High Country Ride March 2020 by Bob Braunsthal

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High Country Ride March 2020 by Bob Braunsthal

Post by Ken »

Fortunately we were a lot luckier with the weather on this ten-day ride than the previous long ride last December that was marred by snow, heavy rain and bushfires. We had a much smaller group of only seven, but that did make it more manageable as we rode two BMWs and one of each Japanese marque.

Saturday the first day was the warmest. There was some wind with dust around Ouyen where we had a good lunch at the bakery. The first day's journey finished with a dip in the pool at the caravan park where we were staying. We took a bus to the RSL club in Swan Hill for dinner. Although there was talk about the corona virus it was early days for the emerging pandemic and crowds of people were still mingling with no real concerns. That casual disregard had disappeared by the end of our trip.

The second day, Saturday, was much cooler. We had an enjoyable morning tea at the bakery in Nathalia before riding on to lunch at Yarrawonga. Then we headed on to Wodonga and Bonegilla. Although we rode to within a few hundred metres of our destination, we chose to ride to the Hume Dam and along the fabulous winding road alongside the waters to Granya. We then rode the twisting road across the range to Tallangatta and on to Ebden in a loop of about 90 km. We stayed there for three days by the waters of the Hume Dam. After arriving, we headed to the pool for a swim before taking a courtesy bus to Wodonga for a good meal in the crowded Blazing Stump Hotel.

The forecast for the third day, Sunday, was concerning but happily it was wrong. Instead of 13 degrees at Omeo it was 18. We rode through Lockhart Gap and on to Dartmouth Dam on a side-road, then continued up the twisty tarmac for a couple of hours to Omeo for lunch. Afterwards we retraced our route to the winding Falls Creek Road. We descended through the ski area to Mt Beauty where we bought some supplies as we'd decided to make our own dinners. We then headed to the Mullagong/Gundowring Road where we zipped along at a good pace towards Ebden. Another swim in the pool before tea capped off a good day.

The forecast for the fourth day, Monday, was again worrying. 12 degrees at Mt Hotham sounded cold, but once again it was wide of the mark – it reached a pleasant 19. We rode to Beechworth where we had a very nice morning tea, then rode on to Bright past the berry farm that was closed – the new owners sure don't seem interested in customers. After lunch in Bright, Merilyn and Sue decided to do shopping while the blokes went up and down the mountains. We twisted up to Mt Hotham, took some photos and rode back down the winding road. The views were magnificent as always, and the riding was terrific. After meeting the ladies, we rode on to the steep winding descent at Tawonga Gap to Mt Beauty where we again bought supplies for that night's dinner. We'd had such a good time the previous day when we rode along the Mullagong/Gundowring Road, we decided to repeat the dose – lovely.

On the Tuesday we rode up the lovely winding road next to the Hume Dam to Walwa for morning tea. Then we tackled the long twisting road to Thredbo and Jindabyne. Again the chilly forecast didn't eventuate, the coldest spot being 16 degrees for just a few minutes in a fire ravaged area near the highest point of the road. It was 20 by the time we had lunch in Jindabyne. After that we rode to Berriedale, Dalgety and Bombala where we had afternoon tea before descending the enjoyable winding Mt Darragh Road to Pambula and Merimbula where we stayed two nights, having dinner at the RSL club on the first night. As in previous stays there, we enjoyed our swims in their heated pool.

On our rest day, Wednesday, Merilyn and I had a short ride to nearby Eden, while the others headed to Tathra where they met a local Ulyssian they'd befriended at the 2018 Riverland AGM. He took them on a longer ride than they intended to go, but they enjoyed seeing Tilba Tilba, a heritage area. That night we had an average dinner in a local pub. The rest day was welcome for ageing bodies.

On the Thursday we rode back through the lovely hills around Candelo to Cooma where we had morning tea, then on to Jindabyne for an early lunch, there being no other convenient lunch stop until distant Khancoban which we reached after two o'clock after a long ride down the mountains. We were able to convince the lady in the toll booth that we were riding through and not staying in the park which would have meant paying fees. We had afternoon tea at Walwa before riding back down the lovely winding road by the Hume Dam to our destination, Wodonga, where, after riding in temperatures near 30 degrees, the pool felt a lot colder than Merimbula's. Dinner at the popular Edwards Tavern was unusually quiet – the grim reality of the covid19 virus was taking effect.

We rode through Beechworth again on the Friday before heading to the berry farm. Despite advertising being open on Fridays, it was closed again. What a contrast to the previous owners – the new owners don't seem to want any customers which was very disappointing. We rode on to the superb winding section between Whitfield and Mansfield where we had lunch in the bakery. Then we tackled the most demanding road of all, around Eildon Dam. The section from Jamieson to Eildon has countless tight, blind corners and by the end of it, riders felt worn out. Richard left us there to see his sister for a couple of hours. The rest of us rode on to Yea, where we went to dinner, some of us to a Chinese Restaurant, the others to a pub. Both places had few clients.

On the Saturday Kym left us to see his sister who lives in Melbourne. We rode to Seymour where we stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in a lovely gum-tree-lined park. It was an impressive memorial with a helicopter, tank, armoured personnel carrier and a Howitzer from that war on display as well as the names of all men and women who served in Vietnam. I found two names of friends who were in that war. One of them was really surprised when I later sent him an email with a photo of his name on the list – he hadn't heard of the Commemorative Walk.

After morning tea in a large new bakery in Heathcote we took short-cut back roads to Castlemaine and then rode on through Maryborough before having lunch at the well-known pie shop in Avoca. There Dom and Sue found an interesting memorial garden for the Chinese who had joined in the gold rush. We rode on to Ararat and Hall's Gap where we had a break and ate ice-creams. Then we went to the Boroka Lookout where we chatted to a young American lad and his French girl-friend. He was OK to return to USA, but she was unsure how she could get back to France because of travel restrictions and limited flights in the evolving covid19 crisis, poor girl.

Mt Victory Road over the Grampians was our last dose of twisting road before we reached Horsham. We had our farewell dinner at the Old Family Restaurant once again but with fewer patrons there than usual. We headed home on the Sunday and rode up Mt Arapiles to enjoy the panoramic view, then went on past Crowe's Corner in the far west of Victoria before reaching SA and a rest at Padthaway.

After lunch at Keith and afternoon tea at Tailem Bend we headed home our separate ways. We covered 4268km with no problems other than Dom's slow-leaking rear tyre. We all had a great time and arrived home to S.A. shortly before the state borders were regulated to limit the spread of covid19.

In the coming months with enforced changes to normal life we'll recall this trip fondly, the last ride before the bleak period of sitting out this pandemic. There might be another high country ride late in the year and there might not. It will depend on the course of this virus. I remain hopeful.
Ken Wagnitz #21315
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Location: Fleurieu Peninsula

Re: High Country Ride March 2020 by Bob Braunsthal

Post by Spook »

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Almost Normal Spook #4793
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Re: High Country Ride March 2020 by Bob Braunsthal

Post by olfrt »

What a fantastic ride report/story.
Paul Butler #17758
Yankee in Oz
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Re: High Country Ride March 2020 by Bob Braunsthal

Post by Yankee in Oz »

8-) 8-) 8-)
Gra Har
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Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2020 8:56 pm
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Re: High Country Ride March 2020 by Bob Braunsthal

Post by Gra Har »

Great ride and read Ken, I used to write up rides like that a couple of decades ago, a few made ot to Riding On when JM was at the helm - gone all pearshaped sine he left.

Cheers GH
Graham Hart #12131
Leith TAS
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