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Thread: Vic High Country With Col.

  1. #1
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    Jan 2015
    Northern Suburbs Melbourne

    Vic High Country With Col.

    I had a free weekend when my partner Jen was going to the Adele concert with her daughter, so early Saturday morning I headed off towards the Vic Alps.

    My intended route was to head north from Licola up into the high country where I wanted to find a camp spot at altitude with a view. This would give me a sunset, hopefully a clear and starry sky for some night time photography and a sunrise the next morning.

    My first pic was taken just north of Heyfield on my way to Licola.

    The Macalister River was extremely low due to more than a month without any rain and this at the end of a late dry summer (now mid March) The river here at Licola looks fine but this stretch is a large waterhole and it was nearly dry a bit further south, the direction of it’s flow.

    I headed north from Licola along the Mt Tamboritha Rd and then branched off and onto Kelly’s Lane which would take me on a more scenic route to Kelly’s Hut. It wasn’t long before another photo opportunity presented itself, these old cattle yards.

    Soon after that the track crossed a small creek where there was a lovely water hole.

    As the track climbed I passed a number of lovely old Mountain Gums.

    And then I arrived at Kelly’s Hut located on the edge of Holmes Plain. It was built by Jimmy Kelly in 1934 who was one of 17 siblings, his father Pat Kelly had selected land in Gippsland back in 1872. Returning from WW1 Jimmy took up a soldier settlement offer in the area in 1920. All the supplies for the hut were brought up by pack horse on tracks of dubious quality. Jimmy enjoyed the solitude of living here for most of the year with his cattle, he died in 1954, aged 61, he never married.

    The hut has been modified many times over the years. The first was a drop slab building with a gabled roof and half a skillion shed. Vertical timber slabs and an iron roof were later used, plus an extension to the shed. The chimney has also been altered to an iron version, unusually, it is built right next to the door.

    Inside the hut.

    I continued a short distance along Kelly’s Lane to where it met the Howitt Plains Rd. The only delay I had was near there I had to cross a small creek and there a large water tanker was blocking the track as it filled up with water. It was getting supplies for water bombing aircraft who were tackling the nearby Dargo bushfire.
    Once past the truck I drove to Dimmicks Lookout, one of the more spectacular views that can be seen in the Victorian Alps. It was named after Sam Dimmick, In 1977 the Victorian Government set up the Land Conservation Council to devise a system or method for the planning and use of all public land in Victoria. They would advise what should be protected and how.
    Dimmick was appointed the foundation chairman and due to his tireless efforts, he and the council helped establish Victoria’s extensive system of conservation reserves and National Parks that we enjoy today. Knowing this I thought of him as I took in the superb views, a wonderful legacy he has left us.

    When ever I visit such places I never rest until I have worked the area to make the most of what is presented to me. All of these photos were taken within a fairly short distance, none of them were actually taken at the spot that most take their pics from.

    As it was early Autumn there was not a lot of wildflowers out but there were still a few that were worth capturing.

    From there I drove a short distance along the Howitt Plains to a car park, there walking tracks lead to Bryce’s Gorge and another one takes you to Guy’s Hut, about a kilometre away. As it was one cattleman's hut that I hadn’t previously been to, it was certainly on my list of things to do this weekend.

    The country was really dry, these wildflowers brightened things up a bit as I made my way towards the hut.
    A Golden Everlasting, a Mountain Bluebell (with tiny bugs) and a Yam Daisy (with a bigger bug).

    Just before I reached the hut I came to this creek, most of the others were dry at this time but this still had a bit in it, no doubt the reason why the hut was built close by. You can see the remains of a bridge that would have made crossing the creek easier when it had more water in it, sadly it is now slowly decaying away.

    Alex Guy acquired the lease on the famous Wonnangatta Station (located in the valley below) in 1934, it also included these (Bryce) Plains.
    His son Jack built this Hut in 1939 replacing one nearby that had fallen into disrepair, it was primarily used as a base for mustering cattle.

    Inside the hut, note the stone floor which is unusual and some basic supplies that are left for emergency rations as these huts are often used as a refuge during the severe winters, being well above the snow line.

    Near the hut was this colourful trunk of a Snow Gum.

    On the way back to my car I came across this weird looking bug thing, it’s body was at least 40 mm long and nearly as high.

    Near these trees I came across an insect infestation that has a story to be told.

    They are called Lerps and occasionally can be found on the leaves of eucalyptus trees. They are a waxy (sweet) covering that is produced as a type of shelter or protection by the young of a sap sucking plant lice (psyllids).

    They were a food source for the aborigines once but today and the reason I knew a bit about them is the fact that the Bellminer Birds (Bellbird) farm them. They love the taste of the Lerp (outer shell) but as they don’t want to kill what produces it they only eat the outer shell and not the bug. The bug recreates the Lerp and so they both sort of live in harmony with one another. How’s that for a useless fact!

