One of Victoria’s best rides
Nestled amongst the fire ravaged yet haunting green regrowth of the Mountain Ash, we awoke from an overnight stay in Marysville ready to head to Woods Point then onto Jamieson which would be our tour for the day.
Loading up riders and the TM EN300 with extra fuel (just in case) the sounds of birds singing and chirping as the sun rose, heralded an exciting start to the day, with a crisp morning and light fog, we decided to arm ourselves with wet weather gear- again just in case.
We fuelled up body and bike at Marysville and made a quick trip out to Steavenson Falls, a beautiful cascade that has long been Marysville’s landmark. After a very easy 700 metre walk which takes you to an awe-inspiring view of one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls. Plummeting 84 metres the falls have been a favourite visitors spot since the 1860′s.
To get there drive to Steavenson Falls carpark, which is located 3km along bitumen on Falls Road. Alternatively take the Tree Fern Gully Trail, a scenic 3.4 return walk from the heart of town to the base of Steavenson Falls.
Further information about Steavenson Falls and the other walking trails in Marysville and surrounds you can download the FREE Visit Marysville App via iTunes or Google Play or pop into the Visitor Information Centre to pick up a trail map and information on this beautiful area.
Back on the bikes and a windy road up to Lake Mountain, 22km away from Marysville, in winter a skiers paradise, or a venue for a tobogganer or snowball-thrower.
The development of Lake Mountain to its present day status began in 1979, the then Forests Commission of Victoria was the governing authority and initiated the first dedicated cross country ski trail and a toboggan run. In subsequent years, more trail and toboggan runs were constructed, as well as public shelters and amenities, a food outlet, ski hire, ski school, administration and a first aid building.
The bushfires on 7 February 2009 caused considerable damage at Lake Mountain. Much of the forested area was burnt, and almost all buildings except the main Day Visitor Centre/Ski Hire/Bistro were destroyed. Extensive work was undertaken to enable the resort to open for 2009 winter season.
Lake Mountain is a popular destination for road cyclists due to the challenging climbs up to the resort. Lake Mountain can be climbed from two sides: from Warburton (a grueling 40 kilometres (25 mi) climb up the Reefton Spur) or from Marysville, the more popular route. The climb from Marysville is 21.3 kilometres (13.2 mi) long and rises at an average gradient of 4.3%.The first 4.3 kilometres (2.7 mi) of the climb are the most challenging with an average gradient of 8.1%.
Next stop along the Marysville-Woods Point Rd is the Big Culvert. A 30m walk here puts you in the mouth of a monument to 19th century stonemasonry: a 2.9m high granite-block water tunnel, green with moss but showing no signs of 140 years of traffic rumbling over it.
A kilometre further on is the historic site of Cambarville sawmill and township. This grassy picnic area is on a 4km loop walk to Cora Lynn Falls and the Big Tree, a mountain ash pruned by a storm but still a hefty 84m high.
During the 1860s, Cambarville was an important stopping point along the busy road leading to the Woods Point Goldfields. Later, Cambarville became a bustling timber town having a large steam-driven sawmill, houses, a school and shops. This easy circuit passes the old Chalet Hubertus, the school and sawmill sites. There are interpretative signs along the way.
At the junction soon after Cambarville there is a turn right towards Warburton and McMahon’s Creek and Reefton.
The rain started to fall as we left the bitumen and headed onto the gravel and headed straight on towards Matlock. Wallabies were abundant as were the elusive Lyre Birds that we found in abundance along the way. There are trails and tracks dotted throughout this area that will take you off to many old gold mine and timber mill sites, we recommend a good detailed surveying map if attempting these types of trails.
Through tall timbers and dodging log trucks, the rain continued to fall, with many having visions of the 1970’s Australian television show Matlock Police, you arrive at the site of what used to be Matlock. The town began after gold was discovered in 1863. The Post Office opened on 21 July 1864, closed in 1934, reopened in 1956 (when a sawmill was established) and closed in 1970. At its peak, the town had a population of around 300, and included several suburbs or settlements including Thackery, Alhambra, Mutton Town, and Harpers Creek.
The town was destroyed by fire in 1873, and a smaller village was built in a slightly different location. Mining activity slowed in the 1870s and 1880s, although there was resurgence in population in the 1890s. By the 1930s only two businesses remained; a wine shop and a post office.
The ravages of Black Friday in 1939 killed many residents and saw mill workers, and the town never recovered. A sawmill operated from 1953 to 1975. Matlock township: now a barren ridge and hilltop with little to remind the visitor that the former flourishing gold town had seven hotels, seven stores, two banks and a district population in the thousands in 1866.
There are now wonderful interpretation signs along the way pointing out historical and significant local history.
After some exploring around Matlock, we headed towards Woods Point following the snow gums as we slowly following the landscape, and admiring what we could see of the mist and fog encrusted mountains. This area is regularly cut off due to snow throughout winter and is at times only accessible via four wheel drive.
Onwards to Woods Point and the dirt road was now slush and emerging from the trees and into a tiny valley surrounded by towering mountains, the town began as a general store built by Henry Wood, to service the gold diggings around the recently discovered Morning Star Reef.
