Saturday, November 24, 2007

Australia's best motorcycle roads. G.A.R

The Great Alpine Road.

Top to bottom the Great Alpine road starts more or less at Myrtleford and runs all the way to Bairnsdale. If your heading south from Sydney or Brisbane then you may arrive on to the road just south of Bright having traveled across the excellent Tawonga Gap road. The lead in roads from the north are the excellent Murray Valley highway and even better Murray River road after the Snowy Mtns (see my other posts for further info)

Above and below - The town of Bright.

Continuing south then from Bright the road is pleasant enough until Harrietville where the climb begins. You first commence a steep, very tight corner mountain climb right up to the snow gums. Once there you travel along the edge of the mountain on a longish section of road with a mix of corners that are not always well surveyed and have a special Alpine road tar that is uneven due to it being very soft to deal with the winter temperature. (read comments below) Look around for great views over to Mt Hotham before you climb up steep again up to the top in a mixture of sweepers with dramatic mountain drops either side (some loose road surface so take care). This section is perhaps unique in Australia, a true very high alpine pass road that I am sure will delight most regardless of conditions.

Do not underestimate how cold the alpine roads are - this photo taken in October...

There are a couple of lookouts and its well worth stopping as the views are indeed spectacular, you can see for a vast distance over the series of ranges. Beyond here lies Hotham ski resort village and then you will ride the plateau for some way before you start to descend gently.

Wonderful art deco motel in Omeo.

Now begins what I feel are the best sections of the road. Going down the range you will encounter most every kind of corner however mostly they are the more flowing type with excellent surveying. I really enjoyed the section that runs down into Omeo and the next descent south of Omeo, beautiful sweeping corners, this type of road is really the rarest kind in Australia and unfortunately for readers, I was enjoying it so very much I forgot to stop and photograph.

From about Ensay you will start to follow the Tambo river. The road now travels along a lovely scenic valley that twists and turns hugging the river. And just when you think its over you have one final twisty section over some final hills. What a road, what a ride! These photos simply do no justice to it at all as I was mostly too busy enjoying myself that I didnt notice the better photo spots.

Highly recommended motorcycle ride.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Australia’s Best Motorcycle Roads – Comboyne road NSW

The road from Wauhope to the village of Comboyne is a fantastic ride. I rode across from Wingham and the rest of this road south has a long gravel section that is not well graded and very loose stones but from Comboyne north you have a terrific table top dairy area then a twisty mountain pass down to a wonderful road of sweeping corners. Unfortunately I do not have much in photos as my GoPro did not record on the day properly. There is also a nice lookout called Knoll lookout with views of the Ellenborough falls which I was not aware of at the time of riding here.

I am not certain but think the road to Kew is all sealed so this then becomes a great way to skip some of the Pacific highway. South from there you can ride via Lansdowne to skip more and then be on the Bucketts way or visa versa in reverse.




Sunday, November 18, 2007

Good motorcycle roads #40 - Tweed Valley, Nunderi.

Dodging rain clouds

First ride today since my tour. Forecast was morning showers clearing, well it was not raining in the morning thankfully to cancel the ride however the rain clouds circled the Gold Coast and northern NSW mountains all day and my ride partner and I had to alter our ride plans accordingly to avoid getting wet. Good thing we have developed some reasonable skills on reading the clouds and have a good feel for what the weather will do more or less.

Here is a place and road I am sure not too many people will know about. Nunderi, east of Murwillumbah. This is a first ride report so I am going to add to this post a bit more soon on nearby roads and extra photos. But first - drum roll please, 40th good road posting right here!

OK , One possible route to enjoy this road is from Murwillumbah head to Mooball - the town on the Tweed Valley way with the cow theme ('moo' ball) and pub that is very popular with HD clubs. (why not enjoy the ride there via Stokers Siding as well as the magical Burrinbah Range)

Part of the nice climb on the coast side

Now turn on to Pottsville Rd at Mooball and ride this over the highway (overpass) and enjoy some curves and nice view of ocean before coming to T junction , turn left and join the highway north for a short way then exit on Clothiers Creek Rd. This is a lovely ride over a small ridge that has some nice views over the valley and many nice curves. There is a quaint small rural community of Nunderi that you will pass by and return to the Tweed Valley way near Condong.
This ride isnt one road really but a couple strung together, as a way to ride over the Clothiers creek road. Give me some time and I shall explore this area some more and maybe add some variation to this. (Update. Extra photos and new routes are here)

Above: You won't need to check signs unless you leave the road to explore.
Below: Interesting views to be had.

Now you can either go to Tumbulgum and perhaps ride Terranora and Hogans rd then Currumbin or Numminbah valley. Or back to Murwillumbah and south or via Tyalgum - then on to whatever other roads, the choices are endless.

Tweed river, Tumbulgum. Good food and coffee a plenty.Watch the ski boats go by.

