Ultimate NSW north coast camping guide

The North Coast of NSW has some of the best beaches and campsites in Australia, many accessible by 4WD. With a slide on camper such as the Trayon you are well set to explore the best locations of this region. For this trip we’ll head to one of Australia’s best coastal campsites then explore several other fantastic beaches and locations in this area. Here’s a map of our journey.

Grafton to Cresent Head Map - New South Wales North Coast Camping

Pebbly Beach

We’ll start this trip by heading to one of the best coastal campsites in Australia – Pebbly Beach.

Pebbly Beach campground is located in a small bay within the Yuraygir National Park which is about 50km north from Coffs Harbour and 58km south of Grafton. To get to Pebbly Beach from the north follow the Pacific Highway for 35km south of Grafton and take the signposted road on the left to Station Creek (Yuraygir NP). The gravel road winds its way through to the Newfoundland and Barcoongere State Forests, with signposts directing you towards the Yuraygir National Park.

NSW North Coast 4WD Camping Guide - Pebbly Beach

There are opportunities to explore the many forest tracks if you are looking for some extra adventure on the way, or on the way back out.

It’s not long until you arrive at the park entrance and after another 4km will arrive at a main intersection where there are information boards, rubbish skips, and a firewood pile. Have a read of the information boards, drop off any rubbish, collect some firewood and head down the track towards Pebbly Beach.

NSW North Coast 4WD Camping Guide Firewood

From the intersection it’s only a couple of kms to the warning sign advising only high clearance 4WD’s past this point. This is a good place to lower your tyre pressures and engage 4WD prior to heading through the dunes via the tight and bumpy sand track that leads down onto the beach.

The wide beach is spectacular with waves crashing in from the Pacific Ocean. Unlike many other areas no beach permit is required, so just jump onto the beach and head the 2.5km up to the exit and the Station Creek crossing. The beach exit can be soft so take care and ensure there are no oncoming vehicles, and use a little momentum to get up off the beach.

The biggest challenge is the Station Creek crossing. At high tide this crossing is virtually impassable but at low tide is generally easy. Make sure you do your research on tides before coming to Pebbly Beach! There are star picket markers indicating the crossing point, but make sure you walk the creek first and choose the shallowest route as the crossing can change regularly. On our visit the best route was to initially follow the markers then divert upstream before circling back to the exit.

NSW North Coast 4WD Camping Guide Station Creek crossing

Once across the creek and up the exit a sign welcomes you to the Pebbly Beach Campground. There are around 60 large campsites, many bordering the beach with green grass and shady trees. The place is just like a picture postcard with the deep blue ocean right out front, waves crashing onto a sandy beach, beautiful casuarinas and banksia trees, large grassy campsites, and spectacular headlands to the left and right framing this picturesque cove that is Pebbly Beach. Time to pick your own piece of paradise, set up your campsite, and relax in this beautiful place.

NSW North Coast 4WD Camping Guide Pebbly Beach Campground

The Trayon is just perfect for a location like Pebbly Beach. With the onboard hot and cold water, 90 litre fridge, shower enclosure, and solar panels to keep the batteries charged you can remain in this magnificent location for as long as you like in absolute luxury!

After a few fabulous days at Pebbly Beach fishing, walking, swimming, or just relaxing it’s time to leave. At low tide cross Station Creek and head back down the beach, through the dunes, and out of the national park. Eventually you will come out onto the Pacific Highway and head south to our next destination – Hat Head National Park.

Hat Head National Park Camping

Hat Head National Park stretches from South West Rocks down to Crescent Head. The northern point (South West Rocks) is 32 km north from Kempsey and 105 km south from Coffs Harbour. The park covers an area of 7220 hectares and hosts a variety of landscapes, wildlife and birdlife. There are a number of campgrounds, walking tracks and fabulous coastal scenery. If you are up for a challenge grab a beach permit and head for a drive along magnificent beaches which is one of the highlights of the area.

South West Rocks & Trial Bay Camping

South West Rocks is about 14km from the Pacific Highway and is a great place to stock up with supplies from the township. Here you can grab a beach permit for access to the fabulous beaches. There are a couple of caravan parks but there are some great national park campgrounds just out of town including the Trial Bay and Smokey Cape campgrounds.

Trial Bay Gaol is on the outskirts of South West Rocks and the campground is at the base of the ruins. The Gaol was first opened in 1886 and was built to house prison labourers who were there to construct a breakwater to make Trial Bay a safe harbor for boats travelling between Sydney and Brisbane. However the scheme failed, but you can see some remains of the breakwater from the guard tower lookout. The facility was last used during World War I as an internment camp for people of German descent. The Gaol is open daily for self-guided tours – allow about 1hr to explore the ruins and museum, and make sure you check out the fantastic view from the sentry’s lookout.

