Travel Risks

Snow driving (not skiing) is our specialty. Operating every winter since 1998 we are Gippsland’s “ice road truckers”….we love it! Our team of about ten drivers, seven 4WD vehicles, and two alpine buses are able to make your journey as enjoyable as your destination.

Although paved to the top, the Mt Baw Baw access road after the entry gate is very steep, and becomes icy because of its southerly aspect. It is a VicRoads Declared Hazardous Road beyond Tanjil Bren, as is the Thomson Valley Road to Mt St Gwinear, being unpaved beyond the Thomson Dam turn-off. The new South Face Road although wide, is very steep, with loose gravel, and sometimes mud, snow or fallen trees.

Wheel chains must be carried always (by law) during the season, and in snow conditions should be fitted to drive wheels for ascending, and front wheels for descending. A particular risk we have observed is with rear wheel drive, auto transmission, ABS-equipped cars. If chains are fitted to the rear wheels, on steep downhill corners steering is easily lost, the ABS system releases the brakes prematurely, and the transmission torque converter fails to disengage, causing the car to drive itself off the outside of the corner.

Our aim is to get you there as safely as possible, as smoothly as possible, and as quickly as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Safety?

The 4WD vehicles we use are full-time all-wheel drive, providing superior road-holding on winding, wintery mountain roads. On the steep, sometimes icy, top section of road, where two-wheel drive cars and buses often struggle for traction and braking, the low-range gearing and additional locking differentials on our vehicles enable us to reach our destination with ease. In heavy snow conditions, day or night, when chain-fitting is essential, we excel. Our drivers are familiar with the mountain roads, and hold 4WD Driver Training qualifications. Furthermore, at the end of the day, on a dark and wet night, when other drivers may have had a strenuous day in the snowfields, our drivers will be rested and well prepared for the challenge of the descent.

Expediency?

Our aim is to make our passengers' journey as safe, smooth and fast as possible. Being more manoeuvrable than a bus, our vehicles reach their destination in about 25% shorter time. Furthermore, during snow conditions, on most occasions when two-wheel drives are stopping to fit chains, and then clanking along slowly, we simply power on past them, keeping to our schedule. Also by not taking your own car you avoid parking fees, as well as the effects of salt corrosion and tar particles on the duco resulting from snow clearing operations. You also avoid concerns about brakes--we've seen overheated brake calipers welded to disk rotors at the bottom of the Mt Baw Baw descent!

Enjoyment?

As experienced tour guides, our drivers aim to inform and entertain our guests as we pass through places of interest, as well as giving information on Mt Baw Baw's facilities. Our more personalised attention to a small group of travellers enables us to assist people with concerns about travel sickness or other issues which may arise. The care and comfort of our passengers is paramount.

Rental cars?

Driving on snow-cleared roads subjects cars to damage from salt and tar spray. Also if parked overnight, cars can suffer freezing problems affecting door locks, hand brakes, cooling systems and rubber engine timing belts.

Not surprisingly, car rental companies do not allow their cars on these roads at all (or the contract fine print voids your insurance).

Is your own 4WD just as good?

These days there are a lot more all-wheel-drive "soft roaders" getting about, and they are certainly much better than a 2WD vehicle in the snow. But before deciding your 4WD is suitable for driving to Mt Baw Baw, consider the following questions: Is it full time or only part time 4WD? Does it have a large wheel diameter to maximise traction? Does it have a positively lockable centre diff or does it rely on "traction control" operated through the ABS brake system (which automatically releases the brakes if wheel lock-up is detected)? How experienced is the driver in steep, slippery conditions, in fitting wheel chains correctly, and in avoiding other traffic which may be sliding out of control?

Your car cannot be fitted with chains?

If your car is one of the increasing number of modern/high performance cars with low profile tyres and alloy wheels, it cannot be fitted with chains. Our pick up from Rawson may be your answer.

Your own Bus is not Alpine Accredited?

For groups coming up in their own bus, which is not Alpine Accredited and therefore not permitted on the Declared Hazardous Road, our Tanjil Bren shuttle takes 20 minutes one way, or 45 minutes turnaround to pick up a second (or third) group. We can provide a 4WD vehicle (and luggage trailer) to suit your timing at Tanjil Bren for $230/day, plus $60/shuttle to Mt Baw Baw village. This can be a cost-effective way of shuttling a school group of 16 or 24 people, because it requires only one of our vehicles.

Mid-day Tanjil Bren Shuttle

If we already have a vehicle on the mountain due to another booking, we can provide a passenger shuttle from the start of the Declared Hazardous Road. Your car can be parked at the Tanjil Bren carpark, from where it is only a 20 minute trip up the steep section of road to Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort. The cost of each shuttle is $60 (per group of up to 8 passengers) either way, excluding gate entry fees. Timing depends on our schedule for the day, but availability is usually late morning to early afternoon.