NOW: Walhalla, Licola and the Alpine National Park.
We really are on the dirt now travelling on gravel roads through Matlock, Aberfeldy and into Baw Baw National Park. The road started out a reasonably good dirt road and became narrow just as we met a Parks truck coming up the hill from the riverside camp ground. There was a small sharing of the truck’s white paint on the Tvan’s black mud guard but the truck was against the rock face and we weren’t going over the cliff edge any further! When the road widened out we stopped for a morning cuppa.
After reaching Walhalla we set up in the free camp at the edge of town where groups of school boys came and went after a one night stop on their canoeing, mountain biking, hiking trips. Despite the rain we enjoyed the story of Walhalla from mining boom town to restored historic village. We toured the Long Tunnel Extended Mine which used all the local timber to fire its boilers which in turn powered the mining drills.
There are now only 20 permanent residents in Walhalla who are caring for this historic village. The shortage of available flat land means that houses on one side of the main street have bridges to cross the river and access their properties. The fire station is actually built straddling the river!
From Walhalla we travelled via Heyfield to Licola to Boobook Camp beside the Wellington River in the Alpine National Park. We had a fire pit, picnic table, pit toilet shade and clear running water in the river. We never heard or saw a boobook owl during our stay but have since heard one at Pineapple Flat near Mt Buller.
From Boobook Camp we conquered Butcher Country Track crossing the Macalister River 7 times until we’d climbed up to Howitt Hut on the High Plains. Our first High Country Hut! We returned to camp along the Howitt Plains Road – there was no way we were going back down the rocky ledges and steep climbs. One section required passenger rock removal – anything with diff scrapes or someone else’s paint got pushed over the cliff. Butcher Country……difficult and done!
The weather was surprisingly warm for March and we even swam in the river which was relaxing and a comfortable temperature. The Alpine Fenn up high was still boggy despite the high daytime temperatures when we visited McMichaels, Kelly’s and Guy’s Huts.
I find it fascinating to run my hand over the timber in the huts rubbed smooth from use and imagine the stockmen taking shelter here and sitting by the fireplace on the hand hewn furniture. Some families still visit the huts on horseback adding to the atmosphere of our High Country experience.
Insert Photos: Kelly Hut, Horses at Kelly Hut, Guy’s Hut, Guy’s Hut – remote but beautiful, Hand hewn furniture at Guy’s Hut.
When we left home my friend Narelle gave me a toy jeep because “It will take you everywhere”. While visiting Guy’s Hut a jeep in the carpark in a 4wd tour group had 2 flat tyres. We just had to take a photo of David, a Pajero owner helping a jeep ‘to go anywhere” by plugging his flat tyre!
When we sought advice from our Melbourne friends about the best places to camp and the must see locations they said it didn’t matter, the whole area is spectacular. They were right every day is spectacular and awesomely grand!
We could return here with our family and find a whole lot more to experience including the morning and evening call of the Kookaburras.
NEXT: Dargo, Grant Historic Area, Talbotville and the Buckland Valley
On the Emu Track
Cheryl and David