- Travel and Places
A Motorcycle Road Trip To Remember
5200 Kilometres On 2 Wheels
In March 2013 I decided to visit my family for Easter. This sounds simple enough right? But when you add the fact that they live around 2000 kilometres away and that I chose to ride my motorbike to get there, that is when things got a little more complicated!
A sensible person would have taken the 2 hour flight to get there but I chose to ride my motorcycle for a 6 day road trip instead. Then of course I had to turn around and come back home again. Am I crazy? I am not sure, perhaps you should read on and make your own judgement.
Origin: Gold Coast, Australia
Destination: Melbourne, Australia
Actual Riding Days On The Road: 9
Going, Going, Gone.
This is a collage that my wife put together of me leaving on my massive road trip. The trip was rather ambitious, maybe a little risky. I mean, anything could have gone wrong couldn't it planning a long road trip on two wheels.
But, you only live once and it was most definitely an adventure! The trip down to visit my family was 2705 kilometres (1680 miles) over 6 Days and had quite a few highs and lows. Read on to find out what happened along the way.
View The Map Of My 6 Day Trip South HERE
The GoPro Hero3 IsThe Camera I Used For This Trip
The GoPro Hero3 Black Edition is what I used to capture all of the footage of this trip. GoPro make amazingly small cameras that are incredibly versatile. They can record in many different modes and frame rates and can also photograph in a wide variety of modes as well. The Black Edition also comes with wifi remote, plus with the Silver and Black editions you have the option of using the phone app to set up and begin recording through wifi.
All of my videos on this page were shot using a GoPro Hero3 Black edition mounted to my helmet. This camera is awesome for capturing any sort of action video or even using as a normal video camera for those times when you cannot carry a larger camera.
Day 1 - Gold Coast to Glen Innes
So, day one of my trip started very early for me at 3am which is not unusual for me, but normally I can get back to sleep. Not this time. My mind was buzzing with excitement, nervousness and thinking about all the stuff I had to organise before I left. I laid there until about 5am when finally I got up and got into it.
By the time I was ready to leave, it was past 8am. Later than I had wanted to leave, but that was OK. I was not planning a big day today anyway as I knew I was losing an hour as soon as I crossed the border into "Mexico" where they have this crazy thing called daylight savings. I was also feeling a little nervous about leaving the wife and kids and our business for two weeks so I stalled the leaving for a little while.
The road to Casino was fairly straight forward and dull, going straight down the freeway to Bangalow where I hung a right across through Lismore to Casino where I picked up the Bruxner Highway. From then on until Tenterfield it was lots of amazing corners! Unfortunately I started getting rained on at about the same time as I hit the nice bends.
This was also the place where I crashed my bike the previous year breaking my collar bone, so I was feeling quite nervous through there! I only ended up doing 387 kilometres on the day which was less than I thought I would do, but after losing another hour to sitting out a thunder storm in Tenterfield and then losing some more time to having to go slow whilst riding in more torrential rain, I guess it had to do.
By the time I rolled into Glen Innes for the night, it was still relatively early local time but I was just wanting to get dry and warm so I booked myself into the first motel I saw and spent the night relaxing and trying to get everything dry for Day 2.
Day 2 - Glen Innes to Maitland
I woke bright and early again at around 4am on day 2 so I set about uploading the video from day 1 to YouTube while I tried unsuccessfully to get back to sleep. Eventually I aborted the sleep attempt and got up around 6am and went into the main street to take photos of the amazing old buildings that Glen Innes has in abundance. I eventually left the motel at about 8.30 after finishing posting photos and backing up files and all that and then rode around Glen Innes for a bit checking out sites such as the Standing Stones, Glen Innes' version of Stonehenge!
I then left town headed south, going straight past Armidale and stopped for a break at Uralla where I turned off for Thunderbolts Way, a scenic road named after the famous Bushranger "Captain Thunderbolt". At the tiny town of Walcha, Thunderbolts Way meets another great motorcycling road, the Oxley Highway and it was here that I stopped in at a great little cafe owned by motorcyclists called Walcha Royal Cafe. It is a great little spot with inviting gardens and motorcycle memorabilia everywhere inside the quaint old building.
It was here that I got talking to a Brisbane rider who had just ridden a lot of the roads I was about to travel on and was now heading home. He advised me against Thunderbolts Way, saying that it was in really bad condition, suggesting I take the Oxley Highway instead which would have taken me further north and adding a couple of hours to the trip. I was set to take his advice until I spoke to the cafe owners who were regulars on Thunderbolts Way. They said it was pretty rough, but also an amazing road that would be well worth it if I took my time and was careful.
The road turned out to be one of the most scenic I have ever been down, with river crossings, scenic vistas and amazing forests along the way, but it was definitely in horrible condition in some areas with some potholes being more like very large bus sized chunks missing than potholes! But there were also some really well maintained sections though with incredible sweeping corners which were a pleasure to ride through.
