Monday, November 21, 2016

19 November - Walhalla

The past few months here in Victoria, Australia have been quite discouraging for motorcyclist. Rain and wind and low temperatures have all conspired to keep the bikes in the garage. I braved the weather a couple of times out of sheer desperation for short trips and one more adventurous outing to Warburton through Noojee and Powelltown. Today the forecast was for fine weather with promised temperatures in the low 20's so it was time to fire up the Honda for a quick trip to Walhalla, one of my favourite short rides.

Those of you  who have visited Walhalla will know that the first sight to greet the visitor on entering the town is the railway station which these days is the terminus for the Goldfields Railway, a tourist train operating from the Thomson River station on the tracks of the original railway. Tucked into a hill right behind the station was the famous Walhalla Log Cabin, a beautiful and cozy structure which attracted many visitors to an overnight or weekend stay in Walhalla. Earlier this year, this wonderful old building burned to the ground, fortunately without loss of life or injury - it was unoccupied at the time. I hadn't been to Walhalla since that event and I wanted to see and photograph the site.
Sadly, the devastation is complete. By the time fire services arrived from Erica the structure was totally ablaze and as shown in the photo all that remains is the chimney, which is always the way. According to news reports there were no suspicious circumstances. The owners, who only took over the property around two years ago are hoping to rebuild but the cabin is situated on crown land and I think there is a lot of 'red tape' to be navigated before building can commence.

Anyway, apart from this melancholy experience, it was a fabulous day in Walhalla with lots of visitors enjoying the sunshine. After a great lunch I headed back home through the state forests.

Total distance 105 km.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

19 October - Cafe Riverstone

No ride today (weather is still discouraging) but a recommendation for a great cafe in Gippsland.
During a couple of recent visits to Briagolong in the past week or so, I've had the opportunity to eat at  Cafe Riverstone in Briagolong. For any riders visiting this part of Gippsland (Maffra, Sale) can I recommend first the ride through some pretty quaint villages such as Newry, Boisdale and of course Briagolong but also a great destination for light meals and great coffee. The cafe is  open every day and on the few occasions I've ridden or driven through there are alway a few motorbikes parked in the main street visiting either the Briagolong pub or this terrific cafe.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

15 October - Briagolong

On a beautiful morning I set off on the BMW to ride to Briagolong, a small farming community located about 80 km East of here. This little town has a very active art gallery, and one of my photographs is on exhibit there and I thought I would check it out
The photo (The Cocktail Hour) was accepted as part of an interclub competition and has been on display with entries from all Gippsland photography clubs, for some weeks. The exhibition standard was very high and it was quite exciting to see my entry alongside so many excellent photographs. The photo can be viewed by clicking here:
Followed up the gallery visit with a great coffee and muffin at the excellent cafe across the road before riding back via Stratford and Maffra.

Total Distance 160 km.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

8 October - Home in Traralgon

We left Apollo Bay this morning at 08:00. Our intention was to travel the Great Ocean Road back to Melbourne. We were aware that the GOR has been closed between Separation Creek and Wye River due to a landslide but the locals at Apollo Bay assured us that a bypass around that area was available and would not delay us much at all. This information was completely wrong - the roadblock was immediately east of Apollo Bay and our only option was to divert into the Otway ranges via Forrest and this diversion would take us all the way to the very beginning of the GOR in Torquay. At this point we abandoned the idea of riding the GOR (another ride when the road is fixed perhaps?) and we continued on through Winchelsea and Geelong and then on to Melbourne.
Although the morning had started off cool, it warmed through the day and we had brilliant sunshine throughout. Waved goodbye to Luke as we passed Moe and I arrived home just after 1:30 pm.

Seeing we delayed the trip to minimise the impact of severe storm weather along our route the availability to check rain radar all through the trip enabled us to minimise the impact of rain. While we experienced a couple of really windy days, in total we only had 60-90 minutes of actual rain. Everywhere we travelled we witnessed the impact of recent and serious flooding in the countryside but this only affected our route once when we had to divert around Shepparton.
Our accommodation plans didn't always work out due to unforeseen events, but we were always able to modify the plan and we enjoyed great accommodation and meals everywhere.
Both bikes performed perfectly with no issues at any time.
In summary, a great eight day ride covering some 2,700 km with a great many highlights, not the least of which was the opportunity to share it with my brother.

