NE Victorian Trip Nov 2008 (especially for paddling)

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008 at 18:44

Member - Min (NSW)

Account of NE Victorian Trip November 2008

7-11 November – Mallacoota
Left Jerra at 11.00 am and arrived Shady Gully c’van pk approx 3.45 pm Booked in for three nights. Travelled via Cooma, Nimitabel, Imlay Rd and Princes H’way. Imlay Rd is a good sealed road and although windy is not nearly as steep as Brown Mtn.

Mallacoota is a very pleasant town with two supermarkets, butcher, cafés, pharmacy, well stocked hardware store, pub, beachware shop, gift shop, service stations and a trailer repairer. There is a 700 site c’van park on the foreshore with beautiful views and terraced, grassy sites (not all are level). The town is well serviced by all kinds of accommodation including at least two other c’van parks. There are several surfing beaches, pleasant drives and short and long bushwalks. There is bush camping, toilets, and a day picnic area at Shipwreck Creek with a ten-minute walk down to the beach where the creek comes in.

Mallacoota would be extremely crowded during holiday time.

The Inlet is vast with many bays, side creeks and rivers flowing in to it and extending beyond Gipsy Point up the Genoa and Wallagaraugh Rivers – a boating and fishing paradise. Paddling a canoe, kayak or sit-on-top is great fun here although it can become hard going when the breeze gets up and the water becomes rocky. Jetties, picnic tables, gas bbqs and toilets are provided for boaters, many only accessible by water. These are clearly marked on maps available from c’van parks and the information shed on the main wharf.

The drive to Fairhaven is a very pleasant forest drive on a good dirt road which crosses the beautiful Wallagaraugh River at Johnsons Bridge where there is bush camping (no facilities). It is possible to launch a canoe/sit-on-top on the far side of the bridge on the left-hand side (through the gate with the ‘Beware of the bull’ sign).

A 4x4 track which branches to the right of the Fairhaven Road leads to Cape Horn, opposite Gipsy Point but slightly down-stream. This track is narrow, steep, has conservation humps and dodges some trees but otherwise is quite easy going (6km). (Also shown on map referred to above.)

12-15 November – Marlo
The c’van park opposite the pub and adjacent to the General Store/Post Office/Newsagent has good grassy sites, excellent amenities and boat and car washing facilities. Dinner or a drink on the balcony at the pub on a fine evening as the sun is going down is highly recommended.

Marlo is surrounded by water – the ocean and several rivers and creeks. The main rivers, the Snowy and the Brodribb enter the sea here. There is good fishing, boating and paddling.

The Snowy Country Drive is a round trip from Orbost through Buchan, McKillops Bridge, Bonang and back to Orbost. It is a 300km trip the greater part of which is on very windy, dirt roads. The scenery is spectacular especially Little River Gorge and the drive down to McKillops Bridge which is steep and narrow. The size of the bridge is quite a surprise being high above the fast flowing Snowy River and very long. The Bonang Road which continues on from the bridge passes through beautiful Eucalypt rainforest with an understorey of tree ferns and wildflowers. There are camping facilities at McKillops Bridge and bush camping spots along the Bonang Road. Canoes can be launched upstream from the bridge on the Bonang side. Fuel (but nothing much else) is available at Bonang. The road is suitable for 2wd but unsuitable for trucks, caravans and, in my opinion, trailers. A memorable trip.

Between Marlo and Orbost there are several picnic/overnight camping places beside the road along the Snowy River. The best launching place for paddling is at the riverside park in Orbost. The c’van park nearby looks very pleasant with shade and good grassy sites.

Lake Tyres, south of Orbost, also looks promising for paddling with several arms of the Lake providing a variety of launching sites. The ramp at the end of Millpost Road looked particularly good. There is also a popular surfing beach.

Where the Great Alpine Road meets the coast near Lakes Entrance there are several rivers for paddling. These include the Tambo, Nicholson and Mitchell. We discovered that the Tambo is only a series of pools upstream of Bruthen.

Bairnsdale could be considered the capital of East Gippsland and certainly has all the services and shops appropriate for such an area. St Marys church is renowned for its frescoes covering the walls and ceiling, created by one man during the depression years. For clock enthusiasts there is a marvellous antique shop specialising clocks and barometers but has all sorts of other stuff as well. There is a small museum within the shop (fee) with some beautiful old clocks and a “monks’ clock” of recent vintage with moving figures. The performance of this clock lasts for 8 minutes.

16-18 November – Bright

The trip from Marlo to Bright through Omeo and Hotham was beautiful. Hotham is showing incredible damage from fires. There are vast areas of dead snow gums, just white skeletons. It has a strange beauty.

