Saturday, December 30, 2017

30 December - Dargo

It's nearly the end of 2017 and a time to reflect on a difficult year from a motorcycle point of view.
Being struck by a car while walking in the town in March, and the resultant repairs to my tibia put an end to walking for some weeks and to riding for some months. On 1 July, three months after the accident I tentatively (jump) started both my bikes and took them for a short ride to recharge the batteries and to see if my leg was strong enough to hold the bikes up. Mainly due to an unusually wet winter it took a while to extend the rides to test my endurance and I've found that the Honda, being a cruiser, places less strain on the knee than the BMW. I've definitely found that, for me anyway, regular riding is needed to keep the skills and confidence at the required level and was glad to be able to fit in a few short to medium trips.

In recent weeks I rode to Warburton to stock up with baked goods from the excellent bakery there at the same time achieving one of my favourite mountain forest rides. Also managed a ride to Cowes on Philip Island with my son in law Zane a couple of weeks ago. Despite the many months of inactivity and some loss of muscle tone all went well and more importantly, I still found riding to be very enjoyable.

Today I undertook quite a long ride to Dargo, which is located in the foothills of the Australian Alps and the 'high country' made famous by the legendary cattlemen described in Australian classics such as 'The Man from Snowy River"

As it is summer holiday season here the town and surrounding area was packed with holiday makers camped along the Mitchell River and all coming into town for supplies. The famous Dargo hotel looked very busy and we steered clear, choosing instead the equally famous, and nearly as busy General Store.

I was joined on this ride by my brother Luke and my son in law Zane, and despite warnings of possible rain, for the most part we rode through this magnificent country in brilliant sunshine. It was only on the way back when we got close to home that the storm clouds gathered. Fortunately there was very little rain and I'm happy to report that I finished the year on a high with a magnificent year.

Total Distance 350 km

Sunday, November 5, 2017

5 November - Licola

Woke to a mild and sunny day today and thoughts turned to motorcycling. Rang brother Luke - he was free and we decided to ride to Licola - a beautiful winding mountain road between here and this little town which lists its population as 21 (including the surrounding areas).
Licola is nestled on the banks of the Macalister river in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. In times past Licola was a stop on the difficult road to various goldfields and also home to a timber mill for many years. In the 1960's Australia's Lion Club organisation bought the town and turned it into a Youth Camp complex. Today was part of a 4 day long weekend. Tuesday is Melbourne Cup Day, a public holiday and many people take Monday off to create a 4 day weekend.
We found campers everywhere in the town and on the river banks. The spring weather has caused the flowers and blooms everywhere including the iconic flowering gums. After a look around and an ice cream, it was time to head back. It seemed that it was actually getting warmer on the way back - very pleasant conditions.

Total Distance 172 km.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

7 October 2017 - First Stop Castlemaine

Left this morning just before 9 am. Beautiful clear day and all went well. Our route took us up the Calder Highway and past Mt Macedon. We decided to spend the first night in Castlemaine. Luke and I overnighted here on our last motorbike trip and I was impressed with this beautiful old mining town. We set up in the Big 4 caravan park here which is located right next to the Castlemaine Botanical Garden.
Everywhere you look here it is obvious this was once a very busy and prosperous town - lots of old factories some of which are being converted to cafe and art precincts.
We're spending two nights here and will probably take a drive to Bendigo tomorrow. Then on Monday we'll continue on to Mildura. Hopefully we'll find more sunny weather.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

3 October, Walhalla

Woke up this morning to an unfamiliar sight - blue sky and sunshine. It was so pleasant we managed to have breakfast outside. By noon it was getting positively pleasant so I fired up the Honda (luckily it started first go) for a ride into the mountains to Walhalla. Given the fine conditions, I was hoping to get a few photos. The light around noon was a bit harsh but with a bit of searching I found a couple of shots worth taking.
As this is the second week of school holidays here in Victoria it was a bit busy but I eventually found a coffee and a bite to eat before continuing on with a search for photos.
After a really pleasant time watching families looking for gold in Stringers Creek, it was time for the return trip.
Enjoyed a wonderful leisurely ride home through Erica and Yallourn North. It was great to get back on the bike.

