Headed South – No Plans (Christmas 2014)

I guess I’ve realised the last few years that I’m not a particularly ‘Christmassy’ person. If I thought about it hard enough I’m sure I’d quickly come to the realisation it’s because it’s the longest completely forced period of leave I’m made to take from my 9-5 each year. This makes it particularly important that I believe that I’m using that time doing something that I truly want to do. Of course this isn’t to say that I’m completely content skipping out on Christmas each year (I really do enjoy spending time with my extended family, sometimes), I just also enjoy spending a bit of time riding my bike to collect my thoughts.

Last year it was New Zealand, I think I’d made it as far as Queenstown by Christmas. I remember speaking to the extended family on the phone and realising that the distance had probably made the dialogue a bit more meaningful than it may have been otherwise. This year I’ll be heading off South of Sydney with a roughly 900km ride splitting the Princes and Hume Highways which will take me through state forests and National Parks, along fire trails and following rivers through to little places like Captains Flat and Snowball. I’m not really sure what’s between here and there, but no doubt it will involve some remote riverside campsites, visiting friends and enjoying the picturesque southern highlands and snowy mountains.

My eagerness to get out of the city is amplified since this is a bit of a transition period for me. I’ve accepted a new job at a larger company, and while I believe that my relationship with my current employer has been mutually beneficial, it’s also become obvious that it’s not being viewed that way from their end – not the best way to leave but by no means a bad one. I’m now truly looking forward to clearing my head and exploring for a couple of weeks before my designated start date for the new job.

Below is the rough route I intend to take:

 

 

The ride starts in Bowral near where my Uncle lives. I’m undecided when I’ll be heading down there but it’s likely that it will be the 22nd or the 23rd of December. If I head off on the 22nd I think I’ll ask to crash at my Uncles place for the evening to ensure I get off early the following morning. While I don’t really like travelling with a schedule, I think I’m probably packing quite a bit into a few weeks so I want to get it started right.

Coasting down out of the southern highlands there’ll be a long plateau section sweeping along the Shoalhaven River. Maps appear to show plenty of places to rough camp, somewhere in or near Bungonia National Park looks ideal early on, and then I’ve isolated a few discreet places to make camp along the river. I’ll try to cut west towards Captains Flat because it looks to me that there might be a good half day of unsealed road riding to break the trip up.

Shortly after that I’ll blow through Cooma and start climbing up through the snowy mountains for a few days. I’ve mapped out a route which is probably a bit to direct for me, so it’s likely I’ll be making this up along the way trying to get lost and then found. Once through the mountains I’ll be heading south again down through to Victoria and Mount Beauty (how can you go wrong with that name?).

The plan is loose, and unintentionally the rough direction I’ve chosen ends up going near Tawonga where I have some friends who will be staying on a family farm – intention being to try to track towards them for New Years Eve or New Years Day which should be fun. This should put me in reach of a family friends place in Myrtleford to recover and clean myself before making the last dash to Albury to find a train to take me back to Sydney.

 

Optimistic? Not sure, but I don’t have anything else to do so I may as well put the new Vivente through it’s first real test. The roads are there, the rivers are calling and to be honest I haven’t found (nor do I believe I could) anything that appeals to me more. South it is!

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