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Canberra for the Weekend

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by WGM, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. I was wondering what to do for the long weekend. My wife was working all weekend (including two double shifts) and I didn’t fancy hanging around at home doing all of the chores that I should have done. So I thought, time to take the beast on a bit of a ride. A friend of mine is living in Canberra at the moment and I thought it may be fun to visit her for the weekend. It is only about 700km away so why not.

    Friday night I loaded up the beast with spare helmet and jacket (my friend wanted to go for a spin when I got up there), some clothes and stuff for me, my friend’s laptop that was in Melbourne, camera for pics and my Palm Treo and GPS adapter. I had filled up a couple of days ago and had only gone 50km since then so I didn’t worry about fuel.

    I have read a lot of Davo’s writing on the net and frequently consider joining his bunch of Farriders. So I have wanted to do 1,000 km in a day to see what it was like. This trip would give me about 730 km in a day so I thought that it would be a good way to work up to it. Lord knows I have the right beast for such a ride, so why not use it. After this, depending how my bum managed the long distance, I could then make an informed choice about whether I want to do the Farrider thing. Ahh, how sweet an innocent I was about the distance!!

    I woke with excitement on Saturday and got all leathered up (as many do!!). A rather delightful 7 am departure. First stop was the servo a block away to check the air pressure and get it sorted. A little air and I was away. Well…. The truth is it is not that easy. At the servo you have to give them your license to get the air gauge/connector and then hand it back after. So a good 20 minutes later and I was away. The weather was a bit crappy – it was overcast, foggy and there was a little drizzle. This meant the roads were wet and looked slippery. So I took it easy on Citilink in to the city, down the tulla freeway and then the ring road to the Hume.

    I used to live in Albury so had been back and forth from Melbourne to Albury many times, but not recently. The new bit of freeway from the ring road out to Kongwak/Beverage is sensational! It was so nice to miss all the lights and the traffic that used to be in Sydney road. The beast was handling delightfully. Sitting on about 4,000 rpm was 120km/hr on the speedo. Going through one of the “Check the Accuracy of your Speedo†stations along the Hume Highway, I found that my speedo was out. When it read 110km/h I was doing 103 km/h – so I felt comfy doing 120 in the 110km/h zones knowing I was probably doing around 113 km/h.

    The huge climb up the Great Dividing Range (all 300 metres of it – that always cracks me up!) was rewarded with sunshine! On the North side, the fog and cloud had lifted and bright sunshine was beaming right in my eyes. It had been about 80 minutes since departure and my bum was starting to get numb so I thought the next road side stop would be great for putting on my sun glasses. After coming around the next bend and being almost blinded by the intensity of the sun, I thought a simple stop on the side of the road would be fine.


    I stopped, got my sunnies, took a few photos, massaged myself (in the nicest possible way) and then took off again. It is amazing how a couple of minutes just walking around can bring relief. I had my iPod playing some random songs, while it was difficult to hear clearly through the ear plugs, it was good to have something to bop along too. I always wonder what drivers must think when I ride past nodding my head, tapping my feet and grooving along to the tunes. Most likely they don’t even notice!

    I had another stop at Lake Makoan. By this stage the sun was fairly intense. Every now and again I had to open my visor to swap out the hot air and get some cool relief. It felt like one side of my face was been slowly baked. For those who don’t know, Lake Makoan is a wet land reserve near Wangaratta. Although, you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise at the moment. It hasn’t completely dried up, but it is only a matter of time. Check the background of this photo for details.


    After 10 minutes stop, onward to Albury. Again, if you haven’t been through Albury lately, the new bypass is sensational. It makes it so easy to just zip through. During the cruise both to and from Canberra, it was great to have the camaraderie of fellow bikers. Regardless of their direction, so many of them waved, nodded and beeped to say hi. I think that is one of the things I like most about our rider community, the sense of belonging to something bigger than myself. This was highlighted during my stop in Albury. I stopped at the BP Truck Stop at the far side of town – some would say it is because my bike is nearly like a truck, but more because I needed petrol and a coffee. Another couple had stopped for fuel and coffee too. Naturally we got chatting. They were riding from Junee to Melbourne. His bike looked sweet! It wasn’t until I got closer that I saw it was a Harley!


    His partner said she liked it because it didn’t look like a Harley, I must confess I thought the same. We compared fuel tank size, riding conditions, bike mods and all the usual stuff. One of the things he had that I thought was cool was something he called “Crank Pedalsâ€. On the pillion pedals, the arm of the pedal could be easily rotated up to quickly and easily vary the height. He originally had them for his kids when they were younger (a good way to be sure that they met the “feet must touch the pedals†rule for pillions) and now because on this bike the pedals were so high, he could drop them down for his pillion.

