Bairnsdale 4WD Social Club
High Country Trip
Grand final weekend 2023
Leaving Bairnsdale our first stop was Wallers hut for group; Brad, Panza, Jack and Rosco, then tracks to the north along Friday Spur track to Kilgowers campsite with a small river crossing, after lunch pushing onto McDonalds hut which was in good condition and then to Delusion Hut which was not such great condition, but under the eye of high country huts association. Beside the hut was a the dam and the collapsed bush fire shelter. Heading south and then east along Jones rd , then down Upper Dargo rd with its numerous campsites, most of which were occupied. High Plains rd then west past the old town of Grant and into Talbotville old township now a large campsite, full of history, camping crowds were less here. There we camped the night with a warm fire and surrounded a few cow pads left by the local wanders.
Started with swim in the river for the only brave one and we were packed and quick into low range with a series of river crossing along Crooked river, they all were low levels which was good. At Kingwill bridge we turned up Wonnangatta rd to Bill Goat Bluff track. The climb up took about 45min-1hr up the challenging climb, low range and difflock at times. At the first helipad we met a loverly man and his dog Simba, and did a tag-along tour, we all reached the breathtaking views and onto the “The Piniclales for a bite of lunch (with Indian rice as a thank you). Pushing forward late in the day we set up camp at Thomastown Camping area but the winds during the night became strong and sleeping difficult.
Being a long weekend we were lucky to the campsite to ourselves. We packed and soon on the road, Jack parted meetup with friends in Licola, Brad, Panza and Rosco headed east, soon back into low range down B1 and B2 tracks (no bananas to be seen) which turned out to be a bit of a slippery down hill run. Crossing the river at the bottom was a burnt out 4WD (Pathfinder ?) and on the otherside camping gear and rubbish left by irresponsible campers, Onto the back of the ute and we were able to deposit it at Parks dump bin @ Bairnsdale (thanks guys). Margaret Tk, Cromite Mine tk Burgoyne Tk to Licola Rd. These tracks had some of the best hilltop views which was handy when we received news of the Briagalong bush fire had started, it kept going for a month. Back on the hard-top we head home via Lake Glenmaggie and a quick stop Glenmaggie Dam wall. Home bound via Straford where we we followed by the bushfire clouds and the damage caused by the fire. We all had a fantastic trip thanks to Brad
The Ingeegoodbee trip began on the 10th of November and consisted of David Raeburn & David Rogers in a Ford Maverick, Michael Jacavou in a Toyota Hilux, Christine Clayton in a Daihatsu Rocky and myself, Brad Toohey trip leader in a Nissan Gu Patrol.
Dave, Dave and Michael had left early on the Friday afternoon to secure a campsite and get a fire ready for when the remaining cars would arrive. The original plan was to camp and the Suggan Buggan campsite but was found to be occupied, so travelled on to Willis campsite, just before the NSW border on the side of the Snowy River. The remaining cars arrived at around 6.30pm
The following morning kicked off at around 8.30am, beginning with letting our tyres down and then on to the Ingeegoodbee track. Part way up this track was a helipad with great 360deg views which ended up being our morning tea stop. There was snow off in the distance with we determined was the Mt Kosciusko range.
There were a couple of steep sections on this track, with the tracks being dry posed no problems for any drivers.
Part way along the Ingeegoodbee track we turned left onto McFarlane Flat Track. We noticed a campsite location on our maps so we decided to take a look. It ended up taking around 30 minutes round trip but was work the effort, there was a nice & quiet campsite (with no facilities) on the side of the Suggan Buggan river.
From here we continued along McFarlane Flat Track and crossed the Ingeegoodbee river which was quite low. We had lunch on one of the plains at McFarlane Flat where we saw our first brumbies off in the distance.
The track wasn’t difficult and found the going pretty easy for an hour or so before the track turned into Cobberas Track where we came to the hardest section of track on the trip: steep, rocky and loose dirt. Each of the cars bounced and fought for traction as we all made it up relatively easily, it goes to show that a good set of tyres helps in these types of conditions.
The drive along the Cobberas Track provided incredible views, none more so that driving straight at Mt Cobberas No1 standing at 1836m. we made a quick stop where a couple of us climbed up a rock face to see great views into the valley below.
