Visiting : Erica, South Face Rd, Mt Baw Baw, Tanjil Bren Rd
Distance : ~85km
When : Wednesday 2nd December 2020, 8:00am @ Erica

This was my first ride back in “regional Victoria” after the big 2020 lockdown ended and we all thought COVID was finally over. (LOL!) I wanted to get away from my local roads, grovel up a big climb and generally get lost in the bush, metaphorically speaking. Mt Baw Baw seemed like a great choice as I’d never actually climbed it before, it’s meant to be hard and there’s some great dirt road options if you approach from the South.

Sign me up!

(NOTE: I didn’t turn on my GPS until a few KM into the ride.)

I drove to the little logging town of Erica which is just south of Mt Baw Baw. It’s the closest town to the descriptively titled South Face Road which is a dirt road superhighway that takes you most of the way up the mountain.

It’s a well-trafficked road, lots of utes and four wheel drives and some trucks. Wide enough for everyone though.

I got some friendly beeps and waves from passing vehicles. Pretty pleasant road and a solid climb. I did enjoy slogging up it and just getting lost in the effort, thinking absolutely nothing, just… moving. Perfect post-lockdown mental therapy.

The end of the dirt came soon enough and then it was time to join the main road for the remainder of the climb up to the ski resort.

It was steep. Like, 20% steep in places. Ugh, I was struggling big time. My lockdown legs were like uncooked sausages.

It was perfect.

There was a bit of activity at the top, various workers going about their business and the shop was open so I bought food and drink. Chatted with a nice lady who said she drove past me going up South Face Road and asked where I was going next etc.

Not much view from the top so I strapped in and started white-knuckling it back down the steep paved road. Grateful I’d chosen to ride mid-week so there was barely any traffic going down.

Of course, paved road descents are fun but they got nothing on dirt road descents and pretty soon I reached my turn-off to just such a dirt road descent. Tanjil Bren Road.

Oh my.

My photos do not do this justice. You know this.

It was SO green!

Such a beautiful descent, it was just ridiculously lush.

Winding down, down, what a flowing fun road, absolutely zero traffic. Tanjil Bren Road is a deadset winner. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

It kept going and going. I was loving it.

Finally I reached my next turn-off at Western Tyers River Road. Sometimes the only thing better than riding along a quiet dirt road is turning off onto an even smaller quiet dirt road.

It was still so green. Time of year I guess. The road started following alongside the Tyers River Western Branch and it was glorious. So cool and shady.

I baulked at this sign for a minute or two. I kinda wanted to do the right thing but that would mean a fair bit of re-routing and backtracking and, well, it was such a beautiful little track and that sign was probably definitely just meant for four-wheel-drives and motos so I kept going.

Such a nice place to be.

It soon became obvious why the road was closed.

Of course it was a beautiful place to be and of course I wasn’t the only person to think that and of course heaps of people come here to camp and fish and hunt and the track inevitably gets jacked up.

It was slow going along here not because of the terrain but because I couldn’t resist stopping every hundred metres or so to take more photos.

All good tracks come to and end and this one ended with a bit of uncertainty. I was aiming for Morgan Mill Road but there didn’t seem to be a clear vehicle road that connected to it.

Hm, maybe that’s another reason for that “Road Closed” sign – it was actually a no-through road, for vehicles.

I followed my nose and found some cleared areas and I could see sheds and other structures through the trees. I was unsure if I was trespassing or not but, again, I didn’t fancy backtracking so I cautiously pushed on.

Eventually I found a little metal bridge over a creek and once I’d crossed it things started looking less sketchy. I found a dirt road and appeared to be back on track!

I rode past the front of the property I’d seen structures on. Looks like I’d just skirted the edge of the property and that the connection from Western Tyers River Road to Morgans Mill Road is fine for bicycles and walkers, no trespassing required.

I was ready to get back to riding at a decent speed and putting some miles behind me. The crux had been successfully navigated and now it was a nice cruisy roll back into Erica.

I did have a minor map snafu on this section and ended up following some crazy steep moto tracks for a while before finally finding the road again. I blame low blood sugar!

I was pretty chuffed to finally see this sign and roll back up to the car, just where I’d left it. It was a decently long day and it was everything that I’d wanted.

This ride was the perfect end to the lockdown blues. I thought COVID was over and I was back to regular long rides in the bush and 2020 could piss right off because I’m back baby!

NARRATOR: He was not back.

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