Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mirabella Mountain 2012 Run Report & Buller Road Trip - Part 1 (Reservoir Hopping!)

So much to share really. Beautiful cows & people for 2 days! The drive was fantastic & the run was epic. Amazed I could pack so much excitement into 2 days! hope the pictures can give an idea what went on.. just gonna zoom through my thoughts below.. 


Build up. Knew wasn't the best idea to make it into a semi road trip! Based on Singers Marathon experience. But was stubborn as always, my sense of adventure hard to suppress n loved my trails too much (and boy am I glad I did it). Training mileage wise wasn't too bad but I knew I def did not enough continuous hills. Hard to find suitable training grounds around my area. And without a car to get me to/fro the Dandenongs easily. Knew the pain was coming! 21k on any terrain was never gonna be fast for me. Average 5.3 on flat, and I do under 2hrs. So on a 5% gradient hill with the occasional nasty slopes the whole way, its unknown territory really. Old Warrandyte slope isn't enough at all n I knew it. Was just gonna see what happens. The terrain guesstimating n a set of hard biting teeth was all I have in terms of planning how to run it! That was it for preparation!

Road trip planning. I dubbed it my 'Reservoir Hopping' itinerary. A last min addition of Lake Eildon (omg thk the heavens I planned it in). The flow was gonna be Sugarloaf - Maroondah - Marysville - Lake Eildon - Buller - Bonnie Doon (thrown in after I drove past it on Fri eve). The idea: quick drives from point to point, stop, grab pics & move on! Lunch for 1hr in Maroondah n 2hrs eve stroll/siesta at Eildon. Resist temptation to hike elaborate trails! Then get up to Buller in one piece, join Mirabella gang for din din & rest early, survive the run & leisurely drive back.

Here's a little map of intended stop-overs:

Thurs nite & Fri morn. Munched dark chocs for supper. Bad idea. Heart was pounding the whole night n woke up Fri morning groggy. Headachey in fact. Bad start!! Garrrr! what was i thinking! Anyway collected car Fri morn. Slight hiccup at car rental, tot this was sign of bad start to road trip! But nonetheless managed to sort things out n finally set off 1045, 15mins behind intended time. Wasn't too bad! The license plate on my little Hyundai was 'YIX 014' .. while YI was familiar & welcoming, i wasn't too sure about the X :) & being a superstitious chinese the number 4 is always frowned upon!

Sugarloaf Reservoir. was running bit late so din want to linger too long. Missed the first turning into Sugarloaf but eventually entered thru the exit of Ridge Rd. View wasn't fantastic, tot I just snap few pics nonetheless. Truck drove by, I waved & made sure my camera was visible, driver eyed me up & opened his door to let out 2 dogs - a huge German Shepherd & a small collie. The dogs ran towards me, realise i was a friendly & turned away. Was i scared? yes of coz. of the man, not the dogs. hehe.. dogs love me dude! anyway. it's a sign i wasn't welcomed in the farmland area & i hastily went on me way.

Maroondah Reservoir. When i pulled into maroondah, was already lunch time. stupid headache got bit worse & the heat was getting intense. decided to walk it off. it helped coz the dam was beautiful! took a slow stroll as the afternoon heat was intense. went up to maroondah look-out point & loved the sight. wished i had time to explore other trails but stuck to plan. had a simple 1hr lunch & was off again.. def must bring vonsy here to explore that romantic outlet tower! :) plus I know the surrounding mountains host the annual Maroondah Dam Trail Run (ooo yes *adds to run list for 2013*)

Marysville. was first charmed by the Marysville region when friends took me up to Cathedral Range NP. then after I decided to give the Marysville Marathon a miss i wanted to at least check out the region. & with the little hyundai i was spinning in & out of every little turn hoping to find something magical (i loved it!). It was back along Mt Margaret Rd (took this way up to CRNP) where I took the few pics below. The region def has much more to offer. 2013 Marysville Ultra shall be in the run list too!

love them cows!

Lake Eildon. omg. sorry if i keep repeating omg. but OMG. like i wasn't impressed enough already. As soon as I reached Alexandra, I had a good feeling bout the place. quaint little town. nice name. Taking the turn into Ut Creek Rd enroute towards Lake Eildon I was going 'wow' every 5 seconds. While I was already going 'wow' every 1min on the usual highway roads, along Ut Creek Rd the sceneries were brought right next to me, & the closer I got to Lake Eildon the rolling hills were all around me by now & i just wanted to stop the car & run up them. Hills do that to me. As I rolled downhill towards Eildon I made mental note to snap pics on way out (but didn't as it was already getting quite late!) still I managed a few, so rewrote mental note (next trip!):

My poor attempt at capturing the Ut Creek Rd rolling hills - trust me the hills goes on for ages! Love them!

