Iconic High Country huts paired with iconic High Country tracks.
This is all about iconography, of pairing red-letter offroad drives with the huts that look over each of them like sentinels. Of course, on many occasions these huts also have adjacent campgrounds to post up for the night.
1. CLEAR LINE TRACK – CRAIG’S HUT
The Track: The only real 4WDing necessary to access the hut is the trail leading up from the Circuit Road known as Clear Hill Track. The track is as narrow as it is steep, although not particularly heavy going in dry conditions. The biggest challenge on this route is negotiating other vehicles, especially on long weekends and school holidays.
The Hut: No hut is more iconic than this oft-photographed landmark, which sits astride Mount Stirling. Originally constructed as a set for The Man From Snowy River film, it was opened up to visitors in the early 90s. Free camping is available at the Craigs Hut campground with 20 sites available on a first in best-dressed basis.
2. BENTLEY PLAIN ROAD – MOSCOW VILLA
The Track: We checked in with Shannon Peters from the Victorian High Country Huts Association to get the lowdown on the driving near Moscow Villa: “Bentley Plain Road is almost an all-weather road, but if you’re planning a trip in the winter, be prepared to put chains on. This place sees a lot of snow over the cooler months and there are still great 4wd tracks to be found even when the gates are closed, so whether it’s a hard winch slog up South Escarpment Track in the snow, or tackling mud on the lower slopes this place has something for everyone.”
The Hut: The writing is on the wall at this place, and it’s been here since wayward travelers first started posting up here in the 1940s. That writing happens to be in the form of charcoal and Nikko pen salutations across the walls, much of it done by firelight. Of course, there’s an adjacent campground to return to after warming your cockles by the hut’s fireplace
3. ZEKA SPUR TRACK – HOWITT HUT
The Track: This one links Howitt Rd all the way to a dunking in the deep Wonnangatta Valley. It’s a well-known yet relatively cruisey blast in decent weather, and it lights up with snazzy inclines and expansive views.
The Hut: Over 100 years old, you’re in close vicinity of the Zeka Spur Track when you pull up to the adjacent campground on the Caledonia River. Your campsite neighbours have either just tackled the Spur or are just about to, and the one-time drovers’ quarters hut now acts as a meeting place for intrepid mountain folk.
4. BILLY GOATS BLUFF – HORSEYARD HUT
The Track: The famed 120km vert slinghot slog from Dargo to Licola traverses Mt. Buller and some serious Australian Alpine scarps. One of the most revered tracks in the Garden State for a reason, the turn off from Wonnangatta Road will lead you on a path that’s steep and deep, and that brings out the best in man and machine.
The Hut: Well technically, you’ll find this one on a slight detour down the Pinnacles Road, and to be honest the hut aint anywhere near as interesting as the view from the Fire Tower further up the road, where you can catch your breath and catch a view of the shoulder-season wildflower bloom.
MT. WELLINGTON TRACK – MILLERS HUT
The Track: Says Shannon Peters: “Mt. Wellington Track is rocky and has a few steep sections. It is closed during the winter months but can be accessed from November through till June. It is the only way in to Millers Hut and upon reaching Mt. Wellington’s summit it will have you staring in absolute awe at the breathtaking scenery.”
The Hut: This 102-year-old cabin can be found among the dizzying peaks of the Moroka Ranges. “The Hut is famous for being the first in the High Country to have its door near the chimney to keep the place warm. It originally had a bark roof but was covered with corrugated iron from the early 1930s.”