Thats the beauty of this area and why I think it is a motorcycle paradise and indeed named this site the same. There is so many good roads and things to see and endless places to stop for a coffee or pub lunch. I understand the new riders and the Mt G scene, been at that point myself long time ago, but for the experienced riders that have moved on please do consider visiting these parts. I rarely ride the 1/2 dozen northside roads that everyone seems to ride over and over, despite my living in the CBD and thus being close to them. Their not a bad ride occasionally but there is so much more, much of which is better, to be enjoyed elsewhere.

Don't have a same view on there not being anywhere good to ride - get out there! :-)


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Australia's best motorcycle roads. Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road

This is Australia's most well known scenic drive and is a road every rider has probably thought about visiting at some point. Built by returned soldiers to honor fallen mates this is the largest war memorial in the world. I was told many times it was overrated but that's rubbish it is a superb road and a wonderful ride

On a fine day like I encountered the views are wonderful, something really uplifting.
The road follows the ocean at first and later into the countryside a little and a mountain range before returning to the ocean. It has plenty of corners of all kinds and is well surfaced. I heard alot about this road before I got here but much of what I was told was incorrect IMO. People told me to be careful of the gravel on corners however I saw very little. The only small issue I will agree on is the speed limits in some parts are modest, a lot of 70 kph sections and you probably need a little extra pace than that to make it enjoyable as the road is well surveyed. But then there are a lot of other popular roads with these sorts of low speed limits now in Australia. Some people just cant stand the idea of another person having a tiny bit of enjoyment in their life. Make your own call here as you would do elsewhere.
There are a higher number of tourist vehicles and caravans, but there is also heaps of places to overtake and lots of slow lanes for them to pull over which everyone did for me. There is a lookout point every few K as well which clears the way for you as well - nice!

The ocean hugging part of the road is the first section, after that you have some scenic country side where the road flows well and then you will enjoy a hilly section with nice sweepers and some gentle rise and fall. Unfortunately I forgot to capture this section in photos as I was distracted by the police radar operating in the area.

After Lavers Hill is a superb mountain range section with lots of tight twists and turns as good as they come and some faster curves either side and on to the 12 apostles area its all good all the way.

One thing that makes this and the Great Alpine Road and Oxley H-way so good is their length. There are many good rides/roads around but only a few that are a great for nearly 200km's.

The Great Ocean Road is very much the premium ride that you might imagine and well worth the effort to go to one day. Its a truly beautiful part of Australia. I wish I had allowed more time to explore it in more depth - good excuse to go again some day.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Australia's best motorcycle roads. The Oxley.

The Oxley Highway

Start of the mountain eastern side
High country

Never ending corners

Thats one happy rider

The Oxley remains one of the top rides in Australia or anywhere. Some roads have lots of corners all squashed together so you spend all your time on mid change of direction rather than enjoying a radius and hang time. The tail of the dragon I am reliably told is like that and super overrated. Other roads are very photogenic, like Stelvio, which I can personally vouch is lousy to ride being just lots of u-turns connected by straights and overrated. The Oxley however is a true riders delight. Not only does it have a huge number of corners but they come at you in every sort of radius, spaced out to be well defined. The road is maintained to near perfect condition by people who themselves ride it and is low traffic not a popular route for cars, campers or trucks

How you get there is half the fun, there are alot of good roads in between there and Brisbane or Sydney. My suggestions is avoid the Pacific h-way at all costs - boring and heavy police action.

Impossible to capture this roads twists and turns in a photo
Open country on the western side is a visual feast
If riding from the west then you will wonder what the fuss is about at first. Very open country side that while beautiful doesn't have alot of curves. You can see for miles and the temptation is to open it up a bit but watch out for farmers. Then after awhile you will hit the forest then the curves will begin to tighten. And they continue to do so until you arrive at Gingers Creek general store and the only shop between Walcha and Long Flat.

Dont count on being able to get fuel there despite the pumps. Riders keep saying you can however a mate and I have both been told 'we have no fuel'. (the horse riding holiday retreat half way down the mountain has fuel in an emergency) Update - seems fuel supply has been reliable for some time now.

Do visit the Aspley falls about 10 k out of Walcha
Leaving Gingers riding east the road is a seemingly never ending series of 30-40k posted corners that goes for 40km. That equals 100's and 100's of corners. After this you drop down into the valley, the sharp corners continue, followed then by more open faster road as you follow the creek in the valley to Long Flat.

Fuel is available at Long Flat. The road then still has alot more curves for you all the way to Wauhope, lovely sweepers and a few more tighter bits in places. All up you have ridden about 170 km of some of the best riding you will experience anywhere.

The road actually rides better in the opposite direction to above and I have always ridden it from east to west the next day on the return. I wanted to explain the road in the above way as many people do approach from the west first due to the lead in roads of the Thunderbolts way from the south or going via Ebor or the Gwydir range from the north.