High Country Weekend with BMWDCNSW & BMWCCC
Day 1 | Friday, 30 November 2018
During the afternoon of Friday, 30 November 2018, members of the BMW Drivers Club Melbourne (BMWDCM), BMW Drivers Club NSW (BMWDCNSW) and BMW Car Club Canberra (BMWCCC), gathered at the Atura Hotel in Albury. Club members had rendezvoused at the hotel ahead of the following two days of driving the roads of the Victorian High Country. In all, some 30 members and their partners arrived at the hotel.
The pre-dinner socialising was an excellent opportunity for the renewing of friendships and the making of new ones. The task made all the easier by the groups common love of the BMW marque and their enthusiasm for driving cars, especially over challenging terrain.
Dinner was a delicious smorgasbord provided by the hotel and presented a further opportunity to talk about our beloved cars and to get to know more about each other’s diverse backgrounds. That said, most members had a relatively early night as we had an early morning start to a long day’s drive before overnighting in Bright.
As a member of the BMWCCC, I would like to thank the event organisers from the Melbourne and NSW Clubs for an excellent start to the weekend.
BMW Car Club Canberra
Day 2 | Saturday, 1 December 2018
Saturday, the first day of summer and the beginning of the planned drives. After breakfast, our day began pleasantly warm and sunny in the carpark of Atura Albury with a briefing from our drive leader, Peter Williams. The participants for the twisty course signed themselves in, while the two participants in the scenic drive organised themselves for a relaxed cruise through Beechworth and onto Bright.
Peter’s initial advice that getting out of Albury on the way to Mitta Mitta would be our greatest navigational challenge today, proved to be prophetic when nearly half of the convoy got lost within the first 3km of the journey! Luckily though, we were still within radio range and managed to coordinate a meeting point just on the border of the city limits, from which the convoy (in its new pecking order) managed an easy cruise alongside Lake Hume to our first break in the village of Mitta Mitta.
With the weather beginning to warm up, our refreshment break at the Mitta Mitta Hotel was very relaxing. The pub had decorated its back patio with car parts and memorabilia, which was very worthy of perusal. Maybe at this time, some of the passengers were still blissfully unaware of the adventures to come, as conversation was animated and people eager to see what would come next.
Omeo was our next stop, about 100km away, and the road rapidly shifted to one of nigh-endless turns, most signposted at 35-45km/h. Our convoy rapidly separated into the eager and energetic drivers, and those others who weren’t so enthusiastic! The road conditions and surfaces were very well maintained and predictable, and a credit to Victorian road quality. Besides the corner signposting, we were also told about decreasing radius turns, and had sufficient information about the best way to take most of the corners we encountered.
The M vehicles in the group were pushing for the lead, but I managed to keep up with the mid-pack in my 4 cylinder 328i for most of the stint, until passenger car-sickness reared its head and we had to slow down for awhile. The arrival of slow turns was so constant over this stretch that only the most ironclad constitutions in the passenger seat went unaffected. Those of us driving just revelled in exercising our BMWs through this course at legal speeds, sharing the experience with like-minded enthusiasts.
A lengthy lunch stop in Omeo allowed us all to relax and take stock of how clear and fulfilling the last stint had been, before gathering up again for another stretch to the ski resort of Mt. Hotham. Not as technical as getting to Omeo, but challenging and rewarding nonetheless. Not so many people up there, but this meant there was plenty of space to park all the cars in the convoy and get a few pictures.
Graeme from BMWDCM had brought a drone, which took some spectacular pictures of the cars and the Members on this journey. The day stayed sunny and bright, which really enhanced the experience of making this journey with friends and colleagues.
After all the effort put into getting up to Mt. Hotham, the trip down to Bright was relatively easy, but still involved a number of photo and video opportunities on the way down.
Overnight was at the Ovens Valley Motor Inn in Bright, which was a short walk or drive to our restaurant for the evening, a multi-course degustation at The Elm in Bright. We filled two separate rooms in the restaurant, which meant a bit of to-and-fro to catch up with everyone in a boisterous environment.
Day 3 | Sunday, 2 December 2018
BMW Drivers Club NSW
Unlike the previous day, where sweeping back the curtain in your room revealed blinding sunlight - this morning instead opened to a heavy blanket of clouds gently drizzling over a wet landscape. You’d think that this would have put a damper on the day’s activities, but despite the rain several people found the time and enthusiasm to ‘warm up’ their cars with a quick jaunt up to Mt Beauty before the morning’s hearty breakfast back at the delightful little Ovens Valley Motor Inn.
Coming back from Mt Beauty into the motel, I was struck by the sheer number of club cars that filled the motel lot. With the exception of about one other odd car, the rest were all ours. It was such a sight. So many BMWs old and new (and Greg’s Honda Civic Type R just for good measure).
The sun came out and by the time breakfast was done and we’d briefed for the day the roads were looking much dryer. We saddled up and headed to Mt Buffalo. The road was a great hill climb of twisty switching corners all the way up. Peter’s calls from the front as guide vehicle were impeccable.
Getting up there we were greeted with spectacular views of the valleys, watching the play of sun and shadow as clouds moved over the terrain. It was warm in the sun but freezing when it disappeared. We all walked around, with warming cups of coffee and tea from a little food truck, exploring the summit. The Chalet (literally what it’s called) perched right at the top was a grand old building. It was shut, and had been for years, but peering in it was easy to imagine how nice it would be sitting on the couches in front of those big windows looking out over the world. Of note, the gardens around the chalet are well maintained and were a beautiful riot of colour.
There was quite a lot of time before departure to our lunch destination. Whilst some were happy to keep walking around exploring, others decided that naturally the best way to spend that time was with more driving. Soon cars could be heard roaring off back down the mountain. 40 minutes later we all regrouped and headed off.
We arrived at the Happy Valley Hotel for a solid pub lunch. The mood was good, this was our last point on the map before it was time to all make our own way home. It had been a great weekend. People slowly started departing, lots of goodbyes taking place. Eventually of the 17 or so cars, there remained 5 that headed back to Melbourne. Sunday afternoon provided its own set of great roads and lovely afternoon sun to drive along with. All in all, a great time.
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne