Victorian High Country Loop

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by bull600, May 7, 2017.

  1. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    501
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Victorian High Country Loop

    With April sneaking up on the calendar it was time for our annual trip away on the trusty DR 650’s. After last year’s run through the SE of SA and Victoria (RR here), this year we decided to head over to the Victorian High Country. Unfortunately, our trip was cut short this time around with our route ending up looking like this

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    Packing and Travel

    It seems that some trips are destined to have little hiccups along the way.. Ours started when loading the bikes on the trailer the night before departure

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    With our mirrors being a little high to get under my carport roller doors we gently tilted the loaded trailer to ease it under. Unfortunately, the sloping driveway got the better of us and we ended up having to tip the trailer on its end to stop it running us over!!

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    At 6:00am the next morning we hit the road for Melbourne and caught the sunrise as we cleared the Mt Lofty Ranges

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    Soon we were passing Coonalpyn and admired the stunning artwork of Guido van Helten that now adorns the town silos

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    Our first stop has always been the Bordertown Bakery. The lure of a fresh cream bun and the chance for a morning ablution in the old gaol are too great to ignore!

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    With the long haul to Melbourne out of the way we unloaded the bikes from the trailer and packed them ready to head off in the morning.

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    Day 1

    We had a mid-morning start to avoid the traffic and headed off to the east along the edge of the Dandenong Ranges.

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    As is our normal way I had chosen a route that took us away from the mainstream roads as much as possible. However, the fog was thick in places and I managed to wander off course, having trouble following the correct road

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    It was great country and so close to the city

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    With some steep winding roads through the forest

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    Soon it opened up a little

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    And we hooked off Old Beenack Rd onto some 4x4 tracks that passed through Kurth Kiln Park

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    We passed over McCrae Creek

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    Before popping out on the Gembrook – Launching Place Rd. From there we followed the Old Warburton Rd through the valley

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    Until we hooked up with the Acheron Way. This is a great run through the Yarra Ranges National Park

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    The road (mostly dirt) follows the Acheron River

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    And is a must do if ever in the area

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    The road finishes just south of Narbethong, and it was then just a quick run into Marysville for lunch

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    While in town we picked up some fresh meat and beers

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    and then headed off on the road to Woods Point. The road was in good condition and passes through The Yarra Ranges

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    Once at Woods Point we got our obligatory photo by the old servo

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    We thought we might camp along the nearby Goulburn River so headed out of town past some quaint little farms (the whole town has the feeling of being in an idyllic time warp)

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    The river was crossed a few times

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    Before we found a great spot right next to the river and sat back with a few beers by the water

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    Before organising camp

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    Cooking tea

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    And sitting back by the fire!

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    Link to Map of Day 1

    Day 2


    With fine weather on the radar we headed off back across the river

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    And through Woods Point

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    The road north to Jamieson follows the Goulburn River for much of the way

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    Passing lots of camping areas

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    There are lots of bends

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    And it was an enjoyable ride until …. the trucks started. There is a mine along the way and soon we were confronted with next to no visibility as the trucks thundered past. The road is quite narrow in places and the trucks were banked up at certain spots as it wasn’t wide enough for two to pass. Needless to say it spoilt the experience :baldy

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    Not far from Kevington the bitumen starts, so we stopped to clean our visors outside the pub

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    We would have liked to have stopped for a drink - but it wasn’t open yet! So, we continued on to Mansfield and stopped by our favourite pub there, the Delatite

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    Where the food was as good as ever :clap

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    The plan was for a loop out around Mt Stirling, with a camp somewhere along the way. So, we fuelled up and headed off towards Mirimbah. Passing up through Telephone Box Junction

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    Before peeling off the Circuit Rd

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    and on to King Basin Rd. It heads up to Pineapple Flat (which is a few hundred metres up Burnt Top Track)

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    The water level at the crossing was quite low but it wouldn’t take much to make it interesting. As we were checking out the area a group of riders stopped for a chat. With no gear on board they were having plenty of fun :D

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    Once back on King Basin Rd we crossed Stirling Ck

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    Before the first of 5 crossings of the King River. These weren’t very deep, but rocky!

