16 November 2012

Eclipse Journey - homeward bound

No alarms were set. It was a case of wake up whenever and go. We woke to bright clear skies and decided before heading off that it would be nice to start the day with a walk on the jetty.

The jetty is still in use as part of the Abbott Point facility but it is showing its age.
Rusty rails
Along one branch of the jetty four tugs were moored waiting for the next ship to arrive.  Access to the tugs' branch was authorised access only.

It was back down the highway to Sarina.  Our preference was to travel the old "Marlborough stretch". Rather than suffer the road works again, we took the old Marlborough-Sarina Road.  It was rough but the car handled it well.  We virtually had the road to ourselves.  We only saw about six other vehicles for the couple of hours that it took us to rejoin the Bruce Highway north of Rockhampton.

We stopped for a break in North Rockhampton.  From Rockhampton we turned inland to Mount Morgan.  The road climbed over the range.  The speed limit had been dropped to 40kph to allow for the steepness and the roughness of the road.  Nearing the top there was a pull-in where we stopped for our last look back to the coast.
Our destination for the night was Biloela.  We knew from previous trips that it's an easy run to Brisbane from there.

We found our usual motel and set ourselves up for the night.  Again, no alarms were set.

This morning we didn't wake until almost 7 am - very unusual for us.  The car packed, farewells to the motel staff and we were on our way home.  Monto was our next stop for breakfast and coffee.  It took a little while to find a cafe as the first one which looked really inviting but their coffee machine had malfunctioned. So we took the opportunity to walk up the main street and found a little place where they downsized their big breakfast for us.  Good thing the meals were downsized as when they came out, there was more than enough on the plate.

Back on the road, podcasts keeping us company, the kilometres rolled by.  We stopped for a coffee in Blackbutt after avoiding a couple of impatient drivers.  They were being obstructed by a camper van arrangement.  One car pulled out to overtake as did the one behind it.  They hadn't seen us coming in the opposite direction.  Good thing we had space to pull way over to the left to let them by.

The Blackbutt Range cutting is still one way traffic controlled on the half hour.  The signs advise that the works are scheduled to be finished in early 2013.  From what we're seeing now it will be worth the wait.  The earth walls of the cutting are being reinforced with concrete to save them from erosion.  The road has been widened and straightened.  Not so much fun for the motorcycles, but it should be better for the trucks.

The rest of the run was uneventful.  It was interesting that our speed was checked five times at various locations throughout the day.  Maybe the police had given up on the Bruce Highway and its road works, too.

We're home now, partially unpacked and sorting through photographs.  It was a good road trip in the car with the highlight of seeing what we had set out to see - the moon's total eclipse of the sun.

14 November 2012

Eclipse Journey 3

After having a wonderful seafood feast last night, we turned in relatively early as the alarm was set for 4 am. The day we had been waiting for had arrived. We woke early, before the alarm. A sneak peak out the bathroom window revealed a cloudless sky in the westerly direction. Hmmmm could be a good sign, maybe.

We loaded up the car with all our gear even though we had agreed to Linda's request to return for breakfast at the house. After all, she had bought a mango for us. As we walked to the car we looked skyward to see light cloud and some stars shining through. Maybe, we'll be ok.

It was a short drive to our preferred location which was beside a canefield, below the level of the road. Another check of the skies showed a large cloud to the south - over Cairns city and further. Uh oh. The cloud wasn't moving very fast but it was moving up the coast. Trying really hard to remain positive now.

The sun rises in a cloudy morning sky
Soon after our arrival, a small car pulled up on the roadside. The driver started setting up a framework at the front of his car. Slowly more gear came out and he was building something. We walked over to have a chat with our fellow shadow chaser. Turns out he was an amateur astronomer who had built a twin lens/telescope recording device. His intent was to video record the eclipse.

As the time got closer, more vehicles and more vehicles were filing past on their way to Yorkeys Knob beach. Some were pulling up to our little area. There was no control over where people parked in their cars. It was becoming dangerous as one driver barely pulled the tail of their car off the roadway. Another, in a train of traffic headed for the beach slowed to a stop to ask if this is was the place to watch the eclipse. There was a shower of rain that chased us into our car. All the while we watched the cloud cover the area where we expected the eclipse to be.

We decided to walk a short distance into the cane farm. There was some scrubby swamp to the left and we could hear quite a bit of bird activity in that general area. There had been reports from other eclipses that the birds go quiet with the darkness, so we were keen to be where we could listen for this ourselves.

Is it going to happen?

Again another rain shower, this time we sheltered under a sparse tree. Still the cloud covered the skies. We resigned ourselves to not seeing any of the eclipse, just experiencing the darkness, all the while willing the cloud to move on.

And then it happened! Joy! The cloud moved away and we watched through our glasses as the moon slowly covered the sun. Just before the full covering, the glasses came off and we watched the last spark of light known as the diamond ring effect. Spectacular! Tears of happiness, hugs of joy and sheer relief. Glasses stayed off while the sun was totally covered, the wisps of the corona visible to the naked eye. The light had been slowly diminishing and it was now dark. Interestingly, it mustn't have been dark enough long enough for the birds to become still and silent. There was a few flying while we stood in awe.

Attempt to photograph The Diamond Ring effect


Planets visible in the sky. This was Saturn

Second Diamond Ring

All too soon the next diamond ring effect appeared and it was time to put the glasses back on to watch the sun slowly reappear. We did it! We have seen a total eclipse. We were buzzing with excitement as we made our way back to the fellow with the recording device and another enthusiast who had stayed for the whole show. Many people left as soon as the total eclipse had finished. We excitedly discussed what each had seen and we saw the video. That in itself was special as it had captured the flare of the sun through the valleys of the moon.

Time to head back for breakfast to see what Linda and Steve had thought of the event. Linda told us that people lined the beach for as far as the eye could see. In a police report later it was estimated that 500 people were on the little beach. A quick bite to eat and it was time for us to make our way south. Our farewells made and into the nose to tail line of traffic for about an hour.

Once clear and onto the highway, we finalised our arrangements to meet our friends in Townsville. It was great to catch up even if it was only a short visit. We still had some distance to cover before pulling up for the night.

Bowen is our base for the night. We have a room that looks out over the bay.


The "Diamond Ring" Effect.

It happens twice during a total eclipse of the Sun.
Cameras can take photos and video but the results pale compared to what the eye sees.

The first occurrence is in the last moment as the moon almost completely covers the disc of the sun. Surprisingly, everything is still pretty bright around. The sky is still blue, the landscape green. Maybe a little darker than normal, but still light enough.

We are watching the disappearing sliver of sun through our approved eclipse glasses. We see a bright orange crescent getting smaller and smaller in a black background. As it completely disappeared I instinctively took off the glasses.

There, hanging in a dark sky, is the most beautiful sight. There was a distinct ring of light around a very black disc. A ring with a flaming aura. Alive it seemed. But in the lower right corner was a bright light shining on the edge of the ring like the most magnificent jewel. Our eyes, used to darkness from the glasses and seeing it against a dark sky were mesmerised to this sparkling jewel. From its initial dazzling brightness it slowly faded.

Then it was gone. Just the ring remained. Glowing. Shifting. Hanging in the sky.

Two minutes later the opposite side of the ring suddenly lit up. The bright jewel now reappearing and brightening every second. Time to put the glasses back on before it hurt.

The second ring effect was not as striking as the first. Probably because it was expected. Maybe because it brightened instead of fading.

