Off the beaten track..but close to home


Mapping the next ride...
Staff member
Guess this is somewhere in between Nirvana Roads and Road Hazards...

With a few days to spare in the first week of the new year we actually took the cage (boooo, hiss...) for a tootle around the Vic Alps areas.
Apart from the chances of having pen/paper ready to record things as we went, there was also the chance of talking/ bouncing ideas on future routes for some of those planned long rides.

The roads we were looking for are mainly class 4/5, touring 2.

They are NOT intended for the trigger-happy wheelie- faction but rather for those who like touring/ scenery/ good bakeries/ eateries or similar 'way-side stops'.
Those who want to get away from the usual Reefton/Black spurs/ Myers Creek etc. (nothing against those roads, but things get a bit boring after the umpteenth lap there).
Also for those, who like a bit of excitement away from the main-drags, and can look after themselves if things go pear-shaped.

Sprinkled in-between are some current updates on road-conditions of well-known routes.

a) Merton-Strathbogie-Barjarg (later part 25km dirt):
The Merton-Euroa bit is sealed and packed with sweet twisties. Clean (apart from a few wildlife-carcasses).
Turnoff to Strathbogie: Mostly single-lane, gravelly in places. The bridge-deck of Polly McQuinn weir sticks out a good 50mm either side of the approach. Turn left at the T-junction for the town of Strathbogie / small shop.
Turn right at the T-junction and follow the single-laner (gravely, bumpy) through farm-country to the Too Rour turn-off, the dirt-road straightahead is the Barjarg Rd. (signposted via those timber road-, posts, common in forestry areas), the road is a bit gnarly, rocky, in places, but fine.
back onto the Midland Hwy about 150m north of the Barjarg servo (signed as Harper road here).

b) Lake Willian Hovell (sealed)/ Whitfield-Myrtleford (25km dirt)
From Whitfield to Cheshunt, then up the Upper King River to Lake William Hovell is a nice flowing, open sweeper first, then twisties road to the dam, very little gravel, some dead timber bits on the road after the recent storms in the Alpine areas.
The 25km dirt to Dandongadale are NOT recommendable at the moment, the climb-section from Cheshunt has 3"deep "flour-style" dust in most bends. It's deep and loose and super-fine dust. The Dandongadale-half through the valley is fine though. The twisties and sweepers along Lake Buffalo are a delight, shady when hot and the water's never far away.
If that dirt-section really ever gets sealed, it'll be a ripper though...
As it stands, the 20km saving is more than eaten up through slow-going in the dirt...not worth if only to stay away from the cop-riddled and booooring King Valley/ Oxley-Milawa run.

c) Imagine a weird rectangle drawn between Bright and Tawonga in the south and Myrtleford/ Kiewa in the north....Bordered by the Ovens and Kiewa valleys. Many know the Tawonga Gap...and that's as far as it goes.
But who knows any of those roads in the "heart" of that rectangle?
All sealed, there are lots of fast-sweeping and partially twisty second/third grade roads there, linking the 2 valleys
For some fun, it doesn't always have to be Falls Creek/Hotham/Buffalo...
Starting at the famous "Heiners Bakery" (NO, NOT the one on Main St., but around the corner, just past the pub) in Myrtleford, we took the C 527 to Yackandandah this time, turning to Osborne's Flat 2-3km short of Yackamdandah. Through Osborne's Flat to Allan's Flat and the Vienna Patisserie, a worthwhile stop for those with a sweet tooth and back onto the Yackandandah Rd towards Wodonga.
About 4-5km down-valley is the C533 signed to Kiewa/ Tangambalanga.
Follow the signs to Tangambalanga/ Mt. Beauty on the Kiewa Vly Hwy., turn left 2km later to Kiewa/ Tangambalanga and follow through both towns.

