Time: 2hr 36min
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. 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.
Stock up and start out in glorious Dargo, a timeless timber milling town set in a picturesque valley. Climb straight up into the Dargo High Plains, turning off towards Grant near the top and follow McMillan's Track, which is an easy 4wd track. This drive takes you past Grant Cemetery, where you can detour to the right and head into the ghost town of Grant.
1864 and 1865 are the great boom years of the district, alluvial gold had been discovered along the rivers as early as 1850. Quartz (reef) gold was discovered in the Crooked River area. By the end of 1865, there were fifteen hotels, a church, courthouse, police station and lockup, medical hall, numerous stores and a newspaper office publishing once a week – the Crooked River Chronicle. The population grew to just on 2000.
The mining industry boomed through the later half of the 1860s. Eight crushing mills driven by steam or water were erected, tramways built and 250 reefs were registered. But only ten years later most of the gold was gone and the town was largely deserted. By 1902 there were only six families, the last residents leaving in 1916.
Talbotville was another of Gippsland's small gold mining towns that sprang to life when gold was found in the Crooked River in 1860 but vanished when the gold ran out. About all that remains visible of the township are a few stonewalls and the old gold mines in the area.
You can pitch a tent, or enjoy a picnic and explore nearby mines and abandoned towns through the area.
Your next stage includes several river crossings and leads you to Kingwell Bridge, a beautiful 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.