Great Alpine Gallivant
30 April 2021 / Photos: Rose Smith, Anda Clayton, Brian Clayton; Story: Bob Downing, Geoff Smith, Chris Fondum, Brian Clayton
Great Alpine Gallivant 20 to 23 April 2021
Day 1 Narooma to Metung
Many years ago, Banjo Patterson penned “The Man from Snowy River.” This epic has proven to be a classic and the images of our Australian high country contained in that poem have evoked a dream for a ride that must be done at least once in a lifetime. Having never previously travelled this region,
“There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around”….Jan & I didn’t hesitate to sign up for the run when it was first advertised.
On Monday 19 April, …”All the cracks (dunno about that but certainly a wild bunch) from stations near and far
Had gathered at the station overnight”…..(a late afternoon arrival at Amooran Oceanside Motel, Narooma, followed by a hearty meal at the Narooma Golf Club – would definitely visit these two venues again, and an early night.)
“For the Bushmen love hard riding where the wild horses are
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight”…..
“And Clancy of the Overflow (Michael riding a red NC doing part of day 1 run and then heading back home) came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.”
Game on and nine cars set off to the place where the wild horses are. South we went, along the highway until just before Bega when we wheeled the mob onto the Snowy Mountains Highway for a sedate trip up the winding roads of Browns Mountain thanks to roadworks and on into the high country for a frolic along the Monaro Highway to Bombala After a brief stop so the riders could water and feed we got back in the saddle for a spirited drive along some excellent driving roads to the settlement of Cann River in Victoria.
Lunch time! Raid the local food shops and meet in the park for food and a talk fest. A slow day in town and we provided entertainment for the locals. After all, nine MX-5’s is not something that happens there every day.
After lunch, we head west along the Princes Highway towards Lakes Entrance. Passed a couple of apparently unattended large SUV’s parked in funny spots on the side of the road. Very clean they were. H’mmm, speed camera cars?
A quick stop for fuel at Lakes Entrance and tops up because it was starting to rain and then follow the Leader to Metung. No, I had not heard of Metung either until this run (I Googled it) but worth a return visit.
Settle into the Metung Waters Motel, Apartments & Day Spa and then something to eat at the Metung Hotel (again, both worth re-visiting). An early night and the Day 2 story begins.
Bushfires – much of the run has been affected by the bushfires last year and in 2003. I have heard and seen the media coverage but did not appreciate the extent of the fires and impact until going on this trip. There is a lot of regeneration but a lot of areas are still quite devastated.
Overall, a trip we would definitely do again.
Jan & Bill Short
Day 2 Metung to Bright
After the storms of the previous night, we awoke to a sunny, cold but windy morning. Following breakfast at one of the nearby cafes we all assembled, for the journey up into the high country. Not surprisingly there was a unanimous vote to travel tops up. The first section of the run to Omeo followed the course of the Tambo river through sometimes heavily wooded countryside, the temperature climbing from the single digits in Metung up to double figures before reaching Omeo. After breaking out of the woodlands and into open countryside a suitable stopping place was found which presented many photographic opportunities of the surrounding mountains and small cars. In Omeo we were scheduled for a visit to the museum and a trip out to the historical gold fields. The museum was closed and the roads out to the goldfields deemed unsuitable for our cars. As lunch was not booked for another hour everyone went off in different directions; all enjoyed their ramblings around this historic and beautiful old town which has suffered with many floods and bushfires during its history.
During our stay in the town we heard that the previous night Mount Hotham had received 2 inches of snow, we set off with a degree of trepidation hoping that the snow had melted enough not to impede our progress. There was very little traffic on the road in front of us so we had an enjoyable drive through the twists and turns to the summit, with views of the surrounding mountains covered with a dusting of snow. The descent of the mountain was uneventful until we came on a van whose driver had his right foot permanently on the footbrake and was most reluctant to let our group of cars pass even at the most obvious of pull over points. Our arrival into Bright was in sunshine which made the colours of the autumn leaves on the trees more spectacular. After checking in at the Motel it was time for some retail therapy for the ladies and for the men to have a visit to the local boutique brewery to sample their wares. Over dinner that night at the Bright Hotel everyone agreed that it had been a great days drive that would be difficult to surpass.
Day 3 Bright to Jindabyne
We set off from Bright around 9.00 in light misty rain along the Great Alpine Road, through the Ovens Valley to Porepunkar and Ovens with their hop plantations and avenues of rich autumn colours before turning east briefly onto Happy Valley Road. We then headed north east along a maze of well selected connecting arterial roads through green countryside until we joined the Murray Valley Highway a short distance before Tallangatta.
Driving conditions again were perfect for our little cars – great sweeping curves through the undulating and sometimes steeper country with ever-changing and spectacular views.
We had morning tea at the bakery in Tallangatta, a town located on the banks of Lake Hume, before resuming our trip along the main highway into the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, through the town of Corryong where Jack Riley, the original ‘Man from Snowy River’, lies buried.
From there we crossed back into NSW on the Alpine Way, stopping briefly in the small town of Khancoban, which was originally constructed to house workers involved in the Snowy Mountains Scheme. The most challenging part of the day then began: kilometres of steep, narrow, twisting alpine roads favoured by motorcyclists and sportscar drivers alike, although we passed a couple of intrepid caravans as well. The alpine wilderness that enveloped us was stunning. The road widened near the turn off to Tom Groggin Homestead, where Jack Riley worked, and Banjo Patterson stayed, and is now a working cattle property with tourist accommodation.
Finally, we reached Thredbo village and began our descent to Jindabyne through beautiful alpine scenery, although the sad skeletons of snow gums affected by dieback were scattered along many of the hillsides higher up. The road was well maintained, all ready for the ski season to begin.
Lunch awaited at the Wild Brumby with a nip of locally distilled schnapps to set the mood before we moved into the Banjo Patterson Inn, with open fire places and views of Lake Jindabyne. The perfect end to an exhilarating day.
Day 4 Jindabyne to Home
In the crisp mountain air the day dawned bright and clear. Our Sydney chapter and Hunter chapter guests, with further to travel, chose the shorter route home through Canberra. The remaining four cars from South Coast headed off for more high-country sightseeing, through the Monaro country to Nimmitabel for a warming coffee and a selection of sweet delights. And then it was on to lunch at Tilba, down Brown Mountain and through the Bega Valley, the countryside was becoming familiar.
We all expected heavy traffic on Brown Mountain but, except for a short holdup at the top with roadworks, it was a clear run to the bottom where we met a slow moving truck, easily overtaken.
Onwards to Tilba and Ellen’s Pantry, tried and tested and good as usual. Lunch over we made our separate ways home after a wonderful journey together.
As organisers, Anda and I were delighted that six members from other chapters joined us. They proved to be convivial company and we hope to welcome them on a future chapter outing. To Bret & Dianne Tierney (Illawarra), Don & Glenda Redding (Hunter) and Nick & Irene McIntosh (Sydney), thank you for your contribution to the group on our trip.
And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around the Overflow the reed -beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the MX5ers tell the story of their ride.