Thursday, May 5, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XXII) - The Adelaide Exploration Begins

 DAY 29

A bit of a sleep in again today but I was on the road by 0900. It looked like being a bit wet in places today but I would play it by ear as to the route selection for the day. I was favouring the northern end of the Hills and started out with a lap up Norton Summit road, then back down, then back up...just because I could.




Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XXI) - The Adelaide Exploration Begins

 DAY 28

Flying back into Adelaide late at night I wandered over to the storage shed and liberated the bike. I was very kindly staying at Andy's place for a few nights as he was stuck in Brisbane with Covid. I didn't have any major plans for this visit. I just wanted to mosey around the Adelaide Hills in general and as rain was forecast for today, I would check the radar and ride to wherever it looked dry. First order of business though was to grab some breakfast. Despite the forecast, it looked like it was going to be a decent day.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XX) - The Sydney Contingent Arrive

DAY 26

We tucked into the complimentary hotel breakfast with slightly heavy hearts. Today was the group’s last day in Tassie as we would board the Spirit of Tasmania and be spirited back to the mainland and thus, reality. Mt Owen put on a spectacular farewell for us.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XIX) - The Sydney Contingent Arrive

 DAY 25 

Today was going to be something different for Chiller (Steve). He wanted to tackle the dirt of the Western Explorer up to Arthur River and back. I had ridden the W.E. a few weeks back but was happy to go again. 

We set off from Queenstown at about 0930 as it was getting a bit cool early in the mornings. We enjoyed the twisty road across to Zeehan. I stopped for a quick photo of the church as we entered town.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XVII) - The Sydney Contingent Arrive

 DAY 22

This morning Steve and I kept up our support of the local bakeries, today to our detriment. Feeble pies and coffee coloured warm milk. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all. 🀨

It  was stands up at 9am and we trod carefully on the road out to Elephant Pass. It was wet from overnight showers and I was taking it very carefully on the knobbies again. (Riding my Tuono in the wet at home a few weeks later it feels totally planted. This justifies my very careful speed in the wet on the knobbies, despite feeling slow, being dropped like a hot potato by the ladsπŸ˜•)

The road did dry out as we climbed the pass, being dry on the eastern side. Steve and I stopped for a couple of photos.


Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XVI) - The Sydney Contingent Arrive

Day 21


The Deloraine Town Cafe’ was open this morning so that was the location for breakfast and it was good. While we ate three guys turned up on immaculately restored Kawasaki Z900s. They were from Hobart had spent the weekend lapping the island out through Queenstown, then up here and were headed home today. So, not just show ponys.

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XV) - The Sydney Contingent Arrive

 

Day 20


With this many cats to herd a rigid regime was put into place for every morning. Breakfast at 8am, stands up at 9am. Unfortunately the Deloraine Town Cafe’ bakery was closed this morning (WTF?) so we ate at a small cafe down the hill from the Holy Grail bakery cafe’. It was basic but good.

We were pleased to see that the bikes were still there in the morning. Another group were also staying and one of them had a Benelli Tornado. Now that is a bike you don’t see every day. I love the look of the extraction fans for the under seat radiator.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XVIII) - The Sydney Contingent Arrive

 DAY 24

We were leaving Hobart today and heading west. First order of business though was to source some breakfast. The guys had spotted Jackman And McRoss in Battery Point yesterday so that was todays breakfast bakery. 😁

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XIV) - The Sydney Contingent Arrive

 

DAY 19

It was bit of a rowdy night in the pub below me. Plenty of hoo haa until the early hours. A bike left the pub before sun up and I could hear it for miles and miles in the still night air. I thought "he's brave" , what with all the wildlife active at night around here.

I got up at sun-up myself, as the lads would be getting off the boat pretty early and I had said I would meet them in Railton as they made their way to Deloraine. I didn't want to miss them so the plan was to get there early and wait.

The valley to the west of Mole Creek was full of fog - which didn't really show up in my photos....


Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XIII)


I flew back into Launceston late on the 24th of March, too late to get on the bike and go anywhere, so I stayed in the Kings Meadows Hotel again. Nothing flash but good value at $50 a night.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Mid - Tour Tyre Thoughts

 

I have ridden approximately 10 800 kilometres(6720mi) so far on this tour of south eastern Australia and thought I might break the trip blogs up with some thoughts on the tyres I have used or am currently using. For reference, the bike is a 2018 Africa Twin Adventure Sports (243kg wet) that is loaded with my camping gear (approximately 25kg) and I weigh about 95kg in my riding gear.


 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XII)

 DAY 16

I was awake from about 3am today. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to bed so early. πŸ˜• It rained quite a bit during the night but I was nice and dry in my Spartan 2. I'm really impressed with that tent!

The sandy ground didn't show any sign of the rain but I did have to mess around finding some direct sunlight to put the tent and fly in to get it dried out so I could pack it away - because - O.C.D. 

Once packed up I headed for the bridge over Cockle Creek for a couple of photos. A cool change must have accompanied the rain last night as there was a nip in the air this morning. Pretty much the first time it has felt cold at the lower levels since I've been in Tassie. It looked like it was going to be another great day though.


Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XI)

 DAY 14

Flying into Launny today there was a high chance of rain. Looking out the window of the jet, toward the west as we were on final for runway 14R, it looked pretty bleak. This could be interesting....

Better in the photo than it looked in person.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part X)

 DAY 13

I did set an alarm today as I had a slightly ambitious schedule which was going to culminate in me flying home tonight for work. So I had the bike packed and was on the road just after 7am - the earliest start since waay back here on Day 3! I knew that Derby would be awake and planned on grabbing a bite to eat there. I wasn't disappointed, with the Two Doors Down cafe' doing a brisk trade. I perched myself out the front and chatted with some mtbers while downing a not-too-shabby coffee and toasty.


Saturday, March 12, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part IX)

 DAY 12

A bit of a dusty start this morning thanks to that bottle of red I hauled from Q'town. Think of the money it saved me though....anyway, after a few trips up and down the old Mole Creek Hotel staircase I had the bike loaded and was ready to go. It was warm and I was sweating already! How awesome was this weather? Perfect for motorcycle touring!

First stop was just down the road at the Deloraine Town Cafe' Bakery - again. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part VIII)

 DAY 11

I had a great nights sleep and was awake early. Not that I had to get going any time soon, but I got up and had my cheap 'n' cheerful breakfast. These little yoghurts are great as they keep well, take up next to no space then roll down into nothing once done. Black coffee mightn't be my preference but is definitely better than nothing.


Next was packing up and drying my tent for a bit in the sun that was finally peeking over the hill behind me. Where to today...?

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part VII)

 DAY 10

During the night the wind picked up and was fairly howling. Remember those sheltering trees to the west that I mentioned yesterday? Yeah, well the wind was an easterly so they did absolutely nothing to stop the tent being shaken like I was camping on the ice shelf in Antarctica! Throw in a few showers of rain and the shaking of the trees behind me as each gust tore through their branches and you can probably imagine how many times I woke up that night !😳 Eventually I shoved some ear plugs in and managed to sleep until about 7am but the damage was done.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part VI)

DAY 9


Well, I have had leave booked from mid last year for late February/early March so what better way to use it than to go back and ride my bike?! Especially as we were having biblical amounts of rain here in Brisbane. Try ~ 500mm per day, for the last four days in a row. My flight to Launceston was delayed two and a half hours because of rain induced carnage to the network, plus a tarmac shutdown because of lightning. When we did eventually start to taxi it was via a circuitous route because 01R/19L and it's associated taxiways were flooded! Yep, if the new runway hadn't been there Brisbane Airport (BNE) would have been closed!

That is the Prime Minister's air force VIP jet being towed from the international terminal, through the floodwater to dry(er) ground before it could start it's engines and taxi safely under it's own steam. Yep, it was WET and I was happy to be bidding it good riddance!


Saturday, February 26, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis (Part V)

 DAY 8

After a reasonable nights sleep with only one train that sounded like it went through my room πŸ˜„ we were up pretty early as my mate, Andy had to fly home for work today. This meant getting to Launny, dropping his bike at the local Honda dealer for it's 6000km service and him juggling gear in our storage shed, then getting himself to the airport. I was happy just to tag along and do whatever he needed to do as I wasn't flying home until tomorrow.


Not A Mid Life Crisis (Part IV)

 DAY 6

Despite not needing to be up early, I was up pretty early. The Golden Age Hotel puts on a complimentary breakfast so I tucked into that. There was no sign of the BMW guys. I think they might have been wearing out from all the frivolity of the last few days. πŸ˜†

No problem though as my bike was parked at the back of the group and I could get it out to load up. I was on the road by about 8am, still with no firm plan on what to do. I didn't have to worry for a while as the only course of action was to ride down to Bruthen on the Great Alpine road - and yes, it is pretty great, especially where it follows the Tambo River. No photos as I wasn't stopping.

Through Bruthen toward Bairnsdale and big time civilisation. Boo. I wanted to avoid the highway as much as possible so typed Maffra into the GPS. This took me right at the first roundabout on the outskirts of Bairnsdale and back out into the countryside. 

When the GPS started to take me back North I thought it was getting a bit too adventurous and commanded it back to Stratford - and the Princes Highway. 

Fuel and food in Stratford, then a planning session in Apex Park under the shade of a tree. It was nice not to be in a hurry and I sorted some accomodation thanks to input from users on the Netrider forum. Cheers guys for the suggestions. πŸ˜‰

Looking at my old Hema road atlas I noticed the highlighted road across the ranges between the highway and the coast. The Grand Ridge Road! Of course!! Reading the blurb (it is one of the recommended 50 best rides) and I was sold. Topping it off is that it would take me through Mirboo North. We always used to go through there on the way to The Island.

I thought about getting off the highway to Maffra again and crossing the Princes at Rosedale and then on to Gormandale. I should have stuck with that thought. Instead, I did the highway to Sale, then crawled for kilometres in the 40km/h zone through the extensive roadworks. D'oh!

I eventually got off the highway at Rosedale and passed through Gormansdale. Boy, it was getting hot now with 35C showing on the bike.


The road south out of Gormansdale wasn't a bad one at all but before I knew it I was turning West onto The Grand Ridge Road. I had no idea how long it was but I had a full tank of 91 and all day to explore. Bring it on!


Looking back north east to where I had come from this morning.


And just after that, looking south west some direction, toward Bass Straight.

 (I was sure it was southwest at the time but the shadow under the bike confuses me now…πŸ€”)


It was a cracking day but getting bloody hot! As I got into the tight, twisty sections of the road my speed was down to about 20km/h on the loose gravel corners in case of oncoming logging traffic. Not a problem per se, but with 38C temperatures I wasn't getting much cooling airflow. I was drenched!

I had to turn around to get this photo as I had blasted past before I registered what it was.

I kept going for quite a while before I came to a nice little gully that was more open than the last hour or so had been. I took my jacket off here and had a bite to eat, plus a good slurp of water. Did I mention it was HOT?!!




A couple of kilometres further down the road and the track began to open out a lot more. I could hit 60km/h between corners and the cooling airflow was sensational! I was soon back on the sealed stuff and the speed shot right up. This bit of road into Mirboo North is a cracker and seemed familiar. I think we used to do part of it "back in the day".


I stopped at the Grand Ridge Brewey for a photo. That was all. No beer. 
Steve and I had got on it here once, back in the late '90s and I still don't think I'm recovered enough to go back...there may even be a photo of us at the door....πŸ˜†


Once I fuelled up at Mirboo North I decided against the last bit of the Grand Ridge road as it was HOT and I was a bit too rooted to do any more tight dirt on this big rig. (I've since been told it is sealed - my road atlas is at least 20 years old πŸ˜†) 
No, it was just get on with it, through Leongatha, Korumburra, Koo Wee Rup, Tooradin and into the outer Melbourne suburbs. I eventually found my way onto the South Gippsland freeway, then the Monash and finally Citylink to South Melbourne and my digs at the City Park Motel. I think this was what happened but not sure about the freeway names. Good to see the freeway slowed to 60km/h for extensive roadworks though. It made me feel right at home!

