Post Covid Lockdown - Victorian High Country Loop

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bull600, May 10, 2021.

  1. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    582
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    For number of years we have always set aside the April school holidays as our ‘go to’ time to head off on an extended bike trip. In 2020 plans were well under way for a trip to New Zealand where a couple of hire DR650’s were booked and paid for until - the world changed…

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    After the shock of what was happening slowly sunk in we rejigged our plans with an alternative to travel on a trip that initially following the Murray River and then looping around parts of the Victorian High Country. However, the issues with the Covid 19 outbreak in Victoria saw hard border closures lock in as the year progressed so our plans were scrapped!

    Move on to 2021 and as things settled down we reignited our plans for the Victorian trip with a planned April departure.
    After some fantastic track suggestions from fellow inmate glitch_oz a planned route was put together that looked like this:

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    The route was planned at around 3500km and we gave ourselves 10 days to complete the journey. With mainly photos to tell the story, come along for the ride..

    Prep and Day 1

    First things first was to get the bikes in order. A couple of DR650’s are our bikes of choice and fresh rubber at both ends was the called for

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    A quick check of the bearings found one of the rear ones that was a little crunchy so they were both replaced

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    The chain even got an annual lube

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    With packing and checking complete it was a nice cool morning when we hit the road the weekend after Easter

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    Our route through to the Murray River first saw us head across the northern edge of Mt Lofty Ranges, where the autumn leaves were starting to show

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    There was a little bit of single track

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    Roads parted for trees

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    before passing some locals

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    As we cut across past Cromer where there was a number of great flowing roads between the farmland

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    To our first bakery stop (of many over the next week) at Mt Pleasant

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    A quick check over of the bikes saw everything where it should be and so after a hot drink we headed north and skirted the edge of the famous Barossa Valley

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    As we headed away from the valley the countryside dried out

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    Soon we crossed the Maine River on Moss Smith Rd

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    Not long past the river crossing I saw a movement to my right and to my great surprise a large deer jumped the fence and crossed the road right in front of me :eekers It was soon on the move jumping the next fence and heading off into the distance

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    We then hooked onto Pine Hut Rd, one of only a few ways to cross the eastern side of the ranges around this area. The weather looked a little threatening as we followed the road that is characterised by dry stone walls on either side

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    The history of these walls is quite fascinating. They were laid around the 1840’s often by small teams of 2 adults and 2 children. The children collected the rocks and put them on a wooden sled and then they were laid by the adults at a rate of around 1 chain (~20mts) a day for which the team was paid 18 shillings. They camped out in old shepherds huts working 6 days a week and taking around a 3 months to lay 1 mile (1.6km) of wall. Nowadays we can’t get people to pick fruit because the work is too hard – how times have changed!

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    Once at the top of the range the plains out to the river were visible in the distance

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    In was then down into the mallee country where the choice of roads to take becomes a little confusing at seven way intersections

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    The Murray River was soon reached and we crossed on the Swan Reach ferry

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    Once on the other side we headed up the escarpment and had good view of the upstream river

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    The river at this point heads north before swinging eastwards at Morgan, so rather than taking us away from our general eastern route we cut off and tracked diagonally towards Barmera through more mallee roads

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    It was at a stop along this section that I noticed my chain guard had gone missing :scratch

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    The bitumen was reached quite close to Kingston on Murray where the river was crossed once more

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    It was getting time for some lunch so we stopped at Berri to refuel and with very few options in a town that seemed deserted we picked up a pie and possibly the worst donut I’ve ever tasted. (I have a feeling he may have given us vegan variety by mistake!)

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    We headed down to the river’s edge to eat our crappy lunch and after a large gust of wind heard some commotion behind us. On turning around we saw Russ’s bike having a nap and his helmet rolling down the road :fpalm:fpalm:fpalm

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    Once back on it’s feet we headed off towards the Murray Sunset National Park via, at times, a sandy Wonuarra Rd

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    With a choice of ways north we picked the inner Border track that took us up to Tanks Track

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    From here we tracked east and picked up Pipeline Track

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    That eventually leads across a wide claypan

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    Before it meets the Old Mail Rd not far from the Lindsay Island turn off

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    Once on Lindsay Island we then worked our way along the track that winds its way along Little Mullaroo Creek

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    Until we reached a spot we have used on a few occasions and set up camp

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    It was then that we spent a little time chilling out

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    And enjoyed the serenity!

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    Before organising dinner for the night

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    Day 2


    One thing that can normally be guaranteed when camping by the Little Mullaro is that the early morning crescendo created by the corellas will mean an early rise, which is not a bad thing as the morning is a great time in camp.

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    After packing up from a pretty mild night the tents were dry and we soon headed off through park

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    This involved passing various dry creek crossings

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    Before we once again joined the Old Mail Road and headed east once more. This whole area becomes a nightmare after rain with plenty of black soil plains. The Old Mail Rd varies in condition and this year was no exception with a couple of detours

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    Much of it was in pretty good condition although there were some areas where you needed care with the bulldust

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    It’s an interesting ride and it is possible to take detours off the main road along the way that follow the river quite closely

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    And past river heights were easy to see in some areas

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    Before long we arrived in Mildura and headed for a late breakfast

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    Which was pretty good!

