Blue Mountains, New South Wales


This year the destination for our annual motorcycle trip was the Blue Mountains in NSW, via the Victorian Alps & Snowy Mountains. There were only three of us this time, Bill R on his new Kawasaki ZX14, Marty on his ZX9 and me on the VFR800. We had a great run, despite a little crappy wet weather to start off with.


MAP TO FOLLOW

Sunday 14th Feb – the first day for Marty & I was Geelong to Bairnsdale where we met Bill. Then we all headed on to Bright via Omeo and Mt Hotham.

Pic of the motorcycles at Mt Hotham Victoria – just before the rain started. Fortunately it didn’t last too long and the descent was on a dry road.

Our digs for the night – the Oriental hotel-motel in Bright. We have all stayed there previously. It rained heavily from just near Harietville for our final run into Bright. Bill most generously gave me a ride on his new ZX14, which was a revelation in very controllable, turbine smooth, refined motorcycling. Now I have to have one, of course!

Monday 15th – Bright to Bungendore (near Canberra) via The Alpine Way. This can be quite a technically challenging ride due to it being a narrow mountain road, however, parts of it were made more difficult by the presence of rain, some gravel strewn corners and the presence of wildlife.


Near Tom Groggin there was a mob of decent sized kangaroos! In fact we saw quite a lot of road side wild life,including ‘roos, an emu, rabbits and a tortoise all in our path at some stage. Fortunately we didn’t encounter any wild horses this time, though we could see where they had crossed the road in places.

Tuesday 16th – Bungendore to Katoomba in the NSW Blue Mountains, via Sydney. Being lost in peak hour traffic had both the motorcycle engines and their riders running pretty hot! However, the weather was good and we finally got to our digs at the Katoomba Family Hotel – which was not as it looked on the ‘Net when we booked.What a dump! Marty & I had intended to use it as a base for a couple of days, but we checked out the next morning and had our 2nd night’s tariff refunded.

The sea bridge near Woolongong – part of the Grand Pacific Drive. Quite a bit over-rated really!

 
 

Wednesday 17th – Bill headed of homeward for two days of riding via central NSW. Marty & I looked at Echo point and “The Three Sisters”, then  took the road to the Jenolan caves, and then on to Lithgow. From Lithgow we traveled Bells Line of Road – featuring sensational views and lots of twisty corners – all in gorgeous sunshine. We then headed up the legendary (for motorcyclists) 160+ kilometers of the Putty Road to Singleton in the Hunter Valley. The Putty was everything that we had hoped for & certainly did not disappoint! Checked into a great little pub for the night and had an excellent meal there as well. Much to my surprise Singleton seemed like a very prosperous town (population around twenty thousand).


Thursday 18th – awoke to another sunny day and headed back the way we had come. After re-fueling and a drink in Lithgow we headed for the Mt Panorama race track in Bathurst. Saw a sneaky unmarked police pursuit car in Lithgow that even had personalized number plates.

The countryside was very green and  looked a treat after all the recent heavy summer rainfall that NSW has had. After a couple of laps and some pics at Mt Panorama we headed for Cootamundra, but by the time we got to Young called it quits for the day.

 
 VFR@Mt Panorama – pics by M Owen.

Friday 19th – Young NSW to Beechworth Vic, via Gundagai, Tumut, Tumburumba and a fantastic run along Lake Hume on the Granya road. Before we got to Beechworth we went for a quick deliberate detour via the Gundaring road to Myrtleford and then up Buckland’s Gap to Beechworth.

The dog on the Tucker Box monument.

Near Tooma, NSW, we stopped in at the memorial to the Southern Cloud aviation disaster of 1931. This countryside is magnificent on a day like this. China Wall and Mt Kosciusko in the distance. This is my third visit to this spot and there is something about  it that is very special. Difficult to put into words though!

 
 

Lake Hume – the colors really were this vivid

 
 
Marty on the Granya road, the temp climbing by now.

