Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

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Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby yourhikingbuddy » Thu 23 Dec, 2021 10:37 am

Hi guys, can someone who have recently been up Howitt Rd via Licola / Tamboritha Rd let me know if its ok to drive the 58km or so unsealed road with a 2WD? Looking to do the Viking Circuit in a few days parking our cars at Howitt Rd Carpark.

I checked the Alpine National Park site and they recommend 4WD or AWD, but just wondering if the road is good enough for a 2WD. Cheers
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby Hisham » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 2:22 pm

I haven't been up but recently asked on this forum whether that road all the way up to Jamieson was 2wd friendly and the answer was a yes, noting it'd be rocky and bumpy.

For others who have been up recently and want to answer the OP's question, can you also advise how long it takes from Licola. I'm planning to do same on Monday, and wondering whether to do the long drive from Northern suburbs or perhaps go to upper Howqua and start from there (would be a tougher start to the walk, but quicker - just not sure by how much).
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby Hisham » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 2:33 pm

I actually asked the question about the Licola - Jamieson road on a facebook forum not on this forum. This was one of the answers, bearing in mind my q was for the whole road. I am guessing the road to viking trailhead would be in relatively good condition but wouldn't know: "If you can let your tyres down a bit - as can have sharp large stones. We travelled across about 10 months ago and loved it (4WD, but I'd recon 2WD could do it ... we took is slow because of the sharp stones... and the views too )"
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby yourhikingbuddy » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 4:08 pm

Hisham wrote:I haven't been up but recently asked on this forum whether that road all the way up to Jamieson was 2wd friendly and the answer was a yes, noting it'd be rocky and bumpy.

For others who have been up recently and want to answer the OP's question, can you also advise how long it takes from Licola. I'm planning to do same on Monday, and wondering whether to do the long drive from Northern suburbs or perhaps go to upper Howqua and start from there (would be a tougher start to the walk, but quicker - just not sure by how much).


hey mate, you driving up HowittRd on Monday on 2WD ? I've checked weather there, it looks to be quite good last few days and over the next week so I'm quite optimistic should be ok.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 8:52 pm

I am driving up to Mac . Springs on Monday in my AWD SUV with A/T tyres. I have been alerted to the condition of the Howitt road. It would seem contractors are grading the road as they do each summer. It will be dusty and rough . I have driven up there over the years past in a 2WD but a RAV 4 , Subaru or a real 4 x 4 is best way to travel out there and to the points of interest on the Moroka road too.
I will trek over the Cross cut saw and back while the good weather window is there.
The wet weather looks like it will return around the first of Jan. .
If you are travelling back from Licola and Traralgon then consider that the Monash freeway will be reduced to one lane because of road works!!.
:-0

I am avoiding that and driving back over Mt. Skene and via Jamieson and Yea.The Licola shop and petrol pump is closed on Tuesdays. I would not take a 2WD with street tyres over Mt. Skene. That is a bad idea!.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 9:01 pm

The ascent from The Upper Howqua camp site up the Howqua track is relentless and adds more taxation of energy reserves to your plans. If you are looking at trekking the Viking circuit then start high and come in from Licola.
I got an email from the ranger at Heyfield.
He said "no go for 2WD on the Howitt road "

. I would say that is a mixture of good advice and backside covering.
The road at the Wellington River bridge has had a 4WD/ AWD only sign up there since I was last in the area in March 2021. The Licola to Jamieson road is ROUGH once you hit Mt. Skene. It would be very slow going in a street sedan with highway tyres. I could not imagine it would be comfortable travelling that way.
The sign at Mt. Sunday road junction says the next >>>>> ........<<<<<< kms. are for 4 WD drive only. I have driven it twice in my RAV 4 with A/ T tyres and it was still very bumpy with big stones to look out for. If the weather is clear then it is a very scenic drive and there are some picnic tables along the way for a road trip lunch stop. Carry extra water just in case.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby yourhikingbuddy » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 9:44 pm

