Thursday, April 30, 2015

30 April - Day 4 - Dubbo to Goondiwindi

Our big day started at 8:45 this morning. Once again the temperature was cool but the skies were cobalt. It was hard to imagine that the forecast for today was for heavy rainfalls. Our route took us straight up the Newell Highway and our first stop for coffee was in Coonabarabran, which is at the foot of the Wurrumbungle Ranges. The good weather held out and so we set off on the next leg which was from Coonabarabran to Naribri, where we stopped for lunch. At this stage it was actually getting hot and some of our riders were discarding layers of clothing. Not long after we left Naribri we could see massive clouds gathering to the West, and the wind was starting to gust. The Newell Highway is known for its many large trucks (called road trains) and the combination of passing these with the gusty conditions made riding challenging. Soon our way ahead was blocked by massive dark clouds and it soon became clear we were in for a drenching. Before it got too wet we pulled over into a service station to don our wet weather gear. Not a moment too soon as we were quickly riding in very heavy rainfall, and still a long way from our destination. Now we had heavy rain and wind and very large road trains to contend with. All we could do is to forge ahead although at somewhat reduced speed. Finally we reached Moree for our final fuel stop before completing our final run of 124km. Fortunately not long after we left Moree the skies cleared a bit and the rain stopped but the wind became strong and gusty. The last 80km or so was completed through sheer determination and it was a very tired but relieved group of riders who pulled up at the Goondiwindi Tourist Park. We had planned to BBQ at the park but it was actually quite cool this evening so instead we headed into to town for a drink at the Victoria Hotel.

From here it was just a short walk to the New Dynasty Chinese Restaurant for a very pleasant meal.
Altogether a challenging but memorable day.

Total Distance 520km.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

29 April - Day 3 - Wagga Wagga to Dubbo

After a hearty breakfast we left Dubbo this morning at 9:00 am. Once again we were greeted by a cool but very clear day and it was a great sensation to be part of a group of 7 bikes all thundering along the highway. After a quick fuel stop we got some serious miles out of the way before stopping in West Wyalong for a coffee. Then, we continued up the Newell Highway with the aim of having lunch in Forbes. The great weather held out and we had lunch sitting outside a bakery in Forbes. It was so pleasant we really had to be disciplined to put our riding gear back on and continue our ride.
Lunch in Forbes (Photo courtesy SRA)
Our next stop was for fuel in Parkes and once we were all filled up we continued north with the intention of visiting the famous Parkes Radio Telescope or "The Dish" as it is better known. This telescope played a vital role in the Apollo 11 mission which resulted in the first landing on the moon. The drama associated with its role is captured beautifully in a great Australian movie called "The Dish".
We were lucky, as we arrived they were positioning the dish in the vertical position to provide access to the receiver room which is the white structure at the focal point. After ice creams all around and a nice rest of 30 minutes or so it was time to undertake the final part of this leg of our trip - 100 km's or so to Dubbo. Fortunately I had preprogrammed my GPS with the address of the Matilda hotel and we were able to ride straight there, arriving around 4:30.
Pre-dinner drinks Dubbo (Photo Courtesy SRA)
This evening we were booked into a steakhouse (Lion's Pride) and were due to meet a couple of our Dubbo based members (Brenda and Terry) who are unable to attend the AGM but wanted to catch up with the group. To our surprise we found that dinner was paid for by an anonymous Dubbo business man - who I suspect is Terry. A great night was had by all - thanks guys. Then to top it all off, one of our crew, Frank, had a birthday today and we were treated to a birthday cake with sparklers.

Tomorrow we travel to Goondiwindi which is on the Queensland border. There is some nasty weather forecast for the  next couple of day, so the wet weather gear may be needed.

