A Ride up to the Snowy Mountains – November 2016
There is an annual charity ride known as the Snowy Ride which takes place every November in the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Based in Thredbo there are rides to lots of towns in the region with areas in each town set aside for motorcycle activities. A total of 2,207 riders and pillions from all states attended this year. The ride raises money for the Steven Walter Children’s Cancer Foundation to aid research and is organised by the Walter family who lost their son to this insidious disease at the tender age of 19 after an eight year battle with Ewings Sarcoma. This year was the 16th ride and raised in excess of $250,000 for research. Go to http://www.snowyride.org.au/ if you want more details and perhaps to get some ideas for joining next year’s ride.
This year Roger Foot, who had done the ride previously, set about organising a group from Melbourne Ulysses to participate. As well as Roger there were Sam Bateman, Stewart Tepe, Mick Hedger and myself, Pat Ryan making a total of five in our group.
The Ride up
Roger and Mick left from the north of Melbourne and met Sam and Stewart, who went up through Yarra Glen, at Yea around 9am. Pat was already at Jamieson so he met the rest of the group at Mansfield around 10.30am where we had a break, fuelled up and headed off in glorious weather. Despite the forecast we experience good weather for the whole trip with no rain or snow but it was a bit cold at times and high winds were a nuisance especially in the upper levels of the mountain ranges we traversed.
The plan was to go up through Whitfield then to Myrtleford and over the top of Falls Creek to Omeo. Plans of course are only an indication of what may happen and in this case it did not! Road closure of the Bogong High Plains Road past Falls Creek precluded this, so instead from Myrtleford we headed to Bright then up Mt Hotham via Harrietville. Some nice riding from Mansfield to Whitfield over the winding road and then the sweeping high speed bends of the King Valley to Oxley. From there to Myrtleford has a few relatively straight sections but winds enough to be interesting. Similarly from Myrtleford to Bright is a relative cruise but then the ascent of Mt Hotham is more challenging with lots of gear changes and hard braking as we negotiated the tight turns.
From the top of Hotham the run down through Dinner Plain to Omeo consists mainly of sweeping bends where we sped along getting some relief from the tight turns on the way up. We stopped for a great view over Omeo to Mt Koscuisko in the distance from the lookout. Passing Omeo we turned for Mitta Mitta, our destination for the Thursday night where we had booked into the pub. The roads were not done with us just yet however and this road is 100 kilometers of the tightest and most unrelenting turns you could find anywhere so we arrived after a big day a little tired and in need of a beer!
The rooms here are basic but clean as you would expect in a country pub and the meals are much better than we had hoped. Soft Shell Crab was on the menu as was Kassler as well as the usual suspects so we were all well fed. The manager had only taken over the pub a couple of weeks earlier and seemed to be pretty well experienced and was a great “Mine Host”. The cook was a bit more interesting and seemed a bit prone to error as he kept bringing the wrong meals to the wrong people. All was well in the end and our meals were really good. One of Sam’s soft shell crabs fell (or was that jumped) off his plate when it was delivered and he was promised some more which never eventuated. We were all offered ice cream instead so all was not lost. We dubbed the cook “Manuel” in memory of John Cleese’s offsider in Faulty Towers due to his bumbling – but he could cook!
The next morning we were all up bright and early and ready for another big ride. On the way around 8.30am, we travelled on good winding roads at a steady speed through Tallangatta, Koetong and Corryong to Khancoban where things got interesting again. It is 67 kms from Khancoban to Thredbo but it took us about an hour and a half. There are ceaseless bends, most with 30 or 35kph warning signs, with quite a sprinkling of 10kph and 15kph ones mixed in for good measure. Combine that with no centreline and the odd car or 4wd coming around the corner on the wrong side and you get an interesting and challenging ride.
The trip up from Melbourne looks quite circuitous on the map but it is necessary to wind a bit as there are not a lot of roads through the mountains to choose from in any case. We all enjoyed the challenge and the magnificent scenery and would not have missed it for quids.
Melbourne to Thredbo
We arrived early afternoon and checked into our various accommodations. Roger, Mick and Sam shared a two bedroom suite, Stewart on his own in another hotel and Pat in yet another place on his own.
Once we were settled we got together for a ride. We hadn’t had enough of it in the 850 kms or so we had done getting here and we headed off for Charlotte’s Pass. Not too far as the crow flies but we are not crows so had to follow the road. So it was in to Jindabyne, around 38kms, then off to the pass which is another 40 or so kms. As we were now on the plateau there was not too much up and down and most of the corners were of the high speed variety.
Because of the altitude however we copped the winds which were sweeping across the plateau and trying to bring in the snow which was forecast for tomorrow. Shoulders into the wind we got to the top of the Pass which was almost entirely covered in snow and very cold. Got off the bikes and looked around a bit, took a photo or two and headed home to warmer climes with a stop in Jindabyne to buy steaks and salad for tomorrow’s home cooked dinner together.
Back to Thredbo and the boys’ apartment at Bernti’s Mountain Inn for a drink to relax and celebrate our safe arrival. Then dinner in the bar at Bernti’s and home to watch the Aussie cricketers get thrashed by South Africa.
Next day after breakfast and a look around we headed out on a ride. The organisers have set up facilities in most of the alpine towns so that you ride for a while then join in the festivities with fellow riders. Food and drinks are available and even a sheep shearing demonstration at Dalgety. You get your entry card stamped at these places to put you in the draw for a motorbike later in the day.
From Thredbo we headed past the Ski Tube and into Jindabyne, then to Dalgety, Berridale and back home via Jindabyne. The round trip was 150 kms approximately through undulating farming country with stops in all the towns. There were of course a lot of bikes on the road but most of them were well behaved and going the same way as us so no hassles.
The Mass Ride commenced at 3.30pm from the Ski Tube which is about 20 kms from Thredbo. Most of the riders turned up, a lot of them in fancy dress with a big mob with Sesame Street helmet covers and a large contingent of Honda Goldwings decked out in all sorts of outfits. Add to this a few Santas and individual costumes and it was a fun event. We all rode into Thredbo where the official proceedings started soon after followed by bands playing and all sorts of fun activities.
Back to Bernti’s for drinks and our BBQ dinner which turned out to be cooked on the stove as the owner wouldn’t let us use the BBQ while the bar was open? A joint effort cooking and cutting salads and dinner was enjoyed by all.
The Ride Home
As arranged we met in time to leave at 8.30am from Thredbo for the trip home. As we wanted to make it in one day, the leg to Mitta Mitta and over Mt Hotham was deleted from this trip.
Thredbo to Melbourne
Off back down the Khancoban Road in fine weather once again. Only problem on the leg was the traffic police who accused Pat of doing 79kmh in a 60kmh zone. Guilty! I did think it was an 80kmh zone but that is no excuse so he proceeded to write me a ticket for exceeding the limit by less than 10kph, nice of him, while the rest of the team continued on down the road and waited for me a few kilometres away.
We took the same route back to Tallangatta then turned off and headed down the Gundowring Road through or close to Dederang and Rosewhite to Myrtleford. Lunch was eaten at Myrtleford which Mick had made from bread rolls with chicken and steak from last night so we were well fed once again. Fuelled up and ready for the last leg home we said our goodbyes here as we planned to peel off at various stages.
Roger left us at Oxley as he was to go down the Hume. Pat left at Mansfield as he was going back to Jamieson for the night and the rest continued on to Melbourne.
All together we did around 1,750 klms with Pat closer to 2,000 klms with the two side trips into Jamieson. All of it in surprisingly good weather. The company was great and all our bikes performed flawlessly. The Snowy Ride is exceptionally well organised and is highly recommended for anyone who wants a few days away on some of the best roads around. Hopefully we can do it again next year.
Many thanks to Roger for arranging it all!
PS Sam took lots of photos which he plans to put on this website in due course