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New Years NSW Trip

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' at netrider.net.au started by cougs, Jan 8, 2016.

  1. Days 1-2 Melb to Merimbula

    We didn’t do a multi-day trip away on the bikes this time last year so were eagerly awaiting this one. The rough idea for a route was hatched last Easter when we explored some of the roads inland from the Sapphire Coast area of Eden, Merimbula & Bega; Google was consulted, rooms were booked for a couple of nights and by mid September a route was pretty much planned. It was to be 2 nights / 3 days as Tan only had weekends & public holidays off, also here is the fact that we have young-ish kids to consider as well but a last minute change saw us turn it into a 3 and-a-bit day – 3 night trip thanks to a NYE invite for a swim & BBQ courtesy of Brad & Jo.

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    The Planned Route

    The days before departure on a motorbike trip are always interesting….bikes are checked, re-checked and then checked again. Gear is packed and unpacked, new purchases tried and evaluated, lists made them promptly ignored or lost and generally a lot of quiet excitement and anticipation gets in the way of logical and process driven preparation. We also had new gadgets to try out – a GoPro type camera with various fixings, and a pair of blue-tooth helmet intercoms. Never really big fans of such technology we decided to try the intercom idea after the comedy that one wrong turn resulted in on a previous ride as we pottered around the Peninsula, and thought what better an opportunity than on a long trip. We also planned to take the ‘good camera’ to further Tan’s photography hobby with some scenic locations planned.



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    All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go…I’m standing here outside your door; Hate to wake you up to say goodbye……

    Anyone who knows motorbike touring will know that early morning is the best time to leave. Regardless of origin or destination it is just the best time…there is still cool in the air, the sun climbs slowly from its nightly rest and you generally feel more awake that the localities you ride through and other road users. So it was with this in mind (and the fact that Tan couldn’t get out of work) that we rather less enthusiastically geared up to leave at 3pm; 38C temps and a hot northerly wouldn’t deter intrepid travelers such as ourselves; though we did both completely gear up under the split system in the lounge before arising to our bikes, hopping on and leaving post haste.

    Not a great deal to report from the opening leg of our trip other than to say it was hot and a bit boring, as hwy runs tend to be at times. We did learn on arrival in Moe however that a box of stubborn can easily be strapped to the back of Tan’s bike, which then meant that I could fit the bourbons in my shoulder bag…first world motorbike issues people! Thankfully the pool at Brad’s was nice and cool so we quickly shed sweaty riding gear, had a few refreshing drinks and enjoyed the company seeing in the New Year.

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    Happy New Year!

    Next morning (after bacon, sausages, eggs and a goodly amount of coffee) it was time to continue on and ‘really’ start our trip. Another hot day was in the making so we loaded up with water bottles and hit the road. Traffic for a New Years Day was solid but not too bad and we made solid progress through Gippsland, stopping briefly for fuel at Stratford, a quick bit of socialising with Wani & Ant in Fernbank and then enjoying the curves through Bruthen and Nowa Nowa before stopping for a stretch at Newmeralla in East Gippsland. By this stage the temp was above 34C but some threatening clouds were appearing ahead which had us more concerned at rising humidity than anything else….especially after an old boy in a caravan wandered over reporting that he’d just came from up past Merimbula way and it was 40C plus up the coast. He also warned us about a friendly HWP lurking 20km the other side of Orbost just inside an 80kmh zone, yep, you can always rely on caravanners for updated travel information.

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    Hot & sunny but what lurks behind the trees?

    Never again will I believe anything told me by a grey headed man towing a caravan. Not only was it not 40C+ but the ominous clouds started to shoot lightning from them, the wind picked up to approximately Force 9, temperature dropped 14 degrees and exactly 20km the other side of Orbost; instead of a sneaky HWP we encountered what can only be described as the equivalent of a mini typhoon. Into what we were to find out later was a localised storm cell that dumped in excess of 20mm rain in an hour we rode. With our weather gear safely tucked away in saddle bags (it’s 34C – what’s a little sprinkle of rain going to do?) we were soaked inside of 2 minutes; inside of 10 minutes rivers were running across the hwy; inside of 15 minutes cars (including the missing HWY patrol) were pulled off the road as visibility was down to about 2-3 car lengths and after 30 minutes it was evident that there was no real point in pulling over…. 1. There was no-one else on the road; and 2. We weren’t going to get any wetter staying out in it but at least we were moving forward.

