Trip Report: Melbourne Cup Weekend 2015
With the tracks re-opening after the winter closures, a trip back into the Victorian High Country was always part of the plans for a long weekend.
Our original plans were scuttled, due to some late advice from Parks about tracks around the Haunted Stream area not being opened due to some local unforeseen track damage. With that in mind and some quick re-jigging behind the scenes, we met at Coldstream, where seven of us set off on our new adventure – a round trip from the Yarra Valley via Mansfield – Dargo – Wonangatta – Moroka, which involved a few well known Classic High Country tracks and Places, mixed in with some new tracks and areas to explore.
Upon arriving in Mansfield we were met by more road closures … but these were due to a local festival which had locked down the whole of town. A quick detour around the back streets, a top up of fuel and food at the customary BP on the way out of town, and we made our way towards our first detour off-road by turning into Buttercup Road.
We followed the lovely Buttercup Creek out to Carters Rd and then turned uphill towards Tomahawk Hut and then turned off into No3 Rd which turns into Weston Track leading down into Pineapple Flat.
We camped at a private secluded spot right on the river, for a fairly easy straightforward day and an early setup.
The next morning we headed off down the King River towards King Hut, and then off up Speculation Track and the famed Staircase (which has been well and truly tamed by the dozers) and off to Lake Cobbler for morning tea.
We added a quick walk to the top of Dandongadale Falls – the highest single drop waterfall in Victoria – where we saw the top cascades from nearby, and the main drop from afar.
This is where the ‘real’ adventure began as we were all on ground that none of us had travelled on before and the very unpredictable High Country weather took hold – we started off in the cool air of the valley floor with Coats and Jackets to keep us warm … Our new travels had us setting off on the unknown Abbeyard Lake Cobbler Track ,with damp conditions under foot and varying skies overhead. We travelled along on this beautiful track for a while, admiring the vistas that were opening up before us, and we stopped for lunch at the highest viewing point of the track, where the sun was beaming and it felt like the temperature had gone up 15 – 20 degress, and all coats and jackets were removed.
We then continued on, on this new adventure back down into Abbeyard, where all coats and jackets were retrieved once we hopped out of the cars at the bottom!
At the end of this track, we turned south into the Abbeyard Road and headed down to West Buffalo Road and Harry Shepards Track past some very isolated farmland down into the Wonangatta Valley, where we made camp close to the old Wonangatta homestead site, sheltering from the now constant rain under awnings and tarps. Camping in the rain is never the best camping conditions, but we made the best of it, whiling away the time solving all the world problems, whilst Andrew was designing plans on how to get Parks Victoria to put the valley in his hands, to turn it into a going concern where he could live forever. It was an excellent camp spot, despite the rain, mud and puddles everywhere. as we camped in a nice grassy spot right next to Conglomerate Creek, which helped to keep us and all our gear clean.
The next morning – with little rain in sight now as the storm clouds had cleared overnight, we headed out with a little trepidation due to the overnight rain, to cover some steep tracks that I had discovered 20 years prior but hadn’t been back to since, and headed east out of the valley on the Humffray River Track, east up the steep Water Spur Track (which is pretty much a 20 minute steep climb out of the valley) up to Guys Hut., and then down the spectacular Sarah Spur Track into the Talbotville region. This turned out to be unfounded trepidation, as all these tracks were negotiated with ease, using correct tyres pressures, good vehicle placement, and some common sense
We then decided to head around to our ‘Surprise’ camp for this trip in the Moroka River Valley, as I had found a camp site that was fairly special as far as campsites go the year before. It was a little of Mick’s Magical Mystery Tour that I finally got to do after talking about it for years, as all I had told everyone, was that it was a secret camp, only to be revealed when we got there.
We arrived at our secret camp, and OH NO! My worst fears were confirmed as there were campers there in the spot already – the same ones that were there at Christmas when we were there too! I thought they had got my memo that we were doing the Haunted Stream ! Oh well – maybe next time.
Tracks travelled on included Station Track, Cynthia Range track, and Eaglevale track, amongst a few others scattered in there for good measure.
The final day ended up with us tracking out of the valley via the famed Billy Goat Bluff Track. We stopped at the Pinnacles for lunch, and waited for 40 minutes for the clouds to clear with no luck……apparently they cleared 10 minutes after we left. ( Probably an inside joke for those that were there, as I was constantly optimistic that the clouds would clear, and leave us the views we had come to see …)
It was getting late in the day, with work commitments for most the following day too, so we headed home via Marathon Rd and the Princess Highway.
Thanks all for a great trip.