We arrived at our campsite at around 4pm, on the side of a small stream which provided crystal clean water. We quickly got a fire going as the campsite was at a height of 1340m, it was going to be cold. This was evident the following morning with frozen water in bowls and crispy white swags.
We left the campsite at around 8am and headed to Limestone Hut to take a look, we (the Bairnsdale 4WDrive Club) are fortunate to know the owner, who gave us permission to drive in and take a look. It’s located in an amazing location, beside a small stream, open plain, with plenty of facilities both inside and outside the Hut.
From here we drove up the Limestone Creek Track, this a pretty track, relatively easy in the dry but the scenery makes up for what you miss out in four-wheel driving. We found our next group of brumbies, this time a heard of five who seemed content to watch us from a distance as we drove by.
We turned right at the end of Limetone Creek Track on to McCarthys Track for a short distance until we reached the Poplars camp site and the Murray river, which is the highest public vehicle access to the Murray. This was just a quick stop to take some photos and stretch the legs.
From here we continued back along McCarthys Track where we passed the first cars we saw since Friday afternoon. It was getting close to lunch so we decided to drive into Mt Murphy Historic Area and break there. There were still a lot of remains of what was a major operation back in the day, pictures were taken from the safety of the mine entrance.
From here we drove to the intersection of Mt Hope Rd, where we all aired our tyres up and headed into Omeo for fuel and refreshments. It was a leisurely drive home from Bairnsdale from Omeo.
The trip was enjoyed by all, no major issues occurred but as always, driving in remote areas is always safer with other cars.
SUZUKIS TO THE CAPE 2017
On the 7th of July, some of the Bairnsdale crew, comprising of David and Libby Raeburn and Dave and Jill Burke left for the trip of a lifetime to Cape York. The trip up to Mt Carbine - between Cairns and Cooktown was largely just a leisurly, nice road trip. Dave and Jill towed their Suzuki Sierra ute behind their 76 series Landcruiser ute, David and libby had a small camper trailer behind their Nissan Patrol. Brad Toohey caught up to us in Yass towing David and Libbys 1978 Suzuki LJ80 ute it is 40 years old next year and had recently rebuilt with his Nissan Patrol, he was to be the support car for our group. He stayed with us one night, then continued on to meet his parents in the Mt Carbine caravan park, he took his 80 year old Dad, John with him on the trip to the top.
BRAD AND DAD AS THEY BECAME KNOWN ON THE TRIP
Steve Raeburn left Bairnsdale on the 11th with his Suzuki Sierra on the back of his small truck, but it developed a big oil leak at the back of the motor and he had to return to Bairnsdale to get his trailer and his ever faithful GQ Nissan TD42 diesel Patrol to transport his Suzi up. The Melbourne crew were Alan and Barb Johnson driving a 1992 Suzuki long wheelbase series 1 Vitara,
RUNNING REPAIRS ON ALLANS LOOSE BASHPLATE.
, Fedia and Laura Sleusereff - Suzuki Vitara wagon, Michael and Elizabeth Vaughn and daughter Sarah - Suzuki Vitara long wheel base series 2 V6.left on the12th of July. Steve joined the Melbourne group in Cairns to pick up his partner Ruth and Alans wife Barb from the airport. Steve and Ruth then travelled to Mt Carbine to met up with David and Libby and Dave and Jill and Kevin Britton and partner Carrie - Kevin and Carrie are from Bairnsdale and are working in the Northern Territory, they drove their Suzuki Sierra accross to met up with the group they had the red dust look before starting the cape trip.
.Steve and Ruth amazed us all by fitting everything they needed for the trip into the back of the tiny space of the little car including even an Engle fridge the Suzi Sierra earned the nickname the Tardis. Mt Carbine caravan park is a great place to leave your caravan or transport vehicles whilst you do the trip to 'The Tip'. The owners are very nice and really helpful, there is no charge to leave your vehicle there if you stay with them at least one night.
TTHE SUZIES AND DRIVERS AT MT CARBINE
On arrival, David Raeburn discovered the trailer had broken the draw bar off except for a strip of metal about 20mm wide, it could have caused a major disaster if it had broken off completely. The park owners lent us a welder and the neccessary tools and with Kevs help (he is a boiler maker/welder) we soon had it fixed.
