Philip Island – October 2019

Wednesday October 23rd

Wednesday morning 5.30am we were away on our 2nd annual Moto GP trip to the Island. We made good time out onto the M2 and we were soon onto the M7 and out past the Campbelltown city limits in just over an 1hr20. The weather was clear, it wasn’t too cold and the sun was just starting to provide some warmth. We pulled in at Marulan just after 2hrs of riding to have a stretch and a drink.

Our next stop was Gunning 50mins down the road, where we pulled in to the Merino Café for breakfast and came across the first of many bikers on their way to the Island as well.  1hr later and we were back on the road, Nyree wanted to stop at the Dog on the Tuckerbox so we pulled in for the obligatory photo, (don’t know why – we have been there a few times before!).

Our breakfast stop at Gunning.

I should mention we called this trip the Mountain Top trip, when we planned, we decided that we would do all the Victorian Ski fields that we haven’t been up, Mt Buffalo, Mt Beauty, Falls Creek, and Mt Baw Baw on the way down and come back a similar way to last year’s trip. So, first night was going to be at the Alpine pub at Bright. So basically, we headed straight down the Hume bitumen and turned at Wodonga to go through Yackandandah, Myrtleford and finally Porepunkah.

Our first fuel stop was Holbrook, arriving at 12.20pm after covering 530kms. We had a quick lunch stop – the first pies for the trip and delicious too! 1pm and we were on our way again, pulling up at our accommodation at 2.45pm, and 690kms done for the day, our biggest single push on the bike so far.

It was unusual for us to arrive at our destination so early, normally I underestimate and we arrive on twilight or in the dark, so Nyree was very pleased! We checked in, showered and headed off to have a look around town, we ended up at the Bright Brewery and settled in on the back deck overlooking the park and river for a few celebratory beers. Quite a few other bikers also had the same idea, 3rd beer in and I decided to go with a Belgian style abbey that was 9.7%, whoops!

Time to head back to the accommodation have a meal and off to bed. That beer had gone to Nyree’s head and she was feeling the effects, we played some pool, ordered a Parmie each and headed back to the room around 7pm. It was going to be a nice early night in bed watching some TV. Before I had even got changed Nyree was asleep on the bed.

Thursday October 24th

We were up fairly early as today we were heading up Mt Buffalo, back down through Bright, up Mt Beauty and Falls Creek, into Omeo and down to Dargo for our next night at the pub, not a lot of kms, but finally some dirt and a long time in the saddle. We grabbed a coffee and headed out to Mt Buffalo, it was a good road up, a few cyclists about and the odd car. We headed to the end of the road which turned to dirt and ended up in the Horn carpark. It was a 15min clamber up through some rocks and onto the Horn for a spectacular view all around.

The road sign leading up to Mount Buffalo.
The view from the top of the Horn, Mount Buffalo.
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.

We could see Mt Buller – it had snow, Falls Creek – it had snow, Hotham – it had snow and way off in the distance Kosciuszko – couldn’t make out snow. Mind you not much snow, only right on the tops. Back down we headed and stopped at the Chalet – we stood on the ridiculous launch spot for hang gliders (you gotta be keen!) and Bright below us.

Over looking the valleys below.
Mount Bulla in the distance with snow still visible.
Getting that old fashioned selfie in!! Click and run.
Old Stone Hut at the Horn car park, Mount Buffalo.
Such stunning countryside, we love looking at tracks between the valleys.
Looking over the valley from the Chalet at Mount Buffalo, where the hand gliders launch from.

Back through Bright and up over Tawonga Gap down into Mt Beauty and back up onto the Bogong High Plains Road. Unfortunately, just as we hit this road, signs said that the road was closed past Falls Creek, which meant it was not a through road to Omeo. We dropped into the info center and the lady said we could detour along Trappers Gap Road and come out at Mitta Mitta and then continue onto Omeo, maybe an extra 100kms. We said thanks we’ll take it, she said it’s an easy track you won’t get lost, just stay on it and you’ll be fine. Now that’s famous words for us, of course we got lost! I figured as the track turned vertical that it wasn’t the major way through, after consulting the maps, we back tracked and eventually found our way back onto the main track and into Mitta Mitta (not before much fun was had in a big mud puddle crossing).

