From Braidwood to Bright through the Australian Alps.

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Early September, I got the most frightening blow in my travel through a short message of my sister: “Mum got an accident riding her touring bike, she’s in the hospital, call me”. My mum fell and although she had the helmet, she stayed unconscious a while and now her short-term memory is damaged. Some weeks afterwards she can have a normal jovial conversation on the phone and she seems to have recovered a nearly normal life. Being so far away is not easy in this type of situation, but our family went really closed together in this scary event.

We finally get in view of the mountain range where lays the highest point of Australia. It’s not much really, as the Mt Kosciusko is rather a flat plateau at 2100m or so. But still it is our goal to fly from the top of Australia! While getting there we see snow on tops, far away, a very joyful sight as we hadn’t get the chance of seeing any since New Zealand.

Jindabyne is a little town just before the uphill road getting to Thredbo, our departure for the mountain. When we get there, we see a man standing in the middle of the road, on a bicycle, actually waiting for us! This is Syd, the friend of Bruce, the cyclist who hosted us in Sydney. Bruce told him about us, he made some time calculation for us coming and was quite right as he didn’t wait much at all! So we have a room and a new cyclist friend who we go kayaking with in the lake nearby. 

This guy has the best bike travel books collection I have ever seen! And here comes a book with Mark Beaumont, a guy I actually met in 2009 in South America cycling. Flipping through the pages of Peru, we read the story of him meeting us, it’s sooo funny feeling! As Syd is also in one of the book, we take a 5 minutes fame picture with the two of us…

Kosciusko. Flying in the park is not looking like very much permitted. As we see that CARS are permitted, we conclude that forbidding cannot be for environmental issues. We look through the reasons they don’t want us flying and observe they just don’t want any legal problems. Well in that case, we’ll not ask anyone and still do it! Bad boys…

The first smart idea is too take only the exterior of the tent and the wings with mattresses for bivouacking light. 

Second very smart idea is too pitch the tent at the very top, as we are lucky enough to get there at evening, with no wind at all. That’s how we can have a short flight down the hill sliding on the snow with Seb. 

Third super smart idea is to see some lightning far away and thinking that’s not for us. 

One hour later, the wind blows like hell, tons of water flood the tent and the wings, and thunder rumbles for every lightning that hits the very nearby area. Being at a summit during a thunderstorm is VERY MUCH the thing NOT TO DO EVER (thank you dad, this time I WILL remember that!). We pack as we can, shaking with fright, and run down the slope until we find a shelter: the toilets! Believe it or not but they made it as big as a castle! Strong, perfectly clean, huge, we have room for the three of us easy and we can dry our equipment. 

Well, that’s how we ‘flew’ the Kosciusko.

Geehi’s flat some day later in the forest. Kangaroos are everywhere and we find a stone house for us. I got a bad feeling of a noise and a play in my back wheel. A thread of the freehub is broken! First time I ever see such a failure. Conclusion: Never assume mechanic parts CANNOT break, because it will. Also, I must get back to the bike shop in Jindabyne, hitchhiking on a desert road. Another conclusion comes quickly: the less the car on the road, the more you wait, but also the quicker the ONE car that comes will pick you up. There I meet Nico from Switzerland who sort me out with a wheel for a super deal, time for me to get the part online in Bright.

Of course, one cannot expects to work it just nice. Two days later, three spokes get broken. And I must get to the nearest town getting good spokes (DT Swiss if you ask). But let’s stop bothering with mechanic everlasting adventures, there would be just too much. It seems in these days that for one day riding, we get one thing breaking. For example, as I fix the original wheel in Bright later on, it’s only to find that I need to change my front hub as well. See?

State of Victoria. We leave New South Wales and get to Bright, another high place for paragliding in the country.  As my brother Vincent used to stay in the forest nearby some years ago, everyone seem to know me, very pleasant feeling! The Melbourne paragliding club Skyhigh who has got a little event here welcomes us. We get part of a mini X-alp with Andrew, potential future competitor for the real one. It’s an extremely interesting hike&fly race where Seb chooses the running only option (and cannot finish), Andrew flies very well but get some hard time running (and wins!) and me compromising (and get second 3 minutes after Andrew). 

See the full story written by the winner here: LINK

Bad weather comes; it’s no flying time anymore. Seb wants to enjoy some time on his own on the coast flying there and renting a van, I’ll see him mid-December when I’ll be ready to leave Melbourne. With Nadège we want to share time in a woofing place, Smoko, at Rolf and Nez’s, interesting characters for who playing is more important than anything in this house. Firebath, pizza oven, electric racing model cars, a real indoor climbing wall, and they also has a mountain bike trail in his land! We swap some help for some place for the tent and delicious food he keeps making.

Bike is now ready; let’s hit the road toward Melbourne, through the Great Dividing Range, dust road and high ridges!