The campgrounds at Trial Bay are fantastic with a range of sites including ones right on the water’s edge.

Smokey Cape Camping

Smokey Cape camping area is around 7km from South West Rocks. The campground has shady sites with toilets and picnic tables, and fires are allowed. The resident kangaroos and kookaburras will most probably pay you a visit if staying here. The beach at the base of Smokey Cape lighthouse is only a short walk away.

Smokey Cape was named by Captain Cook on 13th May 1770 as he sailed north on the Endeavor. The smoke rising from above the headland was from the fires of the Dunghutti aboriginal people who have been living in this coastal area for thousands of years.

Smokey Cape Lighthouse and Captain Cooks lookout is just a few kilometers from the campground and offers spectacular coastal views towards Hat Head and South West Rocks. The white-washed lighthouse and buildings make a fantastic backdrop to this incredible view. The lighthouse was constructed in 1891 and is the highest above sea level in NSW – you can find out more on one of the tours held regularly (check website for times and details).It is just a short walk from the carpark up to the lighthouse, with this area a popular viewing spot for whales in the winter months.

From the lighthouse backtrack down to the campground and onto the beach for our first beach run between South West Rocks and Hat Head. Drop some pressure out of your tyres and head down onto the beach.

NSW North Coast 4WD Camping Guide Smokey Cape

The beach exit is relatively easy and then you pop done onto the beach with the Smokey Cape Lighthouse on your left and the Hat Head headland off in the distance. It is a spectacular sight with the waves crashing in to the wide firm beach. The 14km run down the South Smokey Beach is great fun, with plenty of fishing opportunities in the numerous gutters along the beach. The beach exit at Hat Head is straightforward with wooden planks re-enforcing the track off the beach.

Hat Head Camping

Hat Head has a general store, bowling and surf lifesaving clubs, and a huge caravan park. The park is a great option if looking for some facilities and there is plenty to do in the area with walking tracks, swimming or paddling a canoe in the creek or ocean, or just relaxing under the shade.

From the Hat Head township head back to the main road and across the creek, take Gap Road that follows Korogoro Creek then turn right into Hungry Road. The road continues past the Hungry gate camping area at Kemps Corner and down to the beach.

NSW North Coast 4WD Camping Guide Hat Head

This next beach run is 11km down Killick Beach from Hat Head to Crescent Head. This beach run is a little trickier that the previous one with patches of soft sand to negotiate, but shouldn’t pose too many issues. If you have a camper trailer it may be better to leave it at one of the campgrounds – no such problem with a lightweight slideon like the Trayon. The scenery is again spectacular with Crescent Head headland is the distance, waves pounding in, and large sand dunes on the left. Plenty of fishing opportunities again – just a fabulous place and great fun. The exit can be hard to spot – we went past it and had to backtrack when we hit the river. The sand at the exit is soft and may require a bit of momentum to get through. Once off the beach you will be at Richardson’s Crossing Picnic area and then it’s only a few km’s to Crescent Head Township.

Crescent Head Camping

Crescent Head is a larger town and has a large caravan park right on the coast and alongside the river. From here you can continue down south via the Point Plomer track which passes plenty of camping areas including a great campground at Point Plomer located right on the beach. From Crescent head it’s only 20km back to Kempsey and onto the Pacific Highway.

What to Take

As this trip travels through several coastal towns, there is ample opportunity to pick up supplies so you should only need to be self-sufficient for a few days at a time. There is reasonable phone coverage at all the locations so a satellite phone is not necessary. The NSW North coast is a popular fishing destination so bring some fishing gear if you would like to try your luck at catching a meal or two. Carry some recovery equipment such as Maxtrax’s (or equivalent) as there are some areas of soft sand that you could be caught up in. Definitely bring your camera as the scenery is spectacular!

Best Time to Visit

The NSW North coast is a year round destination but is more pleasant in the warmer months such as summer and spring/autumn. Perhaps avoid the summer holidays as the area can get very busy at this time.

 

The NSW North Coast has some of the best coastal camping in Australia and with a Trayon you can take advantage of these places. Pebbly Beach is one of the premier camping areas in Australia which should definitely be on all 4WDrivers bucket list. It is a great place to base yourself while tackling some of the infamous 4WD tracks in the Coffs Harbour region, or you can just relax in the surrounds for a few days. The Hat Head National Park is also a great place to spend a few days with some fantastic camping areas, 4WDriving and fishing down the beach, and experiencing the spectacular coastal scenery. Load up your Trayon and pencil in a few days or more for the North Coast of NSW – you will not be disappointed.

