High Country Adventure for 4wd travellers

Billy Goat Bluff and some more tough tracks

We had camped at Horseyard Flat on the Moroka Road with a group of keen 4 wheel drivers under the leadership of Vic Widman of Great Divide Tours. It had rained overnight, but although still overcast, there was no more rain that day.  The group turned left and headed for the range to descend to the valley below on Billy Goat Bluff Track.

And descend you do! Many 4 wheel drivers enjoy the challenge of driving up Billy Goat Bluff, but  the advantage of going down is that you get to see the great views unfold in front of you.

The ridge at the top of Billy Goat Bluff

The convoy on the ridge at the top of Billy Goat Bluff

The descent began in spectacular fashion as the track passed across a narrow ridge requiring complete concentration of all drivers. It is also a photographer’s magnet. On this occasion the mountain top was above the clouds which decorated the valley below.

Once across the ridge the track headed down at varying degrees of steepness for 4 and a half kilometres to a helipad. Low first or second gear was required on the steeper slopes, and some loose sections required careful use of the brakes.

The helipad came into view in the distance as the convoy snaked down the track before ascending the short steep pinch up to the helipad. Up above was a clear view of the Pinnacles and the fire watch tower located there.

After that brief respite the track again descended into the valley below to the Wonnangatta Road. To the right the road leads to Dargo, but the group turned left and followed the road to Eaglevale.

Eaglevale

Eaglevale and Wonnangatta River

An open area at Eaglevale beside the Wonnangatta River

The group followed the Wonnangatta Road for approximately 15 kilometres before coming to a large open area beside the river. This was just the right time and place to pull over for lunch. There were a couple of tables here and a toilet nearby. By now the weather had cleared and the sun shone out of a blue sky.

Harry Smith’s hut is located further down the valley on private property. Harry Smith was a well known High Country identity. His mother Ellen and step father Oliver Smith moved to Wonnangatta Station in 1867. In 1870 John William Pender Bryce bought into the station lease.

When Ellen died in 1872 Oliver sold his share to William Bryce and moved his family closer to Dargo.

The hut of Harry Smith, High Country identity

Harry Smith’s Hut at Eaglevale

In 1884 Harry Smith bought the land at Eaglevale and built the cabin probably in 1885. Harry lived here in his cabin until his death in 1945.

The hut was restored between 1989 and 1991 by a dedicated band of workers and formally reopened in June 1991.

After our visit to the hut we returned to our lunch spot. From here we crossed the Wonnangatta River and began the climb up the track.

Cynthia Range Track

The climb up Mt Cynthia is quite steep. The group continued on until a track intersection – left for Wombat Range and right for Cynthia Range Track. The group turned right, following the ridge line past Station Track which heads down to the old race course site near the Wongungarra River.

This was all new to John and I – we had never come this way before. Cynthia Range Track continued along the ridge line providing some great views before heading down to the valley and the Crooked River track.

Spectacular view of Victoria's High Country

One of the spectacular tracks of the High Country

Randells Track and Conway Track

Again the group turned right and a short distance later we turned left up Randells Track. This track climbed up and up and ever more steeply up! And it also was rough and rugged.

Randells Track eventually levelled out before another track junction. The  group turned right onto Conway Track. Randells Track had been quite steep and some nasty sections were encountered.

Conway Track was also steep – down! And also very rugged in places, rocky with deep ruts over the conservation mounds.

Finally we reached the bottom and found the Crooked River Track once more. This time we headed left for Dargo. It had been a great day’s driving with some spectacular ups and downs and now we were looking for some comforts before tackling some more adventures in Victoria’s High Country.

These adventures can be seen in our latest DVD Vistas to Valleys – High Country Adventures.

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