AWOL Around Australia… Snowy River High Country

Fridge and fuel replenished at Orbost. The lovely, and knowledgeable old lady at the Tourist Information gave us some advice about the country ahead. It was clear she had spent plenty of time on the tracks and trails in this area. Plus, she was giving away free lemons from her garden!

It was only a short drive to the campsite at Wood Point. Right on the banks of the once mighty Snowy River. Now a shadow of its former self due to sixteen dams and seven power stations upriver, stemming its flow and diverting its water through over 200km of tunnels to agricultural lands.

The lack of flow in the modern Snowy meant there was a beach along its banks here.

Still, a better camping spot you would be hard pressed to find. Just one other couple there when we arrived. Also a local guy walking his dog, we had a good chat with him, usually a pleasure to talk to farmers when they are the talking kind, and this was no exception. Next, more locals, a couple of ageing ‘hippies’ and their adopted Aboriginal daughters, come down for a paddle and a swim. Originally from Kalumburu, NT, where the parents had just worked for five years – somewhere I had happened to spend some time whilst in the Army. So we had a few things to talk about too. N made the girls bracelets out of crocheted wool, which seemed to make their day.

Rollo at wide open throttle. He was loving the beach, even if it didn’t quite have the smell sensations of the coastal beach back home.

Later a couple of families rolled in, and set up in the final site. We spent the two nights camped here, as did our neighbours. I observed to N, that campers were less friendly in eastern Australia than where we’re from in South Australia. Not that people were unfriendly or rude, but they just kept themselves to themselves. Whereas if this was SA, everyone would have been over to everyone’s else’s camp by now, even if just to say “g’day”. I suppose this is just a reflection of the relative population densities of these areas. Touring the east was definitely making me appreciate what we took for granted touring back home.

I took a swim in the river the next day, in the deeper area on the far bank. Hippie dude had said there were a couple of big Bass (fish) over there. I didn’t see them, but myself and a metre plus female eel had a good staring competition for a while. Quite content to swim a couple of feet from me, only moving a bit further away when I put my hands in the water. Why female? My wildlife app told me the males don’t grow that big.

Whilst we were there I also gave the truck a good check over, and readjusted the handbrake now the new shoes were bedded in – handbrake was now holding, on even the steepest hills.

Toolkit was a mess. So I unpacked it and changed its position in the truck, so it could sit level. I have a hardcase kit with sockets, etc in it, in addition to this bag.

I made chocolate chilli con carne for dinner.

Beef, chorizo (from the market back in Canberra), onion, garlic, fresh chilli and chilli powder.
Start the chorizo in a cold pan, this will render the fat out of it. Use this to brown the beef.
Add the rest of the ingredients then add beef stock. You can get proper stock in jelly form these days, this is what I use mostly when camping.
Use as dark a chocolate as you can get. I add it right at the end on the cooking off the heat. once the beef is super tender and the sauce reduced. I just add a bit at a time, to taste.
Accompaniments. Toasted flatbreads, cultured cream or yoghurt, and pickled red onion and chilli – I just chop these first and put them in salt and vinegar or lime juice before I do everything else, they are nicely pickled by the time everything else is ready.

Good tucker. Works for hot or cold weather.

So we pressed on. Into the hills proper, first rutted and steep climb. Now with differential locks, Bertha burbles up this sort of thing with ease.

Going up!

So many trees down. In an ideal world we would have a chainsaw and clear these as we go, but in the real world we just drove round them on the bush bashed tracks like everyone else.

Raymond Creek Falls.

We took a detour to Jackson’s Crossing for lunch. I couldn’t really find any information about why it is called Jacksons Crossing, but its definitely one of the easier places to cross the Snowy. What it was like before all those dams, who only knows?

We didn’t cross, Had no reason to. The risk vs reward equation changes considerably on these longer solo vehicle trips, or maybe I’m just getting old…

Pretty fine lunch spot.

There were some beer cans in the fire pit here, funnily enough the same brand of beer can that we had seen sporadically spaced apart on the trail on the way in. There could have been 1000 people down that trail, unfortunately it only takes 1 dickhead to leave their mark. We packed the beer cans out.

The trail to this point was easy enough, and picturesque to boot.

Thumbs up bitches.

Back now on a more main dirt road, we headed off to that nights camp. Good views on the way.

We passed through a couple of small villages on the way, they were quite ‘rural’ shall we say (banjo plays).

We camped that night at Wilson’s Hut. The high country is well known for its many huts and this was our first. Easy to get to, it was a great little slice of history.