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Thread: Kosciuszko Nat Park Trip. (Part 4/Final Report, Vic Alps/East Vic)

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    Kosciuszko Nat Park Trip. (Part 4/Final Report, Vic Alps/East Vic)

    Welcome to the final report from what was a sensational holiday that Jen and I had over the Xmas period.
    We ended the last report with us being camped on the Mitta Mitta River north of Omeo in eastern Vic.

    I decided to take Jen for a days drive through some of the most spectacular high country in the Victorian Alps. The route I chose would take us along the Davies Plain Track to Tom Groggin (On the Murray and NSW border) and then we’d return via the Mt Hope Tom Groggin Track/Road to our camp.

    Our first stop was at Benambra, a small place that few stop at as they pass through on their way to more exotic or remote destinations nearby. Once far busier than it is today it is still worth spending a few minutes checking it out. There is plenty of history here as this region was one of the first settled in Victoria (by Europeans). This occupation started during the period of 1834-1836, the same time that the first settlements were being made in Melbourne and at Portland in the states south west.

    This business was all the rage in the district some time ago but today stands as a reminder to what once was, in many small rural communities across the country.



    This is a pic of Lake Omeo that 9 times out of 10 is bone dry but a wetter than usual year had partially filled, and then the towns Uniting Church which was built in 1905.





    There are number of historic sites not far from town, plaques remind you of that as well as some old ruins that stand a lonely vigil in now open pastures.





    In the distance there were some very old and dilapidated buildings but being private property I had to photograph from where the plaque was on the fence line.





    A short distance from there are the ruins of another Pendergast Homestead.







    We now headed bush, just as we turned off the Limestone Benambra road onto the Beloka road we came across this sign, it didn’t mean much to Jen but I knew it would seriously affect our drive to Tom Groggin as I wanted to return via that road/track. After a brief rethink I decided to go in via the Davies Plain Track and then return via Mt Pinnabar. It would be a bit further and take longer but all should be sweet. Even though I was extremely disappointed at least they had given forewarning some distance from the spot, allowing for a change of plans.



    Along the Beloka Road that takes you further into the bush and the Alpine National Park where many iconic 4wd tracks can be found.



    At the intersection where the Mt Hope Road was officially closed and then a few pics taken along the Davies Plain Track.







    We had morning tea at the Charlie Creek campground; as we were pottering about enjoying this lovely spot, a high lift Patrol with big humungous tyres passed us. Shortly afterwards we could here him in the distance revving and making a bit of noise, at the time I didn’t think much of that but when we got to this sign and then a bit further on at this part of the track I then new why. These next pics don’t show the steepness of the track or the deepness of the hole, but that car had far greater clearance than us and far more aggressive tyres, and he had struggled to get through.
    A lot of damage done, I could possible have winched my way through and if I could have continued on to Tom Groggin I may have attempted it, but since the track further on was closed we had to accept that we now could only return the way we had come and head back to camp.









    What pissed me off more than anything is why wasn’t that closed track sign not put 20 ks back to alert drivers that it was closed before you had driven so far in for basically nothing. They had done that with the Mt Hope road so why not this one!!!!!

    About to cross back through the Mitta Mitta and then we were back in for a refreshing swim.





    I was taking a pic of this Skink who was just chillin on a log, when a bug landed right near his head. I thought David Attenborough eat your heart out as I was hoping for an action shot; then the bug flew off and that was that.





    That night I took a pic of the foot bridge under a starlit sky.



    We reluctantly left the next morning on the next leg of our trip, what a great time we had had at that lovely spot but there was more to experience and explore.

    For some time now I have wanted to visit the Cassilis Historic Area just south of Omeo. As you probably all know by now I love our early history and historic sites and this place had heaps of that and more.
    Alluvial gold was first discovered in the local creek in the mid 1850s a small rush started with the majority being Chinese but only a couple of years later more easily obtainable gold was discovered elsewhere and the area was basically abandoned.
    Gold bearing quartz reefs were discovered in the 1880s and the ability to mine them meant that the area started another boom. By 1889 there was a battery in operation as well as a general store, butchery, bakery and a Mechanics Institute. A private and public school, two hotels, a coffee palace, hairdressers, bookmakers, two bank agencies and two post offices were also in existence.





    Just a few rusty relics dot the landscape today, but they still tell a tale of a once very prosperous and industrious area.







    Accommodation was tough way back.



    We went on a short loop walk where we saw these old mine relics.







    There were two mine entrances that we were able to go in but without a torch we were limited by how far we could go. The first was called the Chamber of Horrors and that was named by the miners at the time, many deaths and serious injuries occurred there.









    You could actually see the pick marks along the rock side where the miners way back had chiseled there way into the mountain in search of that allusive mineral, Gold.

    Another amazing feat occurred here, at 77 kms, the hand-dug Jirnkee Water Race is the longest in the southern hemisphere and one of the great engineering feats of Victoria’s gold era.
    It was built between 1899 and 1903 to provide water to the London-based Jirnkee Hydraulic Sluicing Company P/L for gold mining operations. Taking water from the head of the Wentworth River, over the Great Dividing Range and back to the southern side of the Divide at Cassilis Gap to where water was scarce.
    The project proved disastrous. The race failing to provide all-year round water, whilst construction costs exceeded the original estimate of £2000 became £14,000. Running costs also outstripped gold production. Overall the company suffered a nett loss in the order of £40,000 which was millions in today’s currency, they ceased operations in 1905 after just four years.



