Khancoban Motorcycle Festival 2012

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.

Outstanding in a man's field
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.
The Corryong Flyer

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.
Happy Buckets

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".

Not quite.
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.
Bogong Creek

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.

3 States, 2 Days, 1 Bike

Forgive me, Fathers, it's been a while since my last ride.

The main problem is not having a bike on the road. It can hold you back, you know?
This was remedied by a very good mate leaving his FJR1300 down here while he went back to Queensland for a while.
I promised to rotate his tyres regularly for him.

So we end up with the June long weekend coming fast.
I sat back on the Friday night and googled somewhere to head.
I wanted to make this a big run and really get out of town.
I decided West was the go and would head off in the morning.

Getting out of town at Sparrow's Fart is the best idea on along weekend that promised caravans and land barges all over our fine roads.
Of course, the predators will follow the grazing herds. So a weather eye was kept out for the lads with the chequered stripes on the doors.
Well, it would be later on any way.

I still hadn't settled on a destination or a plan, so just headed West.
I went around the bay and ran down the freeway towards Geelong.
By the time I got to Little River I had had enough of that rubbish and swung off for parts unknownish.

I swang up through Brisbane Ranges National Park and onto the Glenelg Highway.
Fantastic long open backroads. children, demerit points and the environment were not though of from here to Hamillton.

A quick bite at Hamilton and a decision to be made.
Where should I go from here?
I decided not to answer and headed out again.

I spotted a sign for Casterton. A mate of a mate owns the pub there so I thought it only courteous to drop in and introduce myself.

A cleansing ale, a smoke, and I was gone again.
I love riding with the visor up particularly through areas like this. The fresh smell of the bush after rain is one of the greatest things this country has to offer those who dare to go and taste it.

As I was revelling in the road, the bike and all the green around me I was quite surprised to see a road sign welcoming me to South Australia.
What? How? .. Wait! What?
How many times had I filled the tank?
Where did I stop?
Hmm.. No idea. Didn't matter, I was here now.

I switched north and headed for Naracoorte.
I pulled up in the main drag for a smoke and a stretch.
I thought about looking for a pub room for the night and checked the time.
This also threw me out, I thought it must be a lot later than lunch time.
Beauty! Plenty more roads to cover today.

There is a little town out the back of Ballarat called Trentham that I had promised myself to see one day.
So that's where I headed.
I rolled into town the long way at about 7.00 and headed straight for the pub.
$30 for a pub room sounded fine. They do a good counter meal the locals are friendly.
Later on, 2 brothers decided to settle a family matter in the main bar.
These guys were the typical country boys raised on good food in clean air. ie monsters.
It's been a long time since I've seen a blue like that one. I felt the hits from 20 feet away.
The blokes punched like steam hammers.
All part of that small town charm, don't you know.

 This is what $30 gets you in Trentham.

Day 1: 2 States, 965km, 12.5 hours.

More to come..


Late April 2010, I think.
That sounds about right. The crash was in early May and I haven't ridden since.
Not that I haven't wanted to, it's just that the shoulder hasn't been up to it and I don't have a bike on the road now.

It's been a bitch of a slog to tell the truth. A long clean ride through the hills has always been my way to clear the head of the stresses we all suffer. I'm sure you, dear reader, will understand.

With the extra stress of being stuck on work cover and sans bike my usual grumpy self became even more grumpy.
I was becoming a hermit and starting to relish it. Enough whinging already!

The Island Classic was fast approaching and, for the first time since 2005, it looked like i might miss it.
It's the best meeting at Phillip Island for the year.

Smaller crowds than the big Internationals like the WSBK or MotoGP mean that it's a far more relaxed atmosphere.
For the spectators anyway.

There is nothing quite like standing at the fence of Turn 1 and watching the old warhorses thunder through at full cry.
British twins stamping out their tattoo of anger, fighting defiantly against the onslaught of the Japanese.
The banshee wail of widow-maker two strokes mixed in with the war drums of the four stroke twins is an experience not to be missed.

I was debating whether I wanted to drive to yet another bike race when Ross rang me to discuss plans.
He told me "The 750 is sitting here for you, I'll be taking the Kat and you need to get off your arse."
The man carries a convincing argument.
That and he threatened to call me a poofter if I didn't front up. Harsh words, indeed.
There was nothing for it, I had to get off my cave-dwelling bum and rejoin the living.

