The hotel at Walwa offered a help-yourself continental breakfast so we fuelled up before our second day. And, speaking of fuelling up, the town offered a nice snapshot of how business is done in small country towns. There was a servo across the road and I filled up (the other two had done so the previous night while they were waiting for me to arrive). However, there appeared to be nowhere where you could PAY for the fuel until Wayne pointed out from across the road that the console was, in fact, in the general store next door. And that wasn’t the only surprise. Walwa was the first servo where we found that fuel prices in Victoria are MUCH lower than they are in Wollongong.
My bike is supposed to run on 95 according to the owner’s book but here, as in nearly all towns where we had to refuel, 95 wasn’t available. The choice was either 91 or 98. But, amazingly, 98, Premium Unleaded was just $2.11 per litre and remained this price right through the remaining two days wherever we went. Returning to NSW on Day 4 saw the price for 98 going back up to $2.35.
So I gleefully filled up with 98 and went next door to pay. The scene was so similar to general stores in any country town you might visit.
A wonderful slice of life. Back through Jingellic we stayed on the road and headed towards Tallangatta. The winding road takes you past Hume Dam which is as full as I have ever seen it and through countryside that is greener than I have seen Victorian pastures for many years.
Just as we were heading off from taking some photos we experienced our first spits of rain. Nothing to be too concerned about, we moseyed into Tallangatta for morning tea.
While waiting for our coffee, I noticed a life-sized statue of a horse in the park in the middle of town. I was intrigued and found out that it was a statue of Sandy, the only horse to be brought back to Australia after WWI. Apparently Sandy came from the town and she is somewhat of a local celebrity. There is always a story behind the story and here’s a link to it.
While enjoying our coffee we were ringing around trying to find out if the Mitta Mitta road through to Omeo was open. There seemed to be a suggestion that it was closed for roadworks but a call to the local police station confirmed that it WAS open but that the bridge at the end, at Angler’s Reach, was having roadworks done and there was a 23 tonne load limit. Paul and I knew that our little 600s would be OK but we were a little concerned about Wayne’s BMW 1250GS!
We backtracked out of town and took the road to Omeo. By the time we had done all the calling and got on the road again it had started raining in earnest; it was going to be tricky negotiating the mountain road.
And so it was. The Mitta Mitta is one of THE great roads in Victoria but riding it in the rain is quite another challenge. I had not ridden TWK in the rain at all and was still getting familiar with the bike as a whole but at least I had some confidence in my tyres as I had had a set of Angel GTs on the VFR some years ago and I knew they were excellent in wet conditions. Along with the rain came the fog as we ascended above the snowline and a break at the top was very welcome.
Yes, those orange lines on the road meant that we WERE above the snowline. There was no thought of turning back as it would have been as dangerous and difficult as pressing on so we gritted our teeth and were delighted to eventually come down off the mountain and start following the river towards Omeo. As the snow was melting up higher the streams were belting along and, around every corner was another brilliant photo opportunity. Sadly we could only take a few of them.
It was fuel stop at Omeo in the rain and here we encountered another slightly weird situation. There IS no petrol station but there IS a pump. But there is no-one there to take your money. You have to PREDICT how much fuel you’re going to need, put that into the bowser, pay with a card and go back to the bike and fill up. If you haven’t predicted enough, the machine will tell you to insert your card again and pay more money. If you have UNDER-estimated, the bowser will fill your tank and only deduct the amount needed from your card.
I was trying to do a cash-only trip ( but the bowser had no provision at all for paying cash) so Paul kindly paid for my fuel on his card and I paid HIM with cash. While in Omeo we had a late lunch and then headed off again, rain still falling hard.
Here we had to decide what to do. It seemed that the rain was not going to ease up and I was in favour of holing up for the night at Omeo and hoping that the rain would ease during the night. BUT, our night’s accommodation was booked at Harrietville on the other side of Mt Hotham. BOM said that it was dry on the other side of the mountain so we decided to press on. What a dreadful decision that was.
If we thought that the conditions we had endured already were bad, nothing could have prepared us for the run over Hotham. The mountain was shrouded in thick fog and, while the other two had Pinlock visors, I had none and the riding conditions were diabolical. We were down to about 20km/h with hazard flashers on and half of the time with no real idea what was ahead of us. BOM’s prediction was totally wrong as it rained all the way to Harrietville. It seemed to take an eternity to get to the bottom and it was literally terrifying, quite the scariest ride I have ever done.
We tucked the bikes away in the yard of the Snowline Motel and went looking for our host. He wasn’t there. The Snowline doesn’t open on Mondays or Tuesdays. There was, however, a note from him telling us what our room number was and telling us that the key was in the door. That part was correct but worse was to come.
We were all soaked, even Timmsy’s spray gear had utterly failed to keep out the rain and the fog. We searched around for some help and were soon to find out that nothing opens on Monday or Tuesday night in Harrietville.
So, here we were, soaked to the skin and no apparent means of solving our dilemma.
But then an angel appeared. Dressed in a puffy jacket and with the broadest smile you could imagine, came Kelly, the partner of the publican. They live on the premises and she came down to the car park to see if we were OK. “Are you guys OK?” she asked in a glorious Irish accent. She then laughed as it was obvious that we weren’t. “Well,” she said, “If you give me all your wet gear I can put them through the dryer at the Hotel and that should help, yes?” We adjourned to the room got out of our wet stuff, put on some dry clothes and gave her an armload of saturated gear. Boots and Jackets can’t, of course go in a dryer nor can gloves but we had already figured that we could dry them off as best we could using the electric heater in the room.
Paul then had a brilliant idea. I mention this because it doesn’t happen very often. If we were to rent ANOTHER room then we could have TWO heaters with which to dry the things that couldn’t be tumble-dried. It WAS a pain taking the armour out of my Draggin jeans but it was worth doing. To cut the long story short, Kelly arrived back at our rooms about two hours later with all of our gear dry, amazing.
Then she said, “Well, what are you guys doing for dinner?” We replied that we were hoping that a cafe would be open in town. Ixnay. NOTHING opens on Monday and Tuesday. “Well,” suggested Wayne, “Can we order some take-away from a shop in Bright, about 30kms further on, and get it delivered?” No. There are takeaways in Bright but none of them deliver. “But, I have to go into town in an hour or so when my partner gets home, if you want to order by phone, I can pick up your order and bring it back when I return.” said Kelly.
So once again our guardian angel came to our rescue. It is amazing that, when you are at the darkest, just one kind person can flood your life with light.
By morning our boots, jackets and gloves were dry and we were ready to head out into the SUNSHINE, YES!
The day had only covered 381kms but it seemed like SO much more. It had taken 8 hours!