There are many ways to beat the boring bits en-route to Phillip Island
We regularly hear of riders coming from every state and territory across the country, and the routes they take to get there often form the highlight of a riding holiday out on the bike.
Motorcyclists making the trip down the eastern seaboard from Queensland and NSW have some particularly awesome options available to them with plenty of alternatives to the boring freeway stretches that, while sometimes quicker, can leave you feeling somewhat brain dead by the time you get to the Island.
From Sydney to Melbourne the two main transport routes are the Hume Freeway and, closer to the coast, the Princes Highway. The coastal road is the more interesting of the two with more to see and some stretches of decent riding along its length. There are also some interesting little towns to stop at along the way to break up the ride. If you intend to follow the course of the Hume Freeway there are several good detours along old sections of the Hume Highway that run roughly parallel to the freeway and are a more interesting ride. The real gems though are the roads that connect the Hume to the coast, often crossing over sections of the Great Dividing Range via brilliant stretches of bitumen that are truly a motorcycling paradise. The NSW and Victorian high country regions come to mind as a couple of the highlights from our previous tours heading south and both make good routes to get to PI from the north. On the NSW side of the border a popular choice is to turn east just past Gundagai and head to Tumut, then follow the fabulous Snowy Mountains Highway through Kosciuszko National Park to Cooma. This is a brilliant ride and there are motorcycle friendly food and accommodation options at Cooma. You can then continue down through Bombala or Bega with both offering good riding, although Bombala is the most direct and our pick of the two.
If you stay on the Hume for a little longer and cross the Victorian border there is a great ride along the Great Alpine Road which takes you through Bright before passing through the ski village of Hotham Heights on the way to Omeo. Again this is a great ride with some stunning alpine scenery along the way. If you have a dual sport bike you can take an even more direct route along the dirt road that follows the Dargo High Plains. There is a very bike friendly hotel in Dargo that has great food and accommodation available, leaving you just an easy morning ride to get to Phillip Island.
Whichever route you decide to follow to Phillip Island just make sure you plan ahead for your overnight stops, carry a few tools and spares for your bike, and mostly enjoy the ride.
There is plenty of fuel available along these routes but it’s good to fuel up often across the high country, especially if range is limited. Accommodation and food is widely available but do book ahead or carry a back-up swag/tent. There are many good camping areas around the high country and the weather should warm up to make it more comfortable.
There are some good bike shops in the area but we suggest a tool kit and spares to be more self-sufficient. Make sure you have a good tyre repair kit with enough CO2 bottles for a few puncture repairs or even a pump or mini compressor. Tyre issues are the most common problem on long trips, but they aren’t hard to fix beside the road with the right tools and attitude.
Alpine Hotel – 170 Sharp St, Cooma Ph: 02 6452 1466; a cool old art deco building with basic pub style rooms and shared facilities at fair rates. There’s a good bistro, plus safe covered parking round the back.
The Dargo Hotel has cabins and bunkhouses, plus food. They often cater for bikers. Phone 03 5140 1231 to book.
The Cooma Café on the main street is a great spot and has signs up to welcome riders. They are open 7 days and do a really good egg and bacon roll, plus decent coffee.
On the NSW south coast we like the Cobargo Bakery, at the northern end of town opposite the servo.
Things to do
Some spectacular scenery along the way is worth stopping to admire. Beyond Kiandra there’s the Yarrangobilly Caves, open business hours 7 days a week; call 02 6454 9597 for more details. There are interesting little towns on the coast if you take the Princes Highway that are good for a break, and to stretch your legs as you wander around for a look.
If you’re in a hurry to get to Phillip Island you could always stick to the freeway and belt out some tunes through your comm device to while away the hours, but you will be missing out on some excellent riding options.
Story & PhotographyTim Munro