Getting High - Another Ride Around the Wonderful Victorian High Country

10 November 2017

ANGLERS REST 

Nothing but the pub here, but it’s a good one. Now run by Lana and Michael, it no longer has a general store so if you want provisions, your best bet is Omeo. There’s beautiful riverside camping across from the Blue Duck, and the pub serves meals seven days. Despite the full Omeo Hwy having been sealed since the middle of 2014, the night traffic is non-existent. Maybe nobody has found out yet! 

ESKDALE

The pub’s got new owners and they are very motorcyclist friendly. Ask Noel about the best fishing spots and have a game of pool in a setting that looks like a real man cave! A bit to the north of them is an IGA with standard fuel and there’s a well equipped hardware store attached as well. 

OMEO 

Sort of Nimbin meets the Snowy! For me the highlight is the beautifully named Golden Age Hotel in the middle of town; a truly beautiful old art deco structure and like an increasing number of savy pubs, they serve good coffee too! The Hilltop Pub at the eastern end of town is best for a cold one in the afternoon sun. There’s a couple of fuel outlets in town selling 91 and 98 and a Foodworks, but if you’re headed up to Anglers and planning a BBQ, get to Omeo High Country Meats just opposite the Council Chambers. 

TALLANGATTA 

This town has a weird unfriendly vibe to it for me. The two pubs seem to’ve been designed by Stalin and their interiors are neither welcoming nor friendly. There’s a Supa IGA opposite the park on Towong Street and MJ’s bakery’s pastries make up for their coffee. The BP is at the eastern end of town and sells 91 and 95.  

CORRYONG

A not bad town in love with a delusion. Their claims to a connection with ‘The Man from Snowy River” are mythical at best but hell, it’s harmless fun! The best pub is Corryong Hotel at the eastern edge of the town just up from the BP Servo. The Tourist Info Office is run by good staff and well informed volunteers. It has a special visitors’ book for condition reports on the gravel section to Benambra. It’s worth a look and if you’ve ridden this loop anti-clockwise and have already covered the dirt, add your comments to help the next guys. Peepins across the road from the Info Office and Legends on Hansen a block to the east are both good cafes. 

FALLS CREEK 

There’s something about ski resorts and towns! I’ve stopped here three times now and had a coffee at the only place in town. I don’t like to trash places on a single visit but when I was there in January, I was the only person in the place which is run by an older couple. It was all the bloke in the pink polo with the upturned collar (you know the look!) could do to look up from his newspaper and ask me what I wanted. His wife’s homemade sausage roll was well above average but plain sauce was my only option. (It deserved a good chutney!) When I returned my plate and cup again I got hardly a grunt from newspaper reader. Why are these people in hospitality if they ain’t hospitable? Ride through, don’t stop! 

BRIGHT 

If you’re into towns with a totally unwarranted superior attitude, cafes with untrained, rude and servile service, and over-priced accommodation, you’ll love Bright. There’s no 98 fuel in town but the Caltex and Shell on GAR and Anderson sell 91 and 95 as does the BP on the eastern exit to the town. There’re a few bakeries and many cafes but I’ve found the service to be uniformly atrocious. Aspiration without perspiration tends to equal pretention. But you won’t go wrong at the Bright Brewery with its handmade brews of all strengths and flavours and good but not cheap bar food. There’s also some good swimming just down from the Brewery but it gets very crowded in school hols. The IGA is on the roundabout at Ireland and Cobden and is open 8.00am til 9.00pm every day. 

HARRIETVILLE 

A way better choice for a chill before the ride up the mountain than Bright. There’s a great little park with a top swimming hole just east of the bridge on the western end of town and the Snowline Hotel, literally at the foot of the climb, is very friendly and well staffed. A stop here will set you into a very good mood for the riding ahead! 

Most loops have a weak link, a section of ordinary stuff that you’ve gotta tolerate between the good riding. These three loops don’t. There’s nothing approaching the mundane in any of them.

This could just be the best three leaf clover of Australian riding… the roads and the scenery are close to unbeatable! I just love riding down here! And like any loop, you can start anywhere. I stayed at the Blue Duck Inn at Anglers Rest but you may base somewhere else. If you’re camping, there’s simply an unsurpassable selection of legal free camping spots along the way. 