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    After topping up on essential supplies

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    Once out of Mildura we hit the main Sturt Highway for a while before branching off through the Kemendok National Park along Tapulin Rd

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    Then along the Murray Valley Highway before branching off around Lake Powell and Lake Carpul

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    Running south of the main highway this route, predominately along Buckley Rd, was a great ride through mallee

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    With the final section through Ted Lane having some remnamt Prickly Pear Cactus by the track

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    It’s hard to believe that over 240,000 km2 of farming land in Australia was rendered unproductive when infested with the cactus back in the early part of the 20th century. Unlike the Cane Toad (which has been a ecological disaster) the larvae of a moth Cactoblastis cactorum was imported from Argentina as a biological control and all but wiped out the problem in a very short time!

    Once back on the main Murray Valley Highway we began scouting for a camp and turned off into the area near Narrung

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    That soon led to some nice tracks by the river

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    And eventually a fantastic campsite among the gums

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    The camps along this section of the Murray really are a treat

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    With plenty of time on our hands we had a chilly dip in the river to wash off the dust and then sat back and enjoyed the view

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    Before getting a fire going

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    After Russ had said his prayers :lol3:lol3

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    It was time to get some nice steaks cooked!

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    Around camp central

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    Before we watched the evening sun bathe the river across from our camp in wonderful light

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    Day 3

    Today was the third day of the planned route that followed the Murray. It started once again with magic morning by the clam water

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    Once out from camp we picked up the Murray Valley Highway again and stuck to the bitumen until we passed Wood Wood where we veered off into the Nyah-Vinefera Park.

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    We were able to pick up a track that hugged the river through the park

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    Until it finally popped out in Nyah by the RV Park that is set up on the edge of town.

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    We then hooked onto the Woorinen – Vinfera Rd that led us nicely into Swan Hill
    The most famous native fish of the Murray River is the Murray Cod and Swan Hill is the home of Arnold, one of two ‘Big Cod’ in the area. He was initially made as a prop for a film back in 1991 but now sits near the banks of the river

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    Not far from the main crossing of the river at the old timber truss lift span bridge built in 1896

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    The other ‘Big Cod’ is upstream at Tocumwal (photo from a previous visit)

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    After fuelling up we decided to stop off for a drink and (tasty) donut at Macca’s where we checked out the route for the rest of the day on the ipad

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    Russ then went off to say his prayers again (this time praying the water that he was taking from the tap was drinkable)

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    Once on the road again we headed over to Pental Island. A piece of land of around 80km2 that is surrounded by the Murray River on one side and the Little Murray on the other. It has just one bridge on each end. Large sprinklers dot the landscape through this region

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    With lots of dairy cows enjoying the lush pastures

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    Soon we crossed the Loddon River (which is the feeder river for the Little Murray)

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    and then headed to the twin towns of Barham (NSW side of the river) and Koondrook (Victorian side)

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    We planned to travel along as much of the river as possible so after crossing north over the river into NSW we entered the Koondrook State Forest not far from where they were splitting massive amounts of redgum wood at the local wood yard

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    Soon we were onto River Rd that followed the course of the river through the park.

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    There were a maze of tracks heading off away from the river that would provide some fun riding but we stuck to the river before taking a break at Bill’ Bend

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    Then, after one last bend of the river

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    River Rd headed away from the river and out of the park. At one point a man made channel was crossed that looked like the site of some serious dirt bike drag racing!

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    As it was getting close to lunchtime we decided to head into the larger town of Moama which is also a twin town with Echuca on the Victorian side of the river. The local fish and chip shop was closed so we settled on the pub

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    And what a fine choice it was with an excellent Bangers and Mash on the menu!

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    More ‘supplies’ were collected and this time we bought a slab as Russ had developed a new storage system for the beers (more on that later..)

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    After fuelling up again we hit the road Barmah, crossed the river back into Victoria and entered the state forest nearby the site of a famous sawmill that milled wood from the area until 2010 when the National Park was created. Not sure the roo thought much of the history lesson though

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    Having visited the park previously we skirted it’s boundary to pick up a little time as we were aiming for a great camp near Tongalong. Unfortunately, being still being Victorian school holidays there were several camp groups there so we pressed on. Not far away we checked another great spot and but found a University group on a canoe trip were stopped there. Luckily for us they were only taking a break and after a quick chat they were off – leaving us with a great empty campsite!

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    The spot was a cracker with a nice sandy flat area, even with some grass

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    So, we hastily set up a fairly well spread out camp to ensure we had the place to ourselves

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    Russ chose an area close to the water near a small stand of juvenile gums

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    Soon, a familiar grunting sound led us to a local who was perched in the gums not far for his tent

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    And what a photogenic koala he turned out to be!

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    By now we were well into a standard routine which included a chilly wash in the river

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    followed by warm up near the fire

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    And then a little time to relax

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    #1
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  2. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    582
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Day 4

    With a cooler night the river was stunning on our last morning together

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    Today our planned route would take us pretty well south from the river until we turned east to the Strathbogie Ranges. Overnight I’d put a number of the things on charge via usd input on the bike and to my great surprise the bike battery was flat when I went to start. Having had a similar problem some years ago while in the High Country we had each set up a permanent Anderson Plug hooked directly to the battery to enable an easy jump start without having to remove anything from the bikes. Using a short connector (made from an old cut down jumper lead)

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    it worked a treat and my bike was soon ready to go

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    The way south started on Darlow's track and then led through to Yielima Nth Rd. Soon we merged back onto the Murray Valley Highway and passed through Nathalia which sits on the banks of Broken Creek.

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    It was then over the Goulburn River and through Kyabram and on to the old gold mining town of Rushworth. This historic little place boasted an interesting looking pub

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    and well as good old fashion Christian Life Church in the main street (although it looks like Ray White is muscling in a little)

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    With the pub closed and our religious needs met we instead looked for and found our favourite type of shop – a bakery

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    and the morning donuts were getting better!

