Saturday, June 27, 2015

26 June - Philip Island and more seascape photos

Woke to a sunny day with a forecast top of 15ºC - not bad for the middle of winter. In February we had a short caravan holiday in Cowes, Philip Island and visited The Nobbies, a spectacular bit of coast line right on the tip of the island. Today I took the Honda back to the Nobbies hoping to get some spectacular seascape photos and here's what I got. (Click to view images in larger size)





The cafe at the Nobbies Visitor Centre provided a decent coffee and lunch and then it was time to return home. Got home just on 4 pm just as the temperature started to drop rapidly.
Great ride and an enjoyable day.

Total Distance 370km

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

17 June - Wilsons Prom

Rode the F650GS to Wilsons Prom today, mainly hoping to make some photos in the category of "Seascapes", which is next month's competition at the Coal Country Camera Club. I joined the club a month ago after attending as a visitor in May and found a group of really active photographers and a very high standard of competition. The CCCC website and images from previous competitions can be found here.

The weather was a bit rough, and it didn't look like getting much above 10ºC but I figured the sea would look a bit more interesting with a bit of weather. By the time I arrived at Tidal River I was cold and hungry and decided to postpone the photography until my more urgent needs were met. On the way down I passed a sign to Squeaky Beach and a brief glimpse of the shore line suggested some interesting options for photography so after lunch I called in there an parked the bike in the car park. After a 300m trek through sand, never an easy task in winter motorcycle gear I was pleasantly surprised and snapped a bunch of photos. I think I will enter the following two images. Click or double click on them for a proper look.



As I was leaving the temperature had 'climbed' to 10.5 ºC and so I decided to ride home the long way through Foster, Alberton and Yarram. Altogether a great day out.

Total Distance 325 km.

Some months ago my friends Marcus and Danielle moved to Denmark and have finally got to the point of buying a couple of BMW's making them the only 4 x BMW family I know (2 in Australia).
To follow their adventures in Europe I included a link on this web site under the frequently visited sites or you can go straight there by clicking here.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

11 June - Loch

Well, we are in the grip of winter now i.e. Australian style. While up in the mountains, about an hour away people are enjoying skiing and other snow sports, down here in Gippsland that means cold and overcast days, but at the moment, little rain. Riding in this weather, particularly if there is little wind really only requires thermal underwear, a jacket with a warm liner and grip heaters. My target for today was the little village of Loch. This little town was once on the South Gippsland highway but was bypassed many years ago, so now it is a little backwater with every shop now specialising in either food or antiques.  A really nice destination for a winter ride.
I visited my usual cafe for an excellent lunch and the coffee was so good I had to have another.
The one item which would have made it perfect would have been a wood fire but you can't have everything. After lunch I had a look around the village and noticed this beautiful old building. I think it has been recently renovated and operates as a brewery/distillery. Unfortunately it was closed so I'll have to check it out on another trip. Today I had to be content with a couple of photos.

On the return trip I chose the road from Loch to Wonthaggi which takes you through some of the most spectacular Gippsland countryside. From there it was home via Inverloch, Leongatha etc.

Total Distance 275km

Saturday, June 6, 2015

6 June - Coal Creek Heritage Park

Back in April I visited the Old Gippstown heritage in Museum in Moe and posted a blog and photos.
The aim then was to combine a motorcycle ride with a local tourist attraction often overlooked by the locals, especially me. I continued the theme today by visiting the Coal Creek Heritage Park which is located in Korumburra on the site of a coal mine which operated from the 1880's until 1958. As always you can view a larger version of the photo by clicking on it.

Once again, I found a beautiful facility which houses buildings and equipment from Gippsland's past in attractive surroundings which make it a very interesting place for family visits. This incredible place, virtually on our doorstep opens for 4 days a week totally free of charge, and features a number of planned events during the year.

Amongst the many relics are the remains of the rail line and equipment which would have been used by the mine to export the coal.
Coal creek features many fine buildings - schools, stores, a courthouse and a church collected from the local region and lovingly restored by the volunteer workforce.



I was particularly impressed by the restoration of a coach builders workshop complete with all the tools. It's one of those crafts which has disappeared forever.

Altogether a great day and I'm looking forward to some warmer weather and an opportunity to visit again with other family members.

Total distance 260 km

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

3 June - Winter and a Touch of Dutch

I came to Australia as a 12 year old 59 years ago. My family assimilated to the Australian way of life quickly but I suppose like most migrants, even as we were becoming 'true blue' Aussies, we still missed some of the tastes of home. In 1956 many of the ingredients and spices required to produce the delicacies we grew up with were not available and my mother became an expert at improvisation to get as close as possible. Of course, over the past 20 or 30 years the cuisine available in Australia has become very international and, if you know where to look, nearly everything you need is now available.

A few years ago we discovered a shop and cafe called A Touch of Dutch in the town of Berwick, about 100 km from here. You can visit the web site and check out the menu here.



The plan for today, on a cold but clear morning, was to ride the Beemer to Berwick to pick up a few items from Touch of Dutch, and then ride back along the South Gippsland Highway. However, the Beemer had other ideas. When I hit the start button there was a moment's hesitation before the engine fired - bit of a worry. I decided to continue and rode to a petrol station to fill the tank, and once again despite a warm engine there was some reluctance to start. Not wishing to get stuck far from home I called in to the local battery place and was pleased to find they had the correct battery in stock at a pretty reasonable price. I was a bit tempted to change batteries there and then but the shop advised a couple of hours charging first. So, with crossed fingers, I started the bike once more and rode it home to grab the Honda instead.

