Saturday, November 14, 2009

my first photos...

I rode from Melbourne to Canberra on Thursday, 5th November, 2009.

It was an adventure and a test of my endurance – I had never completed such a long ride before. Yes, I took the boring route to Canberra – straight up the Hume Highway from Melbourne, turning onto the Barton Highway before hitting Sydney. But, because I was expected in Canberra on the Friday to attend a conference (of sorts), I thought it best to take the most direct route there.

I don’t like Canberra. Every time I go there, I feel like I’m on one giant roundabout. So, my time there was not exciting in any way. Even the motel I stayed in was way over-priced and I was abhorred by the few discoveries I made in my room whilst I was there. Anyway... yadda, yadda, yadda... the best part was when I LEFT Canberra on Saturday, 7th November...

Before I go on, I had planned to take the “scenic” route back to Melbourne – going south through the Namadgi and Deua National Parks to Cooma, then going through the Yadbiliga National Park to Bombala and finally, through the South East Forest National Park, over the border again into Victoria and through to Orbost.

But, on my way TO Canberra, I managed to burn my right leg on my pipes...
Since my motorcycle accident in 2001, my right leg (which was quite severely damaged) has trouble “feeling” things. One of those “things” is extreme temperatures... LOL

This is the second time I’ve done this, by the way. I stand too close to my bike when taking a break, my right leg touches the HOT exhaust pipe, and I don’t notice my skin burning until the damage is done.

The point of this story is to explain WHY I didn’t take that scenic route back to Melbourne from Canberra as initially planned... My leg was hurting. I thought it best to get back to Melbourne as soon as possible to treat it with ointments, dressings and antibiotics – none of which I had thought to bring along with me on this lengthy trip. What a genius I am. So, on Saturday morning, I left Canberra bright and early at 8am, heading back via the Hume Highway once more...

Or so I thought...

I rode and rode... I saw signs saying that Melbourne was 500+kms away...
Then, I got to the Wangaratta exits... I needed petrol! I was almost empty!

The first exit to Wangaratta was a little confusing – I thought it was saying that a petrol station/road house was coming up just AFTER the exit – this was not the case, and on I went down the Hume, praying that the next exit would sort me out. Exit number two... Wangaratta to the right, Myrtleford and Bright to the left...

I thought Myrtleford would have been closer to where I was – I was wrong! I must have travelled another 30kms at least before I found a petrol station. I’m happy to report that I made it to the petrol station on empty, thank goodness! I’m not sure how long I would have lasted before arriving by foot to Myrtleford!

After being mistaken for a guy by the petrol attendant who happily filled up my tank whilst admiring my “not-black-enough” beast, I decided not to return to the Hume, despite my leg needing medical attention.

I returned to my original plans, which was to stay in Lakes Entrance on Saturday night, before returning to Melbourne on Sunday. This meant that I had to get through Bright and Omeo before reaching Lakes Entrance. That’s what the map I printed from Google Maps said anyway...

One thing Google forgot to mention in their map was a little thing called MOUNT HOTHAM. I’ve never been there... didn’t even know I was near it, until I hit Harrietville and saw signs telling me that Mount Hotham was in front of me – I HAD to climb it to get to Omeo, it was the only way!

When the roads started getting more winding and narrow, I started to get nervous. I was gripping my handlebars tighter, white-knuckling a lot of the way up. It was quite disconcerting to see a cliff face dropping to my left... less than a metre from the road... Nevertheless, I pressed on...

I let the SQUIDs overtake me... I wasn’t going to race them... I took it nice and slow, stopping every now and then for a magnificent photo opportunity... The higher I climbed, the colder it got, the more confident I felt. Finally, I reached the resort at the top. Of course, it was practically a ghost town. Very little snow visible, no skiers and holiday-makers to be seen. So, I kept going... down the other side... which, I have to say, was far more enjoyable than the climb! It wasn’t as steep, and was far more relaxing for me to ride as a result.

Before I go on, it must be noted... despite this hair-raising experience, the Great Alpine Road has to be one of the most beautiful rides one could experience in Victoria. The scenery is astounding, the photo ops plentiful and the places you could stare at and get lost in your thoughts surround you at every turn. It truly is an inspiring part of the state.

I hit Omeo... got petrol again, and went from there down another gorgeous route to Lakes Entrance, passing through Swifts Creek and Bruthen. The Tambo River runs alongside the road on this stretch and was quite pleasant to see whilst tackling the winding roads through the hills here.

Hopefully, the photos I have selected, which were all taken with my mobile phone, will illustrate some of the beauty I got to see on my trip through to Lakes Entrance. If you haven’t completed this ride, what are you waiting for? Amazing, scary, beautiful, awesome, picturesque and mesmerising all at the same time... I’d happily do it again... :)













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