Circles always end up where they started (only in Australia they go reverse): Final days of the erotic tails (pun intended) of Karl and Yaegan’s motorcycle trip around Australia

Day Twelve.

We woke up to dark, gray storm clouds looming over us, and the sky hanging heavy with rain. We packed up as quickly as possible, said goodbye to the stream of much frolicking, and got a move on. According to the maps, we still had a little bit of gravel ahead of us, and we were pretty scared of the idea of that turning into mud, and us having to push some bloody heavy bikes through mud. Add to this our fear of running out of fuel, and we were moving pretty quick smart. Thankfully, we made it over the gravel section without incident, and into the nearest town about sixty ks away at about eight in the morning, just in time for the servo to open. We rode past dozens of “lakes” that had appeared where an entire paddock had been flooded.

We rode on, going straight into some black-as-night skies. Oddly enough, seeing this made me reflect on how perfect the weather had been for the whole trip so far, which made me feel quite happy. This feeling was to last about forty minutes, until the skies opened and it pissed down upon us. We stopped in at the nearest town, which was thankfully fully equipped with a wine bar. We were watching the weather radar maps on Yaegs’ non-branded-internet-capable telephone (it’s actually a HTC), and working out whether or not to stay and wait out the rain, or chance it. The maps said that we’d be missing the brunt of the downpour, so we put on our wet weather gear (not a euphemism for condoms) for the first time, and headed out. As predicted by the Gods of the Bureau of Meteorology (divinity yet to be ascertained), we only had gray skies, with no rain. The roads were pretty slick though, and we were back in caravan country, which led to some annoying patches of riding stuck behind a slow moving large vehicle.

We passed on to the Alpine Way, which was simply tremendous riding. We were a bit cautious with the wet roads, so we eased ourselves into things. A dickhead in a hotted-up ute (utility truck, which have somehow, inextricably, become a fashion statement in certain pools of Australian society) tried to race us by sitting tight on our tail for a few corners. This scared us, as we knew that if we came off, we’d have some bogan in a shrine to redneck society crushing us within milliseconds . We didn’t rate our chances of hopping off the bike, having a chinwag and explaining our position, and so we decided to speed up to get away from him.

On the Alpine Way, I saw my second kangaroo on the road of the trip. When I bought the bike, it came with a kangaroo whistle, which is essentially a hollowed out tube stuck on near the front of the bike, which claims to channel in air, at speed, and emit a super-sonic whistle that ‘roos don’t like. I was skeptical at first, but when I came out of the corner and saw the ‘roo on the road, it immediately snapped it’s head towards me, then bounded off into the shrub at the side of the road. Was it the whistle, or was it an inline three screaming at 8000 revs? Who knows. At least I didn’t crash into a metre and a half of a disemboweling maching.

We blitzed the road, had a little rest at Thredbo, then passed right through Jindabyne and had a stop at Cooma. After the afternoon tea of champions (meat-pie), we gave a mate in Canberra a quick call, checked that we were right to crash with him then smashed out the last bit of distance. We were now getting pretty close to home.

Day Thirteen.

We woke up and decided to try to leave Australia’s Most Boring City (not the official tourist slogan) quick smart. Canberra is the home to Australia’s federal parliament, where our not-rulers (the Queen is still the head of state) are located – as a trade off for having to host so many politicians, Canberra is the only place in Australia where the discerning consumer can buy both fireworks and XXX rated pornography. Fair trade? The entire city is built as a system of concentric circles, which means that it does look very nice from the air, but has the drawback of every single place being so far away from every other point of interest. Add to this the fact that the bus (singular) doesn’t run very regularly, and it doesn’t sum to much of a café culture. It was pissing down, so we decided to take the main road out of town – straight, wide, high-speed, but the safest road possible, given the appalling conditions. We had about an hour and a half ride to Goulburn, which wasn’t overly pleasant.

At Goulburn, Yaegs and I parted ways – he was off to see his dad, who lived south of Sydney near Wollongong, while I was going to meet up with my girlfriend and a few of her mates in the Blue Mountains out to the west of Sydney. Thankfully, about thirty ks out of Goulburn, the clouds disappeared away, to be replaced by a blazing hot sun, meaning that I had to stop by the side of the highway to take some clothes off (how the other half live!).