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    Big clouds = Big rain

    The rain stopped as we pulled into Cann River for fuel, swearing and to gather frayed nerves and as expected the temperature started to climb again. While I filled the bikes and poured water from my boots as you would up-ending a bucket; Tan amused herself and onlookers by making musical squishing noises walking back and forth. We had planned on a lunch here but by this stage simply wanted to press on – the wind had picked up and the storm was chasing us and we simply wanted to get to our destination and get changed so heads down, throttles turned and grimly we pushed on. Past Genoa, over the border and through the lovely forested area south of Eden we rode, each in bringing us slightly closer to our destination and slightly closer to dry.

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    Blue = bad…

    Finally into the motel car park we pulled and I sloshed my boots into reception and regaled the rather startled owner with tales of our Riders on The Storm escapades as explanation for the dank smelling leather and seeping boots standing in front of her. Quick showers were followed with a walk through town, a couple of cold beers and oysters, bruschetta, flathead and a Parma and all was again right in the world.

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    Made it

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    Ate it

    Tomorrow we head north up the coast before heading inland. The radar looks a little iffy, but who can trust the weather forecast anyway?
     
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  2. Day 3 Merimbula-Cooma-Bombala

    It was a little cool and overcast which was a nice change from the previous few days as we loaded up the bikes in preparation to do some exploring up the coast before turning inland and heading towards snowy country. Setting off from Merimbula about 8.30am we were only on the road for a short time before the first stop at Tathra. Having spent a bit of time here on and off over the years we never miss a chance to pull up at the old wharf for a look and hopefully photo opp. Turns out everyone else had the same idea that morning and there were cars everywhere! We had a quick gaze out to sea, snapped a couple quick shots with the iPhone and headed north to Bermagui.

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    Tathra wharf


    This was the first time we’d been further than Tathra on the coast road and thoroughly enjoyed it. A little like the western end of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria it is a mix of forest, farmland and ocean views; only in this case with less tourist buses and some old wooden bridges thrown in. We planned to stop for fuel at Bermagui and quickly decided that a cuppa at a cafe overlooking the inlet was in order. I’m all for supporting tourism and spending my $$ in the knowledge that it keeps locals in these towns going for the quieter months, but surely $13.80 for a latte and pot of tea is taking the piss just a little?

    All fuelled up (bodies and bikes) we headed inland with the next goal being Cooma for lunch, so it was inland to Cobargo and then (from memory) through some wierd sounding small town and over the hills to Cooma. Cobargo was no problem – and a lovely little spot it looks too – and then having seen a sign for Wandella we turned left and cruised through open farmland on a small country road heading for the hills. Then the road got smaller. Then the road turned to dirt – hmmmm, don’t remember seeing that on Google maps. After a few kms of dirt I could see bitumen around the next few corners so figured we were heading the right way and kept going; until when the bitumen turned out to be just a ford in the road (thankfully dry) before returning to dirt and becoming progressively smaller I thought it pertinent to pull up and check the map (oh the shame of it). Turns out the wierd sounding little town we should have been aiming for was Quaama and I had zigged where I should have zagged and we were heading away from ems here we were meant to. Have I mentioned the helmet intercoms we now have? Great ideas they are – until you get lost, at which time you remember that prior to having these one had time to think up a reason for the change in direction, hence covering up any hint of navigational failing – ‘oh, earlier? No, I just really wanted to ride that section of road as I’d heard so much about it’ is a common line previously used. Not so with instant communication so with my reputation for not getting lost now in tatters and back on the correct road we pushed on for Cooma.

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    Quaama


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    Apparently NOT the road to Quaama


    The Snowy Mountains Hwy is a beaut road to ride – similar to the Great Alpine Road – it is one that must be ridden and having now had a taste I’m planning a trip to ride the whole route as from all reports we missed the best bits on this trip. The approach to the climb up Brown Mountain was scattered with ‘loose stones’ signs to warn of roadworks ahead; ‘nice to know’ I thought as VicToads generally just pour loose gravel over a section of road and leave us to work it out for ourselves with no warning other than the little nuggets being spat back at you from a 4wd. Turns out there were no loose stones, or hint of them anywhere within 500km and we had slowed down for nothing – well played RTA, well played.

    We arrived into Cooma having rode through some very picturesque high plains farmland and set about finding fuel and food, with Caltax and then a coffee shop both providing the goods. Tan was stoked as while we were having lunch a lady walked up and told her how cool she looked on the bike, unlike many female riders this lady had seen apparently Tan really ‘rocked it’. The smile on her face only grew more when we spotted a bloke taking a pic of her bike with his phone, trying desperately to not get caught by his mates doing so!

