Last weekend saw the inaugural Khancoban Motorcycle Festival as put together by Buckets under the guise of the NSW Motorcycle Alliance.
It also saw some of Victoria's worst flooding in ~insert stupidly long amount of years here~
Perfect weekend to head to the Snowies then.
Thommo & I left after work on Friday with a plan to get to Mansfield for the night.
"Gunna put the wets on, ya reckon?" he drawled in that slow Queensland drawl that he drawls.
Having looked at the forecast and the sky I said I would.
Still, how bad could it get?
100kph winds and 100-plus-milimetres of rain for the weekend.
We ran straight up the freeway to get out of town as quickly as possible.
When I say straight I mean as straight as possible with big fucking gusts from the side knocking us about.
It's amusing to watch someone almost get the knee down in a straight line.
A quick refuel at Bayswater and we hit the hills.
After a couple of days of wind and rain we decided to skip the Black Spur as it would be covered in debris, detritus and shit.
Yea it was then.
It didn't take long to get out onto the highway and into more shitful weather.
I remember thinking "What are we doing?" then just grinning in my lid about it.
By the time we passed through Molesworth, the rain had picked up and the sky had started to darken.
We paused, nodded back at the motel and decided that would do.
Don't you love being able to communicate complex ideas with a simple nod?
$90 for a shared twin for the night seemed a touch steep but then Dave, the publican, threw in a couple of cans of JB with the price. Sold!
The meals were bloody awesome. Good price, good size, good food.
Undercover parking for the bikes was a nice touch too.
It gets the Thommo & Leigh Top Bloody Joint To Stay Award
The only problem is settling in for a couple might be a trap.
Dave & I got talking music when he showed off his new PA that his Iphone plugged into.
I managed to make my escape at 4.30 after many free bourbons were thrust upon me.
We launched at about 8.30 and headed for the mountains.
The rain was steady but the wind had dropped. One plus for the day.
A quick stop in the thriving metropolis of Mansfield for fuel, course confirmation and sanity check and we were off again.
The plan was Whitfield road over the top of King Valley.
I'd never really had a look off the side before. Bloody hell, that is a large hole.
The roads were wet, slick and greasy. This would call for some cautious progress.
This is the part where it all goes a bit awry.
I think Thommo's plan included Myrtleford to Yackandandah.
So you can imagine my surprise as we crested a bridge across a wide, flowing four lane freeway.
"Welcome To Wangaratta" beamed the arty, little town sign.
Yes, we had missed a turn back there somewhere.
Probably at Albequerque.
No sweat, we'll take the Great Alpine Road.
Plan A fell apart as the GAR was closed due to flooding. An ominous sign of things to come?
Beechworth to Yackandandah and on to Tangambalanga instead.
Then of course there is THAT loop around Lake Hume.
A stupidly long left hand curve that holds you cranked over until you start to wonder if it's ever going to straighten up.
Until, of course, the Michelins let go and your world takes one big Mother May I? step to the side underneath you.
I laughed about it later, not right away though.
That section of the Murray Valley Highway from Huon to Corryong is a whole bucketful of fun.
The locals at Corryong seemed to be prepared for the flooding.
By the time we got to Khancoban the rain had set back in and the day had turned to shit.
We found a happy Buckets and Mrs Buckets under the canopy of their van.
This did not bode well for an outdoor festival.
Fortunately, everything was moved indoors and the show continued.
Rob had booked a room for us at the pub/hotel/motel thingo.
A move we all later regretted.
Buckets and Mrs Buckets spent the weekend with food poisoning after copping a mouldy garlic bread.
The room was a less than basic pub room with a little old Vulcan bar heater that switched on and off every few minutes.
We strung our wet gear up as best we could and shuffled back to the festival.
Buckets was making the best of a bad situation, mingling like a pro and bringing people into the Alliance.
They got 50 odd riders in, which was pretty good considering the forecast.
The locals were great, they got right in to the spirit of it.
There was Thai food, a huge barbie, pizza, booze. All the essentials.
Although I didn't see a kebab van. Must make a note to Buckets.