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:The ascent from The Upper Howqua camp site up the Howqua track is relentless and adds more taxation of energy reserves to your plans. If you are looking at trekking the Viking circuit then start high and come in from Licola.
I got an email from the ranger at Heyfield.
He said "no go for 2WD on the Howitt road "

. I would say that is a mixture of good advice and backside covering.
The road at the Wellington River bridge has had a 4WD/ AWD only sign up there since I was last in the area in March 2021. The Licola to Jamieson road is ROUGH once you hit Mt. Skene. It would be very slow going in a street sedan with highway tyres. I could not imagine it would be comfortable travelling that way.
The sign at Mt. Sunday road junction says the next >>>>> ........<<<<<< kms. are for 4 WD drive only. I have driven it twice in my RAV 4 with A/ T tyres and it was still very bumpy with big stones to look out for. If the weather is clear then it is a very scenic drive and there are some picnic tables along the way for a road trip lunch stop. Carry extra water just in case.


Thanks this help, so I guess no go for Viking Circuit for 2WD (was looking at 27th of Dec - 30th of Dec, so will avoid wet weather)? Any other multiday hike recommend for someone with a 2WD up around that area that is pretty remote? lol.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby Baeng72 » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 9:58 pm

yourhikingbuddy wrote:Thanks this help, so I guess no go for Viking Circuit for 2WD (was looking at 27th of Dec - 30th of Dec, so will avoid wet weather)? Any other multiday hike recommend for someone with a 2WD up around that area that is pretty remote? lol.

Maybe come in from Upper Howqua campsite.
It's 2WD accessible. There's extra hours to get to the Crosscut and then on the way out, but you have to drive extra hours to get to Howitt Carpark.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby yourhikingbuddy » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 10:26 pm

Baeng72 wrote:
yourhikingbuddy wrote:Thanks this help, so I guess no go for Viking Circuit for 2WD (was looking at 27th of Dec - 30th of Dec, so will avoid wet weather)? Any other multiday hike recommend for someone with a 2WD up around that area that is pretty remote? lol.

Maybe come in from Upper Howqua campsite.
It's 2WD accessible. There's extra hours to get to the Crosscut and then on the way out, but you have to drive extra hours to get to Howitt Carpark.


Thanks baeng,

So just confirming this route is 2WD friendly? https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Heyfiel ... 173439!3e0

or via Mount Bueller & Circuit Rd?
Last edited by yourhikingbuddy on Fri 24 Dec, 2021 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby yourhikingbuddy » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 10:28 pm

yourhikingbuddy wrote:
Baeng72 wrote:
yourhikingbuddy wrote:Thanks this help, so I guess no go for Viking Circuit for 2WD (was looking at 27th of Dec - 30th of Dec, so will avoid wet weather)? Any other multiday hike recommend for someone with a 2WD up around that area that is pretty remote? lol.

Maybe come in from Upper Howqua campsite.
It's 2WD accessible. There's extra hours to get to the Crosscut and then on the way out, but you have to drive extra hours to get to Howitt Carpark.


Thanks baeng,

So just confirming this route is 2WD friendly? https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Heyfiel ... 173439!3e0


or via Mount Bueller & Circuit Rd?
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby CraigVIC » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 10:41 pm

Bulla + circuit is definitely 2wd. Take the bindaree falls/bindaree rd turn off.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby yourhikingbuddy » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 10:43 pm

CraigVIC wrote:Bulla + circuit is definitely 2wd. Take the bindaree falls/bindaree rd turn off.


great thanks. wil probably start from upper howqua to do viking circuit instead of dirving up howitt hut.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby Baeng72 » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 10:47 pm

