Thursday, December 19, 2013

19 December - Dargo

The small township of Dargo lies in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and was established as a town around 1868. Initially it served as a stopover for gold miners travelling to the goldfields of Grant, Talbotville and Crooked River. These days, as well as producing timber the area is a popular recreational destination for the 'off road' crowd, bush walkers, deer hunters and fisherman.
The forecast today was for a 40ºC day and so Dargo seemed like a good destination for a run on the Honda. After morning coffee at the bakery in Maffra, it was a really enjoyable ride through Stratford and up the mountains into Dargo. Apart from one or two cars either coming from or going to Mt Hotham there was nobody around and given the heat it was very pleasant sitting in the general store enjoying a sandwich and a drink. After cooling down in the shade of a huge gum tree it was time to saddle up again for the return trip. By now it had got seriously hot and that meant a stop for an iced coffee at Wa De Lock in Stratford before riding the final leg back to Traralgon. A bit hot, but once again a great ride.

Total Distance 345km.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

17 December - Licola

I had no plans for a ride today but just after lunch the sun emerged and there was no wind which seemed a perfect reason for a quick ride on the BMW. Hadn't been to Licola for a while. The ride to Licola runs through the foothills of the Great Dividing Range which makes for a spectacular and enjoyable motorbike ride. Being a week day both the road and the town were practically deserted. After stretching the legs for a while I wandered down to take a couple of photos of the bridge over the Macalister River (which feeds Glenmaggie Reservoir near Heyfield).

It was one of those days where riding on a great bike, through iconic Australian mountain scenery is just sheer pleasure. The BMW performed perfectly and there was no further sign of the problem with the oil pressure light - fingers crossed.

Total Distance 165 km

Sunday, December 15, 2013

15 December - Shadow Riders at Christmas Hills

The Shadow Riders of Australia (SRA) (Victorian Division) held a Christmas BBQ lunch at Mt Sugarloaf Reservoir in Christmas Hills which is near Eltham. Fortunately the BOM promised a fine day so I took off on my Honda Shadow at 09:00 this morning. Wasn't sure how long it would take and so I stuck to the highway until Pakenham and then turned of through Cockatoo, Woori Yallock, Healesville and Yarra Glen.  Only took one wrong turn and arrived right on 12:00.

It was a great lunch and it was good to catch up with members I had already met when they rode down to Traralgon, and also some I hadn't met. The picnic area at Mt Sugarloaf Reservoir is outstanding - a beautiful setting and great facilities.

By 1:30 it was time to head home. By now the skies were clear and it promised to be a beautiful sunny ride home. The return trip was via Launching Place, Yarra Junction, Powelltown, Neerim and Yarragon. Altogether a great ride and a great day out.

Total Distance 380 km.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

3 - 4 December - Back to the Dealer

Not long after I bought the Beemer, shortly after leaving Omeo on my way over the Alps to Bright,  the 'low oil pressure' light started flashing. I immediately turned the engine off and coasted back down into Omeo to investigate. Found everything to be OK and when I turned the ignition back on the fault had cleared. After calling Southbank BMW to discuss my options, it was agreed I could continue the trip provided oil level was normal (it was) and the light remained extinguished (it did). In discussing it with Southbank BMW and my local BMW dealer the only theory that emerged was a faulty oil pressure sensor. A few months of trouble free motoring ensued and I'd almost forgotten the incident when early this year, just prior to my ride to Maryborough Queensland, the same issue popped up again, and at my insistence the local BMW mechanic checked oil pressure (which was OK) and replaced the pressure sensor. Since that time, the bike had travelled almost 10,000 km without further incident and just as I was beginning to feel confident that we had indeed found and rectified the problem, the issue raised it's ugly head again last Friday just as I was riding along City Rd Melbourne, past Southbank BMW.  Once again, switching the ignition on and off cleared the problem but when I attended a book launch at Southbank BMW the next day I discussed it with Manny, the principal dealer. As this was Saturday afternoon and no service staff in attendance he immediately suggested I ring him this week and promised to investigate the issue whenever it was convenient do so.

I used the weekend to research the issue on line to see if anyone else had experienced the problem and found a useful discussion on this forum

Unexpectedly, other F650GS owners had experienced the intermittent 'low oil pressure' warning and found it to be caused by the radiator cooling fan becoming seized due to the ingress of dirt, tar or just dirt. I immediately started the bike in the garage where, due to lack of forward motion I would expect the fan would operate as the bike reached operating temperature, and found that my fan was indeed not operating. A hefty nudge on the fan impeller failed to start it and it was indeed jammed.

I dropped the bike off at Southbank motors this morning and mentioned the fan issue and sure enough the fan was found to seized due to the ingress of some small stones. The bike's computer reported that it had indeed disabled the fan to protect the motor electrically. I have not yet gained a clear understanding of the link between this event and the "low oil pressure" warning but both the other riders on the forum and the BMW service guy confirmed that this is the sequence of events.

