The tale of two highways

Having delayed my departure from Melbourne by a day meant I was keen to make up some time. I had a simple plan – to travel through the Snowy Mountains, which was both simple and ambitious. Had I left town yesterday, I would have taken some of my favourite roads through rural Victoria. But, keen to try and make Cooma by day's end, I ditched this plan for a sprint up the Hume Highway.

I wish I could pen my thoughts at the time, as the one thing the Hume Highway gives you (apart from the ability to cover a large amount of distance) is plenty of time to think.

I don't listen to music on my motorbike - it is no good for your ears. The Hume Highway is dual carriageway at least until the border towns of Albury Wadonga. It is pretty much 110kph the entire way and fiercely patrolled both by automated speed cameras and patrol cars. Today, it only had very occasional traffic.

The part of Victoria that the Hume covers is largely flat. There are small hills and the highway seems to "join the dots" between the peaks of these hills. Long flat straight road linking the hills together. You crest one hill, only to perform the slightest course correction as you drift along to the next hill.

Try reading that last paragraph over and over for three hours and you have a pretty accurate picture of what it is like to traverse this road. All the while, the digital speedometer of the bike letting you know exactly how fast you are going. Every time it measures 109 you really feel like you are prolonging the boredom unnecessarily. Every time it creeps over 110 you feel like a sitting duck waiting to make a donation to the secret policeman's ball.

The occasional car that you pass, or that passes you gives you something else to contemplate. I wonder where they're going? I wonder why they're going? How does she manage to knit while her husband drives without getting car-sick? I wonder if they take it in turns to drive? I wonder if they're as bored as I am...

Numbers become a challenge on such a boring road. The countdown to Wadonga ticks by in five kilometre increments. Can I make Wadonga on a tank of fuel? Will I break my all time record for distance on a single tank of fuel by doing so? The psychological boost I got when the Wadonga signs got down to double digits was amazing. Then it became questions such as: What time (to the minute) will I make it to Wadonga. You get the idea, I was bored.

Wadonga, and the fuel stop came 10 kilometers short of my record for a tank of fuel on any bike I have owned. I also stopped for lunch and had several people "warn" me about the "boys in blue" who were out on the road I was travelling.

There were two of them and it wasn't like they were hard to spot. Standing by their patrol cars wearing their high-visibility OHS compliant jackets - they weren't trying to catch speeding motorists they were trying to be seen! I got the message.

The second highway was the far more picturesque Murray Valley Highway. A gentle road of long sweeping bends around very pretty countryside. "Lake Hume" must be close to full at the moment and the paddocks were filled with lush green grass and contented cows. Facing the Snowy Mountains in the distance the view was simply stunning. Progress along this road is notably slower than the Hume Highway, but in such beautiful surrounds that does not matter in the slightest.

After Corryong I finally crossed back in to New South Wales and took the "Alpine Way" through the Snowy Mountains. Here, the going gets slow. The road is windy, but not very wide so caution needs to be exercised. With no dividing line, on-coming traffic can tend to run-wide or straighten the corners and encroach upon your side of the road. There is no doubting your remoteness up here, so the last thing you would want is to need assistance. There are several climbs and descents on this road and for a flat-ish country, this is about as big as the hills get. I passed a retired couple with a campervan and gave them a friendly wave. They had obviously pulled off the road for the day to camp out in this wilderness. A prettier spot would be hard to find. I think they would be unlucky to get another three vehicles go by, before they leave tomorrow morning.

Eventually, the road climbs to "Dead Horse Gully" then descends down in to the ski-resort of Thredbo. My ambitious plan of getting to Cooma was looking like too large a challenge and I called it a day in Jindabyne.