Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Victorian High Country Day 4

We awoke to a nice morning with some blue sky's but rain was forecast for the afternoon so we decided to get cracking early as we wanted to do the Mitta road before it rained as it is very twisty and technical, I don't think it would be much fun in the wet. 

After breakfast we headed out along the Omeo Highway again back up towards Mitta retracing our tracks from thursday. Some roads flow better one way than the other, however with this road I couldn't tell which way I liked it better, it's up and then down from both ends so It's hard to tell which way is more fun. Which ever you like its great fun in both directions.

The road was dry to start with but by the time we got to the mitta end the road surface had turned wet from passing showers earlier in the morning. It was a little hard to tell the surface was wet in places as it didn't look much different but It was very eye catching watching Doug's rear tyre covered in water so that was a Que to take it a little easier, although Doug didn't appear to be taking anything easy, he was on race pace by the looks.

We regrouped in Mitta as we got a little spread out along the way, I came in last as I was stopping to take some photo's, we didn't fuel up in Mitta as I thought we would get fuel in Tallangatta instead. On the way out to Tallangatta I was going to take the road in from the west but when we got near the turn off I looked up the valley and it was filled with rain, so we went around and approached from the east instead and only had a brief shower of rain for about a minute so we dodged that one. We have been quite lucky so far on this trip to miss most of the rain and skirting around the edges of it as the reports were for rain all weekend.

We stopped for fuel in Tallangatta and then checking the radar a huge rain storm was approaching so we thought it might pass by like all the others so we went to have coffee and a spot of lunch at the bakery. We stopped for nearly an hour and still no rain, it was slow moving so we donned the wet weather gear because we knew at some point soon we would get wet and its easier to put them on in the dry than on the side of the road in the rain.

Heading off we soon came to the Granya Gap turn off and I stopped to put on my gopro but unfortunately the gopro gremlins were at work and the camera only recorded 10 seconds before switching off again and no the battery wasn't flat it was fully charged. Oh well.

Just out of Granya we rode along the Murray River road and it started to rain along here so I didn't stop to take any more photos. I thought I'd have some gopro video so it would be ok, d'oh.

We came to the Jingellic turn off, it was only 43kms to Tumbarumba from here or we could keep going through to Tintaldra and Tooma. We decided to stop at the Jingellic Hotel and check it out and get out of the rain for a bit.

Jingellic Hotel

It stopped raining again so we decided to take the longer route through to Walwa, Tintaldra and Tooma. My brother and I had passed by Tooma many times on our way to Motogp and WSBK but never stopped in there and I suggested we stop for a quick beer and check it out, everyone agreed. You might be thinking that this trip is turning out to be a gigantic pub crawl rather than a motorbike ride.

We were about the only people about when we pulled up, there was only one person in the bar when we wandered in. Grabbing a quick beer we wandered out the front to have a look around. Tooma hotel sits on the banks of the Tumbarumba creek, it was so quiet here just watching the clouds roll by. How's the serenity?

Beers in Tooma

From here is was only a short distance to Tumbarumba about 25kms I think. On the way we came across the Southern Cloud Memorial lookout site. The Southern Cloud was a 3 engined passenger plane that crashed in the hills killing all 8 people on board in 1931 and was never found until 1958. Spectacular mountain views from the lookout but our accommodation was calling so we didn't linger.

Finally we arrived in Tumbarumba near 5pm. We were staying in the Tumbarumba Hotel for the night. They had stuffed up our booking but it was soon sorted out after we had a beer and all of us had our gear in our rooms. They have off street secure lock up parking and it was only $45, bargin. There was a Ducati ST owners group that had booked out the pub at the other end of town so there was a plethora of motorcyclist in town tonight. There was a toga party happening at the other pub and it was quite busy but we soon made our way back to our hotel for dinner. We bought some more tickets in the meat tray raffle and guess what? Yep we won another meat tray. That's two in one weekend so Stu had it put in the freezer so he could take it home tomorrow. I had the biggest mixed grill ever, fantastic just about every animal one could want on one plate.

Main Street Tumbarumba

Tumba Mixed Grill

Day 4 Map Reference

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Victorian High Country Day 3

Friday morning arrived and it was overcast still and raining in the distance, I was quite hungry and was in need of breakfast and so we wandered along the street until we found a nice little cafe where I had a fantastic scrambled eggs & bacon breakfast, health food of champions.

After breaky we loaded up and got ready to head off. We lost Dave here as he had to head off for home early as he was due to leave for a 10 day cruise on Sunday the lucky bugger. Our destination for today was only 2 hours away which was the Golden Age Hotel in Omeo. Being such a short distance however we did have a loop ride planned for Mt Hotham, Tawonga Gap and Falls Creek back to Omeo which would take most of the day, checking the BOM there were also thunderstorms predicted for this afternoon too.

We missed the opportunity to ride the Bonang this morning as there was heavy rain along there until about 9am so the weather radar showed. Leaving Orbost behind we travelled along the road to Buchan, the Orbost end of this road is very narrow to the point of being almost a one lane road and the tree's are right on the road verge. I thought that this early in the morning that we would see some Skippy's so I was quite content to sit a couple hundred metres behind everyone else. Turns out they saw a few wallaby's jumping across the road but I didn't see any which is just the way I like it. As the road got closer to Buchan it opened out into a more free flowing road, much more to my liking over rolling hills with green fields and farming land. It must rain here a lot as everything is green.

Boys in Buchan

From Buchan we retraced our steps from yesterday's route to Bruthen and up the Great Alpine way to Swifts creek where we turned off the main highway and took one of the back roads into Omeo. This is a great little detour with twisting tarmac with many rises and falls along the way and there were quite a few bikes headed in the opposite direction.  We stopped in at Omeo at the Bakery for lunch again, another fantastic pie at the bakery. We then proceed across the road to our accommodation and dropped off our bags and put them in the rooms for tonight so we could ride along unencumbered.

We headed up to Mt Hotham and there must have been a passing shower as the road was wet for a short bit. My back was getting wet from spray from the rear tyre. With no rear fender the water sprays up from the rear tyre and onto my back and all over the rear seat area. I hadn't noticed when the bag is on as it stops the water.

Hotham Village

Failed Selfy

Arriving at Hotham heights we checked out the snow drifts which were bigger than last year. It was about 12°c here and we could see many dark clouds down below us and coming in our direction.

Mt Feathertop

We rode on until the clouds were sitting on the hills. Doug and I rode into it but you couldn't see anymore than about 5 metres in front it was that thick. We turned around and came back up. There was a huge storm inbound now less than 30 minutes away showing on the radar.

With a storm approaching it didn't stop myself and bushpig from having a snowball fight on top of the mountain.

Snowball fight

With the storm approaching we made like bandits to get out of there before it started raining as we left our wet weather gear in our bags back at the hotel, not our brightest move.

Just down from Hotham is the little village of Dinner Plain, we pulled in there as one of the guys saw a brewery sign. We managed to find our way to Blizzard brewing the highest brewery in Australia which was only about 5 minutes before the lightning and rain started coming down.

So what does a thirsty biker do in a rain storm in a brewery? You guessed it we tried a sampler plate of some of beers to wait out the storm. We could see on the radar that it should pass over in about 30min or so we did some beer tasting. I quite liked the Powder Pale Ale.

Tasting Paddle

They had some nice pale ales on tap and it would be a great place to stop for a couple of hours with snacks and small cooked meals but we had accommodation waiting elsewhere so had to go.

With the time now approaching late afternoon any thoughts of doing the Tawonga gap or Falls Creek road is now gone as more storms were approaching so we made our way back to Omeo and the bar. Below is the storm that passed us by when we were holed up in the brewery.

We picked up the pace considerably on the way back. Just out of Omeo was a sign that pointed to Mt Kosciuszko lookout so I diverted for a quick look. The views were straight out over Omeo to the NSW snowy mountains. Mt Kosciusko can be seen to the left in the distance.

We decided to check out the Top Pub in Omeo for 1 quick beer before returning to our hotel for the night. Not a big ride today  but still longer than yesterday's as the rain and having no wet weather gear put a handbrake on that part of the ride. Still we made a nice discovery with Blizzard brewing. Let's hope tomorrow's weather is more favourable as we are heading back up the Mitta road.

Day 3 Map Reference

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Victorian High Country Day 2

Eating breakfast out in the beer gardens early it started to sprinkle with a little rain, with more clouds passing over. It looked like it was going to settle in but was only light. I'd decided not to put any wets on as it wasn't yet raining heavy enough and I'd hope for the best cause I'm an optimist.

We topped up our tanks at the general store which has premium fuel and at premium prices I might add, see last post. Lucky we did or I would have run out.
The Omeo Highway leads out of Mitta Mitta to Omeo some 107kms via some very scenic and spectacular country with the winding roads starting literally around the first bend out of town. The road snakes its way along following a river for a while before winding up into the forested mountains and the corners come thick and fast, one after the other. I was really looking forward to doing this road as last year the Falls Creek section was snow blocked and we had to ride around and come in from the northern end so I've only ever done the bit from Omeo to the falls creek turn off.

Doug patiently waiting for us

R1 on Omeo Highway
We stopped for a break at a small clearing 40km out from Mitta after about 40min or so. Everyone was beaming at how good the road was, the surface along here was fantastic, very little bumps or potholes a bit of leaf litter and some damp patches was about all. Bushpig asked if we were nearly there yet to which I replied we were only 1/3 the way along, to which he let out a depressed groan of 'Oh God'. Yes mate it doesn't get much better than this. There are so many bends it's incredible, you pick it up out of a left hander straight into a right hander then hard back into another left. This has got to be one of the best Motorcycle roads in Australia. Fantastic Stuff!!!!!

We had stopped on a bend where the forestry people had been chopping down a large section of forest, that allowed us a view out to the surrounding mountains which I could see snow on some of the higher peaks. We continued along and the road surface changes to a more gravelly looking surface as you get closer to the Falls Creek turn off and the Blue Duck Inn.  Again the road follows alongside another beautiful mountain river along here with the road snaking along spectacular vistas.

One great feature I like on the lower end of this road is that there are an abundance of spots where the road winds into a fork of the mountain where it does a sudden 180 bend on itself and comes back the other way so while you are travelling into a bend your mates out in front are traveling back past you in the opposite direction separated by a small valley in between, there are numerous bits like this and it makes for fantastic riding. I also noted the exhaust crackle of the R1 along this road was pure music to my ears, pure orgasmic.

Big River

There is definitely no room for error at any point along this road, if you make a mistake you will either be in the river on one side or in a rock face on the other side. Gotta take it easy.

The Blue Duck Inn

I stopped at the Blue Duck Inn briefly to have a quick look around but it was early and there didn't appear to be anyone about so I took a few photos and continued along. I wouldn't mind coming back here at a later date to stay for a couple of days and explore this area and do some loop rides up to Falls Creek and around over Hotham. There are so many good bike roads in this area that it would be hard to go wrong for choice of a decent ride.

It wasn't long after here that we started the decent out of the mountains and down into the valley and farm lands as we drew closer to Omeo, I checked my fuel usage since Corryong the day before and it was over 17 litres which by the time we got into town was on 18.1 litres. Yikes I would have been walking for sure. When you get into real twisty country the R1 fuel economy drops right off as there is a lot of first gear work. You struggle to get into second, and when you do and run into a b end you find that there is not engine braking. Sometimes it can be annoying but it can also be enjoyable as you don't have to concentrate on gear changing, just braking - accelerating and cornering lines.

Oh a straight bit!

Tomorrow nights accommodation - The Golden Age Hotel

We arrived in Omeo and filled up the bikes and went straight to the bakery for lunch which handily enough was right next door. I must say the pies at the Omeo bakery were fantastic, highly recommended. We would be back here tomorrow so I think we will be back for another.

We had a little bit of an extended break here as Stu headed off to see a doctor as he had a sore throat and was finding it hard to talk. As we were waiting and having lunch a rain storm passed by to dampen the road a little but there wasn't a lot in it and by the time Stu had come back it was almost gone.

We soon departed after Stu had his lunch and continued down the great alpine way to swifts creek and the excellent roads beyond. The road follows along the Tambo River further south and this is again some fantastic riding. I very much enjoyed this section. I had to force myself to stop to take a photo and found a great little spot on a bridge over the river.

After turning off at Bruthen we made our way towards Orbost and heading towards the Bonang Highway. Not long after we got through Nowa Nowa there was a heavy down pour but we didn't stop and kept powering on, I felt two small trickles of water entering my leathers and that uncomfortable feeling. Maybe we should have stopped and put our wets on. After only about 5 minutes though the rain eased and we were out of it again so hopefully the wind will dry me out over the next 40km to Orbost.

Just as we got fuel at Orbost the heavens opened up and dumped a large amount of rain with a few cracks of lightning thrown in just for fun. Everyone had abandoned any plans of riding up the Bonang as it was very black in that direction and checking the weather radar showed the Bonang was covered in rain.We waited until it became light and made our way back to our accommodation for the night. The Orbost Club Hotel. We had off street parking where we put our bike in the garage around the back and hit the bar for a few drinks. Most of us were pretty tired by now after a bit of a late night last night, an early start and the road out of Mitta just taking it out of you so everyone seemed happy just to sit and have beers. I can't argue with that!

Looking north from the Hotel there was lightning everywhere and the blackest part of the sky was right over the Bonang Hwy, where we were originally headed. It would not be fun at all up there today I'm afraid.

We made our way to the only other pub in town opposite the petrol station and had a beer. The beers there were terrible, they mustn't clean their lines out or something so we quickly departed after only one drink. The beers at the pub we were staying at were much better. I'd also noticed that of the 4 locals that were actually drinking at the pub were drinking out of cans, that says a lot right there.

We made our way back to our hotel and had a nice meal and a few more beers. Dave even managed to win himself a large meat tray which he eventually gave away to one of the locals.

Another fantastic day out on two wheels even though it was cut short due to the rain. At least it stayed away for most of the day.

Day 2 Map Reference