Whatever, we will always remember that first sighting of The Diamond Ring and we will seek out again this most beautiful sight in our solar system.

Previously, we had wondered what all the fuss was about with total eclipses. Now we know.

13 November 2012

Eclipse Journey 2

Today we woke early, just before sunrise and decided to check out our options for experiencing the eclipse tomorrow. We drove to the beach and were there just after sun up. There was low cloud which kept pace with the sun, covering it as it rose. Doesn't bode well for tomorrow to see the eclipse. It will still go dark, just under overcast conditions if there is cloud.

Different Camera

We toured around the local streets and found a spot overlooking a cane field. We can't see the sun pop up over the sea but we will certainly be in a good spot to see the sun and moon line up with us and cast the shadow that's creating all the fuss.

Back to the house for breakfast and then up the highway still keeping a weather eye out for potential viewing spots. The really really good spots will either be closed off by police or have already been claimed by people living in their self contained vehicles.

We had been posed a challenge by our friend Jack who asked about a mountain stream and swimming hole just off the highway. The only place we could think of was Mossman Gorge. We drove down the main street of Mossman and pulled in for a coffee. While we were there, a couple of local fellows sat nearby. It was a bit of fun very discretely listening to them talk. They had the true North Queensland manner of speech - finishing off their sentences with "ay".

Next was a look at Mossman Gorge. We'd been here many years ago and remembered the bush walk through the rain forest to a swimming hole. What a surprise to be greeted with a fully developed tourist centre. Overcoming our initial hesitance, we ventured inside. We were greeted by a lovely lady from the local aboriginal community. She patiently answered our questions about the new centre. It turns out that the community have been waiting about 20 years to have something that they could call their own. The new centre is being staffed and run by the local people. It opened in June this year. All access to the gorge is by the centre's busses. A small fee of $4.80 per person gave unlimited access to the gorge by bus for the day.

Visitors Centre from the car park

We made use of the shuttle service to take us to the start of the walks. The walk is no longer along the forest floor, we were suspended above by walkways. It was enjoyable, this different perspective to view the forest. Following the path, we found ourselves at the swimming hole that we remembered from way back. The water was clear and we could see the Jungle Perch swimming in the shallows.

Fig tree which grows fruit from the trunk

A tiny spider we saved. It got tangled in Clint's beard.

There's a fair crowd around at the moment. It's pretty obvious that there are a lot of people here for the eclipse. Normally it wouldn't be long before the crowd moved on and the surroundings would only resonate with the sounds of the forest. Not so today, we tried to move between groups as best we could so that we could take in the beauty of the place.

Jungle Perch in the clear water

The Mossman Gorge Swimming Hole

Brush Turkey struttin'

Fungi and mosses on the Forest Floor

Someone done some gardening?

The walkway construction had raised our curiosity. We could see that there was water piped along the structure with taps every so often. The surface we walked on squeaked under foot and wasn't slippery. All was revealed at one of the signs. The surface we were walking on was recycled plastic. It's resistant to rot and termites. The taps would have been access for cleaning the surface with water blaster to clear away mold and mud.

Time to head back to the centre. Our driver was a local fellow who was happy to talk about how the new centre is changing things for them. Their children are learning about tourism, they have a tourism school for other aboriginal youngsters to come and learn. The standard Toyota coasters are being replaced by electric busses. When the fleet is in place, all visitors regardless of which tour operator will be required to use the electric bus. This is seen as a further step toward reducing emissions and giving their rainforest a chance to survive. He also told of us of how after cyclone Yasi, a cassowary had hatched a clutch of chicks nearby. One of the chicks had been separated from the brood. Our driver has a photo of him holding the chick in his hands, not realising it was a cassowary chick. A very special experience for him.

Back at the centre, we had a look at the souvenirs, decided not to buy anything as I had my trinket from yesterday. We instead had a coffee and shared a sandwich from the cafe. Again the cafe was staffed by people from the local community. Everyone we encountered was helpful and seemed happy.

The new centre looks to be a great boon for Mossman and the future of its indigenous population. It might have been 20 years in the making, but the timing now seems right.

Time to turn back south. We could have taken a circuit through to Mareeba, but decided to check out the availability of the roadside pull-ins. Sure enough, more campervans were setting themselves up in the vantage points. This was only early in the afternoon, hate to think what it will be like later tonight.

This wouldn't be bad as a vantage point.

Back to our accommodation and we've set our plan for tomorrow. Pack the car tonight with as much as we can, then set ourselves up early at our vantage point. We’ll just have to take our chances with the weather. BOM reports are not encouraging. From here we will head south hopefully in front of the majority of the crowd.

12 November 2012

Eclipse Journey

The alarm sounded early Saturday morning - very early - 3 am early. The car was packed the night before. There were a few bits and pieces, gadgets really to gather into the car. After a heart starter coffee, we were underway. Our target destination Bowen, NQ.

We had decided on travelling the Bruce Highway. The last few times we have ridden to Townsville or Eungella via the back roads through Gayndah and the like. The Bruce isn't a favourite road, but it is the shorter of the two routes.

Its light early these days, the night driving got us past the Sunshine Coast. It was relatively easy travel through to Childers with only one person who wanted to have more than his share of the road. In Childers we stopped for fuel for the car and breakfast for us. It was still early and the only place open was the bakery.

We were making good time using the GPSes to monitor our speed. Yes, plural. Clint is beta testing a GPS. That means we are running two - our old faithful and the test unit. They have different characteristics and the new one needed to be reset a couple of times to get it to behave. We were on an A to B run up the highway. The new device was set to take all the good motorcycling roads, a sweet feature but not what we wanted this time.

After the events of 2010 cyclones and flooding the Bruce Highway has been in a state of repair. Our timing was being eaten into by the constant drop from 100 or 110 in some case to 80 then 60 then 40. Some were controlled by traffic lights, others by people. Some stops were long, others we managed to be the last car through. The interruptions to the flow of travel was wearing, we were losing our rhythm.

The car when it's running on the highway, has a range around 900km per tank. It's us who require the stops for refreshment. Rockhampton was our next stop.

Social media (Facebook) can be useful at times. On checking the Qld Police postings, we found out about the devastating fire at North Mackay. The highway was closed and the only way around was the back way. We know the back way and it would have been very unpleasant sharing the tight winding minor roads with trucks, vans and others who would have been in a hurry.

We'd been travelling for over twelve hours and the thought of a back roads run wasn't appealing. We were at Sarina when we made the decision to pull up for the night. Sarina Beach is somewhere we have wanted to visit. This was our opportunity. Pull up early and relax ready for another early start in the morning.

Accommodation on the beach front, a walk along the beach and dinner at the local restaurant. A very relaxing way to end the day.

Another early alarm, a quick cuppa and we're on our way again. Daylight by the time we were through Mackay, past the site of the fire. It looked really bad. No wonder the highway was closed the afternoon before.

Bowen was our breakfast stop. We decided to make it a highway stop rather than head into Bowen proper. We worked out that we could have spent a lot of time doing laps of the town known as Sleepy Hollow looking for somewhere to eat early as it was before 9am on Sunday morning. So a big plate of bacon and eggs and mugs of coffee later our bellies were feeling really full.

The sugar mills' stacks were billowing out plumes of steam. Cane trains were parked, full of the harvest. Cane was being burned off in the distance. We experienced a little Burdekin snow.