The roads for today were all pretty ordinary – big highways with not too many interesting features. I was hoping that the Blue Mountains might offer something up, but sadly there was roadwork all along the road, keeping the speed down.

I met up with Gel at a microbrewery in Leura, where we bought a few locally-made American Pale Ales, and assorted deli stuff. I had picked up some strawberries out near Camden, and we had a fantastically relaxing afternoon, comprised mainly of lying on a picnic rug eating strawberries and drinking nice beer. Bliss. I also finally had a chance to put my extensive speedo collection to work, and had a quick dip under the waterfall. Double bliss.

Day Fourteen.

Today was the shortest day of the trip, and the one that I came the nearest to a bad tumble. I was aware that I might get complacent, being so close to home and riding familiar roads, so I gave myself the little pep talk about every other driver being mad, etc. The roads were full of filthy feds, so I kept the speed legal. This meant that some wanker in an electric green ute (seriously? He must be able to see it, surely …) started getting closer and closer to my tail. I waved him past with one hand, not really sure why he was doing what he was doing. He didn’t move, just stayed right on me. I had had enough of his bullshit, so, with a quick twist of the throttle, jumped about 40 ks an hour or so, overtook a number of cars then moved back into the left lane, hoping that he wouldn’t try anything more. After about a minute, he overtook in the right lane, and just stared at me. Dickhead number one!

Dickhead number two came on the Anzac bridge, which links the inner-western suburbs of Sydney with the CBD. I was sitting about a metre in front of a van, who decided that it’d be a good reason to move into my lane, to hell with a bike already in it, in front of the van. I honked the horn and accelerated to get away from the wank.

Sooner than soon, I was back in the eastern suburbs, getting frustrated by the low speed, the constant traffic lights and the boring roads. Home sweet home.

All the Adrenaline of a Mr. T Public Service Announcement! Days 10 and 11 of Karl and Yaegan’s Manly Motorcycle Meandering through OZ!

Day Ten.

We woke up with the sun rising right behind the wind-farm. So much serenity. Things were going well – we were on the home straight, the weather had been fantastic, and we hadn’t even been getting on each other’s tits. Taking quick stock of the situation, we aimed to be in Milawa in the evening. We had some glorious riding in the morning through some lush grounds, with twisting, turning, ducking and weaving roads. We decided that after slumming it for a few days, we may as well spend a bit more and enjoy this tail end of the trip even more.

We had brekky at a lovely little café just near Ballarat, then pushed on to Seymour (SEYMOUR!). We drove past Puckapunyal, which led to an inordinate amount of us singing “I was only 19”. We got into Seymour (SEYMOUR!) about lunchtime, and headed straight to the RSL club, where we spent an enjoyable half-hour enjoying pub squashes and picking dragonflies, butterflies and flies out of our helmets, clothes and boots.

We thought that the sooner we were in Milawa (“The pearl of the gourmet region!”), the better. This meant a 200 click trip up a highway, in a heat of over 40 degrees C (which is quite hot). We knuckled down, hugged tight to the bikes, and blasted it up. Around 150 ks in, I had a lucky break – a filthy cop had been operating a speed camera, but thankfully caught someone driving about half a k in front of me. It did give me a start, and riding the last 50 ks at the legal limit made it that much more unpleasant. When we finally turned off the highway, the changes started slowly. The roads went from arrow-straight to slight curves, from exposed ovens to little country boulevards, with both sides of the road housing a number of gums. We soon got into Milawa, found a lovely B&B run by a denim-hotpant wearing German man (a never-nude, perhaps?). We spent about half an hour in the pool, just sitting and enjoying our good fortune. We would’ve happily paid the night’s rent just for the pool – I think that he would have actually offered us the pool for free, as we were quite smelly by this time. After showers and quick naps, we set off on foot to the nearest winery, then to another winery, then finally to a cheese factory. We spent the arvo lazing around, talking shit and eating a very nice brie.

Day Eleven.

