What’s the go with the Victorian High Country?
Australia is a land of contrasts. From our tropical northern states to our snow-capped southern states. The mountainous regions in the east, to the vast sweeping planes to the west. No one region captures these extremes better than the Victorian High Country.
A huge swarth of land in the north east of the state, and without a doubt the most visually stunning section of the Great Dividing Range. Travellers here can expect insanely steep terrain, stunning views, an action packed history and some of the most challenging 4WDing in the country.
Things to do in the mountains
Steep hills and full throttle 4WDing are the order of the day in the low lands but stunning vistas and historic towns await for those a little more adventurous.
Top 10 things to do on your High Country adventure
- Drive the highest 4WD track in the country
What’s the highest road in the country? We couldn’t tell you, but what we do know is the highest 4WD track in the country takes you to the very top of a place near the VIC/NSW border called Mt Pinnibar. It’s not technically challenging so basic 4WDs shouldn’t be afraid of it, but it is steep, and offers absolutely spectacular views on the way up – just bring some gloves.
- Cross the VIC/NSW border
The border between Victoria and New South Wales is one of the most underwhelming experiences you can have, unless you’re doing the one in the middle of a river. Down by the Tom Groggin campsite the Murray River is at its most stunning. Steep banks on either side of the river are joined by a shallow rocky river crossing. Lock in the hubs, drop into the river in NSW and come out the other side in Victoria.
- Ride on a Dog Sled
High in the hills in the winter months you can have an experience like no other anywhere else in the country. Mt Hotham is home to not only some of the best snownoarding and skiing in town, they also host bonafide dog sled tours. Ranging in time (and price) strapping yourself in a sled behind a troop of huskies at full speed is an experience you won’t soon forget.
- 4WD in the Snow
If you're from Victoria this probably won't come as much surprise, but for those in literally every other state wintertime in the High Country means snow-wheeling, genuine, knee-deep, slipping and sliding 4WDing in fresh powder. There are a few ways you can do it, but the easiest way is to reach out to 4WD Victoria, they're the gatekeepers, and in charge of maintaining most of the tracks you'll want to travel on.
- Explore the Huts and History
The wild weather that brings on snow wheeling wasn’t exactly a fun thing for the cattlemen who ran the land 100 years ago and the solution is a rather unique one. Spread throughout the hills are a serious of huts with little more than a cot and a fireplace, they’re designed to give people shelter in extreme weather events and make for great exploring, or even a warm spot to stop for lunch.
- Drive the Crooked River Track
It’s not all high-peaks and snow-capped mountains in the high country. One of the most fun tracks you can drive is exactly the opposite actually. The crooked river track not far from the Dargo in snakes its way back and forth across the river 24 times through some of the most iconic terrain you can imagine.
- Explore an Overgrown Track
The High Country is a 4WDers paradise so expect large crowds in peak times, but the area is simply massive so finding a little piece of lost history isn’t too difficult. Grab a couple of mates, head to the hills with a map and you’re bound to find an overgrown track that’ll give you hours of fun exploring and opening up again.
- Watch the sunset from the top of a Mountain
There's no better way to experience the high country than rugged up on top of a mountain with a few good mates and a view to die for. The vistas up here are simply stunning and one of the only places you'll find with fog rolling through the valleys while the mountain tops erupt with orange and pink sunsets. The best part is you get to head back down in the dark and explore the same tracks a completely different way.
- Get a Pub Feed
Love a pub feed? You’ll lose your mind over High Country pubs. They’re as true-blue as it gets with roaring fireplaces, huge warm meals, and cold beer on tap with a few hundred years worth of history on the walls to ogle while you eat.
- Go for a Horse Tour
In serious need of brownie points or just want to justify why you’re taking the family to spend a week winching in the mud and snow? The Vic High Country is world famous for its horseback heritage and it’s something that continues to this day. The place is home to some of the best horse back tours in the country that’ll give you a unique view on the place, and have the family keen to come back time after time.
How to explore the High Country
The High Country is a simply massive region with a solid day or two drive to cross it rather than a simple entry point. The best way we've found to explore it is with a huge paper map, circling the various tracks and sights you want to drive then researching your way through everything that connects them. One thing is for sure though, if your itinerary has a good pub, some steep mountains, and some river crossings you're doing it right.
Location camping fees and permits
As we write this there are no permits required for travelling through the vast majority of the High Country, but the region covers many state forests, national parks, and even states so when you're planning out your route jump on the phone to parks with a list of where you're going to check not only permits but fire bans or seasonal track closures.
Top 4WD Tips for High Country
- Take a Winch
Terrain here is unarguably some of the steepest in the country and you might find yourself in a spot of trouble, especially if towing. A 12v winch is an affordable get out of jail free card if things go wrong.
- Mud tyres if you’re exploring
There’s a big difference between Queensland mud and Victorian mud. If you’re sticking to the major tracks All Terrains are fine, but if you’re exploring more in the low-lands you’ll want a set of mud-tyres. There’s a reason Victorian 4WDs are built differently to Queensland 4WDs.
- Pack warm
The absolute best way to explore the high country is in the cold, but you’ll need to pack warm for it. Plan on wearing multiple layers of clothes, a 0c rated sleeping bag at a minimum and have the means to build a decent fire.
- Bring a chainsaw
The densely packed bush in the High Country and the endless 4WD tracks means trees come down frequently, and don’t always have someone to come through and clear them up before you get there.
- Don’t be precious about your paint
If you’re exploring the lesser travelled tracks you’ll need to make peace with your paint before you set off. The main routes are reasonably free, but smaller tracks can frequently be overgrown leading to pinstripes.
On top of the world
If the deserts are an example of how vast this country is the High Country is an example of how dramatic it can be. It's teeming with life from Roos to Deer, covered in endless 4WD tracks, history, stunning views and terrain you simply won't find anywhere else. Make sure your 4WD is prepared, then head off for one hell of an adventure.
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