But the bad road along with lots of road works meant that today's route took me a lot longer than I had planned and got me into Maitland late afternoon instead of the early afternoon arrival I had wanted. That evening I had a nice relaxing night catching up with a childhood friend and his family, which was just what I needed after a huge day on the bike.
Day 3 - Maitland to Crookwell
Today ended up being massive and quite stressful at times! I woke early once more and got onto the computer again to upload and transfer files. I left my friends place at Maitland at around 8.30am when he took his kids to school and headed west in search of Bylong Way which would take me off the beaten track to Bathurst.
Well, I just did not realise how off the beaten track the road was as I got lost! At first I missed the turnoff, then when I picked up what I am pretty sure was the right road, uncertainty and doubt about it set in and I decided to turn around, go back to town and take the main road round the long way. I did not want the pressure of being lost in the wilderness so I opted for a route I knew would get me to Bathurst. (Note to self...buy a GPS for future trips)
So after that delay of around 2 hours, I finally arrived in Bathurst to take a few laps around the famous Mount Panorama racing circuit. It was here that my lack of organisation came to light once more as my memory card on my GoPro camera was full, so I had to remove files in order to film a complete lap of this spectacular track. I left Bathurst planning to head to Oberon for the night. I would have arrived before 6pm which I was happy about. I knew Oberon was on the road to Goulburn and I had seen signs pointing towards Goulburn, so I followed them out of town.
Unfortunately, I was on the wrong Goulburn road, (the more remote one it as turned out) which was fine initially and I figured that I could maybe make it to Goulburn before dark once I realised my error. But I was wrong! About the time that I had gone past the point where it was not worth turning back, I came across a long section of gravel road high in the mountains. This was followed to my relief by some bitumen, but the alternating pattern of gravel and sealed road repeated itself at least five more times before I came out the other side of the hills. All this gravel slowed me down a lot and the sun was setting fast. Thoughts of riding winding mountainous gravel roads in the dark were freaking me out!
Added to that, was the fact that I had to also ride very cautiously on the good bitumen sections of the road as I was travelling through kangaroo country at the peak time of day when they are out crossing roads! I saw one bouncing along beside me which was terrifying as they are so unpredictable. I also had to slow for some big fat feral pigs who were crossing the road right in front of me. I made it into a small town called Crookwell, not far out of Goulburn just after dark where I managed to get a cheap bed in some shearers quarters above the local pub. So, all was good and I crashed out totally exhausted, but satisfied that I'd had an amazing day and now as I reflect on the trip, I am glad that I took the wrong road!
The Drift Action Camera
The Drift is another popular brand of action camera. I have one of these as well as it is more streamlined on the helmet than the GoPro is. I now use this camera on my helmet and use the GoPro on my bike mounted either on the handlebars looking back at me, or mounted elsewhere lower on the bike. The Drift is much easier to change camera positioning than the GoPro and has the advantage of having a zoom option which the GoPro does not have. It is also easier to use an external microphone with this camera.
The Drift is my other helmet camera. Yep, I have two of them, but only one head!
Day 4 - Crookwell to Corryong
Day 4 was awesome! I hit the road at 8am and headed to Goulburn for breakfast, fuel, water and a few photos of the Big Merino. (It's a very large sheep!) It was then into the ACT for a stopover at Canberra where I got another battery and memory card for my GoPro camera so I could record more footage each day. I then did a quick lap around Parliament House before stopping to grab a few pics of my bike out the front. As soon as I had parked I had a Federal Police officer on me about parking in an illegal manner! He was pretty cool though when I told him I just wanted a few photos and he was very interested in the GoPro attached to my helmet.
Then it was south to Cooma and deep into the Snowy Mountains to Jindabyne where I stopped for a break about 2 hours later. I just happened to pick the right cafe to walk into once more as it was owned by a motorcyclist and he had all sorts of motorbike pictures all over the cafe walls. From Jindabyne, it was an awesome 2.5 hour ride through Kosciuszko National Park past Thredbo Ski Resort, lots of scenic lookouts and fast flowing mountain streams. I then left New South Wales, ending up in Corryong, Victoria for the night after crossing the Murray River just before the town.
Both motels in town were fully booked out, but the owners of one of them also owned the local pub which was closed for renovations but fortunately they said they could give me a room. A few minutes later another traveller turned up wanting a room so he ended up across the hall from me. As it turned out, he was also a motorcyclist who just happened to have the same bike as me! We ended up out for dinner together sharing motorbike and travel stories which topped a great day off nicely. I went to bed looking forward to some more awesome riding over Mount Hotham and into Gipplsand the next day.