Written by Geoff Martin

MAPS AND GUIDES:

HEMA SA Map

Avenza PDF Maps are free and cover the Lincoln NP and Coffin Bay NP. Download the app on
your smartphone or tablet, then download the maps you need. Details on the website.

Introduction

South Australia is renowned for its iconic outback regions such as the Flinders Ranges and
Simpson Desert. But there is more to SA as it has some spectacular coastal areas such as the
Eyre Peninsula which has some of the best camping and coastal
scenery anywhere in Australia.

Port Augusta, the gateway to the west and Eyre Peninsula is also the
last major centre before heading west. Top up your fuel tanks, grab any food and beverage
supplies needed and then head west.

A great option for an overnight stay is the Fitzgerald Bay area just north of Whyalla. Here the
camps are free, fires are allowed, and you will most likely get a campsite all to yourself. More
details on this area can be found on the various free camping South Australia websites.

Heading down the east coast there are a number of caravan and camping spots such as Arno Bay
Bay and Port Neill
that are worth spending a night. Next is Port Lincoln – the major centre of the region.

Port Lincoln – Gateway to the National Parks

Port Lincoln is a good place to stock up with all the major supermarkets represented, plenty of
fuel outlets, and even 4WD accessories available if something has been forgotten. The Port
Lincoln Tourist Information Centre has all the relevant brochures
and information about the nearby national parks, and can book the relevant campsites in the
park so this should be your first port of call.

A good tip when planning a trip to this area is to pre-book your stay in Memory Cove and add on
a few days at the beginning or end within the Lincoln National. This way you only have to pay for
one park entry and thus maximize your time (and save some money). The access key for
Memory Cove is collected from the Port Lincoln Tourist Info Centre.

Put some fuel in the 4WD, grab the grocery shopping, and then head to the first National Park in
the area which is just out of town – Lincoln National Park.

Lincoln National Park

The entrance to Lincoln National Park is 11km south of Port Lincoln, so it’s not long until you’re
away from civilization. Lincoln National Park has more than 10 designated camping areas, most
with toilets and fire rings. If travelling outside the fire danger period make sure you bring some
wood and choose one of the campsites that allow fires such as September Beach.

Some campgrounds (such as Memory Cove) have a year round ban on fires, so make sure the gas
cooker is also right to go. With our gas cooker in the Trayon able to be used inside and outside
we had all bases covered for our trip to Lincoln National Park.

Stamford Hill

To gain your bearings and take in the scenery, a short hike up Stamford Hill to the Flinders
Monument is worthwhile. There are spectacular views across Boston Bay, Port Lincoln and
Lincoln National Park. The monument commemorates Matthew Flinders voyage of discovery to
this area in 1802. Flinders himself climbed Stamford Hill and named the area Port Lincoln after
his native province in England. There are other walks heading off from here – there are more

than 20 designated walks in the Lincoln National Park which are detailed in a brochure available
from the Port Lincoln Visitors Centre (or online).

Cape Donington

Cape Donington is the most southern section of Lincoln National Park, and there are great
coastline views here. There is a lighthouse at the point, with the sheltered campsites at
September Beach campground just around the corner. This campground with its fantastic beach
and sheltered campsites with fire pits makes it one of the better camping areas in the Lincoln
NP. Make sure you choose one of the sites bordering the beach – we parked our Trayon at
campsite 8 which was great.

This area has an early rural history that includes woodcutting, grazing and guano (seabird
manure) mining, and records its first grain crop in 1875. There are reminders of this period in the
form of abandoned farm machinery, cleared land and a cottage. If a break from camping is on
the agenda, then this cottage is available for rent.

Memory Cove Wilderness Area

Within the Lincoln National Park is the Memory Cove Wilderness Area. Unlike wilderness
protection areas in the eastern states, Memory Cove is open to four wheel drivers and visitors
are actively encouraged. It takes a little bit of planning and organising to gain access to this area
but this pay up in spades as IMO this is a major highlight of the trip to this area.

Caravan’s and camper trailers are not permitted into Memory Cove so this area is just perfect for
slide on campers such as the Trayon. With all the features that the Trayon has such as onboard
water, auxiliary battery, hot water, 100 litre fridge and plenty of storage for food etc it makes the
trip to Memory Cove that much more enjoyable.

