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Tough country.

Looking for an adventure in Gippsland? Look no further! This list of Gippsland-based trails was compiled with the help of Rob Preston, Australia's most successful and top-ranked racer on the Adventure Racing World Series.

Feb 3, 2023


Words: Gippslandia
Images: Rob Preston

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Straight up, here’s a full disclaimer: the following collection of Gippsland-based trails was compiled with Rob Preston, who happens to be Australia's most successful and top ranked racer on the Adventure Racing World Series.

Rob has a reputation as one of the world’s best navigators too. He and his wife, Kathryn (a phenomenal athlete and racer herself), are the team behind the Explore Gippsland Adventure Races and Thought Sports, a business that utilises their expertise in navigation-based adventure racing via events, training and gear.

Rob viewed the following itineraries as mostly single training day routes. This may not be the case for everyone. He also highlighted that whenever we head out into Gippsland’s bush, rivers and ocean, we need to check the weather, track conditions and water accessibility. Always pack accordingly and inform others of where you’re heading.

PSA over – let’s get into the good stuff!

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Packrafting the Mitchell River from Angusvale to Final Fling and then trekking back via the Mitchell River trail.

Rob mentioned that they paddled the Mitchell twice over the past weekend, eager to capitalise on the great water levels. There are good rapids in this section, but you may need to check the track conditions. Rob plans a loop to avoid annoying car shuffles from the top or bottom of the route. This loop highlights just how lucky Gippsland is to have access to amazing, unique rivers that are in close proximity to each other.

Riding the old Moroka Road from Briagolong to Old Moroka Hut, The Pinnacle and back via Marathon Road.

Moroka Road is an amazing old route that’s well-engineered with good gradients for riding, whereas the modern Marathon Road is much more undulating with some substantial elevation changes. This is a spectacular, but tough, trip. A few years ago, bushfires in the Walhalla region came right up to the roadside, which still makes for amazing viewing opportunities.

Riding around Thomson Dam; big hills and great history in visiting ghost towns like Jericho and Red Jacket.

There’s a lot of variety in this approximately 150km ride. You can start at the back of the dam or seize the opportunity to see more water heading over the spillway and begin there. Then you’ll pass through sections of forestry, but also stunning mountain ash forests, as well as the old towns. There are good gravel sections, and Rob recommends stopping to read the signs that highlight the history of the area – you’ll gain an appreciation of the difficulties faced by early settlers.

Kayaking from Mallacoota around Gabo Island and back.

The Mallacoota area provides a plethora of different paddling options: river, estuaries and open ocean adventures. The weather doesn’t allow many opportunities to circumnavigate the island, but if you crack a dead calm day, you could see whales, dolphins and immense seal colonies. The ocean here can get very rough, and you need to be aware of the strong currents, but the views of both the mountains and sand dunes are stunning.

Running to the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse from Tidal River via Oberon Bay, and back via Sealers Cove.

This is a popular two-to-three-day hike, but Rob’s keen to push you a little further or add in tweaks, such as paddling to Oberon Bay and departing from there. If you’re feeling strong, you can boot over to Telegraph Saddle or even run up Mt Oberon too. Definitely check trail conditions before setting off and pack sufficient water; as Rob says, “The Prom always feels warmer than the forecast predicts.” Rob doesn’t hesitate in calling this one of the best runs in the world, and he’s run a few!

McMillan Track, an approximately 220km hike/run from Omeo to Woods Point (I haven't done this but it's on my bucket list).

Kudos must be paid to the Ben Cruachan Walking Club for re-establishing this over 150-year-old route that was originally created to link three remote Gippsland/Alpine goldfields.

Jindivick adventurer Beau Miles ran it a few years ago, and the fastest known time for a self-supported traverse is about five days across the difficult terrain. The track has about 10,000m of elevation gain, which may be a conservative estimate.

You’ll run over Alpine Plains at about a 1500m elevation, as well as the catchments of the Thompson, Moroka and Mcalister Rivers, meaning this route is as beautiful as it is remote and challenging. Yes, it’s right in our backyard.

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To get more information on the 2023 Explore Gippsland Adventure Races, please visit exploregippsland.com.au.

Gippslandia - Issue No. 25

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