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    The track then passes Kings Hut before meeting up with Speculation Rd. From there we joined back onto Circuit Rd before branching off south on Bindaree Rd

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    This wound us down the into the valley and a crossing of the Howqua River adjacent to Bindaree Hut

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    This hut was designed for those a little shorter in stature :eek7:eek7

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    As time was getting on the open flats near the river provided a good camp site, so we set up for the night. One of the issues with finding a good camp is the availability of wood, which is generally scare. Luckily, we had spied some on the way in so after unloading the bikes we headed back and loaded up

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    Soon the camp was set up and a fire was under way

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    After our big lunch we snacked for tea and hit the tents pretty early, only to be woken in the middle of the night by a crescendo of howling wild dogs!

    Link to Map of Day 2

    Day 3


    The fog was our constant companion in the morning

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    Our way forward on the loop was along 16 Mile Jeep Track that begins just behind Bindaree Hut

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    It was quite steep in places but the surface was good so the DR’s had no trouble. The track follows above the Howqua River

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    With some great views looking down

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    Soon we were passing Pike’s Flat

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    Before we reached the junction with Bluff Links Rd

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    From there we picked up Refrigerator Gap Track

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    That turned out to be a great ride down to the junction with Brocks Rd

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    Russell hadn’t been to Upper Jamieson’s Hut before so we took track down to the hut. It involved a short steep descent and then a crossing of the Jamieson River, which like all the rivers we had seen, was pretty low

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    The hut had a group of 4x4's staying in it

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    I had stayed here many years ago with the family when the kids were small. It was a cosy night sleeping up in the loft but I hardly got a wink of sleep as I was paranoid about the fire jumping out of the fire place and burning the joint down!

    After dodging another group of half a dozen 4x4’s who were coming down for a look we took off and joined up with Brocks Rd. This is one of the main thoroughfares through these parts so it was dusty and corrugated in some sections.

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    It passes by a number of popular camping areas along the Howqua River, including Sheepyard Flat where the main route in from Mansfield is found. This is a huge area with lots of campers

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    Once past here we popped in to have a look at Fry’s Hut

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    once again hordes of campers were in full force. Not unlike a caravan park in many ways..

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    Our route out was via the more challenging Howqua Hills Track. It was steeper than expected with lots dusty erosion mounds and by the time we got to the top junction with Steiner’s Rd we were bloody hot! (Note: Russell’s modesty by hiding behind the bike after we stripped down to cool off)

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    Steiner’s Rd took us out and back to the main Jamieson – Mansfield Rd. The whole area looked particularly dry and with such low river levels throughout it looked like it the autumn rains couldn’t come soon enough.

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    Here’s a shot from almost the same spot, at the same time of the year, back in 2014

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    Once back in Mansfield we stocked up with a few beers

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    Then stopped off at the local take away

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    for a rather tasty burger and chips

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    We had found a great little camp site out from Mansfield near Tolmie on the King River West Branch a number of years ago when travelling through on a 4x4 trip, so decided it would be perfect for the night. However, to get there involved a steep descent down McDonald Spur Track.

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    We had been up it on a previous trip (see here) but this time the holiday traffic had made it much rougher, with lots of loose rock to negotiate. Once at the bottom of the spur we followed the river before turning off to our campsite (the track in looked a lot more used than previously..). To our surprise we found it was ‘occupied’ by a fellow biker

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    There was no sign of life for a chat so we headed out to look for another option (as it turned out the King River Brach adjacent to the camp was bone dry so we weren’t too discouraged). After checking my gps waypoints I had another camp on the main King River that wasn’t too far away so we headed off to check it out.

