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Old 05-02-2014, 05:37 PM   #1
bull600 OP
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An 11 day tour of the Strzelecki Ranges and the Australian Alps


For quite some time I've been keen to take a trip through some of the iconic roads, tracks and places found throughout the Strzelecki Ranges and parts of the Australian Alps.

Although I've done a fair bit of exploring of the Vic High Country in 4x4's, a bike trip has always been high on the "to do" list. So, a plan was hatched to put a loop together starting in Melbourne and, over 10 days or so, visit places like 'The Grand Ridge Rd', Walhalla, Licola, Dargo, Omeo, Buchan, Orbost, The Snowy River, The Barry Way, McKillops Bridge, Jindabyne, The Alpine Way, Acheron Way etc.

With the untimely passing of our great mate Paul right on a year ago ( this trip would be one that just Russell (the “Muscle” )

and me, Greg (the bakery addict ) would undertake

on our trusty DR 650's.

I took plenty of photos and will include maps for each day, so feel free to come along for the ride…

Prep and Transport

To save some time we decided to trailer the bikes over to Melbourne and organised with a mate of Russell’s (Dave) to leave the car and trailer at his place for the time we were away. With Russell taking delivery of his new car a few days before leaving we decided to load up the bikes and check all was well on the Thursday night before departure on Saturday morning. Lucky we did.. once connected the trailer showed no sign of any lights working from the brand new wiring connector that he had fitted along with his new tow bar!

With our multimeter and other tools well packed away on the bikes we thought we'd try the easy way out and see how accommodating the RAA was.

As it turned out the guy was fantastic and once he had carefully prised away all the new panels in the boot he found this

It looked like it was an apprentice’s first day, with the dodgy job that was done. A live wire had been spliced with a cheap connector and that had caused a short with a resultant blown fuse. Unfortunately, that was only the start of the problem. Once power was with re-established it became clear that incorrect earth wire positioning was a problem, as the trailer resembled flashing Christmas tree lights when the indicators were tried.

For over 1.5 hours our RAA man soldiered (or should I say soldered ) on, and managed a complete re wire and had it all up and running ready for our departure.

Transport Day

An early departure was organised for Saturday morning which meant a timely stop at Bodertown’s Tolmer Park on the banks of Tatiara Creek for a breakfast

Of course there was an ulterior motive right next door! (one of many visited over the next 11 days…)

From there it was an event free trip, although free probably isn’t the right word to use as the City Link Toll cost us $30.50 (pre paid) for our 2 way trip

Dave our host was most welcoming and even pumped our tyres up for us once the bikes were unloaded

After a great Chinese meal we headed off to bed for an early night. It was only then that I noticed a bit of moisture on my bed next to where I had sat my camelbak. On closer inspection my worst fears were realized

Yep, the 2.5ltrs of water in my backpack and leaked out and the bed now resembled a mini swimming pool How embarrassing . I didn’t even know the guy but had managed to soak the bed and all the linen in the spate of a few hours. He was great about it and after soaking up what we could from the mattress it was off to sleep ready for a Sunday morning departure. (Authors note: that’s my story about the wet bed and I’m sticking to it..)

Day 1

With a fine Sunday morning greeting us we were soon ready for departure.

Now before rumours start - we were not taking part in some look alike BMW “Rainbow Ride” (not there’s anything wrong with that ). It just so happens that Russ’s new (Secondhand) Revit jacket had recently been nabbed off the Flea market and happened to be the same colour as mine. Add to that his new Klim Dakar pants and we have the gay (ie happy) looking duo ready to depart. (Authors note: that’s my story and I’m sticking to it..)

Dave gave us a cheering wave goodbye and I then promptly turned down the wrong street 30 mt from his gate into a dead end By the look on his face as we returned to find the correct road I don’t think he held much hopes of my navigational skills being too successful over the coming weeks

With Sunday traffic quite light it didn’t take long before we were out past the suburbs and onto Ballarato Rd near Cardinia

From there we tracked east through farming and forest land

Before coming to the start of the famous Grand Ridge Road (GRR) which begins at its Western edge at the Korumburra – Warragul Rd turnoff.

The road runs predominantly along the ridge lines of the Strzelecki Range, is around 135km long, and is a mixture of bitumen and dirt. A detailed look at the road can be found “here”.

