Mt Baw Baw sits just 2.5hrs drive from Melbourne, yet even when you’re over an hour away you feel like you are in some seriously remote country. Driving in through Noojee, the Valley of the Bridges, Icy Creek and Tanjil Bren was unlike any other road I’ve driven on to a ski resort. The temperate forest was flooded with tall tree ferns and lyre birds. The road was narrower than a privileged driveway in the Southern Highlands.
We snaked around the mountains, wondering when the ferns would turn into snow gums. A hard left into the fog, and up what’s meant to be the hardest sealed road climb in Australia brought the change in flora we expected. Visibility dropped as quickly as fuel efficiency did. All of a sudden things became very alpine.
The Village itself was hidden. Everyone knows the last kilometre of navigation is always the hardest – and this is more so when you can barely see your hand in front of your face! What is hidden up here is nestled into the gums, built behind rocks, and in this case – shrouded in fog. Up at around 1500m we felt miles above the more temperate valleys below, yet it was just a steep road away. Or, a well renowned downhill MTB run – which has shuttles running all the way through to April from November.
But we are here for a cross country Enduro race, taking place later this afternoon. And as the rain, mist, fog and cold temperatures clear from yesterday, we’re building up the motivation to pull on leg warmers, arm warmers and rain jackets to stay dry in the wet, cold air that is hanging around this morning. There’s a course set that is a little under 7km, with a combination of XC ski trails, double track and purpose built single track. The pictures from this race last year showed some of my favourite Australian bush. Pale trunks of snow gums, hard rock poking out of dark brown dirt and dense undergrowth.
As the sun starts to burn off the fog, I can’t wait for Mt Baw Baw to lift the veil and reveal some secrets.