By DIETER PEY
AUSTRALIA, the land Down Under and the land which many South Africans are fascinated by.
I had the great privilege to explore this beautiful country myself, so I jumped at that opportunity. I love spending my weekends in the bush, camping and 4×4-ing with mates.
Many times the topic around the campfire circulates around the newest Australian adventure video we’ve lately seen on YouTube. Since I had the opportunity to go to Australia, I decided to extend my visit by a week as I wanted to experience the Australian outdoor lifestyle for myself.
My trip had me situated in Melbourne and with the Victorian High Country just around the corner, plus it being well-known in the off-road community, I knew I had to go see it for myself.
Thanks to Matt from GoAuto I was furnished with an Isuzu D-Max, a route brief and some recovery and camping gear, then sent on my way. Now, do note that I am new to the country, so without my GPS I might as well be blind.
I was also taking on this trip completely alone, not even a navigator to keep me company. To add the cherry on the cake, there are numerous flood warnings out for the whole week of my trip, but I was here now, so let’s see what happens!
My trip would cover a rough distance of 1200 kilometers and I set a full week aside to accomplish it. Seven days, 1200 kilometers sounds pretty possible, but first I needed something to sleep in.
First stop from Melbourne was at a local adventure shop where I got myself a swag; I just had to do it the true Australian way. For reference, we don’t really have access to swags in South Africa as we mainly make use of ground tents or rooftop tents.
Day one saw me travel to Mansfield, which is roughly a 215km drive from Melbourne.
The only driving I’d experienced in Australia as yet was city driving, which is stressful in any country, but adding the odd tram line just made it a lot more stressful for me. We don’t have trams in South Africa, so I had to learn all about the hook turn.
Thankfully I was heading out of the city and into the bush. The multi-lane highways, tram lines and traffic lights would quickly come to an end – and sooner than I expected. I was not far over 60km out of the CBD and it felt like I was in a different country.
The roads became single-lane countryside lanes with farmland all around me. The clean electric vehicles turned into muddy utes. My first stop was in the town of Yea where I had lunch and bought a few more goodies for the trip. It was fascinating to see how “old school” the town was.
There was not a known brand name in sight and the building style was very dated, but yet beautiful. It became a regular sighting to see the older Victorian architecture style used in the towns I would head through.
There were very few brand-named shops out in the countryside and the architecture styles completely changed from the modernised CBD. Don’t get me wrong I loved it, but it felt like I had time travelled and was something that caught my attention as a first-time visitor to Australia.
After lunch, I went to a local grocer where I bought a few supplies and had a chat with the cashier, explaining my trip to him. He told me the area I was heading towards and the whole Victorian High Country had experienced torrential rains, with more rain to be expected in the week of my trip.
When he learnt that I was embarking on this trip in a stock standard Isuzu D-Max and completely solo, his only words were: “You are brave to attempt this trip.”
Coming from a local and hearing the flood warnings constantly over the radio did make me fairly uneasy but my route was planned, and my aim was to stick with this plan as long as possible. As I left the shop, my mind was already racing to think of backup plans and routes.
It wasn’t much further until I reached Mansfield, another beautiful town, but I would carry on past as my first campsite for the night would be just outside the town. Rumours are that all the animals in Australia want to kill you, so another reason why many people told me my trip idea was idiotic.
Until now I had not seen many animals, mostly birdlife and some roadkill. But when I was not 5km from my campsite, I had to avoid two large black snakes, possibly the red belly variety, attempting to cross the road. This was a great sight to see before I reached my campsite for the night.
My home for the night would be Buttercup Campsite 2, a free-to-use state camping area. The Victorian High Country is littered with state campsites which are free to use. The state campsites are merely openings in the forest or field for setting up camp and the one I was situated at had ablutions.
The ablutions were long drops, but better than nothing plus they were clean and well maintained. I spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking my newly bought swag and setting up my very basic campsite.
