Victorian High Country – 25th February to 19th March 2023

Victorian High Country – 25th February to 19th March 2023

April 25, 2023 Club Magazine 0


Penny and Spence – Landcruiser

Ivo and Lucy – Landcruiser

Keith – Ranger

Steve and Sue – Landcruiser

Our journey to get to Victoria and the High Country (where our real adventure began)

By: Lucy and Ivo

After meticulous planning by Penny the 25th February finally arrived.

Penny and Spence, Keith (Blue Ranger), Ivo and Lucy left from Stirling.  Travelling along the Tonkin Hwy, Steve (Burgo) and Sue joined us out of nowhere and we continued – stopping in Brookton for coffee and scones, the first of several delicious treats supplied by Steve and Sue.

Just before Hyden a side protection panel flew off Blue Ranger as a semi-trailer passed us at very high speed but nothing that Keith could not fix at our next stop.  Unfortunately, another panel was lost later in the trip and was not recovered.

We continued onto Hyden where we had lunch and then along the 150 km gravel track to McDermid Rock, setting up camp and walking around the rock. After dinner, we all had a good night sleep.

The next morning, after stuffing ourselves with yummy hot cross buns, thanks again to Steve and Sue, we left McDermid rock for Norseman; 110 km away. We had a beautiful drive past Disappointment Rock and Lake Cowan arriving at Norseman for breakfast.  Of course, we had to have the traditional cheese and tomato toasties at the BP station. After fueling, we continued to Balladonia along the Eyre Hwy passing a few crazy semi-truck drivers who insisted on overtaking us.  WE had lunch at a roadside stop and fueled up at Cocklebiddy where we reached Moodini Bluff camp site around 4.30, but the camp was crowded so we continued to Mundrabilla roadhouse and stayed the night after getting stuck into enormous home-made cottage pies.  If you are ever crossing the Nullarbor, we recommend you stop here.  It’s the friendliest spot, with exceptional service and great food.

From Mundrabilla we headed for Fowlers Bay, stopping at the border for the obligatory pictures and at ‘the lookout’ for a beautiful view of the ocean and then down a sandy track and across a salt lake to Fowlers Bay camp where we had a relaxing evening.

We stopped in Penong to visit Bruce, the biggest windmill in Aus, then on the way to Ceduna we had the normal border check with officers peeping into all the fridges, trailers and glove boxes etc. desperately trying to find some fruit or honey.   A stop in Ceduna allowed us to stock up with fruit and vegies and then we left for Streaky Bay along the Flinders Hwy.  Streaky Bay Caravan Park was horribly busy, but after a nice dinner of local fish and chips we were all in bed by 9 pm (7.30 pm Perth time!) 

1st March – all up at 5 am and in the dark we quietly packed up and left by 6.30 am stopping to fuel at Kimba and after brekkie at the big pink galah we continued towards Port Augusta, passing lots and lots of wind turbines.  Tarlee oval provided a free campground. We had a drink at the pub, and Keith got a fright as he was stalked by a horse while doing some night photography.

At Coonalpyn we saw the amazing art on the silos. From here we continued onto the town of Keith for lunch.   Keith (Blue Ranger) was very excited to have a quaint town in SA in his name.  Actually, it was named after lord Kintore who was the governor of SA, and he was known as Lord Keith as his ancestral home in Scotland was called Keith Hall.  Of course, from then on Keith was not Blue Ranger anymore but “Lord’’.

We continued to Border Town 44km away.  Border town as its name suggests, is the symbolic ‘’border town ‘’ between Victoria and South Australia – in fact it is actually 20 km west of the border causing some typically Australian humour.  Next stop was the Plantation  Camp Site in the Grampians and from here, the real adventure began.

Thanks to Penny, Spence and all who joined us .

We had an amazing time.

Ivo and Lucy

The Grampians and Victorian High Country

By: Penny

The Grampians is stunningly beautiful but a bit busy and touristy in places.  Stopping at the Plantations Campground we had a chance to take a break from the road, do some sightseeing, a bit of maintenance and of course provide Ivo with a chance to climb hills.

We shared our lunch break with a very pushy emu then had an easy but pretty drive up to Lake Wartock and the lookout at Mt Difficult.

Mt Difficult

Our first stop in the High Country was to be Talbotville Camp in the East of the area.  Getting there involves a fairly scary drive (for me anyway!) down the Alpine Highway, with hairpin bends and steep drops at the side.  That road is black top, but then it gets even more interesting as you turn down the Dargo Rd onto the gravel.  The scenery is stunning, we just don’t have this sort of landscape in W.A.  The final descent into Talbotville camp drops from 1100m to 300m, down a single lane gravel track with tight switchbacks down the side of a mountain.  It takes about 15 minutes to descend.  It made me understand the advice of a great friend Tony from the Pajero Club of Victoria.  “In the High Country you don’t use brakes when descending” If you did, they would be burnt out halfway down.

