What’s the Adventure?
For most people, when you talk about Australia, you have visions of the bush and the outback, Ayers Rock and the Simpson Desert. But this vast country also offers a variety of terrains, such as the Victorian Alps in the south west, so-named by 19th-century explorer Hamilton Hume because of its resemblance to the European Alps.
And what better way to explore the region’s luxuriant rainforests than aboard a 300Tdi Defender 110 in the company of seasoned overlanders Jérôme and Bénédicte André?
Our Favourite Bit?
In the morning, we drive towards Walhalla, a remote town that sprang up around the local gold mine in 1863. The whole town has been restored to its original condition after being burned to the ground on numerous occasions. Every shed over 50 years old is considered 'historic' and receives an official heritage sign. This might seem odd for us Europeans, but for a ‘young’ country like Australia it makes sense.
Back on the move, we are heading towards Aberfeldy and Baw Baw National Park on what the map claims is a regular road. We’re surprised to find that it’s a gravel track. This is indeed how roads are here! Using Ron’s map and compass, navigating through the tracks is quite easy. Cruising through a eucalyptus-filled landscape, we finally get our first off-roading sensations, crawling up and down rocky bits on the track to the Beardmores Barrage.
A few hours later, we end up at the Anderson campground, run by a local family. On their porch you can find homemade products for sale, ranging from honey and jam to free range eggs. Payment is based on trust, you take what you want and drop the money in a box.
Making it out alive
It’s time to drive back to Morwell and return our Defender to Ron Camier. But we are not quite ready to let it go yet and Ron takes us along some more challenging tracks for which a minimum of two vehicles is recommended. Ron leads us to Licola along the Black Range Track, a dusty, technical and sometimes rocky track offering a number of ford crossings and soft ground traps. On the last cross axle, Jérôme tears off a rear mud flap. Thankfully, this is the only trouble we have in the 110.
If you’re fascinated by flora, fauna and the magnificent landscape, the Victoria Alps offer the very finest 4x4 experience, whether you hire a Land Rover or join Ron and his team for one of their tag-along trips. But be warned: this kind of adventure is highly addictive.
The full story can be found in the June 2011 issue of LRO. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.