It is no secret amongst motorcycle riders that some of the best sections of twisty tarmac are to be found within the NSW and Victorian High Country regions.
This route between the Snowy Mountains Highway east of Tumut and the popular village of Jindabyne takes you through some spectacular alpine scenery via well sealed roads that are suitable for all types of bike.
Kiandra on the Snowy Mountains Highway marks the start of this route and you can approach it from Tumut in the west, or Adaminaby to the east. Both offer some great roads but on this occasion we started at Tumut which suited us as we love the ride out past the Blowering Dam area, and even more the series of corners that runs up the hill from the Talbingo turnoff. Probably one of our favourite rides on a sports bike when we can get out this way. The road continues to climb up into the Kosciuzko National Park where it plateaus at around 1500 metres above sea level, and the alpine feel and sights are unmistakeable, including horse poo on the road that serve to warn of the possibility of wild Brumbies near the highway. While this is a great place to visit in the warmer months it is definitely one to avoid during winter when snow and ice regularly sees the roads closed for periods of time. At the old Kiandra Goldfields we turn right onto the Link Road which heads southwest past the Mt Selwyn snowfields towards Cabramurra, the highest town in Australia. This community is central to the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme but there is no established accommodation here for visitors. From here the road continues towards Khancoban with some nice sections of road, although many are cursed with low legal speed limits, debris on the road, and wildlife ready to surprise the unwary. There is also a lack of lane markings (or any road markings) to keep tourists on their side of the road so watch out for wayward camper vans suddenly appearing on your side of the road. Swampy Plains Creek Road winds down from the alpine forest and eventually interests the Alpine Way, where a left turn takes you into Khancoban and a welcome fuel opportunity.
From here the road heads towards the ski village of Thredbo, which comes into sight at the bottom of a long scenic valley to your left. The section of road immediately beyond the village offers the chance for some awesome fun as mid speed sweeping corners on a great surface take you further east in the direction of Jindabyne. This region offers some magnificent sections of road for sports and touring bikes, but requires care in other parts due to the various road hazards that exist. The glorious alpine landscape more than makes up for this though and you should definitely visit the NSW High Country at least once on your bike, preferably in summer.
Fuel range should not be an issue for most riders on this route. Tumut to Khancoban is 180km, and Khancoban to Jindabyne is 110km. Fuel and all facilities are available at Khancoban. There is a store/café at Cabramurra where you can get food and drinks, including reasonable coffee and beers. There is also a self-service petrol bowser at Cabramurra with premium unleaded available.
Things to do:
It is worth dropping in to Cabramurra village to check out the history of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and ride up to the lookout. There are many good viewing areas along the route where you can pull off the road to take a photo and enjoy the view. Taking a swag with you during summer is also a great option as there are plenty of good camping spots to setup for the night and take a walk through the alpine bush. Khancoban also has a large pondage right at the edge of town and offers some water based activities.
The road crosses Tumut Ponds Dam
The Snowy Mountains Highway itself is an awesome stretch of road on a bike. The road between Kiandra and Adaminaby contains some excellent sets of corners on smooth tarmac as it winds across the peaks of the national park and takes you past the holiday area of Providence Portal, at the western reach of Lake Eucumbene. The road eventually takes you into Adaminaby where there are good options for accommodation, fuel, and food. Whichever road you take through this region it is hard to go wrong as most of them are very well suited to motorcycle riding.
There is little in the way of mechanical backup available along this route so make sure you take sufficient tools and spares to cover potential problems. And try to avoid riding alone if possible. There is mobile phone coverage along most of the ride though if you do get into trouble.
Camping is definitely a good option along this route with many scenic campgrounds easily accessible on the side of the road.
Khancoban Lakeside Village offer more comfortable options in self contained cabins for a reasonable tariff – 1362 Alpine Way, Khancoban Phone: 02 6076 9488
The Oriental Hotel has pub style accommodation and does a great evening meal in the bistro, from steak to local trout – Wynyard Street, Tumut Ph: 02 6947 1627
Woolpack Hotel Tumut
Khancoban Roadhouse – 1389 Alpine Way, Khancoban Ph: 02 6076 9400
Cabramurra Visitor Centre – Cabramurra Village Ph: 02 6453 2003
The Heritage Coffee Lounge in Tumut offers good breakfast and coffee, amongst other things. It is beside the Woolpack Hotel on Wynyard Street and is open 7 days a week.
The Cabramurra Store has decent food and drink options throughout the day. They are open 9 – 5 on weekdays and 10 – 4 on weekends.