Falls, Omeo, Hotham, Happy Valley - Xmas Camp 2010


Kurn Bridgeman

Honda CBR600

Ben Warden (leader)

Honda CBR954

Ron Johnston

Honda CBF1000

John Willis

Honda XL1000

Misho Zrakic

Honda CBR1000

Pina Garasi

Honda CBR600

Paul Southwell

Honda CBR1000

Cliff Peters

Kawasaki ZX10

Ian Payne (rear)

Honda CBR1000


9 bikes, 9 people


Christmas is a busy time for many folks and sometimes work commitments take priority over one's pleasurable pursuits! This was the situation I faced yet again as we headed towards another awesome Xmas camp and the prospect of riding in God�s country on arguably some of the best roads in the country or even the southern hemisphere.


Some may ask, �Is it worth a round trip of seven hours to ride just for 1.5 days?� The thought crossed my mind. But all I needed to do was cast my mind back to last year�s Xmas camp and the answer was obviously, �of course!� As time was of the essence, I emailed Mr Ben with a request for what I believed to be one of the best day rides with everything from tight bends to big sweepers and everything in between for the one full day I would be present. Mr Ben gave the nod and so the ride was set. Now if this is "sucking up big time", I must be married to the Queen ! Good on ya John :)


So on Monday 27th December the crew all met up at the Porepunkah servo, and, after the normal brief, we were soon heading towards the tyre warm-up territory of Tawonga Gap. What a great wake up call. Long sweepers followed by some tightening twisties were a great way to get the adrenalin flowing. The fast boys headed out up front: Ben, Cliffy, Misho and John, and the rest of us followed. It was only my third ride after seven months off the bike and I decided to take things easy on inferior tyres and a physically weakened left side. Well, up until the tight twisties! The road surface was great and continued to impress as we headed up to Falls Creek.


The pace was pretty hot as Ben, Cliffy, Misho, Paul and John headed the front. For half distance I was right behind until a couple of "moments" arose and I decided to treat the "wooden" tyres with a little more respect.


We stopped at the Alpine Village Cafe and Ron did his best to offend the poor cafe chick with his amazing haggling skills! I bet she spat in his coffee. Three dollars for a coffee is pretty good, even for a senior! A good yarn about the ride up and the normal banter was enjoyed by all as we sipped our delightful coffees!


The next part of the trip was the climb over and down the mountains to the Omeo Highway. It�s a goat track of a road with plenty of gravel on the corners to help maintain your concentration and create the odd sphincter moment. It was my least favourite part of the day. The weather also turned a little overcast and really cooled down. After the obligatory photo stop at the Lake, we passed some classic bikes, including a sidecar, on the way down to the amazing road to Omeo.


The Omeo Highway past the Blue Duck and Anglers Rest ranks as one of my favs. I said to Ian, �We have just completed the worst road in order to get to one of the best.� Even better, most of the corners are signposted with the appropriate speed so you know that the signs can be used as a wonderful guideline. I�m obviously, not condoning speeding of any nature.


The road was in great nick and the temperature had warmed up. All was set for the blast to Omeo.


Once you find your rhythm on this road, everything begins to flow, that is, until you go to change down gear and there is nothing there! Heading into a tight left hander I went to change down and nothing! So I pulled over. Fortunately Ian (El Presidente) wasn't too far behind. Upon inspection, the left rear set had decided to go walking and my bike was stuck in second gear. I retreated back down the road and miraculously, after several attempts, located each and every part. It was as if the motorcycle gods had decided to lay each piece in the middle of the road, albeit a few meters apart, but almost in symmetry. Amazing. Ian was a great help as the puzzle was pieced back together. Then we were on our way again.


As we were leaving Omeo after the bakery stop, a paramedic mentioned that a biker had a rather unfortunate meeting with a deer (rider not critical) and warned us of the location as we blasted off towards Dinner Plain. Some great sweepers and nice long straights awaited us. One "scary" fast blind, steeply rising left hander caught most out; on the crest amongst the bushes facing us was an unmarked white 4WD. Fortunately, it was a "muppet" tourist and not the rozzers! It was definitely one of those "Oh F**k" moments!


Over Mt Hotham we stopped for a couple of awesome photo stops. It really feels like you are on top of the world (well Australia) when you are on the spectacular Hotham Pass. The weather had cooled again due to the altitude and it was quite noticeable in perforated leathers. But it was nothing compared to the fantastic riding assault down Mt Hotham. I tailed both Paul and Ian. Apart from the odd car that popped up. I had a really fantastic, if chilly, descent!! The whiff of deer and a couple of "white line Michelin� moments did not distract from pure bitumen heaven.


A brief stop at Harrietville was followed by a bonus ride over Tawonga Gap again which was great, although I didn't see Ben pull in to the lookout car park and continued down to the bottom. After waiting for a period, I decided to retrace my footsteps and was gifted another run half way up, until meeting the group and rejoining.


We then headed up the Kiewa Valley Highway and across to the Tamgambalanga Road. Try saying that after a few pints! Just before Dederang we picked up the "Happy Valley" Road to Ovens. How can you not be happy riding this? At Rosewhite we turned right and headed to Mudgegonga and then on to Myrtleford for refreshments at the bakery. Brilliant roads. Arrived back at camp around 6.30 pm.


It was a mere few minutes before we headed back up Mt Buffalo for the ritualistic end to an awesome day; lots of kilometres on the best roads with great company. Special thanks to Misho and Pina for their hospitality and lending me the gloves (one decided to stay in Melbourne), to Ian for helping, and to Ben for leading.


Forty-five minutes after returning from the summit I was packed and on the road for another three and a half hour drive. I headed back to Melbourne wishing I could have stayed another few days. At least I had completed one magnificent marathon ride.


I arrived home at around 1.00am and contemplated, �Was it worth it?�ABSOLUTELY!!


Kurn Bridgeman