I quickly checked in and unloaded the bike. I sure was glad to get off it today as it was HOT behind that big screen!


It was relatively early in the afternoon so I chased up a laundromat and washed some stinking gear.


After loading up the machine I slipped down the road to the Limerick Arms for a cheeky pint, then back to put the dryer on and back to the Limerick for another cheeky one. Dinner was easy to find as well - it's Melbourne. Food and booze is everywhere! Pizza and red wine went down a treat.



Todays distance is a bit less than indicated on the map below because Ride With GPS has done some funny aresarounds on the freeway on and off ramps. Can't be bothered fixing it and the rest of the route is spot-on, so lets call it 500km for the day. 😡




DAY 7

Well, today was a pretty easy day distance wise. I had 4.5km to do to get here...


...because I was going here....


A quick breakfast on the way to the boat then I joined the loading que. I am so glad it wasn't raining (because it looked like it might - bloody Melbourne weatherπŸ˜„ wasn't it 38C just 12 hours ago? ) as we were quite a while. Maybe the experienced hands just board last so they don't have to stand around forever?
Anyway, all that waiting helped me notice that I was 2995 kilometres from Brisbane. The Twin hadn't missed a beat.



Once all tied down I climbed up to Level 7 for a coffee and to watch Melbourne slowly recede in the window.


24 knots became 28 knots once we were through the heads of Port Phillip Bay in open water.


That is Point Lonsdale, to the West.


The other Spirit Of Tasmania mid Bass Straight. The crossing was like sailing a mill pond today. Hooray!


While on the top deck for the above photo I bumped into a bloke who wanted to talk bikes. We ended up chatting for several hours. He was on his way back to Tassie after racing at Sydney motorsport park in what used to be the Barry Sheene Festival Of Speed. We had a good old yarn and he turned out to be Terry Morris, brother of Graeme Morris who was Aussie 600cc champ for much of the '90s! It was great to meet him and hear his stories. I will come and check out the mtb trails at Georgetown too!

Eventually, we were coasting into Devonport. The motorcycle deck was one of the first off so I made haste and was on the road to my overnight accommodation in no time. 


The ride along the river, just on dusk, to Railton was magic.





I found my workmates Africa Twin tucked under cover out the back and wandered into the pub. Despite the late hour the publican and his wife couldn't do enough for me, feeding and near drowning me. Awesome hospitality and just a stones throw from the boat!

Twin Twins.

Not much riding for the day today. But I'm in Tassie now!!



To be continued......

Friday, February 25, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis - Honest

 

Ever since I bought the BMW F800 a few years ago I have entertained the idea of riding it around Australia. The only problem is that I don't have enough time off work to make it happen without it being a somewhat rushed trip (Australia is a BIG place you know!). Now owning the even more capable Africa Twin, the thought has stayed with me and perhaps grown stronger throughout this Covid debacle.


Not A Mid Life Crisis (Part II)

 DAY 3

An early start was on the cards today. I had made an "appointment" to meet my Dad for coffee at the local bakery in Forbes at 10am. I reckon that nobody has ever made an appointment with Dad for a coffee (old timey bush mechanic all his life) and since Mum passed away in mid 2020, Dad has been a bit lost. I thought my surprise visit might cheer him up and get him out of the house.

Now, the problem is when I set the meeting time I only had a vague idea of how long it would take to get from Rylestone to Forbes. With (very) limited internet I texted my brother for a Google Maps appraisal. Maps reckoned it would take 3hours and 45minutes to do the 276km.

Fcuk! 

