IP Day 42 – Beechworth to Tallangatta

Thursday 5th May, 2022

65.9 km +623m
Moving 2:53 Elapsed 4:42
Max 59.3 kph Avg 22.8 kph

A short day today, so a cafe breakfast in town before we left was in order. We didn’t actually leave town until 9.50am. It wasn’t a warm morning – only about 10 degrees.

There is actually (yet another) rail trail – between Beechworth and Yackandandah. Someone did mention it on the FB group. It looked unsealed, but according to the website it’s all sealed. It’s not quite quite complete. I guess it would be too slow for Indipac-ers, but if you were riding in the area, I reckon it would be much nicer than the road.

We got to Yackandandah in about an hour. It’s a historic, former gold-mining town, now touristy, full of of antique shops, art and craft galleries and the like. Apparently all of the main street has National Trust classification, so it’s a pretty quaint looking town. We did a loo stop at the park, and then rolled down the hill to the main street to look for coffee and food.

The pub had a cafe attached to it, with seating on the footpath, and a local cyclist sitting there told me it was the best coffee in town. Unfortunately, for some reason, 11.00 was coffee curfew time, and the cafe had just closed. “You can go inside and order!” So I went into the pub. “No, it’s closed.” OK then. No idea what that was about. We had to walk several shops down and make do with a pie and coffee/tea from the bakery.

While I was trying to figure out the coffee situation, Marc’s phone rang. It was Scotty, wanting to pass on info and advice from their Cabramurra climb. He and Greta had started their day from Walwa – 54km from the bottom of the climb, and got to Cabramurra – the closed Snowy Hydro town – on dark, absolutely exhausted, and kind of prevailed on the humanity of the manager to let them stay. Other riders had ‘kind of’ stayed there under the radar. Otters had snuck in in the dark and ‘stealth camped’ in a cleaning closet. Willie Maykit had bivvied in the shelter of some portable buildings out near the road, freezing his butt off, and was discovered in the early morning by the workers. They invited him inside to warm up and cooked up some noodles for him. We didn’t really want to go with any of those options – our plan was going to be to start early at the bottom and get to a camping spot that we knew another 15km beyond Cabramurra.

We are actually reasonably familiar with this area, having cross-country skied a bit in these parts many years ago. Marc’s memory is a lot better than mine in that regard. He remembers us driving down that actual road and even thinking at the time what a shocker it would be to ride a bike up it, never imagining that in 30-odd years’ time he would be riding a loaded tandem up it, after having ridden from Perth. With me. Haha. 

Anyway, he had already thoroughly planned our ‘attack’, but it was good of Scotty to be thinking of us and to have a chat about stuff like the best water sources on the way up. He wasn’t to know that Marc is a hydrographer – as is our friend Mic – so the one thing he wasn’t worried about with the climb, given the rainfall of late, was finding water!

The route after Yackandandah was pretty nice once we turned off onto some backroads.

Wallace Rd, Allans Flat

We stopped for a drink and snack at Kiewa General Store, and sat across the road in the park, enjoying the autumn colours.

It was only another 20km from there to Tallangatta, so it was an early finish for the day. Who knows what meal it was at that stage, but we got some hot chips or something from the takeaway, then lost our seat outside (despite bike leaning nearby and helmet and stuff on the table) to a guy who decided he’d sit there, thanks. We started eating inside, then finished off outside when old mate left, and then headed over to the pub.

Tallangatta is a town on the edge of an arm of ‘Lake Hume’ – ie. the Hume dam – and it’s actually the second Tallangatta. The original town of Tallangatta was going to be drowned by the completed dam, and so was kind of dismantled and rebuilt 8 km east. We actually visited Tallangatta on the same (driving) road trip as when we went along the Great Ocean Rd. (I should add, for interest, that that particular road trip was on our way home from doing the Murray River Canoe Marathon! We have rarely ever done *just* a car trip for the heck of it!) I remember back then us finding out that we had been pronouncing Tallangatta incorrectly. We were pronouncing it to rhyme with Parramatta (PA-ra-MAT-ta) and Wangaratta (WANG-ga-RAT-ta) We were informed that it is, in fact, pronounced Ta-LANG -gata. So there you go. Another Australian place name pronunciation lesson.

There hadn’t been much in the way of accommodation options there, but Marc had finally managed to make contact with the pub and they had a room. We had to leave the tandem downstairs, in a room accessible from the bar, and with an (albeit locked) door to the street. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but we had to go with it. The owners had a playpen set up down there as well (and they lived on-site), so I guess it was secure enough.

This was the place I first clocked what is apparently the latest pub bistro fad of ‘themed’ ‘schnitty toppers’. Not content with making your schnitzel ‘parmigiana’ – ie. a parmi – you can now get all sorts of toppers. (Kind of like this place.) I don’t know if it’s more a Victorian thing – I haven’t really seen it in NSW, but then I don’t eat out that much when I’m at home. Anyway, here in Tallangatta, not even the Thursday night Schnitty Special with a choice of 10 toppers could tempt me. Marc went the Mexican – nachos on top of a schnitzel. Wtf? Is this a US-led fad, or a peculiarly Australian abomination?

By now I was so done with pub food, I had vowed not to have even a plain pub chicken schnitzel (or any other pub bistro meal, to be honest) for at least another year or so after this trip!

Two days of riding left to Khancoban. Tomorrow night we booked at the pub in Jingellic, which is a few kilometres before Walwa. Well, to be exact, it is 1.6km off-route, over the river, and thus over the border. We’d read of others having issues with accommodation in Walwa, and getting food. Realising Jingellic was so close presented us with another opportunity for past and current touring routes to ‘touch’. More about that tomorrow!

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