What a weekend!!!! Jay and I finally had a long weekend off together (itâ€™s been 12 months since our last reasonable length of time off together). We had just received the panniers for Jayâ€™s KLR, spent a couple of hundred dollars at Anaconda getting camping gear and had a new rear tyre fitted to my KLR. Jay was away for work the three days leading up to the weekend, so I spent my time checking the weather in various areas around Victoria and Southern NSW and getting us and the dogs ready for a holiday. The dogs were being sent to mumâ€™s and I checked our lists of things to take several times to make sure we were well prepared. DAY 1 Departure morning was fine and sunny with a breeze. We didnâ€™t leave til late as we didnâ€™t get home til after 10pm the night before. We were both tired from a big couple of days and didnâ€™t want to start out feeling average. The weather forecast wasnâ€™t looking great for the west, so we decided to head east. No real route had been planned â€“ we just looked at the map each time we stopped to decide where to go next! The only real requirement was as much dirt as we could find (that wouldnâ€™t be too difficult with fully loaded bikes). After filling up in Healesville and a quick chat to a friend who arrived as we were leaving, we headed up Don rd to Launching Place and Yarra Junction for the fun ride to Noojee. We stopped for a sugar hit (sour worms are yummy!!!) and a smoke while we consulted the map. I had never been to Baw Baw, so we decided to head up that way. What a beautiful road! Itâ€™s not one to be taken lightly, so we cruised through, not taking any risks. Only a couple of cars on the road which we easily passed. We stopped at the top for another look at the map and took some photos. We continued on past the big rock down South Face road â€“ a very wide and easily travelled dirt road â€“ to Erica. It was very windy and we were starting to get a feel of the difference fully loaded bikes makes to handling on recently graded dirt roads. Feels a bit more like youâ€™re travelling on ball bearings as the front is so light! We dropped the tyre pressures off a bit to help with the handling. At Erica, we turned left to head for Walhalla. I LOVED this road!!! Iâ€™d never been here either and had a ball! By now it was just after 12, so we thought weâ€™d stop for lunch. Unfortunately, we chose the only food place that was closed, so decided to miss lunch and keep going rather than stop again. Another map check and headed north out of Walhalla. About 10kms out of Walhalla is a road to the right called Binnâ€™s rd and then right again onto Springs rd (a logging route). This takes you all the way into Heyfield. Binnâ€™s rd was excellent fun, though Iâ€™m glad it was dry! I think that would have been very challenging if it were wet. The forest through there is very sparse from the fires last year (or I think they were last year!) By this time weâ€™d decided to spend the night camping somewhere around Bairnsdale or Bruthen. Part of the beauty of an unplanned trip is the flexibility you have for if things go awry or you stop to take lots of photos (us!) or if the roads are more difficult than you anticipate. Looking at the map now, I think we should maybe have aimed for Dargo. Instead, we ran the boring highway into Bairnsdale to get some food for our first dinner away. The sun was getting lower so we shot off for Bruthen, having seen a site on the map called â€˜The Boysâ€™ campsite about 20kms up the GAR. This was my first experience of proper camping. We never went as kids â€˜cos dad hated camping (the closest we went were horse-drawn caravan holidays) and I always ended up staying in caravan parks or motels when on bike trips. The campsite was lovely. I was worried there would be others there, but all was deserted when we arrived. Jay set up the tent while I collected firewood and attempted to get the fire going. I gave it up as a lost cause and organised a cup of tea for us and unpacked what weâ€™d need for the night. I cooked us a dinner of steak and coleslaw rolls before we had a think and a look at where we might ride the next day. We headed to bed about 8 (I think, we didnâ€™t worry much about time for 4 days â€“ it was great!). DAY 2 We woke early the next morning, probably about 6, to a clear sky and a bright sun seen through the trees. Looks like it would be a sensational day! We had bacon and egg rolls for breakfast, then broke camp and headed out to GAR again. We rode the best bit of GAR (IMO) and, about 5kms before Ensay, turned right onto Sandy Creek rd. This was a lovely piece of deserted farmland dirt road, but we missed the turnoff to the right for Buchan (didnâ€™t notice it does a loop round to Omeo, where you think you are on the same road but it isnâ€™t!). Did a U-turn and back on track. Just before we started going through gates to unfenced farmland, we stopped for some pictures. The views were spectacular (youâ€™ll hear lots of superlatives in this ride reportâ€¦.we are definitely the lucky country and absolutely beautiful to boot!) back to Hotham. There were a couple of opportunities for land clearing â€“ trees down on the road saw us off the bikes