Im from NE Vic originally, but been in Perth for 17 odd years however my heart will always yearn for those mountain regions of Victoria. So ever since being involved with adventure bikes, the high country had definitely been on my hit list, so I put the feelers out for a possible high plains gig amongst the troops from WA & the old crew from Vic and slowly but surely we managed to amass a posse of reprobates. Id been harping on a few old mates from Vic to come & get involved in this adventure riding thing for years & theyd been following our exploits year after year & knew they were jealous as fuck at what we were doing, but between kids, work & the odd divorce thrown in, circumstances weren't quite right for a few of them. This year tho, and finally after years of lobbying, we finally broke thru & were able to get all the old crew back together as well as a few new faces for what was a laugh a minute extravaganza. It was everything Id hoped it would be & more. Our Crew Jack (myself) - KTM 990 WA Geoff - DRZ400 WA Crunchy - KTM 950 Vic Ian - KTM950 Vic Nobby - KTM1190R Vic Billy - KTM700 Hardkit Vic Ralph - KTM690 Vic Hami - XR600 Vic Simon - BMW F800 Vic Anton - BMW 1200 Vic Waitey - Tenere 660 Vic Siert - DRZ400 Vic Eddy - 4WD Vic Joel - 4WD Vic My journey was always gonna be a long one coming from WA & sadly the WA crew that showed some early promise all pulled the pin cept one, Geoff from Bremer Bay, but he & his wife were making an extended trip of it, so they loaded his DRZ in their ute & left a week or so before I did & the plan was, he would hook up with us in Wodonga NE Vic, so I was left to peddle across the country on my own. As always, work dominates my agenda, so I took the quickest route across & come via the Nullabor which isnt the most adventurous ride in itself I know, so to at least achieve some semblance of adventure, I decided to camp the whole way across. Lets face it, travelling solo is definitely an acquired concept & it probably helps if you enjoy your own company, and confident within your own mechanical abilities if shit goes wrong & unfortunately on this trip it did. Bush Tucker By the time I got to the end of the Hyden-Norseman Rd, Id had oil all over the back of my bike, down the right side of the swingarm & onto the rear brake disc. Not what you wanted to see starting a big trip I have to say. The source was the crankcase breather that Id re routed from the airbox after installing a Rotty airfilter system & the K & N pod filter on the end of it was becoming so soden with oil, it was starting to drip oil, the problem was tho, how much was I losing ? Being Sunday there was nothing open cept the roadhouse in Norseman, so I cleaned up the mess, brought a litre of oil & pressed on. The next major centre for anything to fix it would be Ceduna. With a lot of time to think coming across I wracked my brain as to how I could fix it & so arriving into Ceduna I had a plan for a catch tank, so down to the roadhouse first & I scanned the fridges for the smallest screwtop bottle I could find, then around to the Auto One store for a length of hose, out with the leatherman, some bush mechanics later I had a catch tank, thanks to Berocca I put some foam over the crankcase breather tube so the oil laden vapor would re condense back into oil & drip into the bottle. Worked an absolute treat. I was stoked. After reaching Wodonga & catching up with the old crew, Simon offered to lead the first day & holy shit he didnt disappoint as we made our way out the back of Bethanga, over Granya Gap, onto Koetong & then down to Mitta. Played a lot of footy in Mitta as a young man & then rode bikes up round there for years as well after that but coming back there I had forgotten how beautiful it was. The pub is a cracker. Day 2 was eventful with some mechanical dramas again. Drama # 1. Ian's KTM 950 became hydrolocked with fuel overnight. Our best estimate is that as he'd fuelled up the night before, the fuel pump was allowing fuel to pass & with the pressure of full tanks, the fuel was making its way up to the carbys, overcoming the float valve & leaking thru the main jet & into the cylinder. When he couldnt start the bike with the starter in the morning, he managed to rock the bike in gear to clear the hydrolock, got the bike started but noticed the bike was running very poorly down low, so after a communal headscratch, we checked the oil & discovered the oil tank was chockers with fuel & hence had thinned the oil to such a degree, it would have severly lost its lubricating qualities. We were only 30 km from Mitta & probably round 10Km from Dartmouth by this stage on day 2, so it was a greed that we would press on & Ian would roll back to Dartmouth with Crunchy & Anton as support. Between the 3 of them, they had managed to locate some synthetic motorcycle oil locally, dropped the old stuff & took the the long way round to meet us all our next destination at Jindabyne. Although we couldnt fix the problem perse with the fuel pump, all he had to remember to do at the end of the days ride, was to turn the fuel tap off at the bottom of the right tank, which halted the flow of fuel to the carbys. Drama # 2 (well, lets call it a near miss) As we left Ian, Anton & Crunchy to sort Ians bike, the rest of us were coming over the back of Nariel Valley heading to Khancoban & were on some of the best tracks of the whole trip, with a whole bunch of eye watering downhills consisting of that slippery shit gravel, shaley rocks & long deep ruts, which is just