Embracing Courage in the King Valley

Lake Cobbler  

Embracing Courage in the King Valley 


Words and images by Bee Stephens - We Are Explorers.      

A week in Wangaratta’s King Valley was exactly what Bee needed to challenge herself. 

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Bpangerang, Waywurru Nation, the traditional Country of the Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Bpangerang, Waywurru people who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded

I recently listened to a podcast about courage. This value is often misinterpreted as something you’re born with, one of those ‘you either have it, or you don’t’ traits. Turns out that’s bullshit, courage can be learned or acquired if practiced. 

Cast your memory back and I’m sure you’ll recall those moments in your life where you were asked to and acted courageously. For me, I can actually still feel those moments, they sit somewhere weirdly in my tummy and make it feel heavier, hollow even. 


What is it again?  

My favourite definition is TS Elliot’s: 

‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’  TS Elliot.  

Why do we need it, and why does this have anything to do with the King Valley?  

We’re living in pretty complex times. Navigating just one day of modern life can be tough. Courage can make walking one’s path easier, whether this is just a commute to work or the bigger things, like hard conversations with people you care about, or making those necessary, huge life changes. It gives you the confidence to act in line with what you believe in. 

Enter adventure. Adventure is a (sometimes) safe, fun place that tests you and asks you to practice your bravery. And finally, enter King Valley.  

King Valley is a hop, skip and jump from the Wangaratta and approximately 3 hours north-east of Melbourne. The Valley, as locals call it, is nestled just under the Alpine National Park, a bonafide adventure hub, and it offers an abundance of invitations to be courageous (in all its forms). After spending a week there, here are the We Are Explorers gangs’ favourite spots to do just that.  

Remind Yourself You’re Alive With an Alpine Dip 

That spiro friend in your group who keeps jumping into ice baths is onto something! Regular cold swims are proven to do wonders for your physical and mental health. 

Get those tootsies tingling and Wim Hof impersonations going at Edi Creek Cutting Campground. This zone is textbook rural Victoria, damn beautiful! Brooding Red River gums, plenty of space, fire pits for the bush telly, and a pleasant bubbling Alpine brook (the King River) to dip in and awaken the soul. 

Lake William Hovell  

Consider Your Relationship With The Land 

Paradise Falls is one of those brilliant natural places that asks you to stop for a second, take a breath and think. The cascade (there are two if you go after winter) descends over 31 metres of brilliant, raw cliff face. After a short 500m walk with views across the valley and Alpine National Park you’ll come to a stunning viewing platform. 

This site is culturally significant for the Bpangerang people and a number of other Aboriginal nations who would migrate through the Lake Cobbler and Alpine National Park region. Avoid going behind the falls, this space is sacred and also where the precious Peregrine Falcon nests. 

This is an ancient spot for deep thinking. To think beyond the week’s shopping list can take courage, but I urge you to do so! Stand at the platform, take in a few whiffs of fresh peppermint gum, and consider how the area provided and was cared for by its Traditional Owners. Then, ask yourself what your relationship is like with the land? 


If you’re lucky and quiet enough you might leave to the calls of a lyrebird, and with the desire to follow in the footsteps of Traditional Owners who’ve practiced a healthy relationship with Mother Earth for tens of thousands of years. 

Paddle Lake William Hovell 

Grab a paddle, the best way to appreciate this magnificent expanse of aqua is by kayak. We set off from the boat ramp before the sun had made its way into the valley. 

Be humbled by the big nature around you as you paddle into the middle of the lake, and let yourself become a teeny spec. Next, coast towards the southern end of the lake where you’ll be able to paddle various creeks and meet the dam’s source, the King River. 

This is also a great place to swim, fish, picnic and relax. Sometimes this takes courage too, particularly if you’re an energetic soul with a battery to burn! 

Lake WH

Muster a Cow or Herd at Forges Farm 

Get an eye into the life of a drover. The crew at Forges Farm run Muster Trips once in a blue moon, and if you have the right contact you might find yourself on a week-long sojourn mustering cattle through the foothills of the Alpine National Park. Yes, you can bring your Akubra. 

For those proficient in the art of horse riding, this may seem like a walk on the farm… But for those like me who’ve spent all but five minutes on a horse, this was a seriously challenging and thrilling experience. 

Have Lunch at a Bushrangers’ Hideout 

Grab a snack from The Oven Bakery at Cheshunt before you head to Powers Lookout, or bring something to cook up over one of the picnic spot’s fire pits. Harry Power, the infamous bushranger and tutor to Ned Kelly, won’t actually be there, but you can sure as hell pretend he is! 

This spot has a number of trails to peruse once you’ve finished your tucker, including a waterhole track or the speccy rocky outcrop where Powers camped and planned brazen highway robberies. Enjoy crazy 360° views of the Victorian Alps, including sights of Mount Buffalo, Mount Feathertop, and the entire King Valley. 

Sink a Pint of Liquid Courage 

We’re encouraging responsible drinking here only… but every weary adventurer needs something to wet the whistle after a day outdoors. And the King River Brewery is a great place to do it. Try a Fig Porter (made using local figs), a Schwarzbier (dark lager, yum!) or the most refreshing, the low alcohol lager. There ain’t nothing the brewer Nathan can’t ferment! 

This is just a tiny selection of what King Valley offers for adventurous humans. There’s Gravel Riding Festivals, trail running, hiking, white water rafting, the friendliest locals on the planet and so much more. Whatever your challenge, King Valley is sure to put you to the test! 

MV Beer Garden   

Photos thanks to @henry_brydon