Monday, December 31, 2007

Australia's best motorcycle roads. Snowy Mtns via Mt Panorama

To the Snowy Mountains via Mt Panorama.

It was difficult to decide if I should post this as a 'best ride' or not try string things together for people wanting to visit Bathurst. Most motorcyclists I have met want to visit and ride the famous Mt Panorama either on the way to or from the GP or Superbikes so here is my take on how to see it and tie together riding Putty, the Bells line of Road and get to the Snowy Mtns region via the west and have a good ride.

First up as mentioned in the top 100 rides atlas there is that side road from near Lithgow to just before Bathurst via Tarana. Its a bit difficult to find on either end and I missed it last time coming over the Bells line of roads as you need to backtrack towards Katoomba. On this road there is a section of twistys and mixed road surface, not a bad ride and I enjoyed it coming from Bathurst previously as a break from the highway. Heading south I didn't mind the ride into Bathurst so much after the Bells road so guess you can make your own call if you ride this or not depending on if you need a highway break or not. Its a bit hard to locate riding east of Bathurst, you turn right onto the road to Oberon that has a motorbike shop on it, if you come to the BCF shop then you have gone too far.

For Mt Panorama you follow the signs to get to the race track which sounds easy but there are so many signs that sometimes you might end up going the wrong way. The track is a public road so I guess it does qualify as a good motorcycle road however its a rather special case. You will like I be amazed at how steep and how high it is and how tight the corners are. Terrific views from the top and its kind of addictive so you may end up doing a few laps.

After Bathurst the Mid Western H-way has a nice feel to it and you will shortly arrive at Blayney where there is a small windfarm. Worth a quick look, then onto Cowra where you can visit their famous Japanese gardens. Need to allow alot of time if going to the gardens as they are huge and like nothing else in Australia.

Heading south from Cowra take the Lachlan Valley h-way not the rough Olympic h-way. The Lachlan has heaps of near new surface and you can enjoy a little extra pace on its smooth tar and gentle sweepers should you desire. Its big skys here and the country really opens up before you in a rather spectacular fashion. At Booroowa head over to historical Harden, the roads here are of lesser quality but a reasonably smooth line is not too hard to find and again its interesting country side or you can scoot over quite quickly should you want to.

Now go towards Beggan Beggan and enjoy a real surprise, lots of great sweepers over a series of gentle hills before you join the boring as hell Hume h-way for the short run to Gundagai. Watch your speed as this section is very heavy policed. Now exit again and follow signs to ride to Tumut on an easy flowing piece of road that offers some curves and scenic views.

From Tumut the excellent Snowy Mountains highway awaits.


Australia's best motorcycle roads. Bells line of road.

Bells Line of Road (The Blue Mountains) NSW.

I joined this road just before Kurrajong. A nice steep climb then up to the plateau, however a speed camera spoils the fun a bit. At the top a nice lookout awaits, I could just make out some highrises of Sydney even on a cloudy/hazy morning so I imagine the view on a clear day would be superb.

Now you will ride along a scenic but very touristy section of the road that will no doubt have a bit of traffic as well. Then further both of these thin out and you will find yourself on top of the ridges of the Blue Mountains. Here it all comes together, the road and curves are terrific and so is the spectacular scenery.

At the end of the road you have a very steep descent down Mt Wilson into Lithgow. An interesting view can be had from the small memorial stop half way down the range.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Grow old, ride safe....enjoy the ride

Here is some scans of a superb brochure I picked up from the cafe in Walwa on the Murray River Road, Victoria. Produced by motorcyclists for motorcyclists. Its not saying the usual speed kills dribble just to ride within your limits and has some excellent advice that will have you nodding your head regardless of your riding skill.

This is the sort of thing I would like to see produced and available in cafes of all regions popular with motorcycles for new riders to pick up.

Click to enlarge

Australia's best motorcycle roads. Whitfield

Mansfield to Whitfield.

Here is another great ride in the north east highlands of Victoria. This road has plenty of variety for a motorcyclist to enjoy, its almost like 4 roads in one. I will describe the road from south to north.

Mansfield is a town servicing the snow resorts you are spoilt there for choices when it comes to good food and coffee.

Leaving Mansfield and entering the hills more you will enjoy first a dryer section of countryside with newish road that has excellent surface and generous surveying and a series of corners that are near perfect.

The corners just flow on and on in this section on the Mansfield side.

After this the road has two sections where you are up in the high country forest and the road narrows but it is still a good quality surface with plenty of curves and another section where you are more in the open following the ridges with some excellent views over the ranges.

After this the road changes again as you descend down towards Whitfield and later on to King Valley, home of some excellent wineries. On the descent you will enjoy a mix of tight corners along with many superb sweepers.


Australia's best motorcycle roads. Murray valley highway.

Murray Valley Highway

Victoria really has one thing over the rest of the east coast - open roads with great sweepers. This is yet another Vic road with those rare sweeping bends I enjoy most of all.

You might ride this either having just come over the Snowy Mtns or heading towards them. Either way it flows just as good and the scenery in this part of the country is right up there with the very best, Tallangatta to Corryong or visa versas this really is such an enjoyable ride.

Looking towards Snowy Mtns near Corryong

Now this road invites a more brisk sort of pace by its easy flowing nature however both times I was in this area there was unmarked radar cars operating south of Corryong.

Murray valley


Australia's best motorcycle roads. Putty Road.

Putty Road.