    Albury worked out to be about half way on the trip. My place to the BP was about 350km. I was feeling good and very content. In fact, as I was riding I was reconsidering Wallace’s… er … RobSalv’s Wednesday Whatchamacallit regarding contentment. I got to say, it doesn’t get much better than just cruising along. My debt, my ex-wife, my business, my failure to win Tattslotto made no impact on my contentment during the ride. Life was and continues to be great.

    Next stop was for lunch at The Dog on the Tuckerbox at Gundagai.

    I must congratulate the NSW government. FINALLY!! They are duplicating the Hume all the way from Melbourne to Sydney. I must say it is a huuuuge bit of road works that they are doing, and I am not sure whether I prefer bitumen roads to concrete ones, but the dual lane and multiple small town bypasses will be fabulous when they are finished. It is targeted for December 2009 if you are interested.

    What that meant for me though was a lot of 80km/h zones through the road work areas. No worries – there was no hurry and by this stage I have turned off the iPod for a bit of silent contemplative riding. Although, as I was getting close to Gundagai I could help but hear echoes of Slim Dusty and the Dog on the Tuckerbox song. It did help me find it though, because I knew it was 5 miles (8 kilometres) out of Gundagai – I just wasn’t sure which side! Finally found it and stopped off for the obligatory photo.


    If you ever need a feed around Gundagai, you have to go to the Dog on the Tuckerbox. Drive past the servo with the KFC and the Subway. Give the Dog on the Tuckerbox Café a miss as it is loaded with gimmicky touristy crap, but stop at Bullocky Bill’s. Here you can get the Bullocky Bill Burger. For $9 you get one of the freshest burgers with loads of salad, bacon, eggs, pineapple and real burger buns. The whole thing is about 15-20 cm wide. Yummy! While I was dining, a young biker in the making (less than 9 months old) became fascinated with the big bloke in black leathers (me) and so he started making funny faces at me. His mum and dad gave me the “sorry we can’t control our child†look and I just retaliated by making funny faces back at him. I am sure I was showing my mental age as well as ensuring he took up biking later in life.

    From here it was a straight run to Canberra. Although, I find it very weird the series of signs saying “Look out, there is a speed camera a headâ€, “here comes the speed cameraâ€, The speed limit is 100km so don’t speed and here is a camera if you doâ€, followed by an incredible obvious speed camera. I must confess I have loosely reinterpreted the signs, but there was at least 5 of them that I saw. Naturally I slowed down for the camera, and took off afterwards.

    Coming into Canberra was where the GPS came in handy. Now I don’t have it mounted anywhere and I didn’t think I was going to need it. I had studied the map and thought I knew where to go to get to my friends place. Obviously I took the wrong turn at one of the many roundabouts in Canberra. Fortunately the beast has a glove box on the right hand side that I could stick the GPS in, open the glovebox and look at where I was going. So after a bit of farting around I got there. I arrived at 4pm, so it had taken me about 8 ½ hours to do 720 km. I was pretty happy with that and it puts me on target for Farrider membership also!

    This has gone on a bit longer than I thought, so sorry about that. The end is in sight! On the Sunday, my friend jumped on the back of the bike and she took me to the local bike haunt. We went from Gordon to Cotter via the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station.


    Here it is in Google Maps - http://tinyurl.com/6pg7sz

    If you are ever in Canberra, you have to give it a go. It is a cracker! Not only because of the slightly bizarre view when you come around a corner and see the top half of a radio dish, but more because it is a brilliantly twisty road with decent coffee at the end of it. I would say that I prefer it to the Black Spur! To balance the hoon factor, we went to see the Turner to Monet Landscapes exhibition at the National Gallery in the afternoon. We also went around the regular collection. There are some simply stunning pieces and some amazingly talented individuals in this world!

    Today, I did the trip backwards. It was a long trip after a big day in Canberra. Hardly any traffic in the morning and a truck load once I got passed Wangaratta. Again, there were lots of people to chat to at the stops – I love the free coffee stops! I spoke to a bunch of cadets who had been up to Canberra for the Queens Birthday parade (don’t you find it funny that we get a public holiday for the Queens birthday and the poms don’t?). I spoke to another guy who was towing two bikes that he had sold. He said he was clearing out the shed and these two had to go.


    He had just bought a Chinese quad bike of eBay for $800 or so because his wife didn’t want to ride the two wheeled ones on the farm. We both agreed full leathers were a good thing and that fishnet stockings would not provide much protection for the woman on the scooter I saw cruising down Kings Way last week. But that’s a whole different thread!