    A fascinating area but it was time to set off and find a spot to camp for the next couple of nights. Often when we travel the back roads we come across special places, we also occasionally come across farmers driving stock along what was once old stock routes or moving them from one paddock to another. Here we came across a drover moving his cattle slowly along this road, once they had parted enough for us to move through I was able to take these shots as we drove past.





    We found a fabulous spot on the Tambo River and when the morning cloud disappeared we were in our elements.











    There were some lovely wildflowers around our camp.



    This is Bursaria Spinosa, it’s common name of Sweet Bursaria is due to the sweet aroma that the dense flower heads (dense as in compact, not stupid ha!!) emit.



    Late in the day I took these pics looking up the river.





    Again that night the stars were sensational.



    In front of our van this Grey Fantail kept us entertained with it’s constant twittering and flitting around the nearby shrubs and trees.



    I noticed a pattern of hunting for insects, hoping around on a particular branch and then darting into a thick shrub and then he/she repeated that time after time. I then spied it’s nest with three young in it.



    And the reason why he/she is called a Grey Fantail.



    I also captured a White Butterfly doing what they do, as I focussed on this one on the shrub his mate decided to photobomb my shot!





    Late this day a low cloud and mist descended on the valley, there were some lovely soft colours looking up the river.



    And then I noticed in the opposite direction a partial rainbow in a coloured sky between some trees. I called out to Jen to come and share this lovely and what turned out to be a spectacular end to our day.



    And then we witnessed this.







    How sensational was that, what an end to our couple of nights at a wonderful camp beside the Tambo River.

    One more night on the road before we headed back to the big smoke, we found another lovely spot further down the river and settled in for the last time at a site that had just about everything.



    A short stroll downstream and the river picked up pace as it worked it’s way through a narrower section.



    And in the other direction, aaaahh the serenity.



    On the rocks beside the river this beautiful Blue Damselfly showed off in all it’s glory.



    Also on the rocks were this Drab Dragonfly and colourful Harlequin Bug.







    In fact this spot was insect heaven, for there were so many flowering shrubs to attract them, and of course that attracted me. This particular plant, common name Kanooka was one of their and my favourites.



    There were some unique varieties of insect photographed, all on that same type of shrub.

    The “Striped Backed Spotted Bum Bug”.





    The closely related “Plain Bum Striped Back Bug”.





    And of course this “Beautiful Beetle Bug”.



    A few more insects including the much loved March Fly, no wonder they sting when they stick their big mother proboscis in you.





    Early the next morning we made our way back to the bitumen.



    We stopped off at the Gippsland Lakes for lunch before we tackled the final drive back to Melbourne. It is fitting that these last few pics were taken off the main drag so to speak, at a spot away from the crowds, a spot where we could relax and enjoy the solitude that still can be found and enjoyed out in the great Australian country side or bush.







    What an amazing time we had, what sensational places were visited and experiences had, memories that would be with Jen and I for a very long time.

    I hope you enjoyed reading and viewing these reports.

    Regards, Col and Jen.
    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
    The Boss Smokey2.8's Avatar
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    Col, I know I speak for all - thank you for sharing you Xmas trip. It certainly give myself some perfect planing material for upcoming trips.

    Very much appreciated.

    Smokey
    Cheers
    Adam aka Smokey

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

  3. #3
    Busy planning trips and mods... Red GU's Avatar
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    Awesome trip. That chimney of the original Pendergast homestead is huge isn't it. I reckon a full grown man could stand in there and with arms outstretched would not be able to touch the sides. FYI, Davies plain Tk is still closed, we were one of the last groups to drive through before it was closed after the storm went through and that was ANZAC weekend 2016, I think the storm was early May that year. It is an issue I raise with Parks every meeting I have with them.


    Dave
    Dave and Fiona

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    Col. Your reports are far more interesting than most anything I have read of recent times, be it book, magazine or internet article. I'm like a kid opening christmas presents when you put up a post. Thanks very much for putting them together.

    Regards
    Ken

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    Thanks Adam, Dave and Ken.

    Ken I see your new to this forum so it is good to see you posting and I certainly appreciate your kind words, thanks again.

    Col.
    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.

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    Col, is the van your towing a Windsor Rapid with just the one bed end? Looks a good little van, a bit like I tow (Jayco 12ft expanda)
    My wheels of choice 150 GX Prado towing a Jayco 12.37 Outback Expanda

  7. #7
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    Yes it is Rag's,

    Although we have done so many mods to it to make it an off road van with a raised full simplicity suspension, 300 lts of water tanks, large solar capacity etc etc. Just brilliant and as you would know the smaller vans are so better to tow. That van has been to so many spots that larger vans would not be able to go and it has been fantastic for us.

    Cheers, Col.
    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.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Col, sounds a good set up. We have looked around at more expensive hybrids and can't be swayed to stump up the cash for one. We are sticking with what we have but will embark on a "remodel" to do similar to which you have achieved.
    Would be good to see a post up about the van one day
    My wheels of choice 150 GX Prado towing a Jayco 12.37 Outback Expanda

  9. #9
    Forum Fixer OffRoadDave's Avatar
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    Another excellent instalment Col, thank you for a good read.
    Cheers Dave

    My farm ute

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    Ripper report Col, thanks as ever for taking the time to post it. It's such a beautiful part of the world isn't it?. I particularly like that pic on the Tambo River. It's the sort of spot Liz and I like to sit for a week and do nothing!

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

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