Canberra Day Weekend Away
12 - 14 March 2011

The Riders
Alan & Lynn Munday - Kawasaki GTR 2001
Lorraine Litster - Triumph Sprint 1998
Peter Holden - BMW F800 2010
Tony Field - MV Agusta 750 2001
Mark Boast - Honda VFR 2008

Saturday 12th
Five riders & six people set off on our annual Canberra Day weekend away. Alan & Lynn had never been on a VVC away weekend, but they are no strangers to long distance riding, having been active members of Ulysses for many years, & indeed rode their GTR around Australia in 2010. Tony was most unusually mounted on an MV Agusta sports bike & a joy to behold it was, regardless of the poor provision for his bottom, & his long distance comfort. Peter, Mark & Lorraine were all riding sensible touring mounts, well suited to the ride conditions.

The weather forecast for the long weekend was mixed at best, but to our delight the Saturday was sunny & mild. Comma arrived with no drama or change to the sunny day. We stopped at the East End Cafe, (the motorcycle cafe) for coffee before heading into the mountains towards Adaminaby. The MV had high fuel consumption, & why not for such an exciting mount, so it needed a top up. The NRMA garage was shut so we had to refuel at the BP, where fuel is consistently overpriced & the garage owner has a bad attitude towards motorcyclists.

The mountains were stirring up the weather & grey skies accompanied our ride to Cabramurra for lunch. The lunch break allowed the weather to brew up a bit more & light rain was falling as we headed over the mountains. We ignored this minor annoyance, which threatened 'wet weather gear time' by the time we stopped at the alpine hut. But I was convinced that once we crested the mountains it would be dry on the leeward side. This proved to be the case & between the peak & Corryong it dried up & the temperature rose from 13C to 26¡C! (according to the F800's gauge.)

In Corryong we refuelled again & shed several layers of clothing, before riding down the valley to Tallangatta. We were now in Victoria, which to our annoyance was also having a long weekend too DRAT! This meant that there were more police on the roads, all in unmarked cars it seems. But to my joy & relief our 48 hours in Victoria passed without any of us being fined.

In Tallangatta there was a group of 30 riders all from the Dandenongs (Sunshine), on a strange mix of machines, actually come to think of it were on a strange mix of machines too. The afternoon was becoming unstable with thundershowers brewing as we rode towards Mount Beauty .but our luck held & we remained dry. As we crossed the Tawonga gap into the Bright valley, Mt Bogong looked great from the lookout, where we met more Victorian riders, old fellows from Melbourne.

Our accommodation at the Star hotel was very satisfactory, we had a two bedroom unit for all of us save Alan & Lynn, who had a large two bedroom motel room, all very good value. This being Victorian Labour Day weekend Bright was a crowded party town & we had a wonderful time, first at the Star, then at the Brewery, which had lovely beer & last at a wine bar, where we drank more beer. It was a grand Saturday night out.

Sunday 13th
Overnight rain began to fall & by morning the synopsis looked rather wet. We had a hearty breakfast at the Blackbird Cafe, where we re-planned the day ahead. We ditched the ride up Mt. Buffalo as we would have been in cloud anyway & would have wasted our time. Instead we decided to delay our departure until 10am in the hope that the rain would stop, which it did! However we rode off in wet weather gear in anticipation of a wet Mt Hotham ahead of us.

Tony had mention a cycle race in the area that weekend & sure enough as we arrived in Harrietville we found them. There were 1500 of them, an endless hoard pedalling up Mount Hotham all in their own little competitive purgatory. We were having to threat our way up this steep & narrow road through an endless stream of cycles & lycra. Some of these blokes thought riding four abreast was the go which made passing them difficult, & after we climbed into cloud even dangerous. As a result of our 1500 pedalling two wheeled friends the climb to the peak was very slow & stressful. However we arrived there in good order & again on the leeward side, just beyond the ski resort, the sky cleared & the cyclist disappeared for their morning tea.

Free of the cyclists our descending ride to Omeo was pleasant: drying roads & warming temperatures. In Omeo we peeled off our wet weather clobber & had coffee & a snack come early lunch, before continuing down again towards the Victorian coastline. If any of you should be riding this road you might decide to ride on a little & stop at Smith's Creek, which has been improved lately & now has a bakery for coffee.

We regrouped in Bruthen, at the end of the Omeo Hwy, by which time the weather was positively balmy. We then rode west to Orbost, which was a pleasant ride, except for several miles where a recent bushfire had charred the landscape. Our stop in Orbost was rather long, as we had lost Anthony on the MV Agusta. He was found late & we went on to Cann River & caught the petrol station just before it closed. Amen! Evening was closing in when we arrived in Mallacoota at the Silver Bream Motel, my usual stop (03.5158.0305). George the owner was awaiting us, & due to a booking mix-up, there was no room for Peter & Tony, but George sorted them out berthing them in a cottage next door. Our evening meal in the pub was pleasant, which concluded with beers in the garden, before it was bedtime.

Monday 14th
My memories of Mallacoota have been coloured by my Canberra Day visits to the place over several years, for it lies so far south that by mid March the season is well & truly over & there is a sort of sadness hanging over the village. I remember this feeling from my school days growing up in the Dorset resort town of Weymouth, where, by mid September it was all over & chill winds were lurking. I really must visit Mallacoota in the Summer to generate warmer memories.

There had been a shower overnight, but now cleared as Mark Boast & I headed off for an early morning walk to the headland. There is, apparently a wartime bunker complex near the village, which I am told is well worth a visit, but this will await another trip. We had breakfast in the fernery, which is a pleasant way to start the day, before we were on the road again. Wet roads continued as we crossed back into NSW & it was bright I sunny by the time we reached Eden. We then continued to Pambula/Merimbula & on to Tathra for morning tea. Unfortunately the beachside cafe is shut on a Monday so we took our refreshments at the nearby bakery.

Velo rider Gordon Halliday was expecting us for lunch at his place in Tuross so I rang him to give an ETA. He told me it was raining up there. This did not worry us & the glorious ride to Bermagui was on dry & sunny roads. The BP in Bermagui is one of the rare places on the far south coast with 98 octane, so I usually refuel there, we did this day too. Looming ahead of us was Mt. Dromedary; a mountain which both creates & controls weather in this area, & it forecast rain to me. But the rain has passed & we arrived at Gordon's place where he, Andrew Green (another Velo fellow) & Chris Redwin (BMW) both of whom rode on the Spring adventure, had prepared a grand roast lunch for us all. This was very king of my friends to do this for us & we were all most grateful.

There was more riding to do however so we had to say our goodbyes & ride toward the Clyde mountain, where both bad weather & heavy traffic were expected. We got both, but only drizzle, no heavy rain. Even the traffic was well behaved & all went well until we approached Braidwood, where a 5Km traffic jam held us up. Alan Munday elected to trickle up the inside & was abused by a car driver for his pains: you always get one. When we finally got into town we had a cup of tea at the driver reviver then said our goodbyes before the last stretch back to Canberra; where the weather was much better than it had been on the ride up the Clyde. It had been an eventful & enjoyable ride, with very varied country & weather with no mishaps despite plenty of opportunity for them.

Lorraine Litster
4 April 2011