In January 2004, I joined 90 other crews from all around Australia at the Victorian Snowfield Ski Village of Mt Buller, 248 km North East of Melbourne for the inaugural Mt Buller Sprint.
This was a motoring event that many in the Tarmac Rally community had long awaited. It was the first time a competitive hill-climb of this magnitude had ever been staged in Australia, as understandably the organizers had to gingerly tread through the corridors of bureaucracy for several years before it came to fruition.
Based on the internationally famous American ‘Pykes Peak’ and New Zealand’s ‘Race to the Sky’, the Mt Buller Sprint was a three-day closed road event that had crews racing 16km from the base of the mountain and climbing to 1800 meters above sea level to finish right in the middle of the Mt Buller Ski Village … 10 times over the weekend.
Jim Richards and Barrie Oliver won the first event in a Porsche 911, and they posted the quickest run of the weekend with a time of 8 minutes and 45.50 seconds. The Mt Buller Sprint ran for 6 years until (to the disappointment of all who had taken part over that time), it finished in 2009. It was in that final year that Jason and John White in a Lamborghini Gallardo recorded the events fastest ever time up the mountain of 8 minutes 26.01 seconds.
Thankfully in 2010 under the new ownership of Targa Australia, the Mount Buller road was again raced on, except this time it was just one of many closed road stages in the Mansfield, Lake Eildon and Wangaratta area that made up the inaugural Targa High Country.
On the weekend of 8 to 10 November 2019, The Targa High Country will celebrate its 10th Anniversary with the field of 120 Competition cars and 40 Touring cars taking on 20 race stages over a total race distance of 186kms.
If you’d like to know more about the Targa High Country, their website is www.targa.com.au or click on the link below to see the highlights from the 2017 High Country.