The Victorian High Country is a paradise for 4x4 enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of tracks that cater to all levels of driving expertise. From steep, rocky ascents to tranquil river crossings, these tracks offer an adventure that is as challenging as it is rewarding. This article serves as an introduction and general guide to the top 10 Victorian High Country 4x4 tracks, providing you with a taste of what each track has to offer before delving into the detailed list.
Each track in the Victorian High Country offers a unique 4x4 experience. Some tracks, like the infamous Billy Goat Bluff, are known for their steep terrain and breathtaking views, while others, like the picturesque Blue Rag Range Track, offer a more relaxed drive with equally stunning scenery. Regardless of the track you choose, you're guaranteed an unforgettable 4x4 adventure.
Before embarking on your 4x4 journey, it's important to ensure that you're adequately prepared. This includes having a capable 4x4 vehicle with low range and high clearance, recovery equipment, good off-road tyres, and essential supplies like food, water, and warm clothes. It's also recommended to have GPS, maps, and a compass for navigation. Remember, the Victorian High Country is a remote area, and while it's part of its charm, it also means that help may not be immediately available if you run into trouble.
1. Wonnangatta (Zeka Spur): This is a popular track in Victoria's High Country, especially for those who enjoy trout fishing in the Wonnangatta Valley. The track features sharp rocks and some steep descents, leading down to the Wonnangatta Track and then onto the Homestead ruins. You have the option to camp here or continue on to Eaglevale via the Wombat Spur Track. The High Country area is not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced, and it's a place where making a mistake can be fatal or costly.
It's recommended to have good experience with 4WD before attempting these tracks, and to always be prepared for changing conditions as many tracks are subject to seasonal closures, especially in winter. The driving in this area is largely low range, which means higher than normal fuel consumption, and the terrain can be challenging, requiring a high clearance vehicle with low range. Soft roaders are advised to avoid these tracks.
2. Billy Goat Bluff: Known as a challenging 4WD fire trail, Billy Goat Bluff is not for inexperienced or unprepared drivers. It is an 11.1 km long track, running from Wonnangatta Road on Crooked River to The Pinnacles fire lookout, at 1,415m above sea level. This steep track, with its cliff edges, is completely unpaved. It becomes slippery when wet and should only be attempted by experienced drivers with a 4WD vehicle with low range and high clearance.
The track can be narrow in places and challenging to pass oncoming vehicles, making radio communication crucial. Many 4WD drivers have gotten into trouble while attempting this track, so it should be approached with caution and respect. The view from the top of the Pinnacles lookout is breathtaking, and the drive, taking between 1 and 1.5 hours, is considered well worth it. The track is subject to seasonal closures, typically in winter, and can be closed anytime between May and January due to changing conditions. The weather can deteriorate quickly, so preparedness is key, and the track may also be closed on catastrophic fire danger days.
3. Butcher Country Track: This is a track that demands a low range setting from start to finish. It is only accessible for six months of the year due to road closures, both in and out of the area. The track provides a challenging driving experience with many steep ascents and descents, as well as numerous switchbacks. User logs on the track suggest that it offers a variety of different obstacles and surfaces, making it an interesting drive. There are steep rocky sections, narrow spots, and bog holes at the top near Howitt road. The great views offered by the track make it worth the effort, and an average journey takes around 3-4 hours. Another user noted that the Butcher Country Track offers a lot of different challenges including steep climbs and descents, muddy, rocky, and bog holes up on the Howitt Plains. All these can be navigated with the right rig and setup.
4. Wombat Spur Track: The Wombat Spur Track, nestled in the Victorian High Country, is an ideal route for those interested in trout fishing as it meanders down to the picturesque Wonnangatta Valley. The journey promises a thrilling adventure and a test of driving skills as the track is characterized by a multitude of sharp rocks and some steep descents. As such, drivers are advised to be prepared for a challenging drive, requiring a vehicle capable of navigating the rough terrain.
Venturing down the track, travellers will eventually join the Wonnangatta Track, leading them to the Homestead ruins. This location presents an excellent opportunity for camping, allowing visitors to soak in the tranquil ambiance of the High Country. The journey doesn't have to stop here though, as the track continues on to Eaglevale up the Wombat Spur track. It's a trip that combines the excitement of off-roading with the serene beauty of nature and the joy of outdoor activities like fishing, making it a favourite among 4WD enthusiasts.