So, if any other F650GS riders are experiencing a similar issue, check the cooling fan on your bike, and if need be clear any material which may stop it from running.

My thanks to Manny and his team at Southbank BMW for the prompt attention and helpfulness.

My gratitude for getting to the bottom of this issue was soon dampened though, by a 160 km trip home through pouring rain.

Total Distance 335 km.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

29 November - 1 December - Three Days in the Saddle

Rode to Melbourne on Friday in anticipation of attending the book launch of "Circle to Circle" held at Southbank BMW on Saturday. Spent the evening with my mate Marcus and his girlfriend Danielle. After a leisurely morning we took the short ride to Southbank where the normally sedate showroom was packed with people keen to hear the story of Brian and Shirley Rix.

When Brian Rix retired after 36 years as a policeman in Victoria , he put his wife, journalist Shirley Hardy-Rix, on the back of his motorcycle and headed off for a ride. For the next 16 months Brian and Shirley rode more than 83,000 kilometres through 32 countries on five continents with side trips to Antarctica and Galapagos Islands.

They rode from the bottom of South America to the very top of North America. They rode over the Andes, sometimes more than 5,000 metres high. They rode through deserts, the tropics and up to Alaska. They had a catastrophic breakdown in the heart of bear country and suffered altitude sickness.

It was great to hear their story and to check out the BMW R1200GS they used for their travels, fully kitted out as it was on their journey. Even managed to get a copy of the book signed by the authors.
After the festivities were over it was time to battle the Melbourne traffic for our trip to Traralgon. Danielle passed her motorcycle learner permit and bought a brand new BMW G650GS earlier in the week and this was an opportunity for her to get a few kilometres on the open road under her belt.
So, our trio of BMW's headed east on the Princes Highway as far as Warragul and then turned off towards Neerim to pick up the road through Noojee, Hill End and Willow Grove. By then all clouds had cleared and we were riding through wonderful countryside in brilliant sunshine.
Spent the evening at our place in Traralgon with the aim of getting another ride in on the Sunday (today).
Today's ride took us to Korumburra, through Boolarra, Mirboo North and Leongatha where we stopped for refreshments and fuel. Eager for some more twisties on yet another brilliant day we then turned on to the Kormburra to Warragul road - a magnificent motorcycling experience. Left Marcus and Danielle to continue to Melbourne the long way (through Powelltown and Yarra Junction) and headed home via Yarragon etc.
Three great days on the BMW and some good times in between.

Total Distance 550 km.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

26 November - Bass Coast and Bunurong Marine Park

Finally, a fine day after a long run of mediocre weather. Since I started riding again 4 years ago, I have covered nearly 70,000 km. Which means that within the scope of a day ride, I have covered all the interesting roads, destination and cafés in this area. Lately, in order to avoid endlessly repeating myself, I have started to take a closer interest in places which in the past, I would appreciate, but ride straight past. Today I revisited the beautiful short stretch of coastal road between Inverloch and Cape Patterson which is the main means of access to the Bunurong Marine Park. I would recommend that anyone who finds themselves in the South Gippsland region, take the time to ride this beautiful section of road, and to stop and enjoy some of the wonderful features available there.

This time I chose the car park at Eagle's Nest to park the bike and walk down the stairs to the beach. Apart from some beautiful scenery, the return climb up the stairs, in motorbike gear provided quite an aerobic challenge and I had to spend a few minutes at the top, catching me breath.

Lunch, and coffee was in Inverloch, an attractive coastal town with plenty of choice.

Total Distance 235 km.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

5 November - Noojee and Warburton

The BOM promised a fine warm day so the plan was to ride to Warburton for lunch via Noojee and Powelltown. The roads were quiet despite the public holiday and the first stop was Noojee to take another look at the old trestle railway bridge just outside the town.

This bridge was part of a series of bridges (this bridge is No. 7) which supported a railway line which connected to the Gippsland line at Warragul, and eventually reached Noojee in 1919. This line was used to carry timber and passengers. At the time there were 28 sawmills in the area, and over 200 km of narrow gauge line connecting the mills to this railway line. In those days, freight trains were limited to a maximum speed of only 40 mph, and as a result the 143 km ride from Flinders St Melbourne to Noojee took 6 hours. The line was ravaged by the 1939 bush fires, but rebuilt.  In the end though, the arrival of roads into the area spelt the end of the line. Progressive closure of the Warragul to Noojee railway line occurred between 1954 and 1958.

When the railway line was dismantled the Buln Buln shire purchased the No. 7 bridge and today it is well maintained and part of a walking and rail trail. In 2010 the bridge hosted the local version of The World's Longest Lunch, with tables set up all the way across the bridge.

After visiting the bridge again it was on to Warburton for lunch at Three Sugars,  then home through Powelltown, Neerim South and Yallourn North.

