Phillip Island – October 2018

Wednesday October 24th

The day had arrived, our big adventure was here, after a lot of planning. The kids were all dropped off at school, we met back at Narrabeen, then off we went on the bike for a trip of a lifetime.

We made our normal trek towards the M2/M7, hitting a slight bit of traffic in Chatswood, before a finally traffic free run to the Hume Highway. Making our way towards Braidwood, we hadn’t had coffee, so we decided to stop at Mittagong for one and as we had been already on the bike for 2 hours, it was time for a break anyhow.

It was lovely sitting outside the cafe, discussing the route we were heading and watching people pass by, Jase just loving it when a guy passed and said he loved our set up!! On the bike again, heading to Braidwood, where we were going to stop for a late lunch.

Arrived in Braidwood at 1.50pm and stopped for a meat pie from the famous Braidwood Bakery, chatting to another rider who was heading off on his own adventure, which didn’t include travelling to Phillip Island. Off again, this time pushing our way to Cooma, travelling along Captains Flat Road, which eventually turned into Badja Road, as we skirted around Deua National Park. While driving through Pikes Saddle, we encountered some rather low cloud and visibility became harder, making for a slow, but exciting ride. We rode through Cooma, travelling towards Jindabyne and spotting numerous other riders heading south as well.

Heading into the low fog.
The thick fog we had to ride into.

We finally arrived in Jindabyne at 5.15pm after a very fun first day in the saddle, pulling into the petrol station and filling up before heading to our stop for the night. We settled into our room at the Lake Jindabyne Hotel before going to the pub for a much needed beer and dinner. We weren’t the only ones at the pub as there was a coach load of older tourists having dinner as well. While drinking our beer and sharing our dinner with each other we played two games of pool, before deciding that we were getting rather tired, so headed back to our room for an early night, it was before 8pm!! 

The view from our room at Jindabyne.

Thursday October 25th

I was asleep very quickly, Jase still studying the maps for the days adventure ahead. We got everything ready before making our way to the room where we were to have our complimentary buffet breakfast, which was very surprising as there was bacon, eggs, toast, hash browns, cereal, breakfast sausages, spagetti and assorted juices and as we weren’t going to stop for a big lunch, we filled up on breakfast instead. Back at our room we finalised our gear, before packing the panniers and getting back in the saddle for our trip to Dargo, which was our next overnight stop.

Getting the bike ready for another day on the bike.

We headed out of Jindabyne, stopping at the National Park Gates, then up through Thredbo, up and over Deadhorse Gap and then just past the Siberia sign where , the road dips down into a saddle, was a police officer pointing his radar gun at us, pulling us over. We were doing 87kms in a 60km zone, which, had I known the speed limit, would have mentioned it a few times to Jase, but I didn’t even realise it was a 60km zone. He said he could hear us coming and that he could hear that we weren’t speeding, just unfortunate in the fact we didn’t brake travelling down the hill. He changed the ticket speed to just under 20kms an hour, but still 3 points off Jase’s license and $270, which sucks.

The snow still at Thredbo.
Front valley.
The beautiful mountains around Geehi.
The first time we have seen snow on the mountains at Geehi.

On our way again, with the officer telling us to have a lovely day (yeah right), we headed to Corryong, where we stopped at one of the many cafes with numerous other riders for our morning coffee. From Corryong we headed up the Nariel Valley Way, which turned to dirt at Stacey’s Bridge, as it started to climb up into the Alpine National Park. This eventually brought us back onto bitumen at Benambra, then it was just roughly 20 mins up the road to Omeo where we stopped for another break. 

We pulled up at the park beside the Information Centre, sitting at a bench, watching other riders pass us by. While we were sitting there having our snacks and drinks, two other riders parked and joined us for their afternoon break. It was great just sitting and sharing stories, they were actually on their way home to Wollongong after a ride with friends that were heading to Phillip Island. We had to get used to the long chats you have with other riders as this break was an hour long, which wasn’t that bad, as it was great to hear others stories.

The view from the wrong turn we had taken.
We had to get the maps out again!
Our stop at Mount Bogong and Lake Dartmouth lookout.