We opted to not follow the heavy vehicle bypass around Ayr as we were having a little trip down memory lane. We had worked out that around this time of year 30 years ago, we had our first holiday together and it was a road trip north to Port Douglas. Clint had worked in Ayr but was back in Brisbane by the time of our holiday.

Townsville was ahead, but rather than drive through, we used the ring road. The amount of development, the roofs of houses stretched for acres. We knew this was a growth area, but didn't realise the extent.

Next stop was Cardwell for fuel and a break to walk out onto the jetty. Cardwell was really given a beating by cyclone Yasi and the little town is still recovering.

The trees are coming back, but they looked like ones we are used to seeing after a hail storm. The leaves had been shredded, leaving the trees bare. Only now there was the soft green fuzz of new growth. Some trees had fallen to the pressures of the storm, others had limbs twisted and broken.

We started the count down to Cairns, not far now. The twin GPSes were issuing instructions, not always in harmony. It created some amusement for us while we negotiated the thickening traffic.

Finally, we arrived at our abode for the next three nights. This is the first time we are staying in a B&B. We were greeted at the gate by two beagles who were keen to make sure we knew who was boss. Soon we were welcomed by our hosts Steve and Linda. A quick tour of the facilities and a chat over a coffee was a convivial way of finding out about each other. Our ensuite room is very comfortable and relatively private.

After unpacking, we set about finding out what was in the local area. We're not too far from Smithfield for major shops and we're within walking distance of the local shops. The boat club is a bit far to walk in the steamy tropical heat.

We settled in back at the house on the back patio with our tech toys. We had writings to catch up with.

All too soon it was dark and we headed off to the local fish and chips takeaway for a light meal. MotoGP's final races for the season were on tonight so we had our fill, headed back to our room and settled in to watch some amazing racing in all three classes. All too soon it was midnight and we'd been awake for too long, our pillows were beckoning.

Even though we could have had a sleep in we were keen to work out where we would be setting ourselves up to watch the eclipse. After waking early, we decided that it wasn't really necessary to get out just yet. Not too long after that, a shower of rain reinforced our decision to stay in bed that little bit longer.

After a carb-loaded breakfast, we walked to through the little forest at the end of the street trying to work out how to access the beach. Our first attempt was blocked by a swampy remnant of a creek. Eventually we worked our way through, onto an adjoining street and out to the beach. The sand here is brown and so was the water. The small waves looked muddy and not at all inviting. The sun was obscured by cloud, there was light rain and thoughts from us that hopefully this will have all cleared by Wednesday morning. We checked our bearings to make sure we knew where to look East. A bit more of wandering around the parkland and we headed back to the house.

Today's drive was up into the Atherton Tableland. We took the road up to Kuranda in the rain. We were heading to Mareeba to experience their coffee. We called into Jacques Coffee. We were intrigued by the advertising that showed "coffee, tours and T.I Flights". Naturally, we had to sample their coffee. It's good! The flights were in ultralights. No thanks. We like a bit of adventure but this is one method of transport that doesn't sit well with us. There was quite a stiff breeze blowing so that was another reason for us not to be keen.

Next was a drive through Mareeba township. Here we found an oddity that made us stop for a picture. Whoever was in charge of the town design must have had strong female influence. Here was a public toilet that was signposted as the Women's Rest Rooms and the facilities for men were a small arrangement down the back of the building.

Our next target was a place we had seen signposted on the highway. It was Gallo's Chocolate and Cheese. Here they make their own cheeses and handmade chocolates. The Gallo family have diversified from just being a dairy farm to including the manufacture and sale of their own varieties of cheese. They have a factory display of the cheese making process. It wasn't working today. There is also an eatery which served a cheese platter of five of their cheeses. What a great way to experience the product. We also came away with a small block of 72% chocolate - yum :-)

Our final planned destination was The Gem Gallery in Yungaburra. This is a family run establishment that works in opals and fine gems. Here you can talk with the artisan about how best to display an opal or gem in a setting and have it created. We didn't follow that path, but found a cute little pendant that is a reminder of the eclipse.

No trip through here is complete without a visit to a curtain fig.

Rather than double back we headed down the Gillies Highway. What a cracker of a road! It's well known to the local motorcyclists and with good reason.

Back to base and it's time for a drink and catch up with our writings. Tonight we've planned to have dinner at the Boat Club and an early night.

11 September 2012

Davo Memorial Run 2012

It seems there are a lot of memorial runs these days. Good thing too. It reminds us that our chosen pastime is not without its dangers.

FarRiders have their own special Memorial Run which we have held for the last three years. I haven't been to every one, but this year things fell in to place.

Time was a bit short so it was to be lots of kilometres in a short time. Nothing unusual in that.

Normally before a big trip we get all excited with anticipation and cannot sleep. Not a good idea for LD riding and with practice, I'm getting better at relaxing for sleep before departure.
So early to bed and I awoke five minutes prior to the 2am alarm. Excited? Me?

Under way by 2:30 my intended destination for the day was Broken Hill. Not really sure if I could make it, I had not booked a room and wasn't carrying a swag on this run. Mistake.

The run up Cunninghams is improving with the roadworks of the last few years nearing completion. Just a small 40kph section and the rest is 70kph. Very sharp corners make this a comfortable pace.

Then it is through Warwick and west on the long road to Goondiwindi via Inglewood. Lots of roos inhabit this bit of road so extra care must be taken and good lighting is essential. GoldWings have excellent lights as standard and I have the added benefit of a couple of HID driving lights. Also a couple of small DRL (Daytime Running Lights) which run LEDs for their source. They are not for lighting up the road but for being seen by others. They work very well - maybe a little too well.

First stop at BP Goondiwindi and as usual I wandered over to Maccas for a coffee. There was a coach reversing around in the car park and it turned out it was full of schoolkids and had suffered a mechanical problem. So they had dropped everyone off at Maccas while they went for repairs. What a noise! I got my coffee and escaped.

South now, down the dreaded Newell Hwy. Boring it may be but with the 110kph speed limit now re-instated, it is still the quickest A to B in that part of the country and I was in mile-munching mode. The all too familiar towns went by and knowing the distance and approximate times from one to the other makes the run easy, if a little clinical.

One difference between motorcycles and cars is the ease of overtaking. A large capacity bike can be out, around and back in while a much heavier car is still building up speed. It is just physics, but car drivers often don't understand.

And so it was that a bright orange GT kept getting left behind when I could overtake a semi in a very short timeframe then resume normal speed. Sure enough, time and time again the bright orange GT would eventually catch me again. Hate to think what speeds he was doing just to catch up with me travelling on the posted limit.

Turning off the Newell on to the much quieter Oxley Hwy, there are not so many big trucks holding up the pace so I had nowhere to hide from the big orange GT. I still made it to Warren well in front though. He must have had engine trouble. Or something.

I had a little look around Warren. We will be holding a FarRiders meeting here in November. The town was a little busy though, one of the local cotton gins was ablaze. Quite some damage I heard later. I did manage to get out to the racecourse where our meet will be held. The amenities look good.

Well, places to be, so away I went. No more GTs to play with. Out through Nyngan and then Cobar where the sun began to get in front. I had to stop and purchase a new tube of sunscreen and plastered it on. A call to Charleen to book a room in Broken Hill as it seemed sure to be tonight's stop.

Then the run in to the setting sun and a fairly strong headwind for a few hours. Nothing serious but is does use up fuel. I topped up in Wilcannia - the less time spent in that town the better - and had to ride the next hundred or so with one hand up blocking the sun which insisted setting down the end of the road.