Total Distance 286 km.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

31 October - All Over Gippsland

Since returning from overseas I've been pretty occupied with the editing of all my photos as well as the video from our Hawaiian trip. The photos from Holland will become a photo book at the end of this process and this task is now about 70% complete. Additionally, in the past couple of weeks I have also fully retired from work and there are a lot of details and arrangements which have to be attended too as part of that process too. All that has now been completed. Combined with this general state of busyness, and lots of motorcycle unfriendly weather has resulted in a total lack of riding for the last couple of weeks.

When the forecast for today looked at least acceptable (early morning showers) I started up the Beemer and headed over the Strzeleckis to Leongatha and Korumburra for lunch at the Bakery Cafe there. Hadn't been there since puncturing a cooling water hose on the Honda a couple of months ago. By the time I arrived the skies had cleared and it was very pleasant eating lunch and sipping coffee in the alfresco dining area.

The trip home was via the Korumburra/Warragul road which has to be one of the great motorcycle roads in my area. If you ride it on a weekday it is generally very quiet and very enjoyable and today was no exception. This road hits the Princes Highway at Yarragon and normally I would follow it home but by the time I got there I was in the mood for more and so I turned off towards Willow Grove for a look at Blue Rock Lake. Even then I wasn't ready to go home so I took the long way via Erica and Tyers, before returning home around 2:45.

Total Distance: 256km of pure enjoyment.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

16 October - Warragul

Just prior to my trip to the Netherlands, on 28 August my Honda suffered a cruel blow in the form of a pointy stick which punctured the main cooling water hose. Thanks to the help provided by Honda Rider Assist and the Leongatha Honda dealer, a temporary repair enabled me to ride home without further incident only to find a replacement hose was not available in this country and would not arrive from Japan for another fortnight. So, I ordered and paid for the hose and shortly afterwards departed for  Europe.

This morning, I was finally able to ride the Honda to Miles Honda in Warragul, where the new hose was fitted. The temporary repair proved to be very effective indeed because not a single drop of coolant was lost, but it was a good feeling to get the new hose fitted and to return the bike to full service.

Total Distance 156 km.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

12 October - Mt Oberon (Wilsons Prom)

After the disastrous floods of 2011 the road to Wilsons Prom was out of action for some months. When it eventually reopened the road to Mt Oberon remained closed as large parts of the roadway had washed away. A few weeks ago re-construction was completed and it is now open again to traffic. I took the BMW down there this morning and after an absolutely delightful ride ride I arrived at the Mt Oberon car park which was packed - presumably lots of hikers taking advantage of the fine weather to explore the many walking tracks. The road from the park entrance to Oberon and Tidal River is an absolute motorcycling delight. I've heard many people complain about the 80kph speed limit but it actually forces you to ride at a speed which allows you to take in the sights of which there are plenty. After a "Prom Burger" at Tidal River it was time to head back. To my sheer delight I spotted two juvenile deer crossing the road just in front of me - I had no idea deer inhabited the Prom. The ride home, through Foster and Yarram was a bit windy but enjoyable just the same.

Total Distance 322 km

Thursday, October 10, 2013

9 October - On the Road Again (to Paynesville)

First ride for many weeks today. Just returned from my trip to the Netherlands and today was the first opportunity. On top of that the forecast was for a fine (30ºC) day. Took the BMW for a spin to Paynesville to visit friends and just for the sheer enjoyment of it. It was absolutely fabulous - almost no traffic on the backroads through Merlieu and Bengworden - and not a cloud in the sky. A little wind on the return trip but nothing was going to spoil this ride. A great way to recapture the magic.

Total Distance 260 km.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

4 October - Amsterdam

I left my birthplace Valkenburg, in the Netherlands a few days ago to return to Purmerend (Amsterdam) via Venlo, Breda and Delft. Tonight is the last night of my month long visit and tomorrow evening I catch a KLM flight back home. Really looking forward to catching up with all of my family again. After a five week absence I'm also quite keen to get the bikes started and back on the road. The Honda still needs to have a cooling hose replaced before I do much else.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

24 September - Valkenburg - The Netherlands

Hired a car in The Hague today and drove to Valkenburg, which is my birthplace in Limburg in The Netherlands. After a couple of weeks of overcast and sometimes wet weather, today was more like a sunny day. Plenty of people out on motorbikes today. I will be staying here 6 nights and visiting all the places I can remember from way back in 1956 when my family emigrated to Australia.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

10 September - Amsterdam

As you can see, I have not been on either bike for a while. I am currently in the Netherlands visiting family and am really hanging out for a bike ride. I don't think I will fit it in to my current trip. While hire cars are quite cheap here, renting a decent bike (as opposed to an underpowered scooter) is quite expensive. Also the weather here is very changeable at the moment.