After our extended afternoon stop, we continued on our way to Dargo, via Birregun Road, which we discovered at the Information Centre was open and the only direct way through, we were assured of this, as three other riders were using the same route as us. About half an hour in, we came across a ‘road closed’ sign, we skirted around it and came to a halt at the huge digger that was across the track cutting trees down to create a fire break for summer. His cabin was on one side of the track and his arm went over the track to the other side, so he kindly rested the arm on the ground and let us pass underneath, we held up three fingers indicating the three other riders that were in front of us and he nodded ‘yes’.

Along the way, we turned off to stop at ‘The Dogs Grave’, which is a monument to Man’s Best Friend. It was a fairly easy fire trail, with a few ruts and it was good to scope out as we are travelling along this same track in the January School Holidays. We were passed by two more riders, who we re-passed at a track junction as they appeared to be unsure of which way to go, they then passed us soon after just before the long, slow descent to Dargo River. Jase didn’t tell me at the time, that we had no back brake down this descent as we later a discovered a stone had got lodged in the lever. 

The Dogs Grave.
Heading down Birregun Road.
Looking across at another track from Birregun Road.
Nearly at the bottom after a very long and slow descent, without a back brake!

Finally at the bottom, we passed through a few campsites that we were also scoping for the January trip. We then hit the bitumen and arrived in Dargo at after 5pm, the Dargo Pub, with a full line of bikes of all shapes and sizes parked out the front. We turned and parked on the side street, where there weren’t as many bikes and not long after getting off, one of the riders in the group of three, came up to see how we got on, they were already on their second beer!! They were impressed that we were on the dirt with a pillion, as there were no other riders with pillions here at this stage.

After sorting our accomodation, having showers and getting changed we went and joined the other riders in the pub for a beer, sharing stories of which routes we took to end up at Dargo. We eventually joined them at their table for dinner, listening to their other tales, as this was the 11th year they were travelling as a group to Phillip Island.

Another long day, had us ready for bed rather early again, so we said our ‘goodbye’s’ and ‘ride safe’ before going back to our room to bed, it was a late night, 8.30pm!!!

Friday 26th October

The Dargo Hotel covered in early morning fog.

Had a great nights sleep, so we were awake fairly early, Jase popping his head outside and noting the low cloud/fog around the area, I jumped up and went out with the camera to take a pic of the pub, it was fairly cool too! Up and about, ready to head off before 8am, well, get a coffee at the Dargo General Store anyhow. The bike was packed, so I walked over, Jase rode over, not long after most of the other riders had left for the morning, so we ended up being the only bike in front of the pub, for that iconic pub pic!!

All the other bikes had left by the time we got there.
He loves this!!

While we were out the front, Brian, one of the riders for the group of three came and chatted to us, so our early morning departure turned out to be a bit later, an hour later actually. While Jase and Brian were chatting, I went and got our coffees from the Dargo General Store, then went back to chat too. After we finally said our goodbyes, we filled the bike up then headed north to check out the other campsites along the Dargo River that might be possibilities for our January trip. It wasn’t long after leaving Dargo that the tyre pressure light came on, stating that the PSI was below 30 for the back tyre. We kept going, travelling through private property, stopping to speak to a few campers, who said we should be able to get through to Harrison Cut, however we couldn’t get past as the the road was gated. 

Filling up the tank for the next leg of our journey.

The warning light was still on, so we headed back to Dargo and stopped to put air in the tyre, deciding then not to attempt travelling up Billy Goats Bluff track to Licola. We followed the bitumen road out of Dargo, until it joined up with the Princess Highway, continuing along the highway, there were numerous roadworks, slowing our trip considerably, stopping again at Stratford to refill the tyre, which obviously had a slow leak. 

The road out of Dargo, one we didn’t want to take.

Stopping at Traralgon, we googled a motorbike repair shop, heading back up the road to stop in and get the tyre fixed, which they did, there was a crack in the tyre, causing the slow leak, so they plugged it, allowing us to continue our journey to Melbourne. Unfortunately we were there for over an hour while they repaired the tyre, causing us to be smack bang in the middle of Melbourne peak hour traffic, which on a bike, isn’t much fun.

We finally arrived at Pascoe Vale, just before 7pm, where friends Trish and Andy were waiting for us, with dinner ready and a beer to crack, it was lovely to be off the bike and back on two feet, after the peak hour slow crawl, which makes me ever so slightly nervous! We unpacked the bike, had showers and settled in for the evening, having a lovely dinner of steak and roast veg all while sitting around, talking, catching up and having many laughs. It was turning into a late night and eventually tiredness hit us, so we turned in, the time being about 10.30pm, really late for us!!