    My friend told me that NSW/ACT had double demerit and double fines over the long weekend. So I thought I better check the speedo out. Using my trusty GPS in the glovebox trick, I found that 120km/h on the speedo was actually 113km/h, 110km/h was really 105 and 100 km/h on the speedo was 96. So now that I had that sorted I could toodle along with a more accurate understanding of whether I was speeding or not.

    Coming back into Melbourne my fuel gauge started flashing telling me I only had enough fuel for 99 more kilometers. By the time I got home, I had done 493km on the tank and it was saying that I had 67 to go. You have to be happy with that kind of range! Average fuel consumption was 5.7 l/100km and I had done 1,580 km. Both ways I left at 7.30am and arrived at 4pm. I made sure I had plenty of rest stops and stretched out on the bike where I could. Next time I will drink more water on the trip as it was easy to dehydrate.

    What a great way to spend the long weekend!
  2. Nice writeup. :)
  3. Noice writeup. :)

    I gotta agree with the rider cameraderie on the Hume between Melb and Canberra. It was a lot of fun to pass (or be passed by) another rider, wave and nod and so forth with respective steeds packed down with luggage.

    Regarding the Great Dividing Range... Two friends and I did Melb -> Canberra -> Melb about thirteen months ago in a big clockwise circle, stopping for a few days in Canberra, a bit like: This hastily-sketched route here. A Burgmann 650, my VTR250 and another friend on a Honda 250 cruiser.

    One bit I really enjoyed was cresting the GDR right about here. The first hour of the ride had been nothing but 2*C-ambient fog, freezing to death as we climbed through the fog layer from Canberra to Cooma... After escaping the freezing cold of Cooma began to crest the GDR and were met by warm sun, crystal-clear blue sky, and gently sweeping roads lazily winding across the top of the GDR completely unoccupied but for our three bikes. Pure magic. :)

    Made me realise just how much I missed NSW's roads, having been living in other states for 24 months by that point. :)

    As for hydration... Bicycle shop or camping shop; a 'camelbak' (brandname) or similar style water-filled backpack is a godsend for long-haul riding. :) I have a Deuter 2L one for mountainbiking 'n motorcycle touring.
  4. Thanks Bonkers!

    Thanks Spots. Yeah I know about the Camelbaks but haven't got around to getting one. Think it better be the next accessory! I agree about the Monaro highway and that area. It is very cool.

  5. Great write-up mate ..
    Really enjoyed reading it.
    Sounded like you had an EXCELLENT long weekend :)
  6. Thanks Vinnie

    It was pretty sweet. Although my legs are a bit stiff and sore today. Maybe a few stretches at the end of the ride would have helped. That's too close to turning into exercise though! :)

    So when you taking the 250 up there?

  7. :shock: :shock:
    :p Furthest I've taken her was PI,I'd love to head up somewhere later this year, make a weekend of it. Once I'm out of my commuting bubble that is.
  8. As they say in commercial branding, "Just Do It". :p :grin:

    My VTR250's first >400km day was the final 763km leg of a 18 hour trip from Newcastle to Canberra, via Melbourne, using car, bus, train, aircraft and motorcycle! :LOL: The things we do to hastily salvage a til-then boring christmas holiday break, eh?
  9. Just take a leaf out of respected tourer and tour commentator Rosie (I Adore Vic). She has gone from commuting to touring across states weeks at a time. Staying in dodgy out of the way side of the road places to pubs and van parks.

    Less thinking about it, more doing it! That's my theory.

  10. Nice writeup.
    Been meaning to go up to Canberra myself for a while but never quite got around to it. It's definitely going on the "to do" list of rides now though, might even add in a trip to that Wollongong place Hornet is always talking about :grin:.
  11. Thanks JD - definately worth the trip!

  12. Rosie is a bloody LEGEND! I dunno how she does it, takes her bike, her gear, her tent .. and off she goes :p
  13. Not much point. The fcuken' whingy lycra brigade have had a big cry, and now there's cops everywhere, pulling over every bike and taking down regos and licences.
  14. Wouldn't have much to do with teh fact that a rider dumps their bike on the back roads every weekend now, would it?

    Regards, Andrew.
  15. Wouldn't have much to do with teh fact that a rider dumps their bike on the back roads every weekend now, would it?

    Regards, Andrew.
  16. Time for glasses Andrew?

  17. No, it wouldn't.

    The police were out there last week, and told us that it has everything to do with the recent volume of complaints made by cyclists and people who have purchased blocks in the new development at the top of Mt Mac.

    As far as I am aware there hasn't been a serious bike accident (by serious I mean requiring police/ambulance) since Summer? Feel free to prove me wrong though. There was, however, a recent serious incident involving a p-plater rolling his WRX on the corner of Cotter Rd at Casuarina Sands. A WRX isn't a motorbike though.