Dargo – Les Gardner’s Report

What a good ride with a great bunch of fellows.  Always good company, great riding and great scenery that will be recovering from the bush fires for many areas.  Wow, what a bush fire – totally devastating.  They will need us to return and go riding again, soon and often.

Anyway, my story goes a bit like this.  The plan was for Geoff, John & I (from Bathurst) to meet Tony, Steve, Scott, Wayne & almost Paul at the Meridian Café in Marulan at 10:00am.  All were there eating and drinking when we arrived.  Al was also there on a day ride on the GS100.  Paul was having wheel balancing issues on the mighty KTM190, so he left for Goulburn for technical support and more wheel weights.  The plan was to travel to Braidwood via a few gravel roads to the Stewarts Crossing over the mighty Holeshaven River.  When we arrived at the river crossing, water was 2 metres deep over the causeway, so it was back to plan B.

The Braidwood Bakery proved to be a total emersion in travel culture.  People bloody everywhere.  Canberra must be empty and they travel to the Bakery for companionship.  I always thought they were a bit different in the national capital.  We travelled from Braidwood to near Captains Flat to Numeralla to Nimmitabel to Bombala.  There is the biggest concrete building 10km out of Nimmitabel on the old Bombala Rail Line.  It is the old McLaughlin Meatworks and Rail Siding.  Farmers could transport their stock to the meatworks by rail, then the meat processed and sent to Sydney.  Opened in 1938 and closed in 1942 for financial reasons.  It is bloody amazing.  Nimmitabel was the happening place in 1940.   We travelled to Bombala via New Line Road and Creewah Rd to Cathcart.  Saw lots of big fat roos that were bloody huge.  All were too lazy to hop and get in the way and scare the shit out of riders.  The best kind of roo.

The Pub stay at Bombala was none eventful.  Second breakfast was had across the road at the Bombala Café, then it was off the Berridale.  The views from the road on the southern highlands are great.   My theory is every baby at Cooma hospital was gifted an axe, so they could clear the landscape of all trees.  Now all trees are gone and there is nothing in the way to obstruct your view.  Bloody fantastic.  We had lunch & got supplies at Jindie for camping at the Cold Flame.  We got a prime site this year that included a table and campfire with all the facilities.  Bloody fantastic.  The ride down the hill was noneventful. A little different to some returning the next day.   A few riders had to return home after the Cold Flame Rally, so they missed out on some great riding in Victoria.

Most of our group continued south to Wood Pt Swimming Hole, near Orbost.  Fantastic spot.  Keep it on your radar if you are down that way.  It is about 20km out of Orbost, free and has all the facilities for camping.  A good find.  The bush fires have caused immense damage around Orbost.  Next morning, it was off to Orbost Café for coffee and meet-up with John, Paul & Dave.  John was just riding past and caught up with us, go figure.  Up till now all bikes were different.  To keep that theme, Paul’s KTM was re-badge a 190 from the original 790.  Now they were all different again – problem solved.  The 32nd Board went up again and then it was a simple ride to Buchan and then up Gelantipy Rd to Seldom Seen where we had a chat with a few of the locals recovering from the fires.  Then off to Benambra via Limestone Road.  Someone left a sign in the way on a remote road – bloody careless.  We got to the Benambra Hotel to find it closed and not opening until 5:00pm.  Bugger, too early again.  Eventually the publican turned up.  Some camped and some had rooms at Benambra Hotel, so it turned out perfect.  Had breakfast and set off for Dargo.

