The Hunt1000 – Canberra to Thredbo – part 1

The Hunt1000 is a bike brevet event from Canberra to Melbourne through the Australian Alps. It has run 3 times now and riders try and complete the route in 8 to 10 days. This years event had a new course and ran in a week of very bad weather and unseasonal snow on the high tracks, resulting in a low number of the 100 starters making it to Melbourne and even fewer following the exact route.

We decided to ride it recreationally (read..take a lot more time and take rest days) a week later and we decided the 2016 route with a diversion over Mt Kosciusko looked the best way to avoid a lot of hike-a-biking that is the 2018 route.

On the early evening flight into Canberra a man in the seat in front of us overheard us talking about our trip and we started chatting. Consequently he gave us (and our bikes) a lift into town with a side trip to a view point over the city which saved us putting our bikes together and riding into town in the dark. A good start, we think.

After a big breakfast and some food shopping we hit the bike trails that took us out of the city scenically and painlessly, before gradually climbing into the Brindabella range. We camped on what we thought was public land but we were informed otherwise by a young land owner but fortunately not asked to move. 

Next morning we enjoyed seeing live roos as the day before it had been carcasses and smell on the side of the road. We turned onto smaller dirt tracks with interesting riding through lovely forests and at the end of the day the open Long Plains valley and herds of brumbies galloping along. The brumbies are wild horses that are getting out of control in Kosciusko National Park and destroying native flora and fauna – not too dissimilar to the Kaimanawa horses in NZ. We had a lovely camp at Long Plain hut, a historic homestead.

Day 3 saw us on spinning on some paved roads, our first cafe feed in Cabramurra, the highest town in Australia, a fast descent then slow climb out of the large Tumut reservoir and the delight at the end of the day starting along a track in the Jagungal Wilderness area.

Our days are starting early – biking by 6:30 or so to get the beautiful early morning light, the cool and the absence of flies. The route is above 1000m a lot of the way but it gets pretty warm. The flies can be persistent on slow uphills and the ants active at campsites. So far, touch wood, no snakes.

On Day 4 we traversed the rest of the wilderness area with altitudes fluctuating between 1500 and 1800m. This section had some steep pushes and refreshing river crossings and Mt Kosciusko in the distance looked more than a day’s bike away. We descended at the end of the day to the Snowy river and a campsite by the Guthega power station. The riverbed was pretty dry until the switch was flicked and water came gushing out and returned the river downstream to a normal flow. We enjoyed a swim in the drier section above the penstocks.

In 2003 there were big fires throughout the National Park. Many of the larger trees were left standing and now are white skeletons against the regenerating bush.

We saw yet another change of scene on day 5 from wilderness tracks to biking past the ski resorts of the Perisher Valley, all closed for the summer. From Charlottes Pass we joined Save Kosciusko protesters heading up the mountain with placards. They are protesting a bill that was passed to give the Brumbies heritage status and making it harder to control numbers. They estimate there are over 7000 of these feral horses.

One can bike to 2km from the summit along an easy trail. We walked the summit trail, enjoying clear skies and good views before pushing our bike downhill to the Thredbo chairlift. Officially bikes aren’t meant to be on the trail so we had been told we had to walk them 4km down the metal boardwalk.

Currently there is a big downhill bike event on Thredbo’s summer bike tracks so we downloaded the chair. We had started along the only intermediate trail open to the public but the first rock drop scared us off! Thredbo’s base station was heaving with people and after demolishing a mega burger we found a room at the YHA.

After 300km and 7000m vertical we decided A rest day here was in order, we are on holiday after all.