Total Distance today 362 km.

Friday, October 7, 2016

7 October - Apollo Bay

When we left Mount Gambier this morning the sky was overcast and it looked like it should have been raining - quite a change from yesterday. The intention was to ride to Port Fairy, a favourite destination for both of us. The ride turned out to be quite pleasant, no rain and not too cold. Our first stop was Portland for fuel and then on to Port Fairy. Port Fairy can be quite busy at times. The town hosts a range of music festival each year and with its historical buildings and great range of cafes and restaurants there is always a large number of visitors in the town. We were out of luck today, the Spring Music Festival was about to get underway and we were lucky to get a parking spot let alone a hotel room. We eventually managed to park the bikes and get some brunch, but no accommodation. As it was still early in the day and becoming quite overcast, we decided to put the rest of the day to good use and cover a few more km's. So, on to Warrnambool, Port Campbell and Apollo Bay via the Great Ocean Road.
We were lucky, the weather held out with just a few drops of rain as we passed through Lavers Hill. In Apollo Bay we found another great old pub with a cheap double room. A few of the local beers (Otway Pale Ale) whiled the afternoon away and soon it was time for an excellent dinner in the hotel. A short walk down the main street and we found excellent coffees. We returned to the hotel via the beach and the marina.
It was still quite mild and no wind whatsoever, so after a day in the saddle we were able to experience a beautiful evening to top off another excellent day. Because of the extra distance travelled today we expect to make it home by tomorrow evening.

Total Distance 371 km.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

6 October - Mount Gambier

Left Hahndorf this morning in brilliant sunshine. Our first run was straight down the highway to Tailem Bend for petrol and brunch. Our original intention was to travel to Robe today, but we changed our mind to go to Mt Gambier instead. This meant travelling to Keith and then leaving the highway to travel through some of Australia's most beautiful wine producing areas around Coonawarra. The countryside is just spectacular with vineyards as far as the eye can see. We saw lots of water still lying around, a sign of the massive rainfalls experienced here a few days ago. After a straight run of 230km we stopped at Naracoorte for fuel and to restore some feeling in various parts of the body. Then on to the final 95km to Mt Gambier. Once again we used the Visitor Information Centre to find cheap accommodation in the city. They pointed us to Mac's Hotel right in the middle of the city. This beautiful old hotel was first licensed in 1864 and has been beautifully restored. At $65/night for a twin room it is hard to beat. Once we unpacked our gear, it was time for a beer or two on the upstairs verandah overlooking the city.

After our long ride it was very relaxing to have this beautiful verandah all to ourselves. It was also great to experience some warm weather for a change.
After a couple of pale ales it was time to head down to the beautiful old dining room for an excellent meal. All that was needed now was some great coffee, and so we walked into the city in search of a good cafe and hit the jackpot - a Royal Copenhagen icecream parlour that served great coffee. That's finished the night's activities off nicely. Time to return to the hotel, and prepare for tomorrow's short ride to Port Fairy.

Total Distance 410 km

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

5 October - Hahndorf

Today was a rest day in the beautiful village of Hahndorf. This area of the Adelaide Hills was established in the 1830's by German farmers from Silesia and Prussia fleeing religious persecution at home. Today Hahndorf still retains some of the German culture and many of the original buildings established during the 19th century. We started the morning with coffee and apple strudl at the local German bakery cafe which I've been visiting regularly since my sisters introduced me to Hahndorf in the '70's.
We followed this up with a walk through the town which resulted in an appetite for a German hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut. After a bit of a rest it was time for a motorbike ride through the Adelaide hills in beautiful spring weather. Signs of the recent heavy rains and resultant flooding were everywhere, but the sun was shining and hardly any wind.
By then it was late afternoon and time for a bit more rest before tackling the onerous task of dinner. A couple of beers whetted our appetite and we were off to the German Arms hotel for steaks and a touch more German beer.
Our day in Hahndorf was certainly one to remember fondly, as it has been over the many years we've visited here. Tomorrow our planned destination is the coastal town of Robe, a ride of some 300km. The weather forecast looks good.