Total Distance 120 km

Sunday, August 20, 2017

20 August - Spring is in the Air

After a few days of rain and some more cold nights, this morning actually looked pleasant enough to go for a ride. As I was deciding between going for a ride and cleaning the garage, the phone rang.
It was my son-in-law Zane wanting to know if I'd like to join him on a ride - that decision was made in a micro second! Zane has recently acquired a new adventure bike, a Kawasaki KLR 650.
Our plan was to follow one of my favourite rides - the South Gippsland Highway via Yarram, Port Albert and Mirboo North. We rode off under a brilliant blue sky and with the aid of a set of brand new thermals, and the grip heaters blasting away you could actually convince yourself it was a nice day. Our first stop was in Port Albert for Zane to deal with his 'fish and chips' fix and a chance for me to take a few photos.
From then on it was actually getting quite spring-like as we cruised along the South Gippsland Highway. Then it was time to head back into the hills for a coffee at the In Line 4 cafe in Mirboo North. By the time we finished the coffees the temperature had started to drop again and it was time to head for home. A great day out.

Total Distance 230 km.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

2 August - South Gippsland Circuit

This winter has been one of the coldest and driest I can remember. Most morning start with heavy fog and hopefully by 10 am or so the fog has lifted and clear skies emerge. Not keen on riding a motorcycle in the fog but I have been venturing out on four wheels to capture a few foggy landscape images.
I find most 'fog' pictures look best in Black and White but I did like this one in colour.
This morning followed the same pattern. Heavy fog well into the morning but by 11 am a chilly but bright sunny day emerged. Took the BMW for a trek over the Strzelecki hills for a coffee and lunch at Mirboo North. My usual motorcycle themed cafe (InLine 4) was closed so had to make do with the local bakery which is pretty good. From here I carried on through Dunbalk and Meenyian and then turned East on the South Gippsland Highway to take the return leg home via Yarram. With the grip heaters on full power and thermal underwear I managed to avoid hypothermia with temperatures varying between 9ºC to a balmy 13ºC. 
My right knee (the one with the screws) functioned fine but it did ache a bit in the cold weather. Altogether though a very enjoyable ride.

Total Distance 220 km.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

11 July - A Honda ride to Port Albert

Port Albert is one of my regular rides and this afternoon, although somewhat wintery, seemed a good opportunity to continue my re-familiarisation with the Honda.
Port Albert, established in the 1840's is the oldest port in Victoria. These days it is a mecca for fisherman and a safe harbour for the occasional coastal traveller. Being a week day it was fairly quiet and the late afternoon light and the spectacular clouds made for some interesting photos.
Later in the afternoon the temperature was dropping quickly so time to head for home, after an invigorating ride.

Distance 160 km

Saturday, July 1, 2017

1 July - Oh Frabjous Day

Today, a day I thought would never come, and three months after being struck down by a careless driver, I had my first motorcycle ride - two rides in fact.
Following the surgery and the insertion of two stainless screws in my right tibia, recovery has progressed steadily and for the past six weeks ago I have been walking, initially with the aid of a walking stick, and although there are still some aches and pains, I thought today was the day.
Both bikes had to be jump started, not surprising after three months, and the tyres pumped up, but then it was time to get the Beemer out on the road for a 60km ride and a celebratory lunch and coffee. No problems there and when I got back the sun was still shining (temperature 11ºC) and so I took the Honda Shadow for a 50km ride in the opposite direction. In both cases it was encouraging to find the leg was fine and that I don't seem to have lost too much of my riding skills.
So, on reflection I have a lot to be thankful for. I turned 73 a couple of weeks ago and after a difficult few weeks I can still ride my bikes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