One of the tracks on the way to Mount Beauty.
Over looking Mount Beauty from Tawonga Gap, it looked so green and beautiful.
A stop we weren’t expecting, at Mitta Pub.

We took the opportunity to take a break and grab a beer at the pub. There were a few other bikes around, we chatted to a father travelling with his son as pillion and he said it’s just over an hour to Omeo down the valley way. They headed off and we got chatting to another fella heading the same way, he was staying at Omeo tonight and down to the island the following day and he said the same, just over an hour…… We eventually got on our way expecting to be at Omeo in just over an hour and then Dargo by 5.30pm.

What a road, I don’t reckon any more than 300 metres of straight road, it turned and turned and turned, distance markers to Omeo didn’t seem to bring it any closer, views to the right were fantastic – Mt Bogong and Mt Feathertop, a great road for roadies! not so great for us. We eventually reached Omeo some 1 ½ hours later, we were shattered, it was a tough road, severe concentration required and we were getting tired of the bitumen! We ran into old mate from Mitta and he said the same thing…. took a fair bit longer than expected! Anyhow we fueled up grabbed a Powerade and an ice block and continued on to Dargo. We headed down through Cassilis and along Mt Baldhead road which turned into Jones road which bought us into Dargo at about 7.20pm, just on dusk!

We pulled up at the pub for a celebratory beer (me anyway Nyree was shattered, she went the OJ), we ordered a meal and headed across the road to the accommodation. Showered up and headed back for dinner and a few more beers. Nyree wasn’t well, she was so exhausted she didn’t even order a meal! After dinner we headed outside to chew that fat with some other travelers and the few locals left. Nyree had to go to bed, so I stayed and solved the world’s problems with the publican Hally.

Friday October 25th

We were up fresh and the weather looked good, last year we woke to cold and fog, this time maybe just a bit blowy. We headed across to the general store and grabbed a coffee and sat on the verandah downing it. Today’s plan was to head down through Briagalong across to Seaton, to Valhalla, up Mt Baw Baw and into Melbourne via the Yarra Valley, to stay with our friends Trish and Andy in Pascoe Vale.

There wasn’t anything open for coffee, so had a snack on the side of the road at Briagalong

Heading out of Briagalong the weather began to turn cloudy and a few spits of rain started. We continued on through Heyfield and at Seaton we jumped onto McEvoys track which was going to take us into Walhalla. Just as we started descending into Walhalla the drizzle got more constant and by the time we arrived at the Walhalla pub it was raining. Perfect opportunity for us to stop and have lunch at the Wally pub! We had an hour break here while we shared a delicious steak sandwich, the rain had stopped on cue as we were about to depart. Next stop was heading up the back dirt road to Mt Baw Baw, which was heavily fogged out, as we got towards the top we turned back onto bitumen and it looked like a storm had blown through, trees were down all over the place, and the forest was a real mess. The final pitches had some real steep parts, more so than NSW resorts, but Baw Baw is on the summit of the mountain, so makes sense. It was clear at the top we were above the cloud, had a quick look around, there were still some patches of snow and all of a sudden it started to hail on us, only quickly but I suppose being at altitude, it might have been a snow flurry.

Down from Mount Baw Baw, out of the cold, fog and light snow. Lots of mud though.
The windy road down from Mount Baw Baw.

We continued back down with our sights now set for the Yarra Valley and our final destination Melbourne. Considering this is the closest ski field to Melbourne, only a few hours drive, we were surprised how narrow the road was, you’d be stuck in single file for hours I’d imagine! We traveled through lots of logging plantations and little logging towns with lots of history, you forget just how big the timber industry is until you are out amongst it, especially in Victoria, here, Bright, Bairnsdale etc.

We arrived at Trish and Andy’s at 6.35pm due to traffic having knocked over 503km’s.

Saturday October 26th

After a nice sleep in, Andy prepared about 5kg’s of bacon and eggs for brekkie, we grabbed a coffee, and Nyree took the opportunity to head to the hairdresser with Trish. I fueled the bike for an early getaway on Sunday.

Trish and Andy’s beautiful roses again.

Trish had booked us lunch at Hellenic Republic, which is apparently one of George Calombaris’s Restaurants (whoever he is!) (one of our kids says he is a short arse celebrity chef off TV). It was lovely, very filling, we didn’t finish it, its hard to cop a big sit-down meal in the middle of the day, weather wise it was a horrible day outside so worked out perfectly. We came home and had a late arvo nap, as Andy plays drums in a band and we were off to watch him this evening.

