Craig's Hut - An Aussie Icon

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December 17th 2011
Published: December 22nd 2011
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Friday 16th December - we were both up early as we were hoping for a fairly prompt start on our trip to be re-united with the caravan. Graham carried everything down to the car as each bag was packed but it was a bit of a “balancing act” making sure Mad Micky was nowhere near when the front door was opened. As a young kitten he’s not allowed outside yet but, given his guile, speed and general athletic ability, we’re sure it won’t be long before he fools Daphne into letting him out accidentally. Daphne will have her hands full over the next few days with Micky, Christmas shopping and cake and pudding baking. In addition she has been asked by a very busy Grant and Anna if she could provide a meal for David and Mele on their arrival from Brisbane on Sunday evening after Grant has collected them from the airport. Daphne, of course, is well practised at catering, especially at the last minute, and was already planning her strategy. We were ready to go by 11:00am and bid our sad farewells to Daphne who has been a splendid hostess. We hope we have compensated her for her kind
Sweetie and PIE reunited againSweetie and PIE reunited againSweetie and PIE reunited again

in blissful surroundings near Mansfield
hospitality by treating her to trips to various places, not least our splendid 5 days at Mornington and the marvellous week at Peterborough. Nevertheless, it was difficult driving off even though we’ll see her again often over Christmas but, of course, we’ll be living in the caravan which will be about a 20 minute drive away. Our journey to Mansfield started well and we were soon leaving the outskirts of Melbourne heading for Yea. The route took us past Yering Station which, in January, would be the location for David’s and Mele’s wedding ceremony so we called in to ask about procedures for the wedding cake, the icing and delivery of which we have now taken responsibility for. We anticipate that, on the wedding day, apart from having to get ourselves ready, we will almost certainly have other people in the car and no room for a cake, so we wanted to be able to deliver it the day before. This proved to be acceptable so, with plans beginning to take shape, we continued our way to Yea, an ideal stopping place for lunch.

Yea is a pleasant, small town midway between Melbourne and Mansfield and we have it in mind to stop there again on our return towards Melbourne with the caravan. Today, though, we just stopped for lunch and then continued our journey to Mansfield arriving in the town at about 2:30pm. We chanced a visit to The Delatite Hotel where Mark (who owns the property where the caravan is stored) works a few hours a week. Luckily he was there and we were able to confirm our on-going plans with him. As it happened, he, Simone and the children Zoe, Ken and Beth were all ready to go off to Melbourne for the weekend so the house would be empty. We knew the arrangements at the house so we just had to “rock up, plug in and enjoy” – no hardship given the fantastic location that the Reeves’ house enjoys. They would return late on Sunday evening and we would look to move on towards Melbourne on Monday or Tuesday. Our only obligation would be to feed the rabbit and water the veggies. I did a bit of shopping in Mansfield and then we carried on to Bridge Creek where Graham relocated the caravan from the paddock to the front of the house – an idyllic camping site. We started the mammoth task of clearing out all the camping gear we had stored in the caravan to go back into the car and, at the same time, moving all of the clothing etc we had taken to Daphne’s from the car back into the caravan. Graham had plugged the caravan into the electric but, alas, the fridge wouldn’t work – a vital piece of equipment given the rising temperatures. We checked everything we could but couldn’t find the fault. Fortunately it also runs on gas so we switched it to gas mode and it soon started to cool down. The transfer and restoring of all the gear and clothing seemed to take forever but eventually I got the caravan back to how I like it and Graham re-stored all the items back into the boot of the car. By this time it was extremely hot and it was very tempting to have a dip in the pool to cool off. After dinner I spent some time trying to launch another blog as we’re beginning to fall a bit behind again. Ironically, the typing of the blog is not so bad but the processing of photos takes a long time – the more photos included the longer it takes. Eventually, though later than planned, we settled in for our first night’s sleep in the caravan for several weeks.

Saturday was a beautiful day and augured well for a trip we had planned. First though, after breakfast and after I had prepared a flask, we drifted into Mansfield so that I could do a bit of grocery shopping and at the same time Graham visited the Information Centre to get some details on today’s possible destination. We were hoping to get to Craig’s Hut – a well known local landmark associated with the film “Man from Snowy River”. It is often inaccessible because of snow or bad weather but today the conditions looked pretty good and the Information Centre confirmed that the road, although badly damaged, was passable in a 4WD. It is about 30 kilometers off a tarmac road along a steeply climbing gravel track, the last 2 kilometers of which is strictly 4WD only. People in 2WD often take a risk and go so far but have to walk the last 2 kilometers. Armed with this information and a couple of generously proportioned salad “wraps” for lunch we set off for Mirimbah passing through Merrijig on the way. Mirimbah is where the climb to the Mount Buller ski resort starts and also where the Mount Stirling “circuit road” starts – the road we needed for Craig’s Hut. It also boasts a beautiful creek-side picnic area where we parked to have our lunch, passing the time with a family of Romanian origin. The delightful children spent most of the time paddling in the creek while Dad was off fishing. Mum wanted someone to talk to and that was us - she’d been in Australia for 20 years and absolutely loved it. She’s an Australian Citizen but with one of the strongest foreign accents we’ve ever heard but she was lovely and funny and we enjoyed her company.