I’d been filming my entire trip, so there was a lot of stopping to film or capture some images along the way. As the sun was setting, I was filming some snippets to camera, but every so often I would get startled by the very bizarre sounds coming from within the bush behind me.
The wildlife in Australia truly makes extremely bizarre sounds, sounds which I am not used to at all. After having a sandwich for dinner I headed to bed; being completely solo and isolated makes nighttimes boring, so most of the time I would head to bed early and be up early the next morning to continue the adventure.
Laying in bed, reminiscing of my first day in the Australian bush, listening to the Kookaburras yelling in the trees above me and the tiredness of my travels setting in, it wasn’t long before I was fast asleep.
The morning of day two, the sun had just risen when I got out the swag. I packed up camp, brushed my teeth and took a quick cat-wash with some of the 10 litres of water I brought along.
Today I would explore the surroundings of Mansfield and first on the list was Mount Buller. The Victorian High Country is the home of the Australian Alps, so on the horizon you will see large mountains covered in thick forest and the seasonal snow.
Mount Buller is one of the many mountain peaks which gets used for alpine activities and resorts. Driving up Mount Buller was the first of many mountains I would head up, 26km of steep winding tarmac leads you up the mountain.
Along the way you will find many switchbacks, large trees all around you and streams coming down the valleys.
It felt like the road was not going to end as I kept on climbing up and up, reaching towards the sky, luckily it was a good tarmac surface. After a good amount of driving, I reached the ski-lifts and this is where the road would end for me as the rest of the route was closed for maintenance.
The view from where I could see between the trees was absolutely spectacular. From above you look down over the valley of forests below you, rolling through the landscape till the eye can see on the horizon. It was very contrasting to see the road signs heading up the mountain.
You will see fire hazard signs and then a few turns later black ice warnings with snow chain recommendations for the winter seasons. It just shows how contrasting the weather can be. The forest is highly prone to bushfires and these forests are dense with highly flammable oils.
The Victorian High Country is famous for their forest huts in the mountains. The huts originated around the era of the mid 1900s and they were placed in the forest for the forestry, mining and cattle workers who would be out in the elements working. The huts would provide shelter for them when nature’s elements turned bad.
There are still a few huts that remain in the forest, and they are still used by hikers and campers as overnight shelter, but advised to be used in emergencies only. The famous Craigs Hut sits beyond Mount Buller, but due to the road closure I could not reach it.
I opted to turn around and head to the Tomahawk Hut which I spotted on the map. After back tracking my way down the switchbacks, I turned into the forest on a narrow gravel track. I kept following my GPS and a few kilometres down the track, the Jeep track started getting a little tougher than a standard gravel route.
I had a few steep inclines and declines to deal with, none of which were too precarious, however I soon stumbled upon a deep clay mud patch. The wheel ruts of previous vehicles lay deep in the clay. Being alone, with a standard Isuzu D-Max running road-biased all terrain tires, I was a little cautious. I scouted my route through the mud-hole to see if it was possible.
The mud was semi-harderend and it held my body weight. The left-hand side spoor was not as deep as the rest of the ruts. The cameras were set up, so now I had to get through the hole. I lowered the nose of the ute slowly into the ruts and then drove it through the mud hole, making sure to keep my momentum and sticking to the left side of the track.
Despite the plastic bash-plate picking up some of the clay mud and my wheels almost fully submerged in the ruts, the 3.0-litre engine of the D-Max had enough torque to pull me though with ease.
A quick check to make sure the ute was fine and collecting the cameras I ventured onwards with a pretty easy route ahead to the hut. It was the middle of the week, so there weren’t many people out in the bush, but I at least got to see one of the Victorian Huts. I did not stay too long; the daylight was running out quickly. I did not want to sleep at the same campsite as the previous night, so I opted to venture to the next spot.
My next destination was the picturesque Grannys Flat Campsite which is situated not far from the town of Jamieson. Before reaching the town of Jamieson, I found another tarmac pass heading up the mountain. There was still daylight left, so I drove up and ended at a breathtaking viewpoint which overlooks a part of Lake Eildon.