Apologies. Very Melbourne centric of me! I meant drive to Mansfield from Melbourne, head toward Buller, turn left at Mirimbah, take circuit road right fork at Tele junction, left at Howqua gap, right onto Bindatee track, past falls, etc. (or drive up to Buller take corn hill gap? Road till it joins circuit road at howqua gap and onto bindaree track). if you’re coming from Gippsland, that’s a different story.
I drove 2wD to upper howqua a month ago without issue. Looking to do it again next week. Head up howitt spur track, unless you want extra suffering via helicopter or Stanley Name Spurs.
Last edited by Baeng72 on Sat 25 Dec, 2021 5:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby CraigVIC » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 11:21 pm

yourhikingbuddy wrote:
CraigVIC wrote:Bulla + circuit is definitely 2wd. Take the bindaree falls/bindaree rd turn off.


great thanks. wil probably start from upper howqua to do viking circuit instead of dirving up howitt hut.


I haven't done the Viking circuit but I think you will need to add an extra days walking to get to Howitt compared to coming from macalister
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby Hisham » Sat 25 Dec, 2021 8:36 am

yourhikingbuddy wrote:
Baeng72 wrote:
yourhikingbuddy wrote:Thanks this help, so I guess no go for Viking Circuit for 2WD (was looking at 27th of Dec - 30th of Dec, so will avoid wet weather)? Any other multiday hike recommend for someone with a 2WD up around that area that is pretty remote? lol.

Maybe come in from Upper Howqua campsite.
It's 2WD accessible. There's extra hours to get to the Crosscut and then on the way out, but you have to drive extra hours to get to Howitt Carpark.


Thanks baeng,

So just confirming this route is 2WD friendly? https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Heyfiel ... 173439!3e0

or via Mount Bueller & Circuit Rd?


Would go via Mt Stirling, Telephone Box Junction, Circuit Rd, right on to Bindaree Rd. Well graded dirt roads.

The way in via Sheepyard flat and under the Bluff would take a while and I haven't done bluff link road beyond the Bluff hut turn off.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 25 Dec, 2021 5:40 pm

The upper Howqua camp site as an access point to The Cross cut saw via the Howitt spur is 100 % kosha for 2 WD.

Add an extra day to get up to The Cross cut saw and another day to get out back to the car/s.
Having a suitable vehicle for accessing starting points for bushwalking and back country ski touring makes a lot of sense. A RAV 4 or a Subaru with AWD and suitable All Terrain tyres with a chainsaw in the boot makes a huge difference if you are going to be doing this stuff until your knees cannot cope any longer.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby yourhikingbuddy » Sat 25 Dec, 2021 7:48 pm

thanks guys helps alot. Yes looking to get a decent AWD next march. will do the loop from upper howqua (have given ourselfs 4 days / 3 nights ( 5 days / 4 nights) if required.

cheers
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 25 Dec, 2021 9:49 pm

If you see me then say hi. I hike in knee high red gaiters and use red trekking poles and usually have an head net on my head to keep the bugs off my face.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 26 Dec, 2021 9:52 pm

We are currently advising that the Howitt, Tamboritha and Moroka Roads are suitable for 4WD and AWD vehicles with appropriate clearance and tyres due to variations in the surface from Bennison Lookout.

My advice would be to plan your trip around the weather and avoid driving on the road after significant rainfall as road surface conditions deteriorate pretty quick. There are a couple of boggy sections that require attention from the gate on.

Road maintenance works are planned when conditions allow, this could be some time yet.

If you have any further questions feel free to give me a call.