From what I’d read, the biggest concern about the road was the presence of large logging trucks that could easily squeeze a unsuspecting bike off into the forest Being a Sunday we were hopeful of having a quiet time of it.

After stopping for a photo at the turn off we noticed a little problem with Russell’s RH sidecover.

It was being pushed onto the hot exhaust by one of the pannier straps, so a few quick adjustments were made

And then we were off

With over 30mm of rain falling over the previous few days the first dirt section was rather slippery but we soon passed by Seaview.

From there some nice bitumen took us through the forest

Past the turn off to the Mount Worth State Park

And then through more forest

And farmland

Before evidence of logging became apparent

There was even a ramshackle farm or two along the way

It wasn’t long before by bakery radar kicked in and a stop at Mirboo North was in order.

Now with no real campsite to aim for we decided to hook off the GRR for a while and headed north along the Boolara –Foster Rd that then hooked up with the Morwell River Rd, as I had heard there were some possible camps along here. Despite a few obstructions

The road followed the river quite closely

And it was a pretty ride for most of the way

Unfortunately, most of the camps were pretty soggy so we picked up a track that headed back towards the GRR. However, we soon came across this

So we had to backtrack until we found another likely looking route

This one looked quite promising

It crossed several creeks

And then climbed up towards the GRR

Until, just 50mts from our goal, it petered out

We could see the GRR but there was no way through the thick regrowth so we turned around once more and headed back to a more major track out. It wasn’t too long before we popped out on the GRR again quite near Ryton Junction

A few spots along the road were now showing some signs of damage from the rains

With time now marching on we decided to head up Jeeraland West Rd and then branched off onto Traralgon Creek Rd on the lookout for campsites. We didn’t get far up the latter before having to move a fallen tree to make our way through.

And I can assure you it was heavier than it looked

We then passed a footbridge that spans Traralgon Creek and forms part of the iconic bushwalking trail known as the Grand Strzelecki Track

I had read somewhere that there was a possible camp near the old LeRoy school site but when we got there we found hoons in 4x4’s doing donuts had wrecked it. The only positive was that one had obviously careered into the metal seat nearby and must have done some damage to their vehicle

Now it was getting late so we edged back to near where the road crossed the river and found a camp amongst the trees that was close to the river.

With plenty of wood around we set up camp and settled in for our first night on the road

Day 2

After a heavy dew overnight we packed up our wet tents and followed Traralgon Creek back towards GRR.

Soon we were back on the fern lined gravel road

Before we entered the section that passes through Tara Bulga National Park

There is also quite a well signposted ‘Strzelecki Trail’ that follows the highlights of the ranges through the local communities nearby

With very little in the way of traffic (we had hardly seen a vehicle the whole time, expect in the built up areas) we stopped to stretch our legs and took a walk along one of the National Park tracks to check out a suspension bridge.

The walk was via a well maintained track

after about a 15 minute (downhill) walk we arrived at the bridge

That spans the dense, fern lined creek below

After a bit of a wandering about we started back along an alternative track back to the bikes, only to find a car park a few hundred mtrs from the bridge

By the time we had hiked back uphill to our original starting point the jackets were off and we were well and truly warmed up

Once back on the bikes we soon came to the eastern end of the GRR. It had been an interesting and enjoyable ride through some wonderful countryside and we had not seen a single logging truck

Soon we turned north on the Hyland Highway towards the Latrobe Valley’s largest town – Traralgon. The imposing view of the Loy Yang power station, the largest in Australia, soon came into view.

Once in Traralgon we stopped for fuel and dropped into the supermarket to pick up a few supplies. Imagine my horror when I returned to my bike to find a 4x4 had stopped literally mms away from my front wheel

With a bag full of rolls and fresh ham, cheese and fruit it was soon off to a local park for a bite of lunch

Once lunch was over we picked up the road to Tyers and spared one last glimpse back over the valley

After passing through Tyers we enjoyed the wonderful bitumen road towards Walhalla

Rather than travel the whole way along the main route to Walhalla we decided to head off on the non-descript Cowwarr Rd and hook around via Brunton’s Bridge.

