Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The journey in... part 1

Welcome to the latest installment of Felt Epix. These adventures are the brainchild of 2 guys who simply love riding their bikes, enjoy a good challenge, and even better adventure. And for your viewing pleasure, we bring it all to you. So over the rest of the week, you'll be able to check back here to see photos, perhaps a video, and the story of the adventure that was Wonnangatta.


The Wonnangatta Valley is a pretty historic place, a site of much agriculture over the years, but the real joke is that for all the tough as nails reputation of Aussie farmers and bushies, the valley itself was settled by an American. Any you know what, he could have it, back then! It’s a hard place to get into via Dargo, and that’s in the comfort of a 4wd. On horseback it would take them a week, or a month if it was wet. Lucky its so beautiful!!

So the Valley was our goal, and departing Melbourne at 7pm on Friday, the month estimate was looking good. Smack into Long Weekend traffic, we snailed our way out of the city before getting a good head of clean air and smashing it down to the east.

With Ben’s hilux packed to the hilt, and the spare wheel needing a red spanner to remove it (fingers crossed!), and the ‘cruiser doing not a lot better, we weren’t setting any records. But the trend started for real when we were kicked out of Trafalgar takeaway (“get out, we’re closing”), followed by the supermarket at Traralgon (“get out, we’re closing”, and then chased around by the guy on the cleaner sweeper) so we went out to watch the fights at MacDonalds- all was not lost. For the record, the fat guy with the sore knuckles had it in the bag, but his girlfriend made him leave, which was a shame as it meant I lost $10 to Jason….

With supplies on board, we headed out yet again into the darkness, and it was destined to be a late night. We made it to Wonnangatta Trk and carried on up there a way before we finally called it a night at 1.20am, and had a beer to celebrate.

A 6 hour drive in completed, and the fun started in the morning. At least a sleep would let Nat and Ben get the dust out of their heads, ready to be filled up again in the morning! Sleeping where we fell was convenient, but some boys weren’t really into Sven’s work with the rocks on the back. We survived, and being so tired it wasn’t really an issue.

Up at ‘sparrows fart’, we got everything back together, made a brew and set to work stripping unnecessary parts from the ‘cruiser with the rattle gun. Good move too we discovered, as the sway bar we removed was really hindering its performance off road, so with that gone it was happy days!

Problem solved!! :)

Straight into low range after breakfast, there were some serious ridges to be climbed and up we went! About 10 mins in, Ben passed the comment that this was the most serious 4wding he’d done, so that was pretty cool. Up and up we climbed, and enjoyed the view of the high country at every peak, before screaming down the back side of the ridge line, tires aired down and scrabbling for traction. Low range was in use most of the time, dust flying everywhere, and we were loving it.

One of the great bits of kit we had along was the twin 50L water tanks, and camelbaks on the backs of our seats. Brilliant! We went through one complete tank, and had a good crack at the other, so thats a lot of water!!

Dusty, you bet, but you should have seen the inside of the hilux...!

Dropping down Hearne Spur track, we made it down to the Wonnangatta River for the first time, after being chopped up by some rude people in other trucks – we hoped we’d have the pleasure of seeing them in trouble later on and being able to cruise past and return the ‘favour’.

Ben here, pictured above at a very aptly named track, took a different approach to Hearne Spur trk. He tried the ol' esky lid approach... Then decided it was a crap idea, and hopped back in the truck.

Rant aside, without a problem we made it to the valley floor, through the numerous rivers that feed the Wonnangatta and along to the ruins of the homestead.

A very welcome way to end the day and to cool off.

Solving the problem of safe and secure bike storage. The bikes escaped some serious rockin and rollin with a lot of gear on board, without a scratch.

The view from the top was just magic, but you'll have to wait until the next installment to get some more pictures of it! You'll be sure to see plenty of photos of the riding we did also, this post seems a bit 4wd heavy doesn't it. With 430 photos and a healthy story, come back soon and there will be plenty to keep you entertained whilst you ride your desk with us.