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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 31 Dec, 2021 6:54 pm

just came back from driving up and down the Howitt Rd. from Arbuckle junction to/ from the intersection with King Billy Track( just past The Howitt Plains car park ). Sections of it are definitely 4 x 4 / AWD with off road/All Terrain tyres stuff.
The deep pot holes and loose washed out sections are the worst I have seen it in my 10+ years of driving up there.
:-0.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby yourhikingbuddy » Tue 04 Jan, 2022 6:29 pm

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:just came back from driving up and down the Howitt Rd. from Arbuckle junction to/ from the intersection with King Billy Track( just past The Howitt Plains car park ). Sections of it are definitely 4 x 4 / AWD with off road/All Terrain tyres stuff.
The deep pot holes and loose washed out sections are the worst I have seen it in my 10+ years of driving up there.
:-0.


thanks, yes i end up driving to upper howqua campground instead and starting there instead!
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby badd0g » Tue 11 Jan, 2022 10:35 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:just came back from driving up and down the Howitt Rd. from Arbuckle junction to/ from the intersection with King Billy Track( just past The Howitt Plains car park ). Sections of it are definitely 4 x 4 / AWD with off road/All Terrain tyres stuff.
The deep pot holes and loose washed out sections are the worst I have seen it in my 10+ years of driving up there.
:-0.

Interesting to read your take on it. We have also just driven the road (8/1/22 in XV with AT tyres) and although there are numerous potholes - some large, we didn't come across any sections that were washed out or presented too much of an issue that I would say couldn't be driven around with careful navigation. This was also after a very large dump of rain the night prior. In fact, I thought that it was in pretty good nick compared to what I've seen in the past and while I wouldn't recommend taking a 2wd up there in any conditions - it would have been doable.
Edit: There is however a sign at the lookout just beyond the Tali Karng trailhead stating 4wd only.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Tue 11 Jan, 2022 1:17 pm

Obviously comparing the present Howitt road surface with a bona fide 4 WD track such as the No. 3 road from the Mt. No. 3 Refuge hut down to Carter's road is another ball game . Having driven my RAV 4 SUV down that track :-0
I can say in comparison The Howitt road was easy to drive on. Put it this way. I did not have to get out and walk the road to find the best line on the Howitt road in order to avoid getting into bother. Not once was that necessary.
The same can be said about the Keppel's hut track ascending from Lady Talbot Drive. Sections of that track required multiple attempts to reverse and then stunt drive in low gear to get up some of the worst deeply rutted washed out sections.
So while the Howitt road, the Dargo H.P. rd. and the Jamieson to Licola roads are not 2 WD street sedan roads at all they are not places where the driver of an SUV AWD with AT tyres is sorely tested to the limits of the their own abilities and the also that of the said vehicles.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby badd0g » Tue 11 Jan, 2022 4:44 pm

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:Obviously comparing the present Howitt road surface with a bona fide 4 WD track such as the No. 3 road from the Mt. No. 3 Refuge hut down to Carter's road is another ball game . Having driven my RAV 4 SUV down that track :-0
I can say in comparison The Howitt road was easy to drive on. Put it this way. I did not have to get out and walk the road to find the best line on the Howitt road in order to avoid getting into bother. Not once was that necessary.
The same can be said about the Keppel's hut track ascending from Lady Talbot Drive. Sections of that track required multiple attempts to reverse and then stunt drive in low gear to get up some of the worst deeply rutted washed out sections.
So while the Howitt road, the Dargo H.P. rd. and the Jamieson to Licola roads are not 2 WD street sedan roads at all they are not places where the driver of an SUV AWD with AT tyres is sorely tested to the limits of the their own abilities and the also that of the said vehicles.

I'm not debating any of that, I was referring to your assertion that it was the worst you've seen it. I've certainly seen it worse in the last 5 years - particularly just before it's been graded - and in those situations even an AWD would have been tested. In its current condition, I'd not hesitate to take an 2wd up there myself - but as noted, I'd not suggest anyone else do so based just on my experience. Some 2wds are quite capable provided the driver is also knowledgeable, skilled and aware of current conditions (and also willing to shake a few bits loose!), Unlike the driver of the Corolla we came across in May who had lost it on the poorly cambered section just before Arbuckle Junction in 20cm of snow and ended up down the embankment :shock:
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Tue 11 Jan, 2022 5:41 pm

