November 2017

A kind of mini reunion in Australia.

Two of the 2014 crew were riding clockwise around Oz having started in Perth. Another two of the crew live in Perth and had helped with arranging the bikes for them. Then the Perth guys made an offer to cart a pair of bikes across to Sydney so we could join forces with the first two for the part of their journey between Sydney and Adelaide. We were more than happy to accept the offer, and it was planned to spend 4 weeks doing that. As we had done in the last weeks in the USA, the idea was to camp in small towns and spend a few days exploring the local area, then move camp to a new place and repeat that.

So we did.

We flew into Sydney and made our way to the Narrabeen motor camp where the crew were ensconced. First we were acquainted with our steed, which was happily another 955 Sprint, but this one had been stripped down to the bare essentials. It also had a wicked carbon fibre exhaust and sounded fantastic. The tourers had a pair of Suzuki V-Stroms and the Perth guys would share a BMW ex cop bike. Interesting mix. Liked ours the most.. haha.

We then shared a meal which is a great way to catch up on all the time inbetween. We have fun together, and were looking forward to more.

A couple of nights catching up with Sydney then we headed away to our first stay, which would be the Yass Valley Caravan Park. The Perth guys had a caravan and we others would use whatever form of cabin style accommodation was available. They turned out to be user friendly and like micro motels. Ideal.

The weather was actually tending a little damp for a few days in Yass, but we chose the best bits to find some excellent little roads in very Australian countryside. Choice. Our steed was the perfect mount, much less bulky than our America bikes with their full fairings, and plenty power on tap. Highway speeds were a bit more demanding with nothing to keep the wind and rain off, but as most of our time would be spent ducking around local roads it boded well for max fun.

The misty atmosphere just added another dimension and gave the impression of a healthy green pastoral scene which would probably turn yellow-brown within a month or so. We got here at very much the right time.

After a few nights we moved south to Cooma, managing to get thoroughly soaked on the way through Canberra, but by the time we reached our next location, the Snowy Mountains Tourist Park, the rain had moved away.

Cooma allowed us access to both the coast, and the Snowy Mountains, and we spent alternate days doing orbits of both.

Next camp was to be Tallangatta on the far side of the Snowys, so we went through the mountains in the opposite direction for a change of scene. Tallangatta was a very pretty place on a lake whose level was once raised, drowning the old town in the process. The waterways extended right up to the Murray River, and we took a day ride around some fabulous roads through the hills and along the edge of the river - magic place indeed.

We were also within striking distance of Yackandandah so a visit there was mandatory. Cool little town and well worth our time.

I got the opportunity in that village to lecture an attractive young woman on the benefits of contraception, but I fear it may have fallen on deaf ears. Dummy.!

There was a quick trip to Albury/Wodonga as the BMW needed a new back tyre, and we wandered about while that got fitted. Not as much fun being dropped into city traffic after our diet of rural tranquility, but a good reminder that we were getting the best experience without the penalties. On the way back to our digs we headed up to a local lookout with a great view over the lake, still adorned with the dying trees whose roots are now well submerged.

Next day we were on our way again, heading south down the Kiewa Valley Highway nearly to Mount Beauty, then a delicious climb up the Tawonga Gap Road and down the Great Alpine Road to the atmospheric town of Bright. Often it is the places that you were not expecting that make the biggest impression. Neat place.

From here we headed toward Wangaratta but turned south before there and headed to Whitfield, then over a simply brilliant hilly stretch to drop down into Mansfield as the rain arrived. The Motor Camp was well appointed and we enjoyed our most luxurious digs to date. A nice town within walking distance was another bonus. This is most excellent.

First day trip from Mansfield had us wind our way to the top of Mount Buller, where the wind found its way through our bike gear with ease. We found a tiny coffee shop and took shelter. Terrific fun heading down again, then a detour to some extensive waterways near Mansfield for a nosey.

It is only looking at the map that the true extent of these waterways is apparent. Part of it is the Goulburn River, part Lake Eildon, no doubt there are many waterside hamlets which would provide an enjoyable atmosphere to holiday in. During such brief stays one can only manage to scratch the surface as it were.

Heading back from here took us along some gravel roads. It is Australia after all. Nothing bad happened. Perhaps a little dust.

After Mansfield we moved to Castlemaine. It was a good ride with nothing of great note taking place or presenting itself. Castlemaine itself was a good feeling place and the Motor Camp was conveniently opposite a large market and a great eating/drinking venue - what could possibly go wrong.? Nothing did. Two of our group were staying in Melbourne for a few days so we others explored the nearby environs. We meandered down to Daylesford and returned by devious pathways to encompass Maldon for our first visit. Lots of interesting old towns in the gold belt.

Some long straight roads out here.

We also took a train to Bendigo for a wander about, and generally attempted to soak up as much as we could.

After a few days we were heading to Clunes to meet up with the missing pair, and to stay with some friends of theirs who had generously invited us to share their new house for a few nights. We travelled different routes to get to Clunes, ours taking us via Dunolly and Maryborough, both places whose names we new from towns far away. These places were both fun in their own right. Clunes was something else.

Reminding us of our old home of Lyttelton, Clunes was a small and slightly abandoned town which appeared to be in the process of making a comeback. When places lose favour the property values drop, leading some adventurous types to move there to see what they can add to the place. Here the town was undergoing some pleasant changes, and our new friends had seemingly chosen well. We enjoyed both them and the town for a few days, then another, as the sky fell and a months rain arrived in 24 hours. Not good for motorcycling, so we stayed put and explored with our friends in cars instead. This included Ballarat which was a good visit, and Creswick on the way back to Clunes, which we returned to the next day as it was a fun place.

Eventually the rain stopped and we headed south to make our new base in Colac, from where we could range to the Great Ocean Road as well as numerous small town backroads which we favour when trying to sniff out those special places you only reach by accident. We had a nice caravan park on the edge of Lake Colac, and we made the most of the breaks in the light rain that was still dogging our chosen roads.

Where better to shelter than a Brewery.? Beats me. This was on the way back from Lorne, which was a very picturesque coastal destination despite being a tad soggy.

More local exploration got us back to the coast again, then making a large circle to the west we began heading back, only to meet a number of roadworks with attendant stop/go Dudes who often chat when possible.

Often there are stops in out of the way towns as we consult maps and generally take a breath and have a laugh. Exploring is the best fun.

Not that you often know where the hell you are. Or more to the point - where everybody else is. The places where nobody is are just places on the way to other places really.