Journey into Memory Cove

The access gate to Memory Cove Wilderness area
is about 20km from the Park entrance, and its 4WD access only from here. Time to unlock the
gate, drive in and engage 4WD! Generally the track is pretty good to start with so 4WD is not
immediately necessary, but if you have manual hubs then lock them in ready. From the gate the
Memory Cove camping area is 19km, with plenty to see on the way in. Going straight to Memory
Cove will take about 1 hour, longer if you stop for photos or take a few of the side tracks on the
way in. It took us nearly three hours to drive in!

The drive into Memory Cove covers a range of different vegetation. It starts with a fairly dense
mix of eucalypt and sheoak woodland consisting of coastal white mallee, tea-tree, and sheoak. It
quickly changes to rugged granite and limestone headlands, then more tea-tree and mallee
sections.

Early into the drive there is a cliff top section that offers great views out to the nearby islands.
The track then heads inland to an open plain commonly stocked with emu’s and kangaroos. This
area was grazed and cropped from 1840 until 1957, with stock watered from springs and soaks
from the granite outcrops along the cliff tops. The flat was ploughed by teams of bullocks and
harvests of barley were bagged and shipped out from Memory Cove. The last barley was
shipped out in 1912 prior to a devastating bushfire.

Further into the drive another side track leads off to a great cliff top view. The open ocean swells
crashes on the rocks below, sending salt spray into the air. There is a walking track that follows
an old vehicle track around the point that provides great views and is worth checking out. If you
have plenty of time you can explore this track further as it leads right around the cliff line to West
Point.

Just prior to heading down into Memory Cove, there is a scenic lookout that provides
spectacular views to Cape Catastrophe, Thistle Island and the bay below. The lookout is known
locally as ‘Ivy’s Leap’ after a local tour operators’ vehicle plunged off the cliff here when the
handbrake failed. Fortunately no one was in the car at the time.

 

In winter month’s whales can often be seen from the various cliff top lookouts so keep an eye
out if traveling to Memory Cove during this time.

Memory Cove

Memory Cove is a shady and sheltered campground just back from the beach. Our campsite
had its own track leading the few metres to the brilliant white sands of Memory Cove. Vivid
crystal clear blue waters make up the spectacular scene – what a fantastic place!
You can fish right off the beach here and we managed to catch a nice feed of Salmon one
afternoon.

 

The campground has well-maintained male and female pit toilets that were clean and smell free.
There was also a small rainwater tank but don’t rely on this – bring in sufficient water for your
stay.
The park contains a variety of wildlife. We saw several Western Grey Kangaroos on the way in,
along with Emus and a blue-tongue lizard that had taken up residence in the middle of the track
and needed a little prompting to move on. While camped at Memory Cove we saw several large
seabirds, pelicans and a lone seal that appeared to be lost.

There is a marked walking track at the right hand end of the beach that leads to the ocean
coastline. This is a great place to watch the passing boats, look out to the nearby islands, and
throw in a line for a feed of fish. About half way along this track, mobile phone service is
possible. At the end of the track there is another great place to throw in a line and perhaps catch
a feed of fish for dinner. While we were there some cheeky seals chased away all the fish so no
fish for us!

 

Memory Cove is a great place to relax and unwind. We spent three fantastic days here and
really enjoyed this time. Such a spectacular location with limited camping spots & access it is a
definite must-do when in the area.

Sleaford-Wanna 4WD Track

A major highlight of a trip to Lincoln National Park is the scenery and 4WDing along the Sleaford
Bay coastline. Massive wind-sculpted sand dunes, pounding surf and spectacular limestone
cliffs await the visitor to this area.

 

The Sleaford-Wanna 4WD track is only about 14km long, but there is a lot to take in and plenty
of side tracks to explore. The track can be traversed in a few hours, or a whole day could be
easily spent having fun in the dunes and on the beach. There are several good fishing areas
along the beach, including Miller Hole and Salmon Hole.

There are markers and signs along the track to guide the way, but still plenty of track options at
times. Like other 4WD tracks, there are hard routes and easier routes to choose.

The track contains a range of conditions, from soft dunes, tight sections through vegetation, to
slow rocky treks over limestone sections. The ever changing conditions and scenery adds to the
appeal for the area – never sure what is coming up next. There is almost too much to take in –
cresting a dune or rounding a corner brings another great scene.

 

There are several beach access points, so if the tide is right a run along the beach could be in
order. The access points do vary in difficulty so check before venturing onto the beach.

Quite a lot the Sleaford-Wanna Dunes track consists of narrow sections and vehicles may be
coming the other way so caution is needed. Also a sand flag is a good idea to advertise your
presence – much easier to spot and be spotted in the narrow parts and when cresting dunes.