The plan was to head down Friday afternoon after work, so I suggested picking up the bike on Thursday and ride to work loaded and ready to go.
Thursday evening found me face to face with an '06 GSX-R 750 crouched in Ross' driveway. The level of trepidation was making my head spin.
The sensible part of the brain was trying to calm down the gibbering, primitive part.
It's just a bike. You've ridden it before. You've punted it around the track. Stop being a big girl's blouse.

The chattering monkeys in my head settled down enough for me to set off. It would have been all of 400 metres down the road by the time I felt settled and comfortable. The bike is that good.

Roll on Friday and Plan A fell apart. I got caught at work later than I had planned. Ross decided to take off without me and I'd catch him at the Island.
Walking out of the elevator into the car park I was met by this and started to grin again.
It Waits...

The timing meant I was launched right into peak hour on the Monash Freeway, lately that meant an extra half hour on my trip home.
Not today though. I had somewhere to be and the sheep were not going to hold me up.

I followed the freeway/highway down to Tooradin with Jamie's words in my head; "I hope you aren't coming straight down the highway".
Who am I to disappoint him? I turned off at a sign that pointed to Cardinia and went a-wandering.
As usual, I have no idea what roads I was on but I popped back out on the highway just after Grantville.
About 36km according to Google. I took a lot longer than that.

A dull transport section down to the Island and I landed at Mick's at about 7pm to be greeted by Mick, Ross and a beer.
I thanked Ross for the bike again and he said "The look on your face is more than thanks enough".
I couldn't scrub that grin off for hours.

A few others started to turn up for the weekend and it settled into a relatively quiet night with a barbecue and friends.
Grand Dad and The Kid

4 Zooks & A Yammie

Friday night ended that way. Feet up around the fire, a bellyful of good food, surrounded by like-minded friends.

I'd promised myself that if the shoulder felt ok, I would bugger off into the hills on Saturday.
Breakfast in town was deemed necessary to discuss plans for the day.
 The Committee meets..

I announced I would be heading out for a few hours to clear the cobwebs. The others had other plans for the day. that sounded fine by me.

I peeled out and headed off the Island. 
The thing with this area of South Gippsland is that it's a series of good roads connected to more good roads.
It doesn't matter which way you turn, you're on a winner.

These roads lead.. somewhere

Sometimes, the surface is a little second-hand, as you can see by the patchwork in the photo.
Sometimes, there is moss, clay from tractor tyres or cow shit on the roads. And milk tankers.
It pays to be awake up there.
 It's not always about the twisty bits.

I took a couple of photos on the phone and it beeped at me. Great! It's gone flat.
You'll have to settle for a Google map of where I went.
"Private Test Course", anyone?

I stopped in Wonthaggi to buy a phone charger because I'd left mine at home.
As I stood there having a smoke, I looked at the phone. Full battery.
You bastard! It did this on purpose, you know.
 Wonthaggi. Home of the.. Nothing, really.

The run from Wonthaggi back to Kilcunda can be fraught with dangers such as caravans, wobbly headed tourists and the occasional police radar.
Today was Tourist & Caravan Parade Day.
I concluded that, to overtake safely, velocity should be applied. I applied my theory with great vigour.

Now, kiddies, here comes the moral lesson for today..
Alcohol is your friend.
I decided to pull into the Ocean View pub at Kilcunda for a beer. The pub sits on top of a sharp rise and overlooks Bass Strait.
I swung off and pulled up onto the footpath out the front. Now that I could see passed the line of cars and over the rise, I was surprised to see the Highway Patrol  working both sides and pulling everything in.
Beer saved me from having to explain my velocity theory to the nice officers.
I sat on the decking with a cleansing ale and one eye up the road. the last thing I needed was to get a borrowed bike noticed..
After a bit, I decided to give it a shot and toddled out as quietly as a hopped up Gixxer with a stubby Akrapovic can toddle. I got waved through.. More wins for me.
From there it was a quick sprint back to Mick's for an evening of laughter, bench racing and quiet thanks to that beer.

Yes, yes, all very nice I'm sure, but where's the racing stuff?

Righto, Sunday was the day for it. Dry, warm and clear. You couldn't ask for a better day for it.
We got in early and claimed Turn 1 as ours.
The Clan

As the day wore on, so the heat rose. It was beating us down standing at the fence so I can only imagine how hot it was in leathers out on the track.

I think I've waffled on enough so I'll let the photos do the talking..






















Cam Donald wringing the neck of the Manx Norton. I can die a happy man now.

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