A nice cloudless sunset then dark set in and the lights took over making riding easier for the last few kays in to Broken Hill. I knew my FarRiding mate Bazz was playing a gig tonight, but I didn't feel like a big meal at the club and a very nice bed beckoned.

Very nice because the only room available was their deluxe suite. Sure was an expensive very nice bed though. Almost as much as we paid for very nice beds in Manhattan, New York!!

I'd had visions of departing at 3am and breakfasting in Port Augusta where a few FarRiders were to gather, but wanting to get my money's worth, I remained sprawled on the king-sized bed until nearly seven. Truly leisurely.

But there's riding to be done.

Under way just before seven I was on target for arrival at the Wilmington meetup. Even had time for a leisurely breakky at Yunta. B&E and bottomless coffee.

With the sun behind me and a light headwind - the previous day's gales to the south had abated somewhat - I made it with plenty of time to spare.

Arriving in Wilmington, another bike fell in behind. Another FarRider for sure. Wombattle (some of us have funny names) was there on his first Davo Memorial Run and on a new bike. A happy lad.

Eventually all had turned up and I realised I had not taken any photos up to now. How slack of me.

So here's one of the bikes gathered at Wilmington.

Toura then led us out to the Memorial plaque. This involved a very nice run over Horrocks Pass, a renowned, if short piece of twisty bitumen.

Davo's Plaque was placed beside an open part of the road just on the western side of Horrocks Pass. It was selected because it was a favourite spot of the founder of FarRiders. It is also the spot from where a certain photo was taken. This photo now sits atop our forum site and the challenge was once put out that all FarRiders should at some time visit the spot and attempt a similar shot with their own bike. It is a quaint little ritual, but one that means much to FarRiders.

This shows the location of the plaque amongst the saltbush with the Flinders Ranges in the background.

And here's the dozen or so bikes that turned up for the event.

OK so it isn't as many as some much larger Memorial Runs. But its ours.

After our short ceremony it was back to Wilmington for lunch. Those who were staying overnight settled in at the pub and a few of us who were travelling on made use of the little cafe across the road.

Then it was back on the road and head for home. For me that was 1927km away.
But I'm a FarRider and on a GoldWing so no real biggie.

For a start, I had a gentle tail wind, the sun at my back and a cloudless sky. Great riding conditions.
I refueled at Peterborough and heard the attendant's radio blasting out the footy. The Adelaide team was playing in the semi-finals. The town was empty. The road was empty. I was pretty sure everyone in the district was glued to their TV either at home, in a pub or at the police station.

I made good time to Broken Hill.

Refueled and it was now dark, so on with the big lights and head east. Ran in to a problem that was to plague me all night. Obviously the footy was over as there was now traffic on the road and my low beam lights combined with the DRLs seemed to be too much for most oncoming traffic. If I dipped too soon - before they saw me - they seemed to assume I hadn't dipped and would try to "teach me a lesson". For some that was a little flash and I would give a quick flash in return.
Others were much more rude and got what they deserved.

It would be nice if drivers realized that motorcyclists need to still see the sides of the road for wildlife, even while being dazzled by oncoming lights. My low beams are set up carefully to spread low across the road to the sides. They do not shine up into the eyes of oncoming vehicles.
If a hoppy bounds out in front of a car, it may get a damaged front. A truck might get blood on the bullbar. A motorcycle will have a catastrophic crash.

I learned to leave my high beams and driving lights on until oncoming vehicles were well in sight and they would be sure I had dipped and then most of them left me alone. Most. Please pardon my rant, but oncoming vehicles were most annoying that night.

I arrived in Cobar around 11pm and thought it might be nice to get a shower and a bed but all the accommodation had the bright red NO out front. The lass in the servo happily informed that the town was pretty full except maybe one of the pubs but they had a band playing. I rode on.

Cobar to Nyngan was Roo City. Dozens of them sitting beside the road. Hardly moving in the by now quite cold night. But I was very wary. Speed was way down and luckily not much oncoming traffic.

Nyngan had a motel with a sign that advertised 24hr checkin. "Just dial 9", read the sign on the door. Dial on what? There was no phone. I could see where it had been.

Ride on.

By now it was too late to get accommodation anywhere and I was ruing not having brought a swag. But I was wide awake and feeling OK. Self checks were positive.

Refueling at Gilgandra I longed for a coffee. Not only did I need to wake up the attendant to get fuel, but I had to boil the kettle myself! Coffee was good though.

Over the ranges to Coonabarabran and on through the Pillaga, where the temp dropped to zero on the dashboard. The occasional roo sitting beside the road. Another coffee would be nice, so I set to refuel a little early at Narrabri but the kitchen was closed at 4:30am and the urn was out of order.

Ride on.

Moree saw daylight and a big Maccas sign boasting a 24hr opening and a McCafe. Coffee at last and even a little snack.

Much refreshed now I set out on the last five hour stint to home. Turned to face the sun at Goondiwindi, slathered the sunscreen on nose and cheeks.

And rode on.

Over the Gap and down into warm sunshine, the dash temp was rising. Over 20 and quite pleasant. I was now reaping the benefit of that long leisurely sleep-in in the very nice bed at Broken Hill. 24 hours on I was still going strong and the traffic was making me concentrate and keeping the alert levels up.

Made it home with a straight through run of 1927km in 21hrs 15 minutes with a total of 3960km in two and a half days.

A good ride.

11 August 2012

Border Run Day 8 863km

It's beginning to look like 800 plus is my kind of riding day.

Out of Dubbo by 7am and off towards home.

What can one say about the Newell Highway. I usually try to avoid it, but here I was having a second run along here in a week. Ah well, if the only goal is get home, I guess it is the way to go.

Nothing unusual happened, just travelling. A nice B&E breakky at Gilgandra, a couple of fuel stops and a coffee at Goondiwindi then four hours to Brisbane traffic. I managed to time it for the peak hour.

In fact timed it so well that I arrived at the home gate about two minutes before Charleen got home from work.



Well, that was the 2012 Border Run. I'm glad I made it again have missed out the last few years. My last visit was 2008. Lots of things have changed since then but Border Village hasn't.
I won't be doing it next year as we'll be away OS but it will surely be there for the future.

As an excuse for a nice long ride, the Border Run is one of the better ones. Give it a try some day. Might see you there.

Border Run Day 7 883km

My Wing hadn't yet been checked for the recall for the brake cylinder, so I had made arrangements to call in to Jeffrey Honda - where I originally bought it - to have it looked at.
I didn't expect it to be faulty as I now had 70,000km on the clock and it surely would have played up by now.

However, for peace of mind.

The morning was, apparently, typical Melbourne weather. Overcast, light showers and COLD. AS soon as I was on the road I noticed how everyone is really heavily rugged up. Luckily, I was too.

Through the traffic to Jeffreys and they only took half an hour or so while I sat in a nearby cafe with a nice warm coffee.

Then it was North.

Out on the Maroondah Highway through Yarra Glen to Yea, across to Bonnie Doon where Lake Eildon is now pretty full, then north to join the Hume Hwy at Benalla.

A bit of highway boredom until Albury then it was turn left on to the Olympic Hwy. I was making decisions on the fly about the route home. I normally like to head further up the Olympic and Bathurst, then across the hills to Mudgee and do the "Up the Middle" run but not sure of the weather in the higher areas and having had enough cold for now, I decided to head up to the Newell and do a quicker run.

The old familiar towns from my truck driving days flew by and well after dark I was at Dubbo and feeling tired and hungry. Time to stop, eat and sleep.

