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John Cook's Australia Day Long weekend Ride to Tallangatta Jan 2018

Submitted by Sailbad The Sin... on Tue, 30/01/2018 - 8:08pm

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The ride report follows:

Ulysses Club Melbourne Branch

Ride Report

John Cook’s Australia Day Long Weekend Ride to Tallangatta – January 2018



John Cook (Honda ST 1300)                                          Barry Fidler (Honda ST 1100)

Alf Dennemoser (Kawasaki Versys 1000)                Samuel Sun (BMW R1200 GS)

Andrew Kennedy (Honda Deauville)                        Gary Clifton (Yamaha FJR1300)

Greg Gleason photographer – BMW K1300 S Motorsport)


Day 1:

We gathered at Lilydale and headed out through Yarra Glen to Yea, Bonnie Doon(to feel the serenity), Mansfield, Whitfield Gap, Milawa, Beechworth, Yackandandah, Tangambalanga (the locals call it “Tan Gam” for obvious reasons) and Tallangatta.  The weather looked threatening at times but we “dry roaded” all the way in warmish to hot conditions.  We settled in at the Victoria Hotel and got to know the locals – by the time dinner was over, some of our participants were at almost every other table chatting!!  Lovely people.

Day 2:

Not as hot as it threatened and a great day for riding these winding and often challenging roads.  A cooked breakfast in Corryong, then off to the engaging roads around Walwa before we sought shady but non alcoholic respite at the beautiful Jingelic Pub – it has everything, superb river frontage, ample quality camping space, big shady trees and a welcoming bar loaded with what appeared to be frosty local and mainstream brews.  BUT – they don’t serve coffee!!!  “we’re a pub”……

Refreshed, we pushed on through Burrowye, Thologolong and Bungil (along the sweeping, undulating and incredibly scenic river road!!)  A quick pit and rehydration stop led us over to Granya (the sign said their folk music festival was on over the Australia Day weekend – not one fiddle, guitar or weissenborn to be seen anywhere…)

The only option was to console ourselves with a quick run over the Granya Gap – WOW!!  Double WOW!!  These magical and engaging bends gradually give way to sweepers and then broader curves (signposted as 60km and 70km, but we didn’t break stride with a constant and enjoyable 100+!!  All too soon, it’s over and the Tallangatta speed signs come into view.  A quick spin to the Lookout where some very nice locals took our “group” pics!!  I say “group” as there were only 5 of us, Andrew and Sam having spent the day in the Snowy’s.

Again, we enjoyed a very nice meal at the pub, and chatted on the lawns till bedtime, the same rolling in a little quicker courtesy of some fine Irish Whisky and red wine courtesy of Barry Fidler.

Day 3:

Time to reluctantly head home – Andrew, Sam and Gaz were staying at the Tallangatta Hotel and opted for a 6am start.  We got a call to that effect around 6am, arose as planned and headed home just before our 8am planned take off.  Met some really nice HOG’s from Sydney heading to a Tasmanian rally over a morning cuppa – their 3 bikes were worth more than my house!!!  Passing the Motel, there were another 20+ Harleys off to the same event.

We headed off back through Tan Gam, Yack (Yackandandah - the locals call it that as well…) where there was a vintage/veteran car rally. We ran down the Beechworth Chiltern Road, and had a late breakfast in Violetown.  Then Euroa, Terip Terip, the “New Republic of the Kangaroo” north of Ghin Ghin (John proved it – you can pull up in time from 110 if the 2 kangaroos are big enough!!)  With a very shaken ride leader, we jumped from Yea to Flowerdale, to Glenburn and Yarra Glen.  Greg needed petrol so the group split at that stage.

The roads on the 3rd day were every bit up to the quality of the other two!!  On behalf of the group, many thanks John for a 1120 km, 3 day ride filled with fun, fellowship and great riding!!  Next year’s is in my diary already!!  What better way to celebrate Australia Day than by experiencing just how great Australia is!!

The photo gallery is here: 

The You Tube links are:


Greg G



Day 1   Serenity at Bonnie Doon – Hardly! On Thursday evening my son had rung me and we agreed to meet “near the bridge” at Bonnie Doon and later modified that to meeting near the boat ramp as his jet ski was hardly likely to make it to the top of the bridge.    Anyway I told the participants of my plan at the start point but I now realise I was not clear. blush  We headed off promptly at 0930 and did a straight transport run up the Melba to Yea and then on to Bonnie Doon via Molesworth and Yarck past all the new barriers and made good time as the speed limits are now back up to 100.  

Personally I was not feeling 100% after a minor operation the previous week and I needed to make a “nature stop” at the public conveniences in Bonnie Doon.  Everyone simply scattered to find shade and seek respite from the heat.  I found them all and then headed on to meet my son at the launching ramp – followed by no-one!   Found the launching ramp and two utes identical to my son’s but they were not his.  I stopped and looked around and then gave up as I was starting to melt and feel a little frustrated.       I headed back to the turn off and made myself visible to the others.   I decided to give up on the meeting and texted my son to that effect and then we all found each other and headed off to Mansfield for a proper rest break and fuel for those who needed it.  I later ascertained that my son had in fact seen me on the bike near the launching ramp and had been waving vigorously from his jet ski but this old fart simply failed to notice!   So that was my first fail in communication for the weekend. We wasted half an hour in the heat and serenity is not the word I would use to describe our time at Bonnie Doon.  You know that old joke, “I am their leader – where are they?”  That was me on Friday. blush

