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Along the Goulburn
This trip is an easy one, suitable for vehicles such as Rav4's and Nissan X-trails. It begins at Healesville in the foothills outside Melbourne and passing through a rejuvenated Marysville. The road turns to dirt east of Cambarville, before passing through the scattered remains of the old ridge-top village of Matlock. This one time town of 11 hotels and numerous stores grew up as a handy staging point at the junction of the tracks from Woods Point to Jericho (on the Jordon Goldfields) and the Yarra Track from Melbourne.
These tracks, which were once bridle horse trails between the goldfields around Jamieson south to Woods Point and on to Walhalla, quickly became stagecoach routes as more and more gold discoveries were reported in the area. Today, much of the road network and a majority of the 4WD tracks owe their existence and their actual routes to those early gold prospectors and miners who cut their way through the virgin scrub in search of their Eldorado.
Striking north from Matlock you drop off the high ridges and down into iconic Woods Point. Now, no trip through the town is complete without stopping at what was once the old garage and while the old but still colourful signs proclaim, 'Fill up here with Shell', don't count on it!
Gold was discovered near here at Gooley's Creek in 1861 (where there is some good camping today) and it wasn't long before the fabled Morning Star reef was found and underground mining commenced. This became one of Australia's premier goldmines and in the 100 years since its discovery it produced over a million ounces of gold. Today it is owned by Morning Star Gold and promises even more riches.
Heading north out of town the road sticks close to the Goulburn River for a short distance, quickly passing Scotts Reserve and climbing the range to Frenchman Gap before winding on to the A1 Mining Settlement, the site of another rich gold producer. Gaffney's Creek, a short distance on, was the site of the first gold discovery on the Jamieson-Walhalla goldfields in 1859. Little remains of the town, the result of raging bushfires, most notably in 2006, while the once famous hotel here was burnt down by two escaped convicts in 1993.
The route north rejoins the Goulburn River north of Knockwood and from here to Kevington the road sticks close to the river passing many delightful camping areas including Snake Edwards Reserve, Picnic Point and Tunnel Bend. These are pretty popular but as we found, during the week, they are quiet with just a couple of campers in the odd reserve. Along the way 4WD tracks on both sides of the river climb deeper into the ranges and in most cases lead to old mines and the scattered remains of ephemeral hotel and town sites. Some that head east, such as the Snake Edwards Divide Track, meet with the Jamieson-Licola Road.
At Kevington there is a pleasant camping area right beside the famous hotel that has been here since 1862. Nearly every traveller has stopped here since then and we were no exception - make sure you don't drive past!
From here it's an easy run to Jamieson and Mansfield. But being right on the edge of the Victorian High Country, there is a wide choice of 4WD tracks and camping areas to enjoy so if you have the time head deeper into the mountains - where we'll take you next report!
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