Day 5 - Corryong to Myrtleford
Today was my shortest day by far and was very frustrating! I woke early and was ready to leave early until I went down to pack the bike and noticed it had rained overnight and the bike was all wet. I then went to start the bike, but there was nothing, not even dash lights. The battery was dead flat! So, into the pub I go to ask all the tradesmen working on the place if they have jumper leads. No one did.
I attempted to roll start it down the driveway without success, then I got someone from a cafe to push me on the bike down the street. Still no success. I then walked up the street to the local mechanic who was able to jump start the bike and I took it back to his workshop for testing. He confirmed that the battery was not charging properly and said I needed a new one. Luckily, he had one in stock, so I was able to get back on the road after parting with a large amount of cash!
Then the rain returned with a vengeance and I crawled my way to Tallangatta over 60km away where I opted to pull off the road and sit out the storm until the worst had passed. I checked the weather and the forecast was for it to blow over in the afternoon and be fine again tomorrow. I was only an hour away from the Hume Freeway which would have taken me into Melbourne that day if I wished to do so and I definitely thought about doing just that. But I knew that I would really regret it for a long time if I had missed the route over Mount Hotham.
So instead of aborting my plans to ride over Mount Hotham and continue down the freeway to Melbourne, I decided to ride the short distance to Myrtleford where I would have an early night and be set to go over Mount Hotham via the Great Alpine Road early tomorrow if the road was not closed. There was a possibility that it may have been closed due to damage from recent fires and rain. Upon my arrival in Myrtleford I happily discovered that the authorities had opened the road for the Easter period so I could go through uninhibited. I then checked into the Myrtleford Hotel for a restful night.
Day 6 - Myrtleford to Melbourne
After the rain of the day before, day 6 dawned cool, crisp and very clear. It was really cold and fresh in the Ovens Valley as I left Myrtleford and it remained that way most of the day. As I passed out of the valley at Harrietville for the climb to Mount Hotham, I entered the bizarre landscape that had been created by the recent fires that ripped up the mountainside. Some parts of the road had been damaged by the fire and subsequent landslides caused by heavy rain. There was also a lot of debris such as gravel and twigs on the road which I had to avoid. It was slow going but it was an awesome and very memorable part of the journey and the scenery was incredible.
By the time I had reached the ski resort of Mount Hotham the temperature had risen to a very cool 6 degrees Celcius and my hands were rather numb! The Great Alpine Road is the highest altitude year round sealed road in Australia and is full of amazing scenery. From there the road turned fast and flowing to Omeo and then was a good mix of tight and twisty road and fast flowing stuff following the stunning Tambo River as I headed towards the Gippsland coast and Bairnsdale.
After a fuel and food break at Bruthen, I hit the main highway at Bairnsdale soon after and rode all the way to Melbourne without stopping. The weather had turned overcast by the time I got into Gippsland, so I was only marginally warmer than I had been across the heights of Mt Hotham and I got to my destination at around 4pm after a thoroughly enjoyable day!
Day 6 - Part 1 Video
Day 6 - Part 2 Video
Gold Coast To Melbourne - Photos From The Trip SouthClick thumbnail to view full-size
Are You A Motorcyclist?
If so, let me know your longest trip. If not, would you consider riding a motorcycle?
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My Time In Melbourne
Victorian Motovlogger Meetup
In Melbourne I spent the next six days catching up with friends and family and even went on an awesome ride with some Victorians I know on YouTube up over Reefton Spur and into Marysville before returning to Melbourne via the Black Spur.
Let The Trip Home Begin
My trip home was a lot shorter in both distance and time (2060 kilometres or 1280 miles) but in a way it was a lot more challenging due to the amount of distance that I needed to cover each day. The amount of time spent on the bike the final two days was way past the point of comfort and a real struggle towards the end. View The Map Of My Return Trip HERE
Day 1 - Melbourne to Orbost
I left the Mornington Peninsula to start the long journey back home at about 8am heading east around Westernport Bay to the South Gippsland Highway. Instead of heading directly east along the Princes Highway which would have been the most direct route to take towards Orbost, I headed south around the bay to Phillip Island where I visited the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. (Home of MotoGP and World Superbike racing amongst many other events) Whilst there I took in some Porsche and open wheeled racing and bought myself a T-Shirt.
From "The Island" I headed along the coast through some of Victoria's most southerly towns before joining back up with the Princes Highway at Morwell, where I stopped for a quick rest before heading east along the Princes Highway directly to Orbost, stopping off once more in Bruthen for fuel. I then had a great night catching up with my father in law, talking motorbikes mostly, before hitting the sack completely exhausted!
Melbourne To Orbost Video
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Video
Waterproof Riding Gear
One of the first things that I bought when planning this trip was a waterproof jacket which would fit over the top of my existing jacket. You never know what weather mother nature might bring to you whilst on a long trip, so being prepared for anything is well worth the effort and the overall comfort from being dry makes riding safer and more enjoyable.