Total Distance 489km

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

28 April - Day 2 - Wandiligong to Wagga Wagga

Woke up this morning to a frosty but beautiful sunny day. After a leisurely breakfast I left Wandiligong at 10:45 for Wagga Wagga in NSW. For most of the way the sky was blue, and wind and traffic almost non existent. The area around Bright and Wandiligong has lots of deciduous trees and during the autumn they turn the Ovens Valley into a riot of autumn colours.
With the autumn sun beating down on my back this part of the trip was sheer pleasure. Before too long though it was time to return to the Hume Highway at Albury for the trip north. Very soon the Hume divides, the fork to the right continues on to Sydney and the fork to the left is the Olympic Highway to Wagga. Struck a bit of roadwork on the Olympic but altogether the delays weren't significant. As I approached Wagga I was getting a bit peckish and to my delight in a little town called Quimby I spotted a bakery cafe which had won best Bakery Cafe in NSW in 2012 and 2013. Couldn't really ride past that and I'm glad I stopped. The food was great and the coffee exceptional.
After another batch of roadwork I arrived in Wagga Wagga and followed my GPS's instructions to the Palm and Pawn motel. 

I was checked in by 3 pm and now waiting for the rest of the Melbourne based riders to arrive.

Total Distance 242 km

27 April - Day 1 - Traralgon to Bright

Day 1 and I was on the road at 8:45. The clouds looked ominous but the radar only showed a few blue spots. I had originally planned to travel over Mt Hotham but the forecast was for 1ÂșC and 'snow showers'. Never heard the term before but it couldn't be anything good. So instead I decided to travel along the highway all the way, over the West Gate Bridge, the Ring Road and then on to the Hume Highway. All a bit boring but with the highly changeable weather I wanted to be on straight roads with plenty of service stations to hide in should it rain heavily. Copped a few light showers along the way and big trucks dumping tons of water on you as they pass are always exciting but the leather gear held up well and I didn't need to resort to the wet weather gear.

By the time I reached Seymour the skies started to clear and riding into Bright from Glenrowan it was clear skies all the way. Stopped for lunch in Millawa, one of our more famous wine growing areas and had a Quiche Lorraine at the local bakery cafe. From here it was a very pleasant run into Bright and I pulled in to my sister's place in Wandiligong right on 3:15. A pretty good start for the big ride.

Total Distance 511 km

Sunday, April 26, 2015

26 April - Big Ride Tomorrow

Getting a bit excited now as tomorrow is the first day of a major motorbike trip. The Honda is all packed and after one more sleep the adventure begins. I am a member of the Shadow Riders of Australia and this year SRA is holding its annual general meeting on the Sunshine Coast, in Maroochydore, Queensland. Tomorrow I will ride to Bright to spend the night with family and then the following day I meet up with the Victorian contingent of riders heading North. Altogether it's a four day ride and we'll arrive in Maroochydore late on Friday afternoon. Then, after a weekend's club activities, which will include a Poker Run on the Sunday I will stay on in Queensland to spend a few days with my sister in Gympie. After that it will be a four day ride home and at this stage, weather permitting I will return via the coast road. Last year our AGM was closer to home in Bright. Check my link to the blog of this event here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

20 April - A Ride Back in Time (Old Gippstown)

I guess it's a human trait to travel afar to see things which are sometimes just under our noses. About 30km from my house is a cultural park called Old Gippstown. Over the past few decades countless dedicated volunteers have struggled valiantly to find, collect and preserve artefacts which are a vivid reminder of Gippsland's history. For the past 20 years I have driven past the place countless times without ever stopping for a visit, and today I thought I'd combine a short motorbike ride (on the Beemer) with a nostalgic adventure and hopefully, an opportunity to capture a few nice images. As always you can click or double click (depending on browser) on the images to enlarge them.

When I arrived, I thought it was closed as there was no-one else in sight but I was able to walk straight in and had the place to myself. What greeted me was a collection of old buildings and sheds, transported here from all over the region and these in turn housed furniture, farm equipment, steam engines and just about everything you would associate with country life a hundred years ago.

There were steam engines everywhere and when you consider what it would take to get one of these ready for work to clear the bush or plough a field, you gain some appreciation of the hardiness of our ancestors.

The other striking feature greets you when you enter old houses. They are so small that life must have been very cramped.

