A few months ago I was working with Andy Gaunt @andyg_73 on an article about his trip to Luftgekuhlt (check it out if you haven’t already, it’s excellent), when Andy asked if I’d like to join a group of fellow Porsche nuts on a trip around the Victorian Alps. I’d seen photos of previous adventures into the Alps by other groups and jumped at the chance to go exploring some spectacular landscape that I’d been wanting to drive for a long time. I was pretty excited about the trip but I wasn’t prepared for how good it would turn out to be.
Our adventure started with a meet up in Tecoma, right on the edge of the Dandenong Ranges. This allowed us to get straight into the fun stuff without having to deal with city traffic. Macclesfield Rd from Emerald was a great way to ease into it, cruising along a smooth narrow piece of road, twisting through farmland and popping out in Yellingbo.
That was pretty much the only road that was familiar to me for the whole trip. From then on, the roads, the towns, the scenery, were all new to me. From Yellingbo, we headed towards Noojee along roads I didn’t know existed, and I’ve driven the area plenty of times. A stop and a photo shoot at the huge timber bridge was a good opportunity to take a breather before heading south towards Moe and then swinging back up towards a small town called Erica where we stopped for a late lunch and tripled the towns GDP for the week.
Images by Alan Browning @flatsix101
From Erica, we headed to an old gold mining town called Walhalla. Perhaps I lived a sheltered life but I’d never heard of this place and was quite surprised to roll into the historic town lined with restored buildings from the 1800s. The site of 14 Porsches rolling in took many of the tourists by surprise too. We parked the cars at the far end of town for a break. Whilst we probably should have taken the opportunity to explore the town, we were too busy talking about our cars and the great roads we’d already travelled on. The carpark was a great setting for some photos, until I came across a snake. Whilst my undies turned several shades of brown, the snake too wasn’t interested in getting to know me and bolted into the scrub.
The real joy of Walhalla though was the road in which weaved through the valley like that bloody snake. At one point, a wallaby stood care free on the side of the road. My first instinct was to hit the brakes in case it jumped out in front of me, but it was just chilling out, admiring the cars whizzing by. Well, at least that’s what I imagined was going through its head.
Bairnsdale was our destination for the first night and the drive in was uneventful, if not, a bit of a drag but an evening at the local pub for a counter meal and a few beers while we shared a whole lot of laughs was very enjoyable. Even the taxi ride home was hilarious as our bubbly driver delighted in sharing her discovery of a death metal band who cover such greats as Huey Lewis and the News and the Adams Family theme song. I still have The Adams Family stuck in my head as I write this! Grrrr…
Bushfires had been raging in the Alpine region in the week prior to our trip and the roads we had planned to take had only opened a day before. A fire just outside Bruthen had been finished off by heavy rain during the night but with smoke still in the air and charred trees still smouldering, it made for an incredibly eerie landscape.
We headed along The Great Alpine Rd towards Omeo where the rain and thick fog looked like it was going to settle in for the day. Given the whole weekend was forecast to be terrible, we were feeling lucky that the previous day had been perfect. It was still a lovely piece of road as we took it easy weaving our way towards morning tea in Omeo.
The Omeo Hwy is an absolutely brilliant section of road. Think Reefton Spur or Jamieson – Eildon Rd but just seems to go for ever. It’s tight and twisty with lots of 2nd gear hairpins providing a big workout for the arms. The rain had cleared and the road had mostly dried out so we were able get a bit more spirited than earlier on. The scenery was sensational with the road following the course of Big River to our right. The plan was to drive to Mitta Mitta but after a rest at “WTF Corner” we decided more of the Omeo Hwy would likely destroy us physically and we still had a lot of driving to do.
