Wednesday, July 20, 2016

18 July - A Ride at Last

After some of the worst riding weather in a long time today promised to be a reasonably mild and most importantly, dry day. Joined my brother Luke (Kawasaki Vulcan S) on a roughly circular route through the Gippsland countryside. I rode the Beemer mainly because the Honda wouldn't start due to a flat battery after such a long period of inactivity. Our ride took us past Loy Yang Power Station and through Gormandale. After climbing Powers Hill we took a left turn toward the coast at Woodside. Very little traffic and mild conditions and an interesting road - it doesn't get any better than that. At Woodside we joined the South Gippsland Highway which in turn took us to Sale, but not before visiting the famous swing bridge on the Latrobe River. The high level of the river was a clear indicator of the amount of rain we've had in the past weeks. In Sale we enjoyed a nice lunch and coffee at a great bakery before climbing on our bikes again and then on to Maffra. By now it was becoming a bit overcast and the temperature was dropping but we drove on for a visit to the dam wall at Glenmaggie Weir. There seemed to be major release of irrigation water going on, we could hear the roar of the escaping water from some distance. Took a few photos before heading off on the last leg, for me anyway, back to Traralgon. Great to be back on the bike again especially with my brother.

Total Distance 215 km.

Friday, July 8, 2016

8 July - Walhalla Video

Since acquiring the Phantom 4 Drone I've been working on two challenges. How to edit the 4K video footage that comes out of the camera. and how to safely transport the system on a motorbike. The second issue is a work in progress but the editing issue is done and dusted. So for now I'll just post the video of our recent flight over Walhalla. Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

2 July - Walhalla from the air

Spent the afternoon in Walhalla today but not on the motorbike. Last week I took delivery of my Phantom 4 Camera Drone and I felt confident enough (after three flights from my front lawn) to take it to Walhalla, a 19th century mining town near here, which I often visit on the bike (see my last post). The first stop was at the Thompson River Bridge to photograph the Goldfields tourist train, the only existing remnant of a line built 100 years ago to bring goods into and gold out of Walhalla, crossing the railway bridge.
Many of the passengers on the train had watched me prepare the Phantom for flight so as the train passed there was lots of waving and photos being taken. The video of the event is absolutely spectacular.
Then on to Walhalla for a birds eye view.
Being a Saturday the town was quite crowded and as I didn't want to fly the drone directly over people I restricted myself to a five minute flight to get some good aerial views of the town.
These shots were all taken from about 50m. I will go back on a quieter day and get higher altitude shots of the whole town.
The drone provides a video feed to my iPad and it is quite exciting to get a live view - it's almost like being up there yourself. Some people are using Virtual Reality goggles to fly their drones and the experience is almost like being in the drone. At this early stage of my flying career the focus is mainly on acquiring good flying skills and to get some confidence in the drone itself. My next challenge now is to find a way of transporting the drone on a motorbike so that I can combine flying and motorcycling so watch out for more aerial views. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

15 June - Back on the bike - Walhalla, Cowes - Phillip Island

Since returning from our trip to Hong Kong, a number of factors have conspired to keep me away from motorcycling. First of all some personal health issues needed me to focus elsewhere for a few weeks and this was followed by a recent family bereavement which occupied all our thoughts recently. On top of that, it is winter here and while this is not as big a deal here in Australia as it is elsewhere, a run of cold wet weather has combined with the other issues has made motorcycling seem less than attractive or even appropriate, for a while.

I did manage a few small outings just to ensure the batteries on both bikes were charged, including one very nice but short trip to Walhalla, the nearby gold mining ghost town.
On a rare sunny day the little town looked beautiful as the autumn colours were just starting to emerge.

Finally though, today broke the drought. The weather bureau promised a chilly but sunny day so on with the thermal underwear and out on the Honda by 9:30 enroute to Cowes, Philip Island. With the grip heaters blasting away the sunny and still conditions more than compensated for the near zero temperature and by the time I reached the south coast it even started to feel pleasant. It was great to find that the long break in no way diminished either my riding skills or my enjoyment of being on a bike.
Crossed the San Remo bridge in perfectly still conditions and cruising on to the island was an almost Zen like experience which was quickly brought to a halt by a police roadblock carrying out random breath tests. This spoilt the mood for a while but it was quickly restored as I continued across the island.
The usual bustling town of Cowes was fairly quiet at this time of the year and I spent an hour or so having lunch at the local bakery followed by a walk down to the town jetty which was almost deserted.

All very relaxing and enjoyable but soon it was time to head for home along the coast and the continuing sunshine. Got home at about 3:30 just as the air started turning chilly again. It was great to get back into it again and what a perfect day it was.

Total Distance 330km

Monday, May 2, 2016

2 April - leaving Hong Kong

It is just after 7pm local time and we are in the departure lounge waiting for flight QF30 back to Melbourne, where we arrive at 8am. Then all that's left is a trip into the city and the 2.5 hour train ride home and will have come full circle after a great trip.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

1 May - Hong Kong

This morning of our last full day in Hong Kong we were determined to take the tramway up Victoria Peak but it didn't look good. First of all we couldn't see the peak for cloud cover which meant we wouldn't see much when we got up there. Nevertheless we took a Star Ferry to the island and then the 15C bus to the lower tramway terminal. As we approached the terminal though we were confronted by enormous queues. When we checked it turned out that the queue equated to a 3 hour wait to board the peak tram and at that point we decided it wasn't to be. It turns out that not only was it the weekend but also a long weekend for the Labour Day celebration. So instead we walked into the CBD to get a look at the double decker trams which form the public transport system here.
The rest of the day was very quiet and this evening we started the process of repacking our suitcases to get ready for tomorrow. We have an 8:30pm flight which means we need to be at the airport by 5:30. Trying to fit in all the stuff we've bought in the last four weeks is a bit of challenge. We're all amazed at how quickly the time has past but we are also looking forward to being home and resting after the holiday.

30 April - Hong Kong

Another day in Hong Kong and still waiting for better conditions to visit Victoria Peak. This morning we all hopped on the MTR to travel to Mong Kok which is about 1.5 km from our hotel. John, Sandra and Rosa were off to the Ladies Market and I wanted to visit Sim City which is a three story building full of camera shops selling the latest and greatest as well as loads of second hand equipment. I've been looking for a longer telephoto lens for my Panasonic Lumix GH4 and this morning I found the Panasonic 100-300mm at a significantly lower price than what's available in Melbourne. After returning from the market I immediately took my new purchase to Kowloon Park to get some better shots of those magnificent flamingoes.
Although this lens has had some mixed reviews (hence the lower price) I'm very happy with my purchase particularly as the light was marginal and the shots were taken hand held at the full 300mm.
Later in the afternoon we walked down to the Ocean Terminal to check out the best spot to view the laser Light and Sound show which is performed on and by the high rise buildings of Hong Kong Island. 
By now the weather was quite overcast and turning somewhat chilly and we were glad we didn't venture on to Victoria Peak - maybe tomorrow.
After dinner in Harbour Town we returned to the foreshore to join thousands of other locals and tourist to wait for the 8pm light show. The harbour at night is a fascinating sight. The colourful cityscape provides a marvellous backdrop to the abundant water traffic of Star ferries, tour boats on dinner cruises and junks and the occasional cruise ship. Just as the light show was about to start the Star Cruise Line's Pisces sailed right past us.
The hazy conditions detracted a little from the experience of the laser lights but it was still a magnificent sight to behold. 
Just as the show finished the rain started and we joined the general rush to find cover and get out of the rain. Tomorrow is our last full day in Hong Kong and our activities will be dictated by the weather.