Grant-Crooked River Drive
Best time: Summer or autumn (one-two days)
Grade: Easy to medium
Follow the trail of the gold rush diggers who travelled through this remote mountain region over 150 years ago. Towns sprung up and died off, but relics remain to explored by adventurous four-wheel drivers.
The route: Stock up and start out in Dargo, a timeless former timber milling town set in a picturesque valley noted for its huge, historic walnut trees. Climb straight up into the Dargo High Plains, turning off towards Grant near the top of the climb and following McMillans Track, an easy four-wheel drive track, past Grant Cemetery and detour right into the ghost town of Grant. Take a walk to some of mines, trace the outline of some old streets and learn about life in this rough frontier town, once home to around 3000 people .
Further on you'll encounter another forgotten cemetery and reach a breathtaking expanse of river flats – once known as Talbotville and now another Crooked River ghost town. Pitch a tent or tuck into a picnic and explore the nearby mines and abandoned towns upstream.
Your next stage includes several river crossings and leads to Kingwell Bridge, a romantic old timber-trussed structure that stands out in a river valley that seems to wind on forever. Wind south past Black Snake Creek towards Waterford, where your tour comes to an end. You can refuel and stock up on provisions here.