Victorian High Country Loop With April sneaking up on the calendar it was time for our annual trip away on the trusty DR 650’s. After last year’s run through the SE of SA and Victoria (RR here), this year we decided to head over to the Victorian High Country. Unfortunately, our trip was cut short this time around with our route ending up looking like this Packing and Travel It seems that some trips are destined to have little hiccups along the way.. Ours started when loading the bikes on the trailer the night before departure With our mirrors being a little high to get under my carport roller doors we gently tilted the loaded trailer to ease it under. Unfortunately, the sloping driveway got the better of us and we ended up having to tip the trailer on its end to stop it running us over!! At 6:00am the next morning we hit the road for Melbourne and caught the sunrise as we cleared the Mt Lofty Ranges Soon we were passing Coonalpyn and admired the stunning artwork of Guido van Helten that now adorns the town silos Our first stop has always been the Bordertown Bakery. The lure of a fresh cream bun and the chance for a morning ablution in the old gaol are too great to ignore! With the long haul to Melbourne out of the way we unloaded the bikes from the trailer and packed them ready to head off in the morning. Day 1 We had a mid-morning start to avoid the traffic and headed off to the east along the edge of the Dandenong Ranges. As is our normal way I had chosen a route that took us away from the mainstream roads as much as possible. However, the fog was thick in places and I managed to wander off course, having trouble following the correct road It was great country and so close to the city With some steep winding roads through the forest Soon it opened up a little And we hooked off Old Beenack Rd onto some 4x4 tracks that passed through Kurth Kiln Park We passed over McCrae Creek Before popping out on the Gembrook – Launching Place Rd. From there we followed the Old Warburton Rd through the valley Until we hooked up with the Acheron Way. This is a great run through the Yarra Ranges National Park The road (mostly dirt) follows the Acheron River And is a must do if ever in the area The road finishes just south of Narbethong, and it was then just a quick run into Marysville for lunch While in town we picked up some fresh meat and beers and then headed off on the road to Woods Point. The road was in good condition and passes through The Yarra Ranges Once at Woods Point we got our obligatory photo by the old servo We thought we might camp along the nearby Goulburn River so headed out of town past some quaint little farms (the whole town has the feeling of being in an idyllic time warp) The river was crossed a few times Before we found a great spot right next to the river and sat back with a few beers by the water Before organising camp Cooking tea And sitting back by the fire! Link to Map of Day 1 Day 2 With fine weather on the radar we headed off back across the river And through Woods Point The road north to Jamieson follows the Goulburn River for much of the way Passing lots of camping areas There are lots of bends And it was an enjoyable ride until …. the trucks started. There is a mine along the way and soon we were confronted with next to no visibility as the trucks thundered past. The road is quite narrow in places and the trucks were banked up at certain spots as it wasn’t wide enough for two to pass. Needless to say it spoilt the experience Not far from Kevington the bitumen starts, so we stopped to clean our visors outside the pub We would have liked to have stopped for a drink - but it wasn’t open yet! So, we continued on to Mansfield and stopped by our favourite pub there, the Delatite Where the food was as good as ever The plan was for a loop out around Mt Stirling, with a camp somewhere along the way. So, we fuelled up and headed off towards Mirimbah. Passing up through Telephone Box Junction Before peeling off the Circuit Rd and on to King Basin Rd. It heads up to Pineapple Flat (which is a few hundred metres up Burnt Top Track) The water level at the crossing was quite low but it wouldn’t take much to make it interesting. As we were checking out the area a group of riders stopped for a chat. With no gear on board they were having plenty of fun Once back on King Basin Rd we crossed Stirling Ck Before the first of 5 crossings of the King River. These weren’t very deep, but rocky! The track then passes Kings Hut before meeting up with Speculation Rd. From there we joined back onto Circuit Rd before branching off south on Bindaree Rd This wound us down the into the valley and a crossing of the Howqua River adjacent to Bindaree Hut This hut was designed for those a little shorter in stature As time was getting on the open flats near the river provided a good camp site, so we set up for the night. One of the issues with finding a good camp is the availability of wood, which is generally scare. Luckily, we had spied some on the way in so after unloading the bikes we headed back and loaded up Soon the camp was set up and a fire was under way After our big lunch we snacked for tea and hit the tents pretty early, only to be woken in the middle of the night by a crescendo of howling wild dogs! Link to Map of Day 2 Day 3 The fog was our constant companion in the morning Our way forward on the loop was along 16 Mile Jeep Track that begins just behind Bindaree Hut It was quite steep in places but the surface was good so the DR’s had no trouble. The track follows above the Howqua River With some great views looking down Soon we were passing Pike’s Flat Before we reached the junction with Bluff Links Rd From there we picked up Refrigerator Gap Track That turned out to be a great ride down to the junction with Brocks Rd Russell hadn’t been to Upper Jamieson’s Hut before so we took track down to the hut. It involved a short steep descent and then a crossing of the Jamieson River, which like all the rivers we had seen, was pretty low The hut had a group of 4x4's staying in it I had stayed here many years ago with the family when the kids were small. It was a cosy night sleeping up in the loft but I hardly got a wink of sleep as I was paranoid about the fire jumping out of the fire place and burning the joint down! After dodging another group of half a dozen 4x4’s who were coming down for a look we took off and joined up with Brocks Rd. This is one of the main thoroughfares through these parts so it was dusty and corrugated in some sections. It passes by a number of popular camping areas along the Howqua River, including Sheepyard Flat where the main route in from Mansfield is found. This is a huge area with lots of campers Once past here we popped in to have a look at Fry’s Hut once again hordes of campers were in full force. Not unlike a caravan park in many ways.. Our route out was via the more challenging Howqua Hills Track. It was steeper than expected with lots dusty erosion mounds and by the time we got to the top junction with Steiner’s Rd we were bloody hot! (Note: Russell’s modesty by hiding behind the bike after we stripped down to cool off) Steiner’s Rd took us out and back to the main Jamieson – Mansfield Rd. The whole area looked particularly dry and with such low river levels throughout it looked like it the autumn rains couldn’t come soon enough. Here’s a shot from almost the same spot, at the same time of the year, back in 2014 Once back in Mansfield we stocked up with a few beers Then stopped off at the local take away for a rather tasty burger and chips We had found a great little camp site out from Mansfield near Tolmie on the King River West Branch a number of years ago when travelling through on a 4x4 trip, so decided it would be perfect for the night. However, to get there involved a steep descent down McDonald Spur Track. We had been up it on a previous trip (see here) but this time the holiday traffic had made it much rougher, with lots of loose rock to negotiate. Once at the bottom of the spur we followed the river before turning off to our campsite (the track in looked a lot more used than previously..). To our surprise we found it was ‘occupied’ by a fellow biker There was no sign of life for a chat so we headed out to look for another option (as it turned out the King River Brach adjacent to the camp was bone dry so we weren’t too discouraged). After checking my gps waypoints I had another camp on the main King River that wasn’t too far away so we headed off to check it out. The camp was along Long Spur Track, right at the crossing of the King River. When we got there, much to our dismay, we found a group 4x4’s. However, our luck was in as they were just taking a look and were soon gone. It’s only a small area so we were soon set up (there was even a healthy wood supply left behind by the last campers ) And then headed down by the river for an ale With a sweaty day on the bikes behind us when then took it in turns for a wash in the rather chilly river (no photos recorded ) Link to Map of Day 3 to be continued..