So, to be there at 10am I would need to be on the road at just after 6am! Not good as that was just on first light. There wouldn't be many Skippys on the road at that hour...! 😟

I set the alarm for stupidly early, struggled all of my gear out of my room, being careful not to lock myself out of the pub until my stuff was all outside, then fumbled in the dark with the combination lock that was on the shed the bike was in.

Loaded up and on the road I took it very steady at 80km/h. It was a bit foggy this morning so that didn't help with the Skippy spotting. As I made my way through Kandos it started to feel cold. Maybe the loading exertion was starting to wear off but the temperature guage did indicate 10C. That is cold for a Queenslander where the temperature hadn't been below 26C overnight in the previous week!

A few big eastern Greys loped across the road just to the west of Kandos and even the 80km/h felt fast as I braked to give them more room. Breaking out of the tree cover I had the most beautiful vista across the valley. 

Now THAT was singularly worth getting up for!


Just a few kilometres further on I turned south on the Castlereagh Highway and looking back East was just - WOW! As much as I hate early starts these days, the reward is worth it. 


I followed a delivery van for quite some time toward Sofala. I was happy to have him running interference for any potential roos that may be loitering by the road. Yes, I know (and have seen) plenty of roos jump between oncoming traffic but it made me feel better nonetheless. The twisty bit of road dropping off the range just west of Wattle Flat is hot mix asphalt and would be my second home if I lived in Bathurst or the surrounds. What an awesome bit of road!

I blasted straight past Sofala. Having seen it a few times it doesn't do anything for me these days (but if you haven't seen it, it is a must do). No, I didn't have any time to waste this morning. I really wanted to get to Orange ASAP so as to guage how I was tracking re my 10am appointment. Bathurst is always a slow traverse but I did find a new short cut that meant I didn't have to get on the Great Western Highway at Kelso and dawdle all the way through every traffic light in town. Hereford Street,  new bypass has been built since I last came from that way and I reckon it saved me 10 minutes.

There were extensive road works between Bathurst and Orange which again slowed progress. On the outskirts of Orange I elected to take the new-ish town bypass, again to save time. 

Well, what is the point of a town bypass if businesses move out of town to be lined along it and then the speed limit is dropped because there is so much traffic exiting and entering the road to access said businesses? Logical I guess but annoying too.

Luckily, I was running well to schedule and I decided to stop at the brand new to me Maccas for a muffin and a coffee, plus to catch my breath.


I also grabbed some fuel just up the road and was right for the last 120km or so. You can usually wind the wick up a bit west of Orange (well, you could 25 years ago) to make up time. At least when I got stuck at road works it was pretty easy to round up the conga line of traffic.

I made a super quick (as in just ride up onto the footpath) photo stop in Eugowra to get some snaps of  some of the murals. Eugowra's claim to fame, apart from being our family's settling place once off the boat in the late 1800s, is the hold up of the gold stage coach just outside of town in 1862. Ben Hall and his gang did many a dastardly deeds back in the day and I sort of find it slightly unsettling/amusing that all these small towns cash in on this past infamy. I guess you do what you gotta do, then and now. 😢



With only 34km or so to go I made it at 10:02! I hopped off the bike and wandered inside. No Dad, despite his car being outside. Wandering back out to the car, there he was, sitting in it. There was no way he was going inside by himself to wait! Did I mention he doesn't get out much? 😐

I spent the next three or four days hanging out and helping with some jobs that he can't do any more. I can see it is frustrating for him as he was one of those guys that never asked for help because he COULD do everything himself. Mechanic by trade but capable of tacking any job. They don't make 'em like Dad any more.



DAY 4

After a few days at home I was coming into my reserve days. I had planned to just drop the bike in Sydney at Steve's house and fly home but as I hadn't been called in to work by the Saturday night I was rolling into another bunch of days off! Good for me, bad for the airline - things are still pretty quiet as far as air travel goes. This gave me another 7 days clear so I decided to go for it and booked the boat to Tassie for the Tuesday morning. A day sailing was the cheapest all week AND it happened to suit my time frame. YEAH!!