When planning a trip on the Wombat Spur Track, travellers should be mindful of the seasons, as some parts of the Victorian High Country are subject to road closures due to weather conditions. Equally important is ensuring that vehicles are well-equipped for off-road conditions, as the track can be quite demanding.
5. Crooked River Track: The Crooked River Track is another gem in the heart of the Victorian High Country, beginning from the old townsite of Talbotville. The track initially offers a peaceful drive along the scenic Crooked River, but the tranquility is quickly replaced by the thrill of an upward journey along the challenging Billy Goat Bluff Track. The track is marked as difficult due to its rocky and very steep terrain, making it suitable for experienced drivers with a high clearance 4WD vehicle.
An interesting feature of the Crooked River Track is its route to Miller's Hut via the Mount Wellington Track. This section of the journey offers some spectacular views of the high country, so a camera is a must to capture the captivating scenery. From Miller's Hut, a detour can take travellers to Moroka Hut, another picturesque spot that is worth a visit. After this detour, travellers can backtrack to the top of the Bluff and wind down their journey by returning to Talbotville.
Navigating the Crooked River Track demands respect for the land and the changing conditions. The track can be demanding due to its steep and rocky sections, and weather conditions can change rapidly, making it crucial to be well-prepared. Despite the challenges, the Crooked River Track offers a rewarding journey through the Victorian High Country, providing a blend of thrilling 4WD adventure and breathtaking natural beauty.
6. Moroka Hut Track: The track is located in Victoria's High Country, an area renowned for its challenging four-wheel drive tracks. It begins from the old townsite of Talbotville in the Grant Historic area, which is a great base for several trips in this region. The track includes the beautiful scenery of the Crooked River and ascends via the Billy Goat Bluff Track, which is graded as difficult due to the rocky and steep terrain. It is advised to have a vehicle with substantial ground clearance and all-terrain tyres for this trek. The track is not recommended for any soft roader type vehicles. The trek gets easier once at the top of the Bluff, leading to Horesyard Hut and then to Millers Hut via the Mount Wellington Track. This part of the track offers spectacular views of the high country, making it a must-see for photographers.
The region is challenging even for seasoned four-wheel drivers. Conditions of these tracks constantly change, with many tracks being subject to seasonal closure, especially in winter, and some may be permanently closed. Also, the driving is largely low range, which means fuel consumption will be higher than normal. Thus, if you don’t have long-range tanks, it is advisable to carry some jerry cans. The area can also be hot and dusty in the summer, and some tracks may be closed off during winter (or become impassable due to heavy snow), making spring and autumn the optimal choices for the trek.
7. Blue Rag Range Track: The Blue Rag Range Track is a popular 4WD trail located in Victoria's High Country, Australia. This track offers breathtaking views and a variety of terrains, making it a go-to spot for many 4WD enthusiasts. The track begins from the old townsite of Talbotville in the Grant Historic area, a great place to base oneself for several trips in the area. Following the terrain of the Crooked River, it then ascends along the rocky and very steep Billy Goat Bluff. The track is classified as difficult due to the rocky and steep terrain, and it's advised that it be attempted with vehicles with a bit of ground clearance like Cruisers and Nissans. It's not recommended for soft roader type vehicles.
As you continue along the Blue Rag Range Track, the journey becomes easier. The track takes you through the Horesyard Hut and along to Millers Hut via the Mount Wellington Track. This part of the track offers some spectacular views of the high country, so it's a good idea to bring a camera. The track can get a bit wet in certain areas, so it's advised to be prepared for this possibility.
The Blue Rag Range Track is described as exciting with steep hills and rocky areas. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful and at certain points winds down to a river. It's possible to complete the track in one day in dry weather, however, it's not advised to attempt the long hills in wet weather. The track has been graded in November, making it slightly easier to navigate. However, it still presents a medium to hard difficulty level, especially in spots where the track becomes steep. Despite these challenges, the track offers some of the most fantastic views in the state, which makes the journey worthwhile.
8. The Ewan Track: This is a challenging and scenic track located in the Victorian High Country, known for its steep ascents and descents, and numerous switchbacks. The track is only accessible for half the year due to seasonal road closures. The journey requires drivers to be in Low Range from start to finish due to the steep and rugged terrain. The track offers a variety of obstacles and surfaces, including steep rocky sections and narrow paths, making the drive an excellent challenge for experienced off-roaders. There have been reports of the track being recently graded and becoming easier, while others mention sections being quite chewed up and requiring careful attention. The track is considered a real test for off-road drivers, with travel times ranging from 2 to 4 hours depending on conditions and stops.