Reaching Lake Eildon - I was already v v exhausted from the heat & long drive. I had this map for a quick hike along Estate Spur Track becoz i saw the stunning pic below from - I knew I had to check it out.. eventho it was already 5pm.

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I drove slowly along the lake-side studying the terrains of the surrounding hills. I tot of the run the next day & tot a siesta by the lake-side is better idea but best spots were taken up by campers & lake-activity goers. I was never gonna be happy if i didn't at least try to explore. The eve light would've lighted up the terrain & it would make beautiful pictures so I decided to hike the shortest route from the road up towards Estate Spur Track after pondering for 15mins. Yes it was quite a scramble, and yes the headache came back for a while, and yes I have NO REGRETS.. coz check out the views! OMG!

Here's my version vs the one below from :) clearly there's even more stunning views if I went further west along the track... SIGH.. NEXT TRIP!
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And with rolling hills like these why isn't there a Lake Eildon Ultra Trail you wonder... waiting for me to organise it that's why! 
It was a reluctant departure from Eildon, the sun was still ever intense but I felt none of it after seeing what i saw. I scrambled down & left the place around 6pm - in time to reach Buller by 8pm latest.

Buller. I tried very hard not to be distracted by the views as I sped towards Buller. But enroute to Bonnie Doon - the cows were calling out to me & I did stop to take few pictures at this beautiful open plain somewhere..

Then of course I came across Bonnie Doon - which I have not planned to visit nor knew about previously & was just flabbergasted how scenic the place was. I had to leave it for the next day on the return journey. But I literally drove with my jaw dropped all the way towards Mansfield & Mt Buller Tourist Rd where I took a picture of the great Buller basking in the evening light... I REALLY wanted to stop & spend ages getting the right composition for it but no can do.. this shot was literally emergency stop & grab!

Fortunately there was no further distractions along the way & I pulled into Navy Ski lodge at last at 8pm - the view from the lodge was another vista.. and I was privileged to be standing there witnessing the fading hues of purple...

Few more pictures of the magnificent sunset & I grabbed my stuff from the car, headed in to meet the wonderful Mirabella folks who had more or less finished dinner. I sat myself down, ate my pasta & salad, made small talks & crashed early for the night... I knew the day had exhausted me but I couldn't really sleep until 3am or so - it was a mixture of the dark chocs & the new environment & the excitement from what I went through in the day which was nothing short of magical.. & of course the 21k of Buller which would demand every ounce of tenacity & guts from me in a few hours time!


Bonnie Doon. An unplanned discovery! Bonnie Doon sits around the northern region of Lake Eildon, and I made it a point to visit the region after the Buller run. I pulled into Dry Creek Rd which cuts across the lakes in this region - and despite the unrelenting sun & sore legs I was energized seeing the views..

Stunning terrain isn't it.. 
Saw a roadkill wombat here too.. :P
 How cool is this for a postbox eh? 
Rolled up hay.. always picturesque!
Leaving Dry Creek Rd & after crossing the Maroondah Highway bridge over the lake, I turned into Maintongoon Rd that took me meandering along the edge of the lake - LOVED the drive, lake-activity goers were everywhere with their boats, skis, barbeques.. living the good life.

The drive was nestled between the hills & the lake - I checked my map & it showed that Maintongoon Rd cuts across to Alexandra anyways so I decided to brave it, but unfortunately my adventure was stumped coz the roads turned into dirt tracks shortly after leaving the lake area. SIGH. BACK with a 4WD next time then!

Anyway - that concluded my reservoir hopping road trip & experience up at Buller - all in 2 days. Pretty amazing if I may say so! Quick takeaways from the entire experience:

1) One can actually run up Buller!
2) Small cars are great for whizzing around little lanes
3) Cows are more photogenic than horses
4) It's a big beautiful world out there
5) Get a good pair of shades & hat
6) Stay hydrated & DON'T munch dark chocs for supper!
7) Live life & have no regrets!

Till the next adventure folks! Thanks for reading!

More Pictures HERE!

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