A dozen of us assembled at Lilydale bright and early for Andrew’s ride to Tallangatta. Matthew volunteered to perform Tail End duties and then Andrew advised us that we were going the long way round to Tallangatta and assured us that it was not going to rain! We set off up the Warburton Highway,
turned off at Yarra Junction and made our way via Noojee and Willow Grove
to Heyfield where we stopped for morning tea and fuel. Then it was a simple run via Maffra to Bairnsdale for a lunch break, and where we met Two Bays Ulysses branch members on their way to Genoa for the weekend. It was quite warm by this stage and I opened all the vents in my jacket, removed my polo shirt to keep as cool as I could and transferred my phone in my jeans pocket.
We then headed up the Omeo Highway through Bruthen and on towards Ensay when the sky turned black and we all pulled over to don wet weather gear. Bluer sky was visible ahead so I didn’t bother with the wet weather pants and headed off towards Omeo. The black skies prevailed and large volumes of water (accompanied by thunder and lightning) were dumped upon us very quickly and we battled on slowly in poor visibility on slippery looking roads. By Ensay, the rain had stopped and my jeans had basically dried out by the time we reached Omeo apart from the pocket areas. As a precaution, I transferred my phone and wallet to a drier area on the bike.
After a rest and most members remembering to ensure their tanks were full, we headed off up the extremely winding Omeo Highway towards Mitta Mitta and then Tallangatta past a sign reminding us of the lack of fuel for the next 106 km.
Did I mention we had a variety of “luck” on this ride? First there was the thunderstorm and then about 3 kilometres before the Blue Duck at Anglers Rest, Max managed to put his bike into a deep stone lined culvert so we copped our share of bad luck. Luckily Max was physically OK, but his bike was missing both levers and had a leaking radiator. Several of us managed to extricate it from the culvert, we managed to start it and I rode it on to the Blue Duck. On arrival there, I met another rider on a BMW GS who told me that he had a bike trailer following. Within minutes we had the Max’s bike on the trailer and arrangements were made to get it back to Melbourne at the end of our saviour’s holiday – How lucky was that?!
Mick then ferried me back to my bike, we regrouped at the Blue Duck, Max’s luggage was shared around, I acquired a pillion passenger and we headed off again after uttering many thankyous. All was now good and we continued to enjoy the extremely winding road towards Mitta Mitta which is now fully sealed but had had some recent road works in sections which had fine loose stones on sprayed tar and that was hardly confidence inspiring, especially once the sky turned black yet again and more water was dumped on us as we rode on through the lightning and thunder. One of our group had by then made it known that he had forgotten to refuel and would not be able to make it to Tallangatta. He took it easy and nursed his bike and just made it to Mitta Mitta where he pulled up outside the store with its petrol bowser only to find that the store and bowser were locked for the night. Luck was back with us, the proprietor walked past and she happily opened the store supplied fuel. It was a great example of country hospitality.
After yet more thankyous, we headed off for the final run into Tallangatta through more open yet scenic roads and arrived after having ridden over 570 km for the day.
Rooms were allocated, we enjoyed a hearty meal at the Victoria Hotel and some disgraceful lies were exchanged. I then tried to call home and discovered that my phone really did not appreciate having got damp. Two days drying out with the back open and luckily it is working again. Our age must be starting to tell, as many headed off to bed quite early after the long day.
After breakfast on Sunday, Andrew, Jack, Samuel and Theo headed off on a day ride (of over 550 km) into the NSW alpine area visiting place such as Batlow, Tumut and Khancoban. The rest of us wimps decided to take it a bit easier and went on a shorter ride. We rode over the Granya Gap (Murray River Road) which is a truly lovely bit of road (despite one nasty centre stand grinding bump – Max’s fault?) and then followed the Murray River around to Jingellic where we had a short refreshment break
and also checked out the pub in its lovely setting with the river and campers behind it and many bikes visiting. We then continued on via Walwa and Towong to Corryong for a leisurely lunch and then rode back to Tallangatta along the more open Murray Valley Highway, which still has great scenery. The round trip was just below 230 km. We then had a leisurely afternoon, dined and quite a few retired relatively early again.
On Monday morning the Rotary Club put on an Australia Day breakfast in the centre of town and we joined in before getting back on the bikes for the ride home.
We headed out via Tangambalanga to Yackandandah (what would a foreigner make of those names?) where we stopped for fuel. Mick, Alf and Matthew then headed down to Myrtleford and Lake Buffalo before doing the gravel road across to Cheshunt on their adventure bikes. The rest of us continued through Beechworth and Everton to Oxley where we all got to supply breath samples to the police. Then it was on via Whitfield (which was busy with many bikes) to
Mansfield where we met up with the adventure riders again. Both Sunday and Monday had beautiful riding weather and bikes were out in force. The traffic in Mansfield was extremely heavy and people decided on a variety of routes home so we bid our farewells there and made our way home individually.
In all I did just under 1200 km for the weekend. I have done the Omeo Highway to Omeo innumerable times, it is still a lovely road but the weather really made it a challenge this time. The section from Omeo to Mitta Mitta is just over 100 km of extremely winding road and very remote. It is spectacular and also quite challenging and definitely worth the ride. Probably best to be tackled when relatively fresh.
The Murray River Road is also a very worthwhile ride. If you haven’t done it, give it a try when you get a chance – perhaps a lovely day ride from the Wodonga AGM.
Did I enjoy myself over the weekend? You bet I did, it was great.
Andrew – thank you for arranging and leading the ride. Thank you also to all who participated.