Choosing a location for our very first Flashpacking trip was easy, taking in the some of our favourite dirt roads of Victoria, we chose Gippsland. Flashpacking is essentially the same as Bikepacking, except no tents or sleeping gear is required, we opt for a bed instead. The two day ride took our group through some of the best roads on offer in the Strzelecki ranges. Modelled mostly on the mixed terrain Audax ‘Gippsland Gold’ route designed by the awesome Gareth Evans, this loop was split up over two days, making it more accessible for riders of different levels. If you haven’t explored the gravel on offer in the Gippsland region, this two day ride is a great starting point. It can be ridden at anytime of year, just note during winter it can get muddy and there may be more debris in some of the gravel roads from strong winds that frequent through this region. Gippsland is a region that you should always pack all weather gear.
The small town of Yarragon is the starting point for many great rides in Gippsland. There is the Bairnsdale train line that stops here (when it’s running) otherwise it’s aprox 90 minutes drive from Melbourne CBD.
The meet up point was the local bakery, where our group of twenty riders were enjoying a hot coffee on a 6 degree morning.
As soon as you leave town the climbing begins instantly, a welcomed way to warm everyone up on a super fresh morning. Considering it was the middle of winter, we were blessed with a perfect clear sunny day.
Riders then head towards Thorpedale passing through wide open countryside. There are countless stops for photos on this ride, so be sure you do stop to take it in.
You’ll pass through pine forests shortly after before arriving in Boolara. There is a small general store here that has some plenty of food and drink on offer. We chose here as a lunch spot, with everyone spreading out in the park in the centre of town. Plenty of water options here too.
After Boolara we started along Morwell River Road, a beautiful sandy gravel stretch that follows the river. It’s a gradual climb but hardly noticeable with such lush surroundings.
Once through Ryton Junction riders ventured along the well known Grand Ridge Road, a well known scenic tourist road that follows the spine of the Strzelecki Ranges. It’s all about lush rainforest, rolling pastoral land, and more shady pine plantations. The surface here is mostly good but can get a little chunky and rough from traffic, and log trucks.
Grand a ridge road is close to 160 kms in length, however for today riders will only be riding a section before turning off and heading into Foster where they will spend the night.
There is plenty of accommodation in Foster, our group stayed at the Prom Central Holiday Park in cabins. We then all shared dinner and beers at the local pub.
Day 1: Yarragon - Foster 124 kms / 2077 vm
An early start again, riders met at the bakery in the middle of town. Plenty of options here for a quick breakfast or a restock of snacks for the road.
For the second day running we were greeted with big blue skies and winter sun.
A few wary bodies on bikes after a big day of climbing previously, however it didn’t take long for everyone to warm up and the conversation started flowing quickly.
Once again don’t get comfortable with an easy warm up, as little as a few kilometres out of town you’ll start a steady climb as you roll up Ameys track. Perhaps go easy on how much you eat for breakfast too.
Day two is similar again, plenty of rolling countryside, tall tree forests, and views for miles.
Riders will rejoin Grand Ridge Road for a second time today, a different section to day one, be sure to take care on the sealed stretches as it is a busy main road.
Head onto Clear Creek Valley Road, and you’ll descend whilst surrounded by these large incredible lush green hills. The climb out is fairly steep though, but waiting over the top Mirboo North, the lunch stop for day two. There are plenty of food options in town here, the bakery is always a popular destination, however Mirboo North is also the home of the popular Grand Ridge Road Brewery. Most of us enjoyed a pint here with an open fire before pushing in for the final stretch to Yarragon.
Day 2: Foster - Yarragon 109 kms / 1950 vm
The last stretch has just the right number of short pinches on farm tracks to make your legs start to hurt, and of course there is one last gradual climb. The reward for this last climb is probably one of the weekend's major highlights.
A fast flowing 10 kilometre descent into Yarragon is the ideal way to finish any ride. But this descent comes with an endless view that tops them all. If you’re ever riding this way at sunset, it’s totally worth pulling up on the side of the road and watching the sun go down.
Our riders gathered in Yarragon for a big group photo, before we all started the trip back home.
The ride finishes at the starting point, again there are options for trains if not riding.