Had a great ride down to Berwick and enjoyed my lunch of a dutch meatball sandwich. Also did a bit of shopping for dutch goodies before heading south for the ride home. Altogether a great day.

So, tomorrow will see the battery replaced and also the installation of a lead to enable the battery to be trickle charged easily.

Total Distance 285 km.

Friday, May 29, 2015

29 May - Winter approaching - Reflections on motorcycle maintenance

I don't know about other riders out there but I often find myself thinking about my motor mechanic as I round a steep bend or overtake other traffic at high speed. Under those conditions the bike (and of course the rider) are tested severely and it is then I sometimes have the fleeting hope that my motorcycle mechanic is one of those fussy types obsessive about the smallest details.

I don't give my car mechanics the same degree of attention. Sure, they can make mistakes which can be costly and inconvenient, but the care and attention given to my motorcycle could have a much more direct affect on my well being.

I'm thinking about these issues today because I took a ride of some 130km to the Honda dealer in Bairnsdale to have the 24,000 km service carried out on my Honda Shadow VT750. The remarkable thing about that is that I rode on a cold wintry morning right past the local Honda dealer (5 minutes from my house) to travel the extra 130km to a dealer and service department in which I have confidence - a commodity I lack in the local outlet.

When we hand over our car or motorcycle to the tender mercies of the respective service departments we really have no idea what happens in the workshop. We lack the opportunity and probably the expertise to critically evaluate the skill and dedication lavished on our prized possessions and so we develop our trust and confidence on the basis of the attention paid to the smaller details.

Some weeks ago I had the Honda booked in for tyres and an 18,000 km service at the local Honda dealer. My first surprise was that this store carried no tyres for my bike and seemed unwilling to recommend any brand based on what other customers were using. After leafing through numerous catalogs we finally found some tyres at an acceptable price and placed an order. In order to give them plenty of time to procure the tyres I booked the bike in some two weeks later. On the day I arrived I knew immediately that all was not well, and sure enough after a panicky search for the tyres I was informed they had not arrived. On that basis I cancelled the service and the tyre change and considered my options. I'm unlikely to make any further purchases from this dealer, not because I doubt their expertise and experience, but because the way they conduct their business demonstrates a lack of attention to detail and care which if endemic could have dire consequences for my motorcycle and for me. Why would an attentive, service oriented dealer not be aware the tyres had not arrived and to avoid customer inconvenience, rescheduled the service?

On that occasion I contacted the more distant Honda dealer in Bairnsdale and the difference in treatment I received was so startling that it suddenly crystallised in my mind the contrast between the two companies. The people at Doyle and Shield in Bairnsdale acted with enthusiasm and attention to customer needs, the local dealer didn't appear to care about me and my convenience at all.

I quickly established that Doyle and Shields could supply any of three different brands of tyres, from stock and immediately. They were also able to recommend a brand on the basis of the experience of other customers and at a price which was about $25 cheaper per tyre.  I booked the bike in at the next earliest opportunity and despite the distance was happy travel the extra distance to have the bike attended to. All went to plan and my good opinion of the service department improved even further when the service guy came out to make comment on the work carried out and to remind me to take it easy for a while as new tyres can be a bit slippery. Once again, I had no idea of the quality of the actual work performed but the communication and attention to detail gave me confidence in this service department.

Since then, with the trip to Queensland, another 6,000 km has passed and today it was time to ride back to Bairnsdale for the 24,000 km service. Once again I was very happy with my experience and as I spent an hour or so waiting in the showroom I was able to observe the interaction between the staff and customers at this dealership. Many mediocre businesses could learn a lesson or two here.

You may wonder why I don't carry out my own maintenance as many other bike owners do. The Honda is a low tech bike and not difficult to understand and no specialist equipment is needed other than a lifter for the bike. Without the ability to lift the bike everything is extremely inconvenient to get to and at the end of the day I derive my pleasure from riding the dam thing and not from tinkering with it.

I would be interested to hear other thoughts on the issue of motorcycle maintenance.

You can check out the Doyle and Shields web site here:

Monday, May 11, 2015

10 May - Queensland Trip - Summary

Checking the SRA forum site I see that all my riding companions (except one) of the north bound ride have returned home safely. One of our mates John was visiting friends/family and expects to be back in Vic this week. Now that I've been home a couple of days it seems timely to summarise my thoughts of the trip. First, a couple of maps of the outbound and return trips.
Northbound
Sunshine Coast Rides
Southbound

Observations/Lessons

  • All the Honda Shadows performed flawlessly. One bike with an after market air filter got a bit waterlogged in the very wet weather but this was easily resolved
  • Riding in a group is fun in terms of companionship and the sense of 'sharing' the adventure but on the other hand riding solo gives greater freedom and a greater sense of achievement
  • Rode through the worst weather possible and all the wet weather gear and luggage worked well.
  • Heavy rain AND dwindling daylight is a scary combination. Need to upgrade the headlight brightness on my bike.
  • It is important to stop and change clothing if temperature drops. During the ride from Sydney to Goulburn the temperature dropped at least 10ºC. In trying to get to Goulburn before dusk I didn't stop to add a layer of clothing which was a mistake
  • Felt no discomfort from the Shadow's stock standard seat even on the longest leg which was more than 700km.
  • Almost got the 'pack list' right - one or two items too many