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Snowy Mountains pilgrimage

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by gegvasco, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. While standing next to the geared up V-strom at the Cooma Maccas this morning, before setting off on the last day of my first Snowy trip, an old bloke asked where I was off to. During the conversation, I summed up the Snowy for motorcyclists "Surfers live for big waves just like motorcyclists live for twisty roads. Mate, this place is like Hawaii to us!" Which I thought was a good way to describe it to someone not of our two-wheel persuasion. The Snowy's should be called the "Owh my GOD!" mountains because whether you go there for the scenery or the twisty roads, the place will blow you away.

    I planned a three day trip from Sydney and was hoping to stretch the Strom's legs on dirt. SO with a brand new GPS with maps of every trail and shitty little dirt road I headed west for Jenolan Caves. Shouting with thanks, I left the tourist buses behind at Caves House and commenced the severe little climb above the caves onto the plateau making my way into the back of Crookwell. Probably the steepest switchbacks I have ever seen.
    Then off the tarmac and into the forestry trails. This area was good fun with good quality dirt roads so you could get some speed up and get the feeling of floating on the dirt. After Crookwell, I took some more dirt roads into the back of Tumut via Wee Jasper.
    I came across an appaling piece of dirt road just past the above picture which had my sphincter tightening even at 15kph - it was hardly wide enough for a 4WD car yet was two-way, had cliff face on one side and cliff dropoff on the other, was very twisty with blind corners and the surface was large rocks and loose gravel. What a nightmare. According to the map, the next road I had planned was worse! That is where I learnt not to trust maps. The next "more minor" road was a forestry track that was required to accommodate forestry trucks so it was wide, flat with big sweeping turns leading to tarmac. This area had a lot of fires just before XMAS which had created an interesting effect in some areas:

    These outstanding quality logging roads led all the way into Tumut for a pleasant overnighter(the chinese at the RSL club is excellent)
  2. DAY TWO
    I had planned on this being the signature day of the trip. Tumut down the Snowy Mtns Hwy to Kiandra and then the Alpine Way across the top of Australia coming down the hill into Thredbo and then into Cooma. However, the weather put pay to that. I soldiered on through the drizzle past many of the major Snowy Hydro locations including Talbingo Dam:
    http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/Snowy Trip/Talbingo_sml.jpg

    And some of the power stations(Tumut 3):
    http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/Snowy Trip/Pipework_sml.jpg

    By the time I got to Kiandra(which through local history has been reknowned for it's harsh winters) it was f^&*ing cold, very wet, the cloud base was closing in and it was blowing so hard it was almost blowing the bike over on the sidestand. It was a real fight to keep the bike straight in the wind. So rather than tackling the Alpine Way which was 250km of twisties and going even higher than Kiandra, I called it a day and did the 100k's downhill into Cooma to try again the next day. Which was a good move as I hadn't originally planned on doing all of the Snowy Mtns Hwy which would have been a shame because it is a great road below Kiandra. Had to take it easy being wet but it was still brialliant fun. As I came down the hill it cleared up a bit and given the extra time I had I did some exploring of some other areas between Cooma and Eucumbene.
    http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/Snowy Trip/LakeEucumbene_sml.jpg
    Seems I couldn't win a trick. The morning greeted me with not a cloud in the sky but Cooma was shrouded in thick smoke. This was going to be a problem for scenery but at least the riding would be good. So I headed back to Kiandra to recommence the ride from where I left off. It was bloody cold so an extra jumper went on and the inner gloves but at least the rain and wind and gone. The road up to Kiandra was even more fun in the dry and some of the smoke cleared the higher I got.
    http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/Snowy Trip/Deadgiants_sml.jpg

    The road from Kiandra through Cabramurra and to Khancoban is f%^&ing brilliant. It is motorcyclists' heaven. Make sure you take some of the diverts to see the various Hydro plants and towns. The road down to Tumut 2 Power station drops 1800 feet in 8km and it is all twisties! Double that because you have to come back up as well! Leaves the Old Road for dead. Cabramurra looks like a military base - all the buildings are built by the company and are all the same. If your bike has short legs plan your fuel well as there is nothing at Kiandra and the fuel stop at Cabramurra was closed at 10am on a Monday! The 450km tank on the V-strom was particularly useful here.

    It is a huge descent into Khancoban as it is at 300m elevation yet the road only 40k's away near Cabramurra is at 1600m! After Khancoban, you go back up again heading towards the Murray. Once at Tom Groggin, it gets really good. From the Murray the road switches back continuously for about 20km as the road ascends rapidly within sight of Mt Kosciuszko. This is probably the best bit of twisty stuff on the whole trip and the only place I saw any other bikes. Once at the top, you reach Dead Horse Gap(pictured) with Thredbo in the distance down in the valley.
    http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/Snowy Trip/DeadHorseGap_sml.jpg

    After that it is pretty mundane relatively straight blacktop all the way to Cooma. I decided to extend things a bit and did a loop all the way up to Charlottes Pass and across the 4WD only(how about 1WD?) track from Smiggins to Guthega. This was good fun but there wasn't much else to see after having gone all the way up to Charlotte's Pass:
    http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/Snowy Trip/Roof_sml.jpg

    I finally returned to Cooma absolutely exhausted after 400km of twisties and what would have to go down as the best day's riding I have ever had.

