In late 2007 we departed our home base in the Blue Mountains of NSW and headed south. We had several weeks to explore the much of the length and breadth of Victoria. Even with our southern state being smaller and easier to navigate around this would still be a mammoth task. Warning; this is going to be a big one so grab a cuppa, strap yourself in, this is going to be a wild ride. Discliamer – Please excuse the photo quality.
We eventually rolled into our first camp for the trip in the states north east at Stanley State Forest in the foothills of the high country. Just outside the small and historic village of Yackandandah the state forest is the perfect place for a leisurely drive or to find that perfect bush camp spot.
Also just outside Yackandandah there are mining relics including a hand cut channel along the creek in Yackandandah Gorge to explore.
From Yackandandah we ventured south heading for the incredible granite peaks of Mount Buffalo National Park. This impressive park with its many granite formations rises to well over 1,000 metres above sea level and is snow bound during winter. An all weather sealed road leads through the park making access easy with a multitude of walks available to fully explore this special alpine national park.
From Mount Buffalo we backtracked heading north east towards the New South Wales Border. Just south of the border and close to the mighty Murray River are Mount Granya and Mount Lawson State Parks. Both these parks are enjoyable to explore with their stunning mountain scenery and outstanding views from the mountain peaks. There is even an historic railway trestle bridge to explore in Mount Lawson.
Further east and still within the mountain ranges of the border country is Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park. Again this park has beautiful mountain scenery and walks to entice the most intrepid explorer.
After exploring these three beautiful parks it was time to head into the amazing Victorian High Country and the Alpine National Park.
High up in the Alpine Region is a place that we have been to on a number of occasions and till this day remains one of our favourite places to explore. Easy to access and sealed for its length Bogong High Plains can be accessed via the ski resort village of Falls Creek and in winter is snowbound and closed to traffic. Not far off the main road are several historic huts that are synonymous with the high county. The closest and most easily accessible of these is the much visited and photographed Cope Hut.
Down the mountain from Falls Creek is the village of Mount Beauty and on the edge of town the lush surrounds of Mountain Creek can be found. Here lush rainforest and crystal mountain streams make an idyllic spot for a stroll or picnic.
Heading north west and just outside the quaint village of Beechworth is Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park. A stroll around here reveals a waterfall along with gold mining relics. The area around the park and Beechworth was once one of the richest goldfields in the country and evidence of these prosperous times remain here today.
We then head to the west of Beechworth and just west of Wangaratta where we find Warby-Ovens National Park (formerly Warby Range state Park). This park was once a favoured site for bushrangers including the infamous Kelly Gang during their rein of terror.
South of Warby Range and north of Mansfield the ranges of Mount Samaria State Park along with its historic Sawmill Ruins high up on the range.
East of Mansfield and heading back into Alpine country we find the Mount Stirling State Forest. Throughout this region are iconic mountain huts. These range from historic cattlemans huts once used by drovers during the summer months to the iconic Craigs Hut, built as a film set for the Man from Snowy River .
Moving deeper into the high country and Australia’s incredible Alpine region there are views and places to explore around every corner.
From Bluff Hut and the Alpine National Park we descend the mountain range as we drop into the valley and the historic region of Howqua Hills. Hidden deep within this secluded valley the river flats make for beautiful camp spots. It is hard to imagine this area was once the thriving epicentre of a gold mining boom.
Near Jamieson just off the Jamieson – Licola Road nestled beside a beautiful creek is Grannys Flat Camping Area, a lovely quiet and shady spot to relax and unwind. It was here whilst reversing into position that someone who shall remain nameless found a low branch of a tree shattering our rear canopy window.
Moving closer to the city and only an hour and a half from Melbourne we find the idyllic Murrindindi Scenic Reserve with its natural scenic beauty and secluded camping areas nestled amidst the forest. We were awoken early the next morning by the loud chorus of the reserves many feathered residents, simply bliss.
After having our “city hit” in Melbourne and having our rear canopy window replaced it was time to head west to explore more of what Victoria has to offer. Calling into Edwards Point we took in coastal vistas of Port Phillip Bay from the Bellarine Peninsula.
