Cycling Holiday Day 2 – GVRT – Yea – Bonnie Doon


Buying that packet of ‘Shapes’ savory biscuits that was on sale was not a good idea! I had a funny stomach most of the night and had to visit the ‘porcelain bus’ a few times to empty the bowels. And inspite of the 40km ride yesterday, I didn’t sleep very well. So I started getting ready about 6am, planning to depart Yea at 7am. When I left there was a fairly thick fog, but once I got through the Cheviot tunnel, about 9km from Yea, the sky was clear. There was a threatening sky around Molesworth, with banks of cloud rolling through the valley, but about 30 minutes later the sky was clear blue and it styed that way until Bonnie Doon.

Fog

Fog

The ride from Yea to the Cheviot Tunnel was across the Yea River flats, and so there were a lot of bridges. And then the climb to the tunnel began, which wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be but it was hard enough. The Cheviot Tunnel is one of the key features of the Goulburn Valley rail trail. It was (is) the only tunnel on the line / trail and was made using handmade bricks made from local clay. The tunnel is 201 metres (660 feet) long and is the longest rail tunnel in Victoria, although whether you would still call it a ‘rail’ tunnel could be debated as no railway runs through it today, only the rail trail. It is estimated that there are approximately 657,000 bricks in the tunnel.

Cheviot tunnel

Cheviot tunnel

Cheviot tunnel brickwork

Cheviot tunnel brickwork

Cheviot Tunnel marked a major cycling milestone for me: 500km in a calendar month (so far). The scenery so far on this cycling holiday has really been ‘good for the soul’. Around Trawool is very beautiful, but east of Yea is also beautiful. Here are a few pictures of scenery between Cheviot Tunnel and Molesworth.

Scenery between Cheviot and Molesworth

Scenery between Cheviot and Molesworth

Scenery between Cheviot and Molesworth

Scenery between Cheviot and Molesworth

After the tunnel, there was a pleasant down grade for quite a way, and a bridge (or more, I can’t remember) across creeks. Harvey’s Gully is in this area and was the scene of a derailment in 1911, and the picture I saw of it showed part of the train on the bridge and part of the train in the gully and the locomotive looks like it is upsidedown. I don’t know whether the picture of the bridge below are the Harvey Gully bridge, as the approaches to the gully in the 1911 photo I saw of the bridge looks quite different to the photo below. Also in the near vicinity was a concrete milepost, and a wallaby.

87 miles from Melbourne

87 miles from Melbourne

Bridge between Cheviot and Molesworth

Bridge between Cheviot and Molesworth

Wallaby

Wallaby

Molesworth Station area is now a car park, and had one iddy biddy section of track, which I assume is on the original alignment as it points in what appears to be the right direction.

Molesworth track

Molesworth track

Just to the east of Molesworth, the trail crosses the Goulburn River flats on a number of bridges. The two longest ones had concrete supports when the railway line closed, and some of the others were timber trestle bridges.

Goulburn River flats bridge

Goulburn River flats concrete supports bridge

Goulburn River flats bridge

Goulburn River flats concrete supports bridge

Goulburn River flats bridge

Goulburn River flats trestle bridge piers

Goulburn River flats bridge

Goulburn River flats trestle bridge

Cathkin, like so many other places that had stations when the railway operated, was little more than a few mounds of dirt and the occasional ‘evidence’ of there being a railway in the area. This location was where the branch line to Alexandra diverged, and apparently was quite a busy place when trains where split – 1/2 the train going to Alexandra and the other 1/2 going to Mansfield. I did see evidence of a web designer there…

Evidence of a web designer at Cathkin

Evidence of a web designer at Cathkin

Yarck and Kanumbra came and went, then it was the hard climb to the highest point on the trail – the Merton Gap, at 397 metres above sea level. The climb was long, and most of it I was using the lower gears on the bike. And just when I thought is was about to end, it just kept on going. Man, it was tough! But I eventually got to the top, and then it was a rather pleasand down grade to Merton, where I stopped to buy a fruit juice (Banana and Mango). I wish I hadn’t purchased the drink as after I drank it my energy levels seemed lower than they were before. Or maybe it was just that the climb to Merton Gap had used a lot of my energy reserves. Whatever the reason I found it hard going for the next 15km to Bonnie Doon. The scenery approaching Bonnie Doon was, well, rather than use an adjective to describe it why I just show you the pictures…

Lake Eildon approaching Bonnie Doon

Lake Eildon approaching Bonnie Doon

Pelicans on Lake Eildon

Pelicans on Lake Eildon

Lake Eildon near Bonnie Doon

Lake Eildon near Bonnie Doon

Old farm building near Bonnie Doon

Old farm building near Bonnie Doon

That brought the day’s ride to 62km. I guess I have a certain right to not have much energy after a ride like that!

