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Mildura Omeo Jyndabyne return...

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by cypher, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. Day 1 – Mildura to Shepparton

    As I was about to get my riding gear on I remembered there was mail in the letterbox – thought I should clear that out since I was gong to be away over a week. VicRoads has sent me a letter - hmmm that can’t be good, no rego due. Opened it to see a Victoria Police letterhead – ah bugger…. but it was just a summary of my demerit point status. Quite appropriate, reminding me I only have 6 points left on my license when I’m about to head off on a 2400km bike ride…..

    Fuelled up at BP Buronga, then hit the road heading towards Euston. As I pulled out of the servo with Talking Heads “Life during wartime” playing in the earphones, I started to relax and get excited about the next few days…

    Had a bit of entertainment when I was passed by several groups of bikies on Harley’s – Coffin Cheaters apparently. One of them was almost a Coffin Filler – he almost sideswiped a semi coming the other way, he would have missed it by less than a metre before he realised and swerved away. Further down the road I turned to cross the Euston/Robinvale bridge, and there on the other side was a police breathalyser station, with 5 Harley’s stopped. The copper waved me in, took one look at me and my bike, and waved me out again. Maybe he just likes Yamahas. As I was pulling out, the Harley’s started riding off too, so I was bang in the middle of the group of 5, in formation. Not sure who was more embarrassed about that, me or them. I’d say them.

    Nice ride through Boundary Bend to Swan Hill (if you’ve never seen an almond tree, go to Boundary Bend – they have 1 or 2 there (million). Fuel and lunch at Swan Hill (didn’t need fuel but needed food) then pressed on. It was getting hot and windy now and by Lake Boga it was pretty bad. Not going to guess the wind speed, but going back to my sailing days the technical term would be “you do what you like but I’m staying here on the beach”. Took a photo of a dust storm coming off the ”lake” - that must be really hard for the locals – what was once a great skiing lake and tourist attraction, is now a dry dustbowl. A decade of drought will do that I guess.


    Rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, but enjoyable (apart from the wind). Pleased and surprised by how well the TDM handles in the wind actually, better than I expected being a tallish and relatively light bike, and with luggage strapped to it as well to catch the wind. But then, it is the most underrated bike model in Australia….

    Arrived at Shepparton about 3:00pm, hot and dusty so a shower and a beer for emergency first aid, then kick back here for a couple of days before heading to the mountains. Next stop Mount Buffalo.
  2. Day 2 – Shepparton to Omeo

    Had some technical difficulties as I left Shepparton this morning. Fuelled up and headed off towards Wangaratta, but soon started to worry I was on the wrong road. Just as well I have GPS mapping on my phone then isn’t it? So I stopped, fired up the GPS software, typed in my destination, and it popped up the directions for the next turn (it turned out I was on the right road anyway). But the GPS software then froze, and crashed my phone, needing a reboot… it seems the 4Gb memory card I bought for the phone so I could fit more music on it (which also holds the maps) is too slow for the mapping software, and it won’t run it. Of course I left the old card (which works perfectly) on the coffee table at home…. Just as well I have paper maps then – too bad my eyes aren’t good enough to read them – the writing shrinks every year I swear. How about we just start riding down this road until we find a sign? Hey, that works…….

    Shepparton to Benalla was pretty boring – straight flat road, but scenery was nice enough, and music going in the helmet so all good. Glorious day, sun shining, not much wind, mid 20’s….. bike riding weather. Skipped the motorway to Wangaratta and took the old Hume highway instead which runs parallel to it. Goes through Winton (as in the Winton Raceway) and Glenrowan (home of Ned Kelly). Rode straight past the big fibreglass statue of Ned Kelly – I wonder if we’ll have a 30 foot statue of Chopper Reid somewhere in 100 years time? Definitely a town set up for the tourists. Turned off a bit further down the road and headed for Milawa, to cut across to the Great Alpine Road. Really nice ride, although had to stop when I got stung on the throat by a bee. Balaclava must have ridden up a bit and he got me right in the exposed spot. Stung like hell and came up red and swollen, but you should have seen the other guy.

