This entry documents the Melbourne-Canberra XmasEpic Epilogue, a solo journey north through the Victorian badlands, across the Riverina wilds and up into the oxygen-starved fault-line that is the Snowy Mountains.
After a full week of carbo-loafing in front of Mal’s Foxtel-vision, it was time to get back on the bike. Or more accurately, it was time to get in Mal’s car to get a lift to a kinder, flatter start-point, far from the Dandenong craziness.
My start from Yarra Glen is perfect, away from the more heavily traffricked roads.
The Vulcan is itching to get underway. New handlebar tape gives it an aggressive visage, while replaced derailleur cables mean I won’t be walking up the hills. I have also bought a new pair of bike-shoes to replace to ones accidently left in the HiLux that disappeared to Canberra.
A word on the Vulcan. Despite an appalling run of puncture problems and a snapped chain on this year’s Epic, I love this bike more and more. With borrowed rear rack, it looks somewhat overloaded, but in reality I didn’t take a lot of stuff. The panniers are just large and loosely packed.
This set-up was ok, I suppose, but really front racks are needed (for at least tent and sleeping bag) to better distribute the weight. I did a fair bit of riding on fairly rough dirt, and having all the weight on the back really punished the rear end (the bike’s, not mine).
Mal fairwells me from Yarra Glen with a nonplussed look that says both “I don’t like your chances” and “Do we really share parents?” The perfect send-off. (Actually he shouted breakfast/coffees and sent me on my way – thanks for the lift Mal!)
Day One: Yarra Glen to Yea. 59Km, 394 metre total ascent. I’m glad I left on a Sunday so that I missed the logging trucks that would surely have been on the road otherwise. The tell-tale signs were there (beautiful road through beautiful forests means large trucks are almost certainly around.)
Victoria really does have some stunning forests. Really. Anyway, I started late (about 9.30) went straight up the Melba Highway and was in Yea by about 1pm. Good shoulder on the road.
Great BBQ area just near some restored wetlands. Lunch is bread rolls, sausages, avocado, tomatoes and more coffee. It’s hot, 35 degrees-plus.
Snakes. Not a fan.
Nice enough caravan park. Reading Robbie McEwen’s auto. Big fan.
Day Two: Yea to Benalla. 127km, 543 metre total ascent. I was packed up and on the bike by 6.30am to beat the heat, but it was a long day regardless. After a couple of punctures and a lengthy long lunch at Bonnie Doon (a Scottish friend tells me this name means “aesthetically pleasing Doon”), I didn’t get to Benalla until mid-afternoon.
Along the Goulburn Valley Highway, then on to Maroondah highway through Bonnie Doon, then over Lake Eildon and up the Midland Link Highway through Swanpool to Benalla.
I come across a bargain along the way.
I spent quite a bit of time on rail trails, which were pretty great, but somewhat slow-going. My diary reads “Into a headwind, no shoulder on the road for substantial portions, a few trucks so an OK ride but a bit stressful. And too fucking hot.”
Stoned koalas. I am glad they have been given a number to call.
Rifle barrel pointing up at Bonnie Doon.
Of the Glorious Dead and the free Empire.
Sitting in hot sun fixing this flat tyre and got a text from my friend Corrie asking where I was and would I prefer to get picked up and head to the coast instead. In a word, “yes definitely.” But I couldn’t live with the wussiness of it, so I decline and will press on.
Swanpool. It must be 40 degrees. I mimic the slouch hat bugler as I chug down Coca-Cola.
Benalla is a gorgeous town. Very pretty. Went straight to the public library and played on the InterWebs until I stopped sweating (about an hour and a half later). I resolved a short day to Wangaratta tomorrow, leaving as warly as I can so I can spend the afternoon in an airconditioned cinema.