This easter was crazy busy in the valley. Bright was packed and even little ole Harrietville had a pleasant buzz about it. I went for a ride around town on the Friday to put up live music posters and was blown away with how many people were in town already. The Harrietville Cabin & Caravan park was heaving and it looked like every house in town had one or two cars out front all with a mixture of bikes, canoes and other toys hanging off them ready for the family to have some fun in the great outdoors.
Some friends were visiting from out of town. Ole mate had spent a couple of days 4wding with friends and camping in the Buckland Valley before arriving in Harrietville. We have young kids so we were keen for an adventure that could include the whole family. Our normal favourite lunch haunts were likely to be super busy so we hatched a plan to get out into the bush and smell the serenity. Captain Frothy was a bit grumpy but his arm was twisted and Mrs Frothy spent the morning cooking up an amazing lasagna to take with us.
Some eskies, ice cold beverages and camp chairs were strapped on the Lux club and we were off into the mountains far from the maddening crowds. Destination…The Heli pad.
When we first moved to town some 8 years ago I often heard local dirtbikers and 4wders discussing their adventures in the bar over a cold one. The Heli pad was mentioned a lot as a great destination for a day trip bbq or an overnight campfire. We did a lot of hiking then but had no 4wd so it wasn’t until I bought a dirtbike that I finally found this great spot only a short ride/drive from the ville.
A little over an hour away from Harrietville by 4wd and a lot less on a dirtbike, the Heli Pad has amazing 360 degree views. Looking out to the East you get a unique panorama of Mt Feathertop stretching out along the Razorback to Mt Hotham with Harrietville sitting in the valley below. Out to the West & South is the dramatic plateau of Mt Buffalo and what seems like endless peaks of the Alpine National Park and the Great Divide.
This spot, like most in our area, can be reached with a standard 4wd with decent clearance and good tyres. Make sure you take a chainsaw and some basic recovery gear as you often find trees across the tracks. Its considered good form to properly clear anything you find in the way to help keep the tracks open. The drive is not super technical but there are some fun steep pitches where you’ll need low range.
Mrs Frothy’s Lasagna, still warm from the oven, was served with a huge bowl of salad and a couple of ice cold Coopers Pale Ales while we pondered the view. The pre-prepped picnic option was awesome as it was 2:00pm by the time we hit the Heli Pad and the Captain was getting a little ‘Hangry’.
You can take an alternate route home that takes a similar time or you can tackle the more ‘black diamond’ challenge of heading back to The Great Alpine road via Mount Sugarloaf. This track is subject to seasonal closure and follows a sharp ridgeline with numerous steep rocky ups and down’s (that’s the technical term). This was super fun but I am definitely glad that we did it with company in case something went wrong. The track comes out above the Mount Hotham resort ticket box and left us with a short 15 minute drive back down the bitumen to Harrietville.
If you are planning a 4wd adventure in the North East make sure you give us a call. We have 16 great value ensuite rooms just next door to our classic pub. Perfect for relaxing after a hard day out on the tracks. We have a huge collection of local maps in the front bar and are happy to share our tips for great spots to see off the beaten track.
Also if you have an adventure to share please send us a short story and some pictures for our website. The best story each month will be published and win a $50 bar & food tab for the Snowline Hotel. To share your adventures email firstname.lastname@example.org.