What another great campsite it was at Smoko Campground just out of Harrietville. Except for the crying baby in the camp next to us it would have been excellent. I kept thinking of the poor parents trying to soothe a screaming baby knowing that most of the camp could hear it. That would add to their stress levels somewhat!
This region’s first peoples are the Dhudhuroa and Waywurru and their country stretches from Omeo to Wangaratta and the Mitta Mitta to King Valley. There are people from the Dhuddhuroa and Waywurru that live in the area to this day.
All this region was part of the gold rush in the 1850’s and this attracted thousands from all around the world including Germany, American and Chinese.
After a leisurely start we headed out of Smoko Campground about 10am and continued on southwards. Harrietville was just up the road and we needed to call in to the park so we could both fill our water tanks. There was a convenient water tap next to a free BBQ in Clarrie Keating Memorial Park with room for both our RV’s to pull in.
Once our tanks were full it was time to head up the mountain to Mt Hotham. Mt Hotham sits at 1861m above sea level so it’s quite a climb from Harrietville. It is a very popular route for cyclists and as it was Sunday we had to keep our eyes peeled for them. We saw quite a few coming down so that meant they’d already ridden up and were on their way back down. They must be fit!
It was a steady climb with lots of winding curves however it was pretty good going. The views as we rose higher and higher became more spectacular. Eventually the white posts on the side of the road became orange ones (for the snow) and further on they became tall orange poles with signs reminding cars to stay right of the poles. I’ve only ever been to Mt Hotham in the winter and it was certainly a different trip in the summer. There was no need to stop at one of the many snow chain pullovers. No chains needed for this journey up the mountain.
Mt Hotham village sits at the top of the mountain unlike most ski resorts in Australia. Most places the resort is at the bottom and at the end of the day you ski down the mountain to go home or to your accomodation. At Hotham the accomodation is at the top all along the ridge and during the ski season there is a regular shuttle bus along the road to collect people from their lodges and take them to the ski areas. At the end of ski day you catch a chairlift up to the top and then catch the shuttle back to your carpark or your accomodation.
Mt Hotham, along with Mt Feathertop 1922m and Mt Bogong 1986m, are situated in the Alpine National Park. The park is spectacular in winter all covered in snow but is also a popular spot in summer for hikers, cyclists including mountain bikers. The alpine bush with it’s wildflowers and snow gums is just beautiful at this time of year.
Not much was open in the village however we found a pub called The General that was open and stopped for lunch. We enjoyed pub grub with a magnificent view across the tops of the mountains. We discussed our trip up the mountain and all reckon it is one of the epic journeys to do in Australia.
We continued our drive across the top of the mountain and came to Dinner Plain. There is a dump point at Dinner Plain so we called in to find it. What a gorgeous little village. I took lots of photos of the distinctive homes.
Dinner Plain is home to extensive Mountain Bike Trails and in the middle of the village is a pump track. It is also home to a few ski clubs who have their lodges in the village.
Continuing our journey we drove past the Hotham Airport and we began to descend the mountain. We arrived at our camp destination at Victoria Falls. This lovely free camp has fire pits and lots of green grassy sites. Not many were level though. There was a camper already set up on the flattest site! Oh well. Out came the chocks. We managed to get the MH almost level and quickly set up camp.
Down the hill from the camping area is a toilet block and continuing down the path leads to the picnic area at the bottom alongside the Victoria River. Kevin just had to get the fishing rod out to try his luck. Sal took her chair and book down to enjoy a read by the river.
I had a chat to the neighbouring campers who were from Lakes Entrance. Interestingly they retired to Lakes Entrance and live on a boat. Think I’d like to do that. They were able to give me lots of info about Lakes Entrance and I’m looking forward to going there. I think the last time I was there I was about 9 or 10 years old.
While Rich read and snoozed I took my ebike for a ride to check out Victoria Falls. It was a 14km round trip. The road follows alongside the river but gradually the river becomes further below. The river occasionally runs over little rapids and you could hear the rush of the water as I pedalled along. Eventually the river valley became a gorge and that became deeper and deeper. At the end of the road you look back and you can view the falls. There was a lot of water tumbling down the falls however they are quite a distance. I didn’t fancy scrambling down the cliff to get a closer look so my pics from a distance will have to do. It was a very pleasant ride.
I arrived back at camp to find Rich had a fire going so it was time for drinks and nibbles. It was quite cool. I thought it would be good sleeping weather.
While we were sitting around the fire a small car drove in. We noticed it had a bike rack on the back but no bikes. We wondered if their bikes had fallen off! After a little while Richard went across to chat and asked if they’d forgotten their bikes. They were a young couple who came from Bright. They’d left the bikes at home but also discovered once they arrived here that they’d also forgotten their tent and camping gear! Oh dear. They hopped in their car to leave and promptly drove the car into a big log. The car went up and over the log making a terrible crunching sound. They backed away from the log making mor crunching sounds and sheepishly drove out of the campsite. We all had a good laugh at their expense but felt sorry for them as they will have to drive down the mountain in the dark. Not a trip we’d like to do. Hope they make it home OK.
There were only two other campers at Victoria Falls Campground and there was plenty of room for lots more. The fire pits are excellent with a steel post that has a swinging BBQ plate and a rod with hooks on chains for hanging camp ovens and billies. There was even a pile of cut wood ready for our use.