IF YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A DIRTY WEEKEND, MAKE IT A BIG ONE
Big River is a Vic High Country trip that (with care) you can tackle with a camper-trailer
There’s an excellent road that winds from Alexandra around the edge of the Lake Eildon National Park through the High Country’s Big River State Forest. Once on the dirt, heading roughly south east towards Marysville, this road offers some majestic views and, in dry weather, plenty of dust. This awesome location is only a few hours’ drive from Melbourne – however, there’s a big catch: You can’t drag a caravan through from one side to the other! The track is so rough, rugged and narrow in one section that even a solid off-road van won’t be welcomed or appreciated by on-coming motorists. A camper-trailer is okay with care, and maybe a vehicle up front to spot other vehicles coming along the track.
The great news for folks who want to tour in this area is that there are lots of options to consider, and it’s perfect for campers who want to have some fun. As a bonus, our four-legged friends are welcome. While some vanners might not be able to get through the middle, on either side of this one section there is awesome camping for owners of 2WDs, camper vans and even 4WDs with caravans. This is the Big River Road.
Alexandra is a great little town with plenty of history to make it a worthwhile stopover. Alex, as it’s known by the locals, was called Redgate until 1867. After the gold rush this town grew with the influx of men, women and kids. Alex has a lot to offer travellers wanting a day or two away from the city and is easy to access on bitumen from Melbourne, Mansfield or further afield.
Getting to the Big River Road is easy and it’s a very pretty drive along the Eildon Jamieson Road, south of Eildon township. Turn onto the Big River Road and soon the route becomes dirty and dusty and the Big River adventure really begins.
There are lots of campsites along the river and many are great for 4WDers and those with camper-trailers. They do tend to fill up quickly during the holidays and on weekends. During the working week though, these spots are generally quiet and private.
Chaffe Creek is a great camping area with toilets and plenty of open space for the kids to run and play. This area will cater easily for vanners wanting to escape the rat race.
The main road or track winds its way from Chaffe Creek (with some stunning views) through the Big River State Forest and it’s an awesome drive where on beautiful blue days one can see for miles.
At the end of the main section, where the road for vanners stops, there is the settlement of Enoch Point. This little colony of private homes can get busy during the holiday periods; however, it was quiet when we breezed through mid-week. There is a little day-use area on the river where the start of a beautiful walking track to the Enoch Falls can be found. In the summer, or warmer months, caution is advised as our slithering Joe Blake friends like to pop down to the river for a drink or two. I wouldn’t drag a big van into Enoch Point as the tracks around the houses are tight and rocky in sections. From here, with a van, retrace the route back to the Eildon Jamieson Road; while others can continue along the Big River Road to Marysville, Woods Point or Warburton.
The run from Marysville is an easy bitumen drive along the Cumberland Road to Cambarville, which is an old sawmilling village. There are good toilets and a day-visiting area and it’s worth a wander around. Cumberland Junction will take tourists to Woods Point or to Warburton or 4WD owners can head north on the Cambarville Track towards Eildon and some serious four-wheeling fun.
The Eildon Warburton Road leads to Stockmans Reward and there are plenty of bush camps along the route. If travelling with a camper-trailer or van, be mindful that some of the campsites are for vehicles only. If you are travelling alone,
Stockmans Reward is a large camping area catering for all types of tourers and is where the Big River flows into the camp. There are good facilities and it’s perfect for a base from which to go exploring. Maybe check out the other camps for accessibility for your rig.
Located on or close to the Big River there are campsites from Stockmans Reward including Miners Camp, Dairy Flat where the Big River and Torbreck River collide. Other camps include Specimen Creek, Peppermint Ridge and Vennells.
Following the Big River Road past Catford Camp to 25 Mile Creek Camp is a good road. There is a very steep track leading to the river here and I would advise caution before heading down, especially with a camper-trailer. In other words, walk it first. 25 Mile Creek is as far as you can tow your van on this road.
Another way to head into the southern section of the Big River Road is to come in off the Warburton Highway from Lilydale through the Yarra Valley to Warburton and beyond to Reefton. From Reefton take the Woods Point Road to Cambarville.
This drive is spectacular and the towns along the Warby Highway offer all sorts of accommodation and quaint tourist shops. This road is also a very popular road for motorcyclists and can be a busy stretch for the two-wheeling junkies who ride the Reefton Spur for fun. Having done it many times on two wheels I can understand the thrill of this ride.
Once in Cambarville, follow your heart as to which way you tackle the Big River Road adventure.