Cape Tournefort

Another excellent 4WD track heads from Wanna out to Cape Tournefort. This track is generally
sandy as it meanders through coastal tea-tree and comes out at the cape. From the end of the
track there are great views of the nearby Curta Rocks, rugged cliffs and pounding surf onto the
beach below.
After a pleasant few days exploring Lincoln National Park it’s time to move on and explore
another fabulous nearby region – Coffin Bay and Coffin Bay National Park.

Coffin Bay

Coffin Bay is a small and picturesque town on the shores of Kellidie Bay.
Coffin Bay is famous for its oysters which are sold all over Australia and overseas, and you can
pick up some directly from the oyster farmers straight of the boat. Doesn’t get any fresher that
that! The Coffin Bay general store is a good place to pick up any last minute supplies needed,
including fuel if required.

Now the bay and area got its name from Matthew Flinders who explored this area in 1802 and
named Coffin Bay after his British Navy friend Sir Isaac Coffin. The name has nothing to do with
fatal shipwrecks, wooden boxes or a funny shaped rock that looks like a coffin!

 

The Coffin Bay Township is great but there is a bigger and better attraction right on its doorstep
– Coffin Bay National Park.

Coffin Bay National Park

The entrance to the national park is right on the Coffin Bay township boundary. The first 15km is
sealed up to Yangie Bay, which is a popular sheltered camping spot which offers some good
shade. There are several walks emanating from the picnic area that are worth a go if feeling
energetic.

 

 

From Yangie Bay the rest (and majority) of the national park is 4WD only. The tight sandy tracks
are tailor-made for a slide on camper and the Trayon is the perfect camper for the job. With all
the features that the Trayon has, the camping experience in places like Coffin Bay is just about
perfect!

The first part of the track is sandy but pretty straight-forward with the right tyre pressures. It
rounds Yangie Bay then head north adjacent to Port Douglas Bay. There are a couple of salt
lakes passed and a few areas of the track that can be flooded by high tides, so there are bypass
tracks if the tide is very high. The track then heads inland through coastal bushland, past Lake
Damascus (salt) and back out to the coast at Black Springs.

Black Springs

There are some great sheltered campsites and toilets at the Black Springs campground, a great
beach below and the nearby Black Springs Well. Also near Black Springs campground is the
black rocks walking track which is a 6km hike to the western side of the peninsula.

From Black Springs head across the headland to seven mile beach dropping down onto the
beach for great run along the sand. It’s a great drive with lovely beach views, large picturesque
dunes, and many seabirds along the foreshore. The beach run is possible near high tide, but it’s
much better to time your trip closer to low tide.

Head along the beach to the signposted beach exit and back onto the headland. The scene is
now open rocky grasslands almost devoid of vegetation. This area is frequented by emus so
keep an eye out for them. Continuing on there are more patches of sheoaks and coastal tea-
tree, and closer to the coast there are paperbark trees. Across the headland there are lots of
track options but I would recommend heading first to the most northerly section of the park –
Point Sir Isaac.

Point Sir Isaac

Point Sir Isaac was named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 after his good friend Sir Isaac Coffin.
This a good spot to see whales migrating along the coast towards the head of the Great
Australian Bight to mate at the right time of the year. On the protected eastern side of the point
there are several small quiet beaches surrounded by mallee scrub. One such spot is ‘The Pool’
which is a designated campground with toilets, shady campsites, and a few fire pits.

Mullalong Beach

From Point Sir Isaac it is worth heading to Mullalong Beach which is on the more exposed
western coastline. Here there is great coastal scenery consisting of wide beaches, deep blue
water, and rocky cliffs. The drive across the headland is also very scenic, with views of the track
winding its way across and the blue sea framing the picture.

From Mittalong Beach head out to the most westerly section of the park that you can drive to
which is Reef Point Lookout. This is quite a picturesque place, with limestone cliffs, blue waters
and extensive reefs joining the beaches.

From Reef Point Lookout continue back inland then southwards to Sensation Beach. Having a
name such as Sensation Beach you would expect something pretty special, but actually the
place is named after a tuna boat called ‘Sensation’ that drifted ashore here. The beach is very
exposed but still worth a visit, and there are some basic camping areas behind the dunes but
there are plenty of much better campgrounds on the sheltered eastern section of the park.

Morgan’s Landing

One of the best campsites in the national park is Morgan’s Landing. This is a great sheltered
camping area with several spots under shady paperbark trees just back off the beach and Coffin
Bay. There are toilets there, and the beach is great for an evening walk.