THE GROUP TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME
The Melbourne group stayed in Cairns one night, the the two groups met up in Mossman to start the trip up to Bloomfield Road to the historic Lions Den Hotel for the first night, it is a great place to stay and have a meal. We had hoped to travel the Creb Track, but it was closed. Bloomfield Road is an easy drive with some great scenery and a few steep climbs. We arrived in Cooktown at 9.30am and had a look around the town. Steve played some music on the musical ship, we then headed out to Isabella Falls and visited the Old Laura Homestead then on to Musgrave Roadhouse where we stayed overnight.Steve got out his Guitar and with John on Harmonica we had a great nights entertainment.
Wednesday the 19th, passed lots of roadtrains, the corrogations and red dust were really bad, Michael Johnsons snorkel came apart and had to be fixed, he also got a flat tyre and a broken windscreen. Feds exhaust fell off and had to be fixed later. We travelled to Coen where petrol was $2.17 per litre.from there to Archer River Roadhouse then to Weipa - a big day travelling on the dirt roads!Libby and David earned the best colour and hairdo travelling with the windows down in the red dust all day.
YOU CAN SEE THAT ALAN HAD AN AIRCONDITIONED CAR
Thursday the 20th we found that the shackels were totally worn on the rear springs of the LJ80, even though they were new at the start of the trip, we had to adapt others to fit. Shackle bushes in Weipa were $133 plus 4 bushes to fit inside, about half hours work to make the spacers, $274 but out there there is no choice, they call it Weipa tax, Steve and Kev soon had them fitted. We did a tour of the Bauxite Mine which is a huge operation and is expected to continue for another fifty years.
THE LJ HOOKED UP TOWING A ROAD TRAIN(POSED)
Friday 21st we left Weipa, travelled to the development road and discovered that Steves fuel pump was leaking fuel, the spare from the LJ80 didn't fit so we crimped the parts together and continued on to the Morton Telegraph Station whilst Kev and Carrie returned to Weipa and got an electric pump and the necessary parts to make it fit. We backed it up onto a log and fitted the new parts, bypassing the failed pump.
Refueled on arrival at Bramwell Junction-very good price petrol $1.45 per litre. From there we started the Old Telegraph Track, there are still some of the original telegraph poles standing along the track. At Palm Creek, David Burkes Suzuki got jammed in neutral, we pulled the shifter out and used a screwdriver to put it into low range. Steve had trouble with his gear shift becomming sloppy and hard to find gears, that night we pulled the gear shift out to find the top bush had broken up. There was talk of making one out of wood, but Libby appeared with a resealable champagne stopper, after some modification, it fitted beautifully and is still working well Steve named it his sparkling champagne shifter.
FEDIA DOING THE EXIT FROM PALM CREEK
We crossed the Delahunty River and several others with no problems,Barb and Sarah walked the water crossings to pick the best way for the Suzies, Sarah is 6 feet tall so we threatened to paint water levels on her legs.
Gunshot was really boggy on the exit and all vehicles including the Suzukis had to be winched or towed through, At most of the hard crossings there were lots of people who had taken the easy road in to watch the fun and take pictures
Steve and Ruth on exit of Gunshot
whenever somebody got through they all cheered ,we camped at Elliot Falls for the night and enjoyed a swim in the falls to wash off the red dust. It is a really great place to swim with crystal clear, fresh, warm water.
LIBBY ENJOYING A SWIM IN THE FALLS
Next morning whilst crossing Sams Creek, Dave Burke misjudged the angle and tipped his ute onto its side, after getting him and Jill out, Brads winch was hooked up and the little truck was put the right way up again. Very little damage apart from a dent in the guard where the snorkel goes through. It started up easily and we continued on our way.
DAVES MINOR DISASTER.
We arrived at the Jardine Ferry at midday and it had stopped for lunch until 1pm so we had a bit of a wait . We paid our hundred dollars per vehicle to cross, then continued on to the old DC3crash site, the on to the Bammaga airfield to look at the wrecked Beaufort bomber, these were important airfields for the defence of Australia during the second world war. We set up camp at Punsand Bay and booked the ferry to Thursday Island.