My friend who no longer hikes with me , now that he is ensconced in domestic bliss , totally lost it in his sports car near MacFarlane Saddle on the Moroka road some 5 years ago as part of a Lake TK trip. He was going way too fast around gravel bends. As you say the driver's experience and abilities contribute quite a lot to the total equation. He rolled the car down an embankment and
he and his friend were lucky to be rescued by chance by some 4 x4 vehicle users who happened to be passing by and saw the tyre tracks going straight off the road and thought something was NQR.
:-0
They were taken to Sale hospital and the car was written off and towed out.
He now drives a proper 4 x 4 vehicle ( Toyota FJ cruiser? ) which AFAIK has never been taken out and put through its paces off the macadamized carriage ways. Perhaps
in his case he it is best if that does not eventuate. He already has been given more demerit points for speeding on the freeways than most people I know.

Snow and ice driving is a skill that is not tested in the P plate exam.
As a XC skier 20 cms of snow is totally Nordic skiable and as soon as I can find somewhere to park I will be skiing on it and not driving through it, if possible!
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby GBW » Tue 11 Jan, 2022 6:46 pm

badd0g wrote:I'm not debating any of that, I was referring to your assertion that it was the worst you've seen it. I've certainly seen it worse in the last 5 years - particularly just before it's been graded - and in those situations even an AWD would have been tested. In its current condition, I'd not hesitate to take an 2wd up there myself - but as noted, I'd not suggest anyone else do so based just on my experience. Some 2wds are quite capable provided the driver is also knowledgeable, skilled and aware of current conditions (and also willing to shake a few bits loose!), Unlike the driver of the Corolla we came across in May who had lost it on the poorly cambered section just before Arbuckle Junction in 20cm of snow and ended up down the embankment :shock:


I think that greatly depends on what type of 2wd as to whether it's suitable. Speaking to guys on a 4wd forum Howitt Rd is in the worst shape it's been in for a while and not recommended for 2wd. I mean you might get there but a bit of rain and you might not get home. That said I have driven it in a 2wd but not recently.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Tue 11 Jan, 2022 10:15 pm

Yes, I agree with you. In the wet a 2 WD street sedan would be in trouble on the Howitt road in its present state. Street tyres, low clearance and power to just two wheels without at very least a Limited Slip Differential would be a problem after 15 mm of rain up there.
I have said that I saw a low slung sports car at the Howitt Plains car park just after Xmas 2021. They made it up there but I was not sure they would make it out esp. if it rained.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limited-slip_differential
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby Xplora » Wed 12 Jan, 2022 6:06 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I have said that I saw a low slung sports car at the Howitt Plains car park just after Xmas 2021. They made it up there but I was not sure they would make it out esp. if it rained.


Evidence enough it can be done. It comes down to the individual and the risk he/she is prepared to take with their vehicle and how slow you want the trip to be. It is pointless arguing the merits either way.

paidal_chalne_vala wrote: As a XC skier 20 cms of snow is totally Nordic skiable and as soon as I can find somewhere to park I will be skiing on it and not driving through it, if possible!

I just call that white mud.
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby Tom43 » Tue 15 Mar, 2022 7:48 pm

Hi, just a bump for this thread - can anyone confirm the current conditions of the Howitt Road, perhaps someone who was there over the long weekend? I see there’s a bit more rain due the middle of this week too. If it helps, I have a AWD Volkswagen Passat Alltrack wagon. I’ve driven it previously in a AWD Subaru Outback wagon back in Jan 21 and coped ok, we just took it pretty easy, but the road may have been in better condition then.

As an aside, is there a simple way to find out what huts and campsites have drop toilets and rainwater tanks?!
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Re: Road Condition - Howitt Rd (Viking Circuit)

Postby icefest » Thu 17 Mar, 2022 6:30 pm

Tom43 wrote:As an aside, is there a simple way to find out what huts and campsites have drop toilets

Cant help with water but national toilet map has all most of the dunnies
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