Hotham - Omeo - Falls Creek

My holiday ride consisted of two day loop from Bright, Victoria, over Mount Hotham to Omeo, with the return through Falls Creek.

20190323_damageIt nearly didn't happen. On the Saturday before we drove over I found my rear rim was pulling out. I had to work Sunday, so there was no chance of begging favours at the local bike shop!  CyclePath Bright got in a rim for me, which arrived the day after me, and rescued everything.

This ride has some significant climbs. It is mostly uphill from Harrietville to Mt Hotham, which is a distance of 30 kilometres, with a climb of around 1700 metres; this section has an average grade of 6%. The ride begins with a very slight climb from Bright to Harrietville, which is really a 20km ride to warm up, and the trip finishes with a 56 km slow loss of altitude to Omeo, with a couple a short climbs on the way.

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The ride to Harrietville follows the river valley. It gets light at dawn, but it takes a while before you can see the sun.

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Harrietville is down in there somewhere!

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The climb begins!

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Always looking out to cloud.  I often saw 'rain' falling from the wet trees which were crowning out beside me. The drops off the edge of the road along here are almost sheer.

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For much of the climb you can see across several kilometres to the road you have to climb... or have climbed.

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The last part of the climb, well above the winter snow line.

20190401_9proofThe climb up has spectacular views of the ranges. A bunch of nine cyclists passed me on the way up, doing at least double my speed, well led by a young woman a few hundred metres in front. I used my slow climbing technique which meant I took a bit over four hours. This was about an hour slower than another cyclist I chatted with at the top. She confessed she'd seen 7kmh a few times, to which I replied I considered that to be one of my faster speeds! I had averaged around 11.5kph from Bright by that point, but then had no trouble carrying on for the rest of the ride to Omeo which is another 56km. 

In Omeo I stayed at the Hilltop Hotel for $50.00 for a single room. There's no ensuite or microwave, but $50.00 is not much more than a tent site, and it was a lot warmer and drier! 

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Day Two felt quite different.

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Omeo Dawn

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Always cross these on the diagonal! This is the bridge at Bingo Mungie Creek, which is pictured below:

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At 7am it was not clear just how cold it would stay!

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The climb from the Omeo Highway to Falls Creek is around 35 kilometres with a gain of 1100 metres. Tawonga Gap between Mt Beauty and Bright is only 8km and 550 metres, but it comes at the end of a long day. To get to the Falls Creek climb first requires about 40km from Omeo through Angler's Rest. This second day began around 6.15 at five degrees centigrade with very poor visibility due to fog, and the temperature fell to one degree by the time I reached Angler's Rest a bit after 8am. Cloud and fog were the order of the day. The school bus was leaving Omeo at the same time as me to begin its run in from Angler's Rest... or beyond.

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10km done and 25 more to go.  The slope is constant, but not extreme. I imagine that racing up this slope would be hard work, but for a touring cyclist it's nothing extraordinary.

The alpine plains are much more obvious above Falls Creek than the Mt Hotham area, and quite spectacular. I met a couple of IndyPac riders, one in Omeo, and one climbing out of a very cold tent at Angler's Rest.

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The forest coming down off Falls Creek to Mt Beauty seems much wetter than the forests on the Hotham climb.

Bright – Hotham - Omeo
110.7 km, Elevation: + 2279 / - 1914 m, Max Grade 13.5 %, Avg. Grade 3.2 %, Total Duration: 09:44:00, Moving Time: 07:40:20, Avg. Speed: 14.4 kph

Omeo – Falls Creek - Bright
137.8 km. Elevation: + 2414 / - 2785 m , Max Grade 15.7 % Total Duration: 12:12:36 Moving Time: 09:19:09 Avg. Speed: 14.8 kph

(This is not country to be taken lightly.  The climbs, although long, are not that hard for any touring cyclist who knows how to climb. But low temperatures, wind, and ice on the road, are frequent. It was snowing the day before I was in Hotham (March 31) and riding down from either peak without adequate clothing would be dangerous. If you went over the edge it could be months before someone found your body.)

To Omeo   To Bright

Click images to enlarge.

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