Thursday, November 26, 2015

Strzelecki Ranges Tour

For our first tour in a while (since March ...), we headed on the V-Line train to Traralgon on Monday 23rd November for a 3 night tour through the Strezlecki Ranges in Sth Gippsland. Once more the trusty Cannondale CAADX 105 was pressed into light touring mode for the trip.

Power station views, a rainforest walk, the Grand Ridge Rail Trail, wildlife encounters and hearty country meals were amongst the highlights over the three day tour. Unfortunately, rain thwarted our planned final day ride home from Warragul to Lilydale via Powelltown (we caught the train back...), but the three previous days had some great riding.

Day 1:  Traralgon - Balook

We arrived at Traralgon just after 1pm (V-Line were running 20 mins late...) and after a quick bite to eat we rolled out of town towards the Ranges. The large Loy Yang B  power station loomed on the east of the road and we had a short break at Miner's View to consider clean energy alternatives to coal as the southerly breeze blew pretty hard across the small hill on which we stood.

Tarra-Bulga Guesthouse, Ballook
Shortly after turning south on C483 there is a information board. From there to Traralgon Sth there is a nice gravel trail between the road and the adjoining land which I assume is part of the coal mining lease for the Latrobe Valley power stations.

Just past Traralgon Sth we took the steep (up to 22% !!) but scenic Red Hill Rd for about 7kms until it rejoins the C483. The climb from here is more benign with distant views either side of the road in turns as it winds around Mt Tassie (didn't go up the short access road this time...) towards Grand Ridge Rd. From the junction it's just a short distance to Tarra-Bulga Guesthouse at Balook where we stayed the night.

Nina's lamb shanks.

The guesthouse is currently run by Nina and Torben, a Danish couple, who have renovated the interior and guestrooms quite nicely. We were the only visitors on Monday so we enjoyed a nice dinner (lamb shanks, and cheesecake for dessert !) and a glass of wine before settling into the lounge for an hour or so before bed.

 Day 2: Balook to Mirboo North

With time to spare today we walked over to the Tarra-Bulga National Park and took a short walk down to the Corrigan Suspension Bridge across the serene fern gully below. It's a really relaxing and refreshing place to visit, especially as it was early in the morning with no one else about to disturb the serenity. Amazingly, along the path to the bridge we were treated to the sight and sound of three superb lyrebirds just metres away from us. The sounds they make are amazing and these ones was imitating the call of the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo, which is common in these ranges.

Fern gully below Corrigan Suspension Bridge
Eventually, we set off for Mirboo North via the Grand Ridge Rd and Budgeree Rd, significant lengths of which were unsealed. The road is well formed but has loose 20/40mm aggregate gravel in parts which is a pain to ride on with only 35c tyres, making for an 'exciting' time all round. We thought we survived it pretty well, but Justin discovered a flat front tyre next morning that we can only attribute to this section of the ride.

After the lyrebirds, the wildlife encounters continued on the road comprising the large bloated corpse of the region's unluckiest wombat (given the almost total lack of traffic), followed by a close encounter with a small, slow-moving brown snake and topped off by a mildly suicidal small-ish wallaby - and all within a few kilometres. Crikey !!

Darlimurla Station
We finally outrode the gravel and descended into Boolara for lunch and a break at the head of the Grand Ridge Rail Trail to Mirboo North which we tackled a little wearily after a pretty warm and windy ride from Balook. I took a particular interest along the way but could not recall much of the final rail motor ride I took in 1968 (?) with my older trainspotting brother. 

We paused for a break along the way at the site of the former Darlimurla station, and read the history boards and checked out the old photos.

We eventually pulled into Mirboo North and checked in to the 1st Tee Motel, adjoining the golf course. Very pleasant surroundings and a short energetic walk into town for a typically massive pub steak dinner ended an interesting day two. Unfortunately the Grand Ridge Brewery was not open for meals on Tuesday night.

Day 3: Mirboo North - Warragul

The day promised a solid ride in warm, windy conditions - and it delivered. We rolled out of town and back onto Grand Ridge Rd after 5 kms for a terrific downhill roll on the Allambie Descent.  There were very extensive and pleasant views to the south west, although the landscape is highly modified here compared to the temperate rainforest of the first day at Tarra-Bulga National Park. 

Naturally this lovely flowing descent was followed by a solid climb up Mt Hallston and then Mt Worth with a long stretch of rolling hills (plus roadworks and more gravel) in between. We stopped just short of the end of the gravel for a lunch break and suddenly there was traffic, and dust, to accompany our modest lunch.

Gritted teeth, riding into a strong northerly wind.
Terrific farmland views south west of Grand Ridge Rd.

After lunch it was another flowing 8 km descent from Mt Worth, and a short bump before joining the C425 Leongatha-Warragul Rd for the final 12 km roll to out third night stop.

 Day 4: ...oh well, maybe next time.

Waiting for the 9:58 ...
The promised cold, wet change blew through the region overnight and our planned return via Powelltown and Yarra Junction had to be saved for another day. So it was back onto the V-Line train and home by lunchtime.

We had a fun and interesting three days anyway. These are great little tours for us to do 2 or 3 times per year, just enough of a challenge and quite refreshing for the mind and body.

The food is pretty good too !!

More pics ....

Corrigan Suspension Bridge

The touring rigs and the power station.

The author on the move.

Views from Grand Ridge Rd Allambee.

Cheesecake at Tarra-Bulga Guesthouse.          


  1. Hi, enjoyed your blog post. Thanks for sharing. I'm a Mornington Penisnsula local, looking for some good one or more day rides to get out and explore a bit more. Looking for routes with minimal traffic and plenty of back roads an scenery without too much of a drive out to the start. I don't suppose you have a GPS trace or route map for this tour? It looks like a great ride. Thanks.

    1. I'm away in Tassie at the moment, but when I get back home next week I'll add the Strava maps to the post. Meanwhile if you follow the Strava link on the main page you can go back to the tour dates and find them. Thanks for visiting !

  2. Thanks. Enjoy Tassie! I was there in December having the time of my life on the new MTB trails at Derby, what an amazing place.


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