our next stop was bright in the victorian alps. bright is in many ways completely unlike thredbo. while thredbo is basically the result of someone dropping one big hotel subdivided into smaller buildings on a mountain side to make it look like an actual settlement bright is a real village that happens to accommodate guests. that said bright is not as high up in the mountains, instead it appears to be nested among state forests in various states of production.
it also has number of holiday parks that at this time of year are unsurprisingly pretty much completely booked out. this provided us with some interesting insights into how most australians appear to spend their holidays. we have never really wondered why everyone in this great country loves to tow their vans, drag their tents or just rent a cottage in one of the many holiday parks i.e. caravan parks i.e. campgrounds (the differences are not always clear but seem to have to do with the number of pools / jumping pillows / playgrounds they offer); after all it is an awsome country with amazing nature and sights.
there is also a lot of water around with several creeks flowing through town.
more importantly there is also a great ice cream shop in town. nat & i love the lemon ice cream. however, it appears the main attraction for many of our fellow countrymen & women is that the kids can run rampant in a somewhat closed environment while the adults sit / stand around in little groups with an alcoholic beverage in hand. at some point in the late evening the sugar fuelled madness turns with astonishing abruptness into the well-known shrieks of overly tired kids. the next morning roles are unsurprisingly reversed, with rather tense parents directing their offspring in tone & vocabulary most of us would associate with drill sergeants. kris and i suspect that the stress of unsuccessfully ordering around their kids is getting to them as the day progresses which serves as the perfect excuse to hit another bottle and complain to fellow parents how unbearable all this is without a bit of alcohol.
i admit that years of living in a large house tucked away in a very quiet corner of the northern beaches has probably made me a bit sensitive but i probably need to spend time in a desert after this experience.
our strategy of keeping all of us sane involves mountain bikes, jumps, berms and where possible shuttles. that results in a happy, motivated and at the end of the day tired 11 year old girl who agrees this is fun! it also gives me the opportunity to improve my coaching skills (with particular emphasis on the development of rising female talent, a very timely skill i am led to believe) and mum has us off her back for a while before we return for food or a shuttle. so far it appears to work well.
we went for a little cross country ride because we had promised kris to take her with us. actually that was her condition for being willing to shuttle us …
we went from the village towards mystic which was a nice mostly flat ride along the creek. nat and i rode a little detour called tombstone which was a bit of a climb but then a rewarding berm-filled ride back down.
nat then spent the rest of the day in the creek while kris & i wondered when she would turn into an icicle.
bright does have its own local mountain bike park, called mystic, which provides some great riding. natalie and i stuck to the hero trail to warm up (metaphorically, it was 30 degrees) but will ride in falls creek further up the mountain to escape the 40 degree heat predicted for the coming days. the hero trail in bright features massive machine made berms which nat says she first felt a bit intimidated by but as far as i could tell really just hit perfectly right away. the upper part is rocky, exposed and a bit rough but the mid and lower section through the trees are great, flowy and enormous fun.
as we were staring down the barrel of a state-wide heat wave we considered our options to try and escape. the river would have been one option but we decided to check out falls creek. at a height of 1780 meters the heat was down to a manageable 25 degrees. the little breeze did help, too.
first we rode flowtown, a great trail without any nasty surprises that really invites riders to stay on the gas. then we took the shuttle further up to have a look at generator and vortex; natalie made new friends on the way, two girls from queensland who are really great riders. they then led nat down flowtown again and nat improved her time by 20%! pretty good.
the last ride of the day was thunderbolt (a black trail with a few challenging rock sections strewn in) an wishing well.
and while natalie got a cinnamon donut i was allowed a solo ride down flowtown – so much fun through the whoops and berms!
it will be hot again tomorrow, maybe we need to escape to falls creek again …
the heat showed no signs of letting us off the hook. the girls decided that the drive up falls creek was too much on a day like this and they would be better off trying to survive in the creek (literally).
we bought a little inflatable raft for nat which provided a great opportunity to try out the new on-board compressor. and i hopped in the car by myself and drove to falls creek again.
unfortunately things were not as cool as they were the previous day and the past few days of riding (2x bright, falls creek) had clearly taken their toll as well. i was really slow and felt like i was close to heat exhaustion.
anyway, the shuttle was paid for so off i went. i got 5 rides in before the last shuttle and improved on some of my times but mainly just cruised and tried to keep the momentum.
falls creek is definitely worth a visit. most trails are flowy and not too hard, with a few rock gardens on the more difficult trails (high voltage, thunderbolt). my personal preference was definitely flowtown, i just wished i had been able to push harder on the climbs to improve my time.
day 5 – our last day in victoria.
the weather promised a break from the heatwave in exchange for some rain. we were prepared to trade; there are only so many 40 degree days you can spend in the creek.
we were not quite ready for the reception we received in falls creek: thunderbolt indeed. dark clouds were streaming across the sky and we heard the sound of thunder. we thought we’d be able to quickly get a ride in but just as we set out it started to bucket down. oh well, it’s an outdoor sport.
we got two rides on flowtown in just to prove we are tough enough (it actually stopped raining about 3 minutes in and biking clothes dry quickly) and capped it all off with a cinnamon donut sprinkled with nutella for the girl who twice improved her record.
on the way home we had to say goodbye to the hero trail in bright. it’s not entirely clear where that trail is on nat’s list of favourites but i think it is close to the top.
no wonder with berms like this! nat’s getting pretty committed and i need to get my act together to keep up.
those little gaps in between the trees still scare me. i get out of shape far too often to trust my hopping skills and i really don’t feel like plastering myself all over those rather sturdy looking trees.
actually that one in our caravan park also looked pretty sturdy until a rather massive branch broke off this afternoon. so maybe i got nothing to fear?
or maybe just camping here is pretty scary? not sure but we will move on tomorrow morning to the third stage of our tri state epic: new south wales here we come (back).