With Morgan’s Landing facing West it’s worth getting up early to watch the sunrise across Coffin
Bay – hopefully you will get to see a fantastic sunrise as we did. From the campsite take the
short cut along the beach between Morgans Landing and the exit from seven mile beach run.
Along this section of beach there are a few secluded camp areas that are not shown of the
maps or brochure of the area.

All the tracks were well signposted and marked so with the Coffin Bay National Park Brochure it
is pretty easy to navigate.

Things to Take

Heading to the Lincoln and Coffin Bay National Parks you need to carry enough food and water
for the duration of your intended stay. Mobile phone coverage is patchy but generally good
enough if you need to contact friends & family, so I would suggest alternative communication
devices such as a satellite phone would not be necessary. If you enjoy fishing then ensure you
bring plenty of tackle and some bait as this area is great for fishing. Bring your camera as well
as there is plenty of spectacular scenery to photograph.

Time to Travel

The National Parks are open all year but the weather can get pretty rough in the winter. The
summer time is popular and the holiday time can see this area quite busy, so I would
recommend visiting during the autumn or spring. Remember to book in advance for places such
as Memory Cove as campsites are limited.

Conclusion

The Lincoln and Coffin Bay National Parks have plenty to offer the avid camper and 4WDriver.
There are also plenty more attractions on the Eyre Peninsula so you can easily spend a week or
more exploring the area. Even though the Eyre Peninsula is a long way away for most of us, it is
well worth the effort so load up the 4WD and head down – and you will not be disappointed.

Victorian High Country 4WD Guide

The Victorian High Country covers a large part of South-Eastern Victoria, ‎with much of the
area only accessible via a 4WD. It is truly one of the premier camping and 4WDing destinations in
Australia with a huge range of tracks and campsites on offer, the majority of which are completely
free of charge. There’s a range of great local towns to visit, shops and pubs to experience, and of course, the spectacular mountain scenery that the Victorian High Country is famous for.

Being such a large area you can spend weeks or even months exploring this region.

In this article, we focus on some of the southern areas of the Victorian High Country. Keep an eye on future articles to explore more of the region.

There will be some places that you may have heard of before, and maybe a few spots that are new. One aspect of the Victorian High Country is that it has many spectacular places only known to a relative few, and hopefully, this article will encourage you to explore some of these hidden gems (or perhaps find your own piece of Victorian High Country paradise!).

Best Camper For The Victorian High County

The Victorian High Country is truly Trayon territory, as many of the tracks are unsuitable for camper trailers, and having the freedom of a slide on camper is a distinct advantage. There is nothing better than rocking up to one of the region’s pristine campsites with all the comforts of home that you have in the Trayon.

Check out this Victorian High Country Map of our adventure.
Victorian High Country Map

Start of Trip – Licola

We’ll start this adventure at Licola, which is a small town on the banks of the Macalister River.

Licola has an excellent general store for any of those last minute supplies or fuel for the trip. The photographs in the store feature some great pictures of previous traveler’s dilemmas, as well as photographs of the dramatic weather conditions such as floods and fires. The shady park nearby is an excellent place for a cuppa or lunch before tackling the tracks.

From Licola, head along the Wellington River Valley on the Tamboritha Road which passes several
picturesque camping areas on the riverbank – this is a great option for an overnight stop.

Wellington River Campsites

The Wellington River Camping area consists of 14 separate camping areas of varying sizes along a
10km stretch of the Wellington River. Outside of the really busy periods of the year such as Easter
and summer long weekends, you are usually assured of getting a suitable site to set up camp.
Wood sometimes can be scarce so it pays to bring your own or collect some on the way to ensure  a good campfire for the evening. The Wellington River is also a good place to try your luck at catching a Trout – although probably having a plan B for when the fish aren’t hungry!

More details on the camping along the Wellington River and further in the Alpine National Park can be found on the Parks Victoria Website.

From the Wellington River, the road climbs up out of the valley to Bennison Lookout which is worth a stop to take in the fabulous views towards Lake Tali Karng, Mount Wellington and the Razorback.

Next is Tamboritha Saddle and some of the fabulous Victorian high plains.

Continuing along the high plains on Tamboritha Road, head pass the Lost Plain picnic area and you
eventually arrive at Arbuckle Junction. This is decision time – left is Howitt Road which heads
towards the Howitt High Plains and right is the Moroka Road which heads towards the Pinnacles
and the east. This trip we’ll explore east, so right it is along the Moroka Road.