A great, if somewhat tiring, ride! I would do it again, but not in Spring (swooping magpies gets a bit on the nerves after a while) and would probably not do it while wearing a pack on my back as my shoulders were getting pretty sore by the end of the ride.

For GPS tracking of todays ride, see:

Cycling Holiday Day 1 – GVRT Tallarook – Yea


I woke up this morning to the sound of rain, and by the time we were passing through Albury / Wodonga the rain had that menacing ‘raining all day’ look about it. But the further south we got, the better the weather got and by the time we arrived at Tallarook the day was warm, and sunny, with a little cloud. Perfect weather for cycling!

As I removed the bike from the bike rack on the back of the car, there was a magpie stuka that was swooping Rebecca and the kids, but it seemed to be content to leave me alone, so while I got the bike set up to start my trek, the rest of the family retreated to the car.

Tallarook railway Station

Tallarook railway Station

I had never been to Tallarook, or travelled on the road from there to Trawool, before today so that was a new experience. Tallarook was once the junction for the Mansfield and Alexandra railway lines. Parts of the rail trail are adjacent to the Goulburn River and the grades, being old railway formations tended to be up to about 4% (1:25).

Rail trail next to Goulburn river

Rail trail next to Goulburn river

Then at the end of Goulburn River Road, the trail follows the Goulburn Valley Highway towards Yea. There were a number of old railway station / siding locations, which basically showed very little evidence of being an important railway formation, and often the signage was the only real proof that a railway facility (apart from the track) was even there, as at Trawool.

Trawool

Trawool Station remains (I think)

At Granite, where there was once a station but today the overwhelming feature is the Trawool Valley Resort (I think that is the name of it).

Trawool Resort, Granite.

Trawool Resort, Granite.

A few kilomtres further on was Kerriesdale. At this point in the journey I decided to visit the Kerriesdale Mountain Railway (KMR), a privately owned and operated tourist railway that has a maximum grade of 1:12 (around 8%). The grades reminded me of photos I had seen of the Cass Railway in West Virgina, but the surrounds had a lot less trees.

The views from the Summit and along the journey to the Summit were amazing. The location on the railway called Strath View Siding offered views to the east towards the Australia Alps, and from the Summit the view was nearly 360 degrees with magnificent views into the valleys and mountains beyond! If you are ever in the Trawool area, I would say the the KMR is a ‘must visit’ location. And I am not just saying that because I like trains!

GVRT from KMR train ride

GVRT from KMR train ride

Views from KMR at Strath View Siding

Views from KMR between Strath View Siding and Summit

Views from KMR at Strath View Siding

Views from KMR between Strath View Siding and Summit

After riding the train to the summit and back we arrived back at the Bottom Points station, where I had some lunch. Then I gingerly descended to the rail trail (the road to / from the Kerriesdale Mountain railway was so steep I had to walk the bike up the last section on the way to get to the KMR), and had to navigate through the scrub for a little way to get back on the rail trail – not ideal when riding a portable bike. And then I continued towards Yea.

Not long after I got back on the rail trail at Kerriesdale, I passed over the King Parrot Creek Bridge. This is a fairly high bridge – I am thinking it is probably the second highest on the whole trail, the one over Lake Eildon being higher – but there may be others that I am not aware of. I wasn’t aware of their being a rather long tunnel on the rail trail either until I read about it a week or so ago, so there may be other high bridges I am not aware of too. Also in the area near the King Parraot Creek bridge, there are some old growth River Red Gum forests, which apparently have some trees up to 600 years old.

King Parrot Creek bridge

King Parrot Creek bridge

King Parrot Creek bridge

King Parrot Creek bridge

At Homewood, there was very little evidence of the railway station that once existed. But I did find this:

Homewood station, maybe?

