S 37° 44' 30.58”
E 149° 29' 50.98”
Nestled in the far Southeastern corner of the state of Victoria, the UNESCO listed Croajingolong National Park is a stunning slice of remote coastal Australia, packed with gum trees, rainforest and deserted beaches. The park contains hundreds of miles of 4x4 tracks waiting to be explored, and is virtually deserted. During the four days I spent exploring the park top to bottom, I only saw a total of three other vehicles.
Starting on Wingham Road we follow a river of the same name to it’s mouth at a stunning white-sand beach, hardly able to believe our eyes. Simply to look around we poke down an endless series of small gravel tracks, never certain what will be around the next bend.
This entire region of the country was severely burned in the immense bushfires of late 2019 and early 2020, called a once in 100 year event. Over 20,000 square miles was burned during those horrendous fires, which is an area roughly the size of Indiana, and more than 80 times larger than the wildfires in California in 2019.
The fires caused immense devastation, though I’m happy to see the forest is quickly bouncing back. While all the trees are scorched black, they almost all have a thick covering of new green leaves, and the underbrush is a wash of colorful flowers and packed with insect life.
Sadly so many Koalas were killed in the fires they have been pushed almost to endangered status, though I was happy to see birds have returned in great numbers, and I also spotted plenty of Kangaroos, Wallabies (smaller cousins of Kangaroos) and even a good sized Goanna - an enormous native Australian lizard. I also saw a snake crossing the road, though he was moving too fast to identify, and I personally don’t take the Steve Irwin approach when it comes to snakes and spiders. I’d much rather leave them be.
A huge thunderstorm swept through the park during my stay, which provided the perfect chance to try out my wet weather camping setup, which I’m happy to report held up well to the torrential rains that didn’t let up for three days.
Trying to leave the park I found an endless series of mud pits and water crossings, which provided the perfect opportunity to test the Geolander X-AT tires in deep mud and water. Again the tires performed flawlessly, providing confidence-inspiring grip on gravel, soft sand and the slick clay-like mud puddles that grew while I sheltered from the storm.
I’m bursting with excitement to be out exploring new regions of Australia, and can’t wait for the deserts I have in my sights.