The Davies Plain Hut, at the headwaters of the Murray River, lies among snowgums on an expanse of alpine meadow. This hut has been lovingly maintained throughout the years and survived the fires of December 2002 and January 2003.
Horse corrals have been restored and the original dog kennels, along and under a fallen log, remain. Water can be obtained from a spring-fed stream on the eastern side of the hut and, for those in the know, some traditional brumby traps still remain in the forest. The camp at this hut is one of the very best in the high country. This country takes on a fairytale appearance during snow, which can be encountered at any time of the year.
Dung heaps deposited by stallions marking their territory are along the tracks and in the clearings and one can lie in a swag next to the fire on a starry evening and imagine what it must have been like in the days when the cattlemen reigned supreme. However, this period of history can often be relived if you are privileged enough to encounter some of the old-timers on horseback. They still round up the cattle or come up on horseback to fish and relive the past. Sharing an evening camp with these fellows is an experience to be savoured and remembered.
The track continues south along the Davies Plain Ridge with numerous grassy hollows encountered. Sadly, some of these have been ravaged by idiots in 4WDs who seem to think that the alpine meadow, often saturated, provides for some excellent off-road bashing. Their scars are living testimony to why National Parks wants to close off this fragile environment. As is so often the case, the enjoyment of the majority who access this country with respect and care is jeopardised by a small redneck minority without intellect and environmental sensitivity.
About 10km south of Davies High Plain Hut, just south of Horse Flat Creek and its associated hut and excellent camping, the Kings Plain Track descends steeply to the south-east to the Murray River, flowing in a deep, narrow valley.
The flats along the river at this point allow for extended camping and excellent trout fishing, as this location is very isolated. Farther south of this junction, we encounter the Four Ways intersection where the Davies Plain, McCarthy’s, Buckwong Creek and Mount Misery Trails meet. The Mount Misery Trail takes the adventurer out to the Benambra Road, while the Buckwong Track heads west to the alpine high plain encompassing the headwaters of Buckwong Creek. This plain forms a giant soak with many fishing holes renowned for their trout.
The Buckwong Hut has been long used by cattlemen for shelter while droving – and angling! This excellent camp allows the angler to walk down the upper reaches of Buckwong Creek before it plunges into a deep gorge down to the Murray. This camp, with its alpine grasslands, heath and snow gum forms a beautiful scene during Autumn and Spring mornings, with fog shrouding the trees amid the sounds of silence. Farther to the west along this track one encounters the Mount Murphy Track, accessing the abandoned copper mines adjacent to the summit.
We descend McCarthy’s Track (take care – it is very steep and slippery when wet) to rejoin the Murray River east of the junction with the Limestone Creek Track. This location is referred to as The Poplars, reflecting the stands of poplars on the eastern (NSW) bank. These flats were used in times past for grazing and relics of this period can still be found, including the poplars – long may they stand!
You used to be able to ford the Murray here to camp on the NSW side – a magnificent location – but both fords have been closed off by NPWS. Camping is restricted to the Victorian side, with excellent walks on the eastern bank. The fishing is excellent. Walk the river up and down at your leisure, it will never cease to delight the spirit and soul and fishing truly takes place in pristine wilderness. You are in the Upper Murray Gorge – enjoy!
All the off-road tracks in this article require a 4WD and appropriate off-road driving skills. Steep slopes will be encountered and these can be treacherous when wet.
All drivers should have training relating to steep slopes, rutted slopes, stalling and key-starting and descents. This is dangerous country when wet. Sudden Summer storms can drop temperatures below zero and even snow can occur. Vehicles have been known to be stuck in valleys for days, waiting for slopes to dry out.
Take care – prepare your vehicles thoroughly, carry a full range of recovery gear, carry a UHF radio and know your local repeater station frequencies and carry warm clothing just in case.
• CMA Snowy Mountains Tourist Atlas. Available at all good bookshops or map shops.
• Corryong District Access Map – A must. Available at Corryong/Khancoban.
• Victorian Country Fire Association North East Rural Directory Regions 23 and 24 – all are 1:100,000 topo maps for this region in one volume – the best topo maps bargain in the land! Available from Wodonga CFA from June 1
The Davies High Plain Track climbs between stands of snowgums. Scenic in Summer, treacherously slippery after rain or snow, which can arrive a any time of year.
The Murray River below Kings Plain. The flats along the river allow for extended camping and excellent trout fishing in a very isolated location.
With range upon range extending into the distance, the view west from the Davies High Plain Track makes the trip all worthwhile.
Plenty of overhanging trees make for slow going at times on the Davies High Plain Track.