the thing you want to see punting a 200+kg adventure bike.... but anyway, whilst up on top of a spur I saw Simon pulled off to the left, so I stopped to see if things were OK & noticed he'd taken his boot off & then showed me this He said he was riding along, felt a thud & his foot get knocked off the peg, then when he went to put his foot back on it was getting hooked up somehow, then stopped & found that. Must have missed going into his foot by millimetres cos the stick had gone in about a good 20mm or so. They were Forma Adventure boots to, so probably not my first choice in adv footwear I must say, but each to their own, but one very lucky boy just the same. Drama # 3 Billy, Nobby & Waitey wernt able to start with us from Wodonga, so they decided to meet us at Jindabyne on day 2, so there we were sitting in Khancoban at the fuel station cafe chowing down when they unexpectadly rolled into town. So there we were all were, meet & greets all round, laughing & all generally glad to see each other & out of Billy's bike is coming this super high pitched whistle, almost like an alarm or something, so off comes the seat & we start proding, poking & pulling wires, but be buggered if we could isolate it the sound, but slowly the sound was getting lower in pitch, the longer the bike sat, then one of us touched the battery only to find it was red hot, almost untouchable. So we very carefully poured some water over the battery & lo & behold the sound went away. So we rekon, being a sealed battery somehow it had developed a pin hole, had most probably lost most of the electrolyte & heating up, pressurising & then venting out this pin hole causing the unbelievably high pitch sound. New battery Bill. Nothing available in Khancoban like that, so we took our chances & pressed on to Jindabyne, all the while cooling the battery down when we could & Bill was able to locate a new battery there. Day 3 After a great night at the Lake Jindabyne Hotel talkin shit, our first mission was to get Bills bike sorted, so he asked around & there was a snowmobile joint that Bill was able to score a similar battery to fit his 690. Probably a lucky score that one, cos really not much else available unless he went to Cooma. Our next gig was down the Barry Way down thru the Kosciuszko NP, not a challenging ride in itself, but the snowy river country is just brilliant. The road is un fenced & the drop off the side sheer at times, so it pays to keep your wits about you especially approaching those blind corners. Coming off the Barry Way, it was onto Limestone Rd which is an absolutely brilliant flowing road, especially when youve got a couple of mates on the same pace. A bloke can find himself becoming quite irresponsible blasting that road & a few times I forgot I was punting a big twin, its so much fun. Once at Benambra, it was onto Omeo for fuel & tucker, then onto our last stop for the day, the Dargo Pub. Back of the Dargo Pub down next to the river, theres ample room to camp & its free as well, so theres more money to spend on grog. Ive been to the Dargo Pub many times over the years & when living in Vic, we used to do a ride thru to Dargo every year & I never got sick of it. Its such a n iconic place to stay & a real mecca for dirt bike riders & 4Wd's, even better with a great bunch of blokes to share it with. Day 4 We had grand plans for day 4 going down thru Grant, Talbotville & onto Tea Tree Range track over to Buckland Valley, but the recent Victorian fires had made their way up round Dargo, so access was shut all thru that way, so we had no choice but to go over the Dargo high Plains Rd. We decided we'd get fuel at Harrietville & go over some hot trails behind Bright, but again fate had other plans, because there's no fuel available in Harrietville anymore !!! So into Bright for fuel & then out to the Porepunkah Pub for lunch. Not so bad. After Leaving Porepunkah, we headed up the Buckland Valley Road to pick up our original trail which was Goldie Spur, which then took us over to near Cheshunt via Rose River rd & then it was up the side of Mount Bulla to the highlight of my trip anyway, Craigs Hut. We were late arriving having got held up thru the day, but managed to get there right for the money shot, with the afternoon sun casting its amber glow upon the hut, couldnt have timed it better if I tried. Absolutely lovely part of the world Arriving late arvo at Craigs hut meant a night ride off the mountain down into Mansfield for our next stop & as it was, we rode most of the way in the dark. I was never so glad I spent the money on some Baja Designs LED's, man those things can burn bark of trees. They earnt their keep that day. Day 5 Was just a short jaunt back to Wodonga from Mansfield, thru Woolshed Falls were Crunchy lives, so we dropped him off, not before he shouted us all a beer, extracted a few more laughs & where Anton decided to have his first get off for the week. Never to late hey mate. Dam, what a great ride it was, made even better by catching up with some good mates, some of which have been life long friends, I wish I could just turn around & do it all over again. The high country is just a brilliant ride & I recommend it to anyone that rides an adventure bike, you wont be disappointed. Being a NE Victoria lad, I spent a lot of the time on the ride reminiscing about my 35 years there & was quite sentimental at times seeing that sensational country side the NE has to offer. I dont think it gets much better than that in Australia & I sure do miss it.