Right from the outset, I knew that today would be good. We decided to take a longer route (there’s a first time for everything), add an extra four hundred kilometres onto the day, all in the name of good roads. We decided to go south through the Great Alpine Road down to Omeo, then take a back-road up to the base of Kosciuszko National Park.

Mount Buffalo

Mount Buffalo- Right before the ascent up the mountain

On a hot tip-off from my mum, we took a little detour in the morning to go up Mount BUFFalo (my emphasis). In the manner of responsible, respectable and above all, reasonable young adults, Yaegs and I had a little race up to the top. The path was fantastic – lots of sharp corners, hairpins and straights. The view was jaw-dropping – often, you’d be going up a road with a sheer rockface on one side, and a thirty metre drop on the other. There was thankfully very little traffic on the roads, as we would have been forced to overtake them in an entirely irresponsible manner had they been there. The only concern was the leaf-litter left on the road as a remnant of the recent rain (how’s that for alliteration!) – I had heard that if you rode over it, you’d slide everywhere (“Like a bitch”, as it was first explained to me), and my brain thankfully immediately constructed scenarios that led to me running the back over some debris, low-siding, then flying over the edge, to be crushed rather ingloriously by my own motorbike. About two-thirds of the way up, we saw two cyclists battling against the incline, so, in the spirit of camaraderie, we slowed to their speed (essentially have to grind the back anchor and ride the clutch), lifted the visors, then gave a spirited “Allons-y!”, before taking off at high speed – that definitely ought to have lifted their spirits. Sooner than soon, we made the summit (at least the summit that can be reached by motorbike), had a lovely picnic, then were off down again. Oddly enough, going down always seems so much faster (tee-hee) than going up (not sure how I can make that last one sexual). We stopped for some strawberries and cream by the side of the road, which did make me feel pretty tough.

The Great Alpine Road

The Great Alpine Road- Some say it's even better than the Great Ocean Road!

The Great Alpine Road was simply astounding. I’d rate it above the Great Ocean Road, for a number of reasons. First, there were fewer cars about (and hence, fewer dickheads taking up the road and driving far too slowly). Second, I preferred the scenery – giant ghost-gums loomed over the road, with their twisted, gnarled branches shaking like the fingers of an old crone. Third, you had more of a sense of altitude – instead of bobbing up and down, but ultimately staying within 50 metres of the sea, here, you just climbed, climbed and climbed. For me, there was an odd sense of accomplishment to that (imagine how much more accomplished I’d feel if I had actually cycled it). Fourth, there was a lot more variation in the road and the riding that it demanded – whilst the Great Ocean Road was all about tight corners and narrow hair-pins, the Great Alpine Road mixed things up – tight corners would be followed by long straights, which would be followed by long, sweeping corners. Fifth, it was a lot longer (har har har – and yes, that is what I look for in a ride) – whilst the GOR had about 40 ks of riding, the GAR was a good hundred ks.

We got into Omeo in the mid-afternoon, which allowed us to savour that sweetest of delights, that most delectable of treats, the double-pie-AND-sausage-roll lunch. I was struggling a little with the second pie, but again, thinking of my accomplishment in ascending the GAR earlier that day, I just knuckled down. Also, I finally got around to buying some earplugs for the rest of the ride – better late than never. Someday, they’ll invent a helmet that blocks out the wind, but not the important noises (traffic, horns, cars, etc.), and that doesn’t fog up, but until that day, I’ve got my earplugs. And only forty cents! Bargain! The plan from Omeo was to ride on up to somewhere near Kosciuszko, but we were a little uncertain – the maps we had brought indicated that there were some patches of unsealed road on the road, which wouldn’t be much fun. The only alternative, however, was to ride back up the GAR, which, although fun, we had just done. As Zappa once said, “Man was born to have adventures”, so we kept on trucking up the side-road.

