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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

4 October - Hahndorf

Woke up this morning and immediately checked the weather forecast and rain radar for Hahndorf our next destination. Lots of rain coming through and flood warnings for the Adelaide Hills. However the forecast also indicated that these conditions would ease during the day. So we went back to bed for a while and eventually left Mildura at around 9:45. Conditions around Mildura were clear but very windy, and the trip to Renmark was all into a strong headwind. We were glad to get into Renmark and filled the tanks and the tummies. Coffee and pastry at a very busy patisserie revived us a bit. A further check of the weather radar showed that we would encounter some rain so it was time to don the wet weather gear. Sure enough, ten km into the next leg and the sky got very dark and the rain started. For fifteen minutes or so we ploughed on through steady rain and the strongest wind I've ridden in, quite a combination. Then, as suddenly as it had started the rain petered out and a few minutes later we were riding under clear blue sky, it seems that we had just ridden through the very edge of a storm system which had passed through Adelaide. The strong wind persisted though and the rest of the trip became one of the toughest riding days I have experienced.
Finally, after a very tiring day we arrived in Hahndorf to the news that a major flood had gone through the town but had fortunately cleared. If we had arrived an hour earlier we would not have been able to get to our hotel as the bridge leading to the rooms was under water. Great timing as all that had abated when we arrived. It was with some relief we checked into our room at the Hahndorf Inn Motor Lodge.
After recovering for a couple of hours it was time for German beers at the Hahndorf Inn and to start thinking about dinner. Having dined here previously I was looking forward to the German cuisine and in the end we settled for a shared Wurst Platter.
German sausages, sauerkraut and potato salad certainly hit the spot. All that was left was a quick walk around the town before settling into our cosy rooms. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks good and as we are here for at least two nights we will organise a ride in the Adelaide Hills.

Total Distance 427 km

Monday, October 3, 2016

3 October - Mildura - Rest Day

Woke up this morning to a fine but chilly day. Walked into town for brunch and a look around. We found a beautiful old building dating back to 1907 which was originally a library but is now a historical museum of the region. In 1956, the year our family came to Australia, Mildura and the surrounding district suffered a catastrophic flood where the level of the Murray river rose by 36 feet. The Murray/Darling catchment area is larger than France and Italy combined, and that year saw massive rainfalls in Central Australia. Mildura had a few weeks warning that floods were on the way, but no-one foresaw the extent of the inundation which took place. We spent quite a bit of time in the museum viewing photos, maps and videos of this massive event, which was ignored by the rest of the state, because of the Melbourne Olympic Games. On the way home we strolled along the river and took a few photos before going back to our motel to check if our washing was dry. Tomorrow we ride to Hahndorf in South Australia where we will also spend a couple of days before once again pointing the bikes in the direction of home.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

2 October - Mildura

Left Kerang at 10:45 this morning. Daylight savings started overnight and so we lost one hour. No rain but plenty of wind most of it head on. We stopped for breakfast at McDonalds in Swan Hill before continuing on to Mildura. After leaving Kerang the temperature increased gradually and when we stopped for fuel in Robinvale, it was actually getting quite warm. We reached Mildura just after 3:30 and headed straight to the Visitor Information Centre to find accommodation. A helpful lady there found us a motel close to the city centre. We were lucky that the Mildura Country Music festival which had been running all of last week finished today and so we were quickly settled into the City Gate Motel. This evening we walked into town for a very nice Italian meal. We’re in Mildura for a couple of nights and then we ride to Hahndorf in South Australia.

Total Distance 283 km

Saturday, October 1, 2016

1 October - Kerang

After a very late night and a great cooked breakfast this morning it was time to hit the road again. The view out of the window was not encouraging - windy and a steady drizzle of rain. By 10:30 we had said our goodbyes and were on our way after refueling in Porepunkah. It had rained steadily during the night and just past Oxley we struck long stretches of road covered in water. We forged ahead with plumes of water enveloping the bikes and in my case filling the boots. By then the rain had actually stopped, and as we headed South towards Benalla, the road was actually dry. Things were looking a lot more positive as we turned towards Shepparton. This was short lived - as we approached Shepparton we encountered a road block due to flooding. The men manning the roadblock advised us to head towards Tocumwal to bypass all the flooding. We eventually reached Echuca at 2:30 and were very happy to grab a coffee and some lunch at the Beechworth Bakery. Our next setback came when we tried to find accommodation. Not a room to be had - it seems there is a Ute Muster in progress and because of the rain many would be campers retreated to hotels and motels instead. No choice but to carry on to Kerang, another 100 km. Arrived here at 4:30 and very glad to get off the bikes and out of the clammy motorcycle gear. Had a nice dinner and a few beers at the local Chinese restaurant. Tomorrow we carry on to Mildura.

Total distance 383 km

30 September - Porepunkah

Started our MC trip this morning leaving Traralgon under a fairly clear blue sky. Due to meet brother Luke in Trafalgar at 09:00 so left home around 8:10. Got to Traf a bit early which gave me time to fill up with fuel. Luke arrived at 8:50 and we were off. Experienced a few drops of rain as we travelled along the Princes Highway towards Pakenham but it was mostly fine until we reached Healesville. When we looked in the direction of the Black Spur and the mountains north of Healesville the sky was very dark and promised lots of rain. So we took time to don our wet weather gear and sure enough as soon as we left Healesville we were in pretty steady rain up a very winding mountain road. We took it nice and easy and by the time we got halfway up the rain started to ease and virtually disappeared by the time we got to Narbethong. We stopped in Alexandra for lunch and fuel and then continued on to Mansfield, Whitfield, Myrtleford and then Porepunkah where it had just stopped raining. Judging by the amount of water on either side of the road we were lucky to have dodged fairly serious rain for most of the day. We arrived at the Thomas' at 3:30 and glad to get off the bikes after a 460km run. Had a nice dinner at the refurbished Porepunkah pub and then caught up on family news the rest of the evening. The plan for tomorrow is to ride to Echuca.

Total Distance 466 km