Melbourne run April 11th, 2004
Nine cars rolled up just after 9am for an informal all-Pug run on Easter Sunday -- Justin in his 307, Nick (and Domino) and Simon Z in their gleeemy new 180s, and six of us in "classic" GTi's -- me, Natasha, Luan, Jason, Ben (and Mary) and Simon's mate, Dale, who was to drop out short of half-way due to a prior engagement with a football broadcast.
Tore off out of town via Lysterfield and onto the Prince's Highway east to Warragul, then took an exhilarating sprint south over the western end of the Strzeleckis to Korumburra. On to a pitstop in Leongatha, where Dale turned back to town, while we continued on up the Strzelecki Highway into Mirboo North for lunch at the boutique Grand Ridge Brewery and Restaurant (formerly the town's butter factory), where they not only brew a champion beer, but where in true country style they still ask, when you order the satay chicken with rice, "Do you want the salad and chips, or vegetables with that?". We arrived before the crowd. Well before the crowd, most of whom still hadn't arrived by the time we left.
From there, back down to the South Gippsland Highway at Meeniyan, and off on a big loop around via Foster, the Toora wind farm, and State School No. 1 at Alberton West to Yarram. The seemingly-endless uninterestingness of the coastal road beyond Hedley tested the faith of most in a worthwhile destination, but disbelief remained courteously suspended through a coffee break in Yarram, where we found all the people who hadn't been at our chosen lunch venue back in Mirboo North, jammed into our chosen arvo-tea venue at the Federal Coffee Palace. Some astute observer pointed out that it was situated next-door to a Mazda dealer that still had an ill-concealed old Peugeot lion advertising sign above its verandah from a previous life.
From there, interest climbed with us as we drove up the twisty little Tarra Valley Road to the Tarra Bulga National Park on the Grand Ridge Road at Balook. From there, we ran down the northern side of the hills to Traralgon, at times behind one or two pretty frustrating drivers who -- judging by the way they were plodding along -- were clearly intent on seeing how much viewing they could extract from their Sunday drive without actually stopping.
Back down somewhat closer to sea level and in the heart of the Latrobe Valley at Loy Yang, we said goodbye to Simon, Luan and Ben, who all took the more direct route down the Prince's Highway back to town while the rest of us headed up behind Moe through Willow Grove and Hill End to the foot of Mount Baw Baw in what was agreed by those who remained to be the highlight of the day's driving up to that point, made vastly more enjoyable by the almost complete -- and quite uncommon, in my experience -- absence of oncoming traffic. Down through Noojee to Powelltown and Yarra Junction, we went our separate ways as we came closer to town, with quite a justifiable feeling of accomplishment, around 5:30 pm.
In summary, a lot of fun, as usual, mostly at (or still well within sight of) the speed limit which at times was clearly only intended as a very optimistic upper guideline for the type of territory that we were covering, but one that we nevertheless mostly did our best to observe. Nobody got lost, or even strayed noticeably from the herd, thanks in no small part to Nick riding sheepdog at the back of the run for most of the day. On reflection, not enough obstructions to have been a concern, and as Justin rightly pointed out, if everybody gets back in one piece after more than 500 kms "without even a stone-chip", the day has to be counted as a success.