The pub was just up the road from Moonee Valley, which was Cox Plate day, so there was a good turnout of drunken punters at the gig, always fun to watch when you are sober! We stayed until they finished and made our way back home around midnight.

Sunday October 27th

We were up at 5.30am and on our way just after 6am for the Island. It was nowhere near as cold as last year so it was a pleasant 2hrs down to Cowes.  We stopped on the main drag and grabbed a coffee and a toasted sandwich, it was starting to get fairly busy with bikers, everyone doing a similar thing I suppose.

We headed off to the track, parked the bike in the paddock, changed clothes and entered the circuit. The weather was overcast, but nowhere near as bad as what we expected considering the crappy conditions they had yesterday. We did the usual wander through all the exhibits and the expo, and ended up buying some custom molded Bluetooth earplugs at a special price, that will be ready in a few weeks. Looking forward to these, Nyree won’t have to shout into the current helmet mounted setup we have.

The day was a lot cooler than last year.
One of the many large screens.
The plane display before the MotoGP.
It was an impressive display.
The starting grid of MotoGP.
Marquez hunting down Vinales.
Miller at the rear of the lead pack.
Marquez on the final lap after Vinales’s crash.

We got the added benefit of the pole position qualifying session (cancelled from Saturday). We made our way around the circuit and settled down at the hayshed to watch the Moto 3 and 2 races. We then thought we would walk around to the start/finish to watch the start and then move back to the top of the circuit between turns 11 and 12 to watch the race. I won’t describe the race, however it was that exciting that it seemed to be last lap before we knew it. We saw the Vinales crash and the oohs from the crowd, we then made our way onto the track and down to the podium for the preso, got some good photos.

Jack Miller came in third!
Mark Marquez celebrating another win.
Jack Miller receiving his trophy.
The three podium winners, Marquez, Crutchlow and Miller.
Jack doing a ‘shoey’.

And that was it, the race day done for another year! We got back to the bike and it just stared to lightly drizzle which was good that it pretty much held off for the entire day. We changed back into our riding gear and headed off for our night stop at Traralgon. It rained on us through Wonthaggi, Inverloch and Leongatha, fairly steadily and then cleared as we got towards our stop. We arrived at the motel at 6.45pm weary and hungry. The accommodation was excellent, we opted for takeaway pizza and a night in front of the TV, but I think we crashed out by 9pm.

Monday October 28th

We were up at 7.30 refreshed after a big day, breakfast was provided in the dining room, basic but very well presented and a welcome sight to grab some toast and a juice. We were on our way at 8.45am towards our next stop at Orbost, straight along the Princess highway until we could get some dirt just outside Orbost. We arrived at 11.15am after a straight forward 216km. We stopped to fuel up and grab a coffee, heaps of other bikes were about as they all head up the Bonang Road for the curves.

Yalmy Road, at least we weren’t lost.
Part of the Yalmy Road.

We took a different route that put us straight onto Yalmy Road that took us through Snowy River N.P. and brought us out on the Bonang Road some 2 ½ hrs later. We crossed over this and straight back onto the dirt that took us through Bendoc and Craigie and bought us out onto the bitumen just before Bombala. We then took the Snowy Mountain highway and came into Cooma the back way, for our stop at the Alpine Pub for the night.

Even the bike had a room for the night.

This day was a lot less exhausting than last year, heading on from Phillip Island after the race and not back to Melbourne saved a few hundred km’s and a couple of hours, and it’s always nice to turn up to your destination in daylight!

We settled in with a few beers and I ordered the same meal as last year – Ribs, and Nyree went with the Lamb Rack not the lamb Cutlets as usual. After watching the bikes on the TV, it was off to bed for our final evening.

Tuesday October 29th

We headed off at 8am up through Numeralla and Badja, the back way into Braidwood and stopped at the bakery for coffee and a pie. We then took the back way through Bungonia and came out at Marulan for our final stop and refuel, for the final leg back home. We arrived at 2.45pm, some 2,714kms and 43hrs of riding time. So, time to start looking at the maps and planning next years route!

Some snow on the mountain tops in the very distance.
And that’s it for another year, already looking forward to our next one.

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