    Went through Myrtleford, then turned off just before Bright to run up to Mount Buffalo. What a ride! That was really good fun, lots of tight 1st and 2nd gear hairpins, mostly pretty good road surface. Stopped at the top and took a few photos, but I mainly went up there for the ride.

    Back into Bright next and stopped for lunch at a bakery. Not much to write home about there I have to say. But, the highlight of the ride so far (ok it’s only day two) was the road from Bright across to Tawonga (Tawonga Gap road).

    Awesome! Superb! It’s like it was designed for bikes, lots of really tight nicely cambered corners, a blast going uphill to the lookout, almost as good going down to Tawonga. Got to Tawonga, turned around, and did it again. That was so much fun they could charge admission for it. The only thing they need to do to make it a perfect bike road is put a roundabout at the Tawonga end to make it easier to turn around, cos you couldn’t just ride it once. I might have to buy a summer house in Bright and keep a Ducati Streetfighter in the shed, just for that road….


    Ok, back in the real world… back on the GAR now and from Bright to Mt Hotham is a fantastic ride. Corner after corner after corner, up and down, magnificent views, and pretty good road surface. Really got into “the flow” for that stretch of road (still fired up from the Tawonga Gap road). Right at the top there’s a stretch of a few hundred meters of road with drop aways on both sides, as the road is perched on top of a ridge. Feels like you’re on top of the world on a bike, exposed to the wind and no cage around you. No guardrails though, so took it fairly steady through there.


    Mt Hotham is a tourist monstrosity, didn’t even bother stopping there. The road got a little boring after Mt Hotham, although there was one spot where there was water seeping out of several holes in the tarmac and running across the road mid-corner – glad I was awake for that one. Was happy to have an easy run anyway, was getting a little tired and backside was getting sore. So the last 60ks into Omeo was relatively boring, but nice scenery all the way.

    Staying at the Golden Age Hotel Omeo. Hotel rooms, so double bed, tv and not much room for anything else, shared bathroom down the hall. $50 a night includes breakfast, so if breakfast at a Café is $15 it’s only $35 a night – good value, people are friendly and it’s clean. Only problem is they told me they had secure parking. That would be the pub carpark fronting the main road then? Should be ok, town seems pretty quite. Although when I pulled in there were a couple of kids in an old XF Falcon who wanted to know all about my bike, and to tell me about their 500 motor-crosser they had at home. By the end of the conversation one of them was jumping up and down on the bootlid (I did politely suggest he stop doing that), with their mum screaming at them from the shop across the road (probably buying smokes and a slab of V8)…. Let’s hope they don’t come back to have another look later…. Better go have a look now, hope I don’t get distracted as I walk past the front bar…..
  3. Day 3 – Omeo to Khancoban

    After a morning shower with the biggest huntsman spider I’ve seen in years followed by half cooked bacon, burnt eggs, and grease on soggy white bread toast, I hit the road for Melbourne.

    About 2 minutes later I turned around and found the right road…. Which was lucky, because the scenery from Omeo to Anglers Rest, then to the Falls Creek turnoff, was some of the best of the trip so far. The road was narrow and winding, variable surface, and not great for fast cornering on a bike (and it was lightly raining ), but that was fine as it left more time to take in the views. The Blue Duck Inn at Anglers Rest looks good, I might try that next time (great looking camp ground there too, couple of bikes packing up as I rode past). I’ll give the Golden Age at Omeo a miss – pretty sure that first beer was mostly the rinse solution out of the lines…. and food was ordinary at best.

    Turned up the Falls Creek road which was also very scenic, riding through trees overhanging the road for much of it, but the road was pretty bad. Would be alright in a car but the newly laid bitumen was heavily corrugated in places already, especially bad on the corners, and it was still covered with the blue metal that hadn’t been swept off the road. Not fully covered, just a light sprinkling over hard bitumen… not nice on road tyres. Still, enjoyed the ride immensely so not complaining – just adds to the adventure.

    As I got closer to Falls Creek it got colder so I added a jumper under the jacket, closed up all the vents, and put my neck warmer on. About 10 kms from Falls Creek it was raining and blowing an ice cold gale, so I was convincing myself to push through the cold to Falls Creek before stopping again, and praising my heated grips. Came around a corner to meet a bloke jogging towards me, in runners, running shorts, and a cap (no shirt)…. nearly fell off the bike! Kept expecting to see that guy from the Wolf Creek movie chasing him in a Landcruiser….. bizarre.