The Moroka road offers great views at times to the north across the Avon Wilderness area with the
mountain ranges in the distance. About 12km from Arbuckle Junction is MacFarlane Saddle which
is the commencement point for the Lake Tali Karng walking track. This is a popular walk across the
high plains with a steep descent to the picturesque Lake Tali Karng, one of Victoria’s deepest
natural lakes.

A further 13km onwards the road crosses Moroka River with the Old Moroka road on the right.
Another 2km is the Marathon Road turnoff on the right, which heads south to Briagolong.
The Moroka road now becomes the Pinnacles road and the next point of interest is Horseyard Flat,
approximately 2km from Marathon Road. Horseyard flat is a series of grassy flats beside the Upper
Moroka River and is a great spot to camp. There are pit toilets, a hut and several separate areas to setup camp. Horseyard flat is also the starting point for the walking track down to Moroka Gorge
and waterfall.

From Horseyard Flat it is another 8km to the turnoff to Billy Goats Bluff track (which we’ll check out later) then another kilometre to the fabulous Pinnacles.

Pinnacles Lookout and Fire Tower

From the Pinnacles carpark it is a short walk up the access track to the radio transmitter and fire
spotters hut, then a steep track with sheer drops on both sides to the fire tower. The views are
absolutely breathtaking – the panoramic 360 degree views from the Pinnacles take in the seemingly
endless mountains and valleys to the North and the plains all the way to the sea to the South (on a
clear day). There’s information boards highlighting the surrounding areas and peaks, and your
camera is sure to get a workout, especially on a good day. This is one of my favorite views in all of
the Victorian High Country.

From the Pinnacles head back down to Billy Goats Bluff turnoff on the right. Now is a good time to
air down and prepare for some challenging 4WDriving.

Billy Goats Bluff 4WD Track

Billy Goat Bluff is one of the most iconic Victorian High Country tracks and considered one of the best of the Victorian High Country 4WD tracks. The track is very steep (drops 1200m in less than 7km) and challenging, with rock steps and loose sections requiring prudent line selection and plenty of clearance. The track can be quite narrow in places and it can be challenging to pass oncoming vehicles so put your UHF radio to scan and keep a close watch for vehicles. This track is doable with a camper trailer but having a lightweight slide on like the Trayon makes the experience easier and safer without sacrificing any of the camping essentials we like to have in the bush nowadays.

There are some great photo opportunities all the way along the track, particularly at “the pinch” and
the helipad.

At the bottom of Billy Goat Bluff track is the Wonnangatta Road. Turning left will take you through to Eaglevale and onto the iconic Wonnanngatta Station, but on this trek we’re turning right towards
Dargo. Around 6km onwards is Kingswell Bridge and immediately over the bridge turn to the left
onto the Crooked River Track.

Crooked River Track

The Crooked River Track heads north through farmland and then into forested areas. There are a
few deep river crossings that are generally straightforward with a firm base, however take particular
caution especially if recent rains have fallen. The track eventually comes to a large open grassy
area called Talbotville, a very picturesque and terrific place to camp.

Old Gold Mining Town – Talbotville

A mountain gold town which flourished during Victoria’s golden era, Talbotville was one of the
longest surviving towns in the region. Located on an open grassy flat on a bend in the Crooked River, the 1860s presented a scene of weatherboard stores and dwellings with the township
servicing the local miners and rural families. Businesses included a butcher, baker, chemist,
restaurant and a hotel, with a Post Office operating intermittently into the late 1940s. Today a sense
of this history can be found in the old ruins, mine workings and the old cemetery.

The Talbotville area has pit toilets, fire rings and plenty of space to camp. It can get very busy
during holidays so perhaps avoid peak times. There are plenty of 4WD and walking tracks
emanating from here so it is a good place to base yourself for a few days and explore the area
further.

From Talbotville take the McMillan Road up to Grant which is approximately 11km. The Grant
Township once had a population of around 2000 with stores, hotels, a police station, churches,
banks, dwellings and even a local newspaper flanking two broad main streets. However little
remains today. There are some information boards and walking tracks around the township which
provide an insight into the town’s former glory. From Grant head 6km to the Dargo High Plains
Road then turn right toward Dargo which is a further 17km away.

Victorian High Country Central – Dargo

Dargo is arguably the hub of the Victorian High Country. There is plenty to see here including grabbing some last minute supplies, souvenirs or fuel from the general store. A fantastic option when passing through is to enjoy a meal at the legendary Dargo Pub. The Dargo Pub has
a great ambience and is a terrific place to enjoy a cool beverage and grab a meal, while taking in
the various photographs and information on offer inside. Camping is available out the back of the
pub or over at the Dargo River Inn if wishing to make a night of it!