All the rains they have had, caused the lakes and rivers to be close to full capacity, so the views were breathtaking. On my way down the pass, I saw a track heading into the forest and my curiosity got the best of me. I took the turn and ventured up the track leading me up the mountain.
It was perhaps two kilometres, until the track came to an end. At the top was a wild-camp site, just an opening in the brush with a small heap of ash from previous campers. I saved the spot on my map and considered spending the night there, but it was still too early, so I headed down to the town of Jamieson.
I had a drink at the local pub and struck up conversations with the friendly locals there. Afterwards I decided to drive down to Grannys Flat Campsite and stick to my original plan.
The rain started as I entered Jamieson, and it kept on raining for a few hours. It was not a long drive to Grannys Flat Campsite, but at the turnoff to the campsite the road was closed. From what I gathered, the campsite was on the river’s edge and with the rivers being over capacity due to all the rain, they must have decided to close that campsite for the time being.
I knew there was a reason for me to stumble upon that wild-camp earlier on the mountain.
Off I went, backtracking my route once more, to the wild-camp where I would spend the night. I also felt more at ease being up and out of the way from the possible floods. I arrived at the campsite as the rain stopped, so I quickly set up my swag before the rain returned, however I had no rain that night.
Spending the night alone at a wild-camp made me realise Australia doesn’t have predators like Africa has, so I felt very safe to wild-camp here. In Africa, especially deep Central Africa, the animals are pretty dangerous, and they are not scared to approach you, even the baboons will rip your campsite apart for some food and they are terrifying to deal with.
My next destination would be Wandiligong, so the morning of day three, I packed my swag and off I went to cover another 200 plus kilometres of Australian countryside.
The road to Wandiligong was fairly straight forward, with lots of corners and passes, but easy going as it was mostly tarmac. Most of the way I found myself driving in a forest with massive trees all around me, now and then I had a little bit of rain, but nothing major.
I found it fascinating at how few vehicles I saw along the way, I also learnt that the truck drivers in Australia do not drive slow at all, they keep up with the speed limit even through the passes.
I reached Wandiligong much sooner than I expected and I contemplated pushing further with my adventure, however the Wandiligong Campsite was a private campsite with hot water showers which I just could not resist. I booked myself a spot, pitched my swag and took a nice warm shower for the first time in three days. I felt much better after that warm shower!
It was early afternoon, so I decided to head back to the town of Bright, which is right next to Wandiligong.
Bright is an absolutely beautiful town, it felt like I was in a northern European or Canadian town. The weather was cloudy and misty, a real winter mood. The town of Bright is very alpine focused due to the surrounding mountains and ski resorts, the temperature was cold, so everyone walking in the town had thick jackets and beanies on.
It really felt like a stereotypical movie scene showcasing a cold European country. The buildings in the area were all modern but with a modern Victorian architectural look.
I found a nice, homely restaurant where I stopped by and had my dinner. It was late afternoon and the rain had softly started coming down, so I finished up my dinner, headed to the campsite and called it a night.
Day four… It ended up raining all night.
Now, when you buy a new swag, you are supposed to waterproof it, by wetting it and drying it a few times, which I did not have time for. So, with all the night’s rain, the swag got drenched, it did not leak in, but the canvas got wet and the wetness pulled through, everything that was touching the sides of the swag, pulled that dampness in, my pillow, the swag mattress and my jacket.
I also had the swag situated under a tree to shelter myself from the rain, but that meant I was not situated on the grass, but rather on a patch of dirt. The dirt patch turned into a mud patch.
Myself and my sleeping bag were still dry, so I had a nice warm shower and then decided to make a plan to keep the swag dry for the rest of the trip. I found a local hardware store and bought a plastic tarp which I would rig as a little roof over the swag for the rest of the trip. My planning would have me spend another night here, I had the day to explore.
I was told to go up Mount Buffalo, the weather wasn’t great, it was cold, raining and misty.