    Stopped at Falls Creek to add more clothes (raining properly now), and met an older guy hiking his way around the park. He was up for a chat, so spent 20 minutes or so talking to him. Turns out he used to ride a CB350, and had done some serious rides on it (Cairns to Melbourne). Or so he said, but it was a good story….

    Ride down from Falls Creek was interesting – road was very wet, so I took it very slow. Still had fun though… stopped at Mount Beauty (the town not the mountain) for an iced coffee and the best savoury muffin I’ve ever eaten. Well, it was also the first, but it was really good. Then off again, only to come across the Tawonga Gap road again. Couldn’t resist it so turned left to have another go. Road had mostly dried out by now, only obstacles were a couple dozen cyclists spread out along the road. Easy enough to get past most of them, but their support vans driving along with their back doors open were a nuisance, and the one driving on the wrong side of the road talking to the cyclist on his left should be beaten to death with his water bottle and thrown off the edge….

    So with that extra 36ks out of the way (great fun again), it was back on the Keiwa Valley highway headed for Tallangatta. Rather than ride the main road, I turned off at Mongans Bridge and rode along the back road on the other side of the Kiewa River – nice country back road, smelled like dairy cows…

    Got to the T junction at the end where I had planned to turn left and head for Tallangatta, but the sign said Dartmouth 67km to the right. Hmmm, extra 134 km to the plan for the day, only just enough fuel if I can’t get any there, and already got a sore backside…. better follow the plan. But I turned right and went to Dartmouth anyway, glad I did it was a great ride, a couple of twisty sections through heavy forest, but mainly fast sweepers around the bases of the hills. Really enjoyable ride. Dartmouth is still there, it has some water in it too, but not full by any means.


    Managed to get fuel at the caravan park, didn’t check the price but it was the most expensive fill so far so I‘m guessing it wasn’t cheap. Then back to the T intersection again and on to the Murray Valley Highway. Again, fairly quick stretch of road – not too exciting but not boring at all. Nice countryside to ride through.

    Once on the Murray Valley highway it was more traffic and trucks (logging trucks seem the maddest of the lot). To top it off it was raining properly now, and I was getting a little weary so stopped to rest and rug up, and snack on a few snakes to get the sugars up. All good, but it rained steadily pretty much all the way to Khancoban, where I’m staying for the night. I’m not going to complain about steady rain in the Murray catchment, but it could have waited a few days….

    Totalled 468 kms today, 6 hours actually on the road according to the gps (it stops logging when it’s not moving). Felt like it when I climbed (slowly) off the bike, but it was a really good day. Bike is running like clockwork (most underrated bike in Australia…) Settled in to the Khancoban Lakeside Caravan Park now, and if it stops raining for a few minutes I’ll walk down the road a couple hundred metres and see what the Khancoban Hotel meals are like. Hopefully they know how to clean their beer lines at this one…
  4. Day 4 – Khancoban – Jyndabyne – Khancoban

    Woke to a cool and overcast but dry day (as in not raining – the roads were still damp), so gear up and head out for fuel and breakfast. Then off up the mountain, great riding straight away as I rode into the clouds, and scenery was spectacular. Roads were still wet though, so took it easy – no knee dragging this morning (or ever, actually). Was surprised at how cold it was – I put the waterproof liner in my Dririder pants, but not the thermal liners, and was regretting it. Wasn’t unbearable though so kept moving – starting to love those heated grips!

    Road was great, nice clean corners through overhanging trees, most enjoyable. The road started to really climb, with lots of 1st gear corners, when I came up behind a Commodore wagon with The Stig behind the wheel. Well, he thought he was The Stig. The 900 twin TDM at full noise and high beam in his driver’s side mirror didn’t seem to get through to him that I would like to get past please. Too dangerous to zip past as he would have been right on my back wheel for the next corner, so I ended up pulling over and letting him go – good chance to change albums, time for some Metric anyway… (it’s a band, Mum).

