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Hema Map Patrol tips fresh from the field

Driving on hilly terrain such as the High Country requires good driving technique to help maximise safety — and taking it slow and steady is the best way to ensure you reach your destination in one piece.

We had a chat with one of our Hema Map Patrol members — GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Officer, Patrick ‘Pat’ Kemp — to extract some valuable knowledge from his recent experience in the Victorian High Country.

Where was your favourite place to camp?

Jacksons Crossing Camp Area in Snowy River National Park

I loved the sandy beach on the Snowy River, which has a really beautiful cliff next to it. Leading into this camp is a very long river crossing, which is one of my favourites to traverse.

What was your favourite track?

Son of a Bitch Track near Billy Goat’s Bluff

It’s quite a challenging track with a few mud bogs which made you really think about which lines to choose when driving the track. We’ve marked this track as ‘DIFFICULT’ and would rate it a 4/5 in terms of difficulty. It’s quite technical to tackle and really tests your driving skills — I had to have someone exit the vehicle to guide me from the outside around difficult washouts and ruts.

What was the highlight of your time in the High Country?

Paradise Falls near Cheshunt

This area is simply stunning and feels like you’re in the Northern Territory somewhere, with an iconic Australian ambiance and towering red cliff face. The falls themselves didn’t have a lot of water flowing — due to the time of year we’re completing our fieldwork — but visiting in winter would be well worth it. We tackled Burnt Top Track to reach this area and that was a really beautiful drive in. 

Did you experience any challenges while out in the High Country?

Unfortunately, several tracks near Mount Pinnibar were in a poor condition and hazardous to drive on — a reminder to always check with Parks Victoria before travelling as certain conditions require specific vehicle capabilities. 

If a track is designated as subject to seasonal road closure, you can safely assume you are going to need a very capable 4WD vehicle equipped with recovery gear. You can also assume that you need to be experienced in four-wheel driving and know how to use your recovery gear should you venture out on one of these tracks. Your life may depend on it.

Any hidden gems you would like to share?

Geehi Flats Campground

It’s quite a while away near the Kosciusko National Park, making it a bit of a journey to get to for the average person. There’s a well-built hut there and it’s situated in a beautiful spot on the swampy Plain River. It also has beautiful views of Kosciusko National Park and mountains.

Name one essential product that you can’t go to the High Country without…

The High Country Victoria Paper Map on waterproof paper 1:200,000

This particular paper map was an indispensable product we used to plan and mark out our trip. The visual advantage of seeing the area all at once provides an easy overview and being able to write on the map is something you just can’t get with digital maps. It was essential for following our planned route. It’s also very useful as a reference point to see where we are and what’s around. It’s also small, compact and lightweight. I can’t recommend it enough.