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Thread: Towing Through The Vic Alps.

  1. #1
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    Jan 2015
    Northern Suburbs Melbourne

    Towing Through The Vic Alps.

    This is a trip Jen and I did a few years ago, it starts as we leave the Murray and head home through some spectacular and beautiful country.

    Leaving the Murray, and an historic Scout Hut in nearby Mt Granya State Park.

    Morning tea that day was at Mitta Mitta, beside the tranquil Mitta Mitta River.
    It was another very hot day and it was so nice paddling in the river while we had some grits.

    Further up the road as we headed towards Omeo, we passed through Granite Flat. It is not often that you can capture a whole town or place with just one photo, but since there is now only one building still standing, it makes it a little easier.

    The next place of interest that you come across along the Omeo Highway, is this Cemetery, which is right beside the road.

    Between August 1894 and August 1920, 97 burials took place here. During those 26 years the Cemetery served the mining areas of Sunnyside and Glen Wills, today there is little more than blackberry bushes and a few very ancient fruit trees to mark the place where those once thriving townships stood. They had a Hotel, Stores, Catholic Church, School and a Mechanics Institute with a population of nearly 600 people.
    By 1924 the towns were abandoned. The Cemetery records illustrate the hardships experienced during those years - isolation, the severe weather conditions in winter (1200 metres altitude), primitive housing and no doctors. Of the 97 persons buried, 40 were infants - sometimes twins, sometimes a mother had died and soon after her baby.
    Some years ago, due to the efforts of Mr Cecil Cooper, a sign was erected denoting Glen Wills Cemetery and a fence along the roadside was erected. By this time only two graves were marked - one unknown and another marked by a fence in which a tree denoting the grave of Mrs Phillis Emmer Bittner, aged 43, who was buried in 1916.
    In 1985 a team of bridge builders were constructing a new bridge over the Mitta Mitta river at Glen Valley. The mother of one of the bridge builders (of Croatian descent), was visiting her son and was amazed that there were no crosses in the Cemetery. Before leaving the area, she arranged to be built a large cross on a square slab and promised that one day they would come back and erect crosses to commemorate all of the grave sites.

    This they did in the summer of 1991. As there is no plan of the actual sites of the graves, they were placed in a double row consistent with the two graves visible.

    After pottering about the cemetery for a little while, we were to be off to our next destination when low and behold, the mighty Pajero wouldn’t start. It appeared from my limited knowledge that it was a fuel issue. Towing through the Alps, up at times steepish grades in near 40 degree temperatures, appeared to be not ideal for the car. We were still quite remote and so had to use our satellite phone to seek help from the RACV. which was very dificult as the line would continually drop out.
    Long story short was that more than 3 hours later we were still waiting for help which we weren’t 100% sure was on its way.
    Eventually a guy stopped to see whether we needed any assistance, I turned the motor over and he said, “sounds like a fuel problem mate”, he then headed straight to the fuel pump and depressed the manual pump button, “no fuel in the pump mate”, he then manually pumps the button for a few minutes, “try that mate” and Vvvrrroooom the cars idylling beautifully. I hop out, rapt that after all that time we have the car going, I shake the guys hand when I hear a noise, I look around and the RACV truck pulls up right beside me. “You have a problem mate”, me, well not really you see we were; and then I had to explain to him what happened and that I was very appreciative of him travelling the hour and a half to get to us, to find that all was honky dory.

    Another tale for the grandkids one day.

    The breakdown and killing time around Cemetery Creek whilst we waited for help.

    Due to the breakdown, we had to revise our plans for the day so we headed to the upper reaches of the Mitta Mitta River just north of Omeo to camp for the night.
    This is the Hinnomunjie Bridge, built in 1910 it is the last standing, multible timber truss bridge in Victoria and was the only one that was built by hand hewn timbers.
    We camped about 200 metres down stream from here. Note the axe marks, still visible more than a hundred years after they were made.

    We spent the last hour or so of the day sitting in this lovely river, cooling off from the heat and from our frustration with the car. These next two photos were taken only 5 metres from our van, so nice.

    Early next morning I was up to capture the sunrise.

    An early in the day shot from our campsite before we were once again off to seek adventure and some more Virgin Roads!