    The camp was along Long Spur Track, right at the crossing of the King River. When we got there, much to our dismay, we found a group 4x4’s. However, our luck was in as they were just taking a look and were soon gone. It’s only a small area so we were soon set up (there was even a healthy wood supply left behind by the last campers :clap)

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    And then headed down by the river for an ale

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    With a sweaty day on the bikes behind us when then took it in turns for a wash in the rather chilly river (no photos recorded :fpalm)

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    Link to Map of Day 3

    to be continued..
    #1
  2. Skowinski

    Skowinski Deuterostome

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    10,497
    Location:
    Mojave Desert
    Nice, reminds me of a trip I took back in about 1992 on a XT250 Yamaha through that part of your fair country! :thumb
    #2
  3. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    501
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Day 4

    We were woken by the sound of heavy rainfall in the hours before dawn. Unpacking camp in the rain is always a burden, more so this time as Russell threw out his back while sorting out his tent. With no phone reception to check on the weather we headed off to Cheshunt and stopped at the local hall to take stock

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    Russell’s back wasn’t too good, so he popped some pain killers while I checked the maps.

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    Despite the rain, our intended route didn’t look overly difficult so we headed off down Rose River Rd. Soon we turned off and followed the SEC track that runs along the power lines

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    The rain was intermittent and the track in good shape as we wound our way east

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    Until we hooked up again with Rose River Rd

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    The next section traversed Goldie Spur and as we wound our way upwards the visibility was greatly reduced

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    Finally, we dropped below the clouds and started heading down into the valley below

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    The Goldie Spur track joins the main Buckland Rd and it was here we stopped for a conference

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    We had initially intended to head down the Buckland Valley and then hook out onto the Great Alpine Rd via Twins Track. However, with the rain set in and Russ’s back getting worse we decided to bail out and head into Bright to look for a place to stay.

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    We stopped at the roadside information booth and called a number of caravan parks to see if we could get a cabin for the night. The place was packed and they were all booked out, with an occasional tent site the only thing available. Just as we were about to leave and head for a tent site Russ noticed a sign behind us to Adina Lodge that looked like it was worth a shot.

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    We were pleasantly surprised when we were met with a friendly response from Dave at Adina who thought they were booked out but dropped what he was doing to check it out (previous experience when looking for accommodation under similar circumstances (ie wet and muddy) has often seen a look of horror and a quick response of ‘we are fully booked’ :nah:nah)

    Soon he had his wife Kaye on the case and they were able to offer us a family unit at a discounted price. With some time until we could check in we headed into Bright for lunch

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    Russ was also able to organise some treatment for his back, we picked up some food for tea and soon our unit was ready to go

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    I was really impressed with the service Adina provided and they are very bike friendly.. highly recommended!

    Link to Map of Day 4

    Day 5

    With a break in the weather we decided to head off on our planned route to the north east and see how things panned out. The bitumen was taken through the scenic and windy Tawonga Gap Rd that meets up with the Kiewa Hwy just north of Mt Beauty. From there we hooked off onto Mountain Creek Rd that led past a small campground that sits on the banks of Mountain Creek

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    Here the tar finished and the dirt started at the beginning of Trappers Gap Rd.

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    This was a great run, passing several tracks along the way

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    There were a few minor tree falls but none that we couldn’t get around

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    It wasn’t long until we met the main Omeo Hwy just out of Mitta Mitta. We went for a quick spin into ‘town’ to check out the pub

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    And General Store

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    But the place was crawling with deer shooters. It seems there is a bit of a sub culture amongst some of this brethren. It was camo’s from head to toe, including vehicles (in case the deer don’t hear them coming :D:D)

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    Without being shot we made our way back up the highway and turned off on the Dartmouth Rd that follows the Mitta Mitta River up to the lake. Before reaching the lake we headed off up Mt Benambra Rd. It was a pretty good track that runs along the edge of the Alpine National Park

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    However, once above about 800mt the visibility was greatly reduced due to the low cloud. By the time we reached the fire tower (with lookout) at 1480 mt there was very little to see! (I’m assured the views on a clear day are quite spectacular!)

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    Once down the other side of the peak we turned off onto Callaghan’s Creek Track

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    That soon led into the edge of some farming land and a few gates

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    Our route then took us off up through Cravensville Rd

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    Past the ruin of an old logging truck

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    Until we picked up Gibb Range Rd. Here we dodged a tribe of deer shooters in their 4x4’s (that almost slid into me on a blind corner) and a few logs along the way

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    It was a great run through the forests

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    With the state forest on one side and the Wabba Wilderness Park on the other

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    We had planned to check out the camping options next to the Dart River and found it empty and quite appealing, so our wet tents were quickly put up to dry out a little

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    As well as some nice pieces of wood (a little damp but we eventually got them burning!) there was a newly erected table that soon had our crap spread all over it!

