Tag Archives: Mt Baw Baw

7 Peaks rides – tick!

That’s one less item on the bucket list. The 7 Peaks rides are set-your-own pace climbs to the top of Victoria’s seven alpine resorts over the warmer months. They’re a great reason to get out of the city for a day or long weekend to breathe some country air and see a bit more of regional Victoria. And of course great exercise. Plus they’ve fired my enthusiasm for the next physical challenge – The Peaks Challenge.

Lake Mountain – I think this was the easiest ride. Starts at Marysville. Only about two hours drive from Melbourne. Starts off steeply out of town but not for too far. Then a steady climb through regenerating forest with open views across to adjacent hills. At the top is a shelter with a café. Nice views. The road isn’t too twisty which means heading back down you can build up some great speed. Lots of fun.

Mt Buller – This is the nicest ride I reckon. Starts at the mountain entry gates at the base, near a very nice café. Pretty river alongside. Steady climb through forest, past streams and small waterfalls until just before the summit where there’s a sharp, steep pinch that gets you out of the saddle. On the way up keep an eye out for the gnomes’ tree house. Very cute. Typical ski resort at the top. Couple of cafes. Nice views from the main visitor centre and at the end of the road near the top of the resort.

Falls Creek – Bit of an undulating ride to begin with, starting from Mt Beauty. Fantastic views to Mt Bogong, Victoria’s highest mountain. Road initially follows a valley with hydroelectric transmission lines overhead. Then seems to get a bit steeper on approaching the resort. Not much in the way of cafes open when I was there, other than a mountain biker café in a converted shipping container in a car park. Nice views.

Mt Hotham – Long, mostly pleasant ride from Harrietville. Steady climb to start with views to the resort, which seems to be an impossibly long way away on the other side of a wide valley. Near the top are a couple of steep downhills which have to be climbed back up on the other side. Bit disheartening. Amazing views though as you’re above the tree line. No café open at the top. The nearest was another couple of kilometres down the road. Descent back to Harrietville was brilliant, with the road not too twisting. It was raining when I came back down though so was careful with my speed.

Mt Buffalo – Very pleasant, steady climb through beautiful forest with occasional views of smooth granite cliffs and rocks that are a feature of the mountain. Started at the base, at a creek, near Bright. Finished at the old Mt Buffalo Chalet, which is not open. No café at the top. Fantastic views though. I didn’t attempt the descent as I was a bit worried about my brakes. Drove back down with my support crew. Washing off in the cold, clear creek back at the bottom was a highlight.

Mt Baw Baw – Hard hard hard! Lung buster. I parked the car and started at Tanjil Bren. Nice downhill and then some steady uphill until you reach the official start point where it’s steep steep steep until the top. Nice forest to pedal through but you won’t be looking at much of it because all you’ll be thinking about is your breathing and looking down at the road. Near the top it levels out a bit and then you roll into the main car park. The relief at reaching the top is amazing. Some views but not spectacular. Nice café at the top. The steep descent is a bit scary.

Dinner Plain – The longest of the rides, starting at Omeo, a 4-5 hour drive from Melbourne. The road out of town was steeper than I was expecting. Then a long fast descent to the Cobungra Station plains. Nice undulating riding, although made a bit harder by a headwind. The ascent to Dinner Plain was steady and not too taxing, which was a nice surprise. Nice riding through eucalypt forest and then snow gums. The village is nice. Didn’t think much of the pub but the Blizzard craft brewery was fun. Nice stout too. I didn’t get to the top until late arvo and was losing the light so I drove back down to Omeo with my support crew.

All in all the 7 Peaks is a great challenge. Bit of an effort to get to the alpine regions in northern Victoria from Melbourne so I’d recommend having four or five days off to do those ones. Baw Baw and Lake Mountain are only a couple of hours drive from Melbourne so can be done easily in a day. Buller can be done in a day, but it’s a long one.

 

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Riding up Mt Baw Baw

Just keep pedalling. That’s the main thing on my mind as I tackle what’s billed as one of the toughest bike climbs in Australia – Mt Baw Baw.

From the signposted start of the serious climbing – called The Gantry – to the Baw Baw village, it’s a steep, leg burning, lung busting six kilometre slog up a lightly trafficked road through magnificent tall gum tree forest.

There are helpful (some may say unhelpful) signs along the way counting down the distance to the top – and the gradient of the road.

It’s mostly in the teens. But there’s one section where it hits over 20 degrees. At that point my legs are almost too tired to get out of the saddle. At that point I just put my head down, breathed hard, and my toddler’s favourite song, The Wheels on The Bus, came into my head. It got me through.

This was the second time I’ve done this ride. A mate came along this time and I’m not sure he’s forgiven me yet.

But the relief at reaching the top makes all the pain worthwhile. Plus the café with its coffee and muffins to refuel and the big glass windows with the view down into Victoria’s Gippsland region.

The ride down is a challenge too. You’re hard on the brakes all the way as the bike feels like it wants to surge away and throw you off.

This climb is one of Victoria’s annual Seven Peaks cycling challenge. It’s something I’m very keen on tackling next year.

Baw Baw ride

Cairns at Mt Baw Baw

They like cairns at Mt Baw Baw.

Nope, not Cairns the hot sunny humid holiday centre in North Queensland, cairns, the pile of rocks to mark something. (Although if a decent cyclone went through Cairns, it could also end up a pile of rubble. Sometimes I wish one would – oooo controversial!)

Anyway, since my last walk in the Alpine National Park near Mt Buller, I’ve acquired a taste for Victoria’s high country.

And a few weeks ago I finally got around the driving up to Mt Baw Baw, one of the closest alpine areas you can drive to from Melbourne.

It takes about three hours along the M1 freeway, then through some nice farm countryside, and then a very twisty, turny and steep road to the ski resort.

It was so twisty turny that by the time I reached the top I was feeling pretty car sick and glad to get out and take a few VERY deep breaths.

My walk started out from the village along the Summit Trail, through snow gums, until I reached the first cairn of the day, the summit cairn on top of Mt Baw Baw.

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I then hit the Village Trail and followed it until I reached the turnoff to head into the Baw Baw National Park.

It was nice, single track walking through forest and open plateaus. It was very quiet too. I don’t remember hearing many birds or wind through the trees.

The next cairn was at Mt St Phillack.IMG_0574

I carried on walking until I reached the junction for the track to Mt St Gwinear, which was my destination on this day.IMG_0575 IMG_0576

The junction is at a place called Camp Saddle, and there’s a brilliant little cave shelter there formed by a couple of huge rocks. It would be a great spot to stop and rest in bad weather.

At the top of Mt St Gwinear was another cairn and a great view out over the alpine region and down to Lake Thomson.IMG_0581

I retraced my steps to get back to Mt Baw Baw. The walk to Mt St Gwinear and back was about five hours I think. But I was taking it pretty slow and stopping and starting a fair bit so it could probably be shorter.IMG_0583

I’m looking forward to getting up there again some time and aiming for Mushroom Rocks or Mt Whitelaw. Hopefully before the snow starts.