As I said earlier, these mountains in the Victorian High Country are no joke, they are called the Australian Alps for a reason. Once more I meander up a mountain, this time Mount Buffalo, 36 kilometres of climbing, up and up I go, along the tar pass with many switchbacks.
I would like to describe more, but sadly the mist was so dense that I could not see much, other than the road in front of me.
At the top there are some viewpoints at the cliff’s edge, but the mist ruined that for me. Near these viewpoints is an historical hotel. It was eerie walking around the hotel, barely visible in the mist and seemingly abandoned so I carried on driving all the way to The Horn Lookout, but it was still just misty and super cold. The car measured three degrees Celsius and with the wind chill factor it was surely below freezing.
I was really hoping to find some snow in Australia, it is not something the average foreigner expects to find in Australia.
At the top viewpoint, The Horn Lookout, I saw a small pile of snow laying down the ledge of the cliff, on the shadow side of a rock, but there was no way of reaching it. The wind picked up even more and with not much to see due to the mist, I decided to call it a day. As I was heading down, I caught a glimpse of a big white patch of snow in my peripheral vision.
I found it, between the trees I found a patch of snow which survived from the winter months, so I scrambled down the rocky ditch, collected some snow and made a tiny snowman which I placed on the bonnet of the Isuzu. I managed to tick off a wishlist item of my trip, finding snow in Australia!
The snowman did not last very long on the drive down, but it was worth the effort. When I got back to Bright, I stopped at the same restaurant as the night before, grabbed my laptop and spent a few hours there downloading footage from the trip and enjoying a warm meal.
Back at the campsite the plastic tarp did its job and kept the swag dry from the day’s rain, but it did not manage to dry out during the day. I spent the night in a wet swag, at least my sleeping bag was dry, so I slept warm the night, but once again it was raining the whole night, but I was dry under the shelter of my tarp which I rigged across the Isuzu and to the ground.
On day five, the rain had stopped, but the ground was soaked. Packing up the swag was a messy business with the mud all over the swag as it splashed up with the rain. I threw everything into the back of the Isuzu which had a roller shutter cover over the tray this kept everything inside dry and clean, so that was really nice to have.
I took one last warm shower before hitting the road to my next destination. The next town I was heading for was Dargo, however I was recommended to visit Blue Rag Trig Point which was along my route.
This would be the toughest point of the trip according to my pre-planning, the road I was planning to take was weather dependent and the detour route was double in length or I would need to backtrack my entire trip if I could not complete the loop.
The weather was very moody once more with lots of mist, mist as thick as pea-soup making traveling up the passes very dangerous. There is nothing stopping me from plummeting down the cliffside, oncoming vehicles are hard to spot, and the road is wet, so I took it slow and steady.
I reached the point of no return, the road I needed to take was a gravel road and to my luck it was open, I did not have to backtrack or use the detour. I turned onto the gravel road, and it was not far down this gravel route when I found the entrance to the Blue Rag Trig track. It was a steep downhill, and the wet conditions made me a little nervous, down is easy, but the up could be challenging.
I maneuverered my way through and reached a T-Junction. I was close to the viewpoint plus the mist partially cleared. I started getting excited, would this be the first viewpoint that I would be able to see?
I was going to turn right when I noticed another gate which was closed, the route to the viewpoint was shut, so I could not proceed that direction. Disappointed, I put Italian Flats Campsite in my GPS and instead of backtracking, the GPS told me to turn left at the T-Junction and head further down the track, excited for more exploring, I decided to see what route it takes me on.
Down I went on this narrow track. I was in a forest of dead trees and it would eventually turn into a green forest, but still a very open forest (not dense). About 20 minutes into the track, three dirt bikes came past me, waved and off they went. I spent the next three hours meandering on this narrow track, there were no challenging obstacles, just lots of ascents and descends with good grip.
The track is extremely narrow, with sharp drop-offs which you really do not want to end up going down and to make it more fun, a slight rain started once more.