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    After chatting to some locals for a while (the bikes are always a source of interest!) we headed down and explored around the Whroo Historic area

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    and then moved to the famous Kirwans Bridge that crosses the Goulburn River just outside Nagambie

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    At 310mt long this wooden bridge was first opened in 1890 and then refurbished in 1955. It’s now a single lane bridge with a couple of small vehicle passing bays and has a bend in the middle! The old original squared beams and strutted corbels can still be seen still in in place along the entire edge.

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    Now, the town of Nagambie is probably most famous for one thing. It was in on Gilgai farm just outside of town that the world famous racehorse Black Caviar was born and raised before she went on to win a record 25 races in a row before retiring. A life size bronze statue of the mare now sits proudly on the shore of Lake Nagambie in the middle of town

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    After passing through Avenel

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    we continued south for a while past herds of grazing goats

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    And then through the Tahbilk winery

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    which lies adjacent to the Tabilk Lagoon

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    We then meandered our way east towards the Strathbogie Ranges through a number of minor roads and tracks

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    Some followed the local creeks

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    Some passed over them

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    There were historic little school houses

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    And spots that weaved through native bush between the farmland

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    We stopped for a break as we reached Creighton’s Creek Valley

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    It wasn’t long then until the peaks of the ranges came into view

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    The little hamlet of Strathbogie lies almost in the shadow of Mt Wombat and its local store is well worth a visit. When we enquired about a QR code Covid login it was explained that the locals were not really too tech savvy and preferred the sign in method. One such local was in attendance and provided some great local anecdotes (bike related) as we enjoyed our hot drinks and rather tasty toasted sandwiches!

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    After bidding farewell to Strathbogie we did a quick run up to the peak of Mt Wombat and checked out the view

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    It was then through the Strathbogie State Forest which was a mixture of plantation pines and native species

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    We had been told about the site of a crashed RAAF Wirraway aircraft that had gone down in heavy fog back in 1941 with the loss of both airmen. We were able to find the site off Policeman Track and the monument that has been erected but saw no sign of any wreckage (further research found that they removed the wreckage to use for components for similar aircraft that were still flying)

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    With time marching on we decided to head to James’ Camping Reserve for the night. Nestled on the edge of Moonee Moonee Creek, it had been recommended to us and was empty when we arrived. Complete with a wooden table and fire pit it was a great spot to set up our tents

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    Like most of these types of camp sites firewood was in very short supply so once the camp was organised it was off out from the camp area on a recce to find some. The DR’s were soon loaded up

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    And the wood was transported back to camp

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    A few important jobs had to then be undertaken around camp. The first was a critical repair to the broken arm of my trusty camp chair!

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    And the second was to unload Russ’ new beer carry tube which was seen being loaded up previously. Designed to carry a six pack, it proved to be a winner.

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    While in Rushworth we had visited the small local butcher who had provided us with a couple of whopper rib eye steaks which soon went in the frypan

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    And what a feast it was!

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    All that was left was to settle around the fire for the night

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    Day 5

    With no other campers turning up yesterday we had the place to ourselves for the night. With the luxury of a long drop to start the day it wasn’t long before we headed off through Lima East (or according to the monument where the Rifle Range, Tennis Courts, Cricket Ground and Post Office used to be in 1878!)

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    From there we soon picked up the Midland Highway and headed south past Lake Nillahcootie, a dam of the Broken River that is used for drinking and irrigation in the surrounding area.

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    Near the end of the 8 km long lake we ventured off to the west back through the Strathbogie State Forest

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    Passing by Cocker’s Sluice Hole

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    Which on closure inspection (although the name sounds a bit suss), turned out to be a bloody big hole that dropped down to the creek below where alluvial gold digging were undertaken back in the 1860’s. Watch the edge :eekers

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    We then wound our way down past Fawcett

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    And the weather began to look a little threatening as we headed south

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    Luckily, we dodged the rain and after a quick stop for a coffee at Alexandra we were off again skirting through the edge of the Murrindindi State Forest

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    Where there was logging in progress

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    Then it was though the Black Range State Forest

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    Before we hooked onto the Maroondah Highway

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    that led us into Marysville

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    And one of our favourite stop offs :clap:clap

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    I’m guessing the tame magpies have high cholesterol around here!

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    Next we headed off to Marysville Central to pick up some groceries

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    Before we headed off to check out Keppel’s Lookout

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    Situated about 6 kms out of town it has a great viewing platform

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    That allows a magnificent view of Marysville, the Cathedral Ranges and Lake Mountain

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    We then skirted the Yarra Ranges National Park

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    Before hitting the bitumen along the twisty Marysville – Woods Point Rd that took us to the intersection with Lady Talbot Rd. The sign didn’t instill us with much confidence showing that most of the sites along the way were closed but we pressed on to see if we could get through

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    It wasn’t too long before we came to a locked gate across the road that halted our progress. There was a possible go around past the gate but it would have been a little tricky and we had no idea if there was a gate on the other side and if it would be open. While pondering our predicament a couple of mountain bike riders came down from the closed section and informed us that the road was clear and the gate on the other side was open

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    Now, directly opposite where we were stopped was a 4x4 track that headed off up the hill and when checking the map it indicated that it met another track that looped back onto Lady Talbot Rd about 4 km down the track. As our planned route meant heading east over to Rubicon via Lady Talbot Rd we decided to give this option a go, otherwise, it meant backtracking quite a long way covering ground we had already travelled in the morning. Once up the first section of this track we came across the first of what would be a challenge for the next hour – fallen trees blocking our progress