    Fantastic ride from there on, all of a sudden (too soon) at Thredbo where the road opened out. Passed by the tourist stuff, then took the turn off to Perisher Valley, and Mt Kosciusko, or as close as you can get on a bike (legally). Now it was getting really cold, so stopped and put thermals liners in the riding gear – toasty. Rode to Charlottes Pass which is the end of the line – probably as high as I’ll ever get on a bike (legally)….


    Lunch back at Jindabyne, then off to Berridale and Adaminaby. A few ks down the Adaminaby road it was getting boring, and a sign saying Eucumbene dam to the left came up. So snap decision – let’s go have a look. Good decision it turned out, the road was great fun. Not real tight stuff but enough corners to be interesting, and up and down the ridges through the farm land was a hoot. It was a little rough though, undulations and rough bitumen surface, but the TDM handled it easily (have I mentioned it’s a highly underrated bike?). This road might be a bit uncomfortable on a sports bike, but that’s ok I would wait for you at Eucumbene….

    Eucumbene dam was interesting, rode up (the walking track) to the lookout and took some photos, then went looking for the Adaminaby road. Realised then that this road was a dead end so had to backtrack to the Berridale-Adaminaby road. There were no speed limit signs so I assumed that meant there were no speed limits….. Road to Adaminaby is boring – avoid it if possible, although I did cross the watershed of the Great Dividing Range which warranted a photo.


    If you avoided this road you would also miss the Big Trout at Adaminaby. Couldn’t have that so you’ll have to just put up with the road there. Although more interesting was the road from Adaminaby to Kiandra – beautiful piece of road, almost perfect tarmac on nicely cambered corners – really good fun. Only problem was Kiandra doesn’t really exist so I rode past the turnoff – well it does exist but it’s pretty much a single building. Funny how the brain works – I was looking for Kiandra, so that meant the 4 metre high sign showing distance back to Khancoban must be a different road than the one I was looking for…. errr, getting good at these U-turns …

    And glad I did (find it). What a road! From Kiandra to Khancoban is a magic bike road – tight corners, good bitumen surface, spectacular scenery, the road repeatedly goes up a ridge and down the other side. It goes past the Tumut 2 power station and dam, and ccording to the Hema Motrocycle Atlas it was only made to service the dams in the area. Great bike road however it came about, although they must have used all their money on the tarmac as guard rails are used sparingly. This road is a contender for Ride of the Trip, although the Tawonga Gap road, and the GAR before Mt Hotham, will be hard to beat.


    Did 470kms in 6 hours today, and considering doing it again tomorrow (what plan?), it was that good. Skip the Kosciusko and Eucumbene bits to keep the distance down so I can still make Tallangatta…. I’ll see what the weather is like in the morning and make a decision then.
  5. Day 5 – Groundhog day

    Beautiful day in Khancoban – sun shining, dry road, cool but not freezing, so fuelled up at the same servo as yesterday, had a bacon and egg roll and flat white at the same café as yesterday, and started riding towards Thredbo, same as yesterday…. had Chemical Brothers “Do it again” playing in the helmet – seemed appropriate.

    So not much to report different to yesterday, except once again it was a fantastic ride to Thredbo, although this time I didn’t get held up by the Stig wannabe. Weather was much better though, clear skies and dry road all the way. I can’t really describe how good this piece of road is on a bike in good weather. It’s been called one of the best bike roads in Australia. I’m gonna call it one of the best in the world since I’ve never ridden in another country and so have nothing to back that statement up with.

    Took the Eucumbene turnoff this time, and then branched off back to the Adiminaby road, which wasn’t as boring as I thought yesterday. Came across a mob of sheep on the highway, so moved to the front of the cars and switched to Ag-bike mode to move them off and get on with the ride. This bike is underrated in so many areas… :) Visited Cabramurra on the way this time – highest town in Australia. And I always thought that was Byron Bay. Dropped down through the mountains again – according to the GPS log I dropped 1500m in about 50kms…. great riding…..



    Once back at ground level I took up the original plan to follow the Murray to the Hume dam wall. That was a really nice ride – not overly twisty but good sweeping corners following the river, and pleasant scenery (there is actually water in the dam!).


