Last week Our Global Adventure took another road trip, one which we think maybe the best we’ve ever done. In fact we’re so confident that this road trip will blow your mind, we are going to say it is one of the best in Australia, maybe even the world! We were road tripping in Victoria, but guess what? We are NOT talking about The Great Ocean Road. Yup this one is better! This unbelievable road trip, that no-one has ever heard of, is in the Snowy River Country in East Gippsland, and it is time to put it on your bucket list.
A little while ago, a local guy, Sam, told us about a really cool road trip that was worth a drive if we had time during our stay in southern New South Wales. He excitedly told us about tight bends, sheer drops and unbelievable scenery. So excited was he that we should do the trip, that he took out a map and traced the route for Simon, who needless to say, was immediately keen.
Last week it was my birthday, and now that we don’t have the need for any ‘stuff’ Simon and the kids were at a loss as to what present to buy me. So we decided that instead of buying me a gift, we should have an amazing experience together to mark the occasion. If Sam’s tales about the amazing road trip were true, then it seemed like just the time to experience the Snowy River road trip for ourselves.
This corner of Australia is drop dead gorgeous from East Gippsland in Victoria, through to the Sapphire Coast and Bega Valley in New South Wales. So, it doesn’t really matter where you start your loop of the Snowy River Country, you are in for a treat. We started at Bega, and made our way along the prettiest forest road from Candello to Bomballa before crossing the border into Victoria, just after a little town called Delegate. When we stopped at Bomballa for a coffee, the café owner asked where we were heading. We told him that we planned to take the McKillop Bridge route over the Snowy River, his eyes lit up, and he assured us that we were in for quite a treat!
If you are traveling from NSW, then after Delegate, what you’ll want to do, is get off the main Bonang Highway and on to Dellicknora Road. It is a dirt road, but quite fine for a 2WD vehicle. From here on, the scenery starts to get really interesting. The road follows the Deddick River, winding and bending it’s way along green pastures, mountain tops and forest roads. There was so much to stop and take in, and yet, the best is still to come!
Where the Dellicknora road comes to an end at Mckillop Road, head North West toward McKillop Bridge and get ready to have your heart in your mouth. As the single lane, dirt road winds it’s way toward the McKillop Bridge (which spans the Snowy River) there are plenty of stretches where there is a rock face on one side, and a sheer drop on the other down to the river below. There is often no room for another vehicle to pass without one backing up and passengers will need to remind the driver to “keep his eyes on the road!”
Travellers will cross where the Snowy River and Deddick River merge, on McKillop Bridge, the deck of which is 255 metres long. This historic bridge was built by the Country Roads Board in two stages between 1931-36. During which time its height was raised after the original bridge structure was washed away in record floods of January 1934, just before it’s official opening.
Whilst the McKillop Road would be suitable for a 2WD vehicle, there is also a small side trip down to the Little River Junction Camp that is most certainly for 4WD’s only. Heed the warning signs folks, or you will be stuck out there. A little further along is the Little River Gorge Lookout. Do not even consider driving past this. Rain, hail or shine, get out of your car and walk the 400m to this vertigo inducing platform perched 500m above the Little River. It is a must see! This lookout was so spectacular, it left us, kids and all, nearly speechless for the 20 minutes or so that we tentatively held on to the railing. Back in the car, and a little further along you will come to the Little River Falls, OK so it won’t blow your mind like the Gorge lookout, but it’s still worth a peek.
When McKillop Road ends you will find yourself coming to a junction with Snowy River Road heading north, and Gelantipy Road heading south. We took the southern option as our base for the night was to be Buchan where we planned to explore the famous limestone caves the following day. This road will take you through some of the highest, greenest farming pastures in Australia. East Gippsland is so stunning up here, that even the city girls might be tempted into marrying a farmer!
We had a cabin booked for the night in the Buchan Caves Reserve, (more about this fabulous spot in our next post) and then the following afternoon started looping back toward Bega. Our route took us down to Orbost, a quaint country town where the Snowy River runs through on it’s way to the coast, and then along to Cann River. I don’t know what it is about Cann River, it’s one of those blink and you miss it spots, but it’s just so pretty nestled in the surrounding forests that it’s worth a coffee stop. The Princes Highway leading into and out of Cann River is also a lovely drive.
Further north east, we made our way up the Princes Highway to Eden. This was our second time travelling through Eden, a gorgeous coastal village that the Grey Nomads flock to every year, (which is usually a good indication!) and both times we’ve said that we HAVE to return again when we have more time. Eden deserves a trip all of it’s own. But this time Eden was our last stop for a bite to eat before making our way back to Bega so it was onward and upward.
Our road trip along the top of the Snowy River Country took in many dirt roads, so be prepared to take your time and enjoy the scenery, this is not a trip to rush. When we travelled in early Spring the McKillop Road was fine for a 2WD (albeit a bit bumpy) but check with locals, or Victoria Parks Rangers in the area for the condition of the road before heading off. The road is NOT suitable for caravans and there are warning signs at both ends, so don’t even attempt it. The road is probably not suitable for passengers that suffer vertigo or are nervous travellers either, but if they can brave it, they’re in for an unforgettable experience! We were lucky enough not to pass another car on the road, but in the high season there might be a little more traffic to contend with.
The McKillop Road over the top of the Snowy River National Park is one of Australia’s best kept secrets, add it to your must-see list before the word gets out 😉