Do note that the track is not much wider than the Isuzu at parts and this is not a one way route, so I was driving with caution of oncoming vehicles.
The ground in the area consists of clay, so it gets very slippery when it is wet. Due to the large number of trees in the Victorian High Country, deadfall (Window Makers) are very common in the area.
My first obstacle was a small tree laying across the track which I had to remove out of the way, before it scratched the paint of the Isuzu. After three hours of driving I had an eerie feeling set in.
It felt like I’ve been driving for ages, I have not seen a person or man-made object for ages, I have no signal, no idea where I am and no one knows where I am. I got to a large river crossing, luckily it was a shallow one, but I was warned about the possibility of deep crossing due to the amount of rain they’ve had.
It is also common to carry a chainsaw when wheeling in the bush in case a tree is blocking the route ahead. Not far after the water crossing, I had to manoeuvre my way over a fresh, but small landslide. I’ve been driving in valleys the entire time and that little landslide just made me realise how dangerous it could be out here.
If there ought to be a deep water-crossing, a big, uprooted tree or a large landslide blocking my path, there would be no way that I would attempt to cross that alone or be able to get around. That would mean a four hour back-track and then another four hours just to cover the distance I have already covered towards my destination.
Slowly the road became easier, still steep cliffs on the sides, but no more up and down. It was about another hour worth of driving like this until I reached the main gravel road which I initially turned off.
I felt very relieved and I was just a few kilometres away from the campsite. This track saved me lots of time, so I opted once more to cover some extra ground and headed past the Italian Flats Campsite and to the amphitheatre look-out in Mitchell River National Park.
The road was very easy for the rest of the day. After a bit of searching, I found the amphitheatre look-out and it was well worth a visit. It has a beautiful view overlooking the river and the valley below you.
It is also possible to camp here, so that is where I set up my camp and just in time. It was not five minutes after I set up camp and the rain started coming bucketing down. I had my plastic tarp in place, so I fell asleep that night with the rain dripping away on the tarp. It was on this day that I came to realize how isolated you can be in Australia. I drove a good six or seven hours in the bush, no signal, no other people or even man-made objects in sight.
Australia is five times bigger than South Africa with half the population. If you are traveling alone in such areas and you drive into trouble or run out of fuel, you will be stranded there for a long while with-out help.
It will even take a while to find cell phone signal to call for help. You really need to be prepared, travel in a group or be very cautious when traveling solo through Australia.
On day six, I started my day early and I was up before the sunrise.
This was my last night where I would be camping. My final destination of the trip would see me heading to Walhalla.
Walhalla is a small historical mining town and I got invited by the Mayor of the Shire, Michael Leany, to come and visit the town. I did not have much distance to cover today, approximately 135 kilometres, but I wanted to get to the town earlier than I have the previous days to meet up with Micheal and have some daylight left to explore the town.
Today was the first time the scenery changed from the forest landscape I’ve grown accustomed to. I left my campsite and headed down the valley, surrounded by forest as I have the entire trip.
As I progressed, the hills became flat and the trees smaller until the landscape turned flat with farmlands all around me. I wasn’t in this landscape too long, drove past a few large farms before turning up into a valley and started heading up in the forest and mountains.
I was still enjoying the scenery, then I turned a corner and found myself in the town of Walhalla.
It was beautiful. The town looks like a scene from ‘Lord of the Rings’ with houses and buildings built into the narrow valley between the forest and in the middle, you have a river flowing down with some houses built over it.
The houses are very Victorian style, the sidewalks have wooden edges and the old historical train is the first thing that catches your attention when you enter the town.
My first stop in Walhalla was at the local pub and restaurant for lunch. It was such a great vibe there, it was a Saturday afternoon, and the weather was cold, but pleasant, so there were lots of friends and family out and about.
Everyone was enjoying lunch and some beers after or during their weekend adventures. All around the pub were big, kitted utes and a group of dirt bikes and riders with everyone dirty and muddy from playing in the mud. Everyone was laughing, chatting and enjoying their weekend, as it should be!