A quick tub for the steed to knock the bugs off and I loaded up, bid Dad farewell and hit the road toward south....er...Grenfell. But not before I was stopped by probably the only train to go through Forbes each day. And my, wasn't it a looong one! 😏


I was in Grenfell in no time at all, despite stops for photos, so snapped a photo of their silo art as well.

Next stop, Young. The road from Grenfell to Young is an interesting ride and every time I do it, it takes me back to the mid '90s when Steve and I heading to or from Phillip Island for the races...or us heading to the Snowies for a weekend. Good times and this is what it looked like.....

Steve on his ZX9R somewhere near Young C1998.

I stopped in Young only long enough to get a photo of the town hall before continuing south. I had a loose plan to make Tumbarumba tonight, which was 4 hours from Forbes and as I left at 4pm, there wasn't a lot of spare daylight.


The road from Young to Cootamundra is a pretty decent ride, as in just interesting enough to keep you focussed. I didn't stop in Coota but bypassed it for the Gundagai road to Coolac. It was warm and I had an idea to stop at thge Coolac pub for a cold one before pressing on. The road was quite entertaining, if a bit beat up in places but I made it to Coolac in good time, jumped off the bike to be greeted with a bunch of G'days from the drinkers on the verandah. bloody friendly place this!


I don't recall it being called the Beehive Hotel but then, I don't think we ever stopped here back in the day. We just blasted past as it was too close to home.

Next was a section of the Hume Highway where I dropped every vehicle as I stuck to the 100km/h my GPS said I was doing. Don't people wonder why all the trucks pass them when they are supposedly "speed limited"? Anyway, past Gundagai to the south Gundy turn off for Tumut. I used to love this road back in the day. It was where you could see the countryside changing and the roads became much more interesting. Well, a lot of the sharper bends have been taken out and the road consists of plenty of big, high speed sweepers these days. Nice on the right bike I guess...

The Poplar trees lining the road into Tumut always give me a flutter in the stomach. I can still remember like it was just yesterday driving into Tumut, on the way to a fishing trip to Anglers Reach at Lake Eucumbene with Dad when I was 7 years old. We had 2 Slim Dusty tapes in the old XB and I was in charge of playing them non-stop-all-the-way!
No Slim today but there would be Lights On The Hill later on.


I have heard my brother rabbit on about the Rosewood Raceway for years now but have never ridden it myself - until today. After I missed the turn at Wondalga and had to U-turn and come back. πŸ™„  I turned left and almost immediately saw the road marking turn to yellow. Oh, this was a good sign!
Holy.Heck.
This road was clearly built to service the logging industry and wound it way through the forests. Well, it would have if ALL of the forests hadn't burned down in the 2019 east coast infernos. Wondering why the price of timber for housing is going through the roof(haha)? Well, because thousands of acres of pine plantations went up in smoke in 2019.This left a perfectly sealed, winding road with almost unlimited sight lines just sitting out here. 
What.To.Do?
O.M.G. this is a good road!




A few rises were a bit concerning as the sun was level with the road surface and I had a couple of moments where I suddenly could not see at all. Probably should have been going east at this time of day! I saw no kangaroo activity but got a fright as a small deer shot out of the grass on a collision course but then veered off, all in the blink of an eye! There are also very few speed advisory signs on the corners, so the first run across should be seen as a “sighting lap”. 
I’ll be back..😎

I turned left at Rosewood and rolled into Tumbarumba at last light to grab one of the last rooms in the pub. 



The $50 for the room included a free beer. I was just too late for the kitchen but the barman, despite being mega busy, called the bowling club to get their kitchen to wait for me to pop around. He then gave me another beer for my trouble. Fuggin' champion! Of course that made me even later for my Chinese food at the bowlo. πŸ˜„Once collected after a short walk,  I took this back to the pub for another discounted beer (I reckon he was sweet on me....) where I watched the locals knock their balls around while I ate.


Yeah, not a bad day at all.....AND I was headed for Tassie, not Sydney. 😎



 



To be continued......