A Weekend Swimming

With the mercury forecast into the 40’s we felt it necessary to head north and be near some water. Due to some life admin we weren’t underway till the early afternoon (in the peak of the heat). Now as much of an off road weapon Bone’s is she does fall short in the comfort department on an extremely hot summers day, so an impromptu swim in Lake Eildon was very welcomed before we climbed back into the sauna and continued on.

After passing through Mansfield we decided not to head north and up through Whitfield and Cheshunt but instead to head east then north through State Forest. We didn’t know it yet but this was a perfect decision as getting of the blacktop and into the bush we noticed a significant drop in the temperature.



After airing down at the beginning of Buttercup Jeep Track we climbed the loose rocky track to Bald Hill. As we were travelling on our own I make sure I take the time to air down my tyres as although the track conditions were good it is a lot easier to not get stuck than to have to air down in an unsafe position. It also looks after the track and does wonders for the comfort level in a leaf sprung Hilux.


Lake William Hovell

From Bald Hill we headed north along Cambatong Spur then on to Evans Creek track which lead us all the way to the beautiful site of Lake William Hovell. Lake William Hovell takes its name from Australian explorer William Hovell, who trekked through the region in 1824. Construction of the reservoir was completed in 1973. After another much needed refreshing swim we drove up river to find a campsite.


King River

About 4 or 5km up river we found a great spot right next to the King River and decided to call it a day and setup camp. A short 50m walk further upstream led us to an amazing waterhole and you guessed our final and nicest cool off for the day, before settling down to a relaxing evening in a near perfect camp spot.



Bones, Southern cross swag, King River

Our morning started with a return to the waterhole for a wakeup swim followed by some breakfast and a bit of camp chill time. We were looking at another high thirties day and it was warming up fast. With camp packed away we headed back to Lake William Hovell and found another delightful place to swim, before we drove north through the King Valley and beside the King River to Cheshunt.


King River, Waterhole at camp

From Cheshunt we decided to go south and visit Paradise Falls. To the carpark of Paradise Falls is about a 20 minute drive along a well maintained gravel road. There is a 500m walk down to the falls on a very good trail consisting mainly of stairs. The falls do not flow all year round and while we were there in January it was barely a trickle coming over. Some may have been disappointed but we loved it as we were able to lay back and watch the slight breeze deform the waterfall causing the small lizards and other insects move hastily to keep themselves on the cool wet stones below. I feel seeing it in both states being just a trickle and in full flood have different beauties to offer and we will return towards the end of spring to hopefully witness the other.


Lake William Hovell

It was now early afternoon and time to start heading back home. This time we drove to Whitfield and headed back towards Mansfield. This is an amazingly scenic drive winding through hills and forest. As we were close to home we made one final stop to swim at meeting of the waters in Buxton. Victoria is spoilt for choice with freshwater swimming options although some are a little further away they are definitely worth the effort and it’s a great excuse for a quick overnighter especially on these really hot summer weekends.


Take care, Mat

Southern Cross Double Swag

SwagLabelSix or so years ago if someone had told me they were going to sleep in a SWAG I would have replied with a confused, blank look upon my face. I was first introduced to the legendary Australian swag when I joined a land based fishing club in Perth Western Australia and wanted one instantly. The convenience of rolling up your shelter with a mattress and sleeping bag all ready to go was genius. OK so the swags we use today have evolved and changed from the original swags but the concept is still the same (a canvas sleeping compartment sometimes insect-proof, with foam mattress, and is a durable fast erecting shelter). These days swags are used primarily for car/4WD camping due to their size and weight.


Both sides roll up, great for those warm clear sky nights

So I was in the market for swag. After doing a lot of research I stumbled across Southern Cross Canvas Products an Australian Company based in Victoria. It was not the cheapest swag available but after seeing one in the flesh the quality was out standing. I chose a double dome swag, which has ample room when I am travelling solo but also there is plenty of room for when my girlfriend decides to join me. I am 6’1” and find the length fine.