After lunch I booked myself into the Walhalla Star Hotel where I had a warm welcome from the owner and mayor of the shire. He gave me a brief history of the town, showed me my room and then sent me off to go explore the town more.
The historical train still rides through the valley to show the route the train used to ride. I arrived at the train station and met with the conductor. Instead of getting onto the carriages like the rest of the passengers, he told me to join him in the locomotive.
Off we went taking the passengers through the valley against the side of the mountain in the train. Right alongside us was the river flowing at the bottom of the valley, at one point you can spot an old Ox wagon wheel laying on the shallow section of the river.
He explained how they maintain the railway and how the train works, he even let me honk the train whistle. It was not that long of a train ride, but I learned so much on how trains work, how the carriages get disconnected and reconnect and how the signage works.
After that little adventure, I thanked the conductor and then headed to the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine.
This town originated in the 19th Century and was once one the richest towns in Australia. This was due to the discovery of Cohen’s Reef which was a three-kilometre vein of gold running through the valley.
The reef produced over 55 tons of gold during the 40-plus years of mining that took place in the valley. This gold boom took place before the existence of ground moving equipment, so a lot of it was brought out by hand before they slowly started bringing in more suitable equipment.
Another fascinating story, they had boilers in the mines to run the equipment and mines and it needed wood to run the boilers. During the peak mining, they would burn through five tons of wood a day.
The valley of Walhalla, which is now a dense forest used to be empty land. Mining operations denuded the entire area for a radius of 15 kilometres in order to get enough wood for the boilers and that was still not enough.
The mine tour was great to learn all of this history and to see how the miners worked in the mines. It was also an eerie feeling being in a section of the mine and being told the history of the exact place you are standing.
The last point of interest I visited in the town was the famous Walhalla Cricket Pitch. A quick 2km hike up and out the valley, with a very steep gradient climb.
There was no flat piece of land in the entire valley, so the miners cleared the top section of a mountain to create a large and flat surface on which they could play cricket. After a long day’s work in the mines, they would head up and go play some sports.
There were also a few famous matches that were played on this unique field. I took some pictures of the field, rested for a little while, as that hike up was pretty rough and the temperature was starting to drop.
On my walk down I was pretty surprised at how cold it was. The last time I felt this type of cold was when I explored in the snow.
Low and behold, when I got to the car, the temperature said three degrees Celsius, so it was pretty close to freezing point. I met up with Matt Brogan from GoAuto News and Micheal back at the hotel where we had a lovely dinner and chatted about my adventure.
This is where my adventure ended and I am thankful it ended in a hotel.
The next morning after I packed the Isuzu to head back to Melbourne, the car said it was -four degrees Celsius.
I don’t think camping in a wet swag at that temperature would have been pleasant at all! The reason I embark on trips like these is to see more of the country, the true experience the country offers, not the commercialised tourist version.
I don’t want to be a tourist and just stay in the city and go where the tourists go. I am very happy that I got to experience the Australia landscape, tracks and camping scene firsthand. I got to meet friendly locals and see the Victorian High Country, which I have only seen on a screen and got to learn about all the small towns and their history.
In the end I drove a total 1600km from leaving Melbourne until I got back and I would say it was about a 60:40 split between gravel and tarmac driving.
The Isuzu D-Max I had completed this trip and I had no issues at all. It was stock standard with road biased all terrain tires so I avoided the tough tracks, and I would scout a water or mud obstacle before attempting them.
In the town the radar guided cruise control, lane keep assist and speed limiter functions really came in handy. It kept me at the speed limits and the sign recognition helped me identify what the speed limits were, which can be tricky to do in a new area and while focussing on driving.
The roller shutter lid at the back helped me keep all my gear dry, clean and safe. I was able to lock the roller door and the tailgate.
