Sam Richards from Camper Trailer Australia takes us on a mid-winter trip to Mount Terrible's Newman Track.
The Victorian High Country plays host to famous destinations, for 4WDers and general travellers alike. However, given the size of the region, there are a few places that don’t fall under the spotlight – when they really should. We’re talking about the south-west, in and around Baw Baw and Lake Eildon National Parks. This western chunk is that bit closer to Melbourne than some of the higher, more renowned mountains further east (like Hotham or Kosciuszko), yet there is still plenty of fun to be had – on and off the track.
A few colleagues and I took on Newman’s Track recently. This winding track turns off from near the Pines Camping area, one of the many beautiful and low-cost camps scattered plentifully throughout. From this point, at around 300 metres above sea level, the track traverses south-east to ascend to the 1,260 metre peak of Mt Terrible. The going becomes rather narrow in parts, and while it does involve a lot of tossing and turning, the switchbacks themselves are manageable while towing.
This track, marked as Easy, becomes more difficult after rainfall; the loose surface is capable of becoming muddy and filling tyre grooves quickly, necessitating deflation to 20 or so PSI. The muddiness is particularly relevant given how steep the track becomes in parts; whilst some of track follows the slowly ascending ridge, other segments cut across the contour lines.
I regret to inform we didn’t attain the summit; a gigantic gum had collapsed over the track. Had Seinfeld been with us I imagine he would've declared “Newman” in that familiar tone of frustration. Clearing the tree using the winch of the Land Cruiser might, I repeat might, have been achievable. However, given our limited timeframe and our uninspiring arsenal of one lone hatchet, we were forced to call it quits. Generous 4WDers or DELWP may have since cleared this track, but in any case there are other ways up, such as Mt Terrible Track and Donald Track.
Still, the first two thirds of Newman’s 12 or so kilometres were rewarding, particularly to the eyes. Up on this higher ground you lose out on the clear, flowing water in the beautiful, dark streams – and subsequently on the thrilling and sometimes challenging water crossings, such as at Coopers Creek. What you gain instead is vistas, glimpsed through the ash and gums, of mountains upon mountains; plus the lower land below stretches out for miles. On the day we were there, these nearby peaks were covered in a low-lying fog – a great addition to the ambience.
It gets pretty wild in this neck of the woods. Certain tracks are subject to winter closure, because they simply become impassable. The region alters to the other extreme in summer, when it is prone to bushfires. Evidence of both fires and controlled burns abounds, as does evidence of grading works smoothing out existing tracks or creating new ones. Rest assured though, offroad challenges will always exist in these parts, for 4WDers who are seeking them.