One building which particularly fascinated me was an old coach house which provided meals and beds for people travelling to Gippsland via the Cobb and Co coach company. The whole building, bar, dining room and bedroom would fit in my family room.
One of the most evocative exhibits was an old schoolroom complete with desks and blackboard and open fire place. I sat in classrooms like this and I suddenly felt the smells and sounds coming back to me.
Many of the other buildings, such as this old bank have been restored internally to look as they did back in the 1800's.
One very pleasant surprise was the photographic museum I found in another old building. It housed hundreds of items of photographic equipment collected and donated by people from all over the region. I particularly found this scene of the old enlargers quite moving. In my younger days I spent many a happy evening processing black and white images with equipment like this.
I will return to have a more leisurely look at the place in the near future. It was a fascinating day and only a short ride away.

Total Distance 70km

Saturday, April 11, 2015

11 April - Port Albert and Tarra Valley

What a treat - the third fine day in a row. After a fairly late breakfast we pointed the bikes in the direction of Yarram along the Hyland Highway. Our destination was Port Albert and its famous Fish and Chip shop. As we were eating our delicious offerings from Wild Fish, surrounded by anxious seagulls, we are joined by a fellow rider on a G650GS obviously loaded for an extensive trip.

Brian, who hails from Noosa in Queensland, was on his way to ride right around Australia with a particular goal of visiting all of the remaining lighthouses along the coast - as well as lots of other great sights around the continent.

Brian turned out to be quite an adventurer. A couple of years ago he circumnavigated Australia in a catamaran - a seven month solo trip. But wait, there is more - when he completes his motorcycle trip around the country he needs to quickly get his pilot's licence so that he can pick up his new airplane which is being assembled for him so that he can do the whole trip again by air. We really enjoyed chatting with Brian, swapping motorcycling and sailing stories particularly as Marcus had completed his around Australia trip just a short time ago. All too soon it was time to return to Yarram for fuel and some delicacies from the excellent Yarram bakery. The we headed for the hills and the return trip via Tarra Valley and Balook. Another great day on the bikes.

Total Distance 160 km.

10 April - Walhalla

Another great day for a ride but unfortunately a previous appointment meant I couldn't leave till mid afternoon. Walhalla, the old gold mining town, is always a great destination for a shorter ride and so Marcus and I headed into the mountains on the two Beemers. A really lovely ride through the forests and the hills which set us up for a relaxing coffee at the Grey Horse cafe. The town was relatively busy no doubt due to the pleasant weather and the fact that school holidays are still in progress.

Walhalla is located in a very narrow, steep valley and therefore the hours of daylight are severely limited and it wasn't long before we noticed the light dimming and the air becoming a touch chilly.
The return trip was uneventful too although this side of the road featured a few rough patches which caused the heart to beat a little faster.

Arrived home quite refreshed after a very short but pleasant outing on the bikes.

Total distance 100 km.

9 April - A Beemer Day to Philip Island

My first real ride for nearly a month - due to a range of family issues which had to be dealt with my riding was restricted to a trip to Bairnsdale for a tyre change and and 18,000km service for the Honda Shadow. But today it was time to fix that long absence. My friend Marcus is staying with us for a few days so this morning we headed off on my F650GS and Marcus on his 1200GS. Our first stop was for fuel in Mirboo North and then a quick coffee at the InLine4 Cafe in Mirboo North. There were a few clouds in the sky but absolutely no rain on the radar and so we proceeded with some confidence to Leongatha and Inverloch before taking the beautiful coastal road to Cape Patterson. Then, it was straight on to Wonthaggi and Philip Island stopping finally in the centre of Cowes. Lunch consisted of hamburgers at Hamburger Edge in the middle of the main street. Great hamburgers - I can thoroughly recommend this place.

After lunch there was plenty of daylight and sunshine left so we returned home through the hills passing through Archies Creek, Kongwak, Korumburra, and Yarragon.
After a long break this was a very enjoyable day on the bikes.

Total Distance 340 km