On another note, the track offers a mix of natural beauty and adventure. According to some accounts, the track is said to provide breathtakingly beautiful scenery as it winds down to a river. While the journey can be completed in one day, the steep and rocky terrain provides an exhilarating experience for passengers. However, it's worth noting that conditions can vary greatly, and driving in wet weather, especially on the long hills, can be particularly challenging. Therefore, it is recommended that the Ewan Track is attempted in dry weather for safety reasons.
9. The Ingeegoodbee Track: This track in the Victorian High Country is a journey full of challenges and scenic beauty. This track begins from the Buckland Valley and winds its way through the remote high country towards the King River. It is a track that requires a good level of skill and preparation due to its steep, narrow sections and tight turns. The track provides high-country views and challenging driving, making it a worthwhile venture for those wanting to explore.
The track is not only about the drive, but also about the views and the experience. The route offers breathtaking views of the high country, including the King River. It's not a short trip; a journey along the Ingeegoodbee Track should be at least a day trip. This track offers a sense of adventure and exploration, inviting drivers to immerse themselves in the wild beauty of the region.
However, it's important to note that conditions on the Ingeegoodbee Track can vary, and it can become quite challenging. The steep terrain and potential for changing conditions make this track an adventure best undertaken with careful planning and an understanding of four-wheel driving. Despite the challenges, for those who are well-prepared and confident in their driving skills, the Ingeegoodbee Track offers an unforgettable journey through the heart of the Victorian High Country.
10. Basalt Track: The Basalt Track in the Victorian High Country is a haven for 4x4 driving enthusiasts. This rugged trail offers a unique blend of adventure and challenge that is sure to satisfy the most demanding off-road drivers. The track is characterized by its steep, rocky terrain and numerous creek crossings, making it an extremely fun and exciting drive. The Basalt Track is not just about the drive, though. It's also about the grand views of the mountains and the forest that you get to enjoy as you navigate through the trail.
The Basalt Track is not for the faint-hearted. It's a demanding trail that requires a high level of driving skill and a well-equipped 4x4 vehicle. The steep hills, rocky outcrops, and water crossings can be challenging, but they also offer great opportunities for drivers to test their skills and their vehicles' capabilities. The track also leads to some of the highest points in the Victorian High Country, providing breathtaking views that make the challenging drive worth it.
The Basalt Track is more than just a 4x4 trail. It's an adventure that offers a unique driving experience in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Whether you're a seasoned off-road driver or a newbie looking for a new challenge, the Basalt Track has something to offer. So, if you're up for an adventure, head to the Victorian High Country, start your engine, and get ready for a thrilling 4x4 driving experience on the Basalt Track.
Embarking on a 4x4 adventure in the Victorian High Country is an exhilarating experience that offers a unique blend of thrill and beauty. However, such an adventure requires thorough preparation, particularly when it comes to your vehicle and the equipment you bring along. This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive checklist of the necessary and recommended equipment and accessories to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.
Part 1: Required Equipment and Accessories
A capable 4x4 vehicle with low range and high clearance is a must-have for navigating the diverse terrains of the High Country. Good off-road tyres are essential, as they provide the necessary grip for the steep, rocky trails and river crossings. It's also crucial to check your vehicle's oil, filters, and suspension bolts before setting off.
Recovery equipment is another necessity. This includes a snatch strap, rated shackles, and a winch. A basic toolkit consisting of wheel chocks, a compressor, a gauge, a jack, wheel brace, and hand tools should also be part of your gear. For navigation, a GPS, maps, and a compass are required, as mobile signal can be unreliable in remote areas.
Part 2: Recommended Items for a Trip
While not strictly necessary, there are several items that can greatly enhance your safety and comfort during your trip. Extra fuel is recommended, as service stations can be scarce in the High Country. Warm clothing is crucial, as temperatures can drop significantly, especially at night. Waterproof boots are also a good idea, considering the potential for wet weather and river crossings.
Plenty of food and water should be brought along, as well as camping gear if you plan to stay overnight. A chainsaw or handsaw can be useful for clearing fallen trees that may block your path, and a snorkel can make river crossings safer during seasonal high water levels. Lastly, consider bringing emergency communication equipment such as satellite phones or Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) for added safety.