    Made it to the Hume Dam wall about 4:30, which was 7 and a half hours since leaving this morning. Total of 572 km in 6 hours 46 minutes road time. A little weary, but I now had an urgent need to find fuel. So into Albury – hmmm, traffic! Managed to miss most of the cars and find a fuel stop. Then I headed back towards the Hume to find the road to Tallangatta and my bed for the night. A sign said Tallangatta 34kms so all good. I swear there was no sign to Tallangatta at the next T junction, so I ended up at Wodonga 15 minutes later and found a sign pointing back the way I came, Tallangatta 36kms…. swear words were used…. Main problem was that delayed me by about 30 minutes, and guess what happened then? The last 15-20 minutes to Tallangatta it poured with rain. Well, it proved my riding gear was waterproof, but I can’t say it was fun (although while riding along in the freezing rain, I kept thinking about how good these heated grips are….always be an optimist I say…)

    Settled in Tallangatta now (great pub), fed and watered, and a bit sad that the ride is pretty much over. On my way home now, stop at Shepparton tomorrow, then back to Mildura.
  6. Day 6 Tallangatta to Shepparton

    Ok, I wasn’t going to write this day up, but it turned out a little more interesting than I had planned, so better record it before I forget it all.

    Ride from Tallangatta to Wodonga was nice enough, although Murray Valley highway so had to fight off a few trucks. Stopped for coffee and breakfast at Macca’s in Wodonga, then headed for Beechworth. This would be a good ride, except for the roadworks. First there was resurfacing, then when the 40 zone ended it went back to 100 for about 50 metres before the 40 zone for the electricity supply works (separate stop/go men for each zone of course).

    Nice ride for a few ks’ then another 40 zone which went for about 3kms with no roadworks or equipment or workers in sight – frustrating. Another 20ks down the road there was another 40k roadworks zone, again with no roadworks happening, except this one had a speed trap at the end of it (I had been flashed by a car otherwise I would have been speeding as it was very annoying). You can’t tell me that speed trap is for safety – it’s a revenue raiser. I waved to the nice policeman as I rode past at 39km/h….

    Beechworth is a nice looking town – might have to take a closer look next time I’m there. The road back to Wangaratta was pretty open, but nice sweeping corners and countryside.

    There is a road recommended in the Hema Motorcycle Atlas north of Wangaratta, so I went for a ride to find that. Turns out the road was about 6 nice corners followed by 5km of straight very slippery dirt road, then 20km of dead straight rough bitumen. Not impressed.

    The excitement of this diversion came as I rode into some tree shadows, and noticed at the last minute a single Galah sitting in the middle of the road. Not known for their road sense, I braked expecting it to do something stupid, which it did. It flew straight into me, hitting me in the neck at about 80km/h. I had feather marks on my jacket, helmet and visor, felt like I’d been punched in the throat (did someone say Wild Hogs?). Not sure why, but I found the whole event rather hilarious….

    Rest of the ride back was pretty uneventful. Ended up going through Glenrowan again, but rode through the residential part of the town this time, not the tourist road. Despite my earlier criticism it’s actually a very quaint looking town, probably a great place to live if you can avoid getting bushranged…..
  7. Wrap up

    Uneventful ride home, managed to complete the 3206km trip without getting any speeding tickets (unless some come in the mail in the next few weeks), so fairly pleased with that (there were a few very lucky moments though, like the backroad from Piangil to Manangatang at license extracting speeds, only to see a highway patrol at the stop sign at Manangatang, heading the way I had come...)

    Had a great time, it was all good. But of course there was a favourite piece of road....

    that had to be the GAR from Bright to Mt Hotham.

    The Tawonga gap road was brilliant, but too short, while this stretch of the GAR seemed to go on forever and both the riding and scenery were brilliant. The Alpine Way from Khancoban to Thredbo was great too, and it has some emotional attachment since it's the start of the Murray, which is such a big part of my life here in Mildura. The scenery on the Omeo highway was spectacular, but the road surface wasn't ideal and I turned off for Falls Creek before I got to see most of it. But it was all really good riding.

    If you have a copy of the Hema Australia Motorcycle Atlas, I pretty much followed rides 51, 47 (to Omeo), 105 (to Falls Creek turnoff), 55, 53, 15, 23, 52, 157, and 156.