Buckets had found an icy pole stick and busied himself with sharpening it.
All I said was "Wet enough for ya?"
The night went well, although the general undertone was about being cut off with road closures.
Three excellent bands kept the drunks on their feet for most of the night.
I won a trophy but never really found out why. I'm cool with that.
Sunday didn't so much dawn as just drizzle into focus.
The Show & Shine part of the festival brought a bit of amusement, puzzlement and confusion when, from amongst the blinged and polished bikes in attendance, this thing rose above to take First Prize.
The buzz around town was that Tumut dam was being released, Towong was closed, Cabramurra was closed, Bringenbrong as well.
Jindabyne to Bombala would be our only chance.
The mob from Canberra, posties from the Canberra Riders site, had left before us along with Buckets in the van.
This was a common sight that day.
High level fog?
Further up the hill would be plenty more slides and some big ones at that.
About 30k short of Jindabyne I saw Bucket's van go back the other way.
"Oh", I thought "he's left something behind".
A little way along we came across this.
We headed back down and pulled in at the Geehi campground.
Someone had word that machinery was on the way to clear the road.
Thoughtfully provided motorcycle parking area
We saw definite signs that the water was receding.
High tide mark
It'll be a while before the snags can go on
The amount of water coming down was staggering.
Swampy Plains River
In the end, after a small bobcat was towed passed us, we gave up and went back to town.
Just as we were debating the next move, the sun broke through and in about 10 minutes it was baking hot.
This guy, owner of the 750 Shadow and the ebay Red Baron goggles, polished before the sun came out.
This guy didn't.
Now, this guy had an interesting weekend.
He was tanked on Saturday arvo when we got there and kept the pace up well into the night.
We found out on Sunday that he had left early and crashed.
His trailer dragged him off into a drain apparently.
The locals collected him and brought him back to town.
He surfaced a bit later and said he was fine, bit of a sore neck was all.
As he spoke to Buckets beside the van, he suddenly collapsed.
Nothing unusual there, really, I imagine there have been a few people that fell down after speaking to Buckets.
So one of these came to take him to Albury to get checked out.
Well, nothing for it but to settle in for Sunday night in Khancoban.
A couple of the local dignitaries invited us up to the Khancoban Country Club for dinner and drinks.
I didn't even know there was a country club.
The barlady was nice, when Thommo asked for a rum, she asked if he would like a real one.
We had pizza, real alcohol and complained about too many mountains ruining the view.
Thommo caught the rare buckets Colliganis feeding.
But it became startled and displayed warning signs.
Buckets had booked us into a cabin for the night at Khancoban Rose Holiday Units (02 6076 9530)
If only we had known about these the first night then all would have been fine.
$105 for a large unit with modern stuff that sleeps five. Two of those five should probably be a couple or at least very close friends.
It even has a washing machine.
This will be where we stay from now on.
Ma & Pa Kettle
By the time Monday got up for work, word was filtering through that the roads had opened but with a bit of damage here and there.
The sky was in our favour.
Thommo and I saddled up, I, of course, remembered my pants but had to remind him.
I think the real rum was a bit much for him.
We decided to head for Wodonga and bolt down the Hume rather than push our luck going cross-country.
There was still plenty of water about.
Check out all the washout on the right side and all the flotsam caught by the fence wires.
A few sections of road were missing altogether. Nothing major though and the road was passable.
The biggest hurdle was a small crossing we had to make along the Murray River Canal.
It was still flowing across the road quite fast.
Check the "wake" from the cats eye in the road.
That was the last of the dilemmas.
Unless you count a plug and a can of Fzzzt! in the rear of the FZ as dilemmas.
But that came later.
Apart from that it was an uneventful run home.
The perfect antithesis to a weekend of chaos and mayhem.
Thanks must go to;
Rob Colligan (aka Buckets for those who don't know). A top bloke all round and a determined campaigner for riders.
Thommo. A bloke who truly enjoys his riding. Handy with a camera on the move too. Most of the photos here come from him.
Khancoban and it's people. Friendly, warm and helpful. Especially the young copper who did a sterling job when the shit got weird.