Cycling tour in the Victorian Alps, 1897

Our cycling historian, Rod Charles, has sent us this report from 1897.  Global warming hadn’t kicked in then…

Notes from the party –

an extract

‘The second day at 6.30 am we set our faces Beechworthwards. Violet town was soon a thing of the past , and with our appetites sharpened by the clear, crisp air we ran into Benalla at 9.30 ready for anything on toast. Fortified, we were able to give the Kelly country a sample of our going powers in a 15 mile spin, which, after another interval of 10 miles, ended us at 12.45 at Wangaratta in time for roast beef and plum pudding.

The view from this upland vantage point was exhilarating. South-ward and east-ward rose the mighty ranges of the Alps, whose snow clad summits sparked and glinted in the noonday light. The Buffalo, Feathertop, Razorback, Hotham, Bogong all contributed to the scenic grandeur which in their far off quiet, spoke of a marvellous work of the Creator . it was a magnificent scene, magniloquent in its stillness, beautiful in its purity. The deeper shadows, the darkling recesses, the russet and blue-black tones in the foliage, with the mantle of snow atop the stately peaks made up a picture of choice contrasts ever changing to delight the eye and fascinate the mind.

We were escorted by about a dozen of the local cyclists to Tarawingee, where for a space of 6 miles desperate hill climbing commences. After many a puff and never give -in-plug, we catch sight of Beechworth, which lives amid the hills. The natural setting of this town is like Jerusalem, beautiful for situation. Perhaps for all round effect, it has no rival in Victoria. 80 miles was the record the second days’s effort.’

So wrote George Burston who was leading a M.B.C contingent overland to Sydney and reported in The Australian Cyclist 16 September 1897

Sadly, with the size of photographic equipment in the 1890s, there are no en route photographs.

We doubt that the roads were quite as good as this snap of cyclists ascending …

vic alps cycling B&W

or as bad as this road – on the ascent of Mount Hotham in the Centenary 1000 in November 1938…

To read a contemporary report of this 1938 ride in the Gippsland Times go to