• Kevin Cartwright

TRIP REPORT: Victorian High Country Map Recon: Success!

Updated: May 11, 2019

We had the most epic field expedition out in the majestic Victorian Alps with the mission to map out the proposed 10 day, 1000km off road circuit for GONE Offroad 4WD Tours Annual Victorian High Country SuperTour 2020.

The trip was an astounding success and tentative interest for our SuperTour for March next year has been buzzing soundly.

The two test vehicles were both 2017 MQ Tritons both equipped with 33 inch mud terrain tyres and lift and although some of the terrain on the many tracks may be challenging, the vehicles made good work of the technical challenges.

We commenced our adventure from entering via the Tom Groggin Camping Area. This Murray River crossing at Tom Groggin is essentially the christening of one's High Country adventure if you come in through the NSW side. It's not that deep but, deep enough to stick your arm out the window and feel the water with your finger tips. The Murray runs for over 2508km and "serpents" it's way West all the way to Adelaide.

Once you cross into Victoria, you can take a left and start driving the Davies Plains Track or go right and tackle the mighty Mt Pinnabar Track. We did both at different stages. Whatever track you take, make sure you have a map because this place is beyond vast. It's a universe unto its own and this would be the last place you want to get lost or stuck in. Travelling in convoy comes highly recommended. Some climbs and descents out here aren't for the faint hearted.

Driving through this Nirvana is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book we used to read back in the 1980's. Each decision you make, be sure to think it through and have a plan as it gets dark here mighty quick. If you're not driving the ridge lines, you are in the valleys and by 2pm, it feels like it's 6pm dusk. Get to camp at light, unlike us, we'd get to camp anywhere between 7-830pm.

Mt Pinnibar was an epic piece of driving. The climb to the trig point was insane and by far the steepest climb I've ever done. At 1760 metres altitude, we had on-coming traffic on 3 occasions say we are "crazy for climbing the summit". This climb is testament to what makes the High Country a priority on many must do lists, but more so, the importance of running good tyres. Parts of this climb got to 35 degrees slope. We both have mud tyres which was handy as half the climb was steep damp clay so traction was on point. A lot of the climb was about rock crawling whilst steering the rigs gently on good lines because of the ruts and rock steps so as to keep the rigs from bouncing and compromising traction. The track is in good condition.

Mt Pinnabar. Goodness me, the final climb to the top was like sitting back in your lounge room recliner at full tilt. The only difference being is that you feel the rigs rubber clawing it's way to the final peak. The best 4WDing I have ever done without a shred of doubt.

Dirt, sweat and gears. Many times, we pushed and pushed the vehicles to a point where we didnt quite know where the edge would be. 10 hours of off road warfare to end the day at this summit. We pushed to the limit and stayed there.

Standing here in a 4 degree gust and watching the sun drop behind the vast ocean of mountains in the West was magnificent and words will never do this experience justice. If you ever wonder what it's like to be a bird, then this is where you get it. The sense of achievement is unparalleled.

Cobberas Track is another piece of work. The Victorian High Country hosts a plethora of tracks that runs so deep it becomes an elaborate manifestation of itself. The Cobberas Track is no different. The start of this track is clearly sign posted with the words "DOUBLE BLACK DIAMOND - VERY DIFFICULT. VEHICLES WITH GOOD CLEARANCE AND EXPERIENCED DRIVERS IS ADVISED". We were chomping at the bit.

The track is very bumpy and with large small, medium and large cobble stones well and truly embedded within its path. I found myself, in my manual, constantly switching between high and low range. You'd do this nearly all the way in high range with an auto transmission. In the end, I permanently settled for low range for the entire track mingling in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears. Dan, has an auto, and spent nearly the entire way in high range as there is no risk of stalling the rig.

Its a slow grind. Wheeling through this track in lackadaisical fair will most likely result in breakage.

Cobberas is a very different track from the others as the track is mostly tight with heavy bush growth on either side of the track as opposed to the more openness that the high country typically has on offer. There were a few sections, where the rock crawling (both descents) were off the chain and spotting was a mandatory exercise. The descent on the rock steps were a blast to drive through but nature was cruel in how technical these were. Very challenging.

The two pics you see here was after a small climb. I have vids of all this, but I'll post them once I unload the photos first. The steps you see here, weren't hard at all. You just needed a good line. I don't think the track deserved a Double Black Diamond rating and my assumption as to the reason why it did was because of the 2 nasty rock steps descents I described above. Taking the wrong lines would have been game over.

We went 10 hours straight driving through the most glorious tracks molded by vehicles before us decades past. When that flow is going, the juices are flowing and the diesels burning, it's almost like a high. You dont want it to stop for fear of missing something. The Victorian High Country exudes an enormous spirit of enrichment and total unplugged isolation, that the truest meaning of absolute freedom is found right here. I can't argue against that.

All the tracks down here is the ultimate cure for all your blues. I could literally write for months as there are well over a thousand tracks to explore.

In closing this post, the Victorian High Country landscape out here just doesnt quit. Its relentless. Its like a mushroom clouds blast wave that reaches out to every micro cavity the eye can see. For kilometres on end, the ocean of alpine mountains, with the oddest of names, opens itself up. The intensity of this 4x4 heaven is huge with mass impact on the psychology and spirit. It unfolds before your eyes in an infinite stream of the best convergence of earth and sky you'll ever see. I struggle to find words to appropriately describe the panoramic beauty. You have to get here and take your time. Landscapes and 4WDing like this does not come along everyday. You have to stop and soak it in like a sponge that hasn't seen a bucket of water in years. You just have to do it. Drop what your doing and begin the process. The Victorian High Country is second to none and nothing feeds the soul like this absolute heart pounding adventure in the Alps. So keep your skyscrapers and city life. I'm happy right here.


See ya at the top!



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