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    Ride this road in its entirety – a worthy goal


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    Lovely views from our chosen lunch spot

    After consulting the radar at lunch we decided with heavy hearts to cut the Jindabyne loop out and head directly to Bombala, taking outer time and stopping for a few photo opportunities along the way. Tan had a cough that was concerning and we didn’t want to be riding through storms again if it could be avoided so we loaded up the camera and went looking for scenic locations.

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    Scenic locations

    Tan got some ripper shots including a long straight line of power poles alongside the road. As they say in The Castle, power poles are a reminder of man’s ability to generate power!

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    Artsy power pole shot


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    Taking artsy photos requires a certain amount of commitment


    The weather was threatening to turn bad all the way down into Bombala and it was quite cool, but apart from a few drops it held and we rolled into our motel about 3.30ish thinking as quick wander along the river was in order before the rain came. img_3474.

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    Bombala

    Turns out the rain was till some hours away and we enjoyed exploring around town before adjourning to the RSL for refreshments and tucker before catching the Stars v Renegades BBL game on tv.
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  3. Day 4 Bombala – Home

    After a couple of stinking hot days and yesterday being a little cooler we had spent some time studying and discussing the weather forecast last night (aided by Jim Beam and in between cricket highlights and Chris Gayle pickup lines on the TV) and had gone to sleep secure in the belief that we would be off and away prior to any of the forecast rain arriving. Of course the reality on waking up was completely different with rain having fallen steadily throughout the night and early morning. A further check of the radar showed that the rain would ease in (we estimated) about an hour so that would be as good a time as any to head off. The radar also showed that it would be dry by the time we reached Cann River and that we would possibly encounter another tiny shower around Sale later in the day. Not sure if I have yet mentioned my thoughts on the radar and weather forecasting apps in general but it occurs to me that Apple know as much about weather as they do about 6 cylinder Holden red motors.

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    Bloody soft Honda’s…..hiding from a little rain!

    So it was out with the wet weather gear as we got ready to depart, load up on coffee and time to hit the road for the trip home. We were looking at around 520km for the day which is a solid ride but nothing over the top and with only a little rain to contend with early on we were looking at an enjoyable cruise for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. The run from Bombala down into Cann River was a nice piece of road and easy enough to navigate in the rain. Our original plan was to go via Bonang to Orbost which by all reports is a much more scenic route that also involves a couple of dirt sections totaling about 13km, however with the rain we decided that the direct route would be better. Saw a couple of kangaroos just outside of Cann River bounding alongside the road in the drizzle and all up it wasn’t a bad section – low lying cloud and a light drizzle making for a very picturesque if wet ride. Scattered showers my arse.

    We actually did hit some dry road the other side of Cann River for about 10km but then it was more rain with the light drizzle becoming more steady the further south we got. With the roads being wet, Tan tended to sit back a little further than normal and as I kept an eye on things in the mirror from time to time was puzzled to see a Commodore wagon seemingly sitting quite close to her for a while before overtaking and then being overtaken by Tan again within a couple of minutes; sure enough a few minutes later he had again overtaken her….a sure sign of someone who was too far from the city and his usual comfort zone of stop/start routine to actually hold a constant speed (or work out how to use cruise control). As we neared the bridge coming past Orbost I slowed to let him past, wanting to be behind him so I could see in advance when (not if) he was to do something stupid and avoid him. Whether he was just stupid or too busy updating Facebook I’m not sure but apparently me slowing, pulling into the left lane and waving him past didn’t compute that I wanted him to pass me and he nearly got rear ended by a BMW SUV as he suddenly slowed to 50kmh behind me. Some choice words and a few versions for the universal signal to go forth and multiply finally got the message through and being the V8 driving, Chev badge displaying, fully sik bro that he was he then proceeded to floor it over double lines across the bridge, suitably impressing all who witnessed it. The next 80 or so kms were then spent wondering if this flog actually had a working speedo as he would fluctuate between about 80 and 13o for seemingly no reason. Truth be known, while the coffee and pie at Bruthen were welcomed, as was the chance to stretch and get out of the rain for a few minutes (scattered showers my arse) I was happy to stop there mainly so that we could let the Commodore driving peanut get a head start on us for 1/2 hr or so to enable us worry about other aspects of riding. I did wonder as I sipped my latte – ‘Would anyone think to replace the Honda badge on a bike with a Harley one?’ I like to think that riders have just a little more sense than that, although not much would surprise me chevybadges.