Border Run Day 6 844km

Yep, I'm a few days late with this.

I left Auburn at around 8am with the sun only up for a little while and headed south. My goal for today was Melbourne to visit with Adam.

It was a nice ride in the early morning down to the Adelaide Hills. Much better to go this way then in to the City or on major highways. I finally found a nice little cafe in the hills called Cudlee Cafe for a bit of breakfast. It is named after Cudlee Creek which runs nearby.

Then it was off up Cudlee Creek Road for a nice little run through the hills. Hardly any traffic made for a nice ride.

I finally came out on to the old Princes Highway and followed that until near Murray Bridge where it joined up with the main highway again.

Then it was just a boring run all the way in to Melbourne. At least I got the nice morning ride in.

It got colder and colder the closer I got and Ballarat was only about 5 degrees in the evening.

Joined in the traffic on the Western Freeway and plunged into the Burnley Tunnel. Adam lives not far from there so I was done for the day.

06 August 2012

Border Run Day 5 777km

Up not too early. The sun doesn’t get up until 7:30 here. So a bit of breakky with Lionel and John and we bade our farewells.
I headed south a bit then across the Eyre peninsula hoping to catch the Cowes to Walleroo ferry – a sort of a short cut across Spencer Gulf. Their website showed a midday departure so I couldn’t hang about.
The roads in these parts are in very good condition. Mostly straight but with a few nice sweeping curves to make it interesting. Not many towns so the running was good. The only hiccup was in a small town called Lock. I was to cross the rail line here but a long train was stationary across the road and not looking to move. I waited a bit but could see it was filling a carriage from a nearby silo. So I turned in to the town and went looking and found a dirt road the crossed the line well behind the train. A few others were going that was as well so I guess that was a common occurrence.
I made it in to Cowell in time, well, my time anyway, only to find the time table had changed and the ferry had left an hour ago. Next one was not for five hours and it would be quicker than that to ride around. The ferry is about 15km out of town so there was nothing to do but go back in and find the bakery for a cuppa and a bit of lunch.
Then the long haul north to Port Augusta. The quickest way south from here is the highway but it is pretty boring. Much better to cross back over Horrocks Pass and run down the eastern side of the southern Flinders Ranges. No traffic and only a few small quiet towns. A great way to ride.
Pretty soon I was in to the wine-growing region of the Clare Valley and it was getting late and very cool. I wasn’t wearing the long johns so was starting to feel it. Time to find a motel and go indoors for a while.

Border Run Day 4 625km

Had a good sleep in. That is until Ghosty woke me by phone at 6am. 8am his time of course. But I was fast asleep and reached for the phone which was plugged in and so fell on the floor so I had to chase it. Lousy way to wake up.
Breakfast at Border Village was good and the fastest I have ever been served. I barely had time to get back to the table and sit down before the disgustingly cheery kitchen hand delivered my bacon and eggs. All breakfasts seemed to be appearing quickly. I reckon that bloke’s job was on the line.
In ones and twos the bikes all got under way, heading east or west as was their individual plans. I went to take a look at the Old Telegraph station at Eucla. Been through so many times and never got the chance.
It was three kays of gravel road but in pretty good condition. A strange place for the old stone house, amongst the encroaching dunes. Nice to get to see it.
I refuelled at Eucla at $1.75. Lots cheaper than Border Village and even Nullarbor. I also took the opportunity to call in at a couple of the Bite lookouts. They’re building lots of fences to protect us these days. I wasn’t aware that many tourists fell off. Maybe they did.
I went straight past Nullarbor with its expensive fuel and bad coffee. I was sure I had enough fuel to get to Nundroo and maybe even Penong. Nundroo only sells sugar cane fuel but I’d put a bit in if necessary. I decided that if the fuel warning light hadn’t come on, I’d attempt the 75km further to Penong. Sure enough the light stayed black past the Nundroo Servo and lit up about a hundred metres after!
But I stuck to my word and the 110 speed limit and made it to just 7km short of Penong. I’ve found that when a Wing runs out, no amount of wriggling or swerving will get any dregs that may be left in the bottom of the tank. It just gets dry and stops. So best to be prepared.
In went the spare 10 litres and I went right through to Ceduna, another 78km. No problems there.
Fueled up and it was about time to take a different route from normal so I turned off the main Highway and headed for Streaky Bay, arriving there an hour or so later. Checked in only to find two FarRider mates were also here.
So Lionel, John and I had a nice afternoon and evening nattering away.

Border Run Day 3 951km

Today was just a fast run to Border Village. I wanted to get there bright and early, mostly to make up for last year making Jeff do all the work.
So I awoke at two minutes to the alarm set. Not sure why as I usually sleep right through early mornings. I have found that my internal clock works differently when I’m on the road.
Up and at 'em and on the road before 3am. Through Pt Augusta and out on to the highway. I didn’t have it to myself just yet though with a lot of heavy vehicle traffic on the move. I couldn’t even hit high beam until the Iron Knob turnoff. Then things improved a bit.
The night was cold but I was well rugged up and all the heaters on full blast. I checked a 1C on the dash one time, but it was mostly in the 5-10 range until sunup. Then it didn’t change.
First refuel was to be Ceduna as there is nothing open at that time of day and the distance is 475km. More than a GoldWing can do so here was where my back seat passenger came in handy. When I got to 400km I pulled up and added the 10 litres and that got me in to Ceduna with two litres to spare. No worries.
Here I caught up with Cuddles and John again. I had expected they would get away early from Ceduna, but they apparently found the motel beds just too warm and slept in until 7am. Mind you, they wouldn’t have got in until well after midnight.
Travelling in the light now, there was one more stop to make at Nullarbor where 98 was only $1.95 and the coffee was terrible. The bloke looked at me strange when I said no sugar but it would have been a good idea to have some to counter the obvious salt content of the water.
Just a short 185km hop to Border Village and I had made it. I haven’t finished the Border Run since 2008 so was happy to be here.
As the afternoon wore on more and more FarRiders turned up to be checked in, 51 in all. Not bad from a starting 56. There were a few animal strikes and bikes down for one reason or another. It happens. Happened to me last year. Border Run is not for the faint of heart.
We were happy to note that FarRiders made for around half of this year’s attendees.
A jolly evening was had by all without anyone getting too drunk. Not at the prices here.

Border Run Day 2 1348km

Departed Narrabri bright and early. Well, it wasn' t bright at 4am but at least it was cold.
Fuel and start docket at the Shell and today was to be my longer day to qualify for the FarRide so the plan was to get to Port Augusta. Not too hard.
The run along the Newell through the Pillaga was pretty good with only a few trucks. I saw one roo gently grazing at the roadside.
Through Coonabarabran around 5am and it was really cold now. Just 1C on the dashboard. I was wearing five layers of clothing but it was still getting through. Ah well, the sun will be up soon.
Fuel again at Gilgandra and head further west in the early light. The moon was setting in front of me and it was quite pretty. I stopped for a shot with the sun just riding in the east while the moon was still setting opposite. It was very quiet and peaceful.
I’d decided on Cobar for more fuel and breakfast. The Caltex usually does an OK meal. Went past several servos and around a detour for roadworks only to find the Caltex closed as they were recalibrating the pumps. So back in to town to another servo and to a bakery for breakky.
After that the long haul to Broken Hill. Time for the MP3 player to come out and listen to a few podcasts. Conversations with Richard Fidler nearly got me all the way to Wilcannia where I stopped for a quick topup then a couple more hours to Broken Hill. After all the straight roads, the last 20km into the Hill is a bit of fun. Keep the speed at the posted limit and negotiate the few sweepers. Nice.
Another fuel stop then further west on the long dry run into eastern South Australia. The road follows the Indian Pacific rail line and the start hills always stand out craggy against the clear sky.
Through Yunta and the sun started to dip towards the horizon. Trouble was I was headed for the same horizon. From Peterborough to Wilmington was straight in to the sun all the way. Luckily the air was clear and with a bit of squinting I managed to stay on the road.
Then it was a nice little run through Horrocks Pass and down the other side. A stop at Davo’s Memorial plaque to pay respect and the last bit into Port Augusta in the dark.
The weather, although starting out cold, was perfect for the rest of the day so it made for a lovely day’s ride.