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    So far they had all been of a moveable size

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    But as we passed down some slippery down hill sections we were concerned that a big one up ahead would block our path and force us to retreat – not something we were looking forward to! Often they were still green and attached, which meant that they needed all the might of one of us to hold them back “slingshot style” while the other person brought their bike past

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    But we hit a hurdle when we came to the intersection where the track that we had been counting on to take us back to Lady Talbot Rd was reached. It had a locked gate on it! Now we really were worried about ‘the big one’ that might block our path as we pushed on to try and get out.
    Finally, after one last log

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    The path was clear

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    and we reached Lake Mountain Rd. Now, the general temperature was in the low teens so at the start of this little endeavour we were in our full cool weather riding gear but over the course of the last hour we had been working like dogs and were almost in heat exhaustion mode. So, as soon as we hit the intersection, we did something very quickly – stripped off to cool down! (The look on the faces of those unlucky tourists who were heading up to Lake Mountain were priceless)

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    As our plan hadn’t really worked so we cut our losses and headed back into Marysville and then headed north through Buxton

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    Before we turned off at Taggerty and made our way across to Rubicon

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    Once past the tiny town we followed the Rubicon River through to the Rubicon Power Station. This area is all part of the Rubicon Hydroelectric Scheme that dates back to the 1920’s

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    Our plan was to head past the power station and down Rubicon River Rd to check out the falls and timber trestle bridges but as luck would have it the road was closed. As it was getting late in the afternoon we decided to sort out a camp and chose the nearby Tin Hut area which was empty

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    Nestled on the banks of Rubicon River it wasn’t a bad spot

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    Unfortunately, for the first time on the trip the rain started just as we began to set up our camp

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    Of course, the rain soon stopped once the tent were up so we went in search of wood. After scaling the side of a hill and venturing over the road we found a mega branch that we dragged back to the roads edge. We pushed it over the slope and like a scene from a movie Russell slipped and tumbled down after it. Finally, we got it back to camp!

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    As it started to get dark we were altered to a movement in the bushes quite near our camp and a wild dog pup boldly came out to check out the camp for food. (blurry phone shot in the low light)

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    with our log soon on the fire it was snags and onions for dinner as we contemplated a rather eventful day!

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    #2
    AMCQ46, jeckyll, scudo and 4 others like this.
  3. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    582
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Day 6

    My early morning slumber was rudely interrupted by a very vocal kookaburra not far from my tent

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    The first thing I normally do when I get up in the morning is check the minimum temperature on a digital thermometer placed near the tent but to my surprise this morning it was missing! Of course the culprit had to be the wild dog from yesterday and sure enough after a bit of searching we found it down the other end of the campground!

    Initially, we wanted to start the day and see if any of the areas further along the river were accessible via Royston River Rd (which loops back onto the closed Rubicon River Rd) so we headed off to check it out.

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    Unfortunately, it too was closed, this time at the intersection with No 6 Track about a kilometre up the road.

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    So with sightseeing around this area all but closed down the new plan for the morning was to head over to Snob Creek Falls which lay on the other side of Morris' Lookout. Although it was only around 4 km as the crow flies there was a choice of two ways to get there. The first option was to take Herb's Track over the range, a distance of about 12 km or alternatively head back out on the bitumen and take the longer loop via a Thornton which was about double that distance. Herb's track started just down the road from our camp at Tin Hut so we thought we'd go and check it out first. It firstly runs along the edge of the river

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    and with rain last night it soon became obvious that it was going to be pretty slippery

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    The map indicated a few quite steep sections of track as it crosses the range so after encountering more slippery sections down on the flat and reading the sign on the gate from last year we decided to take the safer, albeit longer route around.

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    Back out on the main road things got chilly very quickly so we stopped to rug up a little

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    The road down to the falls was in good condition but the 'logging trucks using the road' sign was flashing so we were careful on the corners

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    Soon we came to the Snob Creek Falls, named apparently after a West Indian Bootmaker who operated near this spot back in the 1800's (Snob being an old term for bootmaker)

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    where there were steps and a very short walk to the upstream 'Cascade' section

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    and then, in the opposite direction, a slightly longer path that led to a viewing platform near the top of the main falls which drop a total of around 100 mt.

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    Unfortunately, at this point only the first part of the main falls is visible with the water disappearing over the edge to a much greater drop below that is out of sight but there is a nice view out over the surrounding countryside

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    Once we'd had our fix of rumbling water and spray we dodged the logging trucks and headed off once more. Firstly through some great tracks out by the Goulburn River

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    Where we bumped into the farmer just up the track from the gate. He was quite happy for us to pass through the property and we chatted for a while about the good season he was having but lamented the issues he had with people wandering away from the road and onto his place causing problems. It was a great run through rolling hills

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    Soon we arrived back in Alexandra and decided to grab a bite to eat, settling on a little coffee shop that served up a wonderful egg and bacon roll + coffee for less than $10.

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    As we sat on the footpath enjoying our brunch and watched the locals go about their morning business, an iconic (and very original) 1960 FB Holden rocked up (towing a trailer!) and parked next to us.

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    If it wasn't so rude I would have loved to have grabbed a photo of the equally iconic bushy grey bearded driver who alighted from the car to wander down the main street. These little moments are the type of things that make travelling through the rural towns of Australia so memorable.