SUNRISE AT PUNSAND BAY
Monday the 24th the group travelled to the Tip of Australia via the harder 4WD track,it proved to be good fun with lots of water crossings. Fedia and Laura turned back with the Vitara 'pinging' badly, Dave and Jill went with them to rejoin us at the tip. After the usual mandatory photos at the tip,
MICHAEL ELIZABETH AND SARAH AT THE TIP
we stopped to look at the old Ansett Resort, this had been a huge operation but was just left when Ansett stopped operating, it is now being taken over by the jungle, many of the houses are being destroyed by white ants but it's still well worth a walk around the ruins, many buildings are still standing.
BRAD CHECKING THE POOL AT THE ANSETT RESORT
It almost reminds you of Jurasic Park. From there to Sommerset Ruins and the Five Beaches Drive The strong East Trade wind blows nonstop here for 7 or 8 months of the year but it keeps it cooler than the west coast . We arrived back at camp early in the afternoon in time to do washing and check the cars.
Tuesday the 25th we took the ferry departing from Seisia to Thursday Island, It was fairly interesting looking around the old fort built during the 1st world war and learning about the Aboriginal Culture and local history of the island we had lunch at the furthest north pub in Australia before returning to the ferry.
Wednesday 26th we returned to Bamaga then to the Jardine ferry, the return trip was included in the crossing price. We had a look at the old, now closed Jardine Ford Crossing and were glad there was a ferry as it was a long and deep crossing with a big risk of crocodiles. We travelled to Nolans Brook, the water was over the bonnet of the Suzies but with water bra installed we all crossed successfully,
THE EASIER EXIT FROM NOLANS BROOK.
some needed assistance on the exit as it was very steep and slippery. We called into Fruitbat Falls for a quick swim, another lovely spot to wash off the red dust. We then continued to Bramwell Station to stay the night. David had to replace another worn shackle bush, Steve adjusted his clutch and David Burke changed the oil in his transfer case as it was full of water.
The next morning we headed on, David Burke went missing after the Morton Telegraph Station, Brad was tailend Charlie and radioed that Dave had car troubles Kev went back to find he had fuel transfer problems from his second tank, Kev didn't take long to get him going again. The worst part of the trip was the road between Coen and Musgrave with massive corrogations, rock ledges, rough stony creek crossings and monster 'bulldust holes' big enough to swallow a Suzuki.Under 60 klm the corrogations made the LJ80 Suzi flood. We arrived at Laura and stayed at the Penninsula Hotel Caravan Park. The next morning, we decided to do The Old Coach Road. Fedia and Laura and David Burke and Jill elected not to do this section due to vehicle worries, it was just as well as this turned out to be the hardest part of the trip. The first section of the Old Coach Road was fairly easy but the last forty five klms was really challenging with steep off camber sections, guaranteed to have you worried if you were driving a big 4WD let alone a Suzuki,there were lots of loose shale sections and also steep rock ascents and decents with big rock steps and some loose sand. It was a lot of fun but really challenging and technical driving. Kev tried to do one really steep, rocky section and had a serious gravity problem, nearly tipping his vehicle over backwards and breaking a rear control arm on the diff. letting one side of the diff move around.
KEVS GRAVITY PROBLEM On reaching the top of the hill, it was all hands on deck to do the repair. Micheal Johnson had a 24 volt MIG welder on board which I think is a great tool to take on any really hard trip. Piranha Offroad is the importer of these. Michael also had an angle grinder. Libby walked off the road and found a steel post, it must have been the only one for miles. The post was cut off and welded to the broken piece, this temporary repair got all the way to Cairns on the way home, before a replacement control arm was found. The little vehicles did an amazing job. I would reccomend that if anyone is considering this trip have a well prepared vehicle winch equipped and a very experienced driver at least and do not travel on your own.
THE REPAIR ON THE CONTROL ARM
The trip into Maytown on the Palmer River Goldfields was accomplished without any further problems. We spent some time (not enough) looking at all the deserted mining relics, steam engines, batteries and lots of machinery parts as well as the old town site. It is very interesting, if you go there, allow a full day to look around at least.