So, let’s just assume you’ve stayed with Lana and Michael at Anglers rest and after a night of some of the brilliant local wines and maybe a quick dip in the sublimely clear, pure and refreshing Cobungra Creek at the end of the garden, you’re ready to go. 

If you feel like a bit of dirt, maybe take the eastern loop; Feel more like unrelenting twisties for a few hours? No problem take the Falls Creek and Bright circuit! A mix of twisties and more sweepers and curves, take the middle road! It’s all here!

DOWNLOAD THE MAP HERE

FALLS CREEK AND BRIGHT LOOP (PINK)

Total Distance: 258 km 

Cross the bridge in front of the pub and head up the Omeo Hwy for 11km until you get to the clearly signed Bogong High Plains Rd to Falls Creek. You’ll immediately begin to climb up the white aggregate road which is firm but difficult to pick. It’s 36km of some very, very good alpine riding to Falls Creek. 

Rarely has the cliché that the best part about a town is the road out been more true than of Falls Creek. It’s hardly worth the stop but it is the end of white road and a return to surfaces on which you’ll feel more at home. 

Some brilliant riding will take you to the turn to Tawonga Gap, after Mt Beauty, and continues until you hit the T at the Great Alpine Way where you turn right for the 6km into Bright. 

It’s a good idea to fill up here before retracing your path east but then stay on the GAW for the flatter stretch to Harrietville where you start to climb up to Mt Hotham. 

Great riding, great scenery, great surface. And there’s more going east past Dinner Plain and down into Omeo. Continue through town, up the hill past the Hilltop pub to your east and then it’s 28kms of more wonderful riding until you get to a sweeping righthand hairpin with the Blue Duck Inn straight ahead. 

Anglers Rest to Bright 109kms 

Bright to Omeo: 110 kms 

Omeo to Anglers Rest 29kms 

ANGLERS REST – CORRYONG LOOP (GREEN) 

Total Distance: 374 kms (76kms of gravel) 

This is the best of both worlds. Head north on the Omeo Hwy but don’t take the left for Falls Creek. Continue another 60 km and the first town is Mitta Mitta with its general store and not much more but a further 17kms up the road is Eskdale with a great pub plus an IGA and some fuel. 

Continue from here, turn left onto Lockharts Gap Rd and right onto Bryants Gap Rd and then east on the Murray Valley Hwy before turning left into Tallangatta. If you aren’t fazed by gravel, rejoin the MVH for the run east to Corryong which you’ll find is friendlier than Tall. 

Again, once you finish here, retrace your path west for 6km until you pass the caravan park on your right, then cross the river and take the immediate left signposted for Omeo. 

This is a beautiful valley road often beside the Nariel River, more open and sweeping than the tighter riding on the ride north. At 31km from the turn you’ll hit the second of two very nice riverside camping areas and this is where 76kms of gravel begin.  

This is amongst the more benign gravel you’ll find and any hybrid/ dual purpose bike will handle it in comfort and the scenery and solitude reward any effort. However, most of this road is totally without phone coverage so it’s best not done alone and always with a FindmeSpot or other epirb. 

The gravel finishes just north of Benambra and from here you have 19 km of sweet riding before reaching the T on the Omeo Hwy. Take the left if you want to head into Omeo, otherwise turn right for the quick squirt back to Anglers Rest. 

Anglers Rest to Tallangatta: 133kms 

Tallangatta to Corryong: 81kms

Corryong to Anglers Rest: 160kms (76kms gravel) 

SEALED ROAD LOOP (YELLOW) 

Total Distance Tallangatta to Anglers Rest via Mt Beauty 163 kms 

If you don’t like gravel, turn west instead of east out of Tallangatta on the Murray Valley Highway for 13kms with the Hume Damon your right until you see the turn south for Tangambalanga on the 533. A couple of hundred metres down take the sweeper to the left and then quickly the next right onto Gundowring Rd for the 45km run south through the beautiful Kiewa River Valley. 

You’ll have a few good swimming holes along the way but the best is Mongans Crossing. 

Soon after crossing the Kiewa River south of Mongans you meet the T of the Kiewa Valley Highway. Turn south here for a quick 12km squirt into Mount Beauty. From there it’s just a matter of retracing the first bit of the orange loop, in reverse. 

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