One of the many rose bushes at Trish and Andy’s unit.

Saturday 27th October

I crashed when hitting the pillow, Jason sat up and marked the maps with the tracks we had taken to get us to Melbourne, himself crashing not long after. A lazy day was planned, so there was no rush to rise early, which was nice. Finally up, we had a slow morning with coffee and a lovely BBQ cooked breakfast of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, toast and more coffee.

After showers we headed off for a drive around Melbourne as we both hadn’t been there for years. Drove through Toorak, looking at all the large houses, ending up at St. Kilda where we went for a walk around the shops, finally stopping at a restaurant and sharing pizza’s, Jase and Andy enjoying a beer, while Trish and I enjoying a red and white sangria. It was lovely sitting there, watching the world go by, with great company, food and drinks. 

Some of the amazing Melbourne architecture.
Is 11am too early???
Was a great lunch and drinks.
Waiting for a train to cross the road at Pascoe Vale.

Back to Pascoe Vale to fill the bike up for the drive to Phillip Island the next day and to get a few other things ready, as we were going to leave early. Had a cup of tea after getting everything organised for the following day and also while discussing Jase attempting Dakar, after we win Lotto, and having Andy there as the bike mechanic and chief visor cleaner, with Trish there to help me with everything else Dakar. Back into the city, to Federation Square to Chocolate Buddha where we had a delicious dinner of tapas style Japanese, with Asahi Super Dry Black Beer. It was a great evening, with lots of laughs, which continued back home while we had dessert!!

In bed by before 10pm as we were planning on leaving by 6am the next morning for our huge day at the track.

Sunday 28th October

After a great sleep, still catching up from our big days on the bike, we headed off for Phillip Island at 6am, right on schedule, which is rare for us!! Andy had mentioned that there would be lots of other bikes on the road, a fair few police and people on the side of the road waving at the bikes passing by. Well, was he wrong?? We didn’t see one bike, or any police and no one was on the side of the road waving at us. As we rode through Cranbourne it became very, very cold, with the temperature dropping to just 4.5 degs, even Jason said he had cold fingers and he had his grip warmers on!! 

We arrived on Phillip Island just before 8am, seeing more and more bikes as we travelled further onto the Island, which was a relief as we actually thought we had the wrong day! Pulling into Cowes we found a coffee shop and stopped for a coffee and to warm our frozen fingers, the temperature had warmed slightly and it was lovely sitting in the sun, watching the parade of bikes passing, some stopping at other coffee shops others just riding through.

Back on the bike we made our way to the track, arriving after 9am, along with hundreds and hundreds of bike riders, arriving for the same thing! We paid for our parking, received our block of wood, for our bike stand, and were directed to the next spot in the long line of other bikes. After parking we got out of our bike pants and into normal ones, locked our helmets onto the handle bars then followed everyone else to the front gates, very exciting!! 

Parking the bike at the track on Phillip Island.
Watching the smaller bikes start a race.
It was very exciting.

WOW, and was it awesome, just walking through the front gates, there were already smaller bikes on the track and they were noisy, and they were exciting to see, so the major event was going to be spectacular. We walked passed the many vendors selling their gear, ending up in the main tent where there was a lot on display. As there was about to be another race start we went outside to the starting grid to watch them take off, it was all rather incredible and exciting, still only the smaller bikes though.

We stood at this corner for quite a while.
The practise start they have on their warmup lap.

Headed back to the main tent to finish looking around before starting a slow walk around the length of the track, stopping at every corner to take it all in. The day was rather cloudy and cool, but the sun was trying to come out, which it did eventually, making for a beautiful day. We continued our walk around the track, sitting at certain corners to watch the racers, then the Moto3 do their warm up laps, the Moto2 and then watching the MotoGP guys completing their warm up laps. They were so much louder and faster than the previous bikes, it was so impressive to watch and as we discussed, they were only warming up, not racing!!

The view over the ocean from the track.
Was rather a rough looking coastline.
A two seater bike, with Lleyton Hewitt on the back.

Finally making it back to the starting grid after our slow walk, stopping at the Trial Bike trick rider that was great to watch, throwing his bike around like it was a toy, even a 450 Husqvarna that impressed us both, considering I still can’t go down a hill on my bike. 

He was great.
On the Husqvana.
Doing wheelies without a front tyre.
The Moto2 race.

