Alpine Country Mountain Bike Adventure


This adventure was held in the Mt Hotham, Falls Creek, Bogong High Plains and Mt Beauty area.
Base camp was at the Mt Beauty Holiday Centre with tent accommodation. Rides were held in the surrounding area.

The Participants

(From youngest to oldest)

Ben - showed us how to ride a Mountain Bike.
Hanna - the bubbliest member and she kept up with the boys.
Andrea - persisted in keeping up with the others (left on Thursday)
Adam - always trying to catch Ben.
Jeff - contributed to the local economy with his frequent visits to the bike shop.
Rowan - the camp chef.
Michael & his daughter Natalie - did not ride but helped in carting people around and meeting us at strange places.
Dave - Arrived Wednesday, rode the hardest ride on Thursday but did not ride on Friday.
Steve, Alison & their children. Steve entertained us with stories of his extreme adventures (left on Wednesday).
Woody - has been everywhere in the Alps, so he knew where to go.
Rick - the writer
Noel - provided entertainment for the younger members (but he kept up with them).
Rob - we used his bike maintenance skills.
Gordon - organised everything.


Gordon organised everything to do with providing the food and cooking arrangements. Made frequent trips to the supermarket to stock up. We had a large food tent to store everything with plenty of tables and large dishes to wash up with. Two gas powered fridges kept things cold. Two gas stoves (one large) and a two burner BBQ served our cooking needs. Plenty of pots and pans and cooking utensils.

Breakfast was always a help yourself arrangement with good quality cereal, bread for making toast (with a variety of spreads) and tea/coffee was provided. Day 4 was special as the Park proprietors provided pancakes and tea/coffee/Milo for breakfast.

Lunch was also a help yourself arrangement. Sandwiches with a minor selection of spreads, fruit cake and fruit (apples/bananas). Gordon has a special car fridge filled with items to make scroggin which we took on the day rides.

On Days 3, 4, 6 and 7 we made our sandwiches before leaving in the morning. On all other days we made sandwiches at lunchtime except for Day 8 where we had pizza in Euroa on the way home.

Evening meals were a bit more elaborate. Rowan was the camp chef. He decided what to have and others helped him prepare it.

Day 1 - pasta with fruit and custard for desert.
Day 2 - tuna casserole and rice with fruit and custard for dessert.
Day 3- BBQ sausages, potatoes and other vegies with fruit and custard for dessert
Day 4 - pasta with fruit and custard for desert.
Day 5 - shepherds pie (well sort of - we didn't have an oven). A large pot of mince with other ingredients was prepared with a large pot of mashed potato an a few other vegies. Pancakes for dessert.
Day 6 - pasta with homemade sauce. Dessert was Sara Lee cheesecakes and ice cream.
Day 7 - chicken casserole. For desert, the Park proprietors provided donuts and tea/coffee/Milo.
Day 8 - home by tea time.

Bike Issues

A few had bike problems, but nothing stopped us on any ride. Bent derailers, bent discs, brake block changes, broken spokes, gear change adjustments, loose cables., jockey wheel problems and loose cluster gears were a few.

We were lucky that there was a bike repair shop just around the corner and he stayed open late.

8 punctures in total.

Some bikes had disc brakes and these caused problems. One managed to bend their disc. We partially repaired it but because of the close tolerance the disc has to the brake blocks it continually rubbed and squeaked. Another had adjustment problems which were eventually fixed.

Riding Mountain Bikes on the main road is not good. The tyres are noisy and slow. You cannot lean too much around corners else you will loose grip.

Other Events

On day 2, at 6.00, some of we went up to Mt Beauty to watch a Mountain Bike cross country trial of about 5k that took 30 mins to complete. On of the young guys in our group participated but did not win anything.

On day 2, after tea at 9.00, we attended a slide show in the Park put on by a National Park Ranger. 50 slides and some discussion about the Alpine National Park. Very interesting.

On day 6, after our hard ride to Tawonga Huts, we had an opportunity to have a spa at the spa centre at the Park. Most went in for about 10 minutes.

On day 7, Michael’s daughter Natalie turned seven, so we had a cake and a singsong.


At Mt Beauty we only had a few spots of rain on day 3 in the morning. A few days were hot but generally it was pleasant.

On day 4 at Mt Hotham it was very cold and windy in the morning but picked up later.

Day 3 at Falls Creek was very windy and cold. All other days there were pleasant with little or no wind.

Bike Security

This was an issue at camp as there were people wandering around at night and there was a lot of money invested in the bikes.

On days that we rode into camp, all bikes were bundled into the food tent at night and secured with chains and locks.