1 April - No motorcycling for a while.

A few days ago, while walking in my home town, I was struck by a car driven by a careless driver who reversed out of a parking bay without looking. The result was a cracked right tibial plateau and two screws to put it all back together again.
I was fortunate that the operation went well and I've suffered very little pain, but I am not allowed to place any load on my right leg for at least six weeks. Like all things you only really appreciate when they are lost, the loss of mobility and dependance on crutches and a wheelchair has reminded me of the simple pleasure of enjoying unrestricted movement. Riding a motorcycle is out of the question of course, and even after I can use the leg I expect it will take some time to regain the strength required to hold a bike upright. So in motorcycling terms all that is left to me at the moment is reminiscing about recent great rides and of course the most recent was my very enjoyable day outing with my brother, which included two of Victoria's 'great' roads - The Great Ocean Road and The Great Alpine Road. During this trip I did manage to catch some footage on my action cam, and the final edited version is now published on YouTube and also repeated here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

20 March - Day 4 - Porepunkah Home over Mt Hotham.

Had a pleasant evening last night. Dinner at the Punkah Pub and a quick catchup with family. Our only concern was the weather forecast. Today's route would take us over Mt Hotham, a ski resort in the winter, and the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms. When we looked up at the mountain it didn't look too threatening and the rain radar showed no sign of rain. On that basis we decided to have a quick breakfast at Harrietville, at the foot of the mountain, and if the radar was still clear to make a quick mountain crossing and try to beat the bad weather. After donning our wet weather gear we set off. Very little traffic going up the mountain and just a little fog as we approached the summit but apart from that all was well.
Against all odds our luck held out and we saw no rain. After a quick leg stretch in Omeo we continued on the 90 km to Bruthen for fuel. From then it was just a routine run home and I pulled up at my place not long after 3pm. I think we were pretty lucky.
Altogether a very enjoyable motorcycle experience which covered two of Victoria's 'great roads' the Great Ocean Road and the Great Alpine Road.

Total Distance 400 km
Total Distance for the trip 1324 km

Sunday, March 19, 2017

19 March - Day 3 - Castlemaine to Porepunkah

Left our beautiful 'home away from home' in Castlemaine this morning after a makeshift breakfast at around 9:30. Our aim was to reach Porepunkah and spend the evening with the Thomas's, and after a few wrong turns we eventually turned on GoogleMaps to guide us. After navigating a few back roads and some parts of Victoria we didn't know existed we eventually joined the Hume highway at Seymour. From here it was just a boring grind with lots of traffic. A bit of a break at the Avanel Roadhouse for fuel and re-hydration and then on past Benalla before turning of the highway just after Glenrowan towards Milliwa. We stopped at Taste of Italy in Millawa for a wood fired pizza which was great. We were now wishing 40 minutes of our destination and soon after we rolled into Porepunkah for a very enjoyable reunion with family and friends. Dinner at the Porepunkah hotel which we could walk to so a couple of drinks were in order. After our great run with good weather it looks like tomorrow we are due for a change for the worse. Looking at the forecast we have a four hour window to get over Mount Hotham before thunderstorms set in so the plan is to have a quick breakfast in Bright and then make the run over the mountains and into east Gippsland and then home tomorrow evening.

