Day 8: Okay, definitely going home after this one. Now in Canberra after a long day on the Snowy Mountains. Just taking in the sunset before I call it a day.
This day marks the return journey back home to Sydney. I probably shouldn’t have bothered with the visit to Albury late last night, because there really was no meaningful purpose in doing so. With more careful planning, I would have ventured to Corryong via Bright and Mount Beauty, provided that I had enough time from the previous day which was mostly spent in Melbourne before leaving past lunch time.
Great thing, though, that there are still a great selection of roads between Albury and Sydney, so all was not lost. I still had the opportunity to ride through a part of Kosciuszko National Park. Generally, this region is referred to as the Snowy Mountains, home to the highest peaks in Australia. With an alpine climate in its colder seasons, due to its substantially high elevation compared to the rest of the country, its terrain is characterised by dramatic hills which makes its roads a great scenic experience. I’ve visited the Snowy Mountains every year so far ever since I’ve taken up on motorcycling, and it’s just one of those places that doesn’t get old.
Taking the route to Tumbarumba, it was worlds better than taking the road back home for the rest of the trip via the Hume Highway. I’ve always loved this part of the country, which crosses the Great Dividing Range, for its variety of landscapes just like the Victorian side of the range. The towns are mostly untouched by corporate commercial domination, so there is a distinctive country spirit to the communities, in that local businesses are there to wholesomely serve the local community. You won’t see a Woolies or Coles out here.
Tumbarumba is a small country town with a population of approximately just 1500. A perfect place to make as a base to explore the western part of the Snowy Mountains region, it’s also a motorcycle-friendly town, which is evident by the number of riders that visit the town every weekend. The Union Hotel pub is a good food/grog/accommodation venue for riders that Motorbike Nation has mentioned in one of their online posts.
After Tumbarumba, it was time to head towards Canberra. For the first time, I took the route of Elliott Way which leads to Cabramurra, from where I will continue on through Adaminaby and Cooma via the Snowy Mountains Highway. The Elliott Way route ventures down and across the very steep valley that is home to the Tumut River. The roads out here are generally quiet, without much traffic apart from the odd logging truck and local utes, so riding the Grom at your own pace is enjoyable while appreciating the natural landscape of the Snowies.
With many tight turns and downhill hairpins, the road requires some due care where slight gravel can create a potential slip hazard, as well as the narrow width of the road which drivers of larger vehicles sizes may cut into your side of the road. This is one of the areas where the Grom shines, even with its sub-par stock tyres, using its nimbleness to eat up the curves like a lightweight supermoto. The dramatic decline from the western side of the valley brings you to the banks of the river, where the O’Hare Rest Area provides a scenic break by the water as well as a spacious camp site for a group of travellers.
The run uphill from Tumut River on the road is an equally involving ride. The road becomes the Goat Ridge Road and, although it is just as steep and numerous in corners, surfaces improve on the eastern side as you approach closer to Cabramurra. In short, if you survived it through Elliott Way, then Goat Ridge Road should be a relief for the less confident road tourer. Although the Grom struggles with the higher-speed major roads, it seemed very much at home on these tight back roads; not at all overpowering but just enough pull for you to enjoy the ride safely on foreign asphalt.
The road from Cooma onwards gets difficult for the Grom once again, as you approach a 100km/h speed zone on single-lane highways. Passing Cooma after 3pm, I was due for a little nap. After all, it had been a big day up to this point on a small bike! It was wonderful to have my AirChair with me for this part of the trip, because the parcel for the online purchase arrived at my address just right after the completion of the QLD leg. This is a brilliant kit for all travellers, folding very compact so that it fits easily in your bag. When the inflatable sofa is fully expanded, it forms a body-sized plush cushion on which you can take a refreshing nap. It’s a must have. In fact, I don’t know why I didn’t get it sooner!
The much-needed nap on the AirChair worked wonders for the rest of the afternoon ride to Canberra, arriving safely in the urban centre of Australia’s capital city by that later afternoon. Obligatory visits to the Parliament House and accompanying photos soon followed.
Upon sunset, I set out towards home. Conditions were so windy that the Grom struggled to keep up with the highway speed. Even just maintaining a speed of 80km/h was an effort made just in vain as headwinds dramatically restricted my pace, whilst the odd crosswind pushed me out to up to a metre off the line within my lane, reminding me of that disastrous first night on Castlereagh Highway towards Coonamble. The waves of the water at Lake George was a definite indication that I was not a very smart man to be doing this trip on such a bike in these conditions. I guess it takes a lot for me to get things through into my thick skull.
For quite a substantial journey, the Honda Grom was able to cover a lot of ground. The suitability of the bike didn’t really matter in the end. I still made it home, the bike runs as good as it ever has, and I’ve been able to make the absolute most of my days off from work before returning again to the daily grind. I could have made things easier by riding a more appropriate bike. My physical body would have made me rest my sleep-deprived self if it had the autonomous ability to make decisions for me. I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done in the 8 days, though. I’ve always wanted to be able to specifically take a little Honda Grom across the eastern states of Australia. The deed is done!
So that’s now out of my system, and probably means that I need to find another hobby to fulfil the next void within me. That particular void is growing in me, but I’m not going to reveal that just yet… But it’s growing. It terrifies and excites me at the same time. But it needs a lot of planning, a lot of time and, sadly, a lot of money. That’s all that I can mention 🙂
Basic Statistics for the day:
- Route: Albury, Tumbarumba, Cabramurra, Cooma, Canberra, Sydney
- Total distance: 704km
- Range of ambient temperature: 14°C to 31°C
Expenses for the day:
General map route: