(Image: There's fabulous camping next to Frys Hut.)
Exploring the High Country huts near Mansfield is possible with a camper trailer in tow.
The High Country tracks are reopening as the warmer weather removes the evidence of winter hibernation, the creeks flowing thanks to high altitude snow melts.
Mansfield is a great place to take a break and spending some dollars in High Country towns is a great way of supporting local economies hit hard by bushfires and other abnormalities. As Mount Buller looms tall in the distance, it’s good to fuel up for the final time before heading for the hills.
(Image: The region has stunning colours and panoramic views.)
HIGH COUNTRY HUTS
Follow the Mount Buller Road and turn left onto Buttercup Road — which leads past a couple of great campsites — to reach Tomahawk Hut. Built by Forest Officer Arthur Dale in 1927 and rebuilt in 2007, the hut reflects what early Forest Commission Huts in the Alpine region were like.
(Image: Tomahawk Hut is an old forestry classic.)
The supplies left on the mantelpiece by fellow travellers are fantastic. It’s also a good opportunity to reduce tyre pressures to 24psi — camper tyres included — and lock into low range before crawling up No. 3 track.
Upon reaching 1500m at Mount No. 3, Refuge Hut 3 has a great campsite. Located 1.5km west of its original position, the hut was rebuilt by the North-Eastern Horse-Riding Club in 2008 with a communal fire pit and drop toilet.
From here, the No. 3 track is a simple drive to the junction with the Circuit Road. This 2WD road twists and turns, with some awesome 4WD tracks feeding off it. Clear Hills Track being one such track, which leads to Craigs Hut before continuing to Mount Stirling.
(Image: Built for a movie and the most famous hut in the High Country, Craigs Hut at sunset is just beautiful!)
Unlike the other huts dotted around the High Country, Craigs Hut was used only as a movie set. Built in the 1980s for The Man from Snowy River movies, the current version of the hut didn’t appear in either movie! Version one was left to rot and version two was destroyed in bush fires. The current hut is version three and it’s the best-known mountain hut in Australia. While you can’t camp at Craigs Hut, there’s a flat clearing just before the hut turnoff with room for a group of campers.
(Image: Bluff Hut has been a refuge for many over the years thanks to the legendary Stoney family.)
CLIMBING THE BLUFF
While it is possible to continue along Clear Hills Track before tackling Monument Track, it isn’t advisable to tow a camper along this route. It’s better to retrace your steps to the Circuit Road and follow this to Bindaree Road at the junction with Monument Track.
Bindaree Road is suitable for 2WD vehicles, past Bindaree Falls to Bindaree Flat to a great campground on the Howqua River.
(Image: Bindaree Falls are worth checking out.)
Access to the campground and hut at Bindaree Flat requires crossing the Howqua River. With a rock base and low water, it looks like a piece of cake, however, be aware when exiting the river. Many have bottomed out their hitch on the rock bed. The original vertical slab Bindaree Hut was built in 1914, with the current version made of broad leaf peppermint logs erected around 1937.
Bluff and Lovicks Huts are the next challenges. Climbing the mountain via Bluff Link Track is easy when dry, but slippery when wet. However, the drive to Bluff Hut is amazing. The views across the range to the Mount Buller are simply stunning.
The drive to Lovicks Hut is slow going along the ridgelines, across treeless plains then back among the twisted snow gums.
(Image: A fire is a requirement at this altitude.)
Camping at Sheepyard Flat is picture-perfect, so from Lovicks Hut drive back to the Bluff Link Road and head towards Brocks Road. You’ll catch glimpses of The Bluff as you descend before reaching Brocks Road.
Sheepyard Flat is a great place to relax on the banks of the Howqua River for a few days. The nearby Frys Hut is also a great camping option, with better access to the Howqua River. The hut was built by Fred Fry in the late 1930s using spilt timbers and he lived here until he died in 1971.
As you make your way back into Mansfield via the Howqua Track, it’s great to reflect on a fantastic few days spent exploring the Victorian High Country and remember just how lucky we are.
(Image: Scenes like this is why the High Country is such a great destination.)
Region: Mount Stirling
Nearest town: Mansfield for fuel and supplies
When to go: A lot of the tracks are seasonally closed from Queens Birthday weekend in June until 1 November. Summer is a great time as it is a bit cooler up high.
What to take: A full tank of fuel, water to keep hydrated, food and some warm clothes. It can snow even in January in the High Country.
Mobile Coverage: Limited — up high great, down low bad.
Tips: Keep an ear to the local radio for weather and bushfire updates.
4x4 Difficulty: In the dry, high clearance and traction control/low range is required. In the wet, some tracks are impassable or require lockers.
Tip: Learn how to read a map so that you can determine how steep a track is by the distance between the contour lines.
More Info: Parks Vic — parks.vic.gov.au
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