To all our Australian family across the ditch, if our recent winter adventures have been getting you iching for the white stuff, then we've got some good news... It's your turn to get stuck in!
Aussie isn't all orange dirt and warm weather adventures, there's amazing mountain ranges & high country areas all over to explore during the colder months. One area in particular is the Victorian High Country. Located on the tail end of the Great Dividing Range, it's an area that takes on a new lease on life when covered in snow.
Luckily for you, our Melbourne based Feldon Family member, Brook James has been kind enough to run us through his first high altitude adventure. If you've always wanted to do the same, then don't miss Brook's story (there's some top tips scattered throughout that you won't want to miss). Enjoy!
A keen group of have been itching to camp out in the snow... and to be fair it was probably after seeing a few shots from the Feldon crew in NZ doing the same thing that really sparked the hype. We knew it could be tricky as it isn't as easy to get amazing snow like back home in NZ. So, we started to keep an eye on the weather and try and lock a weekend which just might line up to go play in the snow.
After initially trying “snow camp 1.0” at the start of the season, we were unsuccessful with finding any snow. However a missed opportunity opens doors for more opportunity and we made the most of a great camp. It was here we decided to wait until later in the winter season for a weekend window to arise.
Jump a month or two later and together with Josh (in the defender) we headed on a day trip to scout to the area. This was the weekend before our planned trip, but to our surprise we found a HEAP of snow on a trail we were told about through a friend (it's always good to get the down from mates or locals that have spent a fair amount of time in the high country and are no stranger to a bit of snow 4wding).
We came across snow early in the day and had a super fun Saturday day trip playing our route and getting a feel for the place. The best part is we already had a couple of potential spots locked in for the next weekend were we could set up camp.
TIP #1 - PACK THE RIGHT GEAR
WARM clothes, Brit and myself were pretty toasty with merino thermals top-to-toe and wool jumpers and jackets. Our mates found it pretty icy in just t-shirts and hoodies. Thermals are a must, along with beanies and waterproof gloves. Your hands will love you for it by not freezing when packing down the next morning. To top it off, a pair of good boots are key, my Blundstones weren’t great as snow gets in down the side and around the ankles. Purpose made, lace up waterproof boots are the go.
Make sure you take some warm bedding (a decent sleeping bag), wool blankets and then just the usual camp suspects - camp chairs, plenty of food, water, beer, wood etc..
The next weekend the weather charts were calling for a good dumping of snow and thus “snow camp 2.0” was born (at least that's what we called in on our private Facebook group). We arrived at our first camp late on the Friday night after work and setup camp with a fire and sunk a few beers, the scouting from the weekend before had already paid off.
The following morning we packed up camp and set out out to some tracks we were keen to tackle. Initially there was not as much snow as we had hoped for, but after heading deeper, it didn’t take long before we were driving through fresh powder.
TIP #2 - LOOK FOR WEATHER PATTERNS
We kept an eye on several local weather reports for the area we planned on heading to. There are a couple of handy facebook pages too, one called “Victoria 4wd snow hunters” which was pretty helpful too for keeping an eye on snow as people post up where the snow is. All in all, make sure there has been snow there recently and it hasn’t been warm for too long, warm temperatures combo'd with rain is your enemy!
It was so much bloody fun sending it in the snow in the trucks! We spent the day on the trails having a blast and found a great little secluded spot off the track which we claimed as ours for the night. Much like the previous night we unfolded camp, got the fire going and sunk some more beers, this time however we were surrounded in white... which was super rad.
TIP #3 - IT PAYS TO PREP YOUR VEHICLE
The level of preparation depends on our vehicle and is up to you really.. I would recommend obviously a decent 4wd for snow trips, and at the very least a chunky all terrain tyre. I was the only one on this trip that was on all terrains and I had to be recovered a few times from my mates (both were on a more aggressive mud tyre). Generally though I was surprised that the all terrains went better than I had expected. Lower the pressures down and you should be fine.
Ideally go out with either a winch or make sure someone in your crew has one just in case. Have your own recovery gear too on board at all times (shackles, snatch strap, Maxtrax etc.). A UHF radio is key for communicating between your convoy. Take extra fuel / water / oil etc. and any parts your particular vehicle likes to break, just in case.
The next morning would have to be one of my favourites while out camping in the 4wd. It snowed all through the night and we woke up to a blanket of fresh powder over the camp site and on the trucks. I opened up the window of the Crow's Nest and to my surprise it started dumping again. It was such an epic thing to witness while warm in bed inside the Crow's Nest.
TIP #4 - WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A CAMP SPOT
Like I mentioned earlier, we went out the weekend before scoping out potential spots to camp. We tried to find something off the main tracks but not too far just in case we were snowed in (worst case we could still be recovered from the main road). The spot we found was nice and sheltered, it was almost down in a little cove. Make sure you have wood near or bring enough as the fire will get you through the cold night and morning.
We smashed out some breakfast and got on with the day, which was mostly just 4wd tracks again until we hit the main road and began out lazy cruise back to Melbourne. 10/10 weekend!
Pumped for the next one! There is not a heap of snow around, but if you keep your eye on the weather charts, you might just get lucky!
Photos & Words by the talented Brook James, check out Brooks adventures here & for his other journeys in a Crow's Nest in our handbook here.