Vic High Country Winter Wonderland

 

For images and the full Unsealed 4X4 experience, read this in our online magazine.

 

Much can be said for the diversity and aesthetic appeal of the stunning Victorian High Country. For some it is a must do item on the bucket list; for others, their favourite long weekend playground. But for the locals, it’s home.

To protect the delicate environment in the upper areas of the High Country, many parts of the bush are closed off in winter to encourage vegetative growth, limit track damage and erosion, and allow certain high altitude camping areas a much-needed rest from the pressure of human interaction they would have received over the summer months.

But this begs the question, where do we go in the winter? Well, to answer that, we decided to spend a weekend finding out first-hand. Of course this meant letting down tyre pressures and topping up the diesel tank, but who was going to complain? This was an important reconnaissance mission!

 

SATURDAY

 

1. Valencia Creek Track

A little locality at the bottom of the mountains near Briagolong, Valencia Creek gets its name from the stream that winds down from the heights of the High Country… and it just so happens that a track good enough to rival some of the most iconic 4X4 tracks in the High Country follows its progress through the valley. And the best part? It’s open all year round!

With steep climbs, eight creek crossings (depending on the weather) and plenty of mud along the river flats, this place has it all – and it is also one of the most scenic places you may ever set your eyes on.

This area is dotted with a couple of small campsites close to the creek, and the whole track is located in State Forest. It is quite remote however, and there are no facilities.

 

2. Moroka Hut Track

This is a short track that winds through the trees at the top of the Pinnacles State Forest. There is plenty of red mud to be found, and as an added bonus there is a T-intersection where bearing left will bring you to Moroka Hut. You can turn left at the same intersection to come out onto Old Moroka Road, at the base of Mt Wellington. Moroka Hut Track is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair, the turn-off being just after the bridge on Moroka Road. It is in this area that a few beautiful campsites are to be found. Most are just off the main Moroka Road, nestled alongside creekbeds and the like.

This is High Country camping at its best. Set up a swag among the snow gums or stay warm and toasty by the fireside in the snow. Camping up here is free, but some campgrounds are National Park and others are State Forest – so if you bring the family dog along, consult a map before you set up camp.

 

SUNDAY

 

3. Moroka Road

Moroka Road is a main arterial road that runs from Arbuckle Junction right through to the Pinnacles and the top of the famous Billy Goats Bluff Track. It is a 2WD road in dry weather; however it is a great starting point for an exploration expedition!

It is home to McFarlane’s Saddle, which is a commencement point for the hiking track into Lake Tarli Karng. Moroka Road also hosts the entrance to the Horseyard Hut campground. The hut is in good condition, and the campground is a large open area with room to spread out.

If you want to head straight up to Moroka as soon as you can, take the Tamboritha Road out of Licola. It is an easy run in dry weather. If a grand adventure is more your style, but you are keen to do something a little bit different than the iconic Billy Goats Bluff Track, take a left off Marathon Road onto Blanket Wood Track and then a right onto Valencia Creek Track and eventually you will pop out at the top of Moroka Road.

 

4. Old Moroka Road

Old Moroka Road runs down the ridgeline of the valley that Valencia Creek runs through. It is 4X4 only (how good is that!) and can be an interesting track to drive in wet weather. Be prepared for mud!

There are some absolutely fantastic views and stunning rock formations along this track, and a lot of the way it winds along a treacherous one-car-width trail cut into the rocky mountainside. The views up here are breathtaking – but be prepared to get skinny if you meet another vehicle along some of the more narrow spots!

At the bottom of this track, where you re-join Valencia Creek in the bottom of the valley, there are a few sections of the stream that are wide and deep and it is around here you will find one small camping area… a scenic and secluded little spot with your very own swimming hole, depending on how keen you are in the middle of winter…