Visiting : Westons Hut, West Kiewa Logging Road, Mt Beauty
Distance : 41km
When : Friday 26th May 2017, 6:30am @ Westons Hut

Birthday Ride 2017 – Part 2. After staying the night in Westons Hut up near the Bogong High Plains, it was time to return to Mt Beauty. Should be all downhill, right?

Right?

Good morning little bird.

This little scamp didn’t mind my company at all. It flew in and had a good look around as I was packing up my gear.

After a strange and wonderful night in Westons Hut, it was time to get moving.

Such a beautiful place.

I tidied and swept up, even laid up a fire in the heater so the next people through would just have to put a match to it. One last look, and then I started hiking back down the steep track to Blairs Hut and the West Kiewa Logging Road.

The morning was alive with unseen lyrebirds.

And soon I was down at Blairs again.

First things first. Time to wake up the lazy bike.

Wakey wakey!

Repacked bags and got back into bike mode. Ticked off my entry in the Blairs logbook and off I went.

Beautiful misty morning. I was heading back down the way I came but the ground was wetter than the previous day. The downhill roll was good.

I came across this sign again and thought I’d take the vehicle route this time just for laughs.

I guess I’d taken the stock route last time. I seemed to recall that the stock route was where all the river crossings were. And this vehicle route seemed to climb up and away from the river. Hm… I didn’t mind the climbing when the views were like this.

And then I noticed that the power company signs were taking the vehicle route too.

Ah ok, it was starting to make sense now. The normal old West Kiewa Logging Road forded the river in a bunch of places – no problem for stock, horses, walkers, even 4WDs. But if you want to get an underground power cable up that road and over those shallow fords you’d have to either build raised bridges and hang the cable underneath (like i’d seen the previous day) or dig down straight across the river which would surely cause a lot of damage, disruption and cost.

I guess they took the third option which was to push a new road up the hill, run their underground cable up it, and rejoin the normal road past that section of fords and crossings, leaving that section of the river untouched by bridges or trenches.

And then this sign made sense too :

I’d seen it the day before but hadn’t understood it. The texta was barely readable on the bottom sign but, having just come down the slick, muddy, power company-signed detour road I was now able to discern its meaning. “River Tk” is the old road which has all the fords – “High Tk” is the new power company road which detours up the hill to avoid all the fords. And, of course, these two tracks correspond to the “Stock route” and “Vehicle route” referenced on the sign at the other end of that section.

Mystery solved. My advice? Stick with the stock route and get yer feet wet!

I passed the end of Dungey Track which was where I’d joined West Kiewa Logging Road the previous day. From here on, I’d get back to Mt Beauty via a slightly different route.

Out’n’back routes smack of missed opportunity don’t you think?

There was some welcome climbing along here and some great misty mystery road, snaking off into the distance.

The track was muddy and heavy. That type of mud that sucks on your tyres and slows you down and occasionally sends you sliding sideways unexpectedly.

I was choosing my route on the fly now, from memory. I knew I wanted to get down off this high road and onto the main paved road into Mt Beauty eventually, though there were many routes I could take to do that. Springs Saddle Track was one of them.

Didn’t like the look of it.

This was Woolybutt Spur Track, I think.

Didn’t like the look of that either. So I kept on following old faithful West Kiewa Logging Road. It seemed to be following an aqueduct or water race now so it was a nice gentle grade which made for fast downhill rolling after the slow mud-sucking climb.

And then I saw a big clearing up ahead, the road opened up and I saw some concrete structures, looked like a council materials dump? I’d rejoined civilisation.

Well, kinda…

I guess I’d found the top end of the Big Hill Mountain Bike Park.

I probably could have taken the MTB trails from here down to Mt Beauty but I didn’t have a map of them and didn’t feel like getting rad on my loaded-down mud-chariot.

Kinda just wanted to get down to the main road about now.

I took Roper Track.

It was steep. Downhill. Slow going.

Just about here…

…I startled a big sambar deer. I was busy scanning the ground for a safe line when I heard a loud honk, looked up and saw a massive black shape moving off down the track. Gave us both a fright I think.

More civilisation.

From here, I could see the main road snaking along the hillside right where those powerlines were heading.

Made it.

And from here I could see back up to Roper Track where I’d just been, right up at that powerline pylon. Love the symmetry.

Then it was fast paved road rolling all the way back to Mt Beauty. Felt good to go fast after such a slow moving morning.

And that was that. The end of a strange and interesting overnight ride to a beautiful part of the Victorian Alps.

I’d definitely do things differently if I had the chance, but I’m satisfied with how the ride panned out. Good memories, good feels. Much more important than numbers like how far, how high, how many things ticked off an arbitrary list.

And the birthday festivities were not over. Oh, no! I loaded up the car, booted it up and over to Bright and met my awesome family for birthday celebrations Day 3 and Day 4.

But I won’t bore you with the details of all that.

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