Unscripted – Week 24 – Old Mill Track to Bairnsdale

1-3 April 2023

Kms: 172

Total Part 2 Kms: 3992

Total Trip Kms: 6440

Old Mill Track to Waygara – Gunaikurnai Country – 76 kms

The tent is wet. That’s normal. In six months of riding, I think I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve packed up a dry tent. But at least that means there’s moisture around, and that has made sourcing water less of a logistical issue this summer and autumn than it would be in a normal year. 

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Unscripted – Week 23 – Newtons Crossing to Old Mill Track

25-31 March 2023

Kms: 198

Total Part 2 kms: 3020

Total Trip kms: 6268

25 March 2023 – Newtons Crossing to Faulkner Creek – Bidawal Country – 21 kms

The sky does not look promising. Well, it does not look to promise any sunshine. It may promise some rain. But I’m not sure, I don’t know the weather patterns here. It’s not foggy; it’s not sunny; it’s cloudy but not terribly dark. So what to do? I’ve got plenty of food. We could hang here for the day and see if the weather improves tomorrow. We just need to get to Bombala before really heavy rain is forecast a few days from now.

But I don’t feel like hanging out here. I’m ready to move on. Plus, it’s a Sunday, and maybe there won’t be so much truck traffic on the dangerous Imlay Road if we try to make a little progress along it today.

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Unscripted – Week 22 – Errinundra Rd Quarry to Newtons Crossing

18-24 March 2023

Weekly kms: 313

Total Part 2 kms: 2822

Total trip kms: 6070

18 March 2023 – Errinundra Rd Quarry to Queensborough – Gunaikurnai and Bidawal Country – 35 kms

The light is blinding and refracts off the misty fog that is slowly dissipating as we head east. We’re high on a ridge on a road that is also a wide firebreak. That just means the trees are a bit further away. There are pockets of big trees with little understory, and areas that have been logged fairly recently. There’s long downs and ups and a helipad part way along.

The morning is quiet after last night’s rowdy wildlife – like everyone but a few small birds are hungover and waiting for the haze to go. As I ride, I think about the height of these ranges that catch the clouds and drop the rain and cool the air creating these unique ecosystems. I think about minimum fire intervals and our lack of understanding of how fire impacts the great majority of species in the forest – the fungi, the insects, the soil microbes. 

I roll through a cathedral of shining gums and mountain grey gums on my way to see the plum pines. 

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Unscripted – 2nd Half Week 21 – Orbost to Errinundra Rd Quarry

15-17 March 2023

130 kms

Total Part 2 kms: 2509 kms

Total trip kms: 5757 kms

15 March 2023 – Orbost to Yalmy River – Gunaikurnai Country – 51 kms

Once again, we’re riding off at first light. At least all the early starts should make it easier to go back to a job at some point. Of course, it’s easier to pry yourself out of bed for a day of riding than it is for a day at the office. I do miss those early start jobs I had when I was younger, because they also had early finishes. White-collar jobs start early and end late regardless of your official hours… too much to do and too many responsibilities these days with all those lean, mean company and government corporate structures.

But that is for another day. Today’s task is to get ourselves back up into the hills. At 6.45 am, the petrol station and café next door are busy. Fuel for the vehicle, fuel for the soul (I’m assuming most of those café orders are coffee, not food). 

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Unscripted – First half Week 21 – Suggan Buggan to Orbost

11-14 March 2023

Kms: 196

Total Part 2 Kms: 2379

Total Trip Kms: 5627

11 March Suggan Buggan to Wattle Camp – Ngarigo, Bidawal and Gunaikurnai Country – 84 kms

We’re up at 5.50am and packed and riding just after first light. There is a 9 km climb, gaining about 600 metres of elevation, to the top of the Wombargo Plateau this morning. The road is only one-lane wide in some places, so I want to get going before the traffic does. 

The morning is cool again – it’s obvious that summer is slowly ceding its grip. Some years it can be hot right through March, and the temps don’t start to cool until mid-April. But it doesn’t have that feel this year – it feels like we’re already on the temperature decline.

The road immediately starts climbing away from the river, curving up the edge of the hill and rolling up past scattered farmhouses into open forest. As I climb, I really enjoy looking at all of the Snowy River Volcanics and all of the tributaries carved into those old ignimbrites. There were quite a few volcanoes in this area 350-400 mya, and we’ll ride through part of a huge collapsed caldera later on. Climbing legs: on. Geology nerd: on.

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Unscripted – 2nd half Week 20 – Leatherbarrel Creek to Suggan Buggan

8-10 March 2023

Kms: 146

Total Part 2 Kms: 2509

Total Trip Kms: 5757

8 March – Leatherbarrel Creek to Jindabyne – Ngarigo Country – 52 kms

The wind absolutely ROARS through the trees at the top of the valley walls all night long. The sound, even down in the narrow valley where the creek runs, is intense. It is like being in a car wash with the SHHHHH sound of the spray on the top of the car simultaneous with the scrubbers throbbing up top and the loud thumping and whirring of all the brushes.

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Unscripted – 1st half Week 20 – Granya to Leatherbarrel Creek

4-7 March 2023

189 kms

Part 2 kms: 2037 kms

Total trip kms: 5285

4 March 2023 – Granya to Walwa – Dhudhuroa Country – 64 kms

I’m catching the Nigel ferry today so I don’t have to ride the crappy route out of Jindera and use the Wymah ferry. This saves the crew and me a day of riding on roads we’ve done a million times. It also cuts out the day with no good water refill options and crappy freeway shoulder sections. 

It does mean we’ll get a late start, however. And the day is meant to be hot. But I guess you can’t have everything, so we’ll exchange riding in the heat for some free kays.

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Unscripted – Weeks 18 and 19 – Zeka Creek to Wangaratta/Albury

18 February to 3 March 2023

Total week kms: 195 

Total Part 2 kms: 1848 

Total Trip kms: 5096

18 February 2023 – Zeka Creek to Riley Creek – Gunaikurnai Country – 20 kms

Up very early. The stars are out, the sun is just a hint of pale hues over the hills. Last night the cars kept coming. 16 in total heading down to camp in the valley. A couple vehicle occupants stopped and asked if I was okay, but I’m sure after the storms came not long after they’d gone by, they would think it made more sense to be setting up a tent for shelter. Unfortunately, all of the road runoff ran as a river under the tent, so the tent bottom and both folds of the tarp are all wet and muddy this morning. The tent did not leak inside, though.

So that’s not the best start to the day. As an appropriate follow-up, I find a leech attached to my left boob. Luckily, it’s not too hard to detach, but it explains why it was so itchy there. My bra is really quite soaked, but at least it’s black so you can’t see all the blood. It will just dry and get crusty as the day goes on.

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