One of the biggest challenges for every 4WD club is, to find new exciting trips within reasonable travel distance. So when the Mt. Clara trip was announced at a club meeting there was general excitement and anticipation for something new that was actually quite old. When scanning some old documents David found a trip report from the 80-ies with the promising name of Black Snake Gully. Helen and David quickly organised a reconnaissance trip and planned an official trip. So on the 13th 9 cars gathered for a 21st century try out.
Our meet up point was just outside Widgee and with 9 cars coming from all wind directions it was great to see everyone ready at the meeting point. After a quick debrief by Helen and David and air down, we headed for our destination of the day. From our meeting point a dirt road took us into the Mt Clara / Black Snake area. The promising road sign “unmaintained road” is what every 4wder likes to see!
The track became progressively steep and difficult with ruts and washouts but still very manageable with the right wheel placement and throttle control. None of the cars had any difficulties getting through and only at a few tricky obstacles we needed spotters. A bit of rain would have made the track impassable but the dry conditions made it a fun, scenic and challenging track.
As we drove into a narrow track with no options to turn, it was close to lunch time. We decided to stop on the track for lunch as chances of other cars in the area were very slim. You can guess where this is heading … by the time everyone was having their first bite and Craig had fired up the bbq we were confronted with a fellow 4wd group coming from the opposite direction. We packed up a bit quicker than anticipated and continued our way to the Mt. Clara smelter. This meant the track headed down into the valley with some steeper section to practise engine braking and wheel placement to avoid rutts.
The Mt Clare smelter and chimney is a relic of the mining years when there was a short lived tin and copper mine. The smelter chimney has been restored and is a great reminder of the early settlement days. By this time most of the group was ready to retire to the campgrounds at Kilkivan Bush Camping, while a small group decided to explore a track leaving from the smelter. Initially this ended at a private property but another side track led to a ridge with beautiful vistas and a promising loop track that would challenge some of the more capable cars. Because this could be a 20 minute or become a 2 hour loop, we decided to map the locating and leave it for a revisit.
It was my first visit to Kilkivan Bush Camping and I was really impressed by the site. There are nice grassy and flat sites and the camping is run by a friendly couple happy to provide information about the area. In the afternoon Terri and Lyle joined for the bush camping experience. Most of the group headed of for the camp oven diner provided by the campsite and the rest stayed at the campfire for drinks and dinner. When everyone regrouped, it was time for Helen to bring out a fun (family friendly) party game. The game involves stockings and glow sticks and is best played after some alcoholic beverages. I am pretty sure it is now part of the trip bag and if you want to know more, you will have to join an overnight trip .
The next morning everyone packed up and made their own way home or joined one of 2 groups trying to navigate the back roads and tracks through the area. We joined the 2 jeeps for a quick dash to the swimming hole at the Amamoor campsite and Helen lead a party through the ranges. We actually caught up at the campsite which just proves there are many more scenic drives to explore in this area.
I am pretty sure this area will be on a trip sheet in the near future as it is great touring with sections that will test your 4WD skills! Thanks to Helen, David and Colin for exploring the area and mapping out a great new weekend destination.