End of 2016 trip

summary: 4x4 and Hiking in one trip!
date: Dec 24 to Jan 1 2016/2017
region: Victorian High Country around Mount Stirling, and then Jagungal Wilderness area
views: 2990


To say 2016 has been a challenging year would be an understatement! But to get to the end of the year and go away for some R&R was finally here.

As always, deciding between a driving holiday, and a hiking holiday had to be made - or did it? Why not do both! And thats exactly what I decided to do.

And since it was christmas time, I had a new toy to take with me this year, a brand new DJI Mavic Pro drone!

To The Mountains

I left home shortly after 6:00am as today was going to be a big driving day - and mostly on the black top. I had been looking forward to getting to Gundagai and their amazing pie shop - but to my disappointment, they were now serving up generic pies - still ok, but not worth the excitement any more!

Continuing on down the hume, I fuelled up at Glenrowan and then continued on towards Mount Buller road, and finally to my first nights camp at the back of Mount Stirling. Its a spot I have camped before, at marker #48. It was quiet here, really quiet and just what I needed after being on the road for 10 hours.

Didnt take long for me to get the gear out of the car, the swag setup and the drone in the sky!

Merry Christmas

This morning was Christmas morning, and I was up bright an early - 5:45am to watch the sun rise around me. Packing up was then done quickly and I headed up to Craigs Hut which is only about 30 minutes up the road. When I arrived at the car park, there was nobody there! It was 7:00am, the weather was perfect and I had the place to myself!

As it turned out, there was a few people camped down at the lower camp ground and they wandered up to the toilets during the morning. But I had one of the best locations for Christmas breakfast you could imagine.

After soaking up the morning with bacon and eggs, and a little social media - I head off looking for my next camp site. I was looking for a location we passed through back in 2001 around the Mt. No 3 hut site. I drove over to that area and checked all the tracks around, but couldnt find the exact location I was looking for. I did read some information in the hut about the re-alignment of the main track in 2005 after the bush fires went through, so it looks like the location I was looking for was no longer accessible.

Not a problem in the end as I found a great camp site just off the Weston track, which is large enough from some big groups, but again it was taken up by just me. I setup camp early in the afternoon and sat back to relax for the rest of the day. The whole area has been pretty quiet so far, and I had only seen about three vehicles once leaving Craigs Hut this morning.

Enter the weather

The weather forecast was predicting some bad rain coming through today - so I had to consider that while making plans for the coming days. I still decided to head up to Bluff Hut for the night. During the day I went via Mount Buller, which was very quiet, even the super market was shut! Then found my way down to the main Mount Stirling park entry, before heading back up to the Bluff Hut. I kept an eye on the track on the way up, expecting it to be wet tomorrow.

I managed to find a good spot about 500m down the track from the main hut. There was plenty of people around now which was surprising considering that the weather had started to turn. I managed to setup camp before the rain and the thunder started around 4:30pm! And it really did rain!

I stayed relatively dry overnight, and packing up in the morning the weather had cleared a little. I was planning to do the hike up to The Bluff this morning, and it looked like the weather may be ok. The track starts at the back of the hut, which was quiet now as I started walking at 7:30am. The trail was amazing up to The Bluff with incredible views. Its a good hike though taking three hours return. The weather did turn again though, windy and wet up the top which prevented me from getting too many photos - but I did managed to get the drone up!

I arrived back at the hut shortly after 10:30am, and then started heading down the hill very slowly. The track was wet and slippery, but stopping off at Bindaree falls was a real pleasure. I headed back via Craigs Hut, which was now packed with people, then a short walk to the top of Mount Stirling before ending the day at marker #48 camp site again.

Unfortunately the weather was pretty good when I set up camp - and so I forgot to peg out the awning. At 3:00am, when the wind picked up, I had to make a quick dash to secure things from blowing away!

The next morning I was up slowly, and heading off to Jindabyne. The drive to was much further than I expected, taking a good seven hours in total! I arrived there at 4:00pm and kicked back and relaxed after having a shower, a beer, and putting on the cricket - perfect end to the day!

I extended my stop in Jindabyne for a couple more nights as the weather really got pretty bad with heaps of rain. And I was not under any pressure to start my hiking leg in bad weather!

Jagungal Wilderness

So now I was down to just a single night to do my hiking leg. It didnt leave a lot of time to relax, but I really wanted to get out and test some new gear - oh yes, more christmas gear! I had a new pack, a new tent, mattress and sleeping bag! They had all had a simple test on an overnight in The Royal NP - but this was the first real test.

I left Jindabyne very early, 5:30am as there was a few hours to drive to Round Mountain before I could start walking. Fortunately, the weather now was great so I was looking forward to a good walk.

Arrived at Round Mountain about 8:30am and was walking by 9:00am. Weather was still looking great, and there was quite a number of cars here so I was expecting to bump into some wet and miserable souls on the track!

I walked past Round Mountain hut and down to the Tumut river. I bumped into the first people here, as they crossed over the Tumut. They were in good spirits though as they were now heading off for a few days in Kiama! What a small world.

After crossing the Tumut, and heading up the hill, I popped the drone up for the first time - this thing is amazing, what a great perspective it gives me! Still some way to go to get the best out of it, but its so easy to use and so difficult to mess up that I'm going to be throwing it up at every opportunity.

From here I continued on toward Mount Jagungal. I bumped into a very large group of people before arriving at O'Keefes hut for a late lunch. I was push myself at this stage as I was pretty buggered, and had sore feet already! But I wanted to keep going past Dershkos before finding a camp for the night, just so I could minimize the walk tomorrow.

I did end up finding a great spot for the night, close to water, and with views of The Big J. It also had something to do with not being able to walk any further! I as litteraly dragging my feet at this stage!

I had a great evening here though, very relaxing - other than the mozzies! Once again getting the drone up to see what my camp looks like from above.

The next morning, I was up early and back at the car by midday. It had been a great hike though, even if it was a quick one.

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