02 August 2012

A Leisurely 598km Day

No big rush to get away today as my LD ride will be tomorrow.
So I took my time getting the bike packing finalised and got under way about 11:30.

Out on to the Gateway and battled heavy traffic all the way to Ipswich and on to the Cunningham Hwy. Nice to leave it all behind.
The weather was fine and cool with clear blue sky. A lovely day to ride.

I had fueled right up at home, to use up all the stuff I had in various cans about the place, so there was no need to stop until Goondiwindi.

Up the range at Cunninghams Gap there was a little work going on but nothing enough to need to put the feet down. From Warwick it was turn west and do the couple of hundred more kays to Goondi and the NSW border.

Plan A was to stay overnight here, but the weather was good and a couple of hours of light left so I had a cuppa at Maccas then continued on.

An hour later I was going through Moree with still plenty of light so Narrabri looked fine.

Approaching Narrabri, A big fat Moon popped up over the Ranges. One day to full so the top looked very flat.

The temperature has started to drop as I head south, in the high teens up over the range, it was down to 12 by nightfall. Time to find a nice warm motel.

A lovely, leisurely day's ride.

01 August 2012

Going for a Ride

Heading out tomorrow, Thursday 2nd, for the Border Run.

I didn't make it there last year and the bike was off the road for three months getting repaired.  So hope I do better this year.

Here is the SPOT track for the trip.

Stay tuned for updates.

14 April 2012

Five Days on the Road

I covered quite a few kilometres on this ride and so didn't have much time for writing each day.  So here's the story in one go.

One of our FarRiders from Alice Springs is making a habit of organising a run to Glendambo, SA each Easter.  I know we should all stay off the roads for Easter, but at least this run isn't in the more popular areas frequented by maniacal drivers over the holiday weekend.

Glendambo is 2262km from home so it was obviously going to take a couple of days to get there.  Getting back? Well, I'd think about that.

I left home at 3am on Friday hoping to miss most of the traffic departing for the long weekend and managed that quite well.  Almost no one on the Logan Motorway.  It was a little cool.  So on with the grip and seat heaters.  Nothing.   Damn.   Hard to chase up electrical gremlins in the dark so nothing but grin and bear it.  I can just hear the tears of sympathy raining from the eyes of those who ride without such luxuries.  Not.

Sunup was the other side of Warwick with mist in the air and the odd small kangaroo sitting beside the road.  None came close though.
Misty morning sunrise

First fuel stop was Goondiwindi and a chance to find the problem.  Sure enough a fuse.  Easily fixed.  On the road again but by now it was 24C so no need for any form of heating.

Also there was now a lot of traffic on the roads as the holidaymakers got on the road.  On the 110kph roads south of Goondi I saw another red GoldWing and recognised Thommo and Val making their belated way home from the Ulysses meet in Mildura.  Huge wave and by the time I thought to switch on the CB we were well enough apart that we only had time for a "Gidday".

I'm not a big fan of the Newell Highway.  It can be rough in parts and carries way too many heavy transports.  So I generally leave it to them and take quieter roads.  But it is generally the quickest A to B road through these parts and I had a long way to go.

By the middle of the day, traffic was quite heavy with more 4WD vehicles and caravans than the usual semis.  All the servos were doing a roaring trade.  This was not a day to practice 4 minute fuel-ups.

I made it to Nyngan and waited in line at the Shell.  This would give me enough to get past the usually busy Cobar and top up at the small Emmdale servo which would let me breeze straight through Wilcannia and on to Broken Hill.

Cobar was indeed busy with lineups at all servos so I congratulated myself.  That was until I got to Emmdale. Closed.  Who does that on Good Friday?  Well. Them. Apparently.
Ah well, push on to Wilcannia  and hope they were open.  I was carrying 10 litres spare on the back seat but wasn't sure if that would get me the 200km from there to BH.

Darling River overflow
Approaching Wilcannia, which is on the Darling River, one crosses a huge flood plain.  I've never seen any water in it but today there was plenty.  The River was quite high as well.  It has been a wet summer.
I passed the W-5 sign and the bike coughed and conked out.  No warning with fuel injection.  It just stops.

Being this close I only put in a litre or so and it fired right up again and got me in to town where the servo was still open.  Hurray.

Then it was the last two hours riding in to the setting sun and a glorious sunset and Broken Hill.  Found a motel and all they had left was the 2 bedroom executive suite which I got at a small discount so long as I promised to use only one bed and not the spa.  Sounded good to me.  I was pretty tired anyway.

Rang Bazz and he had a gig with his band that night at a club and he also told me another couple of FarRiders were in town.  So I didn't make any promises, but after a long hot shower I felt better and a little hungry.  So down to the club I went.

Bazz was between brackets so we chatted while I scoffed a nice roast pork.  The other two, had gone away for a bit but soon returned.  Gateman and TonyK from Barraba.  We sat around and chatted while Bazz got back to work, surprisingly playing a Creedence song I had been playing on the road in to town.

Turns out Chris and Tony had no plans to stay anywhere special and the windy weather was making swagging it a little daunting.  So I offered my spare room with twin beds and they thought that was a good idea.

End of Day 1 - 1565km

Awoke in the dark just before the alarm and heard the other two stirring as well.  It didn't take us long to pack the bikes up and get under way.

We rode out of Broken Hill straight into a setting Moon.

With the other two leading the way, I held back a ways in the dark so I could use the lights.   Out past the border at Cockburn and follow the railway line.

After an hour or so it lightened up and pretty soon it was sunup with the moon hanging barely visible in the west.  FarRiders usually take a photo at sunrise.  We have a thread called "Sunrise on the Never Ending Road" which is full of such pictures.  It is a special time of day.

Pretty soon we came upon Yunta for a fuel up and breakfast of bacon and eggs with coffee.  Way to start the day after the first tankful.

Seems I led for a while after that, through Peterborough, Ororroo and Wilmington.  We stopped for a breather at the top of Horrocks Pass before the enjoyable ride down through the twisty section and out onto the wide plain.

There's a place here called Winninowie.  Nothing there at all.  Just saltbush as far as the eye can see and the Flinders Range in the background.   But it is kinda special.  I've explained it all before.
We stopped at Davo's Plaque to pay our respect and take the obligatory photo of the bike with the range in the background.

At Davo's Plaque
Then it was in to Port Augusta for a last fuel up.  Glendambo was only 300km north.

An easy run up the Stuart highway with leisurely stops at the occasional lookout, saw us getting in to Glendambo at about 2:30pm to be greeted by half a dozen more FarRiders and ten thousand flies.