I had the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine which had more than enough power and torque to conquer the steep passes and gravel inclines I drove. There were three occasions where I had to engage low range, merely to make the inclines and declines more comfortable to drive.
The automatic transmission was easy to use and handled the long-distance driving well. I did have a few moments where it would stay in a lower gear too long for my liking, then I would bump it up a gear manually.
For a standard vehicle the ground clearance was great, I touched the front bash plate once through the deep mudhole and then touched the belly a few times when I went over sharp and steep bumps on the tracks, but nothing serious.
Never did I have to engage diff lock, the traction control worked very well to help the ute over the small crossover sections which I encountered. My fuel consumption was very good, considering the area in which I drove was steep with lots of inclines to face and after the trip the Isuzu averaged 9.7 litres per 100km.
The hours I spent in the ute were comfortable, I had enough space for all my gear and equipment, and I had enough USB charging points to keep my camera gear charged during the trip.
I have done some four-wheeling with the D-Max in South Africa and I can confidently say that the ute is very capable off-road even in the standard form and then it will comfortably take you and your family on a road trip around the Victorian High Country.
In conclusion, the Isuzu D-Max successfully and safely got around my trip and through some obstacles with no hassle.
As many may know, there are a lot of South Africans who immigrate to Australia, and it is always said that Australia is very similar to South Africa.
I only experienced Melbourne and the countryside surrounding Melbourne, but I want to argue that statement. Australia and South Africa aren’t as similar as what I imagined it to be.
The city of Melbourne, the roads, the countryside, the buildings, all give me more of a European feel than South Africa. The climate of Melbourne is fairly like that of Cape Town, just a bit colder, but they are situated more south than Cape Town.
The utes were awesome to see, it is rare to see a standard ute, they are all kitted out with muzzbars, tray systems, mud terrains, spots, you name it. It is something South Africans love about Australia and many base their rig builds off Australian builds.
The wildlife of Australia is very bizarre, but I think foreigners would say the same of our animals. They have the kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, koalas and many more mammals.
They also have parrots and parquets as we would have doves, which was very interesting to see. The landscape at parts of the Victoria High County could be similar looking than parts of South Africa, but the trees and forest are massive.
The isolation I felt in Australia also does not exist in South Africa.
You will always find people or a small homestead in the near vicinity of you in South Africa while in Australia you could travel a few hours without anything but bush insight. To conclude the comparison of the two countries; Australia feels more like a wild Europe while South Africa feels uniquely African.
Don’t get me wrong, both countries are absolutely beautiful, but not as similar as people explain and expect, again, not Melbourne at least.
To conclude, I loved Australia, and I did not want to leave. The landscape, camping and four-wheeling scene is an adventurous heaven. You have so much space and so many like-minded people who enjoy the outdoors.
The landscape is beautiful, the tracks can be challenging, but fun and there are so many tracks to choose from. To clarify, the tracks are bush roads, and they exist for the fire-brigade and park rangers to have deeper access to the forest in case of wildfires.
You will be driving along a tar pass and there will be little detours and tracks that run into the bush and then reconnect to the main road. They are so much fun to explore. I would highly recommend visiting Australia and experiencing the Victorian High Country, visiting the small towns, learning the history and enjoying sightseeing.
There is an endless amount to do in Australia and I just visited a small region of the country.
I would take on a trip like I did with caution, as I explained, it was not easy and there was plenty that could go wrong. Thankfully I had Matt who could advise me on my route planning and who helped me with the correct gear and recovery gear.
I also had additional fuel with me, the fuel stations are few and far between, plus the cold weather could affect your vehicle. You have many roads which get shut during certain seasons and the weather can change very rapidly.
It is difficult to explain the full trip, it is something that needs to be experienced to be appreciated. Australia really is an adventurous dream country, just like the videos and pictures show online.
Would I do it again? I would do it tomorrow again, it was a bucket list trip which I was privileged to be able to do! Thank you to everyone who made it possible and everyone I met along the way. I will be back as there is just too much I still want to explore!