I have no pictures of this descent – you can’t take pictures with your eyes shut. 

The camp site is a lovely peaceful open area.  Fires are allowed subject to weather conditions.  That night there was a storm and we lay in our campers listening to the thunder.

The next day we did an interesting drive down Crooked River track.  Burgo commented that he did more water crossings that day than in his whole life before.   Burgo and Keith also braved Bulltown Spur, a very steep ascent and descent back up to the top of the hill.

Today was Burgo’s birthday and we sat round a fire and celebrated.  It didn’t get him out of the washing up though.  

Tony and Mandy, our old friends from the Pajero Club had joined us the evening before and the next day they guided us on a long, exciting, and spectacular drive to a number of the iconic locations in the High Country.

First up was the iconic Blue Rag.  The track is steep in places but not too difficult in the dry and the view from the top is amazing.  It was seriously windy and cold for a bunch of West Aussies though and we stayed well rugged up.

From Blue Rag we headed off to Tony’s secret camping spot on the edge of a cliff, stopping at a High Country hut on the way.  The huts are designed to provide shelter in emergencies.

Then off to a fabulous swimming hole where some of us had a quick dip.

Ivo’s awning decided to leap off the car altogether at one point, bringing back memories of a windy night on the Simpson desert where Ivo was clearly heard to say the now frequently used phrase FTA.

Late that afternoon we said goodbye to Tony and Mandy after a brief stop at the Dargo pub.  Huge thanks from the whole group go to Tony for showing us this beautiful part of our country, and from me particularly for all the assistance he gave me in organising this trip and persuading me that I would be fine to go to Blue Rag despite my fear of heights – I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

We left Talbotville the next morning with the assistance of Ben and Anna, friends of Dave Futia who were also camping there.  They acted as pilot vehicle and prevented anyone coming down the descent while we drove the camper trailers up the climb out of the campground.

That day we met up with Alan, a member of the Pajero club who has a wealth of knowledge about the High Country huts and who volunteers in their maintenance.  Together we drove to the West area of the High Country, stopped overnight at a great little campsite in Licola and then went on to Sheepyard Flats.  

That evening we met some more members of the Pajero club who were also running a trip there.  Alberto and his lovely wife Florita and daughter Jalicia, and Tony and Rob showed us some more amazing tracks over the next couple of days.

On the first day we visited the iconic Craigs Hut used in the Man from Snowy River movie.  We also stopped at a number of other huts including Tomahawk Hut, King Hut and Howqua Gap Hut.  Some of the tracks were steep and stony and made for some interesting driving.  Taking an exploratory detour down what turned out to be a bridle track meant a challenging turn around, but we all got out safely. 

Going up and down Mt Stirling yielded a great drive and more awesome views.

It was a public holiday in Victoria, and every man and his dog had descended on Sheepyard Flats by the time we got back and kept coming in through the evening. 

We sat around a lovely fire for the evening but given the very loud group next to us, celebrating something and talking and singing loudly in Spanish half the night, and the mandatory guitar player and karaoke singer we didn’t get much sleep.

On the second day Ivo, Lucy, Spence and I went to look round Mansfield, and Keith, Burgo and Sue went off for a drive up to Mt Terrible. (I will leave them to write about that day).

Our final day at the location was long but fantastic.  We visited Bluff Hut, Lovicks Hut, Lake Cobbler and Bindaroo Falls. There were trail bike and horse riders on the narrow tracks which made life interesting, and as always, some amazing views. 

On the way home we decided to take a “short cut” down Wild Horse Gap Track.  As with all “short cuts” this was probably the most interesting drive.  A great narrow little track with lots of steep climbs and descents and a particularly interesting rocky climb on the edge of a steep drop to the valley where some winching was required.

Rob and Tony from the Pajero club peeled off just before Wild Horse Gap Track, and Alberto and his family left the next morning.  We would all like to thank them for helping us find such amazing drives.  We would never have discovered half as much of the area without their great guidance.  And at the end of those drives Florita would wave some magic culinary wand and appear with some amazing dish.  (I considered claiming I cooked the dish in this picture but am confident no-one would believe me.)

The next day we set off for WA, stopping at Glenrowan to see Ned Kelly, Penong, observing a probable alien invasion in Quorn and braving the high winds at Mundrabilla, and some serious fog on the Eyre Hwy before returning to a last night  (and a celebration of Lucy’s birthday ) back where we started at McDermid Rock three weeks earlier.

It was well worth the thousands of Kilometres to get to the High Country.  The landscape is so different from WA, the drives were awesome and we had a great group of people to travel with.  


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