Apart from bottled water being overpriced at cafés in Mansfield we enjoyed a light snack and cool drinks before we headed off and had a great ride via Tolmie (I love riding up that climb) and Whitfield before we took another refreshment break and cool drink at Milawa. cool Then it was north through Everton (where we saw quite a large number of people enjoying paddling in the shade in the Ovens River and free camping. cool  It looked idyllic.  We rode on through Beechworth and then stopped at Yackandandah for another rest and refreshment break.   I finally got my first caffeine fix for the day which was an Ice coffee with an extra shot of espresso.yes  It was excellent and I started feel human again.    In “Yack” we were also very happily surprised to run into Max Kerby and Gail. laugh Max had driven up as he is no longer riding and he then continued on and stayed at the same hotel as us in Tallangatta that night.     We then fuelled up at the “co op” fuel centre in Yack and being the navigator that I am, I sought direction for an interesting route to Tangambalanga.       No worries – “Go up this road a few ks, turn right into Sanatorium Road, left into xxx, right into xxx and then left into Allens Flat Road.”  Easy How could that go wrong?    Well my listening was OK, but in fact it was right, left, right, right and then left!    Fortunately my sense of direction had some remaining useful traits and after hesitating a few seconds (to allow the others to catch up) I chose correctly and we got to Tallangatta without any problem and via some enjoyable roads.   Parked the bikes under cover in the shed on the clay ground and adjourned inside put our gear in our rooms and got dressed appropriately – shorts etc.   We then adjourned to the bar and started enjoying some beers while fighting for the best bit of airflow from the air conditioner.   Max then rushed in and said,

“John your bike has fallen over and is leaking petrol.”   Great!   We all rushed out and sure enough my bike was on its side and “trying to mate” with Barry’s bike which had also been knocked over by mine.  angry  crying It took us a while to separate them – you just can’t leave these Honda “Pan Europeans” together on their own!  wink

The problem actually arose because the right hand leg of my centre stand simply sunk into the ground and my bike then fell to the right and landed on Barry’s bike knocking it over too.  Apart from some white paint off Barry’s on my tank and a broken mirror surround lug no real problems noticed at that time.  On arrival home I noticed the right hand anti vibration knob is now missing from my handlebar.        Oh well could have been so much worse.   The heat helped the spilt petrol evaporate quickly. 

So it was back to the bar for more drinks and camaraderie.  My friend Ivan (the guy who originally started the Ice Run) who now lives in Wodonga came with his wife Gayle and joined us for dinner.  Some friends of Barry’s who also live in Wodonga also joined us as did Gazza who had ridden up independently because of earlier work commitments.  

Did anyone mention it has been a sultry night!? 

Day 2   We arose early to beat the predicted heat and found evidence of drizzle.   I decided to ride in my mesh jacket without lining to stay cool and we headed off with a plan top breakfast in Corryong.  It rained, my helmet got wet but my jeans stayed dry behind my fairing.  On arrival in Corryong I found that my T shirt was actually saturated  surprise but due to the warmth it really didn’t mater.    Due to the wet roads I believe the “relatively straighter” Murray Valley Highway was the better choice for riding in the wet.  After an enjoyable cooked breakfast we bid farewell to Andrew and Sam who had decided to go for a long ride in the alps of NSW.  I donned my wet weather coat and of course it remained dry while we rode to Jingellic.   Considering it was a long weekend, the absence of traffic along the Murray River Road made it a joy to ride.   My sole Communication Breakdown on Day 2 revolved around getting some pictures as we crossed the girder bridge from NSW back into Victoria.  Put simply, that didn’t happen.

Day 3    After doing a transport run down the Hume from Chiltern to Violet Town we did enjoy a nice breakfast well off the highway.  Somewhere between Creightons Creek and Terip Terip the ABS brakes on my old Honda proved that they were much better than I am at stopping in an emergency  and it is hard to describe how stable the bike remained in a full on emergency stop while I was avoiding hitting two large kangaroos.  Phew!  I am still not sure what to clean the seat with!

Finally – thank you to everyone who came along to make it a great weekend. yes


John could not have made this sound worse if he tried, and unfairly so.......  A few points -

1  The ride was a cracker from go to whoa!

2  We all needed the extra break at Bonnie Doon (and at 35 degrees, we were all fairly serene!!)  Hence not "following" too readily.....

3  The "pause"  in the roads to Tallangatta was absolutely miniscule.....  Initially (as next bike back), I thought he was letting us bunch up......  Until I saw his gaze darting froim left to right, to left, to right.....  If all else fails, he's got that "2 Up" skill that wins every time.

4  The Corryong breakfast plan was, I believe, John's - and a damned good plan it was too!!

5  The photos at the Girder Bridge - I distinctly remember "Greg - stop and get us crossing the bridge...."  Oh no, I knew better - there are some great curves just a few km down the road.......  As I fired up my camera, the last bike disappeared in the distance.....   Rats!!!

6  Kangaroos?  what kangaroos? - I had been back in the pack snapping the odd still "cornering" pics from behind!!  Way back there (2nd last?), all I saw were brakelights and brake dust!  We were in Ghin Ghin - my immediate thought was "how much Ghin Ghin did those blokes have have?"  Seriously, this was a good out for what might have been a serious insurance claim or worse.....

I am starting to build a picture of Ulysses Melbourne rides.  They are fun, inclusive, daring but not dangerous, quick but legal and always worth the effort!!  I think John's influence in this entire culture was very evident in this ride.  Thanks John!!



Greg Gleason