Total distance 315 km.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

18 March - Day 2 Lorne, Apollo Bay, Castlemaine

Woke up in Lorne this morning after a great night's sleep. Breakfast at the bakery in the main street and checked out of our motel right on 10 am. Another fine, clear day with a maximum temperature forecast of 29ºC. Our trip today would include about 50km of the best scenery along the Great Ocean Road (GOR) so I spent a bit of time making sure my helmet action cam was set up properly to capture all the action. It was nearly 10:30 by the time we hit the GOR and the traffic was light. We mostly encountered cyclists. The GOR is fairly winding with fantastic views on the left side so it is quite a challenge to take in the terrific views and keep an eye on the road and traffic as well.
We made several stops for photo opportunities along the way and all to soon we were on the outskirts of Apollo  Bay and time to turn North towards Ballarat.
Initially the road winds its way way up through the Otway Ranges before flattening out as you approach Colac. The ride through the mountains was fantastic, hardly any traffic. Refilled our tanks in Colac and then pushed on to Ballarat where we had a quick bite for lunch. As it was still relatively early we decided to continue to Daylesford where we quickly discovered that there was no accommodation available, so then we pushed on the extra 50 km to Castlemaine. I had never been here before and was very impressed with this city and really hoped to spend the evening here, but once again accommodation was proving difficult until eventually we rang a place suggested by one of the other motel owners and struck it lucky. A twin room in a beautifully restored old mansion for $115/night. We quickly changed out of our bike gear and walked into town for a beer or two or three. Also found a great Indian and Malaysian restaurant and after a nice evening walk to check out the town we sat down to a great meal. We have just walked home, had showers and are busy recharging all our cameras, phone etc.

Total Distance 300 km

Friday, March 17, 2017

17 March - Motorcycle trip Take 2 - Home to Lorne

After our aborted ride a couple of weeks ago we set off again today in anticipation of fairly decent weather for the next few days. This time though we headed West, through Melbourne, past Geelong and on to the Great Ocean Road. The weather was perfect, although a little windy when we hit the coast.
We met this morning at the Trafalgar Service Station and after refuelling the bikes we were off into the wild blue yonder. Stopped for morning coffee in Officer and then immersed ourselves in the Melbourne traffic which was quite busy.
We interrupted our trip at Aireys Inlet to have a look at the magnificent Lighthouse on top of a hill there.

We arrived in Lorne in the early afternoon and after a quick walk around managed to find a good room at the Lorne Bayview apartments. After a restful afternoon of catching up on email and recharging all our stuff we walked down the main street to find a place to eat. Found a great little Mexican cafe. Very tasty food, not sure what I ate but it was great.
Tomorrow we continue our way down the Great Ocean Road as far as Apollo Bay and then turn north towards Ballarat where we will spend the night.

Total Distance 305 km

Saturday, March 4, 2017

3 March - Listen to the Rythm of the Pouring Rain

Woke early this morning to the sound of pouring rain. A quick check of the weather reports told the sad story. Storm and flood warnings lasting a few days centred on the area we were riding into. This left us with four options:

- ride on into potential floods and storms
- wait in Mallacoota until the weather improved
- turn North and cross the Great Dividing Range and hopefully outrun this system
- head back home and ride another day.

On the basis that we didn't need to be anywhere and that the prospect of 2 or three days in Mallacoota in the rain didn't appeal, we reluctantly decided to return home and ride another (more clement) day.

We donned the wet weather gear and started riding home. Initially the rain was quite heavy but eventually as we rode west it cleared to patchy showers and the last 100 km were in fine conditions.

After a quick coffee we arrived home around 2:45. We'll now look out for a 5 day stretch of good weather to try again.

Total Distance 365 km.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

2 March - Day 1 of 7 Day MC Tour - Mallacoota

Left Traralgon this morning with brother Luke on a 7 day motorcycle trip. Our intention is to travel up the east coast of Australia until we reach Batemans Bay and then head inland over the mountains to the national capital Canberra. From there our journey will take us through Cooma and then on to the Snowy Mountains. Our exact itinerary will be determined by the weather on a day by day basis.  We left this morning just after 9 am and our first stop was Bruthen for fuel and coffee.We then continued east via Cann River and arrived here in Mallacoota at 1:45 pm where we booked into the local hotel. The place is surprisingly full of holiday makers and the caravan parks look pretty full.

Found a great Asian restaurant and booked a table for 6pm and then went for a walk.
Mallacoota is based on an extensive lake system which connects to the sea and I would imagine that it would be a paradise for fisherman and recreational boating.
After a 360 km ride it was certainly nice to change out of our motorbike gear and relax with a couple of beers. Dinner was terrific and followed by another beautiful evening walk along the foreshore.
Time for a shower and a fairly early night. Tomorrow we ride to Batemans Bay.

Total Distance 361 km.