The bridge, that crosses the Thomson River, was revamped as a walkway back in 2009

A wide ford still exists just downstream from the bridge

But the DR’s made it across the bridge without a worry

The old and new combined

Once over the bridge we followed the Old Coach Rd, past Happy Go Lucky Mine and on down into Walhalla, popping out on the main road right next to the railway station

The township of Walhalla, which back in the late 1800’s once boasted a population of over 2000 people during the gold boom, is now a sleepy tourist town with its restored buildings and pub

After gentle run around town we soon headed north on the Walhalla Rd towards Aberfeldy. Along the way the vast Thomson Dam could be glimpsed off to the west.

The road soon deteriorated

Before it crossed the Aberfeldy River

Although we were tempted by a nice little camp area just down from the bridge (with some wood) we decided it was a little early so we pressed on.

We thought we would check out the camps further down on the river, so we turned off and headed down Merrigton’s Track. Although the track down was in good condition the wide camp area at the bottom was full of mud from the recent rain and not very appealing.

I’d heard about a few camps on the other side of the Aberfeldy River so we headed down to the ford. It was now getting late in the day and the crossing looked a little tricky

Not so much for the depth or flow but rather the number of larger rocks lurking under the surface. In the end I stripped off my boots

And with the $5 Kmart crocs on, I waded across to check it out.

With it getting closer to dark we decided to walk the bikes across as drowning one of them would have been a real pain at that time of the day (not to mention wet boots ). Safe on the other side

Once across we continued on a short distance over a hill and found another, shorter ford that we rode through (and of course soaked our boots ).

After checking a few spots and becoming rather confused with the track junctions at this point (compared to the gps) we decided to camp right on edge of the river where a previous camp fire was still smoldering.
Although the area was rocky it was pretty flat and the tents were soon pitched. Of course after I'd put my tent up I noticed that a large gum tree was leaning at a precarious angle directly in line with it.

So, in the half dark, I moved it to a safer location with the occasional expletive thrown in for good measure.

With our already lit fire stoked up we settled back and put some food on - Chunky Chicken soup and Uncle Ben's rice was on my menu - which went down well with a few beers

To be continued…

bull600 screwed with this post 09-08-2014 at 04:27 AM
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Old 05-02-2014, 06:20 PM   #2
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Cool story bros. Thanks. Australia is sure different, to me.
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Old 05-02-2014, 07:58 PM   #3
Detlef in Oz
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Great Ride report and Pics guys ... keep it coming

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Old 05-02-2014, 11:17 PM   #4
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Great RR + pics.

Looking forward to more.


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Old 05-02-2014, 11:41 PM   #5
more cowbell
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Old 05-03-2014, 02:09 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by kano650 View Post
Good stuff ...

Keep it coming ...

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Old 05-03-2014, 06:06 PM   #7
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Scenery looks different through someone else's eyes.

Looking good B
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:12 PM   #8
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Day 3

As we broke camp the next morning we were still confused as to the whereabouts of Junction Track, which is where we wanted to head. After packing up we spied another track near the second ford and took that, only to find that it hooked back onto Sullivan's Track and wasn't the one we wanted. Then, after riding in circles and re crossing the river a few times,

I noticed another track that went back on a tangent from the original. This had to be it! It was right next to the ford and involved another river crossing almost straight after the first.

Russ was first across

And promptly filled up his dry boots with water
At least we were now on the right track and it wasn't long before we reached the junction of Donnelly’s Creek Rd, where we headed north.

With a heavy fog surrounding the top of the hills we were literally driving through the clouds

On our way past the Toombon Gold mines

Before arriving at Smoko Point

This was a spot that conscripted soldiers took a rest at during 3 day training marches conducted through the mountains before overseas deployment during WW2. The little cairn set on the point contains pieces of slate where the soldiers scratched their names. For Russell it was more just a nice spot to drain the water from his soaking boots

After checking out the river near Anderson’s campsite

We headed steeply up Donnelly Creek Rd once more, before arriving at Aberfeldy

Another remnant town of the gold mining era that now has just a few residents but some great views (more information re this area can be found here )

From Aberfeldy we continued north on the road towards Woods Point which is has a reputation for its potholes. We weren’t disappointed, although at least when full of water they were easier to spot

Some creative soul had made it clear what they thought of the road

But it wasn’t all bad

After a snack at the Mt Selma Rd turn off we headed west into the Goulburn State Forest towards Licola

As the road passed the summit telltale signs of fire were evident

Before, first a large deer, and then these around one corner

Caused us to take stock of things (so to speak )

Once past the Jamieson – Licola Rd intersection the new paved road provided some great riding

As well as nice views down towards the valley

Rather than following the main road into Licola we turned off at Link Rd

Which led to the picturesque Target Creek Rd that meandered through the valley

Past herds of fat cows, mobs of woolly sheep and even a Landrover graveyard

Before we met up with the mighty McCalister River not far from Licola

Licola is a great little spot boasting a well set up General Store (want to buy it?)

Which provided three essential commodities for our journey onwards… Fuel, food (in the form of a frozen meat pack + fresh veggies) and of course

(there may have been one or two others hiding under the ice)

Licola is a unique town, in that it is owned by the Lions Clubs of Victoria and NSW. The well-appointed information and picnic area on the lawned edge of the river provided a nice spot for a bite to eat

With lunch out of the way we headed off across the river

And then up Tamboritha Rd and into the Alpine National Park. The road starts off as bitumen, passing a number of car based camping sites along the river, before turning to dirt. We hooked off at Kelly Lane and stopped at a deep pool along Shaw Creek for a look around.

Pity it was rather cool, otherwise it would have been a perfect spot for a dip. Kelly Lane soon joined up with Kelly Hut Track and after a few small fords (note the dry boots this time)

We turned down the track that led us to McMichaels Hut

The warm, dry, wood stocked hut was rather tempting

But it was too early in the day to make camp so we continued on past Kelly Hut

to Howitt Rd, before picking up Moroka Rd at Arbuckle Junction.

We started heading down Moroka Range Track (our original plan) but found it was wet and very slippery and now rain was starting to fall

So, after consulting our maps in a bit more detail

we decided to bail out of that option and take Marathon Rd down off the range. It wasn’t long before the weather closed in

and the rain started in earest, just as we reached the 4x4 section of the road

The rain kept falling as we took Link Rd over to Freestone Creek Rd

with some interesting downhill sections to keep us on our toes (and off our arses)

Finally we reached the ford on Link Rd and crossed over Freestone Creek meeting the intersection with Freestone Creek Rd, where we turned north.

I’d camped by the creek on a previous 4x4 trip but warning bells sounded in my mind when the first campsite at Shady’s Place had a homemade sign posted out the front saying the site was full. Being school holidays and the week before Easter we became a little concerned that all the camps along the creek may be full. (see some information re this section here )

However, our concerns were soon allayed when we pulled into Jackson’s Flat and found that, not only was it empty, but there was some left over wood ready to go

It wasn't long before a fire was started and those beers from Licola were dragged out

The 12v pump made light work of pumping up our exped mattresses

With the rain still drizzling down we set up our shelter

Before cooking up the frozen BBQ pack we had purchased at Licola (and good it was)

As the rain softly fell on the shelter and we finished our beers we made friends with one of the locals who seemed keen to be part of the action

To be continued…

bull600 screwed with this post 07-09-2014 at 01:22 AM
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Old 05-04-2014, 12:00 AM   #9
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And there's me thinking Oz was just a big hot desert !!! cracking place to live guys and thanks for the RxR
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Old 05-04-2014, 12:53 AM   #10
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Great story guys, we have so e great country
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Old 05-04-2014, 05:38 AM   #11
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Great story, and pics too.

Im a Melbourne Local, and have done all of those tracks, except all of the Grand Ridge Road, Ive done maybe 80% over different trips. Also, mostly Ive done it in a 4x4, so the rivers and steep decents are much less of a worry.

I look forward to reading the rest of it.

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Old 05-04-2014, 02:48 PM   #12
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Great report and a great trip
thanks for sharing
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Old 05-04-2014, 05:50 PM   #13
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great RR and beautiful pics guys.

05 2 wheels...soon 3 wheels.
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Old 05-04-2014, 07:42 PM   #14
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Great ride report & great photos, what a beautiful part of our country.

Looks like a great place to tour on a bike too.

Cheers, Sol..
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Old 05-04-2014, 10:26 PM   #15
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Great report and pics. Looks like fantastic riding.

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