Visited the restored Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam a couple of days ago mainly to view the Rembrandt's, Vermeers and the Van Goghs. Wonderful day out. Really looking forward to bike ride when I get back to Oz.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

28 August - Stopped by a stick

Took off this morning on the Honda in fine, sunny conditions with the aim of visiting towns along the South Gippsland Highway. Had a great ride as far as Korumburra where trouble struck. As I pulled into Kelly's cafe for lunch and a coffee I noticed a small stick, part of a tree branch, protruding from the bottom of the bike on the left hand side. No recollection of riding over it so I switched the bike off and attempted to remove it but found it was stuck pretty tight. A closer look revealed it had in fact punctured the main cooling hose from the water pump to the engine head and as I finally freed it a steady drip of green coolant began from the damaged hose. Bugger!!
Fortunately the bike is covered by Honda Rider Assist, and a quick phone call resulted in the promise that help would arrive within the hour. I barely had time to finish lunch before my rescuer arrived and we loaded the bike on to his trailer, to be transported to the Honda dealer in nearby Leongatha. He told me he was quite surprised. He had never had to rescue a Honda before, the majority of his calls were for another (US based) brand of bike. So, within an hour of striking trouble, the bike was up on a hoist to confirm that the punctured hose was indeed the culprit. The next hurdle was a replacement hose. No stock and the earliest arrival in the country would be 9 September, and I was now 80 km from home with no transport of any kind. Time to improvise. Frank, my friendly mechanic agreed that a temporary repair would probably get me home, so out with the superglue, a bit of old tyre tube and some cable ties and the bike was as good as new. Well at least the hose wasn't leaking. Rode it all the way back to Traralgon, with a stop every 10 km or so and never lost a drop of coolant. I really appreciated the good service received from Honda Rider Assist, and the persistence and ingenuity of Frank at Knight's Honda in Leongatha. So now the Honda will be stabled for a while awaiting the arrival of a new water pump hose.

Total Distance 186 km.

Monday, August 26, 2013

26 August - Warburton

After a string of miserable days today finally looked promising. Reasonably clear sky and it actually felt warm outside at around 10 a.m. Fired up the BMW and took the back road (Noojee, Powelltown) to Warburton for lunch. The town was the quietest I had ever seen it. Probably because it was Monday, in any case I had the cafe all to myself and had a quiet lunch. Went for a walk along the Yarra River after lunch. The constant rain of the last few days has turned the normally placid stream into a raging torrent, much to the delight of the local duck population. By the time I was ready to ride home the temperature had dropped 5 degrees, and as I approached home it was getting windy and chilly. Nevertheless, one of those perfect rides where everything just clicks.

Total Distance 267 km.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

18 August - Walhalla

Absolutely terrible motorbike weather the last week or so and this morning, while the sky was clear, there was a gale blowing and the forecast was for rain - bugger! I was really hanging out for a ride and just after lunch it got the better of me, and I decided to brave the conditions for a quick coffee in Walhalla on the Honda. The wind was as bad as it looked until I got into the hills where the road is well protected and then conditions became almost pleasant. As the road is lined by large trees I took it fairly easy, fearing a branch or a whole tree across the road, and sure enough, as I rounded one bend there was a whole tree across the road. Luckily a bunch of SES volunteers had got to it and were in the process of cutting it up and there was a gap wide enough for the bike.

Walhalla today is the remnant of a once booming gold mining town. Mining took place between 1863 and the early 1900's, and altogether some 55 tonnes of gold were recovered. At its peak it housed some 2500 permanent residents - today there are only a handful. Windsor House (see picture) was a wealthy merchant's house. It fell into decay over the years but in recent times it has been renovated and now operates as a B&B.

Today the town was celebrating its 150 year anniversary and there were people everywhere. After a quick lunch it was time to ride home to find that the wind had died down a lot. I'm glad I persisted as in the end it was a quick but enjoyable outing.

Total distance 104 km.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

7 August - National Vietnam Veterans Museum, Philip Island

Amidst a long run of shitty days, today looked like the only possibility for a decent motorbike ride.
On many previous trips to Philip Island I have ridden past the National Vietnam Veterans Museum and thought I should stop and visit some time soon. Today I decided to make this the purpose of my ride and so I ventured across the San Remo bridge to visit the NVVM which is located right next door to the airport. The NVVM is a privately owned museum started by Vietnam veterans and it first opened its doors in 2007.

The museum features a great exhibition of vehicles, aircraft and weapons as well as an extensive collection of memorabilia and photographs. As well as Bell, Huey and Wessex helicopters there is even a Canberra bomber which is undergoing a process of restoration. The museum also features a small gift shop and cafe and with a reasonable entry price ($9 for us seniors) it is well worth a visit. One display provides a photo and short bio of all the Australians who were killed in Vietnam and it didn't take me long to find the name of Adrian Rich, a local boy from Morwell who was killed in the conflict. Most of us knew Adrian and when he was killed it brought the seriousness of the Vietnam conflict home to those of us fortunate enough to escape conscription.

Altogether the museum is well worth a visit and the 20 minute video presentation about the war is also worth a look.
Made the return trip through Korumburra and short coffee stop at the local bakery.

Total Distance 302 km.

