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Friday, 27 Mar 2015

GSA takes The Great Alpine Road and finds drive to the conditions, you can do most things safely

GSA rig at Mt Kosciuzko Lookout .
GSA rig at Mt Kosciuzko Lookout
.


By GoSeeAustralia’s Alan and Pam reporting from the GSA travelling home-office

GoSeeAustralia is in Bright, Victoria after towing our travelling home office from Lakes Entrance to Bright via The Great Alpine Road. The route is signed as B500 with all signage referring to Bairnsdale / Wangaratta.

This Information Article uses town distances from GoSee’s popular Plan a Trip which is the 14th option button down on the left of the Home Page. GSA’s overall actual distance travelled was 290kms due to some commuting. It cost $68 for fuel.

GSA has a number of supporting parks in Bright/Porepunkah.

They are –

Bright Accommodation Park

Riverview Caravan Park - Porepunkah

Porepunkah Bridge Caravan Park

Arderns Caravan Park

Click here to see their details.

Route Segment: 1

Lakes Entrance VIC 3909, Australia to Nicholson VIC 3882, Australia 26.5 km

Uneventful.


GSA home-office cools off.
GSA home-office cools off.


Route Segment: 2

Nicholson VIC 3882, Australia to Omeo VIC 3898, Australia 115 km

The road after Bruthen starts a serious climb. The weather was a fine sunny 14 degrees quickly dropping to 10. You drive to the conditions.

Our speeds ranged from 40 – 70 kph in D sports mode and we left it to the gearbox to decide what was the most appropriate. We travelled with empty water tanks.

Bruthen to Ensay was narrow and steep while following the Tambo River most of the way. In some hairpin bends the Ranger was back to first and second gear.

Ensay to Omeo road flattened out a bit with rolling hills, speeds increased to around 80kph. A few log trucks in this area.

We turned the UHF radio onto SCAN but it wasn’t used. We stayed overnight at the picturesque Omeo Caravan Park.

We walked 20 minutes along the banks of Livingstone Creek into town and looked at most of the shops (not many, a lot now closed unfortunately) then back to the park via the bitumen road, another 20 minutes. The trip computer in the Ranger indicated fuel consumption was 16.7 lt/100 (which included the leg from Lakes Entrance).

Omeo’s Altitude is 685 metres.


GSA rig at Dinner Plain next stop Mt Hotham.
GSA rig at Dinner Plain next stop Mt Hotham.


Route Segment: 3

Omeo VIC 3898, Australia to Mount Hotham, Alpine National Park, Hotham Heights VIC, Australia 54.5 km.

GSA issued a severe weather warning for the area with high winds and snow falls down to 1,200m. The front hit Melbourne in the early hours of Thursday morning.

We checked the local forecast, so hit the road early. It was 8 degrees. Again, a steep climb straight out of Omeo and it just kept going UP.

We stopped at Mount Kosciuszko Lookout for some pics overlooking Omeo, then climbed higher and higher all the way to Dinner Plain where we stopped for pics and a coffee. Dinner Plain leg was 43 kms and we were now at an altitude of 1,570 m and 2 degrees.

Fuel computer now at 17.6 lt/100. Again D Sports mode, some 1st and 2nd gear work, mainly 3rd at speeds 25 – 50 kph.

In the snow areas, road guide posts and line markings are yellow to improve visibility. The landscape changes to white wooded areas with little vegetation.

We arrived at Mount Hotham Village, just 12 km further UP at 1,750m (AHD) and are in the midst of a high wind squall, sleet, fog and cloud. We park on the side of the road with the air conditioning set on 20 degrees and watch the weather, black and white clouds fly past us horizontally. It is now 1 degree outside. We have never experienced such an amazing scene. In minutes it was over and sunny again. Fuel computer indicated 18.1 lt/100 km.


Change down and take it slow. Great Alpine Road.
Change down and take it slow. Great Alpine Road.


Route Segment: 4

Mount Hotham, Alpine National Park, Hotham Heights VIC, Australia to Bright VIC 3741, Australia 55.2 km

We continued climbing momentarily and soon began the downhill descent. It was steep, wet and foggy.

The road was very narrow, slippery in parts although in excellent condition. We always travel with our lights on and UHF radio on scan. We are now encountering oncoming traffic and many motor bikes. We travel at 20 – 35 kph for what seems 20 minutes using Manual select 2nd or 1st gear, sometimes 3rd where you could see some of the road ahead. The Ranger’s engine braking capabilities in these conditions proved an asset.

We also increased our Hayman Reese Brake controller to provide more caravan braking in order to “look after” the Rangers brakes.

In places, the fog reduced visibility to only meters ahead. Eventually the temperature climbed to 4 degrees as the descent continued but it was nice and cosy with air conditioning running at 20 degrees and this also made for fog free windows inside.

There are a number of roadside pull over areas, which we took advantage of to allow following vehicles to pass.

We pulled over at Harrietville to check the rig and brake temperatures on both the Ranger and Blue Sky. The Fords front discs were hot and rear drums warm, one wheel of the van was hot, the others cold, so we need to have the brakes adjusted with its next service which is due in around one month.

GSA refuelled in Bright with our driving distance being 290 km and consumption calculated at 18 ltrs/100km, our highest on record.

Was the trip worth it?

Absolutely!

We would travel the Great Alpine Road again any day, (season and weather permitting). If you drive to the conditions, you can do most things safely.

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia and Go See New Zealand Directory
Email: garth@contact.com.au
Fog ahead. Great Alpine Road.
Fog ahead. Great Alpine Road.
Yellow  lines help visibility. Great Alpine Road.
Yellow lines help visibility. Great Alpine Road.
Steady. Drive to conditions. Great Alpine Road - Mt Hotham
Steady. Drive to conditions. Great Alpine Road - Mt Hotham
Magnificent High Country.  Great Alpine Road.
Magnificent High Country. Great Alpine Road.



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