I have just returned from a 2 day trip to Mt Beauty in Victoria. We planned the trip as part of our Christmas visit to Melbourne as a little getaway to a place neither my wife or I had been. The added bonus of having the adventure kids along made for a potentially riotous time.
We booked a Yurt at the Mount Beauty Holiday Cark in Tawonga South as our accommodation for the 2 days. Whats a yurt you say? Well it is a 6 sided cabin with all of homes comforts. There is a small kitchen, a selection of beds depending on the size of the yurt you book and a FANTASTIC deck out the front. Our yurt overlooked the Kiewa River and the sound of the babbling stream was a constant and soothing companion. That topped with the views of Mt Feathertop and the rest of the ranges set a very relaxed and beautiful background. Pretty darn special. As a small aside I would also like to give the Mount Beauty Holiday Centre a big shout out for the clean and comfortable amenities. I have camped in a lot of places and I can honestly say that MBHC takes the cake. Unreal.
I did plan to ride a few times while I was in Mt Beauty. Unfortunately my youngest son had an earache that made his night pretty bad and I stayed up to comfort him well into the early morning. The morning was spent relaxing and having cuddles with him and taking in the amazing surroundings from the deck. Around the 5th cup of tea I decided that it was time to explore the area. I headed down to the bike shop (incidentally it is located at the front of the MBHC) and purchased a map. 3 bucks. Can't go wrong.
The only other problem for the trip became apparent as I peddled back to the yurt. I had freighted my bike down to avoid the hassle of taking it on the plane. Good plan in theory, not so great in practice. Somewhere along the line the front and rear wheel had been buckled badly and the front disc rotor resembled a taco. There I am in Mt Beauty, no tools and desperate for a ride. I managed to straighten the wheels out enough to pass muster but was then faced with the heartbreak of a toasted rotor. I couldn't for the life of me think how I could straighten it out without a shifter or similar. I rolled the dice and opened the boot of the car. There was a wheel brace, a spanner and a jack. Poo. No shifter. Oh well maybe I could try the wheel brace. Nup. Too big. Wait on, the jack handle looks OK. Yes! It fits in the rotor and allows me to lever the thing back to some sort of straight. Not the perfect, well aligned straight I had achieved on the service I gave the bike before packing it for shipment but still it turned without rubbing and I could ride it without being too embarrassed about the noise it made as I went along. It'll do.
The Big Hill staging area. An innocuous looking spot on the side of the highway to Falls Creek. Once you head in though it opens up to a maze of trails with options from a simple XC loop to an ass clenching descent that had me nearly looping out one minute and flipping over the bars the next. I mistakenly tried to climb a section of the state round XC course that was obviously meant as a descent. My lungs were burning and my legs screamed for mercy. Not only was it loose and technical but steep to boot. I loved it! The view from the top was worth it though.
I had allowed myself 2 hours for the afternoon and that was already quickly approaching. A combination of my lethargy and having to stop every few minutes to read the map had robbed me of precious time on the bike. I pointed it down and pinned it. I think there were a few near death experiences along the way but the adrenaline from the fast swooping single track kept all fear at bay until well after the first Coopers had numbed whatever residual common sense may have existed in my body. I rode a massive 12 K's.
Day 2. More tea, some bacon and pancakes and a couple of nectarines and I was off for an adventure. I had heard of a track that was "easy" that went up to the top of the hill. The track is called the "Survey Track" and it winds for around 6 K's up. The track was built in 1930 as a means of surveying the road that exists now as the Bogong High Plains Road. It is maintained by local volunteers for walkers and mountain bikers to enjoy and enjoy it I did. This is six kilometers of amazing single track climbing. It is not the most technical of trails but at every turn there is an amazing view. You can look at the vista or focus on the minutiae of the flora and fauna. There are beautiful alpine daisies growing along the trail and I spotted the biggest goanna I have ever seen. That sucker must have been 6 feet long.
I reached the top of the survey track and had a muesli bar in celebration. Across to "Cranky Bernie" to link up to the "The Cattle Track" for a small zip down the fire road to hit up the top of the national round XC loop. At the top of the trail I stalled. There was a chute between a tree and a large rock that made me take pause. I was on my own, on unfamiliar trails at a reasonably sketchy drop in. Oh well. Hit it and hope. I rolled it smooth and then railed the rest of the link to the bottom. Here it splits about 200 different ways so I just pointed it down and kept on riding. My time was running out and I found a familiar bit of trail from the day before. I knew this would take me back to the staging area and the road back to Tawonga. My smile was tattooed on. There are much more epic rides I have done, much longer and even more technical but not many in surroundings as beautiful as this.
I want to go back. This time I want to hook up a local guide and wring the best out of the Mount Beauty area. In all I rode for 4 hours and only achieved about 25 kilometers.