Left Mitcham on the 28th December about 11am. The weather was looking a tad dodgy with many dark clouds gathering around Berwick in the direction that I was heading. The predicted showers and occassional hail (along with high winds) was right on. As I was travelling along the Berwick by pass the hail hit and with such a force that my right kneecap which was on the side of the weather, felt like it had sustained some damage. I dont normally stop in these sort of situations but this time I had to as the pain from every falling ice cubes (I swear) hitting my leg was stinging more and more. I pulled up under an overpass for a minute or so till the hail stopped and I took off again. It is interesting to note here that when I took off last year on this same trip the temperature as 42 degrees and didnt drop only at Lakes Entrance where a sea breeze was welcome for the length of the town. I didnt need to stop till Sale where I fuelled up and took the opportunity to grab my favourite bike snack, a pie, albeit a mass produced in plastic type. As is the usual, the bastard was too hot so I found a spot in my tank bag where it could sit for a while to cool down till I got to Stratford and have a rest stop. I didnt need to stop till I needed fuel at Newmerella, just before Orbost. Although my tank may have lasted till another town, I am wary of tempting fate after running out once on the way to Echuca and needed to push a much smaller bike. A loaded up CBR1000F would not be much fun when it isnt propelling itself! The next stop was at Cann River. The road house on the right just in town is pretty good for burgers. Met up with another rider, Matt(?) who was having a problem with a slow oil leak on his mid 80's GS1000. After providing some insight into things mechanical from one with no knowledge of things motor-wise, I took off for Genoa. Matt(?) had put some goo on the leak and had to wait an hour or so till it set and headed off for the pub. All the time from Cann River, dark clouds were appearing and disappearing just as quick. I arrived at the Genoa pub around 7.30 or so and went straight to the bar and got a room and a beer ($30 a night for a room with ensuite and bike friendly). Went to the room to lay down and rest after wrestling with the handlebars all day with the prevailing south to south westerly wind. I saw plenty of bikes heading the other way and can only imagine that it must have been a bastard heading into it. After about two hours Matt arrived and decided to grab a bed for the night as he too was undecided about the weather. After a few freshly poured pots in the bar we grabbed a couple of travellers and stood out in the fresh night air chatting about plans for the next week or so (he was off to Sydney for New Years and then Kalgoorlie to drive trucks in the mines). The next day we took off about 8am. It had been raining on and off during the night and was going to do the same this morning. After about 30 or so k's the rain decided to leave and some blue patches appeared. With the wind still not appearing it seemed like a good run up the coast may be on and I was right. Sticking to the coast we arrived at Tathra for a bacon and egg roll and hot coffee. That was a great start as the next 40 or so k's are a mix of roads and rolling hills and spectacular coast line views till joining the highway again just before Tilba. After a short stop at Bermagui to take in the sea air and snap a few coastal shots we took off for Batemans Bay where we arrived about 12.30 or so. This was my destination so we bid our farewells and Matt took off for Sydney. The next few days were quiet as I took up a prime spot in front of the TV to catch up on the cricket and news reports of the tragedy up north. I guess that the Tsunami disaster took away a lot as this years New Years Eve seemed to be a lot quieter. I even turned in at about 11.40 and was only awoken by the sound of the fireworks across the bay. The usual noise from parties and revellers at the turn of midnight was dim compared to last year. After a bit more rest however, my right wrist was twitching and after cleaning the bike and chain the day before I decided to go for a spin to Braidwood via a very twisty and hilly road (cant remember the name of the mountain). The ride is great up that way and even though I am not a fast rider, it seemed to go so quickly due in part I guess to the different road types and changing scenery along the way. To Nelligen the turns are short of sweepers but up and down. For the next 15 or so k's it is tighter with packed forests of eucalypts and tree ferns and then it is up the mountain and through some open areas with longer turns. Braidwood is a historic town with some interesting and uncluttered roads in the surrounding areas. The bakery here is good with their selection