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Just passin' thru Gippsland

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by titus, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. Little yarn about last weekend.

    “You should try and get your money back on this weather, mate.”
    Yes, well. Still dripping from the trip to the meeting point at Lilydale, and an ominous looking bank of cumulo-nimbus coming in close behind. Ah well. This is what happens sometimes when you plan four months in advance. But we are not easily dissuaded. It’s a small group of five for this first tour of the season and it will go ahead, come what may.

    And come it does, hitting us just after Powelltown like a fire hydrant. Now I like riding in the rain, I really do. More than the rest of the group apparently, because I have to slow a bit to keep them together. My 7yo calls it ‘God missing the bowl’ when it’s like this. He knows all about that stuff.

    It’s our turn at Noojee and we then decide to roll on just so we don’t have to struggle in and out of soaked gear. Turning down Willow Grove Road, and what have we here? How appropriate – a rain forest. But then the sun appears, curls of vapour rising around the tendrils of fern as we disturb the peace. Climbing out of the valley there is our first clear view of the lands spread out to the south. And the weather - stretches of bright sun between the towering mountains of white-topped, indigo-based cloud trailing skirts of rain.

    The sun favours us through the arcadian farmlands from Hill End to Tanjil South. It strikes me that there is an uncommon balance here in the southern shadow of the mountains. Man makes peace with nature. There’s also a charming communion of rubber and bitumen as there roads and tyres warm up at last. Then shadowy curves through the wooded foothills to the cafe at Erica and the first proper stop.

    I don’t know about you but it chafes me when a 15 minute coffee break turns into an early lunch for those who just can’t wait for the next stop, and then keep on jawboning. So we are well behind schedule by the time the next rainstorm of the day hits us. “Could have stayed ahead of that all day”, it is noted later but it’s going to beat us up a few more times today before we’re done. Next stop Glengarry.
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  2. After lunch at the Glengarry pie shop (recommended) I’m kept busy navigating until we encounter our new mate Nimbus on the Licola road north of Glenmaggie and he give us another squirt. It’s raining so hard that the inside of my visor is a waterfall for the first stretch of twisties and I’m not getting away from the group at all this time. In a couple of heartbeats we ride out from under the storm front and into warm sunshine and dry roads across the floor of the Macalister River valley. Some of you know this road, and the rest of you should.

    Then up through a canyon of granite spires looming over the rushing torrent and insignificant sliver of road that dares it’s way through this ancient, forbidding place. I get the feeling that we’ll never belong here, only tolerated so long as we pay due respects to the elder gods. The mountains rise tier on tier in front of us and beyond the sight of men into unknown eons of growth and erosion. The trees are fire-blackened but sprouting new growth is already covering the scars. We have been here for such a short time, and when we are gone will what trace will there be?

    The Licola general store is a welcome anchor of civilisation here at the edge of the wild, but today it’s as far as we are going. The storm front has passed now and drying roads lead some of the boys into temptation on the swooping, curling lope back south.
    “You made me concentrate on that bit mate. Either I’m getting old your you’re getting faster.”

  3. Total blank on the next hour, nothing happens between Heyfield and Traralgon South that lodges in my memory. But it will be a long time before I forget what comes next.

    All at once the gigantic works of man loom before us – the massive machinery that turns antediluvian life into the blood of cities – electricity. I’ve never actually been here where the Hyland Highway creeps under the huge cooling towers and coal hoppers of the Valley. So monumental, so immoveable. And yet how long will even they stand? When the world turns away from this dream and embraces another, will they crumble or endure…

    The road to Balook snakes up through increasingly precipitous valleys and along now-denuded ridge-lines where fires have shaved the fur off the wrinkled hide of the land. It should be a mournful place but the absence of roadside growth allows us to see what would have been hidden – the plunging chasms, the whisps of cloud rising up from the valley floors toward us. A stubble of plantation timber is quickly restoring the land’s modesty – go and see this place while it is still to be seen.
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  4. The towers of cloud are all around but at last they have lost interest in us and moved on to find other playthings.

    After Balook, the road joins the Grand Ridge Road at Tarra Bulga NP and we plunge back in time to the same Jurassic forests that are burning back in the Valley for our digital convenience. There could be dinosaurs in here and nobody would know. The bitumen follows only the tortuous, claustrophobic Tarra Valley Road. Reach out and you can touch the wall of cycads and tree ferns on each side at the same time. The corners are five metres apart. Pray there isn’t a dinosaur coming the other way. The Tarra River appears by the side of the road, cutting slowly down through the rock as it has done for five hundred million years and will keep on doing for a while yet. Whether sauropod or homo sapiens are around to see it.

    It’s a relief to burst out into the bright twilight at cut the last few ks into Yarram.

    What a find the Club Hotel is. Rooms are basic but cheap as chips and clean. Our hosts are outstanding, the food lovely and the beer is….. beer. What more do we want?
  5. Sleep. Alarm goes of way too soon as it always does. But the dawn is clear and the coffee's hot (and good). Bellyful of eggs and we are no sooner on the road than the heavens open AGAIN.

    It’s brief though and a series of diversions up through the windfarms reminds me that we humans can play the evolution game when we put our minds to it. He says as he puts more dinosaur juice in the bike at the next stop.

    There are dozens of bikes at Korumburra when it’s time for the next coffee. Don’t know where they’re going or where they’ve been but it’s not where we’ve been this time. I feel a little smug about that.

    The road up through Strrzlecki just never loses it’s buzz for me and it doesn’t this time even when the seal on my clutch slave cylinder gives up the ghost. Don’t stop and you’ll be alright.

    It’s pretty much all over by Packenham and we loaf through Cockatoo and Belgrave with one more dousing before arriving home in sunshine again.
    Good one, that was. Lots to think about until the next.
  6. cool write up titus. some pretty fun roads down there thats for sure.
    shame its so far away...
    o/n is a great idea, might try it out.
  7. Awesome!

    The road to Licola for me has to be one of the most scenic roads in Victoria.

    Did you go up past Licola to the end of the tarmac? Most people make the mistake and go up the Wellington River side, but for me the Jamieson side is more fun =D.

    The road is abit sketchy from lots of loose stones on the sides, but the view over the Target Creek valley is sublime. And you get to play chicken with cows which seems to graze on the road without a care in the world.

    Here some pics from the Target Creek valley.


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  8. awesome masakali- im already there...
  9. Didn't go past Licola this time due to time constraints but I've seen enough to want to go back on a dry day and do it all properly. In fact there's the whole bunch of roads that lead into the ranges from the south that need exploring again - Thompson dam, Walhalla, Licola, Dargo, GAR obviously, Buchan and Combienbar, (from west to east). Then a bunch more.
  10. Awesome Titus.

    Tarra Bulga is where I go for a de-stress ride. There or the stretch of road between Boolarra and Mirboo North. Short with lots of corners :)

    So much of the rest of the area I haven't explored yet. You've got me thinking I should go somewhere else next time
  11. Great write-up titus, you have a way with words.

  12. I'm making my way through that list as well, west to east, i've just got buchan, bonang and combienbar left to to do over the summer! then i go back and do them all over again!

    The best roads are the ones where the tarmac ends and you have to turn around!
  13. Thanks for sharing :)