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Howqua Hills / Sheepyard Flats camping area


  • once a gold mining area in the late 1800's, now a large and very popular free camping area on the Howqua River
  • There are nine flats on the banks of the Howqua River available for camping. These include Blackbird, Fry's, Sheepyard North and South, Davon's, Pickerings, Noonan's and Tunnel Bend Flat.
  • no mobile phone access
  • drop toilets only but they are generally well maintained and in peak periods are maintained daily
  • dogs only on a leash
  • BYO drinking water, toilet paper and firewood
  • can collect fallen wood and use chainsaws
  • hunting of deer with firearms in the area (not in campgrounds obviously!) is permitted for culling purposes
  • Take your rubbish home
  • 446m elevation - nights will generally be cool to cold as it is inland
    • nearby Mansfield is 316m elevation and thus Mansfield is usually 1-3degC warmer if you are checking weather forecasts but to offset this, most of the camps are quite protected from the wind
  • gravel access road is quite windy and care is needed as oncoming caravans are common
  • black snakes are common in and near the river
    • nearest hospital with antivenom is Wangaratta almost 2hrs away - make sure you have your crepe bandages with you!
  • check for road closures
  • avoid periods of very heavy rain and flooding or road damage risk, or very hot weather conditions which may risk bushfires - only one way out!
    • the clay roads in the areas beyond sheepyard flats become very slippery after rain - may not be suitable for 2WDs, especially the steep descent to Mitchell’s Hut near the old mine site
  • wild dogs frequent camp site after dark and are not scared of people but don't seem to cause harm but can harass other dogs!
  • it is VERY BUSY and can be crowded in peak periods such as Easter even though there are a LOT of sites spread across a large area all with fairly close access to the river


  • streamside camping, swimming and trout fishing
    • river is fast running but generally only knee high around Sheepyard flats
  • Historic Walk from Sheepyard Flat to Fry’s Hut (~10km return from Tunnel Bend to Fry's Hut)
  • visit the historic huts:
    • Fry's Hut
    • Noonan's Hut
    • Pickering's Hut
    • Upper Jamieson Hut
    • Ritchie's Hut
  • at Tunnel Bend campsite, explore the Tunnel, a 100-metre tunnel built in 1884
    • it served as a link between the Howqua River and the 4 km water race to the 'Hanney' water wheel, located at the processing works along the Heritage Trail
  • 4WD into the Howqua Hills
    • easy 2WD (dry weather) or AWD/4WD to Bluff's Hut where one could camp overnight next to the hut and/or walk to the peak of the Bluff for panoramic views (or part way for part views)
    • past Bluff's Hut requires serious 4WD vehicles and experienced driving but you are rewarded with:
      • great views at Picture View Lookout
      • access to various bush camp sites amongst snow gums and at Lovick's Hut
      • then if road is not closed (ie. not during winter closure) you can even drive to Licola!
  • overnight bushwalking to Bluff Hutt and beyond for the more adventurous and fit
  • horse riding (BYO horse)
  • nature:
    • king parrots, cockatoos
  • hikes:
    • Eagle's Peak views either from:
      • Davon's Flat 22km return
      • junction (Brock's Rd/Bluff Link Rd/Eagles Peak Track junctions) - 7km return, or 4km return from 8 Mile Gap on Eagles Peak Track
    • Bluff Hutt and The Bluff hikes - see bushwalks in Victoria's Mt Howitt region
    • Ritchies Hut from 8 Mile Flat - 12km return

Getting there

  • 3hr drive from NW suburbs via Mansfield and either via Hume and Broadford, or via Whittlesea and Flowerdale or, via Yarra Glen
    • includes 25-30min 17km winding gravel road to Sheepyard Flats along the Howqua Track from Mt Buller Rd turn off
    • you lose mobile phone reception within 3km of leaving the bitumen
      • you can get Telstra 4G mobile at elevated sites such as further than the 6min drive mark past the 8 mile camp at the sharp U bends ascending the hills (thus this also includes access at Bluff Hut and Lovick's Hut)

Nearby attractions and towns

  • 30min to Merrijig for hotel lunches and dinners when open (can be booked out in peak periods such as Easter Sunday lunches)
  • 44min, 37km to Mansfield, the nearest main town
    • Easter Art Show
  • 1hr, 43km to top of Mt Buller (in summer)
  • 1hr, 37km to Telephone Box Junction, Mt Stirling
  • 1.5hrs, 55km from walking track access to Craig's Hut on the Circuit Road
    • then 45min walk up to the hut or 4WD track
  • 1.5hrs to Yea (approx. half way to Melbourne)
  • 1hr 48 to Candlebark camp ground, Lake Eildon

The High Track

  • the High Track runs above and parallel to Brock's Road and provides access to many of the flats along the Howqua River.
  • This spectacular track continues all the way into the Alpine National Park and provides great views of the Howqua River and the surrounding landscape.
  • Hike the whole track or complete shorter sections.

