The Victorian High Country has a big reputation, and it still completely and utterly blew my mind on so many occasions. It didn’t take more than a couple of days to realise that the Victorian High Country is a place well beyond special.
What I expected of the place was blown out of the water so many times over, and I was shocked on so many occasions at how truly beautiful, remote, rugged and incredible the Victorian High Country is.
It’s literally paradise for those who love to head out in their 4WD, and camp, and I can tell you anyone who lives in Victoria is hugely privileged to have this in their backyard. We’ve got great camping and 4WDing in WA, but the High Country is a whole new level.
I’ve never felt the urge to buy an older 4WD, and spend a couple of months exploring every 4WD track in the area more than this place, and that speaks volumes about how good it is.
When we finally left after around a month, I was bitterly disappointed that we didn’t have more time to explore the rest of it, and we will be back again without a doubt.
What is considered the Victorian High Country?
I must confess, that asides from a vague idea of the High Country being East of Melbourne, I really had no idea where its boundaries were, and when Sarah piped up from the passenger seat ‘we’re in the Victorian High Country’, I was a bit shocked.
We’d just rolled into the Lake Eildon area, and into the high country, and from that moment on, we spent nearly a month exploring the area.
On the Western boundary, it starts around Healesville. On the Eastern boundary it stops at around Cooma, and the north is basically Canberra, and south is just north of Bairnsdale.
That is a ridiculously big area spanning Victoria, NSW and the ACT, and I cannot stress how remote and rugged this place can be.
What towns are in the High Country of Victoria?
There’s a huge number of towns in the High Country, ranging from tiny locations where you’re lucky to see a general store (like Woods Point), through to major towns like Mansfield.
Some of the other towns include Marysville, Eildon, Jamieson, Wangaratta, Beechworth, Myrtleford, Bright, Falls Creek, Omeo, Dargo, Walhalla, Mt Buller, Lake Mountain, Licola, Jindabyne and plenty more.
What is the Victorian High Country well known for?
It doesn’t take long to realise the Victorian High Country is home to some pretty special history. Asides from the incredible, and iconic huts that you’ll see scattered around the rugged area, there’s a heap of mining history, older homes and relics that you’ll pic up.
You’ll see a number of historical landmark signs that point to various attractions, and if you were a history nut, you could spend months in the area just looking at it all.
There’s a reason that the Victorian High Country is known as one of the best 4WD destinations in Australia. It’s certainly got the most number of 4WD tracks I’ve ever seen in such an area, and I honestly think you could spend two – three months doing them all.
These range from rough gravel roads through to some of the gnarliest tracks you’ve ever done, with winches, lockers, rock sliders and big rubber an absolute must.
The 4WD tracks are hugely popular year round, with a special mention to winter time, when the chance of snow occurs at higher levels. Of course, this comes with a whole new range of risks, and heading out into the high country after rain, or when its going to snow is not something you should be doing without severe preparation.
I can’t express the sheer number of fantastic camp sites that exist in the High Country. The High Country Camping is up there with the best that I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to explore more of it. If you’re chasing Free Camping in Victoria, you won’t go wrong here.
A massive number of the camp sites in the high country are completely free, and that includes a huge number with really, really good amenities and setups.
Some are accessible without a 4WD, and some are suitable for towing caravans and bigger rigs into.
If you are game, have the right gear and a big sense of adventure, hiking is one of the best ways to get a true appreciation for the Victorian High Country. We met a tour guide who would regularly pick people up and drop them in remote locations, and they’d hike back into town.
Obviously the hills here are extreme, and things would get tough real quick if bad weather rolled in, but its a spectacular part of the world that has a huge number of hikes. We much prefer to drive around in a 4WD, but you certainly get a much more detailed appreciation when you’re walking.
Trail bike riding
Most of the 4WD tracks in the Victorian High Country are popular for motorbike riders, and its not hard to see why. Again, you need to be careful as it’d be very easy to end up in a world of hurt if something went wrong, so go prepared and take it easy.
Being one of the alpine areas in Australia, snow is fairly common in winter, and a decent amount falls every year. This makes for a pretty unique 4WD experience, and if you have the skills, knowledge, gear and attitude it can make for one of the best trips you’ll ever do.
I’ve never driven in snow, and whilst I appreciated the beauty of the high country without snow, I can’t help but imagine how incredible it would be to experience it with snow!
We saw a number of tours, and recreational horse riders in the Victorian High Country. Horses are cemented in the history of the High Country, and its a fantastic way to see the area.
What are the most common destinations?
In terms of camping and 4WDing, there’s a few more common places that people visit. Mansfield, Jamieson, Woods Point, Walhalla, Dargo, Omeo and Licola cover a bigger area, and we’ll check out some of the other places further North East in a few months.
Where are the bigger towns?
The high country doesn’t have too many big towns. Whilst some of the smaller ones do sell basic groceries and fuel, some don’t, and you should be prepared to continue onto the next area if needed.
Mansfield is one of the larger towns, and then you have Traralgon in the south which is easy to duck out to.
Where can you get fuel from?
If you have a long range tank, a lot of the concern about fuel range disappears. We didn’t worry too much about fuel as you can get it from a number of places, but you will pay a premium if its remote, or a smaller location.
We fueled up in Kilmore, Marysville, Traralgon, Mansfield and Bright. You can get fuel at Licola, Jamieson, Eildon, Mt Buller, Dargo and Omeo.
High Country Weather
The Victorian High Country has the 4 typical weather seasons, but if you aren’t from the southern parts of Australia, they can be quite a shock. We spent our time in the middle of summer, and it was similar on many occasions to winter in Perth. Our diesel heater got a work out, and we were so glad we installed it permanently.
We had days that were a maximum temperature of single digits, with it dropping into the negatives overnight. We also had plenty of crisp, pleasant days where the sun was shining, and we had a few days where it was high 30 degree’s, with fire bans in place.
No matter what time of the year you go, you should expect high temperatures, low temperatures, rain, and even snow.
It gets incredibly cold in this region in winter, and your safety becomes a big risk if you aren’t prepared.
Planning a trip to the Victorian High Country
The High Country caters for day trips, weekenders, or weeks on end, and it really doesn’t matter where you are coming from, you’ll find an area to explore. We did the West side of the High Country over about 4 weeks, and still have a huge area to explore when we return.
However, you could easily head in and do a single 4WD track (check the difficulty, that its open and that its doable in a day), and drive back out again. Likewise, you could head out on the weekend with a few mates and do a few 4WD tracks, and move sites both nights before heading home.
One of the things we quickly realised is that you don’t need to book anything in advance, and winging it works best. Just tick along, find a spot you like and camp there. If you’ve had enough driving for the day, pull over and stop somewhere.
Unless you are a local and know the area like the back of your hand, its really hard to plan too far in advance; head out there with adequate preparation, and you’ll have a ball.
Would we recommend Victoria’s High Country?
I honestly have no idea why this place doesn’t get more attention. It is easily in the top 5 places I’ve been to in Australia, and I’ve never had the urge to explore more of anywhere than here.
The beautiful creeks, insane 4WD tracks everywhere, stunning free camps on every corner, massive trees, mountains, fog and rain make for one of the most unique, and incredible places around. I’m sure my words and photos don’t do this place justice; its a must visit area.
If you haven’t planned to visit the Victorian high country on your lap around the country, I cannot possibly encourage you any more. It truly is epic.