On days that the bikes were still on the trailer, we left them on the trailer and used chains and lock to secure them and also covered them with a tarp. These caused us a slight problem one day as we forgot to remove the chain and lock before leaving (see Embarrassing Moments).

Carting the Bikes and People Around

We used three vehicles to ferry people and the bikes around.

Gordon had a specially designed trailer that held 10 bikes, 6 on the bottom and 4 up top. You take off the front wheels; place the fork in a spigot and strap on the back wheel. The wheels were carried in the back of vehicles. Another vehicle strapped bikes on a roof rack.

On day 4 we drove to Mt Hotham, taking 3 vehicles, and rode back to Mt Beauty. One driver did not ride so he came back to Mt Beauty and we left 2 vehicles at Mt Hotham. When the riders got back to Mt Beauty, a group drove back to Mt Hotham to retrieve the other 2 vehicles. Made for a long day.

Similarly, on day 5 we had to go back and retrieve vehicles.

Other Helpers

Michael and his daughter Natalie did not ride. He helped by ferrying people around and meeting us at various places. In particular, on day 4, when we rode from Mt Hotham, he drove back from Mt Beauty and met us about half way along the West Kiewa River.

Flora, Fauna and Scenery

A few things captured my attention.

The High Plains were certainly different. No trees, a multitude of wildflowers and low growing shrubs. Magnificent views. Near Tawonga Huts I noticed some small beetles that were iridescent blue and orange. Plenty of butterflies and birds.

The flies were bad at Mt Beauty but were worse on the High Plains. In particular, March flies (don't they know it was not March?). I have this suspicion that grazing of cattle on the High Plains breeds the flies.

The trip from Mt Hotham to Mt Beauty was very scenic and there were few flies.

Embarrassing Moments

Two that I can recall.

On day 4, on the Pyramid Hill Fire Track downhill run, the oldest member of the group passed me even after I had a 30 second start!

On day 7, when we got to Falls Creek and started to unload the bikes, we discovered that the bikes on the top layer of the trailer still had the chain through all the bikes and lock that we put on the night before. Of course the key was back at camp. Luckily, someone had a hacksaw so we cut off one link.

Historical Notes.

Wallace Hut (day 3) is the oldest hut on the High Plains.

The Red Robin Mine (day 4) was established by Bill Spargo in 1940. It is located at 5200 feet and the battery is 1000 feet below. The first crushing yielded an incredible 236 oz. from two ton of selected ore and Spargo rejected an offer of 60,000 pounds to work the claim.

Dungey Track (day 4) was apparently cut by a Detective Dungey in the late 1890's to assist in his tracking of cattle thieves. It fell into disrepair in the early 1900's, but was restored later.


Day 1 Sat. 5th Jan, 2002

This is the day we arrived, so by the time we arrived and set everything up, there was only time for a short ride around the lake at Mt Beauty.

Day 2 Sun. 6th Jan, 2002

Left at 9.00 towards Tawonga along the main Highway. Turned left down Mountain Creek Road, then left again down some other road, then left again and ended up at the "Pebble Pool". Stayed here for about 45 mins. Some had a swim. Left there and headed up a steep track ending up just above what looked like a water storage reservoir. Then along a walking track above the golf course and into Mt Beauty where some had drinks at the local hangout. Back at camp by 11.30. 20km, easy ride.

At 2.00, headed off for another circuit which was claimed to be hard. We picked up an SEC track on the road to Falls Creek just out of Mt Beauty. Followed this and other tracks up to "Cranky Charlies Corner". The track was very steep and we had to walk in spots. Also, it was very hot and in sections we were in full sun. From there we crossed over the main road and followed a "Survey Track" that was no wider than a walking track. It was narrow and treacherous in places, but good fun. 10km, hard at start, but easy later.

Day 3 Mon. 7th Jan, 2002

At 9.30 we headed for Falls Creek parking at the toilets about 2km from Windy Corner near the Rocky Valley Dam wall. Followed the Bogong High Plains road to the Cope Hut turnoff. On the way, did a diversion into Wallace Hut. Then down to Cope Hut where we stopped for lunch.

It was about 10 deg. and very windy making the riding difficult and cold. Most wore thermals and spray jackets.

From Cope Hut, followed an aqueduct to Longford Gap and then back to our starting point near the Rocky Valley Dam wall. A few rode into "Sun Valley" for a look.

Two people rode from here back to base. We only caught them near "Cranky Charlies Corner". Back at camp at 4.30. 25km and hard because of the wind and cold.