    This was a shorter day from Cooma via the backroads into Braidwood and then onto more backroads through Nerriga into the back of Nowra and then the freeway to Sydney. This was a fairly unremarkable route(maybe I was just spoilt after the previous two days) through back farmlands with heaps of roos, cattle and birds. Had to do a bit of cattle herding when approaching a road full of very large cows stuck between two fences right along the roadside. The other interesting thing was when I came into Braidwood I saw a Police car flanked by 4 Motorcycle cops riding brand new BMW monsters. They were casually having a coffee in the Braidwood main street. Didn't see where they went but then when I pulled into Kiama, there they were again! Having another coffee! Then I saw them again, riding formation on Mt Ousley. WTF? They weren't Policing and seems a waste if they were justing showing a presence. Maybe they were running in the new bikes Sydney - Canberra - Braidwood - Coast - Sydney?

    All in all, it was an absolutely phenomenal trip which I reckon everyone has to do, even if you cut out the dirt bits. I will have to do it again soon so I can see the high country without the smoke. And while I did a fair bit of roo-avoiding, and this was the most adventurous I've been on a bike, the only time I came close to having an accident was in Thredbo when a car didn't give way and almost took me out, and in Kiama when a caravan merged into me. Re-iterates that the biggest danger to motorcyclists is cagers and that your defensive riding skills will save you 99 times out of 100.
  4. Awesome report and pics. I love this stuff! Thanks :)
  5. Oh, and if you couldn't tell......I LOVE MY V-STROM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a brilliant bit of kit.
  6. absolutely awesome report, makes me wish I could get some time off to just ride without having to clock/calendar watch! I'm so envious!
  7. Ta. I had to work XMAS/New Year to get the time off to allow me to add a day if required. But it was worth it.
  8. Oh is that what that damn ugly looking thing is scorching every otherwise great photo you took :LOL: :p
  9. Great Pics and enjoyed the story as well :cool:

    So how did the Zumo go? Were all the roads on it?
  10. Greg,

    Top report and will second the WeeStrom part, damn fine bike and lotsa fun whether it be dirt or tar.

    I was gonna do a similar ride in February (was also gonna do Barry Way, Omeo etc) but my companion had a nast off and can't ride for at least 8 months so going with a cruiser instead which means all tar.

    But, I did some of those roads in February last year and would say that while the Alpine Way is an awesome piece of road, I personally would recommend some on the south side of the border for twisties and challenges (Murray River Road, Tawonga Gap, Bright to Bruthen via Hotham and the Bonang, sensational and better when mixed with the NSW side of teh snowies).

  11. Had a few dramas with the GPS - one of those one in 100000 faults. Bought this $1000 jobby(Magellan Explorist 600) with all the gear on it including detailed maps on an SD card, but it wouldn't work properly. Took it back and they gave me a new one. This one also played up badly. Took it back and they got the Magellan rep in. He tried trouble shooting it and managed to blow HIS UP AS WELL as soon as he put the AC charger on it. $3000 worth of GPS' screwed thanks to a $20 AC charger - all three of them fried. So they give me yet another one and now one of the buttons is dodgy. They didn't have any more so I went on the trip with the dodgy button in the interim. And then would you believe I left the SD card out of it after all the chopping and changing and didn't realise until 200km into the trip. So I just had the background map plus the detailed route. But, I had used the detailed maps to plan the trip and they had everything - dirt roads, fire trails, walking tracks, fuel stops, even public toilets. So my detailed route was in the GPS, I just didn't have any road markings lining up with the waypoint markers.
  12. Hey Greg! Glad to hear you had a great time. Those are superb photos - esp. that one of the Talbingo Dam. What's with the smoke? I passed through that way (Kiandra) late last week and all was clear.

    I couldn't wait to get out of Thredbo...people everywhere...cars everywhere...and the town gave me a kind of claustrophobic feeling. Plus I couldn't find any public toilets!
  13. The smoke blew up from the Gippsland fires overnight and blanketed the area for a day.

    Yeah, I hated Thredbo. I just did a quick look around and then got the hell out of there. I hate to imagine it in ski season. It was bad enough when there was no snow. Looks like they haven't rebuilt on the landslide area.
  14. Thanks a ton for that effort. I'm hunting around for a weestrom at the mo and your write up just makes me salivate. I'll be revisiting it for sure.
    Any chance of you putting a version up without the pics for the slow coaches?
  15. Will try - assuming the mods don't delete it as a double thread.
  16. Sounds like a great ride Greg ,I know 99% of the roads you took ,but it might be abit hard for me to do that route on the cruiser.LOL.
    In your second picture of the Wee jasper sign ,you can just see it says ,"swinging bridge reserve" thats my mates 500 acre farm. It's beautiful area.
  17. Excellent report Greg, gee this stuff is so inspiring.. Definitely the next trip I do I'm heading south!
  18. He's a lucky man. After spending 4 days riding through the country with no traffic, I am absolutely detesting being back in Sydney! Makes me wish the RAAF had a base in Tumut! :LOL:
  19. Those routes are next on the agenda. I am planning a Tassie trip in Mar/Apr and will be spending a couple of days getting to the ferry in Melbourne. Barry Way is high on the list of roads to take into Melbourne. That way I can get in the Alpine Way again on the way down.

    On the aborted day 2, I stopped at Adaminaby for lunch and met an old bloke from Melbourne on a Dakar doing a 3 day dirt trip. He recommended the Bonang Hwy which is a little further East than the Barry Way. I may end up doing Barry Way or Bonang Hwy on the way down and the other one on the way back home. He also said the crossover connecting Barry Way to Bonang Hwy just south of the border is absolutely brilliant.
  20. Gregg, its posts like this that take me one step closer to selling the VTR and buying that Aprilia Pegaso Strada 650ie !!!!

    EDIT !!!

    Gregg ya bastard !!
    Look what you made me do today ! :LOL: