This post is commencing with virtually the same paragraph as the race weekend post did one year ago. The “race that stops a nation”, the Melbourne Cup, is a major sporting event on the Australian horse racing calendar. However, those who like to ride powered steeds typically turn it into a long weekend holiday and head for the mountains. It’s the beginning of Spring, the snow and ice has gone from the high country and the motorcycles are out. We did 1817 kms in four days of great riding in quite mixed weather. Sunny and warm for the first day, mild and gloomy for half of day two, followed by a huge cold front that came through in the afternoon bringing with it quite a lot of rain, day three saw cold temps and rain in the morning, followed by a perfect, sunny Spring afternoon. Day four remained sunny and mild after a pretty cold start.
This time last year my ZX14R started the trip with just 975 kms on the clock, this year it started with 17,300 kms on it.
Day one (Friday 31 Nov)
Route: Geelong to Orbost
I planned a slightly different route from last year, sticking to the Victorian “High Country”, rather than the Snowy Mountains region of NSW. This was partly because the ‘word on the Web’ was that there would be a massive police presence in the Snowys this year to coincide with an annual cancer fund raising ride that is based at Thredbo and typically draws HUGE numbers of riders into the whole Snowys region for the weekend.
Anyway, the first part of the trip was a boring afternoon ride through Melbourne, then along the Princes Highway to get to Orbost in the far east of Victoria, which was the real starting point for our ride. When Marty and I rolled into our motel in the late afternoon, Bill was awaiting us having arrived around 30 mins earlier. Whilst the Country Roads Motel in Orbost is certainly not five star, it is clean and comfortable with good quality beds and is VERY motorcycle friendly. I’d like to give them praise for making us and a bunch of other motorcyclists over the weekend very welcome and particularly for not price gouging us with a “public holiday” surcharge as our subsequent motel in Bright on Sunday night did (And another wouldn’t accept a one night booking even though their online system permitted a single night booking!) After a meal at the Orbost Club, we checked out the online weather forecast and rain radar for Saturday – and it was all bad news. A very extensive cold front was about to move across the state.
This night also led to some scurrilous claims that I snore (loudly)!
Day two (Saturday 1 Nov)
In view of the poor weather forecast we were up early and on the road by 7.00am, the plan being to ride the Bonang Rd (1080 curves in 105 kms) at least before the rain struck. Hitting the Bonang so early was a mixed bag. The good being that there was virtually no traffic and that the road was dry. The bad was the number of kangaroos on the road – 5 in total, although only one wallaby caused me to give the ABS a good workout! As lead rider for most of this section, I was considering that I might have to change my screen name from Tarsnakes to ’Roo bar. We rode at a good steady pace and thoroughly enjoyed the run. We stopped briefly at Bombala then headed for the coast via the Mt Darragh road, which was the scene of Lucky Phil’s “off” the last time we rode this section a couple of years ago. In fact, the lass at the Bombala Bakery told me that a ‘fella had come off on the Mt Darragh Rd yesterday. Unfortunately, some of this section had recently been resurfaced and hadn’ t been swept very well with resultant fine screenings on the road surface in places, so we took it fairly easy. Once we hit the NSW coast we turned south and headed for Eden. I had planned for a quiet lunch at the wharf. However, when we rolled into town the annual Eden Whale Festival was in full swing. Roads were blocked off for pedestrians and a procession was passing through the main street down to the wharf precinct. We eventually made it to the wharf where there was a band playing, crowds of people and various food stalls and exhibitions. Chef Paul West, the star of the Australian version of River Cottage, was hard at work preparing and selling pork rolls and homemade sausages. His film crew were filming it all. We sampled his food and sat by the waterfront to eat. All the fishing boats were moored in view of the impending storms and the square rigger sailing ship, the Endeavour, , was also moored nearby.
We fuelled up, donned our wet weather gear and headed along the Princes Hwy. Just as we turned up the Mt Imlay Rd (a brilliant motorcycling road) the rain came down and the temperature dropped 10C. After stopping in Cann River for a break, we reluctantly donned the waterproofs again and plodded along the Princes Hwy back to our digs in Orbost. Given how severe the weather change had been we got out of it pretty well and managed to ride all the really twisty roads when they were dry.
We dined again at the Orbost Club. Much to Bill’s disbelief, Marty got the last serve of lamb cutlets – having also pipped Bill for the last serve of flathead fillets the evening prior!
That night the motel was completely filled with motorcyclists, bar one room.
Day three (Sunday 2 Nov)
The rain radar for Sunday looked more promising than Saturday. We saddled up and headed for Omeo. It was quite cool at around 7C and it rained most of the way. I was more than a little aggrieved on one aspect as my near new Oxford heated grips failed recently and the best the Aust distributor will do under warranty is provide a new control unit when they have them in stock in 5 weeks’ time – not much use to me now when I really needed them. As we arrived at Swift’s Creek the rain petered out. After fuel (shared the servo with a patched outlaw group from Melbourne) and a snack at Omeo we headed for the Omeo Hwy to Mitta Mitta. The last section has been recently sealed and this run is fast becoming a mecca for motorcyclist. The clouds cleared, the sun came out and we had a sensational run, stopping once for some photos and to disconnect ourselves from another bunch on ZX14R riders, including an SE identical to mine.
Without doubt, riding the Omeo Hwy run was the highlight of the trip.
We stopped under the trees at Mitta Mitta and chatted with other motorcyclists and admired a lovely early 1960’s Lotus Elan that pulled up.
The other ZX14R SE (Also sans pin stripes)
Should have parked the ZX 14 in front for the pic of the Mitta Mitta store
The run to Bright via Lockhart’s Gap, the Gundowring Rd (with views to Mt Bogong) and Tawonga Gap were also thoroughly enjoyable, with great asphalt road surface and lots of lovely sweeping curves. Particularly so as the sun kept shining and the afternoon warmed up more. Bright was really buzzing when we arrived as there was a major cycling event on There were also plenty of motorcycle touring groups and individuals swelling the tourist numbers. We checked into our motel and kicked back for the evening.
Day four – the ride home (Monday 3 Nov)
The route home from Bright is one that we have ridden many times, however, is no less enjoyable for having done so. From a chilly 3C as we left, (again, I cursed the fact that my heated grips remained inoperative), it warmed up to become near ideal riding conditions. The run along the King Valley in the morning sunshine always lifts my spirits. The hot drinks at the Whitfield store were most welcome. Interestingly, we came across a group touring on Vespa scooters. I had a brief chat to the owner of the 50 year old example pictured below. My obsession with motorcycling commenced with a worn out Vespa scooter of similar vintage which my Dad and I got going and upon which I had many (highly illegal) adventures as a 12-13 year old. (I also treasure my Giorgio Sarti book of the history of the Vespa1946 – 2006).
After an enjoyable run through the twisties to Mansfield we said our farewells to Bill and he headed back to Melbourne via Alexandra. Marty and I refueled in Yea and had a quick look through the Red Plate Café. – a quirky moto themed café.
From here we took some isolated roads to Broadford, then continued on to Geelong via Gisborne and Bacchus Marsh.
It was another excellent multi-day ride with great mates. We had no problems or mishaps what so ever and my odometer showed we covered 1,817 kms (1,130 miles).
For more high res pictures click HERE