ALEXANDRA TO WARBURTON = 81km
CUMMULATIVE TOTAL = 3199
WARBURTON CARAVAN PARK = $26 unpowered
It was yet another long day today – the bodies felt a little weary this morning after a reasonable nights sleep. The legs felt good but the neck and shoulders were a little stiff from yesterday on the unsealed rail trail. Due to the uneveness of the trail you tend to really feel it in the neck and shoulders the next day from all the movement of the bike and trying to keep it under control. This morning was cool and I am still suffering from Hayfever, according to Neil, most of last night I was snoring as my nose was blocked! This morning I was no better. We left just on 8am and headed south on the Maroondah highway. The section from Alexandra to Taggerty is 18km has no shoulder except for when you go over the hill at Acheron (@10km) this is a munter of a hill but you are rewarded with a great view of the valley going towards Lake Eildon
From here it is down hill, along, up a bit, down a bit, up a bit and then down to Taggerty (which has a Big 4 just as you get into town – doesn’t take dogs though and it sure looked empty as we rode pass!After Taggerty there is a shoulder until Buxton (11km further on) and from there to the turnoff to Warburton there is no shoulder (approx. 14km). So despite the lack of shoulder for the bulk of the ride along this highway it was okay – a bit hairy in places and you definitely wouldn’t want to be riding this road on the weekends – especially on a Sunday afternoon with people returning to Melbourne. As you get closer to Narbethong town itself you can see where the fires have been through on Black Saturday but now there is a lot more green undergrowth than what there was when we last past through here 2 years ago. This is a very scenic highway and would best be suited if there was no cars or trucks on this road!!! LOL
Relieved to get of this road we turned left on the Marysville turnoff and then a quick right to take the road to Warburton. Last time we rode this road we had previously stayed at Narbethong caravan park and so we had relatively fresh legs, but we had previously decided to skip Narbethong and go straight to the top and we were going to bush camp at the top but decided that there was forecasted showers late this afternoon and night and since the last 6km of the up and first 8km of the down hill is gravel we decided that it would be to hard if the road was wet so we decided to continue down to Warburton adding a further 16km to our journey.
This quiet road that goes to Warburton over the Acheron Way follows the Acheron River all the way. It is a logging route but not much trucks use this and if they do they only probably use the first quarter of this road as there is a bit of damage to the road and then there is none. It is 21km to the top from the turnoff with the last 6km (approx) being gravel. The grade is perfect for the bike. At the bottom of the hill there was a bit of fire damage from Black Saturday but it is very green and lush now
Probably the first 2km of this climb is the steepest and then you just gently climb. We did stop for a break and a bite to eat as judging by the speeds we were going we weren’t going to get there for afternoon tea. Now 21km is a long climb despite the gradient.
I suppose you are wondering why we are sitting on the road – this is a single lane road all the way up and very little traffic on this road if any (all up we had 2 over take us and 2 pass by on their way down – so that is 4 cars in total).
I could have sat there all afternoon but we still had 11km more to climb. Not long after this break we had to do an emergency stop for our ‘legless’ friend …
We came around the corner and I didn’t see it ahead until Neil said ‘stop’ so I just stopped and then I saw it and was about to ask if it is alive and then it moved. I sort of wasn’t expecting to see one today as it is cool, if anything I was looking out for them all day yesterday and we saw none!
By now we are starting to get weary and our speed is down to around 11km per hour and then we hit the gravel with about 6km to go to the top and our speeds dropped dramatically as it was a lot more gravelly than what I remembered so it was slow going. It was difficult to ride along as there were some patches that had heaps of stones and you really had to push through them. We had to stop a few times for a dring (difficult to ride and drink at the same time when going so slow!)
After a few kms of the gravel the wrists, neck, shoulders and back are starting to ache from trying to keep the heavy bikes under control while going along and through the gravel – the only reason why I put up with this is because this has got to be the most scenic and best hill I have come across in cycling Australia!
At last we reach the top – absolutely exhausted!
As much as we thought the 21km winding climb up was tough the down hill to Warburton from here is incredibly tough on the body! You have 8km of gravel (more gravelly than when you come up) so you are bouncing along and down this is then met with the road that comes down Mt Donna Buang and from here it is 7.5km of sheer steepness – I am sure I don’t have anymore brake pads left. The decent form Mt Donna Buang is sealed but very winding and in the end at the bottom of the hill when you go to release the brakes completely it is like the wrists and fingers have seized up completely it was very painful to release the brakes!
Happy to be here at Warburton where the price for unpowered has gone up to $26 (plus $1 each for a hot shower) we think it is because it is Dec and the peak rates are now current. We were entertained by a few of the caravan park locals who gave us a bit of a welcoming party …
Tomorrow we take the rail trail home … again! I have lost count as to how many times we have ridden that rail trail!