Off Road Scooters
Our little flat was called the Sitzmark and although it was a brisk climb up two steep hills, it had a great view of the valley and it was still stumbling distance from the pub. It had very comfortable beds and lots of teaspoons.
Mark and I had a nice sleep in (read hangover) but Gary was up bright and early for an exploration of village life. [totally dead at 7.30am] We had a lazy start to the day and then headed off around 9.30 for a quick jaunt to Dalgety. Mark had to get back to Sydney to work - along with most of the the rest of the 2800 riders. Gary and I had an extra day to explore the region so after a quick brunch in a charming cafe in Dalgety, we bid farewell to Mark and headed west.
Gary had mapped out a route to take us to Eucumbene Dam - which included 14kms of dirt road. My last experience with a scooter on a dirt road was quite forgettable so I was a little apprehensive as we turned onto the track. The first 300m was up a steep hill with loose gravel and sandy surface - just perfect for slipping all over the place. Scooters are not renown for their off-road tyres or fabulous suspension but we pushed on regardless. We agreed to see what the first kilometre was like and then make a decision to see if our bodies and our scooters could handle 14 kms of abuse.
After 1km the road got better so we kept going - slow pace and lots of engine braking, I even managed to get her up to 30km/h. The scooter behaved perfectly - only on one hill did she slip into neutral and I had to jump on the brakes to avoid the sideways slide into oblivion. It would be a long wait for the NRMA if we popped a tyre on this stretch.
We made it without incident to Eucumbene Dam and it was quite a shock to see the water level 20m below where it should be. I have been to the snowy region many many times, but I have never seen it so dry before. The drought in Australia has taken its toll and even Old Adaminaby township (which was drowned in 1956) was re-emerging from its watery grave.
I shall digress into a little history of the Snowy Hydro scheme for those who are interested.
It's one of the most complex hydro-electric power schemes in the world with sixteen major dams, seven power stations (two underground), a pumping station, 145kms of inter-connected trans-mountain tunnels and 80kms of aqueducts. It took more than 100,000 people from 30 countries 25 years to build and was completed in 1974. It takes a river which normally flows east - and makes it flow west. But the coolest thing about it - for all the dams and pipes you see on the surface - 98% of the engineering is underground - INSIDE the mountains!
Back to the story - Gary wanted to get back to Thredbo so we could go to the top of Kosciusko on the chairlift. The backroads from Lake Eucumbene to Berridale were fantastic! They were sealed, smooth and well maintained - they had excellent vision round the bends and no traffic at all !! It was a fast and exhilarating ride.
The atmosphere was so peaceful, the weather was divine, the countryside was magnificent and the flies were bloody annoying.
We arrived back at Thredbo around 2.30 just as it started to rain. We tucked the bikes into bed for the night and we wandered down into the village to wait for the rainclouds to pass. We camped out in the pub with coffee and chocolate muffins, then when the rain stopped around 4pm we strolled over to the chairlift. The lady selling tickets said "sure we could go up - but we would have to WALK down"... as the lift stopped at 4.30.
Gary and I looked at each other - "Next Year!"
Back at the pub we passed a very pleasant evening on the balcony - looking up at the mountain that was still bathed in sunlight at 6.30pm - wondering whose stupid idea it was to close the lift so early.