Friday, August 2, 2013

2 July - Sale and South Gippsland Highway

Woke up to a foggy morning which promised a sunny day. Rode the Honda to Sale for a bite to eat and a chance to take a look of a bit of local history. H.M. Prison Sale was built in 1887 and was always a source of morbid fascination when I first came to Gippsland as a teenager. Unlike a modern prison the site was almost totally obscured by a high and imposing brick wall which made it an eerie and fascinating place. It ceased operation in 1997 with the establishment of a new, privately owned facility nearby, and since that time has undergone a gradual process of demolition. All that remains now is a section of the front wall and the main gate. Not sure if this will be preserved as part of Sale's historical heritage, and so I thought I'd get a picture of it just in case.

After lunch the ride continued down the South Gippsland Highway, through Longford and past the Omega transmission tower which is still standing as a relic to the cold war and pre satellite era of communication. Turned right at the beach town of Woodside for a return trip through Gormandale.

Total Distance 177 km.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

28 July - Ride with Shadow Riders of Australia (SRA)

(Courtesy SRA)

Some time ago I joined a MC club called Shadow Riders of Australia (SRA) for riders who own a Honda Shadow. To date the club has over 300 members around Australia and in March 2014 it will hold its second AGM in Bright. This year's AGM was held in Dubbo.

Today several members had a arranged a ride to Traralgon and I caught up with them at the Longwarry Caltex service station and led the ride from there to Traralgon.

(Courtesy SRA)

Once in Traralgon we managed to find parking for all of the bikes in Post Office Place and have lunch at Del Mondo. It was a great chance to meet other Shadow riders and other potential ride partners for the future.

(Courtesy SRA)
The best part of the day was that I only had a five minute ride to my house.

Check out the SRA web site here...

Total distance 163 km.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

25 July - Port Welshpool

Here in Gippsland, at this time of the year, when the weather forecast predicts "Sunny" it does not mean "warm and sunny". In fact this morning it meant "bloody cold and sunny". The Beemer told me it was 7ºC when I set off this morning, and if it wasn't for plenty of warm gear, including a neck warmer, riding would not be a lot of fun. On the other hand, if you're properly prepared with thermals and double socks it's fine and by the time I stopped for fuel in Mirboo North the temperature had risen to 11ºC - wow!

My ride today took me the long way (via Inverloch) to Port Welshpool which is on the South Gippsland Highway. Port Welshpool, a small fishing village, was for some years (mid 1990's I think) a terminal for the infamous high speed SeaCat Tasmania, which provided a high speed link between Victoria and Tasmania.

Unfortunately this service ran into a lot of problems mainly due to the rough conditions which prevail in Bass Strait. In rough weather the ride was very uncomfortable and the SeaCat soon earned the nickname SpewCat. Additionally there was a range of structural problems which I think affected the engine mounts. After a couple of seasons the service was discontinued and after repairs the SeaCat sailed to the UK (via the Panama Canal) and is now in service as a ferry between Dover and Calais.

I never got to see the SeaCat in action because at the time it operated I lived in Melbourne but I was interested to see if there was any sign of its operation in Port Welshpool. The only thing I found was that the terminal building is still there, looking very forlorn at the end of the jetty. According to a sign it is available for hire for corporate functions. Continued the ride home via Yarram without further stops.

Total Distance 280 km.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

16 July - Sam the Koala, Mirboo Nth

 Many of you who follow my blog regularly will know that many of my rides take me to or through a little village called Mirboo North. MB is located in the Strzelecki Hills to the South of my home and as well as lying on the main road to a lot of mountain and coastal locations, it also features a couple of my favourite cafes. Today was one of those still, mild and sunny days that makes me want to meander slowly through some of this wonderful countryside and so I took the Honda Cruiser and rode slowly to Mirboo North, not wanting to go much further. I don't think my speed exceeded 80 km/h and with almost no traffic on the roads this led to a wonderfully relaxing ride. My destination was Nanna's Kitchen and so when I arrived and took an outside table I was able to kick back, watching the locals and waiting for my BLT and cafe latte.

Lunch duly arrived and was fantastic as usual. One of the nice things about being in a relaxed frame of mind is that you actually notice things you usually miss. As I sat there enjoying lunch and looked across the road, I noticed a large commemorative plaque I had not seen before and so I wandered over to check it out.

This and other regions of Victoria suffered devastating bushfires in February 2009, with great loss of life and damage to property.

At the time a photo circulated showing a scene of utter, charred devastation, and a fire fighter feeding a bottle of water to a schorched koala which had somehow survived. The commemorative plaque is dedicated to the victims and firefighters of that event and the plaque reproduces the theme of that famous photo. This is the famous news photo of Sam the koala,

and here is the plaque now standing in Mirboo Nth.

Unfortunately Sam has since passed away but he will always be world famous.