Eventually, and it was hard work, we dragged ourselves away to start our climb along the Stirling Circuit Road with the proviso that, if the going got too tough, we wouldn’t risk the car. Initially it didn’t look too promising as the track was very rough and going as slowly as we were we wondered if we’d be able to get there and back before dark! But the track got better for much of the climb so we persevered until, after about 20 kilometers, it got very rough again. The film about Snowy River had really grabbed our attention especially as we’ve got to know one of the crack horsemen used in the film, and the hut was an iconic part of the film. So we pressed on, albeit very slowly and eventually reached the difficult 4WD track. Graham has been itching to have a go at 4WD driving but had always considered the health of the car, but today we decided “in for a penny, in for a pound”. There was one 2WD car parked at the bottom and we feel they had done well to get as far as they had but the walk would have been too hard for either of us so we thought the risk was worth taking. It proved to be a difficult risk as the track became deeply rutted with large prominent boulders and extremely steep though relatively short climbs. PIE took it all in her stride and the more powerful of the two 4WD settings made negotiation of the difficult track very easy. There was no need for acceleration, braking or gear changing as PIE just crept along slowly with maximum traction and the very high ground clearance meant we were never in any danger. The steepness of some of the slopes made us wonder about the return downward journey but for now we were happy to fulfil one small ambition and to find ourselves in one of the most beautiful spots in Victoria. Craig’s Hut was constructed especially for the film and sited in one of the most remote yet most beautiful parts of the Alpine National Park on the upper slopes of Mount Stirling. It has become an Aussie Icon because of its association with the film and the challenge involved in getting to see it. Unfortunately the original hut soon fell into disrepair and the first reconstruction was destroyed in a bushfire in 2006 but, such was its reputation in recent Aussie folklore, it was faithfully reconstructed a second time and continues to be a “must see” for tourists in the Alpine National Park. It was a real thrill to have made it and to sit and enjoy our lunch in such a magnificent place.

We would have stayed longer but clouds were gathering overhead so we felt we should start our journey back down the track. It was a little scary but again PIE was magnificent as the 4WD did its stuff and we crept down over the rugged and steep incline in complete control. The onward journey down the gravel road was a bit swifter than the upward journey had been and we were soon back at Mirimbah and on to the bitumen road back towards Mansfield. I needed to do a bit more shopping so we called in at the main supermarket and then returned to the caravan to prepare for a night in. Just after our evening meal we had a phone call from near neighbour and good friend Bernie (Bernadette) who had just driven by with her husband Doose (Derek) on their way to a party. At the party was another Pom, Anne from Cornwall, and Bernie thought it might be nice for us to meet her and some more local neighbours and almost insisted that she came to pick us up. Half an hour later we followed Bernie to another local farmstead where about 30 people had gathered for a pre-Christmas party. Plenty of food (but we’d already eaten) and drink were available and conversation flowed easily. Anne was only here for a short time but all of the others lived nearby and we were gradually introduced to most of them as the evening wore on. Following our trip to Craig’s Hut and our on-going fascination with the 1982 film”Man from Snowy River” starring Kirk Douglas, which we have now watched several times, imagine our surprise to be introduced to Gerald Egan who was the stunt double horseman who performed all of the unbelievable horse riding actions in the film in place of the lead role actor Tom Burlinson, and also the party’s host, Steve Shinn, who was another crack horseman used in the film. As with most of the local parties we have been to here, it was destined to go on until the wee small hours so, at about 11:30pm, we beat a hasty retreat back to the caravan where we still had the washing up to do from earlier! Needless to say, by the time we were ready for bed it had become a very late night but what a day it had been!

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23rd December 2011

Jan & Graham, wishing you both a Very Merry Christmas. Take Care Carole & Ray
23rd December 2011

Christmas Greetings
Hi Carole and Ray,Many thanks for your good wishes. We hope you both have a lovely Christmas. We're not sure where you live - if it happened to be somewhere near Melbourne it would be lovely to meet up if possible. Best wishes, Jan and Graham
23rd December 2011

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