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Trip up to the Snowies (Part 1)

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by QuarterWit, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. #1 QuarterWit, Aug 29, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
    I was absolutely blown away when I checked my leave balance at work.

    A combination of a few work courses that had compulsory attendance, being so poor that fat chick with diabetes who sleeps next to the ATM King street could spot me a fiver and a genetically-inherited work ethic that comes from the poor Welsh side of the family (Work 12 hour days down the mines 6 days a week before dying at 32) meant that management were harassing me to book some in. So I've got 11 days off every month until February next year.

    I had a spare six days to kill this time around so decided to grab my 2016 Ducati Scrambler and go and visit some friends.

    On the first day I travelled down to Eastern Victoria. For years I'd taken the freeway through Moe, Morwell and Traralgon but have only recently discovered the roads that run south of that nightmare. It's all rolling hills, reasonably well-paved roads and in this case, storms.

    There are no pictures of this as my hands were that cold I couldn't get to my phone.

    The friend I was going to be staying with had told me he was planning on moving to Marlo, which is around an hour away. So I rode there. I dodged a Kangaroo in the freezing darkness.

    When I arrived in Marlo I stopped for a smoke and sent him an SMS asking for his address.

    He said he hadn't gone through with his move to Marlo. He was still in Bairnsdale. So I rode back to Bairnsdale as it started to rain, kicking myself that I didn't check something so basic before I left.

    Hell, I'd fastidiously packed and organised everything. Even down to the little masturbation sex toy my girlfriend gave my for the trip away. Have you seen the Tenga Egg? It's a small plastic cup that contains a silicone egg with a hole in it that you lube up and shag. It's like a portable fleshlight. Genius.

    Anyway, the point is I had packed that but hadn't bothered to find out my destination.

    I got to Matt's house later that night had a few beers as we talked about his new bike. He'd recently gone through a divorce and after surrendering the little money he had, and the little dog (It's a tiny thing that looks like a fruitbat) he'd decided to get a Yamaha MT09 as a consolation prize. I think he won. He's starting to think so too.

    We had a few drinks that night and rolled out of his driveway after posing for a picture. The sun was shining, the bikes were running great and it was fcuking fantastic to be on the road.


    Ten minutes later the sky darkened and it started pissing down.

    I was thinking 'Christ, this rain is loud!' before looking down and seeing the hail settle into my lap. A few minutes later the storm passed.

    We swapped bikes for a brief stint.

    fcuk me, the MT09 is a great bit of kit. The engine has plenty of torque, some personality and it handles beautifully. The mode switching is cleanly done and it the bike itself feels really light. You know those motorcycles that you get on and you settle in straight away? That was how I felt about this bike. It was great. I can totally imagine owning one when they're worth $6,000. In a year.

    We rode to Orbost, stopped for fuel and headed up the Bonang Highway.

    This is one of my favourite roads in Australia. It's 120km's of tight, winding road with absolutely no traffic visible. I've done the road six or seven times and have only ever seen one car coming the other way and one kamikaze on a KTM going sideways downhill. (As he's on an Austrian bike, it might be more appropriate to say 'Volksturm member with a Panzerfaust and an armband' than 'kamikaze' but that doesn't have as good a ring to it*)

    There's rarely any bikes on the road because it has a dirt section 10km long.

    And that's it. That's what frightens people. It scares off sportsbike riders and cruiser riders alike. Don't tell anyone but it's a piece of piss to get through. I've got semi-dirtish tyres on the Scrambler so that was no problem, and I did the whole road at a leisurely 60km/h or so. Every time I looked behind I saw Matt on his Yamaha right behind me.

    He's now done more unpaved riding than most 1200GS riders.

    We stopped at a community centre to take a leak. Fatso lived underneath it.


