2009-08-23 -37 146
 The Place
On a farm just off the road to Mount Baw Baw, Noojee, Victoria.
 Short Version
Train to Warragul, geohashed near Noojee, rode up Mount Baw Baw, got a lift from Noojee with crazy hunter guy to Lilydale Station, rode from Ringwood to Brighton East geohash point, then home.
 Long Version
When I looked at the coordinates for Sunday's geohash I saw that it was in Brighton East - quite close to my Port Melbourne home. Little did I realise what a massive day this would turn out to be.
No sooner did I send out an email to all the geohashes I knew about saying I'd be there at 2pm that I noticed that the geohash point for the unhashed graticule to the east was also accessible - and, as it covers most of Victoria's southern alps, this hardly ever happens. And that was it - I knew I had to get both of them.
Still recovering from a cold, I jumped on my rarely used carbon fibre road bike for the 8:30am train to Warragul, carrying two sci-fi books, one hard cover, because I was about to finish the first, and a lot of food, but no front light. This was a mistake.
The ride to the hashpoint was extremely scenic, with a beautiful sunny day and very verdant vegetation. On the way I stopped at a milk bar in Neerim South where the lady asked if I was going up to the top of the popular ski resort of Mount Baw Baw.
"No, just to Noojee", I said.
"Oh, well that's alright then", she replied.
That comment suddenly changed my whole day - I had to climb Mount Baw Baw.
After riding through extremely picturesque farmscapes and rolling hills (I took the long scenic route to Noojee), I came to the road's closest approach - 40kms north of the station. Here I hoisted my bike over a barbed wire fence and wandered up a steep tree-covered hill following the directions on my GPS.
Soon I came out into a green paddock above a small dam, so I stood in the correct spot, took some photos and rejoined my bike for what I'd by now decided to be a much longer trip. It was just after 1pm.
The 50 km ride up was much more undulating than I'd expected, with frequent up and down hills - and this was even before I'd gotten to the beginning of the Mount Baw Baw climb proper. I'd decided that I had to get to the top by 5pm in order to descend before dark fell, so I was riding as fast as I could.
Finally, I came to the base of the 6km steep climb at 3:30pm - plenty of time. Unfortunately, the climb was so steep that it took me 1.5 hours to get up it, pulling on my handlebars to get leverage on my pedals - despite having a specially low-geared bike I'd got for the Alpine Classic. Soon enough I passed the gate keeper for the ski resort (luckily he didn't charge me an entry fee). As I got to the top (with two stops for dark chocolate and musk sticks) the wind picked up (a head wind) and I started seeing snow by the side of the road. At this point I was really wishing I hadn't brought that hard cover book with me - is Robert Heinlein really worth that much to me?
Finally, completely at the end of my tether, I got to the top - 1500m (starting at 160m). Here I had a quick Cascade Lager from the local bar, took some photos of the view and called a couple of friends to gloat over my achievement. I then quickly put on my jacket and overpants and rode back down the mountain.
This experience was quick disconcerting - I suddenly realised that it was getting dark, I had no front light and I became worried that my brakes wouldn't make it down the incredibly steep decline. To top it all off, Talex sent me a message telling me the last train from Warragul was due to leave at 7:30pm - I would definitely miss it (although I was aware of this possibility enough beforehand to know that I didn't want to ask when I could have backed out of the Baw Baw expedition).
Wildlife note: in the dusk a lyrebird swooped right in front of me across the path - it looked pretty spectacular with all its plumage out.
Fairly soon it was completely dark, with only a sliver of a moon to light the road, which was setting. I felt like I was riding up hill far more than down hill (which seemed instantaneous), so it was still hard work.
As I was squinting at the vague shape of the road in front of me through the dense wet bushland, just getting towards Icy Creek near Noojee, a car appeared behind me (only the second one to do so) and pulled up, offering me a lift. Naturally, having been deciding between staying overnight in Warragul or riding the extra 50kms to Pakenham into a head-wind (on top of the 45km I'd have to do anyway), I accepted.
The car was a troop carrier with trailer, completely laden with gear to the roof. The guy was a large bearded man called 'Stewie' in camouflage pants and wife beater. I put my bike on the trailer and jumped in the passenger seat.
After a brief description of who we were and what we were doing, Stewie asked if I wanted to watch a movie - the front half of the car was full of wires, cables, a laptop and other audiovisual gear. I was presented with a large stack of pirated DVDs and was surprised to see they were all chick flics. I picked the most masculine film he had - Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - and we happily watched away, Stewie occasionally glancing at the road to see where he was going.
At one stage we saw some deer on the side of the road in a dark tree-lined valley. Stewie talked about how good they would be to eat before getting back to the movie. Suddenly, he stopped the car and did a u-turn.
"That's it - let's shoot 'em!" He announced before grabbing a bag out of the back. It was a camouflaged rifle which he loaded and handed to me while we went back for the deer. I had it pointed towards my feet as it was quite long and it took Stewie a non negligible period of time to remember to put the safety on.
"You're cool with this, aren't you?" I said I was, despite being an inner-city boy and never having been hunting. I was mainly worried about having to clean the blood off my bike in the trailer.
In fact I was surprised at how disappointed I felt that the deer had by this stage run off to safety. It wasn't too long ago that I was a strict vegetarian.
After this excitement we went for fish and chips in Woori Yallock, which I paid for on account of being driven to a station. We sat in the car to eat our meal watching the film. Unfortunately, I didn't quite get to end of the it before being dropped off near Lilydale station. We bade our goodbyes and I waited for the train.
By this stage, the time was still only 9:30pm, so I could still get to the geohash point in East Brighton. All was on track (I even managed to read a few pages of that Robert Heinlein book on the train to make it worth while carrying it) until it was announced that there was a bus replacement service from Ringwood due to the Springvale Road Grade Separation Project. I argued as much as I could, but they just wouldn't let bikes on the buses - even though I'd bought a ticket to get back to the city. So I followed the only option open to me and rode the 40kms to the second geohash point, stopping only to have some terrible goon at a share house on the way in Carnegie dubbed 'Goontown' with a couple of mates.
I got to the Brighton East hash point at about 11:30pm (read about it here), took some photos, marvelled that finally my GPS was in agreement with the map lookup, and continued on my way to Port Melbourne and precious sleep, delayed only slightly by buying a much needed Gatorade and picking up some abandoned long necks for homebrewing.
I finally got to bed sometime before 1am. Big day.
Here're the maps of my route:
Leg Two - Ringwood to home via 'Goontown' and the geohash point (at 'C').
Total Distance Ridden: 170km (including 5kms for getting to stations).
|Felix Dance earned the Virgin Graticule Achievement|
|Felix Dance earned the Multihash Achievement|