Total Distance 110km

Thursday, July 11, 2013

11 July - Gippsland Lakes

Looked out the window this morning and the lawn was covered in frost. The sky was blue however and the forecast was for a fine day. I'd been looking forward to a ride to the Gippsland Lakes for a while, and as soon as the temperature warmed a little (7.5ºC) I set off towards Heyfield and Maffra. By the time I reached Maffra the temperature had increased by one whole degree and so I called into the Maffra bakery to warm up with a coffee and some hot food. By the time I finished this early lunch the feeling had returned to my toes and the outside temperature had increased to 11ºC - much better. From Maffra it was a pleasant ride through Meerlieu and Bengworden and eventually to Paynesville where I called in for a coffee at our friends John and Sandra's place. This latter part of the ride was very pleasant - no wind whatsoever - and a bright sunny day, so I was glad I resisted an earlier impulse to leave the bike in the garage. After a pleasant chat and coffee it was time to point the Beemer towards home again. As is usual at this time of the year the temperature dropped quickly through the afternoon and I got home around at 4:30.

Total Distance 305 km.

Monday, July 8, 2013

8 July - Foster, Sth Gippsland

Really hanging out for a ride on the Honda so I was very happy when skies were clear this morning. Expected cold weather but thermal underwear takes care of that. Rode through Churchill, refuelled in Mirboo North and then continued to Foster via  Meeiyan, and had lunch at Bromley's Cafe on Main. This was a great find - Peri Peri Chicken wrap (fantastic) and great coffee. Will definitely return here on future rides. After lunch the ride continued along the Sth Gippsland Highway to Yarram where I stopped to stock up on goodies from Yarram Bakery. The ladies at the bakery were happy to see me and were worried I hadn't been for a while. Reassured them all was OK and continued along the Hyland Highway to home. Today was one of the best rides I've ever had - a clear, crisp day, the Honda just purred along all day which all added up to the perfect day on the bike.

Total Distance 233 km.

Friday, July 5, 2013

4 July - Warburton

Returned from the Hawaii cruise on Tuesday morning at 2:30 am.

We had a fabulous time. It's amazing what constant sunshine and a steady temperature of 28 degC does for you. I did miss the bike though and was filled with envy as I watched lots of guys cruising around Waikiki on Harley's. Not sure I could get used to the shorts, tee shirt and bare head style of riding. Made one important purchase, a Kamaka, tenor ukulele. These 'Stradivarius' of ukes have been made locally by a family for the past 70 years, and now the third generation of Kamakas are running the business.

Today started off fine, if somewhat windy so I took the BMW out for a lunch run to Warburton. It felt great to be out on a bike again, and lunch was great too.
Total Distance 320 km

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

14 June - Holidays

No motorbike trips for a while. We're off on a brief holiday to Hawaii. Swapping motorcycle gear for shorts and Hawaiian shirts, and cold and wet weather for perpetual sunshine and warm balmy weather. If you'd like to keep in touch with our activities there you can do so

by clicking here...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

9 June - Dargo with Marcus

We're well into winter and this weekend is a long weekend with a forecast for fine weather. Our friend Marcus arrived yesterday afternoon to stay for a couple of nights so today the plan was to ride the two BMW's to Dargo. Marcus has a fine looking R1200GS which he rode around Australia in 2012/13. We were on the road around 10:30 and stopped only briefly for fuel in Heyfield before pushing on to Dargo.

This picture (not mine) shows the famous Dargo pub which, because of the long weekend was pretty full. Four wheel drive vehicles and a few motorbikes everywhere. We contented ourselves with coffees in the general store across the road.  Despite the elevation it was very pleasant  and we sat out in the sun for a while before starting the return journey. After a very pleasant ride we arrived home just after 4pm. Altogether a brilliant day.

Total Distance 332 km

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mirboo North and a sad farewell...

In my part of Australia, during the winter, there are plenty of riding opportunities but only if you ignore the weather forecast and look out the window instead. Take today for example. The forecast was for showers and a top temperature of around 14ºC. You wouldn't think twice about heading out into the hills on a bike. By about noon however there was more blue sky than clouds, hardly any wind and the temperature felt quite mild. So it was worth risking one of my favourite short rides - over the Stzreleckis and on to Mirboo Nth. A very pleasant ride it was with only one or two rain drops on the visor. The objective at this stage was to have a light lunch, a coffee and a chat at the very pleasant Bullock Dray Cafe. I've had plenty a pleasant interlude here on my bike trips both solo and with friends. The proprietor always makes a fuss and if he's not too busy is always good for a chat, to say nothing of the odd complementary little something to go with the coffee. The cafe forecourt features a piece of astounding art which shows a bush scene featuring a bullock dray heading into the hilly distance. Most of this is a painted mural, but the foreground of the scene, including about half of the actual bullock dray, consists of real shrubs and a real dray. If you look closely at the wheel in the picture you'll that part of it is painted (lighter part) and the rest is a real wheel. When I got there today I was in for a disappointment though! The cafe was empty and the front door had a For Lease sign on it. I was speechless. How could this be? It shouldn't be allowed. One can only assume that despite my regular patronage the business wasn't doing well enough to remain open. It will be interesting to see if anyone else is game enough to open another cafe here.  Anyway, it finally dawned on me that I would have to find another place to have lunch. There is a bakery and another cafe or two but I really wanted to find somewhere a bit special and further down the street I came across Nanna's Kitchen. Pressed my nose to the window and sure enough the place was full with only one table spare. It seemed to beckon to me to come in.

