SUNSET COUNTRY – Victoria, Australia. Approx: 7 days
This is a four wheel drive trip: not too difficult but still challenging enough for all participants. There is much to see and experience plus there are ruins to make you think how hard people worked in this area just to eke out a living.
The entry point for this trip is via the small township of Rainbow in Western Victoria. There is fuel here as well as several shops so it makes sense to top up with everything you need. One heads west along the main street, taking in the murals on the various walls, until you reach the end. Turn left and then turn right over the railway line. Head along this well maintained sealed road for about 20 kms until you reach The Netting Fence track on your right. This track enters the scrubby mallee area with low sand dunes and stunted trees. You are now in Victoria’s Outback! No electricity, no water, no phone coverage – just peace and quiet. Along the way there are remains of windmills, deep, deep wells and other signs of earlier inhabitation. Much of the area was sub-divided into small holdings as Soldier Settlement farms after WW1. How many hard working returned soldiers went broke trying to make something of this poor country?
The sand dunes become larger and higher and some concentration is required. There are no services along this track – you take everything you will need. There are several excellent camping sites. Also there are more dunes to conquer and after about three days you arrive at a gravel road. Turn right and head north. Soon you will arrive at some small towns. Top up with fuel and buy a shower at the local camping ground. Head to the Pink Lakes area.
These are salt lakes and much salt was harvested for many years. The remains of the equipment used plus a mountain of salt that never made to to market. The lakes are pink due to an algae plant found in this area. The salt is very usable.
Find your way to Rocket Lake. You are now driving along an abandoned railway line heading towards the main Melbourne to Mildura railway. You will pass an area designed for shunting train trucks plus you will cross the Raak Plains which was a gypsum mining area. There is a huge hopper still full of gypsum still today but no railway to take it. Continue east and you arrive at a large dam covered by a low corrugated roof. Why? Because of the low rainfall this roof directs any water into the dam which was built in conjunction with the railways as a supply of water for the steam trains of the era.
This dam is still maintained but as a source of water for bush fires.
By now you are on the main road. Turn right for Melbourne or left for Mildura and head for home.
If you did your research before you left home you should have spent a very pleasant 6 – 7 days in probably the remotest area in Victoria yet only a few hours from several major towns. You would of had a driving experience not possible in non-desert areas. This is Australian desert. Don’t do the trip in summer as it is very remote and can be very hot.