Beer sampling

Me and my friends

Riders come in all sizes

Lineup for food

Generous hoteliers

End of Day 2 - 697km

The remains of that day were spent in the company of FarRiders who had come from - well - far.  No one could be accused of coming from near.  Except the flies.

I slept in on Sunday morning.  Must have been a nice bed.

8:00am saw me under way.  I had two options.  Home the way I had come = 2 days.  Or continue through the Centre and down through Qld = 3 days.

I thought about it for a bit, but knew that really there was only one choice.  The long way.

So north it was, on my own now.  I like to travel with groups but it does have its setbacks.  Alone I was my own Boss.  My decision on whether or how long I wanted to stop.  My decision on what speed to travel (within limits of course).   If I can't have Charleen on the back or following on the CeeBee, I really do prefer riding alone.

The weather was excellent.  Nice and cool.  Clear skies.
By now most Easter holidaymakers were staying wherever they stayed and there was almost no traffic.  Maybe half a dozen vehicles an hour.   I only saw about a dozen trucks all day.

So North was the order of the day.   Stops were made only for fuel at Coober Pedy, Marla, Erldunda and then Alice Springs.  Oh and one short stop at the SA/NT border for a photo and loo.

From Alice it began to get dark, but as I was travelling so well, I continued on.  At Barrow Creek I was greeted by the publican.  He looked over the Wing whilst I was refueling and told me he had owned a couple.  A GL1000 and GL1200, but hadn't ridden one for years.
"Think it is nearly time to get another one" he said with that faraway look in his eyes.  Probably won't be the publican any more next time I go to Barrow Creek.

I left him dreaming and rode off in to the night.

Last fuel up was Tennant Creek.  It was getting quite late now and there were just a few locals hanging around the 24 hour BP servo.  As I was paying, a local rider came in on his Harley with the stereo up full blast.  I guess he needed that.

Not long after, my northwards run finished as I came up to the Three Ways and turned East back towards the Qld border.  I was starting to get a bit tired, but it was a lovely night - balmy and with a full moon - so a great time to camp out.

About 30-40km along the road I found a nice site. Up off the road near a repeater tower.  Flat ground made of small pebbles.   Time to set up camp.

End of Day 3 - 1508km  (in 14 hours - love those NT limits)

Turned out I didn't sleep so well.  Oh everything was set up nicely.  I had a nice mesh shelter so no insects, a blow up mattress and a good sleeping bag.  I was quite comfy.  Until the mattress went flat.
I rolled out and blew it up again and this continued every our or so through the night.
Blow it up, crawl in nice an comfy for an hour or so then be woken by hard ground.  Repeat.

By 6:00am I had enough and did a leisurely pack up to be back on the road at 7.  Still before sunrise but it was quite light.   An hour or so up the road and it was time to stop for the obligatory Sunrise Shot.

Then I had to ride straight in to it
At Barkley Homestead I managed to pay the most for fuel for the trip.  $2.04 per litre for premium.  The Wing has a taste for premium.

There was a lot of birdlife along the road, some of it suicidal.  It is not always easy to see them dart out from the sides or be the last of a group scattering before the bike.  I heard a thump at the front and a small bird landed in my lap.  Quite dead.
Shortly after one flew in from the right and hit me in my right index finger.  That hurt.  Blood everywhere.  Fortunately (?) it was all his and none of mine, but I did pull the glove off to check.

Obligatory border shot

Fuel and the occasional food stops were made at Camooweal, Cloncurry and Winton.

This made me run and hide
Clouds building

I had been through a small rainstorm around Mackinlay and some rather large clouds were building up to my south west. Approaching Winton the sky was really dark as a large storm approached the town at the same time I did.  Fuelling up I chatted with a driver who had just come from Longreach and he said it was fierce out that way.  His 4WD had nearly been blown off the road by the winds and visibility was awful.
I checked the weather radar and sure enough a large dark mass was covering the Winton-Longreach stretch of the highway.  Time for a little discretion.

Back around to the North Gregory Hotel - that big brick one in the middle of town.  I've never stayed there and heard it was good so decided to give it a go.  The manager helped me get the bike undercover as the rain was now coming down and organised me a room.  It was disappointingly expensive.

End of Day 4 - 1077km

The Pub meal was OK and the room comfortable enough, so I got a good night's sleep.  I had set the alarm for 3:30 and awoke at 3:27.  I was on the road by 4:00am
The sky was clear with the moon still high and many stars.  I overtook a long road train leaving town and as I didn't want my speed to be too high in the morning, he kept up with my 100kph nearly all the way to Longreach.  I just managed to stay far enough ahead that his high beams didn't melt my helmet when he put them on several kays behind.

Sunrise near Barcaldine
Through Longreach in the dark and sunrise came just before I got to Barcaldine.  That was fortunate as I turned south here and would not be riding in to the sun.  As I approached, I got a nice phonecall from Charleen who was getting ready for work and had checked my location.  Seeing I was approaching a phone area, it was a good time to call.  Nice to hear her voice coming through the helmet speakers.

I had a leisurely breakfast in Barky then continued South.  By now, I am quite familiar with this route and was really glad to be going through the Augathella - Morven - Mitchell area in the middle of a warm day.  All the roos would be asleep under trees somewhere.

Only animals to annoy me were the birds, with a poor magpie mis-cueing his takeoff and getting blown back in to my path.  No damage - to me or the bike at least.  Hate to see that happen to a Maggie though.

Fuel stops for the day were Barcaldine, Augathella, Roma and a short topup at Dalby from where it was an easy run home, getting in at 6:45pm.

Absolutely great to have Charleen watching the SPOT and so had the gate and garage door open.

End of Day 5 - 1362km

All in all, a great way to spend an Easter (plus one day).  Although there was a fair amount of traffic on the Friday, an early departure saw me avoid most of it.  The rest of the weekend, traffic was very light.  I guess most people go to beachside resorts for this particular holiday and so the outback roads were definitely the place to be.

Total 6209km

05 April 2012

Glendambo for Easter

Starting a new road trip early tomorrow morning.  6 April 2012
Those who are interested can track me via the link at the right.

Got a new set of Bridgestones - given the bike a service.  Cameras packed.

Let's see what this one brings....

01 April 2012

Phillip Island Adventures cont'd

Thursday 23 Feb
We had a fairly lazy start to the day then went for a ride through the eastern side of the island.  We looked for beach access amongst the holiday homes.  There was no real view through to the beach, there was a thick scrub.  I guess the inclement weather doesn’t encourage open access.  We finally found our way to the township of Rhyll.
We posed the Wing beside the water, then worked our way to Cape Woolamai to have a look at the surf.

Time was creeping on so we headed back to the main road.  We stopped at Panny’s Chocolate shop.  Inside it was wall to wall varieties of chocolate.  We opted for a hot chocolate drink by the window to watch the passing parade of motorcycles.The fee for the tour of the chocolate factory was $12 each with some samples at the end.  We opted for spending less and buying a block or three of chocolate.
It was time to head back to the house to see if our housemates had arrived.  Andrew and Sheryl had settled in and doing what most people do after being on the road for a few days – washing clothes and bikes.  The evening temperature was very pleasant so we sat outside and swapped stories.

Friday 24 Feb

I decided to ride my bike to the track, one to say that I had taken the CeeBee, and also to get some practice of riding on gravel road.  We picked up our pre-purchased tickets (saved $23.50 on gate prices) and made our way to the parking area near the corporate tents and Gardner Straight.   

From here we walked back to the traders' area.  Some of the manufacturers were there including a couple of the more exotic makes - Bimoto and Benelli.