Well folks, if you're ever riding through Mirboo Nth, I can recommend this place. The coffee was great and the menu had plenty of items to choose from with a great specials board. After a very nice plate of homemade hash browns and bacon and a bit of a chat with Nanna herself I rode off towards home, certain I will come back again soon.

Total Distance 115km

Saturday, June 1, 2013

1 June - First day of winter

No, I haven't suddenly taken off for a motorbike ride in Holland - not a bad idea though.

Some of the visitors to this site know that I was born in The Netherlands but have spent most of my life in Australia. I have been back to Holland a few times and am planning to return to Europe and the home country sometime in the next couple of years. Occasionally as I surf the www, I come across something interesting from my birthplace and today I spotted this short and humorous video which I thought I would share.

Friday, May 31, 2013

31 May - Cowes, Philip Island

Woke up to the first decent day for a while and no sign of rain on the radar either. Rode the Honda to Philip Island via Mirboo Nth, Leongatha, Korumburra and Wonthaggi. No traffic on these picturesque country roads which made for a very relaxed trip. Great weather for a cruiser. Had lunch at Gullivers and then stopped in at the Philip Island Chocolate Factory hoping to take home a few goodies but I found the prices absolutely astounding. I really enjoy peanut clusters but a little bag containing about eight pieces was $15.95. I've never been shy about paying when I see value for money but that seemed ridiculous, so I contented myself with a couple of photos instead.

Started the trip home taking the wonderful coastal road between Cape Patterson and Inverloch before refuelling in Inverloch. The fuel consumption of the Honda continues to amaze me - about 4l/100km. The ride home was very pleasant too with no sign of rain or wind. Altogether an unforgettable day out on the bike.

Total Distance 344 km.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

29 May - The Wall of Death

Found a great video while trawling through the web earlier this evening. It's a documentary about the Ken Fox Troupe, one of the last remaining families who travel all over Europe and perform the famous Wall of Death routing using motorcycles and quad bikes. I particularly enjoyed the fact that one of the bikes they use is a 1920's Indian which is preferred because of its reliability.

THE WALL OF DEATH from benedict campbell on Vimeo.

I remember seeing this kind of act in circuses when I was a kid, it seemed impossible until you understand how centripetal force works. Then a couple of years ago Rosa and I attended the Moscow Circus on the Gold Coast. Terrific show but the highlight was the Ball of Death. This act is truly one of the scariest things I've ever seen. It's one of those where you have to remember to breathe.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

28 May - Lunch in Warburton

A rare sunny day forecast for today, preceeded by early morning fog. Well the fog lasted till about 10:30 and then yes there was the sun and blue skies with hardly a cloud in sight - so Beemer time. I thought a ride to Warburton via Noojee and Powelltown would provide plenty of autumn colours and smells so, that was the plan.

Arrived in Warburton and by now the temperature was up to 17ºC, the town was pretty quiet and no waiting at my favourite cafe (of all time) Three Sugars. The open Bacon and Egg Pie was superb, as was the coffee and it was very relaxing to sit there. During my ride I had been listening to my iPod via the Senna bluetooth unit mounted on my helmet. The iPod is actually located in the top box. Without thinking about it I walked across the road to the cafe and then realised that the bluetooth connection was still loud and clear. I didn't realise the range was so good.

Although it was cooling down quickly the return ride was also very enjoyable. During the winter you've got to grab every day you can and this was a particularly good one.

Total Distance 267 km

Friday, May 24, 2013

24 May - Drouin West and all over

Forecast was fine today (after early fog) so a ride on the Honda. While surfing the web last night I came across (via eBay) a company called Zen Motorcycle Gear. A couple of things caught my eye. First was the range of quality products at great prices and second - it is located in Gippsland. While it is primarily an online business a quick email confirmed that there is a physical warehouse in Drouin West which I could check out. Under a cloudless sky I travelled west down some back roads and quickly realised it was much colder than it looked. After noticing I had started shivering I quickly cut across to Yarragon for a coffee at Coco's Cafe. Thawed out there for 20 minutes or so and then travelled the rest of the trip along the M1 turning off at Drouin near the Robin Hood Motel. After crisscrossing through some small country roads for a while I finally arrived at:

The business is run by Marx (who is also a motorcycle instructor for DECCA) and his wife Chris.
Chris was waiting for me at the top of a very long drive and showed me into the motorcycle gear storage area.

The Zen range of leather and Cordura motorcycle wear is very high quality and exceptionally well priced. Even though I didn't really need it I couldn't resist a very high quality leather Brando style cruiser jacket. If you are in the market for clothing and other bits and pieces I can thoroughly recommend a visit either directly ( or via eBay.