Bright has everything a traveller could need – supermarkets, hardware store, camping equipment, bike shop, pub, many restaurants, clothing and gift shops, service stations, and every kind of accommodation. One of the great attractions of Bright is the Autumn colour which lasts from March to June.

There are several walks around Bright along the Ovens River where historic gold diggings are clearly in evidence and interpretation signs are all along the Canyon Walk.

We were surprised to find that fly fishing is not particularly popular here as the Victorian Government has ceased stocking the streams but continues to stock the lakes and dams. Fish of a good size are certainly being caught, but you can’t believe a fisherman, can you? It would be nice to find we are wrong about this information. Trout are an introduced species and some say the native fish cannot compete with them for survival.

The drive to Mt Beauty has some lovely scenery and the town is attractive with, shops, a substantial Foodworks supermarket, cafes, service station and hospital.

The drive along the Buckland Valley (we only went as far as Buckland Junction) is also enjoyable. There are some camp sites along the Buckland River and one, Ah Young, is quite large and grassy with fire pits and one toilet and seats around the fire pits are about to be constructed. It is not right on the river but separated by a ditch, no doubt old gold diggings. The camp sites are marked on local maps.

There is a network of Rail Trails in North Eastern Victoria which provide perhaps a couple of hundred kilometres of cycling on easy gradients. One runs between Orbost and Bairnsdale and another between Bright and Wangaratta with a side trip to Beechworth. See Parts of the trail pass wineries and restaurants and makes for a very pleasant day out. The V Line bus will transport bikes and riders along various parts of the Murray to Mountains trail so it’s not necessary to cycle both ways.

19 November - Milawa

We travelled to Milawa via Myrtleford and Beechworth.

Myrtleford is a pleasant, fair sized town with all services. Somehow we discovered an Asian Emporium a little away from the main shops. What an amazing place! It was really two stores separated by a lane and sold everything from furniture and figurines to beautiful fabrics, old kimonos and attractively boxed sets of calligraphy brushes.

It was very enjoyable to see Beechworth again with its great history, old buildings and many shops serving the surrounding district and catering to tourists. However we did not see one service station – maybe it’s there but we didn’t find it. Like many towns that have angle parking it’s a pain in the neck to find somewhere convenient to park a trailer or van.

By the time we had visited Milawa Cheese Factory, Milawa Mustards, and Brown Bros Wines it was too late to move on so stayed in the small but clean caravan park next to the pub. The heavens opened just after setting up so we adjourned to the pub for an excellent meal.

You couldn’t really call Milawa a town but it certainly deserves it place on the map and anyone who has the slightest interest in wine knows Brown Bros. I was hesitant to go there at first because their wines have been around for a long time and I thought I was very familiar with their range but they have a large number on lines only available at the cellar door. We spent an enjoyable hour there are left with a lighter wallet and even less space to spare in the Prado.

There was no fuel at Milawa so we had to go to Wangaratta to fill up.

20-21 November – Moama (Echuca)

The next morning it was still raining so we had breakfast on the opposite corner from the pub (great coffee and fruit toast) and studied the map. We decided to continue through the King Valley, through Whitfield, and set the Nuvi for Lake Eildon hoping for some paddling. The drive was lovely and we were surprised to see vineyards at such high altitudes along the way.

The King River looked quite a possibility for paddling. There were signs for white water tours higher up.

Unfortunately there was no water at Bonnie Doon which boded ill for the rest of the Lake and as the weather forecast was not good we headed for Echuca and stayed at Big4 in Moama ($75 for 2 nights – ouch! but we wanted power if it was rainy and cold).

The Port area in Echuca was quite interesting with a museum, some refurbished rail cars, etc but expensive for what was on offer. A certain amount of historic interest can be see free of charge.

The Murray River was a sad sight with the River Red Gums high and dry and their roots fully exposed and clinging on for dear life. Even so the ski boats and sleek, brightly coloured (racing?) boats with huge, shiny motors looked ready for action. What about the effect on the banks? What about the snags? Can it be safe? There was no chance we were going to launch our sit-on-top, that’s for sure.

Gunbower Island was a big surprise. It is a large island in the Murray River with many tracks running through it. It would be easy to get lost there if you didn’t take careful note of any turnoffs you took. We ended up coming off at a different place from where we went on There is bush camping (no facilities except fireplaces) in many places along the river and there were only a couple of campers when we were there on a Friday afternoon.

There was rain on Friday night and Saturday morning was cold and overcast so we cut our losses and headed home. It was good trip with many discoveries and ideas for future enjoyment.
John 'n' Min
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