2018 Australia Day Weekend High Country Trip
2018 Australia Day Weekend High Country Trip
We left Geelong on Thursday morning and headed for Mansfield. We had a brief stop in Yea and time to get a coffee. We arrived at Sheep Yard Flat around 1pm and set up camp. We even flew an Aussie flag to complete the Australia day celebrations. I was surprised at how few campers were there, although the other camps along Brocks road were fairly well packed.
During setting up camp Rachel had quite a large gum branch snap off and hit her arm causing some deep scratches. She also developed a decent bruise. Hollies chair was also destroyed as the branch fell. A timely reminder of just how unpredictable the gums are.
Once we were all set up and had had some lunch we took a short drive down to Frys Flat to show everyone Fry’s Hut. On the way down the heavens opened and we got a huge amount of rain in a short time. The hut provided much needed shelter from the storm. We returned to camp and as it was very warm the beautiful Howqua river provided much needed relief from the heat and everyone enjoyed a refreshing swim. The very colourful king parrots are common in this area and it wasn’t long before they were at our camp enjoying the seed we bought for them. Tyler and Hollie enjoyed hand feeding these delightfully friendly birds. Wood was then collected and we enjoyed the usual camp fire comradery. The ambience was pretty good too.
Friday (Happy Australia Day)
We left camp at 9am and drove bush, around the back of Timbertop to avoid the traffic that would have been coming in on the Howqua track. Arriving at Tomahawk (approx1100 metres ABSL) hut for a look at the hut and stretch of legs. From there we headed back up carters road and made our way up to No 3 Hut. This hut is around 1500 metres ABSL and provided a nice breeze and temporary relief from the already warm morning. We continued down the mountain and made a detour into Razor back hut. From there we re-joined the circuit road and headed around to the Howqua gap huts. We then headed up towards the summit of Mt Stirling, stopping at the top to walk up to the summit and experience the 360-degree breathtaking views.
GGS hut was our next stop before we headed down towards Craig’s Hut. The track is a bit rutted and steep in places but we all got down without any problems. I was very surprised that Craig’s hut was not as busy as normal. We stopped here for lunch, got the obligatory group photo and enjoyed the peacefulness and stunning views. For some of our group it was their first time visiting this iconic location and Warren and myself were really pleased that we were able to bring them and indeed the entire group to experience all of this. We headed down the other side of clear hills and re-joined the circuit road for a few ks before descending down to the king river. We had a quick stop at Pineapple flat which is another great camping spot. We then followed the king river arriving at King River Hut. Again, I was very surprised that this popular camp ground was empty. Parks have put in two new fire pits and picnic tables which is great. We then made our way back to camp following the same bush track back into camp, avoiding the Mt Buller road and Howqua track.
It was a long day but we covered a lot of ground and saw and experienced some of the most breathtaking scenery. We arrived back into camp to find the beautiful king parrots waiting for their dinner. They are such characters. The river was inviting and again most of us went and cooled off in the clear water of the Howqua. Around 7pm another storm hit us and we had a significant down pour that lasted for a couple of hours. It didn’t dampen our spirits but rather cooled them. The fire stayed going and we continued our camp fire banter.
This snow gum is the largest in the Victorian high country, boasting 9 massive limbs spraying out from the huge trunk. - Shez
We again left camp at 9am. Our first stop was at Upper Jamieson hut and after everyone had a look at the hut we continued on arriving up at the intersection of King billy and Bluff link tracks. Here we stopped for a cuppa amongst the beautiful snow gums. Our next stop was to show everyone the King Billy tree. This is a very old and gnarled snow gum that thankfully survived the 2006/2007 fires. This snow gum is the largest in the Victorian high country, boasting 9 massive limbs spraying out from the huge trunk. A bit further down the track we stopped to admire the views at Picture Point. From here you can see Mt Stirling, Mt Cobbler, Mt Buller and ranges to the east, MT Howitt, the cross-cut saw Mt Speculation and many others. Breathtaking views. We continued down the track towards Lovicks hut. This track is technical and challenging in places, with large rocks protruding , ruts and rock steps. We all made it down without incident. Our lunch stop was at Lovicks hut approx. 1500 metres ABSL.Thankfully we had a nice breeze at this altitude making the stop pleasant.
We continued on, stopping at Mt Lovick (1684 m ABSL). From here you are able to get a good view of Mt Buller and the Buller village. We watched a huge storm roll in bringing with it lightening, thunder and dark storm clouds. We took some photos and then made our way down the mountain to Bluff hut and from there back down into camp. Again, the parrots were waiting to be fed. After a refreshing swim, the fire was lit and we enjoyed our last night of camping and chatting about the weekend.
The pack up morning is always hard to do, no one wants to leave. We were on the road at a little after 9, airing up at the Merrijig Pub. We had a quick stop in town to refuel and then we made our way home. We had a stop in Yea at our fav bakery for coffee and some lunch.
Warren and myself thank everyone who came along to make this trip as good as it was. We always enjoy sharing our experience of this beautiful part of the high country, made even more special by the great company and the first timers we took to share in this experience. Bring on next year.