The Victorian High Country is well-known for its labyrinth of tracks that can suck you in for weeks, but how much can you see in just one weekend?
Difficulty – VHC Offers something for everyone! Easy – Medium – Difficult, Weather Dependant
Gear Required – 4WD, Tyre Gauge, Air compressor, Recovery Points, Quality Recovery Kit, Saw, Winch (especially if solo)
Track Inclusions/ Features (Descriptive) – Fire Trails, Steep Inclines/ Declines , Rock Steps, Narrow Ridgeline Traverses, River Crossings, Bogholes, Fallen Trees, Huts and Riverside Camping
Points of Interest – Billy Goats Bluff, Dargo Pub, Blue Rag Range, Craigs Hut, Mount Wellington
Things to Do – 4wd Sightseeing, Huts, Riverside Camping, Hardcore 4x4, Walks, Lookouts, Wildlife
Need to Know – Tracks are Weather dependant and can be remote, Be prepared. At time of writing numerous tracks were closed due to damage from bush fires occurring months before. Some areas receive snow in winter and are gated off. Research is recommended before heading in, (at any time of year!)
Track / Trip Length - Numerous Tracks throughout, all varying in length and difficulty.
Dargo- Billy Goats Bluff Track - Mt Wellington – Licola can often be achieved in a day.
How to Get There - 4½ hour drive to Dargo, NE of Melbourne (320kms) via the M1 Princes FWY onto A1 Princes HWY
Best Time to Go – Suitable for most of the year, prepare for cooler temperatures, Avoid Main areas in Snow Season or General Bushfire Hazards
Well Known For A Reason
The Victorian High Country is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most iconic 4WD touring destinations. Covering a significant land mass of 5200sq/km in the NE of Victoria, it showcases the state’s highest mountains, rugged 4WD tracks, impeccable snow resorts and powerful rivers. If that’s not enough, you may even find yourself in search of some great Australian History via the Iconic huts and pubs still standing strong in the area. These gems are scattered through the high plains and can be accessed by 4WD and some on foot.
We all know you could keep yourself well entertained for a month in the Victorian High Country, but that raises the question: how much could you see in a weekend? For some (even myself), extended trips can be difficult with work and commitments. But you shouldn’t rule out The VHC all together. Some of its iconic tracks are more accessible than you think.
High Country Iconics In a Weekend
There are so many ways to tackle the VHC but let’s get straight into the iconics, because remember we don’t have much time. Dargo is an easy place to start and will have you in the thick of things in no time! Tracking west you have these options at your fingertips.
- Dargo Pub – Much like an ‘Outback pub’, Dargo boasts an amount of character challenged by few. The beers are cold and the walls are old, Stocked from the floor to ceiling of memorabilia built up over years of unforgettable adventures. The Bistro will tame the largest of hungers from a tough day on the tracks. Other facilities include a pool table and unpaid Locked Gate Riverside Camping. Just ask at the bar to secure your spot!
- Crooked River/ Wonnangatta Camping – Just minutes from Dargo are Prime Riverside Camping locations on offer. Many opt to base camp in this area
- Billy Goat Bluff Track – Is known as an iconic ridgeline to traverse, the drive is an unmistakable 10/10 for views. Billy Goat Bluff Track climbs nearly 1200 metres in a distance of only 8km. Not far in, you are treated to views from the helipad looking deep into the climb and from here rough steep rocky sections will be encountered, progress will be slow, but still achievable for many. Just recently I tackled the track from the top down during adverse rain conditions. For the best experience I prefer the ascending leg. Beware of other convoys or adventurers as passing can become hazardous in some sections and many vehicles are rescued from this track each year. From the top you are well and truly rewarded with a view, as you park your 4WD on the ridgeline and climb that last rock looking down on the valley to both sides. You will not forget this moment.
- Mt Wellington – Getting here goes slightly off the beaten track with one short river crossing then a climb up to the 1640m-high Trig Point with views as far as the eye can see. Just further up, you will find Millers Hut.
- Licola / Mt Wellington Riverside Campgrounds – There are an array of camping areas along this section of river (13-14 listed camping areas, all uniquely named). Within these areas some would accommodate up to 10-15 open sites. Most have a single toilet, some multiple picnic tables and one even has its own horse yards.
- Craigs Hut – Ever seen “The Man From Snowy River” film? You guessed it. Filmed right here in the Victorian High Country. Although this hut isn’t as functional or user-friendly as some of the more remote huts it’s now become more of a landmark and is well maintained for tourism. Rightfully so. It is a work of art with the history to follow.
Among the Unknown
As we know, life is precious. That’s why preparation is key - weather has been known to shift quickly and unforgivingly, with snow previously recorded in every month of the year. It’s hard to grasp the chance of snow in January. but there you go, it is possible
Early 2020 at time of writing, some areas of the Victorian High Country were decimated by bushfires and months later still remain closed for rehabilitation and track work. Research of the area is highly recommended.
Great information is available through National Parks, Vic Roads and DELWP websites; additionally, there is a DELWPS Base in Dargo.
More Than Just a Weekend Away
The memories made in the Victorian High Country are the type that stick with you. The scenery is just breathtaking: the journeys across the rocky rugged ridgelines, the endless camping opportunities and the array of history spread throughout. No matter if you are a solo camper or travel in convoy with your best mates and family, an unforgettable time will be had by all. I highly suggest you have a look for yourself!
Blog by @aaronoffroader fb: aaronoffroader
If his name hasn’t already given it away, Aaron lives and breathes off-roading. Catch him scouting for Australia’s next best, off-road gems in his TJM Equipped 2018 Toyota Prado Kakadu and sharing his experiences on our 4x4 blogs