Saturday, November 20, 2010

Camping at Huggett's Crossing

I joined friends Brett & Fiona, plus their 2 kids (Amy & Fraser) for a bit of camping during the Melbourne Cup long week.  

We headed to the Huggett's Crossing camping area, near Maffra, in East Gippsland.    Brett drove his Prado & I had the Patrol.  I got the chance to see the fitout Brett had had done to his vehicle for a desert trip earlier in the year - shelving, converters, fridge and a few other bits and pieces.  Very nice.

Although it was a major holiday weekend, we had no trouble finding a decent spot in the camping ground to pitch our tents; and in spite of it being the chosen location for a well-attended bucks night for someone called 'Camo', the use of natural vegetation to break up the camping areas meant it was actually a really quiet, peaceful camping ground in the evening .

The next morning I headed off to walk the track that runs along the Avon River, between Huggetts Crossing and Dermody's camp.  Stunning area of wilderness and a decent walk to boot.  The area called the Channels is a stand-out.  The river runs through a narrow and deep gorge for about 150m.  The water looked beautiful and if there had been a few more degrees of temperature in the day, I reckon I'd have jumped in. 

Brett & Fiona kindly picked up me from Dermody's and shuttled me back to Huggetts Crossing.   This being my first major drive in the Patrol in over 6 months (something to do with too many demerit points :(), I was keen to get some rocks under the rubber.  With that in mind, I said my goodbyes to Brett & family, then headed across the Huggetts ford and northwards.

The 4WD route

 I followed the Mount Angus Road, then headed west on the Avon Road.    My first objective was to explore the 8 fords indicated on the Rooftop map in a gorge section of the Avon River.  I found them.  The river was not particularly high, but the fords were fun all the same.   There were a number of good campsites in amongst the fords, although all of these were occupied - so clearly the lack of easy access was no hindrince to the local camping enthusiasts.

I then headed west, got onto the Margaret Track.  The alpine area is a sea of flowers in the Spring and I made sure to grab a few snaps along the way.

It was getting dark and starting to rain as I descended the steep Burgoyne Track and I decided to camp in a small campsite at Big Hill, overlooking the McAlister River valley.


There had been some decent rain overnight.  How much I would soon find out.  

With the goal of heading eastwards and over the northern end of Lake Thompson, I followed a track directly opposite the exit of the Burgoyne Track onto the Heyfield-Jamieson Road.
However, 25 minutes in I came to a river crossing with high waters and 'Road Closed' sign. Damn!   

To add to the fun, while coasting along the bank, I hit an obscured tree trunk, end on. It would have been about 30cm in diameter.  The car was stopped in its tracks.  I on the other hand, did a facial on the steering wheel and windscreen, due to not having bothered putting my seatbelt after having gotten out to inspect the river.

As it turned out the car was still ok to drive and I only had a few scratches and minor bruises (mostly to my ego).
So I headed back the way I came, then drove down the main road to Heyfield.   A pie and roll from the local backery restored my spirits.
I headed directly west, towards Erica (near Walhalla).  Striking change in scenery as I moved into the Baw Baw park area - the bush became more lush and the tracks went from rocky to seriously muddy.  Now I am pretty confident on rocks, but mud  - particularly without a winch - gives me the heebee jeebees.

So, I stuck to the main tracks as I made my way to the Baw Baw Tourist Road, then up into Baw Baw village.   Sightseeing was  little restricted, due to a heavy fog.

 I stopped for a coffee, then headed off on the main drag to Noogee, Yarra Junction, then Melbourne.  (Side note for family & friends: Just out of Poweltown I passed Jamie, Mel & all my girls heading in the opposite direction, to Noogee to do some freshwater cray fishing.  Given I thought they were in Melbourne and they thought I was in Heyfield, it was one of those "What the ..?!" type experiences.

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