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    Found a dry section of road

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    Then took a #Selfie with the GoPro thingy

    So with the rain still with us (scattered showers my arse) it was down the hill from Bruthen to Bairnsdale; as we were coming over the bridge in town I passed a 4WD with surfboards on the roof that were coming out of the board bags. Being a helpful sorta fella I pulled alongside and gestured that he had shit coming loose up top which was acknowledged by a thank you wave as he slowed to pull over. Luckily it was in a 50 zone because as I looked back in front of me one of Vic’s finest jumped out onto the road and gestured me to pull over immediately – had I been going any faster I reckon I would have cleaned him up! Figuring that our run of being ignored by any cops we saw over the last few days had come to an end I pulled over and turned it off (lest he inquire as to the legality of my pipes) preparing for the usual breatho, license, rego check and lecture about safety and the holiday road toll. Handed over the license and was asked if we were all together – glancing back to see 3 bikes behind me I replied that it was just the two of us, we were heading home and had come from Bombala this morning. At that he told me no problems and off you go – what? No breatho? I think this may well have been the first time ever that I have not been given an RBT when stopped on the bike. Speaking to Tan later, she said the copper she was talking to told her they were looking for 2 specific bikers and that we obviously weren’t them, however the 2 guys pulled over behind us didn’t get away nearly as quickly as we did. I have no idea what they were looking for or why but will put the whole incident down to my Obi-Wan-Kenobi like use of the force – “these aren’t the bikers you’re looking for; move along”. So move along we did. In the rain, on one of the most boring stretches of road in Victoria between Bairnsdale and Sale where pretty much the only entertainment is watching people try to kill themselves and others overtaking over double lines either just before or just after an overtaking lane. Today’s near winner was a white Falcon who I was just quick enough to catch on the GoPro thingy at the end of said overtaking lane. As usual he had sat on about 104kmh for the whole time it was 2 lanes until deciding at the last minute that his lot in life would be greatly improved by flooring it to make up that 1 critical spot in the traffic

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    Darwin’s Theory alive and well on the road

    It rained pretty much until Moe. Scattered showers my arse. After that it was dry, steadily getting warmer and windy. Wind was good, as it was behind us allowing the tail wind to push us along toward home (better to be riding with it than into it). The trouble with a tail wind that is steadily increasing in strength is when you change direction. Which we did as we swept left from the Hallam bypass onto Westerport Hwy meaning the final 20km or so was spent fighting a strong cross wind. It did mean that we were dry by the time we arrived home mid afternoon though!

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    Another scattered shower (this one about 200km long)

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    Rainy Rosedale

    All up it was (as they all are, lets face it…) a great trip. We rode some beautiful roads, experienced pretty much all the weather available and saw some truly lovely sights. Sure, we had to modify the route a little and missed some things we wanted to see, but that makes for the start of the plan for our next trip away.

    Total distance was about 1800km with nearly 1/3 of that in the rain but all of it thoroughly enjoyed

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  4. Great inspiration, cougscougs! I've been looking forward to your subsequent report posts since reading the first on Friday. I'm also looking forward to riding at least some of those roads you took. I've been north and south along the NSW coast but never to Tathra.

    Those grass-covered plains near the end of the your report - where are they? I come across a lot of those motorists who alternate between 80 km/h and then just as soon as you overtake them, accelerate behind you and overtake only to fall back between 80-90 km/h again; it'd drive you mad.

    A great report and photos that I'll return to again, thanks for posting.
     
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  5. Good stuff cougscougs an entertaining and informative write up, loved it (y)
     
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  6. XJ6N - the grass covered plains are between Bemboka and Cooma....lovely spot to ride

    thanks all
     
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  7. #7 cougs, Jan 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
    OK so let me admit first off that videographer is NOT one of my skills, but here's some dodgy footage of the road between Bombala and Cann River on the morning of the last day that I managed to record on the GoPro thingy. Its mounted on the bars so gets a bit of vibration but is something I'll play with in coming months

     
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  8. Nice write-up... Those roads look familiar!

    If you're in Bermagui again, Bermie's Beachside Takeaway (which has tables with a view, not surprisingly, of the beach). Good grub and coffee at a not rip-of-the-tourists price.

    Shame you missed out on the Bonang Rd
     
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