December 2022

Centenary Alpine route will be a fitting celebration

We’re pretty excited about how the route of the 2021 Lock & Load Alpine Rally of East Gippsland is shaping up. Three and a half days of some of the best rally roads in Australia will be a great way to celebrate this special anniversary event.

The Alpine Road Team finally managed to get down to East Gippsland to work on a new and exciting 2021 route – that we planned on paper while under Covid restrictions! Probably over-planned actually…

The Centenary running of the Alpine is set to be memorable. And that’s important. It is also important that we pay tribute to the Alpines of years gone by. We think we’ve done both.

The centenary event has been extended to three and a half days, starting in Lakes Entrance on Thursday afternoon, 2 December. We’ll visit Orbost, Nowa Nowa, Ensay, Omeo, Swifts Creek and Bruthen over the weekend. We’ve found new roads and stages and we’ll revisit Alpine stages not used since the mid 1970’s.

Currently, the Lock & Load Alpine looks like this…

Thursday: Lakes Entrance - Lakes Entrance

We will begin on Thursday afternoon with a Welcome to Country from the local Gunaikurnai people and a Ceremonial Start on the beautiful Lakes Entrance foreshore. We will have three short stages, all between 10 and 20 km, to help shake out the start order for Friday. There will be two easy to get to spectator points on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday plans: 1 division, 3 stages, 40 km competitive and 50 km transport for 90 km total distance, 2 spectator points, no service points.

Friday: Lakes Entrance – Orbost – Lakes Entrance

Friday is our biggest day – both in time and distance. We’ll start in Lakes Entrance and head to Orbost. We’ll base the day there with two loops into the mountains north of Orbost, with crews returning to the Service Park at Orbost’s Lochiel Street Reserve after each loop. Service Crews will be based at Orbost for the day – it is the only service location. Late afternoon we head back to lakes Entrance with some “twilight” stages. There are four spectator points planned.

A highlight of Friday is a brand-new stage,30 km of amazing, never before used forest road. Plus, even the old favourite Alpine roads look and feel different after the fires two years ago. Think you know Alpine roads around Orbost? Prepare to be surprised.

Friday plans: 4 divisions, 10 stages (shortest 7 km, longest 61 km), 190 km competitive, 210 km transport for a total of 400 km; 4 spectator points, 1 service park, with 3 visits.

Pic of the front of the historic Little River Hotel at Ensay
The historic Little River Hotel at Ensay

Saturday: Ensay – Omeo - Bairnsdale

We are really excited about Saturday. We’re heading up into Victoria’s High Country, into areas that were first used in the Alpines of the 1920s. The Alpine has not visited Omeo since the mid-70s – we’ll fix that on Saturday 4 December.

The day will start at Ensay, outside the historic Little River Hotel. We have 8 stages planned for Saturday, using a mix of mountainous forest roads with fast flowing shire roads thrown in. The last stage of the day will be a blast around Bairnsdale Speedway, where we’ll finish the day. We’re planning 3 spectator points around Omeo, including one within walking distance of town with the amazing views up the Omeo Valley. It’s spectacular country.

Saturday plans: 2 divisions; 8 stages (shortest 1 km, longest 54 km), 140 km competitive and 155 km transport, total 295 km; 4 spectator points; 1 service park; 2 rendezvous.

Sunday: Lakes Entrance – Bruthen – Lakes Entrance

The final day of the event will focus on the mountain roads north of Nowa Nowa and Bruthen. We’re planning 6 stages on some on fast flowing roads that will keep crews talking long after they are over. We’ll have a division break and service break in the streets of Bruthen and are planning 4 spectator points for this final day7 of the event.

After a last stage in Colquhoun, the first car is scheduled to finish back in Lakes Entrance early afternoon, with the champagne spray and announcement of the winners scheduled late afternoon and the Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Sunday night.

Sunday plans: 2 divisions; 5 stages (shortest 12 km, longest 39 km), 115 km competitive, 105 km transport for total 220 km; 4 spectator points; one service park, 2 visits.

At this stage, it looks like we’ll have total competitive for the event at about 480 km, with 525 km of transport, for a total just over 1000 km. This special Alpine is set to be a real test of both crews and cars, in the spirit of those intrepid teams who competed in the first Alpine Rally one hundred years ago.

Some thoughts on the roads.

Following the 2019 summer bushfires the roads have changed a lot. With tree lines much further back and many areas with no trees, sight lines and reading the road is challenging in spots. And there are lots of new panoramic views!

The roadbook will probably be a bit more verbose than in the past – especially where there are hard to read corners or crests or big drops involved.

The roads themselves are in amazing condition. The DELWP teams have done a fabulous job re-opening the forests, repairing roads and replacing forest infrastructure destroyed by the fires. Let’s hope that winter is kind to the roads.

So, that’s a bit of a look at what we’re planning for the 2021 Lock & Load Alpine Rally of East Gippsland. We’re excited and really pleased how it’s coming together… We think it will be a fitting celebration of an impressive milestone and it’s looking like it will be a really special event.

We’ll keep you updated as plans develop through the year. And we’ll keep sharing pics of the Road Team having a fabulous time out there in amazing East Gippsland!

Steve Hollowood
Road Director, DCoC

These pics from our survey trips in February and March 2021. 

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