TOCA ACT - Rail Trail Adventure - No Derailment Here!
3rd October 2023
By Ross Hetherington
Two TOCA crews headed out on Friday morning 29 September 2023 - one from the southern regions of Victoria and the other from the ACT - on their way to experience the TOCA ACT's Rail Trail Experience. Wow! What a ride!!
Arriving just after midday in downtown Yack, we all met up at Gum Tree Pies and enjoyed a well earned Meat Pie and Sausage Roll washed down by an awesome coffee. The Canberra group travelled up in convoy while the Victorian group met at Yack due to the wide spread of home locations.
After introductions, we checked into the Yackandandah Central Motel in the main street, plugged in our Teslas, and prepared for our afternoon ride.
Osbourne's Flat - Friday Afternoon 29 September 2023
This ride was about a 14 km return journey that took us beside the Yackandandah stream. Some picturesque scenery with hidden gullies around every bend. We finished our ride at the Osbourne's Flat School and turned around. Arriving back at the Motel, we all relaxed to await our dinner appointment at the Star Hotel.
The Star had awesome food and beer. The group then retired back to the motel to be greeted by the friendly owners who produced two bottles of white sparkling wine for our consumption. Not to be rude, we all sat as a group outside the room and chatted excitedly about the days ahead.
The Big One - Yackandandah to Beechworth return - Saturday 30 September 2023
Breakfast this morning was at the Beechworth Bakery in Yackandandah, next door to the motel (everything is next door or opposite the motel - it's Yack after all!). After a yummy Egg and Bacon Roll and a kick start coffee, we prepared ourselves and bikes for the upcoming 52 km return ride. I took some energy gels and electrolytes and made sure I took one every 30 minutes or so. We prepositioned one car with water about 8 km out of town on the rail trail, and with everyone ready, we headed out - up a damn steep grade out of Yack. Ahhhh!
The ride from Yack to Beechworth was amazing. Mostly a slight grade uphill overall, it took us through the farms and then into the mountains south of Yack. The old railway trail has been beautifully maintained by the Indigo Shire Council and the trail took us over valleys and into scrub.
Again, hidden valleys and streams with lush green vegetation greeted us with every turn. We eventually arrived at Beechworth Railway Station after a fairly tiring ride.
Lunch was each to their own. Some did pub food, others cafe. We met back at the train station and then departed for our return ride.
Now the return ride was fun and simply amazing. Mostly downhill along compacted dirt and gravel, it was a very fast and a lot easier ride back to Yackandandah. No one realised how much uphill riding they had done going the other way. On several kilometre stretches, my FitBit showed an average speed of 45 km/h! Going there, I was in the single digits for many of the legs.
We all arrived back in Yack safely, and after a shuttle run to pick up the pre-positioned car and then onwards to Beechworth for any members who opted out of the return leg, we all met at Grace's Thai Restaurant in Yack for dinner. Great food, fantastic group.
Sunday 1 October 2023 - A Very Fast Ride
We all drove to Beechworth and met at the Moment and Memories Teahouse for breakfast. This quaint little cafe had fine china and delicate table settings, with very formal table cloths and serviettes. We had a lovely tea and breakfast with our host Lyn providing awesome service. One of the highlights of the trip meal wise.
Then - onwards to Beechworth Railway Station again. We prepositioned six cars down at the old Everton Railway Station and two Teslas then shuttled the drivers back to Beechworth to start the ride. Two crew remained in Beechworth to mind the bikes and belongings.
Now this was a fun ride. Apart from a fairly long and gradual grade at the start, the ride from Beechworth to Everton is nearly all downhill. Another fast one - 45 km/h on one of the km legs. This was a quick ride for the entire group. 36 minutes from station to station to cover 15 kms. Average speed was 24.8 km/h.
After a few trips shuttling the bikes and people back to Beechworth from Everton, we met for lunch at the Bridges Road Brewery for pizza and beer (and other drinks). We all drove back to Yack.
A few dedicated riders headed off for a final ride along Lake Hume from Bonegilla (Maher Road access point) for about a 20 km return ride before meeting up with the group for dinner at the Yackandandah Hotel for a steak and drink.
Monday 2 October 2023 - Sad Farewells
The end of the biking adventure was here. A few left just after Sunday breakfast and some headed straight out Monday morning. Those remaining had a lovely breakfast together at the Beechworth Bakery in Yackandandah before saying our farewells.
Overall, a truly fabulous experience and Kate and I were very sad to say goodbye to our new and not so new TOCA friends. From the hidden gullies along the Osbourne Flats ride to the amazing countryside and mountain valleys along the Yack / Beechworth trail, from the fast and furious Beechworth to Everton cruise and the amazing food and locals of the Yack area, the TOCA Rail Trails Adventure did not disappoint. The group had a great time and we will certainly be running more of these events in the future.
More photos of the trip are posted in the photos page of the website.