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Alpine National Park, VIC: 4x4 City Escapes

By Justin Walker, 17 Dec 2017 VIC

alpine national park

Melbourne is overflowing with accessible off-road destinations. Here is pick two of our five favourites: Alpine National Park

This immense 6474km²national park sprawls across central and north-east Victoria, with the three ‘sections’ linked by narrower areas.

True to its size, Alpine NP is jam-packed with off-road touring opportunities, tracks ranging from easy to challenging and myriad historical huts dotted throughout. Plus, there’s a ton of campgrounds, plenty of sightseeing, mountain biking, bushwalking, and mountain streams filled with trout to entice the angler. There are numerous entry points from the east and south (including Mansfield and Bright), and there’s the potential to spend a few weeks in the park. For a shorter adventure, we suggest kicking off in Dargo, around four hours’ drive from Melbourne and located just outside the NP’s southwest section.

Alpine national PArk
One of the most popular destinations for off-road tourers is the Wonnangatta Valley and the historic station (and campground) of the same name. From Dargo, drive south to Short Cut Road, then on to Crooked River Road that, initially, follows the course of the Wonnangatta River. There is a campsite at Black Snake Creek if you want a short drive on the first day, but we recommend continuing on Crooked River Road and then making your first big decision of the trip at the junction of this road with the (in)famous Billy Goat Bluff Track – one of the park’s steepest. For the ‘long way around’ to Wonnangatta Station campground, turn onto Billy Goat Bluff Track and start the ascent westward. Atop this lengthy climb you find the Pinnacles lookout (the views across to Gippsland Lakes and Mt Hotham from the fire tower lookout are fantastic) and then Horseyard Hut (an excellent riverside campground) before reaching Moroka Hut not long after you finish the climb and have joined the track/road of the same name.

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Following Moroka Road northwest brings you to Arbuckle Junction, where a left turn heads up onto Lost Plain and towards McMichaels Hut and Kellys Hut via, firstly, Tamboritha Road, then on to a track to the right that becomes Kellys Lane. The views are magical, so take your time and get out and stretch the legs. This diversion loops back on to what was Moroka Road but is now Howitt Road. A highlight along the 30km stretch between this junction and Howitt Hut is the Bryce Gorge Circuit walk carpark; a wander here is rewarded with gobsmacking views of Bryce’s Gorge and Pieman Falls. Another walking track here takes you to historic Guys Hut. Hop back in the 4x4 for the rest of the days’ drive to Howitt Hut – a top spot for a night’s camp.

alpine river crossing
The next day is a big one, as you descend the steep Zeka Spur Track into the Wonnangatta Valley. The valley makes for a great camp, but for more seclusion head southeast along Wonnangatta Track and the steep Herne Spur Track before joining Cynthia Range Track that traverses Wombat Spur. You can take a diversion to the mining ghost town of Talbotville via the McMillans Station Track, or continue on the main track and find a remote bush campsite next to the Wonnangatta River for the final night.

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The nearby Grant Historic Mining Area is worth a look the following morning before returning to the city lights. The good thing is you can, on the way home, console yourself with the fact that Alpine NP is so big, there are plenty of reasons to return for more adventures.

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