    That night we stayed in Bombala. After federation the Australian government considered where they'd stick their grey, soulless drain on the national psyche and it came down to a dead head between Bombala and Canberra. They went with Canberra as it was more inland (harder to invade) and flatter (easier to build on). It was a shame they didn't go with one of their other ideas - a roving, circus-like national capital that lapped the country on the back of horse drawn wagons. I liked that idea.

    It's a good thing Canberra was chosen as Bombala become bike heaven. They're a very motorcycle-friendly town. As the sign leading into the centre hints at...


    But the best part is the Imperial Hotel and it's publican, Steve. Affordable rooms, great food and just a fantastic place to spend the night. Matt and I stayed drinking until midnight. A room, a great dinner, a fair few beers and a few shots only set us back $140 each.


    The publican is on the left.

    The next morning Matt went back home to Bairnsdale via the Monaro highway and I headed east. After a cold start and a twisting mountain road I made it to Pambula and the gorgeous, gorgeous sunshine.

    I've done the run up the South coast of NSW loads of time and it never ceases to disappoint. I think it's described in the Hema motorcycle atlas as being 'surf and turf'. One minute you'll be barrelling through forest reminiscent of the Dandenongs and the next you'll be riding alongside the ocean.

    I didn't stop the whole day to take any pics as I was enjoying myself so much. I ended up staying in an Air BnB in Tuross Head with a lovely older lady. In a moment of poetic introversion I thought she had those kind of red eyes that always seemed like she had been, or was about to, start crying. She spoke about her divorce. I realised that she had actually been crying and realised I wasn't half as observant as I thought.


    The beach at Tuross Head.

    Later that night I received a filthy MMS from my girlfriend and used the egg.

    I was off at around 10AM the next day after a smoke and the usual faffing about and headed towards Canberra. I was thinking of going to Batemans bay and up the mountain from there but I always feel a little underwhelmed by that ride so I took a look at my map and found an unpaved road that went east from Moruya before running into Canberra from the South.

    It's called 'Araluen Road' and it was beautiful. Tightly packed dirt for the most part and it snaked along a fast-flowing creek. The Scrambler hands this kind of stuff fine.

    An aside here - the Scrambler isn't a dirtbike. It makes vague notions that it is and there's videos of people taking them off road but they're usually bloody experienced riders. I've found it easy to ride off road but shit at river crossings, okay in the mud but no better than other bikes I've forced into some impromptu offroading.

    I've decided that a dirt bike is like a dildo. Anything can be one if you're brave enough.

    I was riding along, looking at the river when up ahead I spotted the black outline of a wallaby. I slowed and she hopped away from me. I sat behind her, at a walking pace, waiting for her to run off the road. To the right was a steep mountainside and the left a sharp drop down a cliff.

    The wallaby jumped down the cliff.

    Holy shit. I stopped, laughing to myself. Put the kickstand down and look over the edge.

    The wallaby was on a rocky ledge around 20 meters down. And very still. I felt a little bad for laughing.

    I thought I saw a joey in it's pouch before it killed itself rather than spend another minute near a Ducati. I took off my helmet and gloves and grabbed my hoodie from my backpack and spent the next 15 minutes walking, sliding and swearing my way down the incline only to find a very dead wallaby with nothing in the pouch. It took me longer to walk up.


    Araluen road goes through a town called... wait for it... Araluen. And it's amazing. It sits in the middle of a gully that is one of the greenest parts of Australia I've ever seen. I had a schooner (hey, I'm definitely in NSW now!) and had a chat with the bird out the back, a cockatoo that said 'Hello Cocky!' as I walked up.

    'U fcuken wat m8?' I said back.

    He didn't get the joke.

    The second half the journey is coming if anyone is interested. It involves running out of fuel, snow and an attempted bike theft if anyone is interested.