We went via Parish Boundary Lane, near Hinnomunjie.  It looks like the most boring road on Google Maps, but in reality it is bloody amazing.  Lots of up & down and with a few curves as well.  Then it was Bingo-Tice Rd & Connleys Rd back to Omeo.  Bloody amazing little road, but it has 4 gates.  At Omeo, we re-fueled, met the riders from Coona and Narromine.  They were waiting for the main road to open.  We went via Dogs Grave and Birregun Rd to Dargo.  Just in time for a huge lunch at the Dargo Hotel (too big) and a few beers.  It was warm and the beers were great.  Then it was down the road 1km to Dargo River Inn to compare stories.  Most were uneventful, but Sharpie had the best story.  He took a bait in the shape of a pie at a nice bakery the day before and was having trouble keeping his pants up.  He got a free ticket to the Victorian Porcelain Tour game called “Jumanjie Shits”.  You must roll 3 clean farts before you can get out of the game.   Apparently it takes a while to get out.  While all this was happening, the boys from Newcastle and Mid North Coast were ticking off the must do bucket list track called “Billy Goat Bluff”.  I think they got a little more exercise than originally planned.  It is very steep, has smooth rocks, soft earth and soft stones with a few erosion mounds thrown in for good measure.  Some riders may be scared for life.  It is F%$#ing steep with a fully loaded bike, but they got to tick the bucket list.  A bloody good achievement and only achieved with good teamwork and fellowship.

The Dargo River Inn had great meals – all of them, breakfast, lunch and tea.  They looked after us very well.  On the rest day, riders went many different ways.  A large group went back to the Dogs Grave and a few other tracks to Hotham City, some went to the boomed towns of Grant and Talbotville, followed by a DR650 bike wash in a river crossing.  While this was happening a GS1200 was beached in the clay and a mighty VStrom 650 hit the only rock in the suburb to bend a rear break lever completely around the foot peg.  It wouldn’t happen to a KTM. Hard to imagine how that could happen.  But we have the photos to prove it.

The plan for the return was via the Dargo High Pains Road to Hotham City and then down to Harrietville where we went bush to Mt Beauty.  Then it was straight to Mitta Mitta for lunch at the pub.  It is a very fancy pub and your mistress will like it.   The rear tyre on the mighty KTM190 was flat on the bottom (again) and the tyre changing exhibition was given by Paul (again).  Wayne caused the flat as he was the last person to ride the KTM, but he was busy eating ice creams to assist.   Then the ride to Dartmouth Dam (that is a big Dam wall – huge).  Then it was off to Cravensville to Lucyvale to Cudgewa to Walwa (probably about 150km).  A huge day of about 340km, most being off road.  The pub at Walwa was perfect and a blessing for thirsty riders.

The next day was off to Tumut, via Rosewood and someone else’s forest.  Apparently, there were signs to warn you off the forest and stop hugging their trees, I did not see the sign, so I am still guilt free.  I must have been looking at my GPS.  The new bitumen on “Wondalga Road” through Green Hills State Forest is a perfect raceway.  The road designer and the builder have a Ducati.  Check it out, you want be disappointed.  Lunch at yet another Bakery that was hectic – they are everywhere.  I don’t understand why.

As we got closer to homes, the smell of home was strong and riders started pulling out early and were heading straight for home.   At Micalong Creek a few left early for Wee Jasper, Sawyers Gully Road, Craven to Marrumbateman.  Pete’s boot is still at the bend in the road where he left it on Dog Trap Road when the Ambulance officer cut it off after an accident.  Tony put if back on display for all to see – yet again.  Only 3 rider remained for the final night at Teralga Hotel.   Rain, fog, dust and sleet made it interesting next morning.  At times the fog was that thick you could only see about 50m, then a tree was across the road to ensure breaking skills are required.  The final morning tea was at Oberon Bakery (yet another one).  It was good, no crowds (finally).   All up I did about 3,000km.   Perfect.  Great ride, great riding mates, great fellowship, and good food along the adventure.  I can’t wait for 2021.  I wonder what that will include?

Riders.

Al        XChalange

Dave    GS1200

John     KTM790

John     KLR650

Geoff  GS100

Les      KTM990

Paul     KTM190

Paul     XT660

Scott    CRF1000

Steve   DR650

Tony    GS800

Wayne KTM690