Saturday, February 6, 2010

Australia Day Weekend - Part 2 - Three Mile Dam to Willis, Victoria

Spending the night in the broken tent wasn't as bad as we thought, but during the evening at Three Mile Dam we decided that we should go to a camping store and either replace the broken part or buy a new tent.  Before we did that we wanted to head to Cabramurra, the highest town in Australia.

We set off through the Mt Selwyn snowfields, which looked to be pretty much deserted as we drove through, and onto a well maintained gravel road to 'shortcut' to Caramurra.  Shortly we arrived in the country's highest permanently settled township.  There are limited supplies available here, such as fuel, a small general store etc.  The were all shut - it was early on a Sunday morning.  There are some amazing photos of the Snowy Mountains Scheme in the General Store.  It is definitely worth a look if you are in the area.


It's a pretty place
Cabramurra from the lookout

After a brief look through the town we decided to head for Jindabyne.  This meant a cross country run to Khancobin and then along the Alpine Way and passing through Thredbo.  It's a sealed road most of the way but there are some steep climbs as you go along.  You get to see a fair bit of the infrastructure that is the Snowy Mountains Scheme on the drive from Cabramurra the Thredbo side of Khancobin.  There are dams, ponds, spillways, pipework and things that look like spaceships that make up the scheme.  We stopped at Khancobin for a some morning tea and then headed along the Alpine Way.

We ventured into the Geehi campsite on the way in.  It is a free camp once you pay the relevant National Park use fee.  There are toilets and water available and there are no marked sites.  Your campsite will be located alongside the delightfully named Swampy Plains River.

Moving on we the visited the Tom Groggin campsite, a little closer to Thredbo.  It's on the banks of the Murray River and has toilets, water and fire pits.  If you are in a 4WD you can ford the Murray into Victoria and visit some fairly remote high country along the Davies Plain Track to the Davies Plain Hut.

The mighty Murray River
at Tom Groggin

We then continued on though Thredbo and into Jindabyne where we had a couple of calls to make, and some business to do before a fairly high speed (relatively speaking) drive into Cooma where we replaced the tent then returned to Jindabyne to set off for the next part of the trip.
Our original plan was to drive to Buchan Caves.  The time we took to replace the tent ruled this out so we didn't really have a plan.  I had read about the Customs station that once existed on the New South Wales - Victoria border so we set out for the campsite nearby.

To get there we turned onto Barry Way and set off.  This road is amazing and if you get the opportunity to drive it, do it in the dry - it would be extremely slipper when wet, and take lots of photos.  It is definitely worth a stop at the Wallace Craigie Lookout.

The lookout

The lookout has some informative boards that describe the Snowy River and the bushfires that burnt though the area in 2003.  There are also toilets there.

View from the lookout

The road from there continues down to the Snowy River and you follow it right down to the border.  It is suitable for 2WD vehicles but caution would be advisable.  It is fairly narrow and at times there are some steep and deep dropoffs.

In NSW there are many little campsites between Barry Way and the River.  Some have toilets, most don't.  Most appeared to be fairly small, suitable for a couple of tents.

Continuing on we eventually hit the border...

The border crossing at Willis
It is actually not far from the border at Willis, NSW to the campsite at Willis, Vic

The campsite at Willis, Vic is a bit place with toilets only.  The campsites are located on the banks of the old 'mighty' Snowy River, not the edge of the current Snowy River, which receives about 1% of it's original flow.

We set up camp in the dedicated school group are - school holidays were still on so we thought we would be safe.

Our campsite

Road in the campground

The Snowy River at Willis Campground

Fire pit at Willis.

OK - some camping stuff...
Access:  Willis is 2WD accessible.
Toilets: Long drop.
Showers: No.
Water: No.
Shop: No - drive to Jindabyne in NSWor Seldom Seen in Vic (limited supplies.)
Campfires: Yes - subject to firebans.
Pets: Nope - Parks Victora
Cost: Free.
GPS: Latitude 36° 53′ 18.852"S Longitude 148° 25′ 17.832"E

The third day will be the trip from Willis along the Deddick Track to Dalgety in NSW.  I'll get to that soon!

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