WTF Corner has been named by the cyclists that ride the area due to the ridiculously steep climb as you leave the Omeo Hwy and head up Bogong High Plains Rd. Even the poor old 3.2 Carrera struggled to gain momentum as we chugged up the steep incline but it eventually flattened out and turned into an incredible rollercoaster. We hurtled through thick forest which then opened out into spectacular rolling plains which were simply breathtaking. We pulled over near the top to get some photos and take it all in. The temperature had dropped considerably which wasn’t surprising as we could see Falls Creek village in the distance.
The drive down the other side was excellent. We were back in the forest and the road was wider and nice and smooth. With a few areas to pull over, it was a good opportunity to get some snaps of the group as they sped by.
We regrouped in Mt Beauty for a late lunch before heading off to our final destination for the day, Bright. The climb up Tawonga Gap Rd was another tight, twisty run with spectacular views of the Kiewa River valley. Our progress was halted for the first time though by a slower driver but by this stage, we’d had a full day of awesomeness so it was almost a welcome rest. As we peaked the top, a group a cyclists had just commenced their decent towards Bright. As an avid cyclist myself, I was a little jealous as these guys hammered down, barely holding us up. They looked like they were having as much fun as us. They soon realised we were behind and eased up to let us past. The rest of the decent opened up into a beautiful flowy high speed (within the limit of course) section which was a fantastic way to finish off the day.
A quick check in to our hotel and it was off to the Bright Brewery for some well deserved refreshments and excellent pizza. We then moved on to Dr Mauve for some whiskey to make sure we got a good night sleep ?
The final day was to take us from Bright to Mansfield via the Mansfield-Whitfield Rd and then home via Eildon Jamieson Rd but things don’t always go to plan. The morning had been just as epic as the previous days as we drove back over Tawonga Gap Rd and took the long way around to Myrtleford
It was after Myrtleford though that the Boxster, after hearing a thud and seeing something go flying out the back of the car, had the dashboard light up like a Christmas tree. We pulled into a small town called Moyhu which would become home for the next 4 hours. Guesses by those who “know cars” were that the serpentine belt had probably disappeared. They were very close as it turned out to be the idler tensioner pulley had come off. Amazingly the belt was still there and in good shape. A group decided to head back up the road to look for the pulley in the rain. It pretty quickly became evident that they weren’t going to find it so a call was made to Repco in Wangarrata and after some Googling, a mission was sent to collect a generic pulley and some other “just in case” bits and pieces.
By this point, we’re the talk of the town and we’re already known by the publican as we head in to the local for a counter lunch. Gino, the local mechanic turns out to be the owner of the run down workshop the Boxster has been parked in but at this stage, he’s too busy chowing down a parma to offer any assistance. The boys soon return with the pully and they get to work trying to fit it to the tensioner arm. Unfortunately the pulley doesn’t quite fit properly with the pulley either rubbing on the tensioner arm, or the retaining nut not having enough thread to hold it all on, depending on where the spacers are placed. The CFA over the road are called in with the idea of grinding down the rear of the pulley but while they go in search of a grinder, Gino arrives at the workshop and has a bearing press to push the bearing further into the pulley. Success!!! The pulley installs onto the arm perfectly. After a mammoth effort, spirits are high as the belt is fed onto the pulleys. There’s another problem though and no amount of genius is going to solve it. The tensioner arm won’t move far enough to allow the belt to go over the final pulley. Even the massive CFA guy who ends up moving the entire engine can’t get it moving and so the Boxster’s fate was sealed. After 4 hours of determination, the Boxster was driven into Gino’s workshop and left behind.
By this time, we obviously had to ditch the rest of our plans but that didn’t mean we couldn’t have fun. A quick check of the maps and we headed down towards Swanpool on some great back roads. It was dumping down with rain but we didn’t care. There was barely another car around and there was still that feeling of discovery you get when travelling down roads you’ve never been on.
We eventually connected with the Goulburn Valley Hwy as we edged closer to home. Every great adventure has to come to an end some time and as the cars progressively peeled off from the group, that post holiday depression started to sink in. If only there were a few more days…