    Once we had finished soaking up the local culture we hit the road again on our way to Mansfield via Lake Eildon National Park. This took us high up above the lake where there were several spots to soak up the views

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    We eventually reached the main Maroondah Highway where it crosses Lake Eildon near Bonnie Doon

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    However, we decided to cross on the adjacent revamped 'rail trail' crossing, much to the surprise of a large group of people who were having a BBQ in the carpark

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    After fuelling up in Mansfield, which is a busy town in school holiday time, we found our preferred take away shop for lunch.

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    Having been there on a previous visit we knew the burgers were good so decided to sit one on top of the brunch roll that was still digesting (+ a few chips)

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    With (very) full bellies we then struck off north towards the Mt Samara State Park

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    After getting a little lost when our track disappeared into a farmer's new shed development (a friendly chat soon had us on our way) we entered the Ryan's Creek catchment area which had some camping restrictions imposed.

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    We had our eye on a camp further east in the King River Valley so continued through this area until we found the turn off to the Stringybark Creek Historical Reserve

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    This was the location where the infamous shootout between Ned Kelly's Gang and the police took place back in 1878, leaving three police dead. It was a well laid out spot that had plenty of interpretive information about the events that took place there.

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    We hit the road again through some nice forest areas

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    Until we popped out on the main Mansfield - Whitfield Rd that led us north through some nice twisty bitumen. With a newly reduced 80 Km/hr speed limit we were careful not to catch the eye of the local revenue raisers. Not far from where this road joins the Benalla - Whitfield Rd is a hairpin bend that has a short dirt track leading off. This leads to a nice lookout over the ranges. Unfortunately, there was a lot of smoke in the district from controlled burns which hampered our view.

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    Once at Whitfield we turned off and took the Upper King River Road to the south. This area was quite familiar to us having visited here numerous times over the years. We did have a nice campsite sourced down on the King River West Branch but it was dry so we reverted to another camp on Long Spur Track nestled close to the a ford of the King River

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    it's a great spot with plenty of grass.

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    with a nice part of the river to have a dip and clean up.

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    The temptation of the soft grass was too great as I came out from a dip and so I wandered around near the tent barefoot to dry off - bad mistake. First I stepped on a stinging nettle and then as I bent down to get it off my foot one of these nasty fellows decided I wasn't welcome and grabbed my other foot..

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    Needless to say the pain was rather intense!
    As the night wore on eventually our hunger slowly returned and we heated up a can of soup

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    and enjoyed the rest of the night telling yarns with a port or two around the fire

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    Day 7

    During the night I heard numerous animals wandering around the tent. Some I'm sure were roo's we had seen earlier enjoying the grass but when I opened my pannier to get out my breakfast cereal in the morning it was obvious that something else had been rather hungry!

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    Now the dilemma was that dried up sultanas and rodent poo look pretty similar so I just ignored what could have been in my cereal and downed the morning bowl. Luckily the morning was magnificent so I wandered out of camp

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    the short distance to the river's edge to soak it up.

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    The condensation was very high overnight so we left the tent flys out in the breaking sunlight to dry them out a little while we packed up camp

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    Once camp was packed up we were soon on the road and headed back up towards Whitfield. We were backtracking some of our path from yesterday so popped in again at the smokey lookout and were pleased to see this time a nice crisp view across the northern hills

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    Toady was to be a transit day. The aim being to head down south and then pick up our western route towards home in the days that followed. Rather than take the main drag back to Mansfield we turned off the main highway at Altmans Rd and headed through Tolmie

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    Then we followed the Old Tolmie Rd along the power lines down towards Mansfield

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    Once at the Mt Buller Rd turnoff it was only a few kilometres into Mansfield for fuel but we decided to avoid the crowds there and push straight on to Jamieson on the Mansfield – Woods Pt Rd. This turned out to be a big mistake because when we reached Jamieson with thoughts of a coffee and fuel fill up we hit a snag – the power was out to the town with a crew working on lines and it would be 1 ½ hours until it would be restored. So, no fuel and no coffee :devildog

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    This really was a PITA so we decided to head down to the edge of the nearby Jamieson River

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    And do a time and motion study in the park to work out our options

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    After making a few phone calls it turned out the options were limited as fuel to the south was hard to come by. The small townships of Woods Point, Erica and Rawson all had no fuel available and the closest station south of those was just outside of the range we had left. It was a 70km round trip back to Mansfield so that was not worth the trouble. That meant we were stuck there until the power came on. After an hour we wandered back to the servo and chatted with the owner and locals for a bit before power was restored 15 mins early and we were on our way again! The first section of the road south to Woods Point is bitumen but changes to dirt no far from Kevington, who's pub is now unfortunately closed

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    This road follows the Goulburn River for much of the way

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    Passing through Frenchman’s Gap

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    And alongside a number of very well set up camp areas

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    But generally the surface condition of the road was poor with endless corrugations, especially on the many bends

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    Finally, we reached the little whistle stop of Woods Point characterised by in now defunct servo

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    We were rather hungry by now so headed straight for the pub for a meal and cleansing ale - pity it too was closed!

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    So back to the only other shop in town - the General Store

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    The only option for lunch they offered were frozen pies, pasties or sausage rolls put in the microwave.. mmm. Well, we were hungry so opted for the safest bet, a couple of sausage rolls. Unfortunately, a couple of guys had rocked in just before us and ordered half a dozen of the frozen/microwave delights so we had to wait, and wait and wait. The microwave it seemed only was capable of doing one at a time. Finally, we took our piping hot sausage roll across the road to our bikes and tucked in. No surprise when we found the centre of it to still be semi frozen!