Keep going straight ahead up and through the twisties of Lockharts Gap, finishing at a T-junction in the MittaMitta Vly. Turning left here and tourers will know the upcoming fun-bit too well; the sweepers and twisties of that part of the Omeo Hwy are noiiice.
For something more leisurely, scenically more stimulating and infinitely more challenging (as a road), is the Yabba Rd. along the other side of the river.
As before, turn left off the Lockharts Gap Rd. onto the Omeo Hwy, direction Tallangatta. About 500m on, turn right onto the Yabba Rd.
25km of very scenic sealed road, varying between 1-2 lanes, gravely in places, small pockmark-style potholes, it’s a road to stay wide-awake on… for each meter. Good stuff.

d) Redbank Road
Marked as a “Motorcycle-Road” in the recent issue of the AUS M’bike Atlas, it’s ONLY ever been good to avoid the heavier traffic on the Kiewa Valley Hwy (which IS, in fact, a better bike-road).
Anyway, it’s ALL sealed now…the last 2-3km dirt apparently very recently replaced by still-gravely asphalt.
Access from either Tallangatta/ Tangambalanga (signed to Gundowring) or about 4km north (Wodonga side) of Tawonga (signed: Redbank Rd.)

e) Tawonga Gap (Mt. Beauty-Bright)
There’s still fine gravel/sand in the top-4 or so lefthanders (just below the lookout) coming from Bright…. been there since day dot.

f) Mt. Hotham
Going up from Harrietville, the bottom ¾ of the ~30km stretch (up to where the road hits the ridge) the asphalt is “bleeding” badly in hot/ warm conditions. The fine gravel has been ripped out of the bitumen by cars/ trucks, leaving a glistening/ wet-looking sticky molasses. With open windows, the car-tyres sounded/felt like swishing through 2” of water.

g) Hotham-Omeo-Cassilis-Swifts Creek (sealed)
Coming down Mt. Hotham towards Omeo, there’s a turn-off to Cassilis 2km short of Omeo. Great single-laner (caution: always gravely somewhere along the way) which avoids the straight/open/radar-infested Omeo-Hwy towards Bruthen. Picturesque, but also tricky. Good bakery in a side-road in Swifts Creek. The Omeo area is currently infested by a locusts-plague.

h) Omeo Hwy- Swifts Creek-Doctors Flat- Ensay (sealed)
7km south of Swifts Creek (going south to Bruthen) is a small turnoff onto Doctors Flat Rd to Ensay. Like the Cassilis Road, it’s a sometimes gravely single-laner, very scenic, following a narrow valley. Finishes in Ensay (just on the Bruthen side of the store).

Omeo Hwy
About 40km North of Bruthen is one of those 3-4 blind hairpin-crests thingos, jutting out into the narrows of the valley. The bend is COVERED in a thick blanket of fine ¼”gravel, signs on both sides of the bend are within meters of the gravel, nasty stuff.

j) Grand Ridge Rd (from the start in the East to Mirboo Nth)
Nothing’s changed over the years, if anything; the dirt section is fairly rough and turned out a chore after a while.

k) Mirboo Nth-Thorpdale-Childers-Allambee-Yarragon

Mirboo Nth towards Morwell: there are 2 roadworks sections along here, the second right around the Thorpdale/ Trafalgar turnoff.
Turning west (in Thopdale) to Childers for about 5km of sweet, scenic twisties, follow the Allambee-signs onto the dirt. It’s ok if taken slowly, no potholes, check for logging trucks through the week. 8km of dirt before the seal starts again, once encountered stay on the asphalt where-ever it points. Just follow it down to Yarragon. It’s a superb little single-laner, great views across the Latrobe Valley and across to Mt. BawBaw as the road snakes it’s way fairly steeply down the hills before finishing in the back of the village, just short of the Princess Hwy.

And at the end: Paynesville
What a bloody dump !!! And on top of everything else (not that there really is much), the 10-ft wingspan F-16 mozzies operate 24/7, regardless of weather/ time-of-day/ light or shade or anything else. Aeroguard? BWAHHHAAAAA..
PAINS-ville… bulldoze, start again.
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