Updated: Jan 30
See my YouTube of this ride here
If you're a mountain biker, you know what it’s like, see a hill and just have to know if there’s trails on it. Tower Hill, named such as the Lavington water storage tower lives there, is around two kilometres, as the crow flies, from my daughter’s house. It’s the highest point in the town, our digital hunger fed by the masts and satellite dishes erected upon it.
Getting to the masts was on my mind every time I looked at the hill, for nearly two months, but it was not possible to attempt for various reasons. Also not the weather for it, the temperature had been in the 40°C region for the last three weeks. I only had four days left in Australia before I attempted the ride. That morning, as most mornings I was messing around with social media and generally dicking, my planned early start didn’t happen, I left at 1pm, the start of the hottest part of the day. Luckily it was a coolish day, around 27°C, so doable.
As I rode down the street I realised I’d forgotten to put on any protective gear including gloves. I had my trail hat on, that was it. Rather stupid not to go back and get kitted up, but as it turns out I didn’t have a fall, so all turned out well.
I love Google maps but it’s an arse sometimes, eventually I found the fire road, which is well graded, and not too steep. I rarely pedal uphill, but this time I did. The surrounding bush and farm land was interesting enough to distract me from the pain of pedalling, especially an Alpaca (or Lama?) farm.
Eventually the fire road ended, with three locked gates, one was leading to a mine, one to a farm and the other had signs saying it was Crown land and no motor bikes or cars allowed, and that if you steal mud or sticks you will go to prison! There was a gap, it’s amazing how small a gap you can wheel your bike through on the back wheel. So on that basis I assumed it was OK and meant for cyclists and walkers.
I passed a small lake which is fed by the Humbug Gully creek, that the fire road follows. There was some fab views but the fire road came to an end again, so I had to go off piste, through the eucalyptus forest, that was pretty steep. I tried to follow the remnants of a gnarly old trail that hadn’t been used in years, in the general direction of the masts.
It’s slightly worrying going through forest and bush, looking where you want to go plus for spiders and snakes. I didn’t see any, only a kangaroo that scared the shit out of me, by bounding flat chat across ten metres in front of me.
Eventually hitting the fire road again. Whilst having a cool down before taking the fire road, a Ute came by, I was expecting to get wrong, so acted all like ‘I’m meant to be here', the guy just waved. I met him again at the top, he was working on the masts.
From there it was only around 500 metres to the top, but very steep, so I walked it. There were some fab views across Lake Hume, the Murray basin and surrounding hills. I had a picnic, took some photos, had a quick chat with the bloke, who told me the fire road didn’t come out in Lavington, then headed off.
I was quite worried about getting back through the bush, as I have no sense of direction, I can’t even follow a marked trail. I rode far too long on the steep fire road, so had to walk back up it, to try and find where I needed to go back through the bush. I never really found the way I’d come, and tried not to panic when I was totally lost!
It was hard to enjoy the steeper downhill parts whilst lost, as my mind was on finding a way out.
Once I could see the fire road in the distance and recognising it was my one, I started to enjoy the downhill, even the smooth fire road was exciting once gravity took over.
In all I was out around five hours. I reckon if you knew where you was going, the round trip could be done in three hours, allowing for photo and tucker time!
Definitely I’d recommend this ride, but take a map or compass if you’re a dip stick like me!
The entry fire road (Tower Lane) is an easy road to pedal, well maintained, hard packed loose surface. I'm not sure if riding there is permitted, I did have to squeeze through a gate post!
Through-forest old 4WD trail, steep, slightly sketchy, no marked or formed single track. Good fun coming down.
In Lavington, take Shaw Street onto Tower Lane, Tower lane becomes the fire road.
Don’t quote me on this but I reckon you could drive up Tower Lane to where the gates are locked and park there. The surface is fine for 2WD cars.
Free to park
Free to ride
There is a park not far away with picnic areas and toilets, National Forresters Grove