MICHAEL’S VICTORIAN HIGH COUNTRY TOUR
During November 2011, Michael and his wife headed off on a trip south along the NSW and Victorian coast, inland through some great riding roads with terrific scenery, and then did a loop out through open country before heading back home to the coast again. A great trip, although the weather was less than kind at times! Regardless of this, they still enjoyed it. That’s Michael and his wife, Desley, in the photo on the left. It was taken at some point on the Omeo Highway; one of the many picturesque places they saw on this trip through some of the best scenery and best biking roads we have in Australia! Here’s Michael’s story of the trip. A story of a trip completed by Michael Harris, his good wife Desley and of course, “Black Betty”, YamahaVirago 1100.
Day 1: Kanahooka to Mallacoota 515 kms – 7½ hrs
We left Kanahooka at around 7.30am, heading down the Princes Highway for morning tea at the Boardwalk Café, Ulladulla. We had coffee and cakes. The weather was overcast and cool, just right – for cruzin! Now to Moruya for our first petrol stop (210ks) then onto Cobargo. I stopped at the pub to ask directions to Tathra, only to be told I shouldn’t go that way as there was as big storm heading there also. What the heck, that’s what I love about motorcycling; I have the freedom to experience off weather and road conditions. So we turned left to go to Bermagui, then on to Tathra for lunch. This is all bitumen now but the road surface was quite patchy. From Tathra back to the highway at Bega then south to Eden for another petrol stop and leg stretch. After the stretching we headed for Genoa then took a left turn out to Mallacoota (this is 20ks of twisties). Our first overnight stay at Mallacoota Hotel-Motel (Ph:03 5158 0455) was excellent as they are biker friendly and serve wonderful food and cold beer in the pub. We were 100 metres from the water so we decided to go for a walk before dining at the waterfront. It’s all caravan parks and was full of grey-nomads, so I knew we’d hit the jackpot. Again at dinner time the pub was full of grey-nomads. These guys really know where the best spots are! After a long day in the saddle (8½ hrs – 1hrs break = 7½ hrs) and 515ks, it was time to hit the sack with the promise of another long day tomorrow. We can recommend Mallacoota as a great overnight or weekend stop, just watch out for the roos on the way in and out. P.S. Weather was good all day, no rain or storm at Tathra.
Day 2: Mallacoota to Bright. Tues 8/11. 418kms – 7hrs.
Left Mallacoota around 8am heading for Genoa then Cann River for petrol and breakfast. The clouds were rolling in now and looking threatening. The locals at the café said there was a big storm heading up from Melbourne. The next leg was supposed to take us to Lakes Entrance and on to the Omeo Highway from there, but with the weather pending it was decided to cut across from Nowa Nowa to Bruthen and miss Lakes Entrance. We also decided to run the gauntlet and left our wet weathers in the tote bag. 3ks out of Nowa Nowa the heavens opened so a quick stop at Nowa Nowa to don wet weather gear and on we went to Bruthen. Had to stop at Bruthen as it was raining that hard I could not see! After ½ hr the rain eased and we headed for Swifts Creek along the Omea Highway. This would have been a beautiful ride all the way along the Tambo River which, because of the snow melts and the rain, was rapidly moving south. But I didn’t see much of it as it was still raining so I was concentrating on the road. Desley said it was just fabulous. Lot’s of twisties in this section too. Petrol stop at Swifts Creek and the sun made an appearance. Sky still holding more water! Off we go to Dinner Plain for lunch. Took the Great Alpine Road (B500) from Omeo. Rain started again just north of Omeo and didn’t let up. So we got to the pub at Dinner Plain wet and cold, but some chicken wings (hot and spicy), coffee for Desley and a beer for me saw us in a better frame of mind. It stopped raining so we quickly climbed aboard “Black Betty” heading to Bright with only the huge mountain in the way. It was quite extraordinary riding along the side of a mountain in sun then all of a sudden swamped by fog, the clouds flying up the mountain side. This area around Hotham Heights is awesome, looks like you are on another planet! There are that many twisties in this part that by the time you get to Harrietville you need to get off and let your legs touch the ground again. From Harrietville along the Ovens River is very scenic, but again it was raining so I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked. (The photo here was taken near Harrietville). Coming into Bright is fantastic with huge majestic trees lining both sides of the road and touching in the middle, awesome. Arrived at our two-night stopover, Bright Motor Inn (03 5750 1433) and was pleasantly surprised to have our booking, economy room at $105 per night, upgraded to a new modern room ($145 a night). Quickly shedding our wet gear and changing to dry clothes, we entered into town on foot (only 200m) had coffee at the Riverside Café then walked around the town centre full of old world charm with lots of shopping for the ladies. But men, don’t get disheartened, as there is also a brewery right in the centre of town and they have some awesome brews on tap. Also called at the Bright information centre to get some more maps and a weather update with the SES issuing a flood warning for late Wednesday afternoon. (Just what you don’t want to hear on a motorcycle trip! Elwyn!). This was the storm that hit Melbourne Wednesday morning leaving a trail of destruction. Locked ourselves in our room and enjoyed a cheese platter for dinner in front of the tele. No kids so we could watch what we wanted.
Day 3: In Bright and Surrounds – Wednesday 9/11.