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    After washing it down with a healthy dose of water we continued on with the plan to head over towards Thomson Lake via the Thomson Jordan Divide Rd. Well, that plan didn’t work either

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    It looked like it was going to be “one of those days” :baldy:baldy. We settled instead for Nine Mile Rd that would take us over to Thomson Valley Rd which then in turn led back to the other end of the closed road we had detoured around. As it turned out Nine Mile Rd was a cracker

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    Eventually we reached our original planned route and ran southwards west of Thomson Lake

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    until we came to South Face Rd which led towards Mt Baw Baw

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    The aim was to check out a campsite not far along here that was on the Tyres River East Branch. When we reached the turn off we found these almost homemade looking signs

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    Although predominately used by walkers it seems the Parks Vic Website had no restrictions listed so we poked down to check it out and found the camp already occupied (maybe they put the signs up :dunno). It was no getting quite late (and cold) and the chance of finding a decent camp with wood was looking remote. So, the executive decision was made to push on and grab a cabin in Moe and treat ourselves to our first shower of the trip. With a quick check on Google we soon found one and pulled into the Moe Gardens Caravan Park and hour later

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    Now, Moe has a bit of a rough reputation and certainly parts of the park looked a little uninviting but our little cabin by the office was fine

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    After a nice long shower we got pizza delivered and felt like kings! (as much as one can in a caravan park in Moe :rofl:rofl)

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    #3
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  4. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    582
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Day 8

    After a decent night’s sleep we packed up, got fuel in Moe and then headed north. We passed by the idyllic Bluerock Dam the infamous spot where a little toddler, Jaidyn Leskie, was found dead back in 1997. The massive story that surrounded his death and the fallout for the town of Moe is a legacy that remains even today.

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    Soon we turned off the main Willows Grove Rd and travelled north past a creek that Russell found quite appealing

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    The road ran parallel to the Tanjil River East Branch for part of this section and it was quite isolated with no traffic, except for an empty Toll van parked randomly by the side of the track :scratch:scratch

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    We crossed the Tanjil River West Branch, quite close to where it joins the East Branch

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    After passing through some picturesque forest areas

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    We then turned off with the idea of cutting across on a track that would take us over towards Fumina. This track was less used

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    a little slippery in parts

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    And eventually led to a ford of the Tanjil River West Branch

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    The river was flowing quite quickly and had two distinct deep sections so we had a good look to see if it was worth trying to cross

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    In the end we decided that the time taken to wade in to check it out plus the risk of falling over in the deeper section wasn’t worth the risk so we turned around and back tracked to the start of the track

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    With our way west blocked by the river we headed north up to the Mt Baw Baw Rd and then hooked back around near to where we would have exited. Although fairly narrow it was a nice run through the ferns

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    We ended up taking a few back road detours

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    Through some little used tracks

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    As the main tourist road was always more risky, as this person found out!

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    By the time we came to Neerim Junction we were ready for a break so popped into the local store for a hot drink

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    It was then onto the main road through to Poweltown

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    then along the Old Warburton Rd

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    That led us in to the back of Warburton past the house of the well-known local outdoor artist Boinga Bob

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    His works are split into various parts on both sides of the road. Recently, through the support of locals and a social media fundraiser he was able to get a new roof on his house installed :clap:clap

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    After picking up a few supplies in Warburton we entered the Yarra Ranges National Park and headed up to Mt Donna Buang. Once up at the summit there is some interpretive signage and a 21 mt tower

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    Which although a little on the ugly side

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    does give some commanding views across the mountains

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    The climb to the top of the tower warmed us up a little as the temperature was only 5 degrees when we headed off down the mountain

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    We decided to stop in Healsville for lunch and the place was packed. The local bakery seemed to be the spot for everyone,

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    including plenty of bikes. One young guy with his son who had just got into adventure riding chatted to Russ about what sort of tools he kept in his tool tube. He seemed a little confused when Russ explained it was actually for carrying beer!

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    After lunch we passed through the Toolangi State forest

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    then along the neatly named Break O’Day Rd

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    Until we entered Mt Disappointment State Forest

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    We initially were planning to head further north to Tallarook State Forest to camp for the night but we had lost some time during the day with backtracking so decided to start looking for a camp in this State forest instead. Our maps indicated a few options for Vic Park managed camps so we thought we’d check them out first and if not look for a full bush camp. The first one we tried was Number One Camp on Flowerdale Rd. Although quite busy (it was still school holidays) we found a small single track that led off the main camp area where we could get the bikes in by a small clearing. Perfect!

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    Not only that there was plenty of wood for a nice fire.

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    The ambiance was only slightly spoilt by fairly loud music (although not a bad playlist) interspersed with a probably a hundred .22 rounds being fired - all thanks to the thoughtful group nearby.. Ahh the joys of (rarely) sharing campsites :fpalm

    Day 9

    Today was to be the first of a few long days as we made our way back west towards home. As we left the campground fairly early a couple of rather (un) friendly pitbulls from the party crowd last night chased the bikes and it took all my strength to resist giving them a parting boot on the way through (it may have also had something to do with remembering they had a rifle!). With the shorter distance travelled yesterday our intended route needed to be modified so with a few adjustments we headed off east out of the park and soon had a view out towards Kilmore

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    Soon we were back on our original route but as seemed to be the way lately, our first likely coffee stop at Newham was closed (although it was a Sunday morning)

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    So we piled on a few kms and headed into the Wombat State Forest

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    Which was an enjoyable ride through a maze of tracks

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    Until we popped out near Trentham

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    Which has a great affinity for wombats

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    So we took the hint and headed back into the forest named in their honour. Working our way west through a variety of different tracks

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    That finished up along Shanahans’s Lane which popped out directly opposite Sailor’s Falls

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    We parked the bikes and took a stroll

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    To check out the falls – but they were dry!