There is a window at each end, I just about always have these open to reduce condensation buildup.

Some specs

Canvas – Australian Canvas 10.9oz

Base – Heavy Duty Vinyl 520gsm

Length – 2100mm

Width – 1300mm

Height – 700mm

Diameter Rolled – 450mm (includes 2 sleeping bags)


North WA, Croc Country

I have spent hundreds of nights beneath the stars in this swag in varying types of weather and have never had a drama. Most often I will set it up under my awning so that in the morning there is minimal dew on the outer canvas and I can roll it up without having to worry. The base is heavy-duty vinyl, extremely waterproof and durable, and the canvas is great quality and mine is showing barely any wear apart from a little fading as to be expected. The two end hoops are aluminium with the top spreader bar galvanised steel. It is very quick to setup, strong and simple. After completing multiple extended trips up to 6 weeks long from the Kimberley to the Victorian High Country I have always had a comfortable rested night’s sleep and never once was I sick of sleeping in the swag!


Victorian High Country

Six years on my swag is still in perfect condition and have no doubt it will be going strong for many years to come. Overall I am extremely happy with this swag and would not hesitate to buy it again. Sure there are a lot of cheaper swags out there but the Australian outback can be harsh on gear and I would rather have something locally made, strong and reliable that I can count on when out in the bush.

Snow on the Bluff


The Bluff, Victorian High Country

Pulling back the curtains we were surprised by a rather sunny warm day in late August, which was a welcomed sight. A decision was made to head to the Victorian High Country for a quick overnighter as the previous months of camping were non existence due to weather and other commitments. By the time we tidied up from a hearty cooked breakfast and packed up Bones (a 1993 Toyota Hilux who you will get to know) the clock was reading 11am. Not our best efforts time wise but with the warm sunshine upon us we didn’t mind.

Arriving in Mansfield in the afternoon, a bite to eat and a quick catch up with a friend who gave us some local knowledge on track conditions and places to camp and we were off. After grabbing some diesel additive as overnight temps were heading towards -5° we started heading east towards Mt Buller.

Turning South onto Howqua Track around 4pm the golden sun contrasting against the cloudless blue sky we realized we had limited light left. Wanting to reach our desired destination of refrigerator gap by dusk we had to get moving! Driving along beside the Howqua river at the end of a magnificent sunny day was a treat and still being winter there were very few other vehicles to be seen.

P1000255Heading East onto Bluff Link track we started seeing signs of snowfall on the track and dotted along the banks. The more we climbed the more snow we saw, upon reaching our campsite we were greeted by a reasonable covering of snow on the ground. It was by no means heavy but considering it was our first time camping in the snow it was the perfect amount. Camp setup was quick as darkness was approaching, after getting a fire going we settled in for the evening adding many layers as the night wore on and the temperature fell.

Clear blue skies and crisp air greeted us in the morning, getting out of the swag was a shock to the system. The reason we chose to camp at refrigerator gap was so we could pack up camp and be at the Bluff Walking trail with minimal driving. Some tea and warm porridge were made before packing up partially frozen gear with numb hands and driving to the base of the Bluff.


The 1.5km hike to the Bluff was amazing. I had climbed the other side previously during summer but this was a totally different experience. The entire side of the Bluff had about a foot of snow covering it, sometimes more. There were small rivers of melting ice, icicles hanging from rocks and views of the high country getting grander as we climbed. Lucky for us there were some tracks from previous hikers who had compacted the ground and meant using my GPS for the most part wasn’t necessary. As we approached the summit we noticed the clouds were speeding past and soon we were surrounded in fog and a bitter wind was whipping around us. At the summit our views were partially blocked from the approaching weather and the wind made it a little uncomfortable, but we still took a moment to look around and take it in, as it was truly spectacular. There are some breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. I thought we should start to head down incase the weather really turned and with some careful footing we were soon back at the vehicle and the sun had returned.


Some lunch was had before we started making our way home. This was a great one night away, a simple trip that didn’t require to much planning, a little luck with the weather and we had a nice break from the daily grind.