It has been a couple weeks since the conclusion of our tour. The temperatures have finally cooled, and it actually has felt like autumn for the past week. Ahhh… it always feels so refreshing to have an overnight low of 10 degrees C after another one of Australia’s long, HOT summers.
You may have been disappointed that I did not do the Falls Creek climb as part of my rejigged tour in March. But fear not, I have not let you down. I did the ride last weekend, as I promised I would do later in autumn. In fact, I turned it into a bigger ride and did the whole alpine loop, including the ride on the Great Alpine Road – Victoria’s highest road. You can read about that four-day ride in my 2016 Day Rides section.
The 7-day tour and the 4-day alpine ride ticked a lot of the ‘must ride’ roads off my list. It really has been a sensational March for riding and climbing up steep grades. I can now offer my opinion on these four roads through the Victorian mountains:
1) Corryong-Benambra Road
2) Omeo Highway
3) Bogong High Plains Road
4) Great Alpine Road
That’s tough. I love bushwalking up on the Bogong High Plains. Riding across was a heap of fun, too. The climb from Mt Beauty to Falls Creek is long and requires endurance, but it’s never all that steep. Going the other way… well, that would be a whole different story.
The Corryong- Benambra Road is remote-ish but not too hard to figure out logistically. I loved the lack of traffic and the challenge of riding all that gravel up and down steep-ish hills. There were some great views and nice campsites. For solitude-lovers like me, that’s got to be the pick. Your experience is more tightly tied to luck than the other roads though – it could be a totally different ride at different times, just depending on the condition of the gravel.
The Great Alpine Road has 10 kilometres that are just sensational riding. The bit from the resort itself down to the gates at Buckland Gap is just exhilarating riding going downhill (and incredibly challenging if going up fully-loaded, I’d think). The exposed riding through buffeting winds along the spine of the ridge is spectacular. But the rest of the road would not be my pick. It’s not any better than the other three roads, and there is a lot more traffic. Plenty of caravans and a number of semi-trucks intermixed with impatient Melbourne holidaymakers and high performance motorbikes – it wasn’t nearly as pleasant as the other three roads.
The Omeo Highway – this road is just so much fun! There is some climbing in any direction or start point you’d plan… but the middle bits from the national park boundary near Bingo Munjiee Creek to the start of the climb at Glen Wills are just pure magic. The road just weaves along with amazing views through a thousand twists and turns without much significant climbing in either direction. There is not all that much traffic, even though it is now fully-sealed. There are bush campsites all the way along from Mitta to Omeo that you can have all to yourself, too. There are plenty of basic campgrounds, too, if you prefer. If I had to recommend only one road for someone to ride out of these four, this would be the one.
So my favourite? It would have to be a tie between the Omeo Highway and the Corryong-Benambra Road. They offer very different experiences, but I really loved all the kilometres on both of them.
I’ve had the most amazing March. I’ve had the opportunity to ride some iconic climbs and spend a whole bunch of time in the mountains. I’ve grunted out the steep climbs and never walked any of them. The start of this journal felt like Forest Gumption, but the end most definitely feels like Forest Celebration. And you can’t get a better ending than that!