A SMALL PART OF THE RELICS
Some of the group had to be back at work, so we travelled out on the main road which was like a huge rollercoaster some of the hills had the Suzi back to high first gear it was so steep but it is a a good surface all the way to Palmer River Roadhouse. We set up camp at 6.30pm beside the road, before the roadhouse. After dinner, we sat around our campfire telling stories, Libby made an apple damper for Kevs 50th birthday. The Melbourne group left at 6am to return home, the rest called into the Palmer River Roadhouse for fuel then on to Mt Carbine to change over vehicles and pick up transport cars. Libby and David hired a cabin for the night to spoil themselves a little after a couple of weeks camping in jet tents. We can not recommend the caravan park and owners enough as they were very nice and helpful.
Steve and Ruth left with their Suzi on the trailer to meet friends in Cairns. Kev and Carrie, Brad, Dave and Libby and Dave and Jill left for Cooktown to meet David Raeburns nephew from Townsville to do a four day fishing charter on the charter boat, 'Mr Bill', this had been arranged before we left home. Mr Bill is a 60 foot glass boat, powered by two M.A.N. 750 horsepower turbo deisel engines. The captain, Andy, was very experienced and a real character. The deck hand, Evan, was really helpful also. The excitement started soon after leaving port when David hooked a large Mackeral, we had no idea how amazing the fishing would be over the next four days.
MR BILL AT THE WHARF.
All fishing gear and meals were supplied, you only had to supply your own drinks. The fish we caught were filleted and frozen, ready for transport home. The fishing was incredible, we brought in 215 filleted fish and threw as many or more back. We caught Coral Trout, Red Emperor, several species of Macarel, Chinaman Fish, Sharks, G.T.s and several other species of tevally, Spotted Cod, Barracuta and lots of others that I don't remember. If you ever get a chance to fish off Cooktown, I would recommend a trip on Mr Bill to anyone. We had eight fishing on the boat and there was plenty of room for us all. No fishing show I have ever watched could come near the fishing on this trip!
BRAD WITH A NICE RED EMPEROR .
Several miles out to sea we came to a reef with a big 180 foot steel boat wrecked on top of the reef the story is that it was the sister ship to the Greenpeace ship the captain had been kicked out of England ,as he was running low on fuel he hoped to refuel in Cooktown but the Australian government would not allow him into Australian waters so he put the ship on full throttle and drove it onto the reef at high tide he then lived on the ship for several years.It is now a bird sanctuary with hundreds of birds living on it.
We left Cooktown with great memories of the trip, we continued home visiting family and friends on the way. It was a wonderful trip and we are already planning another one for next year we are having reef fish for tea tomorrow night again YUM.
The total distance travelled on the trip by the Bairnsdale group was 10,000 klm and it would have been approx the same for the Melbourne group.
AUTHOR AND PHOTOS BY DAVID AND LIBBY RAEBURN.
BAIRNSDALE 4WHEEL DRIVE CLUB - CLEAN UP THE BUSH
As part of 4WD Victorias clean up the bush campaign, the Bairnsdale 4WD club managed a huge effort for a relatively small club. On the 18th of June, in conjunction with the Department of Environment, Land and Planing people, the club supplied 9 vehicles and trailers and a scrap metal dealers truck.
We removed approximatly 20 tons of rubbish from the forest near Lakes Entrance including 4 dumped cars, old mattresses, televisions and general rubbish, there were also thousands of scallop shells in perished plastic bags in one place and in many places there were lots of disposable nappies,
ONE DUMP SITE
it really makes one wonder what these people were thinking, do they want the whole district to look like a tip or do they expect others to clean up after them? We did find some information on some of the litterers and the DELWP will prosecute the offenders we hope. It was a wonderful turn out for the club to do a very disgusting job as part of the clubs community service.
The ladies and men from the club gave up their Sunday and worked side by side to achieve such a wonderful result. Congratulations to all who participated and to DELWP for helping to organise the cleanup and to East Gippsland shire for organising free access to the tip. The Club, as part of our normal activities, often collect large amounts of rubbish left behind by inconsiderate litterers but a concetrated effort such as this is very satisfying.
IF YOU CAN TAKE IT IN - YOU CAN TAKE IT OUT!
THE WORKERS AT THE END OF THE DAY
Four Wheel Drive Victoria has helped many of the 4WD Clubs in Victoria to take part in this programme. It has made a big difference to the look of our forests.
Author David Raeburn publicity officer Bairnsdale 4wd Club.