I woke up early and left Desley to sleep in, went for a walk along the Ovens River camera in hand, to get some nature shots. Was amazed that for a whole kilometre, I did not see any wildlife, but then spotting two ducks decided to sneak up and snap them, but before I could, they took flight. Then I saw a red fox, cool! Back at the room we decided that while it was not raining, we would duck out to Mount Beauty – 24kms of up and down twisties! Guess what? Got wet again, but only slightly. We also went back to Harrietville, came back, had lunch at …. “an alternative café” would be one way to describe it, but bloody lovely food. Then to the brewery, yum. We also made a booking for dinner at Simone’s Restaurant. This was really, truly worth every cent! An incredible dining experience!
Day 4: Bright to Narrandera – Thursday 10/11 – 372kms.
Left Bright at 8am and continued northwest along Great Alpine Road through the Ovens Valley. Absolutely beautiful country, it helped that it was not raining, the sun was out with blue skies. If you go along this road try and count how many tobacco drying sheds there are. Through Myrtleford, then a right turn on to the (c524) Beechworth road. Again we were shocked the beauty of Beechworth. Broke our fast at the Beechworth Bakery (this is a must do). When we do another trip this way, we will stay here for 2 nights. Now back across to the Alpine Road and on to Wangaratta. Then took the (C374) northwest to join the Murray Valley Highway, then went to Cobram. Along this stretch is Lake Mulwala with it’s forest of dead trees sticking out of the water all over the place. We stopped at Mac’s at Cobram for lunch then crossed the Murray River heading to Buronga then Berrigan. It was great to see this agricultural area in full swing with miles and miles of wheat and other crops ready for harvest. It was also along this stretch that we encountered a big brown snake crossing the road. He turned to have a go as we swooped past. We are now heading for Jerilderie (petrol), heading north along the Newell highway and miles and miles of wheat. This is very open country, gently undulating with long straights and big swooping bends. At Narrandera we stayed at Midtown Motor Inn, very comfortable, but more like end of town. We had dinner at the pub at the other end of town. Again we were surprised at the quality and quantity. Quaint little town, again with some good shopping for the ladies.
Day 5: Narrandera to Young – Friday 11/11 – 243kms.
Left Narrandera, home of the longest playable guitar, heading for Coolamon (pictured here) on the Olympic Highway. We had breakfast at Coolamon in a café in the main street. The locals were really friendly and actually got our names and where we had been and where we were going, to print this news in their local newspaper, talk about Mrs Browns Cows! Now on to Junee, then Cootamundra for a leg stretch and walk around town. Because I saw Stockinbingal on the map I decided we should just pop out there for a look. Well, not much to look at, a few old shop fronts covered with pigeon poo. Was also a nice pub where we thought we might wet our whistles, but a lady yelled out from a car down the road, not to bother as it does not open much. So now to Wallendbeen on the Olympic highway, again heading for Young. There are lots and lots of stone-fruit orchards along here with road-side stalls every kilometre or so, and it just happened to be cherry season. At Young we stayed at the Federation Motor Inn (02 6382 3644). We hit the jackpot with this room being the best all week. Not only did it have a shower but a bath as well. Highly recommend this after a week in the saddle. It’s also just across the road from the Services Club which we attended for dinner and again were surprised at the quality of the standard club fare. I also thought that it was a fitting venue seeing as it was Remembrance Day. Again, Young is a shopping Mecca for the ladies and some interesting buildings. The Merritt’s Centre being one and theTourist Information Centre housed in the old railway station.
Day 6: Young to Kanahooka – Sat 12/11 – 321kms.
On leaving Young, we decided to go back out to the Olympic Highway and see if we could get some cherries. We were able to fit a 2kg box in my side of the panniers. Now back through Young and head to Boorowa for Breakfast. Boorowa seemed an interesting little town and worth another visit. (I was there recently and was amazed at how it catered for travellers, with several cafes etc. Elwyn). From there we motored over to Crookwell with the countryside split between pasture and bush. (The last piece of dirt road on this route was sealed a year or so ago, with great fanfare and celebration, and has really opened up the area more. Elwyn). Again watch for roos when traversing this area. We came across one on the side of the road at 10.30 am. Then from Crookwell back into Goulburn so Desley could go to her favourite shop. Then it was straight up the Hume to Illawarra highway with a stop at Burrawang pub for a beer to toast our trip and then home to Kanahooka. We both enjoyed the trip and would recommend it to anyone. Desley enjoyed it that much she wants me to organise a trip for next year (2012). “Black Betty” did not miss a beat, with many thanks to Gary Rooke of Oak Flats Motorcycles. Only using a little oil, which was pretty good considering we did 1,977 kilometres all up with all our gear and over the Great Dividing Range. So next year possibly could see us in South Australia, then back along the Great Ocean Road or down to Melbourne and get the boat over to Tassie. But anyway, that’s enough from me. So now all you have to do is get motivated and have a look around our backyard. Thanks for the great story Michael! It sounds like a great trip (apart from the rain!), through some wonderful riding country. I’m sure you’ve inspired us all to get out and explore this wonderful “backyard” we have in Australia! I've read the story a few times now and feel inspired every time I read it!
P.S. Thanks to Katrina for helping out with the typing on this story.
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