By the time I left Zen, it had fortunately warmed up a bit and the return trip via Neerim, Noojee etc. was very pleasant.

Total Distance 225 km

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

23 May - Change of Name

My more observant readers will have noticed that I have changed the name of my blog to Australian Motorcycle Diaries. Over the last few months as I correspond with people who have taken an interest in my two wheeled travels it has become apparent that most are from other parts of the world, and with an interest in finding out more about Australia and motorcycling in this part of the world. The new title should make the blog easier to find by search engines such as Google.

Anyway, nothing else has changed and I look forward to continuing my conversations with motorcycle enthusiasts from Australia and abroad.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

21 May - Sale, Swing Bridge and riding on dirt

Not great weather today but good enough for a quick ride. Rode to Sale via Glengarry and had a sandwich lunch in Sale. Then back on the Beemer and on to the Sth Gippsland Highway and past the old Sale Swing Bridge.

This wrought iron structure, built in 1883 across the Thomson river was the first movable bridge built in Victoria. Its function was to allow steamers, which had travelled up the Gippsland Lakes to enter the port of Sale. Much of the machinery installed in the gold mining town of Walhalla travelled via this route. In its heyday, the bridge opened up to 20 times per day. Today it opens on Saturday's and Sundays between 3 and 4pm. Found a short video (below) of the bridge opening.

The lower seat on the Beemer has made my riding a lot more confident and I was keen to try a stretch of dirt road. Turned off the Sth Gippsland highway at Stradbroke to take the 11km dirt road which ends up in Gormandale. All went well and after a short but pleasant ride I reached home at 1:30.

Total Distance 136 km.

Monday, May 20, 2013

20 August - Bike Safety Videos

Much too wet to ride today and a bit of painting to do. Maybe better luck tomorrow. This evening, while doing my usual catchup with a lot of interesting motorcycle blogs I came across the this interesting web page which features the "Ride On" motorcycle safety videos produced by the Australian Government.

After an introduction by Wayne Gardner, the videos cover:

- Bike Control Skills
- Mental Skills
- Self Control Skills

The videos cover a lot of useful information even for experienced riders

Click here to go to the Ride On page

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

14 April - Why We Ride

A few years ago, when I first started riding again, I spent many a long evening searching the web for information, inspiration and to overcome the initial fears which are inevitable when you first climb on a two wheeled vehicle, especially if you're aged 65.

At that time I came across a video which made all my concerns seem laughable. It told the story of a group of aged Taiwanese men (average age 81) all with severe physical problems, who nevertheless undertook a 13 day motorcycle journey. As well as telling this inspirational story the short video in my mind captured something I've always had difficulty explaining to non riders - why we ride!

I was recently reminded of this little gem so here it is - enjoy!

14 May - Marley Point

Today was a bonus day - the BOM forecast rain and it was actually fine. Obviously a day to take advantage of and I really felt like a sedate cruise on the Honda. Rode through Toongabbie, Cowarr, Heyfield to Maffra and had lunch at the bakery in the main street. The skies were still clear and so I decided to visit Marley Point on Lake Wellington. Being the middle of the week the place was deserted but it's not hard to imagine how busy it would get on days of sailing events. Marley Point is the home of the Lake Wellington Yacht Club which has been hosting the annual overnight yacht race since 1960.

Last night I came across a great blog owned by Gary France who after walking past a Harley Davidson shop in England made a decision to:

1   Retire
2   Buy a Harley Davidson bike
3   Ride the HD across the USA (21,000 miles)

Gary kept a blog on the trip and published many fine photographs of his experience. Eventually, after many suggestions from readers he was persuaded to use the blog material to publish a 400 page book of the trip. I've permanently added a link to his site on my blog. It is definitely worth a visit. The photos and videos are great and the blog is a must for anyone who has ever dreamed (however briefly) of undertaking a motorcycle adventure.

Total Distance 185 km.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

9 May - South Gippsland

The BOM forecasted a great day today - sunny and 24ºC. I was keen to try the new seat on the BMW for an outing so by 10:00 I was headed for Mirboo Nth for my first coffee at the Bullock Dray. The next stop was Kelly's Cafe Bakery in Korumburra. I was able to sit in the warm sun and enjoy lunch.
From here a rambling route to Inverloch and Meenyian, and then home through the green Gippsland hills via Mirboo Nth, Boolarra and Yinnar.

The new seat makes the world of difference. The extra contact with the ground has taken all the worry out of stopping and manoeuvring the bike. No more 'oh shit' moments on sloping or uneven surfaces. Strangely, although there is less padding in the seat I think it is more comfortable than the standard seat. Removing some of the foam has created a sculpted, wider area you can move to, once up to speed. So a great day. Got home, checked the oil, and lubricated the chain and she's now ready for the next trip.

Total Distance 230 km.