    So, bike is washed, gear unpacked and clothes on the line, life back to normal. All in all, I couldn't be happier with the way the ride went. Bike ran flawlessly, used very little fuel (4.0L/100km at one stage with a tail wind and relatively flat ground). At no point did I want or need more power or better handling. Better wind management from the fairing would be nice, but it's not a Goldwing so get over it. Chain was lubed every day but it doesn't need any adjustment yet, tyres are a little squared off but not too bad. Riding gear and luggage did the jobs they were designed for (Oxford tank bag worked really well), and thankfully I didn't test the crash resistance of any of it.

    There's a couple of changes I'd like to make before the next ride:

    The seat is actually too soft. It compresses too much, meaning I end up sliding up the front of the seat, and I can't move around easily. I will get a firmer piece of foam inserted which will hopefully stop this happening, as well as raise the set height a bit.

    My Senheisser noise isolating earphones were ok, but they did get a bit painful in the ears after 2-3 hours. Custom fitted earmolds would be nice.

    A proper gps would be useful. The gps on the phone (when it is working) is ok, but it's a bit of a hassle.

    I had a few problems with the phone charger not working and the phone going flat. This is the fault of
    the cig lighter socket on the charger, so I will hard-wire a charger in.

    A more comfortable and quieter helmet would be a bit of a luxury, although up to 100kmh the HJC isn't too bad (with a Windjammer fitted and silk balaclava on). I can't fit my Camelback mouthpiece into my helmet, and I didn't drink enough water. A helmet with more room would be good.

    Sore knees was my most common complaint. I think raising the seat a little (see above) would allow me to move around more, as well as open the angle of my knees for better circulation. The other option is getting 15 years younger...

    A smaller/lighter laptop would be good. I used it every night for facebook updates, downloading photos, and on one occasion watching a dvd. I could easily live without it, but it was good to have along.

    The Ventura rack bag was as full as it could get without extending it. I'd like to get the weight lower, so when I do a long camping ride next year I think soft panniers will be the go. But as it stands, I'd be happy to take this rig anywhere right now. Probably the highest priority is the seat modification and Earmolds.

    So, the 430km boring straight stretch home gave me plenty of time to think about the next ride. Christmas coming up, then a trip to Spain in early March (for work, not on the bike unfortunately), so my next chance for a long ride will be April/May. The list so far includes:

    Grampians, GOR - long weekend
    Adelaide Hills - long weekend
    Flinders Ranges-Strezlecki-Cameron Corner (fit a set of dual purpose tyres, hand guards and crash bars first, maybe down a tooth on the front sprocket, early spring, one or two weeks)
    Tasmania (next summer- two weeks)
    GAR road again, except all the way to Bairnsdale this time, then follow the coast west, ferry south of Melbourne, GOR, Grampians, home, 1 or 2 weeks
    The Waterfall Way sounds like a good road to ride sometime.
    Oh yeah, there's a bloke in Broome who keeps hassling me to visit him.....

  8. What a fantastic ride report!!!! Both made me feel I was there with you, and made me want to do it myself, top marks, and great photos, too.

    That was so much fun they could charge admission for it. :rofl:.
  9. I concur!
    great reading!! nice pics...

    I know lake boga, shep, swan hill etc ( dogs show are held there) some long thin roads out that way...

    Im busting to do a ride to the Grampians, i love that place and visit it often so im looking forward to doing a trip on the bike, perhaps a nice cabin for the night, spa over looking the fantasic scenery, a few glasses of red ( or Vodka depending on my mood) and im in heaven!
  10. Bastard, making me jealous! For some reason I keep on thinking about Clancy of the overflow while stuck behind a desk.

    Nice ride and write up, well done.
  11. Thanks for an entertaining read and the nice photos. Your upcoming rides list looks excellent too. If only there was a more interesting way of going to SA...
  12. hey good write up i live just out of lake boga and it has effected the town which used to be alive every summer. also travel the road from boga to mildura quite a bit and is interesting ride just watch for roos. and +1 on almond trees at boundary bend
  13. Very interesting and entertaining report. You're possibly right about your TeDiuM.....They are an underrated bike. Now I know a more interesting route to Adelaide. Thanks. =D>

    Got to go buy some new maps......
  14. Top report with excellent pics.