Homewood station, maybe?

There were a number of long-ish grades on the section between Kerriesdale and Yea, but apart from a swooping magpie actually attacking my helmet (a first since I painted it black and added heaps of cable ties) the whole journey from Tallarook to Yea was without any major incident.

Upon arrival at Yea I had a look around the well preserved railway station and good shed, and then headed off to the motel where I was booked to spend the night.

Yea station

Yea station

Yea Goods Shed

Yea Goods Shed

Over all a very enjoyable and interesting ride.

For GPS tracking for this ride, go to :

Family Holiday Highlights – Thu 18th April


(This post follows on from the previous one, so if something doesn’t make sense you might want to look at the previous post!)

Mount Beauty

On Thursday we decided to explore Mount Beauty. Mount Beauty was established in 1949 by the SEC to house construction workers for the Kiewa Hydro Electric Scheme. It is about 350km from Melbourne (Victoria, Australia), and about 35km from Bright. The seasons are very obvious in Mount Beauty: chilling winters, cool wet springs, scorching summers and colorful autumns. Each season has its own attractions: skiing, bushwalking / hiking, horse riding, gliding, bike riding (mountain and road) as well as fishing. Mount Beauty also has its own annual music festival, mountain bike competition and regular weekend markets. There are also some great views from and of the surrounding mountains.

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Above: Sunset reflecting of the nearby mountains.

As Zoe had a nasty bark and generally didn’t have much energy, and Rebecca had developed a stomach bug, we decided that we would walk to Pebble Beach, then Jesse and I would do a longer hike after lunch. So we found the walking track to Pebble Beach.

Pebble Beach walk

Pebble Beach walk is a very flat, very easy walk along a shared walking / bicycle path beside the river. There are some great views along the river, and with the leaves on the overhanging trees changing to their Autumnal color it looked quite serene.

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Above: view along river looking towards Mount Beauty.

Pebble Beach itself is like most other bends in a river where pebbles of varying sizes can be found, with one exception – people have decided to build objects out of the stones at Pebble Beach. Exactly how this came about I don’t know, but it seems to have become a tradition and one of the tourist brochures we read encouraged visitors to make their own object out of stones. This makes it an interesting place to visit.

MtBeauty_PebbleBeach_5142_500MtBeauty_PebbleBeach_5143_500I tried building something out of the stones there, but didn’t have much success. And it seems the kids were more interested in throwing rocks back into the river! Along the walk there are a few places where the surrounding hills and landscape can admired. Mount Bogong, sometimes referred to as the Brooding Giant, is quite close to Mount Beauty and there are some good vistas of it from the path.

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Above: View of Mount Bogong from Pebble Beach track.

Also along the track is the Regulating Pondage, close to the township itself.

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Above: regulating pondage.

This is a pondage that regulates water flow into the river, but exactly why it is there I am not sure. I suspect it is connected with one or more f the Hydro-electric power stations in the area and is used to store and release flows of water from power station/s so that it is released more gently into the river rather than causing a flash flood. By the time we got back to the car, it was lunch time. So we ate the usual camp lunch fare.

Pole Track / Survey Track

After lunch Jesse and I went on a more strenuous walk befitting people who be fit. The walk was made up of two sections – 1) Pole Track, 2) Survey Track. The brochure we got which had information on it suggested doing the Survey Track then the Pole Track, but being somewhat non-conformist I decided we would do it in reverse. So we started along the Gorge Track from the Mountain Bike Park, then turned into Pole Track. The section of the Gorge Track we used to get to Pole Track was easy – very flat, but Pole Track was very steep in places. Along the way there were some good views of the town.

MtBeauty_PoleTrackSurveyTrack_walk_view_5150_500

Above: Mount Beauty from Pole Track.

MtBeauty_PoleTrackSurveyTrack_walk_view_5152_500

Above: Another view of Mount Beauty, and along the Kiewa Valley.

The Pole Track was criss-crossed by a number of mountain bike trails. The bike trails themselves would have been hard enough to walk along let along ride a bike. I am quite sure it was considerably easier walking along the pole track (even the steep sections) than along the mountain bike trails! After about an hour we arrived at Cranky Charlies. Cranky Charlies is a location on the road to Falls Creek, and was named after a local land owner. My guess is that his name was Charlie and that he was known for being crankie. After a short rest and a well deserved drink of water we headed off down the Survey Track to return to Mount Beauty township. From the Survey Track we had some great views of the river far down in the valley below.

