Day 4: Jindabyne, NSW to Omeo, VIC
I only had a protein shake and an apple the night before so I woke up (correction; my stomach woke me up) fairly early. I was most appreciative that the modest heater in the cabin had done a pretty good job about drying most my gear. Thank god for small favours, and I was put in a better mood when I saw that the weather was going to be quite good today – bonus! However for those pesky rainclouds which drop enough to soak you and then ping off, I found a few plastic bags and made makeshift waterproof socks, as my boots were still fairly wet and squelchy.
Once the lawnmower was packed, and I had a muesli bar, I got going down the Alpine way admiring the landscape of ghost gums and tall vegetation.
I was trying to image what this place would look in winter snow, but came up short every time. Unless you’ve been in snow before, it’s hard to imagine. Climbing higher and higher into the mountains, the Thredbo River was getting lower and lower in the cutting and leaving the valley behind. Soon I saw a sign for Thredbo Alpine area, and thoughts of the 1997 landslide disaster came to mind. So this was the place where it was on the news all those years ago? I tried to imagine what it would have looked like, and realized that any slide wouldn’t be laughing matter due to the steepness and terrain. However at this time, it looked very quiet and peaceful place, as there were almost no tourists and no skiers. Onto nicer things, I became aware however that these places may not be used for skiing all year round, but the travellators and ski-lifts and slopes were still being used – by mountain bikers!
From Thredbo, the Alpine Way is just spectacular. For the first-timers it is just a visual delight and riding heaven. The curves and twists keep on keeping on with no sign of stopping. Riding through nature, with majestic alpine trees, furs, and then other mossy vegetation. Every now and again you become aware of the birds flying high above in the canopy sunning themselves (more like drying and getting warm!). And you ride through patches of sun peeking out from holes in the canopy. All well and nice; however I was still arguing with my inner mind daemons to really absorb all the glory this area has. Damn mental health issues.
Even with so much beauty, there was part of me that was still scared as sh1t and anxiety was through the roof. Everything worrying my mind from wildlife crossing my path, to slipping and crashing in a remote area and no reception. To my poor riding ability, to getting a flat etc etc etc. Relentless negative monkey that sits on your shoulder not letting you forget the ‘what if this happens’…
Not sure what really happened to me stopping and taking photos of this amazing unfolding. But I did manage one stop along here, at Scammell’s Lookout. It was a welcome stop and an opportunity to unearth my tripod from my luggage and actually make use of it. I wasn’t able to see any snow on the peaks, but it was a humbling sight anyhow. I felt so cold, I just didn’t feel like taking the helmet off.
Again the next stretch from there into Victoria and to Tallangatta to fuel up, was a twisty riding blur. Even though I went past the Snowy Hydro (Snowy Mountains Scheme, 1949), one of Australia’s most famous and largest infrastructure projects in its time, I hardly made a memory note of it.
Fuel and food at Tallangatta, took Gundowring Road and made a beeline towards Mount Bogong. Yet another amazing biker’s road, with plenty of picturesque lookouts to stop for a rest and a picture. I managed to stop at Sullivan’s Lookout and Tawonga Gap.
I didn’t want to leave Sullivan’s Lookout, as finally the temperatures had come up more towards a Queenslander’s liking (20 degrees and above). I felt like I had life creeping back into me, and even warming my heart a little. Then it was onwards towards my goal for the day – to take a photo at one of (if not, the) highest lookouts of Oz – Danny’s Lookout Hotham Heights. But not before having smoko, at you guessed it…. Smoko!
After being fed and now having been in more normal temperatures, as well as all gear now dry (except my boots) I was feeling more preppy and wanted to play. I threw caution into the wind and started the climb towards Hotham Alpine Resort, and was wringing the poor Lawnmower’s neck. The difference here was that it was all uphill and fully loaded, unlike the light and silk road of Charlotte’s Pass.
But it was still fun, and soon I noticed the white lines on the edge of the road, changed to yellow. The vegetation became a little more dense of nude, ghost gums, the road got twistier, more windy and the road snow delineators came into view. Massive yellow posts, showing the way for traffic as not to drive over a cliff in a white out. I was now into the snowline! Riding on the ridge of mountain ranges, with the wind now cold, cutting through the layers.
Success! I don’t know how long I stayed at Danny’s lookout, wondering about the past of this place, feeling so insignificant and small. But at the same time seeing how this place can bring a certain amount of peace. Through the quiet whispers of the cold wind.
Humbling experience, and in awe of the place. Just long enough for the voices in my helmet to fall to a murmur. Just so they can also take the beauty of this place!
Eventually the cold wind got to me and it was time to head back down the mountains and towards the valley, heading for Omeo. Although I knew I had plenty of daylight left, there was something very odd about the light attenuation up high. It almost looked like a low afternoon light, scattered and refracted to the point where it looked… thin? Never experienced that, but because of it, my anxiety and fear kicked in again envisioning dusk and animals crossing the roads. I didn’t want to chance it so I put down the hammer once more. This time it was much better than coming up the mountain as it is all downhill and with gravity 🙂 The Lawnmower appreciates and likes downhill.
The downhill was a fairly silky and flowing. The snow delineators soon disappeared along with the dead looking ghost gums, and the vegetation changed to thicker, bushier kinds. Farmlands began to appear with the landscape dotted with farm dams. Eventually Omeo town came to view. Small little town with a post office, a couple of tea houses, a fire and petrol station, a convenience store and a couple of hotels. I decided to choose the cheapest one at the Hilltop Hotel / Pub.
Didn’t look too bad, with an area out the back that’s locked up for bike security and was able to get a queen room for $50. Again it was good to spread out. I put everything on charge and put on my walking shoes for a stroll through town. The view looked great going down, but not so much going back up to my accommodation! While in town, I grabbed some mini milks, a banana and a chocolate bar and made my way back up to retire to my room as the sun started setting. Another early night, taking stock of the day and getting in as much rest as I could.