Wood’s Point Post Office opened on 1 December 1862. By 1864, only three years after the discovery of the gold reef, the area had become a thriving town with 36 hotels. The town was subdivided into numerous suburbs, such as Waverly, Piccadilly, Killarney, Richmond, and Morning Star Hill. Communication was established via a telegraph line to Jamieson, and two local papers were in circulation.
From the 1870s to 1890s, mining activity declined, and the population dropped to between 100 and 200. The mining industry was revived in the 1890s, and the population grew once again, with four hotels servicing the town. Much of the town had to be rebuilt following devastating bushfires in 1939. The Morning Star Mine continued operations until its closure in 1963.
While in the area make sure to call in to the Woods Point Museum where you can see photos of the town in its former glory – 36 pubs, stores, banks and churches. And don’t miss the renowned old Woods Point fuel station.
This steadfast little piece of history has survived two devastating bushfires to become one of the most photographed servos in Australia.
We spent time at Woods Point exploring on foot, including a hot lunch to warm us up at the Woods Point pub.
We crossed the Goulburn River and headed towards Jamieson for the night. The rain continued to fall, at times making visibility difficulty with our goggles fogging up, and it was cold, despite that we were in late January!
Winding dirt roads between towering gums take you deep into gold rush territory that’s littered with relics from a by-gone era – tumble-down chimneys, tiny cottages, crumbling dry-stone walls and rusted mining artefact, various mine shafts go deep into the sides of mountains littered throughout the area.
We continued our climb up mountains on at times a one lane gravel road before coming into the A1 Mining settlement: site of the A1 gold mine which began operations in 1861.
This unique settlement, along the road in the narrow Raspberry Creek Valley, retains its original mining characteristics.
Onwards to the Gaffney’s Creek/Lauraville settlement: which was the site of the first gold discovery on the Jamieson-Walhalla goldfields in 1859.
Present day attractions include the historic cottages, chimneys and mining relics scattered throughout the hills.
Through the Knockwood and Ten Mile Township sites little remains of these former mining settlements, although historic relics can still be found, including the water diversion tunnel at Tunnel Bend.
The Kevington settlement is located in the valley between Jamieson and Kevington and contains a number of private residences that date back to early times. At the heart of the area is the upper reaches of the Goulburn River, which makes the Kevington – Woods Point area a favourite summer holiday camping destination. Set up camp and pull out the fishing rod at one of the riverside camping sites scattered along the river. Then complete the trip with a visit to one of the local pubs in Kevington or Woods Point where you’ll enjoy a country feed and good old-fashioned hospitality.
We pulled into Jamieson, which is a lovely picturesque and historic settlement near the junction of the Goulburn and Jamieson rivers. The most significant of its historic buildings is the former Court house built in 1864 that serves as a museum and memorabilia display today.
The town site was surveyed in 1862, and a borough council was established in 1864. By 1865 the town had a Catholic chapel, an Anglican church, a school, a court house and police station, two banks, two insurance offices, five hotels and several stores. Jamieson reached its peak in the 1870s, but a sharp decline soon followed. Most mining operations had ceased by the beginning of the First World War, and Black Friday bushfires destroyed many mine workings in 1939.
By the 1990s, the town had become a popular tourist destination, boosted by Lake Eildon (situated adjacent to the Jamieson township and formed by the damming of the Goulburn River) reaching 100% capacity in 1996. However the tourism industry suffered in the early 2000s following a drought which affected Lake Eildon. The drought would prove to be long term and in March 2007, the capacity of the lake reached a historic low of 7.9%.
Today, Jamieson has a permanent population of around 250. It is a popular destination for four wheel drive enthusiasts, fishers, and amateur gold diggers. It is close to Lake Eildon and the Mount Buller snowfields. The town has two hotels, a caravan park, and several bed and breakfast establishments, plus the Jamieson Brewery.
The Goulburn and Jamieson rivers are popular for trout fishing, canoeing and gold fossicking.
For this trip All Bike Sports took advantage of the TM EN300. This is probably the most exotic production motorcycle in the world. TM is a small Italian company that makes motorcycles one by one, all by hand.
The EN300 has a beautiful hand-welded aluminum frame that houses a 300cc five-speed two-stroke engine. The fork is a KYB, and the shock is made in-house at TM. There’s a motocross version available that has more aggressive power and suspension, but we decided as we were on the main roads, the Enduro model was definitely for us.
TM turned its nose up at the electric starter in order to keep the weight down. The new motor is a somewhat old-school case-reed design with a five-speed gearbox. Its most sophisticated feature is the servo-controlled electronic power valve.
The triple clamps are billet aluminum, the rear brake lever is nicer than anything on the aftermarket and, most amazing of all, the rear shock is made by TM. In front it has a KYB fork, the rear brake is by Nissin, the front is by Brembo, the rotors are Galfer, and the hydraulic clutch is Magura.
When the 300 is in the meat of its powerband, look out! It is an animal, and in the good sense of the word too! You are going to go wherever you’re pointing -very quickly. We had a blast of fun on this bike. When the traction is good, the TM is an absolute rocket, but it can be hard work, especially if you are used to a 4 stroke. You can outrun a 450, and make quick work of the toughest uphill mountain trails.
We didn’t count on how comfortable the new TMs are. The seat is firm but comfortable, the ergonomics are roomy and the controls fit right. The suspension is fairly cushy too, and after about eight hours on the bike, your backside thanks the comfort.