of pies small but tasty. After a quick tour to an old mining town about 15 k' south of the Braidwood I headed back to Batemans Bay. Doing the road in the opposite direction was interesting especially the smell of very hot brakes from the cars and odd truck. The only problem that I found on this road was the cagers. Too many rice burners, sporty type cars and people movers who just couldnt wait to get to their intended destination. I let several pass me as I wanted to enjoy the scenery more than the travelling. I liked that road though and decided to do the trip again the next day with the purpose of locating the home brewer which eluded me the day before. This day was slightly warmer than the previous and after a ride around the back streets looking at all the different architecture and old buildings, I went back to the main road and found the bakery again (this time for my Mum) and then around the corner to the home brewer where I purchased a couple of different beers (the Best Bitter was very nice). Another ride back to Batemans Bay dodging the 4 ton projectiles. I packed up and headed off on the 3rd at 8.15am. The forecast was good for some decent riding weather but could change due to the terain. I followed the Princess Highway back down the coast to the turn off for Brown Mountain along twisty and steep road up to the Southern Tableland and Nimittibel. This is another opportunity to taste some country delights and the bakery here is another fine choice. Once again, a hot pie makes its way into my tank bag and I stop at lookout west of the town on the Jindabyne road to consume it. Last year I went via Jindabyne but this time I decided to go via Adaminiby to Kiandra and down. I took the opportunity to fill up at Adaminiby given that there is no fuel unless you go to Tumut. Whilst filling up I assessed the situation regarding the weather. Judging by the increase in cloud cover and the drop in temperature it looked as though anything up high would be cold, wet and windy and I wasnt wrong. Not long after getting into the alpine area, it got a lot darker and colder and I had to stop and add some more layers to protect me. It wasnt long till the weather closed in with rain and what I thought was sleet began. I stopped once to check out an old cemetary and whilst walking among the headstones wondered how these people survived for as long as they did in this area given that this was summer! I turned at Kiandra and proceeded to make my way to Cubramuura. After turning south the weather once again decided to wage war. Visibility was reduced at times to no more than 20 or 30 feet and with the wind in my face and more rain that stung when it hit (my visor was wet as and fogged up when I closed it) the next 50 or so k's was interesting to say the least. When the weather is like this it is a frustrating road to travel on knowing that your ride will take you down a considerable distance so that you emerge from the rain and wind only to go up into it again another two times. When I got to Cubramurra (highest town in Australia), the lookout was not providing a view at all which is annoying as I will have to wait another 12 months till I come through the town again in hopefully better weather. After negotiating more weather and up and down twisties at walking pace I made it out of the park and onto some nice straight rollercoaster type stretches of road and out into the rolling of hills and onto the Murray Valley highway. I made my way to the Tintaldra Hotel after hearing of its existence on forums and lists and would like to recommmend it to one and all. After arriving around 4pm or so I was glad to think the road was not to be thought of for the night, only the thought of another cold beer. Two other riders were at the pub, Steve (Kawasaki ZRX21200) and his partner Pat (Triumph Boneville T100) from Newcastle. We enjoyed the country hospitatlity, a good pub meal on the porch and some very welcome ales. After the big night I was up and getting ready to head off, this time remembering to pack the layers that may be needed, on top of everything else. After a big cooked breakfast (much needed), we headed of down the highway towards the Hume Wier but only making it to Granya before turning and heading for Tallangatta and a much needed fuel stop (my bike made it to 275k's before flicking over to reserve). From Tallangatta we headed for Mt Beauty and a stop for some lunch. From Mt. Beauty we went over the mountain to Bright where Steve and Pat took off for a ride up to Mt Buffalo. I decided to not join them having been up there last year and took of for Oxley and then left to Whitfield, over the mountain and onto Mansfield, Yea and the back way through Flowerdale, Kinglake, St Andrews and Warrandyte before making it home, once again in the rain, to Mitcham.