We checked into our accommodation at the Old Priory. Our room was the largest bedroom I’ve ever seen – actually it was the former chapel. We had the entire place to ourselves, which was just a little creepy.

Saturday 20th– all good things have to come to an end and so we headed towards home via the Milliwa wine region, the King valley, the twisty section of Whitfield to Mansfield, Yea and then down the freeway to Melbourne and then home to Geelong.

Many thanks to Marty for organising such an excellent route for this year’s ride, which was approximately 3,500Ks. All the motorcycles ran perfectly and we had no ‘pucker” moments or performance awards!

Draggin Jeans = great service

I bought Mrs Tarsnakes a new pair of Draggin Jeans just after Christmas. After their 1st wash she noticed that a small section of stitching on the leg near the ankle had come unstitched. Nowhere near the impact zone, but still disappointing.

I emailed Draggin and got a prompt reply saying that I could post them or drop them in for inspection. I dropped in at Draggin’ in Port Melbourne today and saw Tim Fong, who had replied to my email. He inspected them, said sorry and gave me a new pair without hesitation. There was no claim form to fill in or any hassle at all.

I was mighty impressed with their customer service and only wish all companies were as professional and easy to deal with.

Thanks Tim and Draggin’.

The Tarsnakes ride again

Mrs Tarsnakes & I did a run the back way from Geelong (via Deans Marsh) to the Otway Estate Vineyard just out of Colac for brunch. We then went for a short run up through the twisties to Beech Forest, then back down the Gellibrand road again to Colac to visit Mr & Mrs Commando Steve.

Brunch on the deck overlooking the vines was ideal.

And just to show how early I get up – sunrise over Geelong. It’s actually mid week!

 
An enjoyable day out and not too hot this time on the way home.

Apollo Bay & beyond

Team Tarsnakes took a run from Geelong to Apollo Bay via Forrest (coffee stop), then coastal on the GOR  to Laver’s Hill, then home via the outskirts of Colac. At  307 Ks this is the longest run that Mrs Tarsnakes has done as a passenger in a very, very long time, and 60% was very twisty. We even managed to comprehensively hose off a young guy on a Harley through the leg from Ferguson to Gellibrand.

This was Mrs T’s first time out in her brand new Alpinestars jacket, purchased from RevZilla online, USA. Dealing with RevZilla was easy and their service was excellent. The only downside for us is that they have a minimum order of $299 for transactions with Australia, which limits my purchases of some other items from them. This women’s jacket  is a quality item that fits her beautifully and even with postage was $200 cheaper than we could purchase it here!

Geared up and ready to roll.
 

 
It was a glorious day in Apollo Bay

The harbour looked perfect on a day like this.

We had a lovely late lunch at Lavers Hill and chatted with a young couple from Bolonga, Italy who were heading for the 12 Apostles.

Although it was quite hot inland (around 32C) for the last hour of riding, this was a magnificent day out that we both really enjoyed.

Indians

Quite by chance we came across an Australian Indian motorcycle rally near Corryong Vic. Apparently they were riding from Corryong to Gundowring (on the Keiwa Valley hwy) and then back to Corryong – it was pretty hot at approx 36C.

It was great to see so many bikes on the road and many were getting along quite nicely in excess of 100 kph. Here are some pics I took at one of their roadside stops. I don’t know enough about old Indians to discern between Chiefs and Scouts. Most have hand gear change levers, which must be challenging at times.

The one below had a disc brake conversion. The forks don’t look strong enough for too much stopping power!

Afternoon on the Great Ocean Road


Yesterday Steve and I took an afternoon run from his place near Colac through the Otways to Skene’s Creek, then along the GOR to Lorne, then home through the hills via Dean’s Marsh.

Pulled up past Forrest for me to swap from my dark visor. It was quite overcast & gloomy under the canopy of the trees, although the pic doesn’t show it. Here’s Steve by my VFR.