    * Just a little gag there for the history nerds reading this.
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  2. Awesome adventure QuarterWitQuarterWit

    11 days you Lucky barstid
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  3. After that opener, I'm really looking forward to the second half. Great to see you on the forum QuarterWitQuarterWit. I've joined in your absence and enjoyed a lot of the posts and other content you've created.
  4. Entertaining as always QuarterWitQuarterWit and drop in more often will ya.
    Ive camped a number of times at Bendethera which is in the same area as Araluen, magnificent part of the world it is.
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  5. Thanks for your kind words, everyone. XJ6N, I'll probably be around more often.

    I stayed in Canberra that night with an old friend, Dave. We walked to the Polish club, stuffed our faces with Pierogi and watched Fun Machine. They're a cool band. Kinda daggy, but they've got one or two good songs.

    The next morning I left at 10AM and took the boring stretch of the Monaro highway down to Cooma. I checked the map and decided that I'd try and head through the Alpine Region, despite the parades of SUV's coming the other way with skis across the top. I checked a weather app that showed relatively mild temperatures for the area across the mountains and there was no frost overnight so I was pretty comfortable going through the region.

    I fuelled up in Adaminaby and headed towards Cabramurra.

    There was still plenty of snow by the side of the road but the views were breathtaking. The alpine region is always gorgeous, whether it be summer or winter. If you've never been there on a bike you really should. The roads are well sealed, great visibility and there's virtually no police in the area.


    The views coming out of Providence Portal were spectacular.



    Words (and certainly my photography!) really can't show the beauty of that view. I spotted a bird of prey of some kind hovering on the thermals, virtually in place. I had a smoke and watched him dip slightly, rise again and then fall into a near-vertical dive to the ground below. I couldn't see what his target was but it was cool as hell to watch.

    I rode up to Cabramurra, the highest settled town in Australia, with the plan on heading to Khancobahn. The road was closed due to snowfall. I got a few strange looks from people as I rode in on my bike and did a U-turn before heading down the mountain to Towong.


    This is where things started to get... interesting.

    I rode west along the Murray Valley Highway as my fuel light came on. I passed town after town with no servos open and watched the km's tick up since reserve. At 50kms the bike spluttered to a halt and a I pulled to the side of the road in the fading light. I tipped the bike all the way over to get some more fuel to the pump pick up, thumbed the starter and I was away again.

    2.5kms later it spluttered again. Oh well. I coasted a relatively safe spot by the side of the road. I transferred all the things I want to keep into my backpack (Kindle, water, phone charger) and put my dirty jocks and socks and cum-filled mastabatory silicon egg in my top bag. Grabbed my lid and my gloves and started walking the 17kms to Tallangatta, where I knew there were two service stations. I had no reception on my phone.

    An old holden ute slowed to a halt alongside me as I started walking. It drove off belching fumes. It drove back, did a turn somewhere up ahead and then cruised past again. I squinted, trying to get the rego but it was nearly dark now. It slowed, drove off and I heard it slow behind me around where the bike was.

    I'd be surprised if it was still there when I got back.

    I walked for a few kms, narrowly avoiding some passing traffic when a Landcruiser pulled up.

    'Figured I'd find you here mate. Saw the bike parked further down the road!'

    Bruce had been out that day collecting rocks from Beechworth to build a fireplace. He moved aside a rifle spotting spoke and a camoflague jacket and I hopped in. Top bloke - we spoke about hunting and shooting and a few minutes later he dropped me into Tallangatta.

    As we pulled into the BP service station the forecourt lights turned off. There was noone inside.


    I called and paid $230 for an RACV membership and was told I'd be waiting an hour and a half for someone to come along with fuel. No worries.

    I went to the fish and chip shop (which were out of chips, really) and had a beer at the pub. The RACV turned up and ferried me back to the bike, put 8 litres of 91 fuel in it (Poor Ducati!) and drove off into the darkness. I had a smoke and looked at the bike. It wasn't quite right...

    It had been moved forward a few meters from where it originally sat. And the tailbag was unclipped. Inside some items had been moved... including the greasy, crusted, cum-filled sex toy that now sat on top of my clothes. Some bastard had tried to pinch the bike! I got a giggle out of the poor thief getting a handful of the Tenga egg in the dark and headed into Tuross Head, where I stayed in a cabin owned by the nicest old couple imaginable. I practiced some Dutch on the old lady that owned the house and went to sleep.