We found a spot on a hill and sat down for a while at the first corner, in front of a large screen, watching the Moto2 riders start and speed past us, while trying to edge their way to the front. The live commentary which is exactly the same as that on the TV telecast was great to hear, while watching the race. There was a fair few crashes in the race, making for an exciting event.

After the Moto2 finished, we made our way around to an area we thought would be a great spot to watch the MotoGP, as it was on the sweeping 4th corner, just at the end of the straight, then leading in to another straight before another sweeping corner to the left.

Thirty mins before the race began, there was a ten min display from a F18 Fighter Jet, which was like something we have never seen before, especially for as long as it went, the sound it made was incredible, even grown men were covering their ears. There were times that the Jet didn’t even make any noise until just after it went past, creating astronomical sound, it was very, very impressive.

The Fighter Jet was amazing.
It was incredible to see.
The safety car before the main race.
Watching a rider go off the corner.
Trying to get a good pic was hard.
Marquez in the lead for a short time.

It was finally race time, the grandstands were full, there were people sitting, standing at every vantage point on the track and then it began. It was a fantastic start, with all riders vying for a spot at the front on the first corner, and very exciting to see them all race around the corner, in such a close bunch. We were riveted to the spot for the entire 27 laps, enjoying every one of them. The lead rider constantly changed, especially after the massive off by Zarco at the end of the main straight. 

Vinales finally won, with Iannone second, followed closely by Dovizioso, with Jack Miller coming in 7th. After the race, the crowd were allowed on the track, so off we went to walk down the main straight with the throngs of fans wanting to catch a glimpse of their favourite riders. Miller wasn’t any where to be seen, but his bike was in his garage, hence the photo.

The congratulatory lap, with Iannone (The Maniac) and Rins.
Bautista, Miller, Rossi and Vinales.

We joined the rest of the mob, heading for their bikes, cars or other transport to make our way back to Melbourne, finding our bike, getting changed into our bike gear before attaching ourselves to the massive line of bikes heading back off the Island. The traffic was well managed, with police controlling it everywhere and one lane turned into two with the use of the verge, very clever we thought. 

After the safety car went past, we were all allowed on the track.
Up on the sides on pit lane, watching the presentation.
The podium.
The throngs of people heading down pit lane.
Jack Millers bike.
The masses of people heading up pit lane for the main gates out.
The long queue of bikes and cars that we finally joined to leave the track and island.

There were groups of people on the side of the road waving at all the bikes passing by, which was exciting to see and constantly wave back, as Andy said, by the time I came back I would feel like royalty!! Police were plentiful, we saw many riders and cars pulled up on the side of the road, obviously getting tickets. Made it back to Melbourne by 7pm, with a sore arm, from the waving to have a great dinner of chicken and salad with Trish and Andy and many more laughs. Although it was a long and very tiring, it was a fantastic day on Phillip Island and one we will definitely do again.

Monday 29th October

Our departure time from Melbourne was 6.40am, just 10 mins past the time we actually wanted to leave, so we did strike a little bit of morning peak hour traffic heading into the city, we just wanted to make our way through the city to the other side. Taking the very long and mundane road of the Princess Highway, taking us through Traralgon, Rosedale, then finally into Sale, where we stopped for coffee and a beautiful breakfast. We had passed many other bike riders, with many bike riders passing us too, all heading different ways to their next overnight stay or home.

After our stop in Sale, we were off again, this time heading for Bairnsdale, where we turned off onto the Great Alpine Road, making our way to Cooma eventually. This road took us through Bruthen, where we turned off the Great Alpine Road and onto Buchan Road, which lead us into the small town of Buchan and as it was time for a break, we pulled up beside the river at the Buchan River bridge for a short stop and a look at the maps. 

Having a quick stop at Buchan.

Back in the saddle, this time making our way onto Gelantipy Road and the great named town of Seldom Seen which doesn’t have a lot, no petrol, despite the pictures of fuel on the maps, but does have a Telstra phone booth! Turning off at Wulgulmerang we headed down to McKillops Bridge, which is a very long, very windy and very steep dirt road, ending at the Snowy River at the beautiful, amazingly engineered bridge! We passed a car, which had stopped at a lookout at the top of the track, continuing on this hairy road to the end, I was more than happy to actually get off the bike at that point and walk down. Jase did a fantastic job, bar one spot, which was steep with a rather sharp turn to the left, so instead of sliding the bike and ending up on our side, he went slightly up the embankment straight ahead, you can actually hear me on the GoPro, not quite screaming, but not far off, and also saying, ‘I want to get off’!!