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    so, after filling our water bladders with the spring fed water on tap near the carpark (which we found out later tasted like shit) we ducked back into the state park before taking a slight detour up to Creswick to get fuel and a bite to eat

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    It was then out through another state forest, this time Creswick, where we continued to wind our way west this time down John Bull Track

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    Where some pigs had taken the trouble to drive all the way out there to dump their domestic rubbish :baldy

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    Soon we cleared the forest and started our run to the west in earnest. Our route took us on secondary roads that ran north of the main highway with only occasional farmer traffic. It was on one of these roads that pass by Lake Learmonth

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    that Russ mentioned on the intercom that I had a cop turn in behind me after stopping to cross over one of the intersecting roads. I was wracking my brains to work out how he could have clocked my speed on the previous dirt section (and I had no idea of the limit anyway) when sure enough his lights started flashing and I pulled over

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    With Russ staying clear behind him he sat in the car for a while and then eventually sauntered over to me as I waited by my bike. To my relief it was only a licence check but try as I might to make friendly conversation, he was all business. With everything in order we headed off to make a run through the Mt Cole State Forest

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    Via a variety of different tracks

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    With some having shown signs of a recent fire

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    Soon we met the main Mt Cole Rd and then it wasn’t long before we arrived at Ararat. Being a reasonably large town (where we had stopped for lunch on previous trips) we were astounded that the numerous pubs that we tried were either closed or didn’t serve lunch on a Sunday:dunno Luckily for us one of the publicans told us the only place to get a cooked meal on Sunday was at the local RSL, so that’s where we headed!

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    Not surprisingly the place was packed but it wasn’t too long before our (excellent) Sunday Roasts were ready

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    Our final bush camp of the trip was planned for the western side of the Grampians at a spot we had stayed previously. So, we hit the main road and headed to Halls Gap 50 km away. Once into the National Park the traffic increased dramatically and it was a slow run up Mt Victory Rd following a sightseeing trike

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    We peeled off at Reid’s Lookout where Lake Wartook was visible in the distance

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    And the main section of the part to the south could really be taken in

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    Finally we came down the other side of the mountain and bumped off the traffic when we headed off the bitumen, south on Asses Ears Rd and followed the western edge of the park

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    And found our bush camp site just outside the boundary of the park

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    Day 10

    Having done the run from this camp to home previously we knew an early start was in order so we were up just before dawn and packed up

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    At first light we checked the camp one final time and headed off

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    It was a reasonably mild morning as we bid the Grampians farewell

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    And began our way home through the back roads

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    The roos were out in force and I had just mentioned to Russ on the intercom how well behaved they had been when I glanced down to turn on my grip heaters. At that exact moment I heard a yell in my speakers and as I looked up I saw the head of a large roo about a foot from my knee. Before I even knew what was happening I felt a wobble of the rear wheel as he hit some part of the rear of the bike. It was all over in less than a second and to my surprise I was still upright – the roo less so..

    As the sun rose higher the roo numbers reduced and we enjoyed the leisurely riding through the backroad farming countryside north of Coleraine. Then, as I round a slight bend on Hillsview Rd near Coojar, my bike lost power and coasted to a stop by the side of the road.

    Now, my old DR has been super reliable since I got it second hand in 2009, and has rarely missed a beat during its 90,000km + kilometres. It felt like a fuel starvation issue and this seemed most likely when I tried to restart it and it would fire then die almost instantly. My first thought was a blockage of the little fuel filter that sits inside carb fuel inlet. On one previous occasion on a run back from Broken Hill the bike had stuttering issues and this had been the cause. So, it was off with the fuel line and out with the filter but - it was clear..

    Well, that seemed to indicate that there was a blocked jet so off had to come some luggage, seat and tank

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    Now, about 60,000km ago I had put a FCR-MX pumper carb on the bike and although the jets were easy to access it did require the carb to be pulled out to get sufficient rotation to get access to the bottom

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    With both jets removed and cleaned it was then a matter of getting the carb back in and seated correctly. To say it was a PITA is an understatement and of course it then started to rain!

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    Finally, we got it back in and connected the fuel up ready for what I hoped would be the end of the drama. No such luck… same issue.. initially it would fire then immediately die. So off the carby came again for a closer inspection, this time to check the slide and needle.

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    Now the standard BST vacuum carby is a very simple design but not so the much the Keihin pumper. So a roadside strip down requires patience (and prayers)

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    Once the top of the carb was removed and the slide taken out the problem soon became very obvious. The needle grooves at the top had worn away and the needle had dropped down into the main jet. To say I was stunned was an understatement. Clearly, this wear had been occurring over some time and although I’d had the carb out a few years prior to deal with a hanging idle I had not picked up any issues with the needle.

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    Unfortunately, the clip was toast (and we had no spare) so we had a problem on our hands. With no mobile coverage at the breakdown spot we began thinking about our options. The worst case scenario was organising to have someone from home to come with a trailer to pick up the bike. We were about 60km from Edenhope so that was 5+ hour travel time from home once it was sorted.

