Arrived back in Melbourne on the V-line train last Friday, which was stinking hot after an amazing cycle tour from our front door in Safety Beach (Mornington Peninsula) to Wangaratta.
We began Christmas Day and rode to Stoney Point for the ferry to Phillip Island. The ferry is free on Christmas Day- yippee!
We were carrying a massive amount of treats for Christmas dinner so the panniers felt extra heavy on the first day. Camped at Kilcunda.
The rail trail to Wonthaggi breezed past in the morning, then the climbing began to Korrumburra where we camped for the night. More climbing the next day as we headed towards Warragul to reach the Grand Ridge Road, then followed this to Mirboo North- the final climb of the Grand Ridge Road to Mirboo North is, shall I say, persistent! The weather the next day was perfect for heading into Tarra Bulga NP, misty rain. The Grand Ridge Road twists and winds through forest to Balook and was quite challenging at times on my Surly LHT with semi-slicks. A stop-over in Balook is highly recommended just for the tea-rooms which makes delicious food. The accommodation was really cosy and luxurious after the tent.
Coasted down the rest of the Grand Ridge Road and headed to Rosedale, then Heyfield for a rest day. New Years Eve saw us cycling to Briagalong, then up the glorious Freestone Creek Road in the hot afternoon sun. After being coated with dust from the passing 4WD, the sealed Dargo road was a relief.
New Years Day saw us descend into Dargo (an amazingly fast descent) and stock up on supplies at the shop before attacking the climb out of Dargo on the High Plains Road. We'd been told this was steep, so I was prepared for a hard day and was soon pushing a loaded touring bike in the increasingly hot morning. Past up the offer of chucking the bike in the back of a ute or 2 and knuckled down to the climb. This was the
hardest climb I've ever down and a real test of physical and mental endurance. Ben made it up all the way without pushing, I pushed in about 4 places, including the Dargo "wall". Once you've hit the gravel the road keeps climbing and luckily we found a spring with nice fresh water near Mount Ewen which was a great relief. Camped at Gow's hut site with about 30km to go before the Hotham Road.
With the hardest part if the ride behind us, the Dargo Road to Hotham was beautiful ride with amazing views over the mountains. I won't mention the climb to Mount St Bernard as that's just a cruel thing!
Coasted down to Harrietville for a cool beverage in the heat at the pub, a sleep, then pretty much on rail trail to Wangaratta.
Thanks to everyone for your tips and advice!