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Victorian Alps

The Victorian Alps

January 23rd - 25th 2015:
We took the overnight direct flight from Hong Kong arriving in Melbourne at noon on Friday. After picking up our rental car we drove straight up to the town of Bright. The drive took about four hours along the Hume highway, which is the main highway between Melbourne and Sydney. Bright is a small mountain town in the Victorian Alps, which is the southern part of the Great Dividing Range, which the largest mountain range in Australia stretching all the way from North-East Queensland through New South Wales into Victoria.

The main purpose of our trip to Bright was my participation in the Audax Alpine Classic, a large bicycle event that takes place every year on Australia Day. I spent Saturday putting my bike together, going a short test ride and then spending the rest of the day eating and relaxing with Jen’s family, who have all come up to Bright for the long weekend. The race itself took place on Sunday. I had signed up for the 200 km classic distance, which would take me from Bright over Tawonga Gap up to Falls Creek, back to Bright and then up to Mount Buffalo and back. A rather daunting undertaking with a total elevation gain of almost 4000 meters, significantly more than anything I had ever done on the bike before:


I was very lucky with the weather, as it was a fairly cool day. I managed to finish the ride in rather slow time of over 11 hours, but I was struggling mightily going up Mount Buffalo at the end.

     Going down Tawonga Gap South      Back in Bright after 125km, still smiling.

    Off to Mount Buffalo.       Finished and no longer capable of smiling.       Proof that I it did it (albeit 11 hours after I started).

January 26th 2015:
The day after my big ride (fairly well recovered but with a lot of muscle soreness), we began our road trip properly. Starting in Bright we went to Harrietville and up to Mount Hotham. We had fantastic views from the top and stopped a few times along the road to take pictures. We saw all the major peaks, like Mount Feathertop, Mount Bogong and Mount Buffalo from up here. Mount Hotham is also a major ski resort in Australia. The runs don’t look to be very long, but some of them seem surprisingly steep. 

   
   Mount Hotham Ski Resort
       Mount Hotham even has an airport (which seems to be operating only during winter).

Down the other side from Hotham, we stopped for a quick lunch at a little town called Dinner Plain before driving down to Omeo. Omeo is a former gold mining town, but only has a handful of old buildings left. After a brief coffee stop we drive up towards Falls Creek (coming from the other side than I did yesterday). Before we get to Falls Creek we reach the huge and stunning Bogong High Plains area. The white trees are snow gum trees that have been burnt in the last large bush fire, which happen on a fairly regular basis around here. The trees are not actually dead, they are growing new leaves at the bottom. However the upper branches remain bare and their bright white colour is what gives this whole area a strange and beautifully otherworldly look.




Just before Falls Creek there is a large reservoir lake created by a small dam. The water now is mainly used for snow making in winter.


Falls Creek Ski Resort:

We initially had planned to drive back all the way to Melbourne today, but we soon gave up on that idea and decided to rather spend another night up here and drive down to Melbourne slowly tomorrow. So we found a nice little motel (the Bogong Moth Motel) in Mount Beauty, which is in the Kiewa Valley on the other side of Falls Creek. We manage to get dinner in the local pub just in time (because everything around here closes rather early, and it’s pretty much impossible to find a restaurant serving food after 8pm.)

January 27th 2015:
We leave Mount Beauty fairly early in the morning for our drive back to Melbourne. The drive first took us over Tawonga Gap (significantly faster then I did it on the bike two days earlier) back to Bright. 

                       View of Mounty Beauty and the Kiewa Valley from the top of Tawonga Gap. 
   
     Top of Tawonga Gap      My first ever Wombat, unfortunately not a live one.

From there we went on slightly smaller roads along route C522 and C521 towards the town of Mansfield, stopping along the way at this stunning view point, called Power’s lookout (named after Harry Power, an outlaw who was hiding out here in the 1860s). 


After Mansfield we turn left and drive up towards Jen’s favorite place in the world, the “world famous” Mount Buller ski resort:



From here it took another two hours of driving through beautiful countryside and past many wineries back to Melbourne, just in time for a nice barbeque dinner with Jen's family.

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