Just checking the map and GPS at Wulgulmerang.
The stunning green landscape of Wulgulmerang.
Some of the freaky Lama’s at Wulgulmerang, where we stopped to check our location.
Getting ready to go again.

We made it to the bottom, to the stunning bridge, first stopping at the toilets just passed the bridge, also having to strip off, as the temperature was rising and under all the bike gear, I didn’t really need the thermals on!! Back at the bridge we stopped and had another look at this amazing piece of historical wonder, there were two riders at the bridge when we passed through, but they were gone when we came back, it would have been nice to chat, as we had never been on the road past the bridge.

Stopping at McKillops Bridge after our very long descent.
The Snowy River.
One happy rider.
I had to have a pic too!!
Such an amazing bridge.
We were the only ones there after the other riders had left.

The road was a great dirt track that followed the Deddick River, passing the tiny little towns of Deddick, Amboyne, Tubbut, and Dellicknora, before finally hitting bitumen at the Bonang Highway, turning right, taking us onto the Monaro Highway to Bombala. We didn’t need to stop so we pushed on, passing other little towns, following the highway all the way into Cooma arriving about 5.30pm, after the longest day in the saddle yet! 

Arriving at our motel, we unpacked the panniers, then had showers, before heading into Cooma to find a pub for dinner and have a much deserved beer. The first pub we walked in to, didn’t really have a great atmosphere, nor did it look like the meal would be much chop, but none the less, we had a beer, sitting at one of the high tables. Two other riders came in, so as you do, you strike up a conversation to find out where they were heading and which route they had taken to get to Cooma from down south, it’s great to take the time to talk to complete strangers, all doing the same thing!

After that beer, we went for a walk and luckily stumbled on the place to be, the  Alpine hotel, which had a great atmosphere, the Moto GP playing on all the TV’s and the pub itself, filled with like minded riders, I must say though, the only other females were behind the bar and the place was packed! We had dinner there, Jase having ribs, myself the crumbed cutlets, while also having another two beer each, this we the pub to be in Cooma and we are glad we didn’t stay at the first placed we called in to!

Leaving the pub about 8.30pm, we saw three riders pulling into Cooma very late, with their lights very visible from a distance, making a very long day for them, we also stopped to have a chat to other riders, who asked us if we were locals, saying that we weren’t, but in the same boat as them, having been riding all day too, yet again, it was great to chat to strangers about each of our recent travels! Back at the motel, I was in bed pretty much straight away, Jase studying the maps for our final journey home the next day.

Tuesday 30th October

We were up and packing the bike ready for our final push home, by 8am, leaving the motel just after 8.30am, our first stop the petrol station to fill up, just in case! Deciding not to travel straight home via the highway, taking minor roads instead, we headed to Numeralla along Countgary Road, then to Jerangle, waving at the kids playing in the school yard as we passed, them waving back. It was then on to Captains Flat, where we were looking forward to having our morning coffee, how wrong we were! Jase had done some research on Captains Flat, discovering it was an old mining town, and a nice day drive out from Canberra, there was, however, no coffee shop, actually no shops at all, and maybe even the pub had shut, how disappointed we were. We stopped to look at the map, to see what town was next, even chatting to a local who said there hadn’t been coffee there for quite some time, sending us to Bungendore for our morning brew.

Stopping in Captains Flat, but not for a coffee.

On to Bungendore, where we stopped at a small cafe on the main road for our coffee and a bite to eat, chatting to another rider who had also stopped for his morning break. He was travelling home via Nowra, heading through Nerriga, to Sydney. We said our goodbye and headed via Tarago to Goulburn and onto the Hume Highway and the final stretch home to Narrabeen. 

It had heated up throughout the day and by the time we got to the outskirts of Sydney, we had to stop and take off a layer of thermals, well, I did anyhow, before continuing home, with hopefully no more stops.

Arriving home about 2.30pm, having done 2350kms, with 5 fuel stops making it roughly 500kms per tank. It was a great adventure, one which we are definitely going to do again, now that we have the feel for it we will plan to try and spend more time on dirt and less time on the bitumen. So, Jase is now looking forward to pouring over the maps and creating a new route for our 2019 trip. 

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