Continuing West it was time to explore the renown Otways along the Great Ocean Road. Spread along this coastal fringe are rainforest and waterfalls that beckon the intrepid explorer.
Just south of Ballarat the historic gold mining area now located within Enfield State Park can be found. It is a great spot to explore mining relics and to soak up the atmosphere of a once prosperous area.
Heading east of Ararat we find the crumbling remains of the Langi Ghiran Reservoir within the state park of the same name that was made from locally quarried granite in the 1880s.
In Ararat Hills Regional Park to the north of Ararat stunning views can be had across to the wonderful Grampian Ranges.
North West of Ballarat we find ourselves in Pyrenees Range State Forest where among other things there are stunning views from Governor Phillip Lookout.
Staying within the state forest we head to the Waterfalls Picnic and Camping Area for the night taking a stroll to the dry waterfall, a pleasant stroll anyway.
More relics of the gold rush era can be found within the state forests surrounding the township of Marysborough. There is Battery Dam, Aboriginal Rock Wells, Chinese Baths and the mud brick wall remains of Brogans Hut.
Only 80km to the north west of Melbourne are the cool temperament Macedon Ranges and the Macedon Regional Park. High up in the ranges we take a stroll around Sanatorium Lake, built to supply water to a second sanatorium that was to be built here during the early 1900s but never eventuated.
Heading towards the popular town of Bendigo we find Whroo Historic Site. This place is a great spot to explore with historic gold mining relics in abundance. This now deserted Historic Area was once a bustling town of over 2,000 during the gold rush era, hard to believe today.
Heading east from Bendigo the Heathcote-Graytown National Park can be found. Along with gold mining relics once again, views are the order of the day here where stunning vistas of the countryside can be enjoyed from several vantage points.
After exploring the west and north west of the state it was time to start heading back east towards the high country and Gippsland Region. Kinglake National Park was next on the agenda with a visit to the stunning Masons Falls.
As we ventured further into the Gippsland Region we found the playground that is Big River State Forest with its many delightful forest drives and superb camping areas, it was simply a joy to visit.
Moving on from Big River it was time to hit another of the stunning forests in this region, this time the Yarra State Forest including the Ada Tree, an ancient giant thought to be over 300 years old.
It was here in the Yarra State Forest that we ended up camped at a search base for the night, a first for us. After settling down for the night at Starlings Gap Campground, having the place to ourselves (sheer bliss we thought) we were visited by forestry staff asking if we had seen a gentleman and his son who had not returned home after a bush walk that day. The rangers advised us that we may hear a few vehicles driving around the forest through the night. At around midnight we were awoken when a vehicle pulled up beside our camp unloading trail bikes. They advised us that they were moving the search base to the campground. What followed was a very noisy night as police and SES volunteers arrived with a generator and floodlights and the search got into full swing. The generator actually ran out of fuel around 3am and apparently no one had brought extra, so at least it was a little quieter for a few hours. Searchers eventually departed the campground just on daylight to return later that day, the missing father and son still had not been found. We heard a couple days later on the radio that the pair had wandered out onto a main road being picked up by a passing motorist. It was an interesting night and one that we still talk about today.
Following a rather sleepless night we yearned for more history arriving at Kurth Kiln Regional Park. Here during WWII a kiln was built to produce combustable gas from charcoal (fuel was being rationed at the time due to the war). The impressive brick kiln still stands today, a testament to these turbulent times in our past.
Moving into the popular Dandenong Ranges and the national park it was time to take in yet another beautiful waterfall with Olinda Falls on the agenda.
Sticking to the north west of Melbourne and weathered over millions of years are the impressive basalt columns known as the Organ Pipes within the national park of the same name.
The coastal fringe to the east of Melbourne was our next port of call. The Mornington Peninsula is home to a vast population on the city’s doorstep and here the suburbs give way to scenic coastal parks and ocean vistas. Cape Schanck Lighthouse was built in the 1850s at Point Nepean. There are also impressive rock formations to view including “London Bridge”.
Back in suburbia we find an oasis for nature lovers and bird watchers at Bushy Park Wetlands in Glen Waverley. Here we take refuge in a bird hide to hopefully catch a glimpse of the many bird species found in this oasis.