MtBeauty_PoleTrackSurveyTrack_walk_KiewaRiver_5159_500

Above: View of the river from Survey Track. I think it is the Kiewa River.

There were also some interesting flora (plants).

MtBeauty_PoleTrackSurveyTrack_walk_flowers_5156_500MtBeauty_PoleTrackSurveyTrack_walk_flowers_5157_500The survey track was built in the 1930s, and today is maintained by volunteers “for walkers and XC bikes”. For most of it’s length it is a single file track, quite different to the Pole Track which is a 4×4 track. We arrived back at the outskirts of Mount Beauty township near the golf course. And we decided to take a shortcut across the golf course and through the residential areas of the town. But in retrospect it probably didn’t really save us any time as we had to zig-zag through the streets to get to the park we were supposed to meet Rebecca and the girls at.

Gorge Track

After we rendezvous-ed with Rebecca and the girls we drove the car to the car park at the Mountain Bike Park, and all set off along the Gorge Track. The Gorge is quite close the the township, and apparently leads to a shady swimming spot in the river. Along the way, there are some good views of the Kiewa Valley too. Along the walk there is a swing bridge spanning the river.

MtBeauty_Gorge_walk_5164_500

Above: swing bridge across the river.

The gorge itself reminded me of a gorge called Missinghams Steps, near Bowral in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. But at Missinghams Steps, the walk goes from one side of the gorge down to the river and then back up the other side. At least at Mount Beauty Gorge the track goes more or less along the bottom of the gorge, so it is a much easier walk. Following a re a few photos of the gorge.

MtBeauty_Gorge_walk_5163_500MtBeauty_Gorge_walk_5165_500MtBeauty_Gorge_walk_5166_500MtBeauty_Gorge_walk_5168_500The last photo (above) is zoomed in from a point 100 metres or so away, and I suspect the most spectacular section of the Gorge was just around the corner. But the river level was high and would have required wading through to get to the gorge. As the water was really cold, and flowing quite fast I decided against this. While the view of the Gorge around the corner might have been more spectacular I figured it probably wasn’t worth the possibility of hypothermia!

Family Holiday Highlights – Wed 17th April


From Tuesday 16th to Friday 19th April, we were able to have a family camping holiday. We camped at the base of Mount Bogong, the highest mountain in the state of Victoria (Australia), at a camping place called Mountain Creek.

Here are a few highlights of the activities we did on Wednesday…

Bogong village and Fainter Falls

Bogong village was created in the late 1930s by the State Electricity Commission (SEC) to provide accommodation and services for workers constructing the Kiewa hydro-electric scheme. A post office, a primary school and a shop were also established. When the Kiewa hydro-electric scheme was completed in the early 1960s, the SEC planted various terraced and lakeside gardens. In the Spring various flowers bloom, in Summer the gardens take on a cool and leafy green appearance, turning to a kaleidescope of color in the Autumn when the leaves of the deciduous trees announce that Summer is over and Winter is on the way. Autumn is the time of year we visited there, and the various colors of leaves throughout the region made for a very colourful vista. But it isn’t just the gardens at Bogong that provide beauty – there is Lake Guy, a man-made lake built as part of the hydro-scheme.

Above: Lake Guy wall

Bogong_village_LakeGuy_5075_500

Above: Lake Guy, looking upstream

While the wall itself is somewhat utilitarian and made of concrete, the lake that it holds in the valley is very pleasant to behold as are the various visual elements associated with the village. A little upstream from Lake Guy, there is a beautiful parkland setting where the Kiewa River is joined by a creek. A bridge crosses at that location, providing a good view up the valley.

Bogong_village_5084_500

Above: Bridge across the Kiewa River at Bogong Village

Bogong_village_5082_500

Above: Looking upstream from atop the bridge in the previous photo.

Photos really don’t do the scene justice (as is often the case with scenes of such beauty) – much less a wordy written description. A short drive from Bogong Village is Fainter Falls. According to the signage on the walk, it flows all year. This is hardly surprising as it has the High Plains to feed water to it. Winter snowfalls and seasonal rains recharge the ground water, springs and alpine wetlands which  slowly and continuous feed such water ways.

