Sunday, October 4, 2015

2 October - San Remo

The past few weeks have been a mixed bag. Managed a few rides in less than ideal weather, more out of desperation than a real desire, but today changed all that. The weather bureau promised a 25ÂșC day and delivered. Started off with the aim of taking the BMW to Cowes on Phillip island but today was a public holiday (celebrating the football Grand Final Match tomorrow) and the endless throng of long weekend holiday makers got the better of me. By the time I reached the San Remo bridge to the island, traffic was down to walking speed so I decided to stop for lunch. By now it really was a beautiful day and it was great sitting in the park and watching the bridge traffic moving very slowly. Lots of bikes around including large groups of HD riders who seem to enjoy nothing more than riding through a town slowly making a great deal of noise. After an hour or so of relaxing and a few photos it was time for a leisurely ride home through Leongatha and Mirboo Nth, with a brief coffee stop at the In Line 4 cafe in Mirboo Nth. A very enjoyable ride of 340 km.

It was interesting to note that here in Victoria we have just witnessed a 'test' court case of a motorcyclist who challenged a traffic fine handed to him for the heinous crime of having a camera mounted on his helmet. As someone who is frequently guilty of this outrage I followed the case hoping to see it thrown out on the grounds of 'silliness' but to many people's surprise the case was lost. Australian road laws work on a state basis and we now have the ridiculous situation where in Victoria the court has affirmed that mounting a small cam on a helmet renders it unsafe, while in some other in states the police use helmet cams to document their own activities. This provides food for thought in my case. I've found that the helmet mount is the only way to keep vibration to a minimum, so now I'll have to decide whether to stop using it or take a risk of a significant fine.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

19 September - Tulips from .... Silvan

Spring is well underway and all of a sudden our trees have sprung blossoms and started growing the next lot of leaves which we'll spend all of next winter cleaning up. In the nearby Dandenongs, a range of hills to the East of Melbourne, it's tulip time. For the past 62 years, the Tesselaar family, who like my parents were part of the Dutch post war migration boom, have hosted a tulip festival on their farm located in Silvan, in the Dandenongs.
Over the years, what was originally a farm visit has now turned into a full blown cultural festival occurring over a few weeks featuring as well as lots of tulips of course, Dutch delicacies, live music, folk dancing etc. A great family day out, and today it co-incided with one of the few sunny, mild days on the horizon, so I took the Shadow for a lovely meander through the hills to see the tulips.
Quite a few thousand other people had the same idea and one of the advantages of going by bike became immediately clear - no issue with parking!
The atmosphere was fantastic. A locally manufactured street organ was belting out the well know fairground tunes and the smell of poffertjes, german sausages and espresso coffee was everywhere - what's not to like. After attending this event sporadically over a few decades, I was fascinated to see that the festival appeals to such a diverse group of people, young, old and originating from every part of the world. Everywhere, people were squatting between the dazzling tulips to have their photos taken and the number of 'selfie' sticks rivalled the number of tulips.
The range of colours on display is really astounding and the overall effect is quite stunning.

In every direction there were parents trying to get their little ones to pose with the pretty flowers, some with more success than others.
The return trip was via Yarra Junction, Powelltown and Neerim South and the weather held out all the way. A great day out.

The Beemer had it's 36,000 km service on Wednesday. It's supposed to be serviced every 10,000 km but in this case the instrument panel insisted that too much time had elapsed since the last service and in the end I relented. I'm in two minds about this time based aspect of servicing, and I probably would have let it go until I reached 40,000 km but I've found that in the past 12 months I've had to adjust the chain 3 or 4 times, indicating it is stretching, and I really wanted a professional advice on whether to replace it or not. Some owners on the Web report changing chain and sprockets after only 20,000 km and some of the published photos lead me to think that those bikes have a much harder life than mine. Looking at my sprockets I can't see much in the way of wear, but the verdict from the BMW service tech was that I should replace the whole chain set, so I'm getting a few quotes on that.

Total Distance today - 320km

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

1 September - Back in the Saddle

The first day of spring and the first decent weather for a long time so finally an opportunity to ride a motorcycle. After the two month break the Honda proved the hardest to start so it needed a good battery charge. After towing a caravan around for 7 weeks and nearly 10,000km the sense of freedom on the bike was incredible and it didn't take very long to get back in the groove. And so I took the familiar road to Meeniyan through Mirboo North to have lunch at the Chess cafe operated by my Norwegian friend Gunnar. Hadn't seen him for a long time so we had a good chat about the state of the world, and my travels over a fantastic roast beef sandwich and the usual great coffee. The ride home was fantastic too, with the sun beating down on my back and hardly any traffic. It's great to be back on the bike and I'm looking forward to the next spring day to take the Beemer for a spin.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