    We were determined to get it going so needed to fashion a clip from something. After trying firstly a small square of cable tie plastic we settled on a small piece of metal cut from the scrapper on the tire repair kit

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    Although it held quite well we couldn’t get it to fit in the small recessed area inside the carb so we decided instead to use a small piece of wire

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    All looked good for re installation until one of the wheels from the slide popped off and disappeared! After a frantic search we located it in dirt and eventually got it all back together. Then after 3 hours of kneeling in the dirt the moment of truth.. it fired up! With the level of the needle now sitting way higher than it had originally been it would only run above about 3500rpm and idling was out of the question - but it was running:clap:clap

    After another fight to get the carb back it its slot we eventually put everything back together, repacked the bike and hit the road with our fingers crossed. The bike was running fine at highway speeds and soon we were back on the main road to Naracoorte (without the ability to easily stop photos unfortunately couldn’t be taken from now on!)

    Running through towns at low speed was interesting as the revs needed to be kept way high to stop stalling but we managed to get fuel at Naracoorte and then stuck to the main highway as we inched our way closer to home.

    Then, on the Dukes Highway about 20 km out from Tailem Bend while sitting on 110 km/hr with trucks right behind us, all power was lost once more. Luckily, I was able to coast easily of the main road and down into a spot well clear of traffic. This time we were like a well-oiled machine and the removal of gear, seat, tank and carby was done in record time. The needle had slipped down again so a new wire fix was fashioned at it was all buttoned up and we were on our way in under an hour!

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    The crossing of the Murray River over the Swanport Bridge half an hour later did bring with it a moment of panic. With trucks again up our arse and nowhere to pull over it was a long 1km before we reached the other side of the bridge without incident!

    After a very long day I finally pulled into my driveway just as the sun went down and I was reminded of the famous quote “Adventures start where plans end”!

    I hope you enjoyed the ride..

    Cheers :thumb
    #4
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  5. mrsdnf

    mrsdnf Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2019
    Oddometer:
    1,194
    Location:
    Lost between the Dandenongs and Yarra Valley
    Loved the ride report bull600. Thought I was going around in circles the whole way through.
    Makes me wonder why I'm sitting at a desk punching keys on a keyboard.
    #5
    bull600 and Suncoaster like this.
  6. bikeroz

    bikeroz Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,397
    Location:
    Sydney Lower North Shore
    Loved all of it.
    #6
    bull600 likes this.
  7. saltyD

    saltyD Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 17, 2020
    Oddometer:
    569
    Location:
    Great Southern Land
    great report -- a great collection of roads and campsites.. I'll bookmark this for any time I'm down that way!
    #7
    bull600 likes this.
  8. BergDonk

    BergDonk Old Enough to Know Better

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    15,378
    Location:
    Snowy Mountains Oz
    :beer
    #8
    bull600 likes this.
  9. Hollalegs

    Hollalegs Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2016
    Oddometer:
    61
    Great report. Would have been a good trip!!
    #9
    bull600 likes this.
  10. Bounty1

    Bounty1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2014
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    ACT Australia
    Nice ride report thanks @bull600, hate that feeling of the bike just dying, happened to me on the way home from the Oodnadatta track a month or so ago, unlike you the alternator was fried, so not an easy fix.
    #10
    bull600 likes this.
  11. Dakar Dan

    Dakar Dan Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,794
    Location:
    Bendigonia
    Great RR! All the elements there: wilderness camping with steaks & beer, epic roads and a few more hints at tracks in my own backyard, some bush mechanicking and awesome riding. Thanks for such great pics and details. Truly inspiring wayfinding.
    #11
    bull600 likes this.
  12. Lerxstdawg

    Lerxstdawg Wait...what?

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,127
    Location:
    S/E Suburbs, Melbourne
    Awesome! But don't pass through Warburton without giving me a heads up, cold beers or great coffee and a few good tracks are waiting.
    #12
    bull600 likes this.
  13. Dee Cee

    Dee Cee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2006
    Oddometer:
    649
    Location:
    Newlyn. Victoria.
    Brilliant report. Such good country on my own doorstep, need to get out more.

    Well done. :clap:clap
    #13
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  14. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    582
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Will do! it's great part of the world!

    Cheers :thumb
    #14
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  15. TheDecepticon

    TheDecepticon Wannabe

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    787
    Location:
    Adelaide, South Australia
    Top report as always, Bull! Damn shame about the carby but made for good reading. Great photos, lovely scenery. At least this time you didn't end up with an eye full of insect!! :clap:clap
    #15
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  16. LivingdeadCamo

    LivingdeadCamo Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,141
    Location:
    Woongarrah, NSW, Australia.
    What a cracker RR, thanks for all the effort.
    #16
    bull600 likes this.
  17. Skowinski

    Skowinski opposable thumbs

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    15,465
    Location:
    High Desert NM
    Great RR, thanks! :beer

    Brought back memories of my 3 years there in your country, and rides on the XT250 and FZ750 Yamaha's I had then.
    #17
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  18. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    582
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    You've got a good memory mate! I'm just glad my little interaction with the animal world this time round (the kamikaze 'roo) was a little luckier :lol3. As for the carb, I've put my original back on and given it the 'BST Magic' mods and it's actually running a treat, certainly enough to get it clocked up over 100 k like yours! When I get a chance I'll check out the Keihin FCR fully. I have a feeling that the slide wheels may have worn the internal carb body allowing the needle to vibrate and hence wear over time.

    Cheers :thumb
    #18
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  19. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,524
    Location:
    Melbourne/AUS
    :clap
    Bloody awesome shots you've got there.
    Great to see many of the familiar sights through different eyes, good scouting too!
    Tanjil West crossing was most likely a wise move, cutting south on the Rowleys Ridge/ Russel Creek would have been another option (there's a bridge over the Tanjil West).

    Thanks for this feast of a RR :beer
    #19
  20. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    582
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    My pleasure.. thanks for your help with route planning:clap:clap

    Cheers :thumb
    #20
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