    Further on the road follows a ridge line which is between 1500 to 1600 metres in height, the views on both sides are quite spectacular. Even before I left Melbourne I had planned to camp somewhere near here, a spot that would give me a view to the west for a sunset and the east for a sunrise. Just before I got to The Ba****ds Neck I noticed a narrow track heading up to a small peak, I engaged 4wd and came to this clearing.

    The views were amazing and it also had a pile of rocks that were an omen for on my last couple of trips I had come across similar structures so I decided then and there that I would camp here that night.

    The Ba****ds Neck (The censor has got to this place name, it is called that on all maps but the word is not allowed to be written here????) got its name from early gold prospectors and cattlemen who had to negotiate a particularly difficult rocky peak that blocked the otherwise easy traverse of the ridge line that the Howitt Plains Road now follows. A pack trail was hand cut along rocky ledges above huge sheer drops and many a horse and the occasional man was lost. The road has now been cut right through it and just on the other side these are the views that greet you.

    A few more ks along the road and I came to what is known as Howitt Hut. Originally it was called the Howitt Plains Hut due to where it was built.

    Mt Howitt, the plains and this hut were all named after Alfred Howitt who was one of the first to roam and document this area. He was truly a great man and one that all should know more about. An explorer, naturalist, and pioneer authority on Aboriginal culture, he was also the person who found John King (the sole survivor of the Bourke and Wills expedition) and he was also asked to retrieve both Bourke and Wills bodies from the Cooper Creek to be re buried in Melbourne.

    William Bryce built this hut in the mid 1890s with drop slab timber walls but the roof and walls were re-clad with corrugated iron in 1938, it is one of the oldest huts in the Victorian and Australian Alps.

    The hut has a rather gruesome past as it is connected to a double murder that occurred in the high country in Dec 1917 it became known as the Wonnangatta murders.

    Jim Barclay the Wonnangatta Station manager was murdered and Jack Bamford his cook and handyman was the prime suspect, as he disappeared at the same time so a state wide search was begun and a reward of 200 was offered for Bamfords arrest. In early November 1918 a policeman and a couple of local bushmen were searching the Mount Howitt area (as this is where Bamfords horse had been found running free) when a boot was discovered protruding from a pile of logs next to the Howitt Plains Hut. It was Bamford, he had been shot in the head and to this day the two murders remain unsolved.
Inside the Hut it remains pretty basic to this day.

    It was now after 3 in the afternoon and I had seen about all that I had planned for the day, I could return to where I was to camp and chill for the remainder of the day, well as most of you know that’s not me, so I decided to drive down the mountain on the King Billy Track to the Macalister River to have a paddle as it was quite a warm day, I engaged 4wd and set off.

    The first interesting feature I came to was this rock scree or as it is referred to in geological terms a basalt block stream. Millions of years ago volcanic activity laid down the basalt, ice broke it up and moved it over the frozen subsurface as the climate warmed, then water flow over many years removed any sediment, gravel and smaller material to leave what there is there today.
    Just as well as I had the car raised!!!!

    At the bottom of the scree there was evidence of why you should always carry a chain saw when driving mountain tracks for you never know when a tree will drop and cut you off.

    As I descended further the vegetation changed.

    Right at the bottom I found the bridge was out that crossed the river but side tracks made it easy to get across, just as well there hadn’t been any rain for awhile.

    This first report has come to an end, the final one will be posted soon.

    Last edited by Big Col; 11-03-18 at 04:21 PM.
    Life is not a destination but a journey, make the most of it and remember, the worst day above ground is a whole lot better than the best one under it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Darling Downs Qld
    Nice one Col, as usual. Look forward to part two

  3. #3
    Forum Enthusiast robmacca's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    Brisbane, Qld. Australia
    Perfect timing..... u have given me a few other spots to put down on our trip bucket list to see..... if only we had more time ....

    Family Touring - 150's GXL D4D Prado....
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  4. #4
    The Boss Smokey2.8's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Sth Sydney
    Col so lucky to have the beautiful vhc close to home. So envious. Not to mention the fanatic scenery.
    Thanks for sharing
    Adam aka Smokey

    2.8's Sound great, but a worked 3.0L goes better

  5. #5
    Forum Fixer OffRoadDave's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Melbourne S/E Suburbs
    Cracking photos Col, thanks for posting!
    Cheers Dave

    My farm ute

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mick_C's Avatar
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    Oct 2012
    Lismore, NSW
    Oh man, so many great Vic High Country trip reports and photos being posted up. This is definitely a great addition. Sort of makes a New South Welshman want to venture south of the border and go see these places!

  7. #7
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    Apr 2016
    Tamworth NSW
    Nice report Col and great photos of some lovely country down south

  8. #8
    Forum Enthusiast Spike69's Avatar
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    Feb 2016
    Gymea Bay
    Thanks Col, that was great! And beautiful weather too. I think I'll add those huts to the wish list

    Re the need to carry a chainsaw in the high country, I never used to take one camping until our first trip to the VHC a year or so back. After the third occasion of having to stop and hand-saw up a tree across the track I decided it was time to add a chainsaw to the packing list!

    So much to see, so little time.......

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