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Above: Looking downstream towards the Kiewa River.

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Above: The falls

While we all went on the walk, only Jesse, Rebecca and I actually went up to the closest viewing platform to the falls. Zoe and Eliana stayed at the viewing platform a few hundred metres back.

FainterFalls_5092_500

Above: the family minus Dad (on the other side of the camera) at the intermediate viewing platform before Jesse, Rebecca and I went on to the next platform.

Falls Creek Alpine Resort

This was the first time we had visited the Falls Creek resort, but I had been there before, having been somewhat enthusiastic about snow skiing before I got married. I think the last time I was there was before Rebecca and I got engaged, so it would have been some time around 1994 when I was last there. Things had changed. New buildings had been built, but some of the ski runs looked somewhat familiar (but some had what looked like snow-making apparatus which they didn’t last time I was there), and the mountains themselves hadn’t changed (at least not noticably).

FallsCreekResort_5104_500

Above: It wasn’t there last time I was.

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Above: Wishing Well. This also wasn’t there last time I was.

Another thing that I noticed was the non-ski-season marketing. Once upon a time a ski resort was basically just used for skiing. But it seems that the marketers for Falls Creek and Mount Beauty are recognising the potential for other non-Winter sports such as mountain biking, etc.

A ‘ruined castle’ and a Basalt Hill

Above Falls Creek, on the Mt McKay / Pretty Valley road is a naturally occurring feature called Ruined Castle. The feature is evidence of a basalt flow as a result of volcanic activity in the area years ago. The cooling of the lava caused cracks which divided the rock into close fitting columns, usually hexagonal (6 sides) in shape. The “Ruined Castle” formation is one of a few remaining examples of columnar jointed basalt in the area.

FallsCreekResort_RuinedCastle_5112_500

Above: view of all of ‘ruined castle’ formation

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Above: Close-up showing hexagonal shape of columns.

A short-ish drive further up onto the high plains on the road between Falls Creek and Omeo, past the Rocky Valley Dam near the Wallaces Hut walk and car park, are some formations which also are apparently of volcanic origin according to the signage. One of the formations is called Basalt Hill, which I suppose is indicating what it is comprised of.

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Above: An example of a basalt topped mountain, where the basalt on top helps to protect the rock underneath from erosion.

From there we decided to continue on to Omeo, as if it might be some sort of Shangri-la nestled in the hills.

Omeo, Omeo, wherefore art thou, Omeo

According to the road signs and our calculations it would take us about 1.5 hours to get to Omeo, but none of us had ever been to Omeo before and so we had no idea what we would encounter. The Omeo Highway and the song “Life is a highway” (which our son decided was an appropriate song to have playing) somehow just don’t seem to fit together. For one thing, the Omeo Highway is not the sort of road that one would like to ‘ride all night long’. Why it would be called a Highway at all might even be questioned. Maybe it was to get government funding for it, or something like that. It may not be what would often be thought of as a highway, but the drive is spectacular! Jutting rock faces and deep gorges are the major features, and with an average speed of around 50 kmh we (except the driver) had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. Sadly there were no places to pull over and just gawk at the scenery as the road is so narrow and winding.

As the kilometres passed we could all have been mis-quoting Shakespeare and thinking “Omeo, Omeo, wherefore are thou Omeo”. But eventually we made it! And here is the proof…

Omeo_5127_500

Nestled in the mountains seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Omeo is a small country town surrounded by beautiful scenery and farmland. To the north is Mitta Mitta, and Dartmouth and Corryong, and to the south is Bairnsdale. Gold, that precious and allusive metal, was the reason the town came into existence, but as the gold rush ended farming became the main activity of the region. Very picturesque, the town has a number of old buildings, and has the winding streets seemingly so common in gold mining towns and towns in the mountainous regions.

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We couldn’t stay long in Omeo as we wanted to be back at our camp site on the other site of the High Plains in time for tea and it was about 3:30pm when we arrived at Omeo. We also didn’t really want to be driving on the High Plains as the freezing temperatures descended below freezing point! So we had a brief look along the main street and then, with a sense of urgency, we headed back along the Omeo Highway from whence we came and over the High Plains. But we decided fairly quickly that a holiday to Omeo was a must-do at some point in the not-too-distant future.