away and down the creek and river system, creating virtually a canyon. It must have been having a huge environmental impact given the greenie movement wouldn't have been around at the turn of the century, but the work was stopped for the negative impacts it was having on the environment!

We passed the Hinnomunjie Bridge, which was almost lost in the previous fires, seeing the damage where the bridge had caught fire. The campground here was quite nice on the river bank, though a few people were camped.

We spotted a small snake on the roadside, but unfortunately too late and one of us regrettably ran it over.

We returned to camp, playing Guitar hero on the PS2, as well as a few rounds of cricket. The cricket game didn't last too long though, as the only balls we could get were dog toy tennis balls, whcih fell apart after a few good solid hits with the cricket bat!

Day 5 - Saturday 30th December

OK, off touring again today after another unsuccessful morning fish. We drove across past Omeo Lake, which wouldn't have seen water for a very long time.

We headed up Oakley Track, which my original plans for this High Country Trip would have seen us dragging camper trailers up here and camping at Buenba Flat. Good thing that didn't happen as we would have had trouble.

The track climbed steeply along ridges, offering some very scenic views across the mountains, and eventually brought us down to Beloka Road.

We followed this passing many cows grazing on the roadside before turning left at the junction of Mount Hope Road.

Mistakenly, we turned a little too far left, driving down a long abandoned side track that ran almost parallel to the road we were meant to be on. We had to bypass fallen tree at one point which required driving down the embankment and across the tree at it's thinner end before climbing back up to the embankment, shortly to rejoin the road proper. All in a days entertainment.

We arrived for lunch at Buenba Flats, which is also a camping area, with a few people camped by the beside Buenba Creek. It was a nice spot for lunch, and there were a few trout in the creek, but it wasn't as nice a camping spot as where we were already camped on the Mitta Mitta.

After lunch in the shade we continued on climbing out of the Buenba Valley across the ridge tops through whta was left of the forest from the 2003 fires.

We turned off the main drive onto Pinnabar Track which as is typical had some fantastic views. I need some more superlatives for the High Country scenery...

Our first peak was Mt Gibbo, where we picked up a geocache and took in the 360 degree panorama.

It was still sunny and warm, but some clouds were starting to form with a few darkish tinges...

Mt Pinnabar is another iconic High Country Track, with views to die for. We could see thunderstorms forming to the east as we continued on towards Mt Pinnabar.

At Mt Pinnabar, we picked up another geocache and took in the vistas as quickly as we could, mindful of the thunderstorms running across the next ridge to the east.

The track from Mt Pinnabar was even better. This track had it all: Steep ascents and descents, beautiful scenic views, open grassland, tall forests, creek crossings. I loved this track. Oh, it was called Shady Creek Track on the map, and Shady Creek Upper Track according to the sign.

Liam and I stopped off Wheelers Creek Hut, another nice little camping spot on a decent river. From here it was a very long drive back to our camp site. The road was a proper gravel road, and this was some scenic and rugged country to drive through, passing another nice looking but busy campsite at O'Hagen's Camp.

Wheelers Creek Rd eventually joined the Benambra Corryong Road, passing Dartmouth, with views over to Mt Bogong. It was a long drive back and we passed some fantastic looking campsites along the Gibbo River which I'd love to spend tiem exploring on a future trip.

Driving through Omeo, we spotted the CFA helicopter practicing gathering water from the river and dumping it, as well as a pair of Pereguine Falcons from a hilltop shortcut, after our across the middle of Omeo Lake shortcut. After all the driving today, we needed as many shortcuts as we could find!

The drive home the next day was so uneventful, I didn't even take a photo! And we all made it back in time for New Years Eve.