February 15 Wangaratta – Glenrowan – Thredbo
After a couple of nights solo in the bush, it was odd waking up with traffic going past and neighbours right there! We had breakfast and chatted with the neighbours about Blu (He seems to have a way of attracting questions from neighbouring campers), before heading heading to Glenrowan for a bit of history. We wandered through the Ned Kelly museum and replica homestead (Unfortunately the original is no longer standing) and the kids did their best bushranger impressions with Big Ned.
Lunch from a roadhouse Maccas saw us on our way to Thredbo, we cut through the back roads across the border to Khancoban, then took the Alpine Way through to Thredbo. After the tracks through the high country, the narrow but 2 way blacktop through the mountains felt like a highway…Luxury!
The campsite was about 10 mins out of Thredbo, and while we were assessing where to set up to avoid the group of 30 schoolgirls that were unloading off a bus as we pulled in, a lady came over and offered for us to set up tucked in next to them. It was the beginning of a great friendship… Cheryl, Martin and their 3 children have been touring the country for 5 months now, are originally from Perth, attended North Beach Baptist and their kids went to Brigades there!
The kids all got on great from the moment we arrived and started playing in the river as soon as we were set up. We got to know each other well over the next few days and it was a blessing to spend the time with them!
February 16 – Thredbo Mountain Bike Park
Thredbo was another destination I had been looking forward to. In summer they open the ski lift for mountain bikes and have 3 dedicated gravity trails down the ski slopes! Unlike Derby, there is plenty for non-mtbers to do in Thredbo, so we booked a 2 day adventure pass for the family which included unlimited chairlift rides, 6 bobsled rides each and access to the leisure centre, Zach and I upgraded to mountain bike ski lift access for the first day, a nice change from pedaling up the hills!
While the girls rode the lift multiple times and went swimming in the pool, Zach and I hit the trails. Two of the trails are rated Blue for intermediate (A 10km All Mountain Trail and a 5km Flow Trail) with the third being a Black Diamond downhill run called the Cannonball. As neither of us were feeling suicidal, we opted to avoid that one and try the others.
They were tougher than any intermediate trails we have ridden on the trip and in parts were more difficult than some black trails I have ridden. Zach walked anything that was beyond his confidence and we rode down in stages. By the end of the second run and 15km ridden his confidence in berms was much improved, but he didn’t have it in him for any more riding, so I dropped him at the pool with the girls and went back for a fast run down each of the trails.
Moving fast, the trails were challenging and in parts downright scary, but I managed to stay rubber side down. By the time I finished both of them again (5pm by this time) I was utterly spent, I rode straight to the pool, took off my helmet, pads and shoes and jumped straight in in my riding shorts to cool off.
We chilled in the pool and on the waterslide until it closed, then headed back to camp to have dinner and compare notes with our new friends who had climbed Kosciuszko while we were riding. There was snow awaiting us at the summit!
February 17 Mt Kosciuszko
The next morning we were up early to make the first chairlift up the hill to climb Kosciuszko ourselves. Climb is a word with various interpretations and after our adventure on Cradle the week before, this was really more of a walk. The whole trip is either steel boardwalk or well maintained, wide gravel path, so we made good time, reaching the summit in an hour and a half despite the strong headwinds that had us all wishing for an extra layer. On reaching the summit, we savoured the moment of being at the highest peak in the country, took the obligatory selfie, had lunch then went to find the snow… It was old, icy and a bit dirty, but it was cold, white(ish) and definitely snow! The look on Rissys face was priceless, she had been eagerly awaiting her first snow experience since the previous night!
A bit of a snowball fight ensued but it didn’t last long as we didn’t have snow gloves and our hands were going numb! While we still had some use of our fingers, we set about building a snowman (the other essential snow activity)… He was a handsome fellow (complete with accessories the kids had brought in anticipation), but I suspect he had a short life :p
The trip back, downhill and with a tail wind, was much easier and only took an hour, but by the end of it our feet were burning from the unusual pressure pattern of the steel mesh on the boardwalk. As a result, we did an extra loop around on the chairlift to let them recover (hey, we paid for unlimited rides… Might as well get our moneys worth :p ).
The bobsled ride was next on the list and it was great fun! Chelle took Rissy down a couple of times and had a couple of runs by herself, I had a few runs and even made it down without using the brakes by the end. Zach absolutely loved it! He would have kept riding all day, except he had used up the rest of the collective rides and the weather turned so they had to close the track (friction brakes don’t work on wet steel).
Another stint in the pool rounded out the day and we headed back to camp to find it very full with local(ish) riders who were in for the weekend. It made us thankful we had come in during the week when everything was quiet!
Chelle went to bed early after the big day and I spent the evening trying to fix our tent fan which had a broken usb charging connection from being knocked around while traveling… I gave up eventually as the circuit board was too damaged, but have since worked out a way to ditch the internal batteries and run it off the same Milwaukee tool batteries as everything else in the kit!
By the time I gave up, I was way to wired to sleep, so I spent an hour or so sorting everything ready for the road and then tucked in to get some sleep before the drive to the Capital in the morning.