    The next day I headed back to Melbourne via Mansfield, Yea etc. Ended up getting home just before peak hour.

    Life's good!

    A few sidenotes....

    1) I rode with a motorcycle-specific backpack for the first time in my life. I forked out a not-inconsiderable sum of money on a fancy-looking one rather than the usual Kriega fare and it was fantastic. I didn't have sore shoulders the entire time. If you're in the market for something a little different check out the Velomacchi 'Speedway'. It's got some awesome little features on it.



    2) The Ducati Scrambler. I haven't been posting much on this forum but to say I hated the bike would be an understatement. It was near-unrideable due to choppy fuel injection, it was so hot I had to get off the bike on more than one occasion and is questionably built and poorly finished. I'd updated the mapping before leaving and gone up a tooth on the rear sprocket. It was much more rideable now, even if it lacked much of its poke and was geared a little too tall for me. However it's staying in the garage because I can't afford to sell it and underneath all it's problems there's a good bike trying to get out. It's light, handles really well despite some terrible shocks on it and can do dirt roads and tight twisties really capably.

    As soon as I got back to Melbourne though the choppiness of the fuel injection became apparent and I wanted off the thing. The solution? I need a commuter bike. Stat. The Duke is a great 'toy' but by no means a practical bike to ride around town.
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  6. Those are fantastic photos of the alpine region. That's a particular sinking feeling when you're a good way out of town and have to leave the bike behind.

    I can tell you, that vile egg as the agent of natural justice for would-be thieves was, shall we say, a masterstroke.

    I can just imagine them fiddling about with your bike, "Oh look! A Cadbury Creme Egg!".

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  7. A great write-up, I enjoyed reading that and the pics were fantastic too, thanks for taking the time to post it up(y).

    If we ever end up on a camping trip together, please let me be the one to



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  8. Brilliant!
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  9. Enjoyable reading mate. Ta.

    You make some criticisms of the Ducati at the end and if I recall you made some criticisms of your Bonneville as well. How did both compare in terms of initial ownership?
  10. A fantastic yarn, and there's nothing wrong with your photography skills.
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  11. Moody, I'd say the Bonneville was closer to being a completed motorcycle as it rolls off the factory floor.

    The Scrambler needs it's fuelling corrected. It's crippling to ride.
  12. Welcome back QW. You've been missed.
  13. Schucks, I've missed you too mate.

    I'll send you a PM.
  14. Jesus I look like a nutjob now. Sitting in my office near crying with the mental image of some bloke rifling through your stuff to get a handful of jizz infested sex toy. hahaha
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  15. The honest review and now the Tenga egg story...great work.

    The Tiger is a very good all around bike but the rake and trail (and 19" front end) make it a bit of a pain in the city. I realised the inevitable and bought a commuter bike - CBR500R in this case. It's not exciting in some ways but it's also brilliant for making things about the place/moment rather than having to think about the bike. I'd love it if it had a bit more power and a bit less weight but then those are things I can work on.
  16. I have ridden on most of the roads you mention and love the south east corner of aus. Lots of variation friendly people and nice sometimes empty roads.
  17. well there you go.... who said NR wasn't .... educational?? both the review of bikes, road :) and .... ummm.... I'll never see a Cadbury greme egg the same way again... :sour:
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  18. Did the road to araluenon the back of a gs1200! The pub there does an ok feed. We got hit by hail that day. That hurts like hell on a bike!
    Great read though bit sus about that egg lol
  19. Well done QW. I live in Canberra and have also enjoyed the roads you covered. Your mention of lubricants could add a separate discussion thread!!!! Surely other biker's have special needs on their road trips. P.s Fyshwick is the place to go for accessories of insure nature!
    Ride well comrade.