2017 Alpine Rally
This year I travelled with Les Watt from Bendigo and we had an interesting trip on Friday from our mneeting point along McIvor Road in Bendigo to our overnight accommodation in Albury just over the Victorian border in New South Wales. The weather was good all the way and the bikes didn't miss a beat.
As we had plenty of time we managed to get to Albury without using the Hume Freeway / Highway. We crossed into New South Wales and came into Albury via Howlong. In fact we did not get onto the Hume until we were on the return trip at Wodonga and then we left it at Violet Town. Albury, being just over 300 kms away, was well within the fuel range of the tank of both bikes so apart from tourist stops and a stop for lunch we more or less went straight through to Albury.
At just a little before 10 am the next morning Nic Watson arrived from Melbourne. Nic needed fuel so the three of us headed to the service station near Blacklocks but not before stopping to have a chat with Neville Borgelt on the side of the road as you do while passing through a foreign town.
From Blacklocks we crossed over the Hume freeway and picked up the Murray River road back on the Victorian side of the border but not for long as we crossed the Murray again using one of two remaining Murray river ferries.
The ferry crosses the river at Granya in Victoria and Wymah in New South Wales. The ferry can take three cars with a special area set aside for passengers without vehicles. The Wymah Ferry is one of only two surviving publicly operated ferries that cross the Murray River, the other being the Speewa Ferry, at Swan Hill. Using the Wymah Ferry allowed us to pick up River Road heading towards Jingelic.
It is worthwhile taking the dirt road on the New South Wales border side just for the view offered of the Murray. From Jingelic the GPS was saying turn right (and head along Munderoo Ournie Rd) while the road signs said turn left so we opted for the road signs and followed the major road via Mannus to Tumbarumba. We had a break in Tumbarumba for a late lunch and Les even picked up an egg and bacon roll to heat over the fire for breakfast on Sunday morning at the Rally. Sitting in the main street we saw many heavily laden bikes go by. Some heading to the rally on the roads we would use for our trip home.
From Tumbarumba we travelled via Batlow and stopped in Tumut for petrol. From Tumut it is only a short ride of about 65 kilometres along the Snowy Mountains Highway to the Rally SIte at Yarrangobilly Bridge (Cotterill's Cottage). All of it on bitumen. The view along the way, especially between Blowering and Talbingo on the edge of the Snowy Mountains, was magnificent.
Arriving at the rally site we quickly set up our five star accommodation and threw any unnecessary gear inside the tents so we could head off for the thermal pool at Yarrangobilly Caves. The caves are a short ride along the Snowy Mountains Highway followed by a short gravel road to the Ranger Station. In previous years we have visited the caves but this year our destination was a litle bit further away and nearer the exit road. Once at the car park you realise you have to be fit to go swimming or even to look at the pools close up as there is a 700 metre walk down the mountain side to get to the pools. The water comes out of the ground at 27 degrees - colder than body temperature but warmer than the air temperature we were experiencing. We all made the 700 metre side of a cliff walk but only two out of the three riders were feeling fit enough or possibly mad enough to go for a dip. Once in it was beautiful but very difficult to get out of especially when thinking of having to get changed back into riding gear.
By the time we worked up enough courage to get out of the pool and had walked the 700 metres back up the side of the mountain it was time to use headlights to get back to the rally site.
The usual happenings happened overnight at the Rally Site and what happens at the Rally stays at the Rally. I saw a few other BMW MCC Vic members as well as many other rally goers that I have met over the years. This year I did not hear anyone doing burnouts and the fireworks were as good as always.
Sunday morning and the thermometer on some bikes reported -6 and mine reported -4. As minus 6 sounds better that is the official temperature! Water left out in bottles was partially frozen and some people were heard to complain about airbed's deflating overnight. The idea of buying an egg and bacon roll, in theory was a good idea, but I am reliably informed that heating up the outside of their egg and bacon roll leaves the middle still frozen.
Rally Attendance Badges are traditionally handed out at 9am. The rally originally started in 1969 and has been running continuously since then. The 50th anniversary is rapidly approaching and many people have attended over the years. There is a general rule that the rally is for 2 and 3 wheel vehicles but as a special concession the 50th anniversary in 2019 will allow anyone who has attended previously and can no longer travel on a 2 or 3 wheeler to attend in a 4 (or more) wheeled vehicle. To have this privilege you must be able to present your old rally badge.
After the badges were distributed we packed our remaining items onto the bikes and said our farewells before heading south towards some of the best hot chocolate in the country at Cabramurra. From Yarrongobilly we travelled south along the Snowy Mountains Highway before turning right just before Kiandra onto Link Road going past the Mount Selwyn snowfields where we had been assured there was snow suitable for tobogganing but not for sking.
Interestingly, considering the remoteness of the town of Cabramurra, a mere $8.00 was paid for a very welcome hot pie with as much sauce as you wanted and a hot chocolate. Along the way we really had to try hard to find snow up close. Even the snow at Cabramurra had to be looked for and then it was only in the shadows. Cabramurra is the highest permanently inhabited town on the Australian continent, situated at 1,488m AHD (4,880 ft) in the western Snowy Mountains.
The road from Cabramurra to Khancoban was closed so we headed out past Tumut Number 2 Pond towards Tumbarumba along Goat Ridge Road and Elliot Way dodging a few cars and big capacity cruisers along the way. At the intersection of the Corryong / Tumbarumba road we turned left and stopped at Southern Cloud Memorial, the first time I have been through there at that time of day and it wasn't shrouded in fog. This time the clouds were below us and we had a clear view to Mt Kosciusko.
We passed through Corryong looking for petrol for the bike with the small tank but had no luck so we headed off to Wodonga at a reduced speed to save fuel. The K1600 and the R1100 GS with larger fuel tanks made it with ease - the smaller sized R1200GS made it with 400cc of petrol left and the distance to empty in negative figures. The K16 reported 370kms since filling in Tumut the day before and due to the slower speed a consumption of 5.4 litre / 100kms.
We had another stop along the Hume Freeway near Glenrowan for a coffee and something for afternoon tea before saying goodbye to Nic at Violet Town. Apart from riding into the sunset and the drop in temperature Les and I had an uneventful ride back to our starting point in Bendigo before heading in our own direction home. Les had another 50 minutes on the road before making it home and I was home in a matter of minutes. Although we tried to use different roads for the entire trip we did around 20 kms on the same road on the way back.
Another Motorcycle Alpine ended for the year. The 49th one will be at a location still to be announced. Henning Jorgensen had one site in mind and when he first investigated it the proposed site had three bog holes and when he went back just before this year's rally it had another 10 or maybe more so he has ruled that out. Thank goodness as the K1600 doesn't really make a good GS and even getting to the old Brindabella site at "Tinut" saw many GS's sliding along the grassy slopes. Even the son's S1000RR had trouble climbing the grassy slopes. I'm not sure if the S1000RR "Rain Mode" is the equivalent to "Off Road" mode on a GS. :)
The Australian Alpine Motorcycle Rally is always held over the New South Wales Queen's Birthday weekend in June.