Although now seven months on from our accident it was here at the Jingellic rally we formed the bonds of friendship that would help us through the next difficult months. These friend’s have now become “our family” and helped us through the bad times to find the good times again. Thank you one and all the Moto Guzzi Club of Victoria. You really are the best.
Our route out of Canberra took us past Browne street, for those who don’t know that is our surname so we had to stop for a photo. We were heading for Wee Jasper a dirt /gravel ride recommended to us. Soon we were weaving through farm land, one fabulous long flowing bend after another, passing over rivers on a variety of bridges. We had a slight scare when rounding one tight mountainous bend we found a lorry on our side of the road but we all got around each other unscathed although a little shaken.
The start of the dirt section seemed a little daunting as it had been badly washed away by recent rains running down the mountain side. It got better though and we enjoyed a good ride, the dirt continually improved the closer we got to Tumut. Time had stood still a little out here and some of the barns were a little shaky on their footings.
We stopped for lunch in Tumut outside an old railway station, now an art gallery. Back on our way the scenery had changed yet again and we were in fruit growing country, the netting stowed away on big poles hung above the trees ready to protect the fruit.
Jingellic was a small town and we were fairly early for the rally but there were already some faces we recognised. Neil the vice president of the Guzzi club had arranged for us to share a cabin, luxury !!! Without a tent to put up it didn’t take us long to embrace the Aussie way and kick back and enjoy a few beers in good company.
Saturday saw us out and about on the bike it was too glorious a day to not ride. We headed for Jindabyne via the Alpine way, a route that would take us up through Kosciuszko national park and right up into the mountains. Hugging the Murray river we fuelled up in Corryong and got instantly mobbed by the BMW club who were camped in town for their rally. We excused ourselves after chatting a while as we wanted to explore and make the most of this beautiful alpine wilderness. We headed off down an avenue of autumn colours passing the Man from Snowy river sculpture on the way out, it pays tribute to the life of Jack Riley made famous by Banjo Paterson’s poem “The Man from Snowy River”. The poem is a celebration of bush folklore, skills and traditions based around the iconic mountain man Jack Riley and all he represented. The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival is now held in Corryong every year.
Hydro power is very much in use up here and these vast pipes cut a swath through the forest. It is also a very popular ski resort and the road was lined with fluroescent markers to show the road edge when it is covered in snow. As we neared the peak of the great dividing range (1580m) it seemed as though the trees had been bleached and it gave a quite eerie surreal feel. The trees are snow gums, a mountainous sub species of eucalyptus.
Passing dead horse gap I did the only decent thing and posed for a photo.
Phone signals are few and far between up here in these rural places and we have been very thankful to locals for telling us where to find reception when we have needed it. Here they went one step further and put a sign up.
Stopping at a view point on our route back to camp the light had a magical quality about it and made a good picture. A great end to a great days riding. There was nothing magical about the snake though we nearly ran it over on the road.
Arriving back at the rally most people were just showing up having left work. This rally was one of the few times we were able to let our hair down and really relax, no riding early tomorrow, no tent to pack, no food to cook, just beer, a fire and good company what more could we ask for. We forged friendships by the light of the camp fire, little realising in a few days how important they would become. As far as we were concerned our Australian travels were virtually over and we were already discussing crating options and future travels in South America.
We missed a few people leaving due to our late start but we had the luxury of another night and later in the day joined a few riders on a trip to Tintaldra pub. Chatting to the pub owners we got to see their old Crossley car and Harlette motorcycle both hugely interesting rare old machines. We took a route through Guy’s forest to make it back to Jingellic and another night around the campfire.
Mish and Jan had few extra days off and were headed to stay at George’s in Porepunkah a motorcyclist from old that could tell us a few tales. We decided to join them and I planned a scenic route there.
We hugged the Murray river where some of the paddocks still had recent flood water and crossed the pass at Granya to Tallangata where we stopped for fuel. From here I chose a little used road through Gundowring where we scattered a herd of cows grazing on the verge sides. I swear I could hear Mish laughing from her bike.
At 80years young George was an amazing fellow, not only had he travelled a lot running organised tours to the Guzzi factory in Mandello del Lario in Italy, he also designed and built his own sidecars from fibreglass as well as being an accomplished flier. He took us all out to the local flying club to meet his mate Mike and see his Jabiru aircraft. Mike was an interesting man, he was originally a fighter pilot in the Yugoslavian air force and defected in the 1960′s eventually making Australia his home.
George used to organise trips out to Mandello del Lario in order for Aussies to collect and ride their brand new Guzzi’s direct from the factory and then tour around Europe before they flew home. Their bikes followed by ship arriving home a month or two later. In fact we saw a photo of a very young looking Paul who we met and stayed with in Hobart Tasmania, it’s a small world.
The girls decided to stay in as the weather looked a bit rough but we headed for Mount Buffalo, by the time we reached the summit we had already ridden through the cloud cover and a blanket of white mist was our view. The mist parted for a brief moment and we were able to see some of the magnificent view.
The dark clouds the girls had been worried about soon followed but instead of rain we were so high we had snow which began to settle. Whilst it made for a good photo with a film of white on the windscreen we didn’t wish to hang around too long knowing how steep and twisty the route back down was.
Back at Georges we said farewell to the girls who had to head home, we had asked George if he minded if we stay a few more days “not at all, I would be glad of the company” was the reply. It gave us a great base to explore the high country and also to hear some more of George’s stories.
Next Up – Exploring the Victorian high country.