Tag Archives: Victoria

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

Major Mitchell Plateau hike

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I did the Major Mitchell Plateau three day circuit walk in the Grampians National Park recently.

A three hour drive west of Melbourne, The Grampians have been a destination I’ve been wanting to visit for a while.

An unexpected week off from work gave me the opportunity to throw on the backpack and see somewhere new. After more than a year since my last overnight hike (a new baby don’t give you much opportunity for camping) I wondered whether I still knew what to do.

I started out at Sheep Hills Carpark and quickly fell into the steady rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other.

The track was obvious and rose steadily to Mt William. Unfortunately the day I set out was grey and rainy and the views of bush and surrounding mountain ranges were intermittent.

The final climb along the road to the top of Mt William was steep and hard on the feet. There was no reward at the summit as it was completely clouded in. It was cold and windy so I didn’t bother spending much time up there and set out for the First Wannon campsite.

The track got rougher but was still easy to follow. It descended steeply into Boundary Gap and then climbed just as steeply again up and onto the plateau. There was a bit of careful rock scrambling near the top which I wasn’t ready for. After about five hours of hiking up and down through the rain I was feeling pretty shagged and keen to set up camp and get dry and warm.

It was a nice campsite with a drop toilet and a small creek running through it.

Day two for the walk across the plateau dawned much nicer, with puffy white clouds and plenty of blue sky. This was the day I got all the views across the Grampians and the surrounding farmland below.

It made enduring the weather of the day before worthwhile.

The walk off the plateau is steep, followed by a long steady descent to Jimmy Creek Campground.

Again, I was pretty happy to get to the campsite so I could relax, even though it meant leaving behind the feeling of being remote and away from everything.

The third day back to the car was pretty boring – an undulating fire trail with little in the way of views.

Back at the car I headed to Halls Gap, the tourist town in the middle of the Grampians, where I stayed at one of the caravan parks for the night before heading home. I liked Halls Gap; a pleasant spot where you could base yourself for day walks around the area.

Fernshaw to Dom Dom Saddle return walk

For a great day walk with ups and downs to stretch the legs, about an hour out of Melbourne, the walk from Fernshaw to Dom Dom Saddle and back in the Yarra Ranges is well worth a look.

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Starting at the Fernshaw picnic ground beside the Watts River just outside Healesville on the way to Marysville, the track is well trodden and easy to follow. Although in some places large trees have come down across it after what must have been a massive blow so there’s a bit of scrambling required to get over them and through tangles of smashed limbs and branches.

The first part of the walk is pretty flat and winds through tree ferns and tall, straight mountain ash. You can hear the river somewhere amongst the trees. You then climb up and down a couple of steep, forested ridges to reach Dom Dom Saddle, another nice picnic area on the way to Marysville.

At about 20km long, the walk is a decent one for some huffing and puffing exercise and time out among the trees.

And we made it back to the car in time to stop off at Tarra Warra winery for some wine tasting on the way home. That’s one of the best bits about walking in the Yarra Ranges, the cellar doors to visit in the Yarra Valley on the way home.

Exploring Melbourne’s bike paths

With the recent birth of my wonderful, adorable daughter – our first child – there hasn’t been much time or opportunity for adventurous pursuits outside the city.

While neighbourhood pram walks have replaced hikes through the bush, I’ve discovered the planning for those short walks can be just as intense as organising a multi-day walk. Do we have spare nappies, changes of clothes, wipes? Does our route pass shops, toilets, parks? Are there shortcuts to get home in case of emergencies? What’s the weather going to do?

Anyway, every now and then my wonderful wife gives me a day off from parenting duty to indulge in some outdoorsy stuff with friends. I’ve been using that time to explore Melbourne’s extensive network of bike paths. And I’ve been wonderfully surprised with what I’ve found.

Long trails that twist and turn, up and down through bush-lined creeks and watercourses, snake through parks and past sports ovals and change from concrete to gravel to single track. The paths are long and can be linked up to create long circuit rides that take you to far flung parts of the city you may never normally see.

Below is a quick video of a big ride a friend and I did recently. Headed out on the Scotchman’s Creek trail to Jells Park and Eastlink, along the Dandenong Creek trail, out to Paterson Lakes, then back via Beach Road – 83km on mountain bikes. Good times.

Where we went.

Big ride

Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse video

About this time last year I went for a walk with a friend to stay at the Wilsons Promontory lighthouse keeper cottages. I wrote about it here.

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It was one of the nicest walks I’ve done. The cottages are an amazing place to stay. I’ve finally gotten around to sorting out a video I made walking around the cottages.

 

 

A day walk on Paul Range

This is a short day walk I did a couple of months ago. I came across its description on the where2walk website. Its main attraction for me was that it was in the Yarra Valley, only about an hour drive from home in Melbourne and littered with wineries to visit on the way home.

The walk was okay. Nice views of the valley. It was all on fire trails and dirt roads which isn’t really much fun because you can’t really feel like you’re in the bush when you’re walking along a road. Being passed by some motorbike riders and 4 wheel drives doesn’t help. But at least I was out of the city and amongst some trees. It wasn’t a great walk but the exercise was nice.

And of course stopping at a couple of cellar doors on the way home. The first one was Yarrawood. They have a nice cafe there and the best Devonshire tea I’ve ever had. Huge scones and very generous with the jam and cream.

Pure deliciousness

Pure indulgent deliciousness

I also tried Long Gully Estate. A great little cellar door hidden up a small valley up a narrow dirt road.