My first recollections of the Victorian High Country growing up in Queensland were the pictures from the ‘Man from Snowy River’ as a kid in the mid-eighties. What better way to start than here for a day trip to ‘Craig’s Hut’ and a drive over the top of Mount Stirling. With some relatives visiting from Nth Qld it was a great opportunity for us all to get a taste of what the Victorian High Country has to offer.
Well after coming through Mansfield, its a simple 40 km up the road before entering the Alpine National Park and making a left turn onto Stirling Road and following the easy graded road with signs showing all the various tracks heading off to other potential areas for future exploration. A well-driven turn off up to Craig’s Hut is well signposted and well-travelled. Although there are some large humps (to channel rain away) on this track, no 4wd or SUV in my mind would have any issues navigating these to take the short few minutes to arrive at the Craig’s Hut day area.
The area is well thought out with plenty of parking, toilet facilities, and quite a number of picnic tables in and around gums overlooking the open grassed area and Craig’s hut. What can I say, the image from the ‘The Man from Snowy River’ I had of the Victorian High Country was where I was actually standing. That’s when I understood why so many 4wd enthusiasts, campers, hikers and hunters speak so passionately about the High Country. The image before me was simply epic. Maybe it was the fact that we are only down here with work for a short time from FNQ, but I don’t think so.
After an exploration of the hut, which is not the original which had been destroyed by fire, we were happy to kick back and enjoy our lunch while taking in the atmosphere. You can easily while away a few hours with this scenery – simply awesome and very relaxing.
While 98% of the visitors to Craig’s hut were simply going to return back down from whence they came, we were going to continue exploring the tracks. After all, isn’t that why we have our 4wdrives? First up was Clear Hills Track which leads to the summit of Mount Stirling and down to the Howqua Gap Hut? I had heard this track could be a bit of a challenge, but there was only one way to find out.
After dropping a bit of pressure out of the tyres (softens the ride and gives much better traction), we headed off. Although the initial going was slow as we meandered between the snow gums, there were plenty of nice spots to camp for a night or two, or a weekend away, all endowed with gorgeous High Country views. This track provided beautiful views all the way along on either side. There are a couple of steep sections with shaley rocks and areas which have been rutted out, but I had no issues in the Landy and no diff locks or centre diff locks were required. Most 4wdrives won’t have any difficulties if you just take your time and pick your lines and the views from the top are most definitely worth it.
As we came over the top of Mount Stirling we were exposed to views across to Mount Buller Alpine Resort and through the high country over the plains we had driven through to get here. This is definitely worth hopping out, getting some photos and simply breathing in some of the beautiful crisp and clean mountain air.
The trip down is easy enough with the track graded most of the way down to Howqua Gap hut, which is also worth a stop and a poke around. We then made our way down past the Telephone junction and headed out to the Stirling Road again to make our way home.
It was our first taste of the Victorian High Country and an easy enough day trip if you have visitors from overseas or interstate on a short time frame. Better yet just get out of the city for a day and get some mountain air. It was about 9hrs all up so can be done in a day with ease. Three hours each way from Melbourne, and about three hours exploring Craig’s Hut, Mount Stirling and enjoying a nice picnic lunch. We are looking forward to more exploration now Spring has arrived down here and our FNQ bodies are beginning to thaw out. There are so many tracks and areas in the Victorian High Country to explore and although we have only checked out a couple of spots we are certainly going to try and expand our experiences while down here. If you have some trip suggestions for touring the Victorian High Country, I am more than happy to hear them. The gems of spots to see and explore in Australia are often from word of mouth especially when you are in a new part of Australia.