Steve’s Commando roadside in the bush

We pulled in at Cape Patton to take in the views and have a chat. The sun had come out and it was really nice riding weather.

VFR & Norton at the Cape Patton lookout on the Great Ocean Road.


We had an uninterrupted run from Lorne up through the twisties to Dean’s Marsh, where we went our separate ways .
Bikes at Martian’s Cafe carpark.

All up a grand afternoon’s riding in one of the most scenic parts of Victoria.

Loch Ard Gorge (again)

The Loch Ard Gorge is a favorite summertime destination for a great day’s riding. Click on this pic to see it full size and see if you can spot the vertical crack that is developing in the sandstone face of the far island.

Marty & I headed off in perfect conditions yet again. It was forecast to be 33C today, but was probably 10C cooler than that along the coast.

We stopped at Gellibrand for a drink. This is Paul’s KTM. He and M are off to tour Tasmania tomorrow on this bike.

Below is M having a try out with the luggage and her gear on.

Loch Ard Gorge beach.

All up a very pleasant 400K’s of twisty roads and spectacular scenery, despite heavy holiday traffic from Apollo Bay to Forrest.

Team Tarsnakes ride again

Mrs Tarsnakes and I took a run up to Forrest for coffee. Another lovely day for riding – blue sky & approx 24C temp. Mrs T had new Draggin’ jeans to try out, but still in one of my old jackets.

Saw a couple of cash cameras in lonely remote spots, one on the back road to Lorne – hardly surprising as Vic Roads is encouraging the Pier to Pub contestants not to travel to Lorne via the Great Ocean Road!

Team Tarsnakes stopped in the bush on the Lorne – Deans Marsh road.

Quirky coffee shop in Forrest.

A short ride at only 201 kms, but very enjoyable.

Summer in the Otways

Another grand day of riding in the Otways, just 2 days after my last run. I’m enjoying these day trips even though the weather was pretty hot today (up to 36C).

This is Turton’s Track. It connects the Forrest-Apollo Bay road through to Beech Forest. Need to be pretty cautious on this narrow road as it has log trucks, no centre line & traffic to & from the Otway Fly.

Something old (at Beech Forest Vic)

What a face – couldn’t resist a pic of this ‘fella!

Something new(er) at Martian’s cafe Deans Marsh


View to the Great Ocean Road from Skene’s Creek Vic.

More pics and text to follow.

A great day for holiday riding

The best day ever – not quite – but pretty good all the same!

I traveled from Geelong to Deans Marsh, Forrest, towards Apollo Bay then turned off along Turton’s Track to Beech Forest, where I had lunch. From there I headed up to Laver’s Hill and along the GOR to the 12 Apostles – one of my favorite stretches of road. From the Apostles I headed back the way I had come to Lavers Hill and then travelled to Colac via Gellibrand. My ‘phone vibrated as I skirted around Colac. It was a message from my mate Steve who was in Lorne on his Norton Commando and heading along the Great Ocean Road to my place in Geelong – which was ironic as I was on my way to his place in Colac! No answer from Steve on his mobile, so I headed home and pulled into my drive way just as he was taking his helmet off having just arrived – good timing or what!

Approx route


View of the West Barwon dam in the distance.


I treated myself to a hearty lunch at the Ridge Cafe in Beech Forrest. All fresh local ingredients.
Looking north towards Colac from the deck of the Cafe


This used to be logging country – pic of an old pic at a historic display.

There is a pub and a cafe at Beech Forest, no other businesses. Once it was a thriving community – see the pic of the club below

Can you say Weeaproinah? A high rainfall place.

Very calm today at the blow hole

Helicopter flights were in full swing. I counted 6 of them running continuously and still people were queued up.
Fantastic riding conditions, however, being the Christmas holidays the traffic was heavy in places and required quite a bit of patience to ride safe. All up, 365 k’s of some quite ‘technical’ roads in near perfect weather.