Australia Day Weekend Ride

Australia Day Weekend Ride
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Australia Day Weekend Ride

Southern Cross Tourers to Genoa and Dalgaty

So… I’m sitting here the day after, glass of red in hand watching the rain fall, thinking how lucky were we to have the most magnificent weather for our trip - four days of cool mornings, sunny days and warm afternoons (and one hot night!!).

Twelve souls and 11 bikes met at Baxter for an 8.30am departure. Ron Olson (our ride leader extraordinaire), Alan Lindley (our Presidential Tail-End Charlie - no one rocks a fluro vest like Alan), and Scott Lawrance, Wolfgang Koernig, Peter Baulch, Craig Boyd, Mark Bedford, Kim ‘the Phantom’ Radenic, Garry & Chris Wood, George Staynor and I headed off for our first coffee stop at Yarragon.

I learned a few things on this trip… Thing No.1… There is no petrol at Yarragon… which was OK (me being the only person that needed to fill up) as I did have enough petrol to go further down the road, but something to remember for future trips!

 

Cold beer, great pub meals, and the oldest juke box I’ve ever seen - thank goodness it had Puff the Magic Dragon on it!!

Lunch stop at Bairnsdale - not many ways to go too far off the beaten track when you have to get to Genoa - but it always amazes me when you see those ginormous power stations that fill the landscape. Next stop, Cann River, where we all fuelled up before the last few kilometres to Genoa.

Genoa - what a place and what a hotel! So many lovely old pubs in Australia have been renovated to within an inch of their lives, but the Genoa Hotel has got to be one of the most quintessential Aussie pubs - and where better to spend the first night on Australia Day!!

Cold beer, great pub meals, and the oldest juke box I’ve ever seen - thank goodness it had Puff the Magic Dragon on it!!

We had the pub to ourselves, there were after-dinner walks, pool playing, and after an innocent work-related anecdote from Craig, we had the saying of the trip - “up your bum bum”!!

Things I learned No. 2… Everyone gets ready to go half an hour earlier than the agreed time from the night before!!

So Day2 saw me quickly getting ready for what I thought was going to be a boring ride into Mallacoota for breakfast. I was unprepared for how windy the road is, and how busy it is. I was also unprepared for how beautiful Mallacoota is. We went in to Gypsy Point on the way back which also is lovely - very quiet (well, it was once we turned our bikes off).

We cross the NSW border, where we turn off just before Eden and head for the hills.

 

Australia Day ride 1

Things I learned No. 3… Turn on the bloody GPS tracker on my phone so I know where the hell we’ve been!!

So I have a general idea… It was beautiful scenery. We stopped to pay our respects to someone a lot of you will have known - Garry Disher. Such a beautiful but tragic place along the road. We continued on to Candelo.

Things I learned No. 4… There is no petrol in Candelo. But what a gorgeous little town!

The last 20 minutes into Cooma tested everyone - it got hot, and the landscape went from hills and lots of trees to a moonscape of flat, brown land. This was spectacular in itself, but I was pretty quick to throw off the helmet and jacket and head into an air-conditioned McDonalds!

Onwards to Dalgaty, which is on the Snowy River. Buckleys Crossing Hotel was certainly better maintained than Genoa, but this was our ‘hot night’ - you couldn’t open bedroom windows, and there were no fans. Plus there were only two toilets and two showers for the whole hotel - including patrons at the public bar and in for dinner.

I was surprised to learn that this was a serious contender to be the site of Australia’s capital city. But the biggest surprise was waiting for us when we pulled up - Jim Sandbach was standing on the balcony, cold drink in hand, waiting to welcome us!!

Now I don’t know where they all came from, because I reckon I saw about five houses, but that pub got very busy (maybe word had spread of a potential Phantom sighting?). Alas there was one old lady who was very disappointed as the Phantom did not show… but I will never forget the look on the face of a little boy, who had come in for dinner with his family, and after being shown all the bikes out the back of the pub, he chose to sit on a purple Boulevard and was allowed to rev that bike as loud as he could!! Pure joy (for the little boy and Kim!).

After a nice breakfast the next morning, someone decided I should lead the ride out of Dalgaty!! OMG are these people nuts??!!

Things I learned No. 5… Being ride leader is a lot harder than it looks!!

The morning was crisp, and the country back roads were basically empty; it was like the road was just for us. Another surreal moment was riding alongside the wind farms out from Dalgaty - these huge, skinny silent fans dominate the horizon.

So with no map, no radio - you guessed it - I rode past the turn off… which everyone else took!! And they still made me be the ride leader as we continued on to Bombala, our next stop.

We carried on to Eden, which was very busy, and the weather was starting to warm up, so half the group decided to go the most direct route back to Genoa, and Ron, Scott, Craig, Peter and I went the long way - up Imlay Road. If you have never been on this road it is compulsory.

Things I learned No. 6… I got a master class in how to go around corners really fast!! Thank you Ron in particular, who talked me through the finer points, let me lead and have a go. Lunch at Cann River and then back to the Genoa Hotel to catch up with the rest of the group, who had gone back via Mallacoota.

Last night of the trip - will the Phantom show or not!!

Saturday night at the Genoa Hotel was a bit busier - people from the camp ground dropped in as well as a few locals. The night was nearing the end and some had started to drift off to bed when… wait! Was that a flash of purple?

 

Australia Day ride - Phantom

Yes, the Phantom had arrived - no daring down-pipe antics this time - he quietly sidled up to the bar for a coldie. Dave, the owner, poured a beer, handed it over and, as deadpan as you like, said “looks like you’ve got a cross dresser in your group”!!

After a last morning traditional big cooked breakfast we head back to Cann River, fuel and coffee, then an early lunch at Bairnsdale before heading down to Yarram for our last coffee stop. A brief stop at Leongatha to stretch the legs, and then on to a very congested end to our journey - last day of the school holidays and the Island Classic, so bumper-to-bumper traffic. We say our goodbyes at Baxter and start to peel off in our different directions.

Things I learned No. 7… The generosity and fellowship of the motorcycle fraternity knows no bounds. I saw this across the whole weekend. Whether it was the unstinting generosity of spirit, knowledge and patience from within our group (particularly to me as an inexperienced rider) or the conversations you strike up with complete strangers when you stop for a coffee or fuel up.

I saw a saying on Facebook a while ago - “It’s the amazing number of people in my life that I wouldn’t have ever met if it wasn’t for motorcycles”. I would like to add to this the amazing country roads and out-of-the-way places that I would probably have never seen if it wasn’t for motorcycles.

Thank you everyone for making the weekend so enjoyable, and for everyone getting back safely. I’m sure I speak for everyone who came on the trip that it was a great four days away, with awesome friends, food and scenery - and fantastic roads that were made for riding!!

Paula Forbes #66731

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Australia Day Weekend Ride

time to read: 6 min