With wet weather setting in we ended back in the lush Dandenong Ranges.
Heading back east once again we decide to venture into the lush Strezlecki Ranges south of Warragul and Mount Worth State Park. A beautiful, lush environment today it is hard to imagine up to 12 sawmills once broke the silence on these beautiful slopes during the 1920s. We spend a little time wandering around the lush environment with umbrella in hand finding remnants of its past.
Continuing our tour of the south east we take a detour off the South Gippsland Highway at Toora to visit Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve, a simply beautiful spot.
Further east yet again we find Big Tower within Mullundung State Forest, an historic Fire Lookout Tower in use from the early to mid 1900s.
Heading north from Sale we enter Briagalong State Forest. Home to a gold rush during the 1800s resulting in thousands flocking here, today this serene area makes the perfect place to enjoy a pleasant forest drive or camp beside the creek for a night or two.
Heading further into the Gippsland we divert just off the highway into Lake Tyers Forest Park.
Sticking near Lakes Entrance and not far off the highway again we find another historic trestle bridge, Stoney Creek within Colquhoun State Forest. This is another impressive structure leftover from a bygone era.
From Lakes Entrance we decided to head north and deeper into the wonderful East Gippsland in search of more stunning scenery and adventure. Heading towards the historic and iconic Mackillops Bridge over the Snowy River we find the beautiful Little River Falls and Little River Gorge not far apart from each other.
From the Snowy River National Park we jump across onto the stunning Errindundra Plateau and Errinundra National Park. Located high up on the plateau and dominated by lush rainforest it is a beautiful place to explore.
From Errinundra we headed north. Not far from the logging town of Bendoc we set up camp for the night beside the beautiful Delegate River before exploring remnants of the gold rush era. A 60 metre long water diversion tunnel was built during 1889 diverting the main flow of the river for gold mining operations.
Backtracking west we find the historic Mackillops Bridge that spans the Snowy River. This is the second bridge built here after the original built in 1934 was destroyed by a flood 11 days after it opened.
Back in the Snowy River National Park we find the inspiring and beautiful Raymond Falls, a spot that has to be on your agenda.
From Raymond Falls we continue south towards Orbost calling into the state forest just out of town for a lunch stop and to explore yet another waterfall.
On our journey towards the last of the coast before we venture back into New South Wales we call into Murrungower State Forest, Bemm River Scenic Reserve and Drummer State Forest.
From the rainforests it is down to the south east corner coast and the ocean bound Croajingalong National Park
Leaving the Victorian coast there was one last stop to make before jumping back across the border. Heading north we found ourselves in Coopracambra National Park and the delightful Beehive Falls, a top way to finish our exhausting Victorian expedition.
Back across the border and into New South Wales there was still a bit of exploration to do in this far flung corner of the state. Firstly it was into Nadgee Nature Reserve for views back over Mallacoota in Victoria.
Then across the Princes Highway and into Yambulla State Forest to Newtons Crossing for a night beside the Wallagaraugh River.
Onwards and upwards from here we ventured into what has become one of our favourite destinations on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, Ben Boyd National Park. From scenic coastal vistas and rocky cliffs to fascinating history of the once profitable Whaling Industry, Ben Boyd really has it all.
From the deep south we progressed further north on our journey homeward bound calling into several other national parks down this way including Mount Imlay, the Wolumla Peak section of South East Forest National Park taking a stroll through the Goodenia Rainforest high up the escarpment and our final coastal hit for the trip in Bournda National Park.
This was one epic adventure. We managed to pack a lot into a short time frame and although Victoria is one of our smaller states it was still an incredible effort. We have since returned to Victoria on many occasions and continue to be amazed at what this small state can pack in. The sheer diversity alone makes it one that should be on every overlanders radar, no matter if you prefer the coast, high country or outback. We are certain you will love this piece of paradise.
If you want to know a little more of some of the places visited here then take a look at our ebook, Basic Guide to Parks, Reserves and Forests in Victoria where you will find some general information including walks, picnic and camping areas and contact information.