Day 4 Tues. 8th Jan, 2002

At 10.00 headed for Mt Hotham. Arrived there at 11.15 to 8 deg, mist and slight wind. It was cold! Followed the Alpine Walking Track and then the Machinery Spur track. This track is very rocky and difficult to ride. After about 3km, the track heads downhill past the Red Robin Mine founded in 1940 by Bill Spargo and currently leased by Ken Harris (this info was on the mine door). I found out later that the mine is heritage listed. The mineshaft extends under Mt Loch high on the hill and a track leads down into the Kiewa Valley where the battery is located. All the ore is carted down to the battery (about 5km).

The track from the mine to the battery is a fantastic downhill experience. It is in very good condition, smooth with few rocks. About every 100m, there is a mound across the track (used to divert water runoff) and you can launch your bike off nearly every one. Unfortunately, one rider misjudged something and came off. I was in front and heard his yell. I stopped and he shouted he was OK. I continued on to where others had grouped, but nobody else came for about 10mins, so I guessed something was wrong and rode back. He was shaken, had a few abrasions, but otherwise seemed OK. His bike had a buckled front wheel caused by a broken spoke and flat back tyre. We could not fix the buckle, so we disabled the front brakes.

Headed down past the Red Robin Mine battery and Blair Hut.

Stopped by a river crossing for lunch about 1.30. It was pleasant along here and we soaked in the atmosphere. The track followed the West Kiewa River for about 10km and crossed the river 10 times. The first three had good bridges and the last seven were river crossings. The river crossings were good fun. Most tried to ride across, but were unsuccessful. Our youngest rider was the best and successfully crossed a few times. Nobody fell completely in much to the others rider’s disappointment.

After the river crossings, the track headed uphill to Pyramid Hill along the Dungey Track. A few hard sections, but generally a pleasant ride. Lots of fern gullies where streams run down and across the track.

Everyone stopped at the junction of Dungey Track and Pyramid Hill Fire Track which we were heading down. This track is long and steep and in good condition, so each rider left at 30 sec. intervals. A great downhill ride!

We all congregated at the junction of Pyramid Hill Fire Track and Simmonds Creek road and then headed to Mt Beauty. Downhill all the way and very fast riding. Back at camp by 6.00. 35km, easy to medium ride with fantastic downhills, river crossings and spectacular scenery.

Day 5 Wed. 9th Jan, 2002

No riding in the morning. Bike maintenance, screen printing of our T-Shirts and other duties.

At 1.30 we headed to Howmans Gap. Arrived there at 2.00 and headed down the Junction Spur Fire Track which appears to be seldom used and was covered in leaves, twigs and some larger branches, making riding treacherous. There were two very steep sections and the last one was long. Some walked down the steep sections.

At Bogong Village about 3.00 and stopped for a break. Left there at 4.30 down the main road. For some, the ride back to camp turned into a race. Back at camp by 5.30.

Day 6 Thurs. 10th Jan, 2002

Left at 9.30 arriving at Falls Creek Windy Corner about 10.30. 18 deg., no wind. Rode to Mt McKay and stopped there for a while. Fantastic views. We could see our destination (Tawonga Huts) from there. Rode down to the causeway at the Pretty Valley Pondage. From there along the Fainter Fire Track to the Tawonga Huts. This track is VERY rough with a medium incline and difficult to ride. In low gear and uphill for the first 2km.

Stopped at a rise near a memorial cairn for Ben Cooper, a famous Mountain Cattleman. Born 1897, died 1973. Then downhill for about 1km to Tawonga Huts at about 1.30. Had lunch and left about 2.30.

Stopped at the Pretty Valley pondage where a few had a swim. Then back to Windy Corner by 4.30.

Decided to stop at Bogong Village for an ice cream and a few rode down from Falls Creek and met us there. We were entertained by an RACV truck attempting to pull a vehicle off a raised concrete strip. Back at camp by 6.00. 30km. A VERY hard days riding.

Day 7 Fri. 11th Jan, 2002

Left at 9.00 for Falls Creek parking at the junction of the Bogong High Plains Rd and the Big River Fire Track by 10.00. 20 deg., no wind. Rode up the fire track and then up the route of the Alpine Walking Track to Warby Corner. Just before then we left our bikes on the track and walked up to Mt Nelse and soaked in the view. Absolutely magnificent. Could not be captured by anything except you being there. Views as far as Mt Kosciusko. From there someone spied some snow near Mt Nelse North.

We rode up the track some more and then pushed our bikes along a walking track to Batty Hut to where the snow was. It was in a valley on the Southern side of the track. Some tried to ride their bikes on the snow, but it was too steep and slippery. The younger ones threw snowballs and generally mucked around. Stayed there about 30 mins.

Then on to Roper Hut by 12.30 where we had lunch.

Left there at 1.30. Back at pickup point by 3.00 and Mt Beauty by 4.00. 22km. Easy ride. Pleasant weather.

Day 8 Sat. 12th Jan, 2002

No riding. Pack up and home.