and moving a tree we couldnâ€™t ride around or over. The road was lovely, with some harder bits and some good fun faster bits. We stopped again at Timbarra river to take some layers offâ€¦.it was warm! You donâ€™t realise how much hard work goes into riding at less than flat out! Turned left on Johnston rd. then right onto Timbarra rd, then left again into Buchan. We stopped for lunch here and to find out if Barry way was navigable (the map said Barry Way may be closed during winter months). All reports were good, so back on the bikes to head up Gelantipy rd. Next stop was Seldom Seen. Not a planned stop, but was so weird we had to! While Jay tightened the chains, I took some photos. The owner came out to say Gâ€™day and had a quick chat and make sure we were OK. After he left, Jay mentioned Wolf Creek. I think he was a little spooked!! He mentioned a road about 1km further up on the right which leads to a beautiful waterfall worth seeing but not posted. With the amount of cars, pushbikes and motorcyle parts including loads of caravans, Jay decided he was probably going to meet us at the waterfall and chop us into bits (head on a stick ). So we ignored the road and headed on our planned route. We started out again, heading up Barry Way to Suggan Buggan. The road was fabulous. Challenging, with all different sorts of road. There were lots of changes of surface on the way through and amazing views. Tight hillside twisties with little room for error (it was a long drop!!!) and open sweepers. We stopped again at Ballantyneâ€™s Gap and took some pictures of the views out over Ballantyne Hills and through the Snowy River valley. The next brief stop was Suggan Buggan and then again at the border. We took some photos at Willis and would have camped there for the night if weâ€™d had some food! We still had 40kms of dirt from Willis. It had been a tiring day, with very little bitumen. We stopped again at Wallace Craigie lookout where they had some interesting information on the 2003 fires. Took some more scenic photos then mounted up again. Next stop Jindabyne! One strange thing about Barry Way were the piles of animal poo every couple of hundred metres on some sections. Jay said that the elephants are bad this time of year! (LOL!!) We booted into Jindabyne as, again, it was getting late. We thought weâ€™d camp at Island Bend campsite, about 15kms from Perisher Valley. We had fish and chips in Jindabyne, as the thought of cooking tonight was not appealing! The light was fading fast as we headed up Kosciuszko rd. We didnâ€™t realise there was a pay point there, but talked our way through without paying (I think the lady realised we were running out of time to be able to set up camp in any kind of light). We found the site on the banks of the Snowy River. As we were riding this section, I was thinking that I really didnâ€™t want to camp in a windy, cold place for the night. When we arrived at Island Bend, it was in a sheltered Valley and was almost warm! I was very relieved! We set up again in the dark and had an early night. It had been a BIG day! DAY 3 We were woken the next morning by thunder and drops of rain. In a mad rush, we broke camp with hail starting. Black clouds were moving in our direction FAST. Just as we had the bikes loaded, the sun broke through the clouds and the wild storm we thought was going to hit us never eventuated. PHEW!!!!! We were going to head up through Charlotteâ€™s Pass, but when we arrived at Smiggin Holes the signs said the road to Charlotteâ€™s Pass were closed. We turned around and went back to Jindabyne for a fuel fill up, some bike maintenance and another map consultation. Both bikes were low on oil, so we topped them up, chain tightening and lubing, a gear lever adjustment for me and we were ready to roll again. It was just on 8 when we left, so obviously we were up very early again! We hit another toll point . $11 per bike. Jay had made us skip paying on the way out as it was something we could get away with, but on arrival at the toll point outside Thredbo it was the same woman on the counter. Jay explained we where going straight through and not stopping and again we avoided the toll. This time we went to Thredbo. We had a stop in the village, looked at the poor snow cover that looked filthy. Rode on again and stopped at Deadhorse Gap. Some sportie riders had overtaken us on the way (single cylinder chookies are no match for the sportsbikes on the faster roads!). The road down the hill from the Gap to Geehi was wicked fun! There were a couple of moments with some wallabies and roos wanting to share our bit of road and avoiding the brumby poo scattered on sections of the road, but they did nothing to dampen our enjoyment! We stopped again at the Geehi camping area beside the Swampy Plain River for a cup of tea and bacon and egg rolls for breakfast. With all the bumpy riding we did the day before, only two eggs were cracked â€“ impressive!!! We enjoyed the ride into Khancoban, though there were a lot of rocks on the road and a couple of oncoming 4WDs towing boats seemed to think the road was just for them. We fuelled up again in Corryong and had some â€œbike pick up practiceâ€ as Jayâ€™s was pushed over by the wind onto the bowser. The â€™08 KLR has a crappy sidestand. I think that a replacement stand will be the next mod for that bike, as it was an ongoing issue all weekend. As we hadnâ€™t ridden any dirt at all yet today, there was a need to get to some more before too long. The best way (to me) was to head down the Benambra â€“ Corryong rd (C545) through Nariel. Just after Nariel, the road starts going uphill and becomes dirt. It was recently graded (something we noticed a lot over the weekend â€“ obviously itâ€™s the time of year to fix up the dirt roads) and quite rocky, with some slippery corners from the finer crushed rock. We passed a couple on their treadlies (I didnâ€™t envy them one bit!), taking care to not raise too much dust for them. About 5kms out of Nariel, we turned right on Gibbâ€™s Range rd. This was a really fun road, so Jay took off! We passed a feral couple who had decided a single lane bridge was a perfect spot to have lunch. This road also wouldnâ€™t be much fun in the wet as it looks as though it would be very slippery. It was narrow, but we didnâ€™t see another vehicle for its 30kms. We turned right at Cravensville rd and ended up at Tallangatta Creek rd in Bucheen Creek. The plan was to go straight across and keep going the back way into Eskdale and then over to Tawonga, but there were no obvious roads to be seen when we arrived! We rode north up Tallangatta Creek rd to the highway and then came down Redbank road into Tawonga. We stopped at Sullivanâ€™s Lookout for some photos (thatâ€™s where Jay proposed to me three years ago!) and then kept going through Tawonga Gap road into Bright. We decided a shower was in order, so booked a room at the pub. We had a much needed shower and watched a bit of telly before having an early dinner at the pub, a glass of wine and some Baileyâ€™s. We spent an hour or so chatting to guy who owns a KTM 990 Adventurer and a DR650. We had a great time, sharing stories and learning a bit from him. He had a look at our setup and was impressed with the way the bikes looked and expressed his jealousy of us doing the trip we were doing. Itâ€™s always nice to know other people wish they were doing what you have spent a few days loving!!!! DAY 4 We slept really well that night and woke early again. We loaded the bikes up for our last day with a slightly different route planned to the one we used to take when on the road bikes. We continued down GAR to Myrtleford and turned left for Lake Buffalo (C526). I (again) had never been this way. Another beautiful road, all bitumen though. We stopped for some photos of the lake as it was lovely! We turned right at Rose River rd and followed that all the way into Cheshunt (I always thought that place was called Chestnut!!). Another wonderful road. Fast in sections, twisty in others, beautiful farmland and gorgeous sections where you ride along the very scenic river. I had a close encounter of the 4WD kind as I came (rapidly) around a bend to see an unsigned single lane bridge with a 4WD already on it! I wasnâ€™t going to stop in time without dumping the bike, so I washed off as much speed as possible, held my breathe and squeezed through as I gave the driver an apologetic wave. All good! We stopped for breakfast in Whitfield at a newly opened cafÃ© called Threeways CafÃ© (opened about 3 months ago). We cannot recommend their Kingâ€™s Breakfast highly enough! It was to die for! We like to think of ourselves as cooked breakfast connoisseurs and havenâ€™t had a better breakfast EVER! All produce was local, the sausages made on the premises and great value!!! We couldnâ€™t miss the Whitfield rd, so headed off again with very happy tummies. Just before Toombullup, we turned left onto Cambatong rd and then right down Bustons rd. Then an uneventful, short run down Old Tolmie rd to just east of Mansfield. We were going to assess the weather situation in Jamieson as to whether we went through Woods Point or found a different route home. We decided to give Woods Point a miss and try to get through to Big River rd the hard way. Well, was it ever the hard way!!!! It beat usâ€¦. No damage, but a 4km return trip took us about 2.5hours! The photos donâ€™t do justice. That was the steepest road I have ever attempted and it just kept on going! I almost dropped mine going up the steepest section. The back wheel slid on some embedded rocks and the bike went sideways. I held it up, but there was no way I was going to be able to get her going up that hill again. Jay and I decided it would be best to turn her around and walk her back down. Jayâ€™s bike was too heavily loaded to be able to do that section if mine couldnâ€™t do it. I think it was my optimism that landed us in this little pickle. Anything Jay will have a go at, I will too. If he thinks I can do it, I trust him and give it my best shot. Even this one had him show some fear! (Jay seems to be severely lacking in fear!). The hill was so steep I was having trouble not landing on my arse and sliding down the hill as we walked the bike down. We had to walk both bikes down four very steep hills before we felt it would be safe enough to ride them (we were considering the issues if one of us fell off and was seriously injured. There was no runoff and it would have been difficult to get to us if we needed help). We had a breather at the bottom of that track before deciding to do Snobs Creek road. The hilly track was heading up to Mt Terribleâ€¦â€¦.a very aptly named road and hill. Jay had had a recent situation with Mohican track in Toolangi and against his better judgement due to weight of his bike and not knowing how far we had to go, had decided it was best to turn around. Looking at what we accomplished I think Jay will go back and try to get up Mohican track nowâ€¦â€¦Scary. ! ! ! We ended up doing the Warburton â€“ Eildon rd, which is on the right about 25kms from the Jamieson turnoff. This was also an excellent road and I think weâ€™ll do this road more often. We had our first lot of rain on this road. Four days adventuring around Eastern Victoria and the Alpine areas in September and less than 50kms from home we get cold and rainâ€¦.go figure!!! A fairly well travelled road, there were a number of trees down and many changes in surface, but we loved it! It winds its way through Big River and Rubicon State Forests into Cambarville. It was then a straightforward ride into Marysville. About 5kms out of Marysville, we turned left onto Granton rd which brings you out on Acheron Way. This carries log trucks, so was in good condition. There were some crests where you canâ€™t see where the road goes til you are over the top and then it would drop down into another little valley before doing the same thing again. This was fun, but home was so close, I was excited!. We turned right on Acheron Way and then left onto White rd which joins up with Telford rd, right next to the Black Spur Hotel on Maroondah Hwy. HOME!!!! I cannot recommend a trip like this more highly! Jay and I learned lots â€“ about ourselves, each other, our riding abilities and what our bikes can deal with. We took the perfect amount of gear, we used all the tools we took (except the tyre irons!) and the maps we bought were excellent! (except maybe for not being warned about Polletti Track!) So what did we take? 1 three man tent 2 sleeping bags 1 blow up mattress 1 12V air pump 1 tarp 1 storm cooker and 2litres of metho as fuel (only needed one litre) 2 torches (one windup) 1 hatchet A length of rope Clothes and toiletries (limited) A selection of chargers (phone, iPod, battery charger) Maps â€“ Hema maps â€¢ High Country Victoria â€¢ East Gippsland and the Sapphire Coast â€¢ Melbourneâ€™s Mountain Country â€¢ Motorcycle Atlas (2nd ed.) Rooftop maps â€¢ Woods Point â€“ Mt Skene Forest Activities â€¢ Strathbogie Ranges Forest Activities â€¢ Cathedral Ranges & 5 Town Maps of the Upper Goulbourn â€¢ Powelltown â€“ Warburton (Powelltown â€“ Noojee) Forest Activities Spare heavy duty rear inner tube 2 camp stools 2 2L camelbacks with spare 2L of water Teabags, sugar, UHT portion milk, butter (one of those â€˜convenientâ€™ sizes) 2 little book lights + books (hardly used!) 2 travel towels Camera First Aid kit Notepad and pen 1 roll toilet paper Travel pack of Wet Ones Kitchen camping pack (detergent, tomato sauce, salt, dishcloth and scourer, ziplock sandwich bags, hand sanitiser, camping cutlery) 2 steel plates for food 2 travel mugs 1 small chopping board, sharp knife (also with serrated edge) tongs and spatula/eggflip Several Okky straps Cable ties and tools 8mm 10mm and 12mm socketâ€™s and wrench and the toolkit on the bike. No worries â˜º Jay: I was VERY VERY proud of Lil for the speed and enthusiasm she attacked all these roads. I was never held up and the pace was always fast enough. I do like the odd flat knacker run and I had my moments. I got a fully loaded KLR off the ground on sandy creek road. Felt wicked. Power sliding and flogging the bike into and out of corners. I found it best to roll of going into corners to load up the front fro traction and then roll on exiting the corner and making the rear do the work. My panniers gave me no dramas at all and never budged an inch. I was surprised to see how well the bike hadled with the load and it didnâ€™t slow me down. The suspention on the bike was set to 5 Max and even when stopped the bike has to be watched as the spring just sagged like yer grannies baps. This made the bike sit almost with no leand and was easy to just fall over. The side stand on the 08 is a Farking bad design. The big footprint doesnâ€™t mean shit if the stand fold up at a moments notice as it doesnâ€™t sit forward enough to sustain the weight of the bike and the sag of the spring. I will seriously be looking into this. Also, 1lt of oil was needed in both bikes at Jindabyne, very surprised at that. We didnâ€™t check before we left home though so it was not all lost on the trip. The tyres, TKC80â€™s. OUTstanding bits of rubber and certainly worth the extra $$$. Barkbusters where also great when my bike tipped over, the motech bars made for great foot rests. The bike was great and I certainly had an absolute ball tearer of a weekend. Have we got some road for you guys when you accumulate the Brownie points to get out there. Thanks for reading Stookie and Lil .