Bike Ride Bairnsdale to Wodonga via Omeo Highway. Total distance 350km
October 2008

Tour Summary
Day 1
Train Pakenham to Bairnsdale and ride to Ensay via Bruthen. Lunch in Bruthen and freeze dried for dinner at Ensay. Overnight in Ensay recreation reserve in hike tent. 80km
Photos

Day 2
Ensay to Anglers Rest via Swifts Creek and Omeo. Morning tea in Swifts Creek, lunch in Omeo and dinner in Anglers Rest Hotel. Overnight in Anglers Rest camping ground in hike tent. 80km
Photos

Day 3
Anglers Rest to Mitta Mitta via Omeo Highway. Morning tea near Glen Willis, lunch on side of road on Omeo Highway and freeze dried for dinner. Overnight at Mitta Mitta camping ground in hike tent. 80km
Photos

Day 4
Mitta Mitta to Wodonga via Tallangatta. Morning tea in Eskdale, lunch in Tallangatta and dinner at Chinese in Wodonga. Overnight in motel. 110km
Photos

Day 5
Train Wodonga to Melbourne.

Participants
Noel (65)
Rick (61)
Two mountain bikes each with two panniers loaded with provisions and sleeping gear.

Best Scenery
Rugged country around Anglers Rest and the beautiful green Mitta Mitta valley.
The Tambo and Omeo valleys were also lovely but a bit dry. See this photo of the Mitta Mitta valley

Fastest Rider
Noel

Best Dinner
Hotel at Anglers Rest. Chicken Parmigiana and Vegetable Pastie sitting outside on the balcony. See these photos of Rick and Noel

Hardest Riding

  • The long steep climb between Swifts Creek and Omeo. Rick could not ride any more so decided to push his bike. Only walked 300m and around a corner was the top where Noel was waiting. He had been waiting there 30 minutes and would have come looking for Rick in another 10 minutes. Rick had run out of water and very thirsty. Drank Noelís last bottle of water. This photo is at the top of the hill

  • Steep climb on Omeo Highway about 20km from Anglers Rest.

  • The last 60km through Tallangatta and into Wodonga we rode into a headwind. Not very pleasant.

Best Downhill
Omeo Highway about 30km from Mitta Mitta. Downhill for about 15km on a made road.

Insect Problems
Riding alongside the Mitta Mitta river we encountered numerous thick clouds of small black insects a bit like thrip. Sunscreen on arms and legs caused them to stick there. Biggest problem was they got in your eyes and mouth.

Rick Walked
Twice, each about 300m. If you get tired, it is probably a good idea to walk and push your bike for a while. Up a steep hill the speed difference is not much.

Friendly Locals
Everyone wants to talk to you when you are on bikes loaded with all your gear. Met some interesting people.

Best Cemetery
Glen Wills which is about 20km from Omeo. See this photo. A bit of surprise seeing it in excellent condition. Discovered later that
a firm of bridge builders were constructing a new bridge over the Mitta Mitta river at Glen Valley. The mother of the bridge builders (of Italian descent), was visiting her sons and was amazed that there were no crosses in the Cemetery. Before leaving the area, they built a large cross on a square slab and promised that one day they would come back and erect crosses to commemorate the grave sites. This they did in the summer of 1991. As there is no plan of the actual sites of the graves, they were placed in a double row consistent with the two graves visible.

Best Camping
Mitta Mitta camping ground. We placed our tent near the newly erected camp kitchen. Covered tables and cooking facilities. Very nice. However, in the shower block, the clothes dryer would not work and the showers and toilets were a bit grotty but it was great to have a shower after 3 days riding.

Biggest Disappointment
Rail trail from Tallangatta to Wodonga has a rocky surface and difficult to ride on. Also, signs indicated the trail could be traversed across Sandy Creek where there was once a rail bridge over the creek. However, it was poorly signposted, very rough and we had to lift our bikes and gear across an electric fence. Not worth the effort. Eventually, we gave up and took the road.

Highest Altitude
About 1200m on the Omeo Highway.

Best Morning Tea
Swifts Creek bakery. Fruit pie and cappuccino. See this photo.

Worst Toilets
Chinese restaurant in Wodonga. Very dirty. Had to ask for toilet paper and there was no hand towel for drying hands.

Mysteries

  • About 20km out of Anglers Rest you pass over the Mitta Mitta river but it appears to be flowing the wrong way. Discovered later that it sources near Mt Hotham and flows SE for a while then swings around and flows North towards the Murray.

  • A guy on the train to Bairnsdale suggested we have dinner in the Ensay hotel but we could not find it. Found the Ensay South hotel which has been converted to a gallery.

Best Moment
Seeing the 5km sign to Wodonga. See this photo.

Not much Traffic
On the Omeo Highway. Only three vehicles passed us.

Interesting Stories

  • The proprietor of the Hotel at Anglers Rest told us about the 2003 bushfires where the CFA abandoned them and he and his brother were left to save whatever they could. The fire swept over them at 100km/hr and all their vehicles and some outbuildings were burnt but they saved the original hotel buildings. A terrifying experience.

  • The proprietor of the Mitta Mitta store told us about the 2006 bushfires where the CFA was initially told to save the historic hotel in the main street and ignore everything else. He explained to them that he had 20,000 litres of fuel stored in tanks and if his building caught fire and the fuel went up the whole town would be blown up. They went away for a while and must have spoken with a higher authority because they came back and had decided to protect his building. As it turned out the fires did not descend on the Mitta Mitta township but got very close.

Bike Problems
Noel had flat tyre near Tallangatta on the bike trail.

Donít Believe
What drivers tell you about the steepness of the roads ahead. Whenever we stopped and spoke with locals we asked about any steep ascents ahead but the information was always wrong. It seems that when you are in a car you have no concept of the steepness of the roads.

Most Useful Implement
Noelís fuel stove. Boiled water very quickly. See this photo.

Surprised
At how high up Omeo is. About 700m.

Average Speed
Rick - 12 to 13km/hr. Noel - 15km/hr.

Weather
Low 20's every day. No rain.

What we should not have done
Ridden 110km on the last day. It was too far, particularly as we struck a head wind for the last 60km.

How Difficult was the Ride
Very difficult