(Greg’s photos here) (Alan’s Photos shown)
On the morning of 9th March 2013 our intrepid group of 16 set-off from the Seymour caravan park. The 14 day 450km route followed a meandering circuit of the substantial Lake Eildon in central Victoria. Extensive sections of the scenic Goulburn River High Country rail trail and a smattering of good dirt and sealed secondary roads were enjoyed by the participants. In typical Victorian style the weather conditions varied considerably. Extremes ranged from 36 deg. and uncomfortably humid to cold wet and windy.
Fortunately though, the weather did remain agreeably mild during the bulk of the 2 week adventure. All overnight stays (excluding one) consisted of tent camping at caravan parks. The local pub dining rooms and bars benefitted from our passing, as did many cosy cafes.
Aside from the beautiful scenery and stimulating company there were other significant highlights … many of which predictably enough involved the consumption of food and beverages. The food and coffee was great from places like the “Dairy Cafe” in Alexandra and the cafe in the main street of Jamieson. The prime source of truly exceptional coffee, voted by the group’s committee of coffee snobs was the “Marmalade Cafe” in Yea. Anyone lucky enough to be camping next to Vicky and David will no doubt rave about their delicious “Pancakes a la Trangia”. And Peter’s demolition of a 3 course desert in Mansfield must rate as truly epic!
In terms of bicycle riding … yes we did some of that too … the 64km run through the mountains from Jamieson to Eildon was deemed to be a popular favourite. Not that it was by any means a doddle. There was little opportunity to warm-up the legs (the temp. was 6 deg. at the 8am departure time), as the first 10km of steep climbing commenced just 2.5km from Jamieson. But the spectacular views across calm, crisp mountain air under pale blue skies were worth all the effort. The excellent winding tarmac surface was a pleasure to traverse.
On day 5 a (masochistic ?) group of 9 rode from Mansfield to Mirimbah for a cafe stop and then proceeded up the 16km grinding climb (980 metre elevation gain) to the ski resort atop Mount Buller. Several of our crew reported sightings of shy but inquisitive elves lurking in the roadside bushes during the ride up. Such reports were nevertheless taken with a grain of salt by this writer, understanding full well the hallucinogenic symptoms of hypoxic delirium. – We stayed the night at the very comfortable “Skilib” chalet where generous amounts of pasta and cheap red plonk were enjoyed before retiring relatively early …weary but satisfied that the mighty Buller had been well and truly conquered.
There were very few negatives to speak of … aside from a couple of pesky punctures and one or two inconsequential low speed falls. We did endure an unscheduled rest day at Alexandra because of particularly wet and windy weather … but everyone managed to remain occupied and cheerful.
Returning to the underlying theme of this summary, it must be said that the overall culinary highlight of the trip was the fantastic final group night-out at the “Peppercorn Hotel” in Yea. The food, service and the general rustic ambiance at the 150 year old restored hotel was exceptional. Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the “sensible seven” who held the fort in Mansfield while the “notorious nine” boondoggled on Buller. And to Allan and Mary for once again coming-up with the organisational goods.