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    From there it was time for a fire and some tinned delights (and no the toilet paper nearby is not an indication of the quality of the food!)

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    Link to Map of Day 5

    Day 6

    Our original plan was to continue heading north to Corryong and then loop around Jingellic before heading south. However, Russ’s back was getting worse - despite his morning exercise regime

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    And the weather was looking a little ominous. So, we decided to head back down to Omeo and check the weather forecast in more detail when we got there. Now, my DR has a pumper carb so normally starts right up after a few twists of the throttle. However, after quite a chilly night it didn’t fire on the first crank and to my horror the battery showed little interest in delivering more than a sleepy turn of the starter after that. There goes our early departure..

    I had a set of jumper leads but taking off the seats to access the batteries was going to be a pain from a removing the panniers point of view, so we tried a tow to begin with. With the track still wet I managed a couple of great skids but no start up!

    So, off came all the bits and pieces

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    With the jumper leads connected it started in less than a second and it was then just a matter of keeping it idling while all the gear went back on!

    With the sun trying to poke its way through the clouds we eventually set off and it was only a short distance out to the main Benambra – Corryong Rd. From the Gibb Range Rd turn off it was around 100km south to Omeo and the road was a cracker. There were some nice views off to the west towards Lake Dartmouth, although heavy cloud blanketed the valleys below.

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    After about 30km the road crosses Donovan Creek

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    And then soon after the Gibbo River closely follows the road

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    There are a number of tracks along this section that shoot off to the river’s edge and provide nice campsites.

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    As well as the world’s slowest corner!

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    The temperature was a little cool as we wound our way south

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    passing through Benambra and Hinnomunjie before we stopped at McMillan’s lookout. Here a great view of the Omeo Valley was on display - and the sun was finally out!

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    It was then in to Omeo where only self-service card operated fuel was available

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    There was a line of cars waiting, including a bunch of Sprites from Qld

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    Finally, we got fuelled up and retired to the bakery (of course) for a conference

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    As we devoured our bakery lunch we checked the weather app and found that a nasty cold front was on the way in the next few days. With expected heavy rain, snow forecast above 1000mt and Russell still struggling with his back, we made the decision to bail out and head back to Melbourne.

    As we lamented the early end to our trip Russell spied a loose strap on the rear of his bike. On closer inspection, he found that a small dry bag had worked its way loose and had been touching the muffler. Besides the bag a pair of ‘Rainoff’ over mitts were toast!

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    We hoped to be able to reach Melbourne by dark so once the decision was made we headed off down the Great Alpine Rd to Bainsdale. It’s a great run, with some fantastic views as the road winds along the Tambo River. With time of the essence (and so no photos) we only made one stop, which was at Moe, for fuel. We had made good time, so after we’d fuelled up we pushed the bike away from the bowsers for a drink and quick snack. As I took off to head back to the main highway I noticed Russell struggling to start his bike. I circled back to find that his bike was lifeless when he hit the starter button. On closer inspection we found the kill switch (which we never use) had inadvertently been pushed in when the bike was pushed from the bowser. The problem was that it was now stuck tight and wouldn’t retract. So we removed the switch and pulled it apart

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    After by passing the switch the bike started straight up so we knew it was the culprit. After fiddling with tiny pins and springs we got it back together with the circuit closed and hit the road again. Despite traffic jams and manic drivers on the M1 we arrived back in Melbourne just on dark, loaded the trailer and headed out of Melbourne on the way home. We grabbed a cheap motel in Ballarat before making it home at lunchtime the next day.

    It was a rather ignominious end to our stroll around the High Country but it gave us one certainty – we have the missing sections of this trip that will need exploring this time next year!

