After spending the better part of two weeks exploring the amazing Victorian High Country, we needed to head north towards NSW to meet up with family, and decided to take the Jamieson-Licola Road. I was a bit unsure of what condition the road would be in, similar to when we did Walhalla Road from Matlock.
When did we do the Jamieson Licola Road?
Road conditions vary a lot, and whilst I can’t see this one being repaired to an amazing state its still worth knowing that we did this road towards the end of March, 2023.
What about the Landslide?
Before you take off around the high country, you should be looking at the road closures, on the vicroads websites interactive map. It is very obvious that there’s a problem with the Jamieson-Licola road, and that stems from an earthquake that happened in September 2021. This created a landslide which effectively blocks off the road, and up until now it hasn’t been fixed.
I don’t know how much work has been done, but they’ve put a detour in place, which starts right at Licola, and takes you along Target Creek. This part of the journey is the narrowest, and asides from some signage that isn’t overly clear, its not too difficult.
Jamieson Licola Road Condition
We started on this road from Licola end, and I let our 4WD tyres down about 30% from their road pressures, to 27 on the front of the Dmax, 32 on the rear and 40 PSI on our 2.3 tonne Reconn R2 camper.
As mentioned above, the detour starts right at Licola, and this part of the journey was relatively easy, albeit narrow in places. We did meet one other vehicle who managed to get off enough for us to both squeeze past, but if you met a big rig here one person would be reversing quite a while.
Not long after this you end up on the main Jamieson Licola Road, which is bitumen for quite some time. It’s all windy, and hilly, and towing you will notice your transmission temperatures get hot. Ours hit 114 degrees, which is the hottest I’ve had it, and its all attributed to the fact that you can’t get much speed up, and on the bitumen you can’t be in low range to make it easier on the vehicle.
What I found funny though, was from almost the moment we drove into the Mansfield shire, the road turns average, with lots of pot holes, and some spots that are just a huge group of them. However, it gets worse, as you approach Mt Skene, and the road turns into basically a rough 4WD track. It’s literally hundreds and hundreds of rocks, and you couldn’t accurately call this part a gravel road.
I don’t know how you’d repair it without bringing a huge amount of dirt in, as the rocks are buried, and some of them are fairly large. The section to, and down from Mt Skene is really average, with anything over 30km/h really pushing the friendship.
The road does improve as you get closer to Jamieson, and asides from some corrugations towards the end its actually pretty good. You should know that you are rarely driving on the flat; its almost always going up, or coming down, so use your gearing carefully and don’t go too quickly.
How does it compare to Walhalla Road
I mentioned above that we did Walhalla road coming south, and that road was substantially better in general. Whilst there was some corrugations and lots of narrow spots, there was nothing that would rattle your teeth out!
Use UHF 40
There’s a number of signs along the road telling you to tune into channel 40, and its a wise move to call out what you are doing every so often, particularly if you are towing. This allows others on the road to watch out for you, and to arrange a passing of vehicles without any issues.
There are a number of places on the road where passing others would be impossible, and lots of places where you’d have a head on long before you could stop around blind corners, so use the UHF.
Can you take caravans?
There’s signs at both ends of the road stating that Caravans are not suitable for the Jamieson Licola Road. Despite this, we saw two travelling in convoy come past us, and although I heard them on the radio, I had no idea they were towing something.
These were big vans too, and if you’d met in a number of places life could have gotten awfully interesting. I’m going to be blunt here, and say that if you tow a big caravan on this road, you’re probably not doing the right thing to others.
I felt confident taking our Reconn R2 hybrid as its not a caravan, and its also no wider or taller than our Dmax, which makes passing other vehicles fairly straightforward.
Is it suitable for a 2WD?
There are sections of this road that would be OK for a 2WD. The Target creek detour, and the Jamieson end would be fine, but doing the area around Mt Skene would be a recipe for disaster in terms of clearance, puncture resistance, and your vehicle falling apart.
How long does it take?
We left Licola at 10AM, and got within 8km of Jamieson at just after 1PM. That’s 3 hours to do about 84km, which shows its not a fast alternative. Granted we were towing and if you weren’t you could do it a bit faster, but its a slow track due to the hills and rough patches regardless.
Would we do it again?
We needed to get to the northern parts of the high country, and the option of driving all the way around (either direction) was not appealing at all, and we decided regardless of the road condition we’d take it.
The actual drive is spectacular, with some truly awesome views (although most of the scenic lookouts are terrible). The rough section is fairly short, and whilst it is pretty taxing on your vehicle and trailer, its not the worst we’ve driven on (although it would be close).
We absolutely loved the campground at Grannys Flat, and arriving there after 3 hours in the 4WD was a very, very welcome sight.
If you want an adventurous way to get from Licola to Jamieson, or vice versa, the Jamieson-Licola Road is a great option.