Day 3: Jenolan Caves, NSW to Jindabyne, NSW (including Charlotte’s Pass)
That night was totally out of it. It was a good solid rest, thus making the next day seem much easier to tackle. I would have bounded out of the bed, except it was 6 degrees outside and for this Queenslander, single digits are not your friend. Staying in bed a little longer was worth it.
The morning seemed wet and gloomy, with a mixture from last night’s rain, fog, and moss. The poor Lawnmower looked a little miserable, the single motorbike in the guest’s car park.
Getting out the valley made my anxiety rise again, as frequently my cold tyres seemed to slip and skid. Not being used to that feeling, plus being on the lookout for any furry critters trying to make a dash for the other side of the road was playing heavily on my mind. I was fairly cold, even thought I had put on my feather down jacket underneath the riding jacket. Definitely not used to these temperatures! First stop was half an hour away at Oberon, needing to back track a bit, just to get fuel to make it to Goulburn, as there is no fuel at Jenolan Caves.
From Oberon south the heavens opened up as I was riding through many pine plantations. At least through this area, the road was wider, less windy and you had better visibility. You just had to watch out for logging trucks instead. With so much water, and being cold, there was no point in stopping in places that looked like a good photo op, as I just couldn’t be bothered.
Pretty much the first bit of sunshine that I saw was at Lake George, 220kms south of Jenolan Caves! A rest stop was definitely needed, and it was nice to feel sunshine on your gear. Trying to dry parts out. While riding past lake George, I didn’t even realise it was a lake due to the sheer size of it (and also because it was almost dry). It was only when I got to a rest area and lookout that I was able to learn this from an info placard. It seemed to stretch on for miles, with cows dotted along its basin.
An incredibly blowy hop, skip and a jump from Lake George to Canberra, the nation’s capital for fuel, food and while I was at it; see the Parliament House. Not too sure what made me want to gravitate towards this place, however it was more of an Australian ‘duty’ to at least have seen the seat of power, where all Australian’s pollies call their office.
It was nice, but a bit underwhelming. So was the rest of Canberra that I rode through to get to the Monaro Highway to keep heading south.
Oh, the Monaro…. Although I set out on this trip to ride some of Australia’s best motorcycling roads, I did also find the most boring. The Monaro highway. If it wasn’t that the rain clouds rolled in, I would have fallen asleep. Naïve me, saw the point to point average speed cameras just as I left Canberra and I diligently kept to the speed limit… thus making this an even more boring trip to Cooma. I didn’t want a 2nd speeding fine as per the day before, but little did I know that at the time, NSW point to point speed cameras are for trucks only! *forehead slap*
I arrived to Cooma with sheets and sheets of water, with water starting to seep in through my gear at the seams and boots. Cold and bored, I took refuge at a closed petrol station while I waited the rain to dissipate a bit. Again, no photos of this place, as it looked underwhelming, I was tired and cold, and I knew that I had to press on to make it to Jindabyne before sun down.
As the rain kept coming I realized that this was not going to dissipate and I would have to make the ride to Jindy in the rain too. So after fuel I mentally armed myself again and left Cooma. At the same time there was a group of another 4 riders leaving Cooma in the same direction. So I decided to tack onto the back of their pack and follow their tail lights through the rain. This gave me a little prep up and I was being able to relax a little more, but soon reaslied that a fully loaded beastie, with a 390 engine was not going to be able to keep up with the big Litre + bikes trying to keep up an average of 120 clicks (or more) through the rain. I wasn’t feeling safe enough so I let them go. Wasn’t long before I didn’t see any more tail lights and I was feeling along again.
I got to Jindy, thankfully with enough time to find the cheapest accommodation -at the Jindabyne Discovery Park. Here for about $50 you could get yourself a bunk bed, shared in a cabin of 4. Thankfully, since it’s the middle of the week and not within peak tourist season, I had the cabin to myself. Doubly thankful because it meant I was able to use extra towels, and space to spread out all my soggy gear and try dry it for the next day. With these cooler temperatures, which I am unused to, were going to give me a cold if I kept riding wet and cold.
As soon as I arrived, I took off as much luggage as I could off the bike, turned the heater on in the cabin and hung things to dry, everywhere. Grabbed my camera and headed off to Charlotte’s pass a few short kilometres from Lake Jindabyne. Here was another place that is raved about by motorcyclists in summer, and snowboarders / skiers in winter.
This had to be one of the nicest, smoothest roads I had the pleasure of riding in. Even when things were wet, it felt like silk. Not having all the luggage weight certainly made a difference to the bike’s handling and I felt free! With the park going to shut the entry gates in an hour or so, there was hardly anyone around. This is where I was finally able to play! J For once the thought of getting busted by the coppers wasn’t popping into my mind, so I opened up the throttle and got into ‘the zone’…. You know. That zone when everything just flows, and your lines are clean, and the road is smooth, and the grip is great…and… and… bliss!
The rain kept off enough for me to ride to the end of the road, go for a quick looksy at the end of the Pass’s lookout, and start heading back. I was taking the last of the panoramic photos when the heavens opened up again, where you would see the sheets of drizzle coming towards you up the pass’s valley. Although unpleasant and cold, I was most glad for the weather as this would have been keeping everyone away.
One last photo and it was time to ride back to my accommodation that night, get warm and have a feed. The cold had been seeping away at my bones making me weary. The day ended on a gorgeous note, where I left the park gates and was coming into Jindabyne, where I saw a beautiful rainbow dangling on the water. Awww.