Day 2 - Orbost to Mittagong
I woke up early on day two of the return trip to a very cool Orbost morning. I set out in 9 degrees Celcius across the Bonang Highway which is over 100 kilometres of very winding mountainous road stretching from right in Orbost all the way into New South Wales. The Bonang Highway is one of the most popular motorcycle routes in Australia and for good reason.
I was greeted with a very smooth surface and loads of great corners. I was thinking "Yes! This is why loads of riders take this road to Phillip Island" But, what everyone forgot to mention to me was that the road has a section of gravel which stretches for around 15 to 20 kilometres. The first part of this was OK as it was hard rocky gravel and easy enough to ride on. But then the road turned clay like further in the forest and became very slippery indeed! I have no idea how some of the sports bikes I saw heading in that direction were going to get through there in one piece!
Once the road became sealed again, I crossed the border at the Delegate River into New south Wales once more, where the road turned fast flowing through open fields and farmland. I encountered a few more winding mountain areas over the next hour or so before popping out on the Princes Highway once more just south of Bega.
From there it was straight up the highway north through Bega, Narooma, Batemans Bay, Ulladulla and many more coastal towns before heading inland once more at Nowra. From Nowra the road I was on pointed towards Bowral near the Hume Freeway. This road took me over a beautiful mountain pass before dropping into the stunning Kangaroo Valley which was awesome to ride through. After climbing one more mountain, I ended up at the spectacular Fitzroy Falls which were an easily accessible short walk and close to the road I was traveling on. From there it was a short ride through Bowral and into Mittagong where I holed up in an old motel for the night, planning to possibly ride the 900 plus kilometres home the following day.
Day 3 - Mittagong to Gold Coast
This part of the trip was originally going to be a lot different than it was. The original plan was to get north of Sydney the night before, but as usual, the riding took longer than I thought as there were so many cool things along the way to check out. I always knew that this part of the trip might change to a straight run home so I was fine with my decision the night before to go straight through Sydney, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and up the Pacific Highway instead of going inland via the more mountainous and winding Putty Road and New England Highway.
I was on the road at around 6.15am NSW time with the aim of getting through the city before the traffic started to build. The sun started coming up while I was approaching Sydney and was light by the time I arrived at Sydney Harbour Bridge at about 7.30am where I took a few touristy happy snaps! From the bridge it was straight up the Pacific Highway headed for Newcastle and beyond until I stopped at the National Motorcycle Museum at Nabiac, just south of Taree.
I had seen the signs to this on previous family trips but never had the chance to stop before. Although I knew stopping here might mean another night on the road and not reaching home that night, I still stopped to check it out for an hour or so. It was well worth it with all sorts of motorcycle memorabilia on display and bikes ranging in build dates of 1887 and 1998 that I saw. The museum has a really interesting history in that it started as a private collection which grew and grew to the point that it turned into a museum.
Melbourne To Gold Coast (The Trip Home) Day 3 Part 1
The National Motorcycle Museum
After the visit to the museum, I kept riding on to Kempsey where I got rained on. The heavens looked like they were going to continue unloading on me so I got into my wet weather gear and hoped for the best. The rain did hold off mostly until near Coffs Harbour where it really came down heavily on me. It was so bad that I had to pull over under a bridge just south of Coffs where I waited for it to pass. It was here during my 30 minute wait that I contemplated stopping at Coffs Harbour for the night.
By the time I got into Coffs Harbour for a few happy snaps outside of the famous Big Banana, the rain had stopped so I decided to continue on to Grafton for the night. By the time I got to Grafton though, I was feeling really good even though it was 6pm. So I decided to push on and go home even though i was still 3 hours away. The thought of getting home energised me. I figured that I had maybe an hour of sunlight left and that the final run north of Ballina would be easy to do in the dark and wet. The rain did in fact return and with lots of roadworks along the way, it was slow going from Grafton until Ballina which I hit just after it got dark.
At Ballina the new freeway bypass made the going fast until the small hilly section near Bangalow and the Byron Bay turnoff where the heavens opened on me once again. Once that section was done, the roads dried and it was an easy, fast freeway run all the way home where I arrived safely at 7.45pm local time. Fourteen and a half hours after leaving Mittagong that the morning!
Melbourne To Gold Coast - Photos From The Trip Back HomeClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Hydration Pack Was Very Useful On This Trip
I loved the fact that I could drink water as needed whilst riding and without even getting off my bike or even stopping. Whenever I would slow for a town, I could just grab the hose, stick it in my mouth and drink! It was so simple and easy to keep hydrated.
All up the trip was 5201 kilometres and I saw some amazing parts of Australia that I had not seen before as well as some places I had previously visited but wanted to see once more. It was an awesome adventure and am glad to be home, but at the same time I am a little sad that it is over.
Now to start planning the next trip....