Camp grounds

for horses

  • horse riding season: 1 November - 31 May inclusive
  • Tunnel Bend Flat
  • Fry's Hut
  • For the more adventurist there are horse yards at 7 Mile Flat and Pikes Flat on the Howqua River and King Hut on the King River.
  • The Howqua Hills Heritage Track between Sheepyard Flat and Fry's Flat is for walkers only.There is a horse route for accessing Fry's Flat which crossed to the west side of the river and passes in front of the houses.
  • There is a horse route to and from Tunnel Bend and Sheepyard Flat that utilises the High Track please use this where possible rather than riding through camping areas. This starts at the south end of Sheepyard Flat near the toilet and above Brocks Road at Tunnel Bend.

general camping

east along Brock's Rd

  • Davon's Flat
    • 0.5km
    • long drop toilet
  • Pickerings Flat
    • 1.2km
    • long drop toilet
  • Noonan's Flat
    • 1.7km
    • long drop toilet
  • Tunnel Bend Flat via Noonan's Flat Track
    • 2.2km
    • long drop toilet near the horse yards a quarter the way down on the right
  • adjacent Alpine National Park 3.7km
    • dogs are NOT allowed
    • 7 mile camp site
    • 8 mile Flat
    • road eventually takes you to Mt Howitt car park via Bluff Track to Bluff Hutt, Lovick's Hut, or by staying on Bluff Link Rd to Upper Howqua camp ground and Mt Stirling Circuit Rd or turn south to Refrigerator Gap
      • Bluff Hut camping
        • 1490m elevation;
        • optional overnight camp next to it (very small site)
        • walk from Bluff Hut to Bluff Peak at 1700m elevation (2hrs one way) or can do a shorter walk up Mt Eady (1640m elevation) for part views
        • drive to Bluff Hut via Brock's Rd is “48min, 21.3km past 8 mile camp ground - 2WD (dry weather) and AWD/4WD good gravel road access
        • drive to Bluff Hut via track on Google which is unnamed is “31min, 14.2km” past 8 mile camp ground but this requires 4WD?
      • past Bluff Hut is 4WD ONLY and a short distance past this there is a gate to close access for winter months
        • there are a number of bush camps including amongst snow gums as well as at Lovick's Hut etc
        • Picnic View Lookout (1640m elevation), Lovick's Hut (1470m elevation), Picture Point (1560m elevation), King Billy Tree (1640m elevation), King Billy Nos 1 and 2 (1700m elevation), and back onto Brock's Rd aka King Billy Track eastwards of this junction
      • Ritchie's Hut camping
        • 660m elevation
        • originally built by local craftsman Fred Fry, the hut was a genuine Heritage slab construction, built as a fishing hut for the Ritchie family of Mansfield.
        • construction of the new hut, located on the same site as the old one, utilised recycled materials and original building techniques wherever possible.
        • Ritchie's Hut is a six kilometre trek from the Eight Mile Flat camping area off Brocks Road, which is accessed from Sheepyard Flat via the Howqua Track from Merrijig.
        • not accessible by cars
      • Lovick's Hut camping
        • located between Mt Lovick and King Billy 1, Lovick's Hut is one of the original mountain cattlemen's huts, built in 1960 by Jack Lovick and used for many years by the Lovick family as a base for horse trail rides.
        • rebuilt in 2014-2015, the hut is in a secluded and picturesque area offering a grassy camping spot surrounded by snowgums with access to adjacent horse yards.
        • Hikers can access the hut from the east from the direction of Mt Howitt, while horseriders and 4WD vehicles can head over from Bluff Hut.
        • moderately large area for camping accessible by 4WDs or hikers
    • turn west near this junction to go on the Eagles Peak Track which loops back to Brock's Rd at Davon's Flat

South-west along Brock's Rd

  • Fry's Hut
    • 2.4km
    • large grassed relatively flat area for camping or ball sports
    • nearby stream and some lovely poplars at the south end
    • walk trail to Sheepyard Flat South along the river ~ 45min fairly easy walk
  • Tobacco Flat
  • Pikes Flat

Nearby campgrounds

  • Mt Samaria area north of Mansfield:
    • Blue Range Camping and Picnic Area
      • offers a small, basic camp site on Blue Range Creek.
      • Toilet facilities are across the road in the picnic area.
    • Stringybark Creek Camping Area Tolmie
      • north of Mt Samaria
      • free camping area located in the Toombullup State Forest near Tolmie, northeast of Mansfield.
      • site links by a walking track to the Stringybark Creek Day Reserve, site of the infamous shooting of three policemen by the Kelly Gang in 1878, and part of the Ned Kelly Touring Route.
      • large expansive sites in a natural bushland setting. Pit toilets, fireplaces and picnic tables available.
      • operates on a first in first served basis and is not bookable.
  • north of Mt Buller Rd:
    • Carter's Mill Picnic Area and nearby camp ground
    • Buttercup campground
      • ~630m elevation;
      • “The tumbling water in Buttercup Creek provides a peaceful background sound within these small, shady sites.”
      • 2WD access in dry weather is via Carter’s Road off the Mt Buller Road and reaches camp 4 first (all are on the right side as you travel west)
      • 4WD can use Buttercup Road to access the campsites, involving two creek crossings.
      • Buttercup 4 camp:
        • toilets; small camp but ample room for small camper trailers and campervans; surrounding Peppermint, Swamp Gum, Candlebark, Manna Gum and Stringybark provided nicely shaded camping spots
      • Buttercup 3 camp:
        • toilets; swimming; accessible to camper trailers;
      • Buttercup 2 camp:
        • toilets; swimming;
    • Mt Stirling / Craig's Hut
  • Running Creek Camping Reserve on Lower Howqua River near Howqua
    • Located on the Howqua River and accessed via Howqua River Road, Running Creek is popular with anglers, paddlers and campers.
    • There are two walking tracks that start here and end at Tobacco Flat, approximately 12 kms upstream.
    • The Howqua River Walk follows the river flats with nearly 40 river crossings, while the Lower Howqua Feeder traverses the higher country.
  • Delatite Arm, Lake Eildon
  • Jamieson River
  • Goulburn River
  • Tolmie Recreation Reserve
    • 54min from Sheepyard flats;
australia/vic/sheepyardflats.txt · Last modified: 2024/02/29 12:37 by gary1

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