From Dargo take the road north on the Dargo High Plains Road through picturesque farmland and
past charming homesteads, until climbing out of the valley into a forested area. About 6km from
Dargo take the Upper Dargo Road which heads off on the right. Further along this road there are
some great camping areas on the Dargo River with places such as Italian Flat, Dusty Flat and Black
Flat just to name a few. These areas have pit toilets and large flat grassy areas to setup camp.

Dargo High Plains Road

From the Dargo River campsites backtrack to the Dargo High Plains Road and commence the
steep climb up onto the high plains. Around 11km further on is Grant Junction and the turn-off to
Grant and Talbotville. From Grant Junction continue northwards through the forested area on the
Dargo High Plains Road. Past the Treasures-Mt Even Hut which is just visible from the main road
with the Downey Road heading off to the right. Keep following the Dargo High Plains Road to the
Treasure Plain.

Just past the Treasure’s boundary on Lankey Plain is the well-signed track on the right to King Spur
and Mayford – our ultimate destination for the night. Turn right off the Dargo High Plains Road and start your journey along King Spur Track. It will generally take about 1 hour to reach the camping areas in the valley from the turnoff on the Dargo High Plains Road.

The King Spur Track starts by meandering amongst the Snow Gums before opening out to
spectacular views across to Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain. There are several good camping areas
on the cliff-edge but at an elevation of 1500m a cold night is guaranteed and a roaring fire essential
if choosing to camp here.

After a few kilometers there is a turnoff to the right to Long Spur Track – continue following King
Spur Track. Next up are a series of rocky sections that are quite slow but generally fairly easy
going. A little further and we commence the steep descent into the valley. Now it’s time to select low
range to save the brakes and tackle the several switch-backs which are a common feature of steep
tracks in the victorian high country. The steep descent should pose few problems except in wet conditions when some of the clay based sections will become quite slippery.

At the end of the descent the reward is our first camping option beside the picturesque Dargo River.
There is also a track to the right to another campsite, but it pays to cross the Dargo River and
continue up the valley as there is plenty more to come.

Generally this first river crossing is fairly easy but there are several large rocks to avoid. If unsure it
pays to walk the crossing first.

The track climbs steeply out of the river and then drops down to another crossing, with another two
river crossings before the valley opens up into a picturesque grassy plain – with the bubbling Dargo
River, surrounding mountains, and wide open plain this makes a spectacular sight! Be cautious
travelling at the beginning of the plain as there are several bog holes that can trap the unwary.
There are bypass tracks around the worst areas so generally these shouldn’t cause any problems.

Picturesque Valley – Mayford

Once on the grassy plain you have reached the locality of Mayford, one of the best places to camp
in the Victorian High Country. With ample flat grassy campsites adjacent the Dargo River, plenty of
shade from the majestic gum trees, and the vista of the surrounding mountains you would be hard
pressed to find a better location for a few days.

After a pleasant night or even a few days at Mayford, it is time to backtrack down the valley and
back up to the Dargo High Plains. However once back on the high plains road there is a location
that should not be missed – the famous Blue Rag Range and trig point.

Top of the World – Blue Rag Trig Point

From the King Spur Track turn right onto the Dargo High Plains Road and drive 6km to the Blue
Rag Track which commences on the left beside a small dam. Note that it is not advisable to tow a
camper trailer up this track so leave your trailer at the Dargo High Plains Road – no issues with a
lightweight slide on camper like the Trayon with the advantage of having all the equipment right with you when we get the top. The track climbs steeply from the road and then you are presented with the magical view of the track snaking its way along the mountain spur line into the distance with trig point just visible in the distance. This is one reason why this track is known as one of the most spectacular tracks in the victorian high country – the views and vistas are truly outstanding. Continue along the track to the trig point – at 1716m this point offers spectacular 360degree views across the mountains and valleys. Take some time to absorb this view and appreciate what many believe is the best view in the whole Victorian High Country!

Returning from the trig point you can backtrack to the Dargo High Plains Road, or take the Basalt
Knob Track particularly if you are heading back towards Talbotville and are looking for a challenge!

The Victorian High Country (VHC) has some of the best 4WDriving and camping anywhere in
Australia, and this trip is into one of the best in the region. With pristine camping, spectacular views, and great 4WDriving you just have to get out and explore this area for yourself. With a slide on camper such as the Trayon which is the perfect companion for a victorian high country trip this will be a trip to remember. Book your holidays, sit down with a Victorian High Country Map to plan your route, pack up the 4WD and come to the Victorian High Country for a trip of a lifetime!

By Geoff Martin