    Just off the Great Alpine Road not far from Omeo is the Victoria Falls Historic Area. It is the site of Victoria's first major hydro-electric station, built in 1908 to supply water and power to the goldfields at Cassilis (Near Omeo) 27 kms away.
    The Victoria Falls Hydro-Electric Power Station was constructed by the Cassilis Gold Mining Company on the Cobungra River, just below the Victoria Falls. Power was generated through a Pelton wheel and one year after it was completed all steam engines at the mine in Powers Gully at Cassilis had been replaced with electric motors. The power station operated until the mine closed in 1916.
    The machinery from the power station was sold and removed to Tasmania where it continued its involvement with the mining industry up until the 1940s.

    The Victoria Falls, the pondage site and picnic area below the campground.

    We briefly stopped at Dinner Plain and then Mt Hotham.

    The ski village, Hotham Heights at Mt Hotham.

    This Tunnel was constructed so another ski run could be developed, allowing skiers a greater and safer area to ski and to also avoid being bowled over by us motorists as they went about their activities.

    Who says Col can’t take his van to the top of Mt Hotham! And what about these views from the roadside stops as you start your descent down the mountain.

    Nearly all these hills that you see below us, were only weeks later burning from an out of control bushfire which started from a lightning strike near Harrietville. Now as I write this report, the fire has been burning for more than 3 weeks and will burn for many more unless heavy rain falls through the Alps. This is an unlikely scenario as the forecast is for many more hot days with no rain in sight.
    It was only a few years ago that this area was devastated from similar wildfires and although regenerating, it is again going to suffer considerable environmental damage.

    Before the road makes the big drop down the mountain towards Harrietville, we took a left turn off the main drag and headed south down the Dargo Road. Signs indicated that caravans were not recommended but there was absolutely nothing wrong with this road, it wasn’t particularly narrow, steep or windy but I have a lot of experience on far far worse roads or tracks so don’t rely on my say for your future trips (Remember I’m nuts towing where I do sometimes, just ask Jen)
    The road took us through some amazing forests and bush that had seen devastation from bushfires in recent years, but as I said previously regeneration was occurring, though it would be many years before those scars would be hidden or forgotten, if the current bushfires don’t destroy the regrowth.

    After leaving the Mitta Mitta that morning, we were glad to pull into Italian Flat on the banks of the Dargo River where we would spend the next few days. The temperature was in the low 40s so once the van was setup, we were straight into the river, and how good did that feel, Whoo Hoo.

    Our campsite and the absolutely stunning, beautiful Dargo River.

    You can just make out our van in this next photo and a very happy Jen as she makes the most of our idyllic surroundings.

    Well our trip was nearly at an end so we reluctantly left the river after a lovely few days. There still was plenty to see however on our last day on the road.

    Some unique buildings on either side of the small and picturesque town of Dargo.

    From there we tackled more virgin roads as we made our way towards Huggetts Crossing on the Avon River.

    Nearly all of this area was devastated by a massive bushfire only weeks after our visit, known as the Aberfeldy Fire it started around the 20th of Jan and is still burning as I write this on the 13th of Feb, only decent rainfall will extinguish it. There is no rain forecast in the forseeable future.

    This is a totally separate fire from the Harrietville Fire, yes two out of control fires burning at the same time through Victoria’s magnificent Alps.

    The Avon River at Huggets Crossing.

    We had lunch at the Glenmaggie Weir before heading down to and along the Highway to home.

    The Glenmaggie Weir or Lake Glenmaggie as it is often referred to, was completed in 1924 and is the result of damming the Macalister River a short distance below its junction with the Glenmaggie Creek.
    Although not large by modern standards, building the wall presented a major challenge at the time as only human and horse power were available and at the peak of the building works, nearly 400 horses were used during its construction.

    A couple of hours after these last shots were taken beside the Weir, we pulled up outside our home in Melbourne on the 6th of Jan 2013.

    Another beautiful and memorable Xmas Holiday in Victoria's north east and Alpine region.

    I hope you enjoyed.

    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
    Junior Member Hoyks's Avatar
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    Sep 2015
    Hunter & SE-QLD
    Thanks for the reminiscing Col and Jen.

  3. #3
    Crossed-Over greig's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    central coast
    As usual, great photos.
    Are you originally from the USA Col ?
    I notice you had some grits to eat ?
    Last time I was over there, I tried to force some down my throat at breakfast time...certainly not my idea of food !!

  4. #4
    Is it beer o'clock yet? outback jack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Highett Vic
    Another top report Col


  5. #5
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    Jan 2015
    Northern Suburbs Melbourne

    No yank here, as Aussie as they come, to many Beverley Hill Billies when I was a youngen. Still occasionally dream of Elly Mae, she was a real babe 40 years ago Ha!

    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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