27 August - Home Sweet Home

Amazingly we are home. This wasn't the plan but just the way things worked out. We left Toukley Service Centre, north of Sydney at 02:00 after catching a few hours of sleep. This enabled us to navigate around Sydney and on to the M7 with very little traffic. Unfortunately we encountered a fair bit of fog but by 04:00 we reached the next large service centre about 40 km along the Hume Highway. Once again we parked the rig amongst all the large trucks and some other caravans and caught another couple of hours sleep. By 7:00 we were on the road again expecting to reach Bombala or maybe Cann River. We were expecting heavy rain but did not really encounter much more than fine drizzle. Our friends John and Sandra who were travelling from their home in Paynesville to Sydney got in touch and we were able to have a coffee together in Cooma which was great. By the time we reached the coast at Cann River the weather was quite good and we carried on to Lakes Entrance. At Lakes were within 150 km of home and although it meant arriving in the dark the temptation to continue on home was too good to resist. All went well until we reached Stratford. At that point it became dark and the heavens opened to some of the heaviest rain I've experienced. This made the final 60km ride home a 'white knuckle' experience as there are long stretches of roadwork in progress.
So, after a very long day which really started in Nambucca Heads in NSW we made it home. It is cold and wet here and something we haven't experienced for quite a while. Still it is nice to be home. There will be a motorcycle ride the minute this damn rain stops.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

25 August - Nambucca Heads NSW

A glorious day here in Nambucca Heads, NSW, probably our last and against all expectation given the rain and thunderstorms yesterday. This beautiful little town is located on the mouth of the Nambucca river about 60km south of Coffs Harbour. Our caravan park is situated in what must be one of the most beautiful spots on earth. In the above photo the park is in the foreground.
We're using the warm weather to dry out all the damp gear from yesterday which gave us plenty of time to drive into town and up to the local lookout for some great views of the surroundings.
Managed to capture some stunning panoramas which I will process properly when we get home. The limited space and resolution available in Blogger would not do them justice.
As we resume our trek south tomorrow we expect the weather to get much colder and wetter so our stay here in Nambucca is our last real holiday destination. Our progress home will be dictated somewhat by the weather.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

23 August - Yamba - New South Wales

After a little bit of rain overnight, we woke to a beautiful sunny day here in Yamba. For our last Sunday on this trip we enjoyed a 'bacon and eggs' breakfast before setting of to explore this wonderful little seaside town.
After a good look around we decided that this must be one of the best holiday destinations in Australia. Being located on the mouth of the Clarence river, the estuarine environment is absolutely superb and the town has experienced just enough development to make it attractive to a wide range of holiday makers including families and fishermen.
As well as quiet protected beaches there was also plenty of action for surfers, and the more adventurous holiday makers. Add to this beautiful parks and some interesting historical buildings and you have a place we could easily spend a week or two.

Our caravan park is located on the waterfront and the area is a favoured haunt of the local pelicans who no doubt get plenty of food from the local fisherman cleaning their catch. By mid afternoon these wonderful birds are busy enjoying the sea breezes and spend hours riding the winds just above our heads. Later in the afternoon when the fishing boats are expected to return they all flock to the fish cleaning stations for their supper. They seem to be very tame and approachable and I had no trouble taking lots of closeup photos of them.
I really enjoyed just sitting there and watching them wait patiently for the evening catch.

According to the weather bureau, today brings a long run of fine weather to an end. It seems we should expect rain all the way down the east coast for the next few days. Accordingly, I think our adventure is drawing to a close. Tomorrow after we get our windscreen fixed in Coffs Harbour, we will continue to make our way south and re-assess our plans on a daily basis. If cold and wet weather persists we'll put in some longer drives and go home.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

22 August - Yamba - New South Wales

We left Forest Glen this morning right on 09:00. The Forest Glen Resort where we stayed has an onsite restaurant called Spirit of Tibet. We had dinner there last night with another couple from the adjacent caravan and had a great meal and a good time. Our target for today was Yamba which is a beautiful little seaside town located on the mouth of the Clarence River. We made good time and by noon we were on the outskirts of Ballina and we couldn't resist calling in for one of our favourite dining experience - Mango and Macadamia Pancakes at the Macadamia Castle.
Over the years we have called in here many times to enjoy these unique pancakes and this time was no different. The carpark is always full but with a bit of perseverance we always manage to squeeze our rig in somewhere.
Suitably fortified we were ready to tackle the remaining 90kms or so to Yamba where we managed to secure an ensuite site at the Blue Dolphin Resort. We were introduced to Yamba and this caravan park by our friends Jim and Irene some years back and we are looking forward to spending a day here tomorrow - the forecast is for a warm, fine day.
The only negative today was that we suffered a chipped windscreen caused by a stone thrown up by a passing truck this morning. Contacted our insurer and we are booked to get it repaired when we pass through Coff's Harbour on Monday.