    Until next time :wink:

    Cheers :thumb

    Link to map of Day 6
    #3
  4. BygDaddee

    BygDaddee Where do I get a pie

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2012
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    Brisbane Northside, OZ
    Bloody awesome report, so much of that I did recently, and plenty I'd love to do some day

    Thanks for writing it up
    #4
  5. TerryK

    TerryK Ulysses

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,934
    Location:
    adelaide South Australia
    good one Greg

    Cheers Terry
    #5
  6. Suncoaster

    Suncoaster Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2015
    Oddometer:
    482
    Location:
    Where the girls are green and the grass is pretty.
    As BygDaddee said, bloody awesome report.
    Brought back memories.
    #6
  7. UncleGra

    UncleGra Road Grime

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
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    Location:
    'neath the Southern Cross
    Terrific ride blokes..you may not have known about Parish Boundary Lane and Hinomunjie Connection Rd and Lake Omeo just behind Benambra to the west side...shouldnt be missed...never mind..a good excuse to re-visit sometime.
    #7
  8. leighwgold

    leighwgold BA & PHD of BS

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    75
    Location:
    Salisbury Heights
    Hi Bull, great write up and pics.
    I took the latching parts out of the DR kill switch so it's never left "off" , seems to work ok, perhaps you and Russell could do that to your bikes.
    #8
  9. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    501
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Cheers Uncle Gra.. We had Parish Boundary on the intended route (as well as some more stuff up north near Corryong) but decided to put them on next year's list (along with Nicholson Track, Angora Range, Tabberabbera and a number of others).

    Will add Hinomunjie Connection Rd and Lake Omeo to the list :D

    Cheers :thumb
    #9
  10. KIZ

    KIZ Marty

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    798
    Location:
    Gawler South Australia
    Thanks for sharing, great photos.
    #10
  11. tireatr

    tireatr Let's go for a ride

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    252
    Location:
    Charlotte NC
    Thanks for sharing a bit of the "Lucky Country". That's that way I'd like to tour your country. Very cool.
    #11
  12. Hazard14

    Hazard14 Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    Valley View South Australia
    A great ride report and I really enjoyed the photos. I tend to ride and ride and forget the photos. I must take the time out next ride.
    I would like to ride some of those tracks around those parts myself. Thanks for the look around to the area.
    #12
  13. masterbrewer

    masterbrewer TDMster

    Joined:
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    3,145
    Location:
    Adelaide, South Australia
    Excellent Greg :clap

    PS can you do the catering for my next trip. :-)

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    #13
    bull600 likes this.
  14. jtb

    jtb Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
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    2,390
    Location:
    Hawkesbury NSW Australia
    Greg,

    Great report and pics (as usual). More ideas on places to go where I have never been before. I agree with MB re your catering, you blokes never eat cold baked beans for every meal! I reckon I could go away with you blokes on a trip and actually put weight on... which I don't need.

    Great job, thanks for taking the time to share your adventures! I hope Russell's back is feeling better, nothing worse than something like that to ruin your trip and life.

    Thanks :clap:clap:clap
    John
    #14
  15. Regemite

    Regemite Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2016
    Oddometer:
    51
    Inspiring ride Bull, well done.
    #15
  16. Larry3020

    Larry3020 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2014
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Sunshine West. Victoria. Australia
    Great RR as usual Bull.
    No track links tho?
    #16
    bull600 and bigredroosta like this.
  17. XRman

    XRman Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,375
    Location:
    SW Victoria Oz
    OK, so I am adding this trip to your others that I want to do when I retire in 1 year and 2 days ( but who is counting).

    Were you a boy scout Greg? Your DR must be like the Tardis. All that stuff comes out of your panniers, so you must use the creed , " A place for everything and everything in it's place". I am expecting to see the kitchen sink appear in one of your Ride Reports one day.

    Now I will have to look on Taut and see if you have shared this GPx file.
    #17
    bull600 likes this.
  18. TerryK

    TerryK Ulysses

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,934
    Location:
    adelaide South Australia
    What gets me MB is how the get it all packed away again each time !!!
    #18
    bull600 likes this.
  19. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    501
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    All done Larry - I've added map links to the Ride Report for each day!

    Cheers :thumb
    #19
  20. Larry3020

    Larry3020 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2014
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Sunshine West. Victoria. Australia
    You're a good man. Thanks
    #20
    bull600 likes this.