Overnight Run to Tumut
26 - 27 February 2011
Some photos by Craig Mill can be seen HERE
Which route would you take to Tumut, ...perhaps via Yass & the Hume & Gundagai?
Perhaps you might take the direct dirt route via the Brindabella Range? Well I rejected the former as deathly dull, obviously. I also rejected the dirt route a we were on road bikes, except for Ian Duvall. My car still has odd rattles after taking that ghastly Brindabella road recently.
No, my route was chosen to take in beautiful country & tarmac roads the whole way. The Saturday was utterly perfect for riding, sunny, & mild with no wind. Our sprits were high, so much so that even the boring Monaro to Cooma seemed delightful. I found that if you ride at a steady speed you can enjoy the mountain views along the way, all bathed in the morning sunlight.
In Cooma we stopped for coffee at the East End (motorcycle) Cafe, which has now moved to larger premises across the road. After refreshment we took the back road to Dalgety. This is a high plains road with distant views to our right of the Snowys. More refreshments were taken in the Dalgety pub, we were having a leisurely morning. On again & a climb up into the Snowy foothills to Jindabyne where we refuelled: the weather was remaining perfect.
The climb to Dead Horse Gap (1582m) was pleasant & we made the usual photo stop here before starting the long descent through the windward forests of the western range. Another brief stop at Leather Barrel Creek, for nature, then on again. There had been a few rock falls on the Alpine Way, all now cleared but for one which was a bit of a muddy mess. I was here that I stupidly & inexplicably touched my front brake resulting in a dreaded front wheel skid which almost threw me off. I recover I am glad to say, a bit shaken however.
The Tumut B hydro electric station was generating power, something I have never seen in all my many trips along this road. The water was spewing down the creek towards the Khancoban reservoir. In Khancoban we were too late for lunch in the pub, so had lunch in a cafe instead. In previous rides my February Snowy overnight run would finish the day in Khancoban, but this day we had a way to ride yet.
Leaving the mountains we crossed the Murray into Victoria. However before we crossed the river back into NSW at Towong there was almost another disaster. A very old man in a Corolla decided to turn right immediately in front of me. I braked furiously & Ian swore that my back wheel briefly went airborne as I came to a halt less than 6 feet from him. This old man seemed incapable of seeing four bike all with headlights on. I politely suggested to him that it was time he handed in his license, & remained polite until he used the magic words "sorry mate I didn't see you". This was a red rag to me & I lost my temper, enough said. Badly shaken for a second time in under two hours I rode carefully for the rest of the day.
This road to Tumbarumba climbs a ridge with the mountains rising abruptly to our right. We stop at a lookout, which is also a memorial to Australia's 1sr civil aircraft crash, the Southern Cloud in 1930. The wreckage has never been found. At the junction with the Elliot way the road turns away from the mountains & we soon reach Tumbarumba, which was alive with people as their annual 'Tumbafest' was on. We needed fuel for Lisa & then on again through lovely apple growing country to Batlow. Along the way we saw some amazing tented orchards, one of which looked like an enormous circus tent. Apples were heavy on the branches with the ne crop about ready to pick.
We were in Tumut by 5.30pm & soon in our rooms in the motel section of the Royal Hotel ($70 single, $80 double). I had picked this as it was Saturday night and all the pubs seemed to either have a band or a DJ, & I needed a night's sleep! Tumut was indeed a likely place with all the pubs full of party goers & a lot of noise being generated. We ate a meal at the Commercial, then had a drink at a couple of other pubs: a pleasant night.
A shower of rain at 6am on Sunday was not encouraging, but by 8am it was fine again & it seemed that a pleasant ride was in store. We rode east up the highway climbing to the level of the Talbingo Reservoir, which was full & the water glassy smooth in the still air: this really was a glorious view, with many small boats already out on the lake.
We began to climb again & the weather grey & menacing, then light rain began to fall as the temperature began to drop. Ian Duvall & I rode on ignoring the rain, or perhaps hoping it would go away, it did not. At the turning for Yarrangobilly Caves Ian & I stopped & waited for Craig & Lisa, who duly arrived through the wet gloom. We discussed whether to ride the 6km of dirt to the caves, but decides we would do so.
The dirt road to the cave house is single lane steep & windy, not a lot of fun for a fully loaded tourer. However we arrived in good order & decided that the 'self guided' Glory Cave was the go, as the accompanied tour would have required 16 Km of dirt riding. The Glory Cave was a delight with subtle lighting which came on automatically as you walked through the cave. With just the four of us we thought this was very atmospheric, added to by the constant noise of dripping water.
It was still raining when we exited the cave & waterproof gear was pulled on over our dry weather suits.( which of course were already wet.). The 6km ride out to the highway was easier than the descent & soon we were on the Snowy Mountains Hwy in really nasty weather: fog, heavy rain & cold. This mountain crossing rates as one of the worst I remember.
However as I expected, on the leeward side of the mountains as we descended to Adaminaby the rain stopped & the road was dry, & I could feel the slowly rising temperature warming me as I rode. We stopped at the pub in Adaminaby for lunch during which an outlaw gang arrived. They were as cold & as wet as they looked and several of them were not in good humour as a result. Ah well, they could always but decent kit, but that of course would ruin the image.
The remainder of the ride was dry, if overcast, & the four of us said our farewells over a drink at the Bredbo pub, where unusually we met Peter Holden, who is coming on the three day trip over Canberra Day. We had enjoyed great riding , with the exception of the uncomfortable Snowy Mountain crossing, but that is how it goes in the mountains.