This is probably the first route I read was a popular motorcycle ride. Now days we have the top 100 200 rides atlas and internet forums its all too easy to find where to ride however when I first thought out some roads I wanted to ride I was relying more on word of mouth

I have ridden this road in both directions but I would not say that one way is noticeably better than the other, perhaps north to south flowed better for me slightly so I will describe it that way but people from Sydney no doubt ride a loop via here and the Bucketty road and could advise the best route if coming from there.

If like me you would be arriving from Brisbane then you can choose this road and then easy bypass the City by heading west and then riding the excellent Bells Line of Roads (see post elsewhere) and then continue south via the west. I have also arrived via the Bucketty road and then the famous but for me over rated 'Old Road' into Hornsby.

Righto then back to the Putty. Leaving Cessnock there is some nice curves and I will return here to visit some of the many excellent wineries in the area (lots!) and perhaps write more about this area later. For now some photos.

Then joining the Putty proper you will soon be on the best section of the road where it twists and turns tracing the curves of the adjacent creek. There seems to be a lot of gravel trucks on this road and they travel rather fast on this at times narrow section too so keep that in mind.

The road opens somewhat and you will come to the half way servo before too long that probably is a familiar sight to many Sydney riders. Beyond here the road has another superb section of tight curves. Take it easy here - many crosses on the side of the road of riders that took it all too seriously - your a long way from a hospital. After this the road continues to offer an assortment of curves and then some longer straight sections in a scrubby type fauna section of the Wollemi National Park. Some more nice sections around Colo Heights and before you know it your exiting the forest.

Couple of corners like this above with crosses and helmet memorials, reminds me of Mt Glorious.

Click to enlarge any photos

An enjoyable ride.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Australia's best motorcycle roads. Bulahdelah.

Bulahdelah - the other "Old Road"

It's a magic bit of tar..
Here is a road that you would never find if not for local knowledge.

The Pacific highway in it's older form was a far more interesting road than it is now. Twisting and turning its way around every mountain and valley road surveyors sure earned their money in those times. I recall as a lad my parents with caravan in tow cursing the numerous difficult ranges to cross on our old highways, the cars of the time had neither the power or brakes to deal with the often steep climbs and descents. Now cars would have little trouble but all those old roads have become straight and featureless.

Feels spooky at times on this deserted road
Edges are VERY slippery.

A few pieces of the old highway exist. I have found a couple but would dearly love to know of more bits of our old highways as I love traveling along them. This is a section of the old Pacific highway that runs from Bulahdelah. The entry points from the new highway are a little hard to find so please check the google map to get and idea however the township of Wootton lies on the road so this is something to aim for.

Now on this route and in the middle of nowhere you will come across the road in these pictures. Its quite a surreal experience to be traveling along this all by yourself without seeing any other vehicles. Its a great ride but because it is so low traffic there is alot of leaf litter, do not venture off the worn light coloured tar, the dark tar at the edges of the road are extremely slippery! Not all the road is like this but there is a large section that crosses a mountain range that twists and turns for a good distance like this then tightens and has some steep sections that make for one very special ride. Its a bit out of the way but honestly its worth making a special trip to visit this very unique and special road.


Bulahdelah to Booral

As an add on to above I will mention this road here as you will need to cross over from Bucketts Way to the Pacific H-way to ride the old highway but then will want to cross back over as soon as possible. North you can follow the Bucketts way across and I shall post it up elsewhere, south is this connecting road.

The road from the coast rises over a small range that offers up plenty of corners however this road is very old and the surveying style is not so predictable nor is the surface in very good condition. Parts have been resealed and other sections are the original surface and in between its broken up in places. The old double yellow line marking used long ago on our roads is faded but still visible in a few sections - this is the only place I can think of that this still exists. (not to be confused with the alpine area amber yellow marking)

Update: I found out this yellow line marking was once used on all our National road system. The Bucketts way was the original route Sydney to Brisbane and then it was decided to build a new alignment to the east. What they did was upgrade this road so people could use the new eastern Pacific hway to here then cut back over to the old Bucketts because they were still building the river bridges north of here.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Australias best motorcycle roads - Kangaroo Valley

Kangaroo Valley NSW

This is a really beautiful area. It reminds me a little of the Numinbah valley in QLD I ride often, but only in passing as both are unique places.

I have updated this post with some new info and photos.

From Nowra NSW there is a superb ride from what is basically sea level straight up the side of the two mountains that lie to the northwest. The first particular section of road actually rides very well down hill also simply because the views are wonderful and you miss them riding up. The 2nd climb however is a road that definitely works better riding uphill and its steep and very tight.

Above: The first mountain climb and lookout.
So with that in mind I suggest visiting the lookout at the top, there is a nice coffee shop there.

After here you can enjoy a series of excellent tight corners that hug the ridge before arriving in the town of Kangaroos Valley itself. Now ride on though the valley proper and you will come to another steep twisty mountain climb - amazingly you will climb as much as you did previously over again to arrive in what is the high country that lies above.

Above: The valley itself and next mountain you climb and road up it.
Be sure to stop at the Fitzroy falls, they are spectacular and I am told I missed out on another excellent lookout near by as well.

Fitzroy falls.
All in all a very pretty area that I will visit again for the sights as well as the excellent motorcycle riding.

However don't bother stopping at the "Australia's Best Pies" shop. Tasty enough but "Australia's Most Expensive and over rated Pies" is a more suiting title. Better food to be had in the village or towns either side of the valley.