We headed over to the historic bike pits for a look.
Love the air intake caps.

Nice Paintwork
One of the great things about World Superbikes is that we get to see up close everyone’s bikes and there are some special ones out there.

Saturday 25 Feb
We woke to the news that a friend who had been riding in Western Australia had hit a roo and was OK but in hospital.  A few phone calls later we were reassured that he was in good spirits and receiving the necessary care.  The news about his bike wasn't so good.

Out at the track we parked in our favourite morning spot.

Not too much later a red Rocket pulled up nearby.

This one's for you, Ian.

We settled in to watch the practice and qualifying.  The wind was blowing down Gardner Straight causing some very high speeds by the time the bikes reached Turn 1.  The wind effect was catching out a few riders, one didn't make the corner.  He rode through the kitty litter and across the paddock managing to wash off a lot of speed.  Because it was during qualifying the bikes were well spaced and he was able to feed the bike back onto the track without any real disruption.
The preliminary races started.  There was some good racing particularly down the pack.  As the sun moved around, so did we.  Facing into the sun isn't great for photography. We moved to a grassy knoll near the Hay Shed.  It from here that we saw the start of one of the support races.  The commentators announcement was one of amazement that all of the riders had made it through the hairpin at turn 4.  Being the first lap the riders were formed into a long snake with a few exchanging places.

Clint was working the camera.  I looked across the field to where I could see the end of the main straight.  The head of the motorcycle snake was making its way through Turn 2 Southern Loop when there was a motorcycle travelling a speed across the kitty litter and the grassy paddock.  Oh No he's missed the turn!  In the split second of processing this there was a niggling thought in the back of my brain "This isn't going to be good."  The rider was travelling too fast to safely rejoin the snake.  Next scene was a couple of green motorcycles cartwheeling down the track, dust and chaos.

Oh NO he's collided essentially 90 degrees to the snaking train of motorcycles.  As this all unfolded, we knew something was seriously wrong because the marshalls weren't picking up the downed motorcycles.  Not too much later it was obvious that it was almost certain that a rider had died.  The police were there taking measurements and photographs.  The sun was beating down.  We realised that the racing wouldn't be resuming too soon so we found a shady spot to wait for announcements.  Other folk were already leaving, perhaps they had been closer to the action and had better knowledge that there wouldn't be any more events.  The announcements weren't forthcoming with any news either of the riders or the remaining events.  Eventually, we got word that there wouldn't be any more events for the day.  We took our leave and headed back to the house a sad with the knowledge that someone wasn't going home to his family.

Sunday 26 Feb

We didn't worry too much about being out at the track first up.  The previous day's series of events had taken the shine off the weekend.  We worked our way around to one of our favourite photo spots and saw a couple of FarRider friends go by.  We followed them to the same grass knoll from the day before and spent the day cheering the riders and generally having a long overdue chat.

Our last full day at the Island saw the great weather finally give way to some rain during the night.  We started our packing in preparation for our departure.

Monday 27 Feb

The rain stayed around.  The last of the packing was done and the bikes moved under the outside shelter to be loaded.  In the midst of all our preparations, we cleaned and tidied the house.  It's a good feeling to leave the place as clean if not cleaner than it was when we arrived.  We really appreciate the opportunity of having a comfortable place to stay.

Can't avoid it anymore.  Onto the bikes and into the rain.  We found ourselves on the highway heading for Dandenong when both lanes of traffic were just crawling.  There was at least another 20kms of this before the assigned turnoff.  We would hardly move a bikes' length at a time.  This is not good.  Feeling very vulnerable and getting wetter by the minute, the Narre Warren turn off beckoned.  Ok, this isn't so bad, we should be able to keep the kilometres rolling.  This track took us through Healesville and Black Spur country.  The rain was persistent - it was either raining or raining harder. There wasn't a chance to dry out.  We tippy-toed our way through the twisting roads, streams of water flushing a mud slurry from the unsealed driveways onto the road.  Water was starting to pool at the roadside threatening to flood the road.  Have I said thank you for the new tyres?  I'm pretty sure Clint was wishing he had new tyres on the Wing, too.

Our AD-1 ride strides that we bought from Aerostich were working a treat our lower halves were dry.  Clint was protected from most of the rain by the screen on the Wing.  For me, I had to have the visor popped open just slightly to manage the fog.  This let rain in.  It was raining inside my helmet, flowing past the chin, down my neck and wetting my t-shirt.  This with the loose neck of my jackets allowing the rain in too, I was getting rather wet.  My feet were squelching inside favourite old motorcycle boots.

Once we were out of the twisty sections the road straightens up and in other circumstances would be a temptation to let the bike have its head.  We passed a guy in a bus shelter, his Multstrada nearby and a Subaru Forester with red and blue party lights.  Oh dear!  Next little town along was a fuel stop and pit stop for me, too much water everywhere lol.  By the time we were ready to get going, the fellow on the Multistrada had pulled up and had a chat.  Seems he gave into the temptation to give the bike its head and was caught.  I knew I was wet, but this guy took the cake.  He was wringing out his gloves with water pouring out.  He squatted down and the water poured out of his riding suit.  Hope he didn't have too much further to go.

Eventually we found our way to the Hume Highway to take us north.  We finally rode through the rain and were able to put down some dry highway kms.  We pulled in to the Glenrowan McDonalds for a break and a bite to eat.   I was getting tired due to the Frogg Toggs jacket billowing up and parachute-like dragging at me.  Decision made, remove the Frogg Toggs and put on the plastic jacket liner I carried under the seat.  Although I was still wet, it would act as a wind break rather than a wind sock.  Refreshed and more comfortable, we pushed on to Cootamundra for our night's rest.

We spread out our gear in our tiny room and dried it as best we could hopeful that tomorrow would be a dry ride.

Tuesday 28 Feb

Gear stowed, bikes unwrapped and packed and we were away under dry skies.  Yay!!  Our track took us through Young, Cowra and Blaney to Bathurst.  This would be my first time to ride around the famous mountain track.  We took the first turn off that runs up the back of the mountain to Reid Park.  We poked around the viewing areas for a bit and realised the track was shut to tourists due to an event.

Oh well this is as close as I got to riding around the race track.

We pulled up in town at a neat cafe for brunch.  The sign said Tuesdays 2 for 1 breakfast.  Our selection was poached eggs with grilled haloumi and asparagus with coffee.  Yummm!

One more stop in town this time to fill our bikes' tummies and we were away.  Time to follow Clint's favourite route between the highways.  As we rode, towns were ticked off the list, Mudgee, Coolah, Gunnedah, Warialda, Texas.  By the time we were at Texas, it was getting on to late afternoon - great for travelling the Texas-Stanthorpe road.  This is great riding, corners, hills, causeways, great views lit from the setting sun.  Too soon we rejoined the highway into Stanthorpe.  Another fuel stop for the bikes and us.  We had a chat about the temptation of being so close to home and pushing on when tired.  We agreed that we would pull up and stop for the night if we were too tired.  Remember! Rule No. 1!

Another run down Cunningham's Gap.  We were taking it easy behind a truck when the road presented an overtaking lane - very interesting relying on reflective markers and no line marking to show lane positions.

I've felt it before and we've talked about it, the last hour of the ride, tiredness starts to seep in and gnaw away.  Now more than ever, dig deep and focus.  Alert again for the traffic of inner Brisbane and home.  My first 1,200km in 16 hours - very satisfying and very tired.