Sadly, the road wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped. It got skinnier, going down to a lane and a half (from two lanes earlier), the edges started to fall away, until, shock horror (!), we hit the gravel section. We had seen some big-arse storm clouds gathering, and were about halfway through our tank of fuel, and didn’t appreciate having to slow down and ride like muppets on gravel. I’ve heard a mate who said that he took his SV1000 up to 160 on dirt running Road Pilot 2s but I was too scared (/clever?) to risk that. Yaegs’ back was playing up a bit, so he needed to take some time off to stretch it out. This meant slow, tedious riding. We had about 5ks of gravel, then back onto sweet sweet blacktop. Sadly, this only lasted about 10 ks. We had another 20 k section of gravel, which was just painful. During our last break, Yaegs and I decided to re-evaluate our plan, and to stop at the next nice place and settle down for the evening. Sadly, nothing came up to break up the gravel. It was welcome relief to get back onto a proper sealed road and get some speed up. The road started to get interesting again, with some nice sharp corners. During one, I was lined up, leaning in, when I suddenly felt this mad crazy buzzing in my left breast. I first thought that it was a heart attack, which led to me panicking (some say like a little girl), and slowing right down after the corner. The buzzing stopped, but the started up again after a second. I realised that some insect had gotten inside my jacket, so I madly started smacking my chest with my left hand, which not only stopped the buzzing, but also probably made me look quite tough to anyone who was watching. About four in the arvo, we found a fantastic camp-spot – a beautiful open glade, next to a quick running stream. Despite our showering only yesterday, we took the arvo off to frolic in the stream and relax after a rough gravel section.

Two Men and Their Motorcycles, Stuck in a Heatwave with Nothing but their Speedos (and their Leather and Kevlar Body Armor): Day 8 + 9 of the Ride Through Australia!

Day Eight

We woke up with the sun and desperately in need of petrol (gas, for the trans-Pacific friends). We reckoned that stores wouldn’t open until around 9-ish, so we packed up the tent, lest any trigger-(or, as is the more likely case, ticket-) happy ranger rolled round, and wiled away the time reading – I love the smell (???) of popular econometrics in the morning – smells like victory (??? throughout). We wound our way back along KI, and bought some dreadfully expensive fuel that let us catch our 11 AM ferry back to the mainland.

Today marked the turn-around of the trip – from here on in, every day would bring us closer to Sydney. Given that neither of us had showered in several days, this didn’t seem like the worst thing in the world. Given that both Yaegs and myself are predisposed to the predilection of wearing speedos instead of undies, we were both fresh and tropical, though still seeing the need for a wash sometime soon.

We stopped in at a winery along the Flerurieu Way when going up to Wellington, and picked up a fucking piquant as shit (apologies to xkcd) Reisling, which we saw as a nice little way to celebrate the turning point of our trip. Sadly, we overestimated our ability to keep this cheeky number as cool as it deserved for the rest of the day, which unfortunately coincided with the start of the worst of the heatwave.

The riding along the Fleurieu Way was fantastic – nipping into corners and blasting over crests, with diverse and beautiful scenery. One minute we were ripping past paddocks, the next we were going through scrub, then even some rain-forest-esque scenes. We stopped in at Victor Harbor, where one scum-hole proprietor of a bakery (you know who you are) denied us a powerpoint to charge our phones. We played with the idea of taking our custom elsewhere, but settled for a pie and custard tart. After a lazy break, we went along our merry way – sadly, once we passed Wellington, things rapidly took a turn for the boring. We had heard from a useful tradie that the road we had planned to use was “bullshit” (I, too, have often doubted the veracity of inanimate objects), and so we were going along a semi-major highway. High-speed, low-interest.

We met up in the lovely town of Keith (from the name alone, we decided that we had to visit – it was a similar story with Seymour – read on), and went into the local to have some dinner and a beer or two. Calamity ensued when the television feed went down for two minutes, depriving the locals not only of cricket, but far more importantly, Keno (gambling on the flip on twenty simulated coins). Thankfully, the publican was able to restore the signal before anyone was able to develop a meaningful relationship or conversation with their co-drinkers. Crisis averted! Another exciting development was when a really fat lady swore her tits off at the members of the local lawn-bowls team. Keith had a lot going on, really.

Camping aside the A66 Highway

Sleeping aside the A66 Highway, how's the serenity? So much serenity

We headed back onto the A66 (Duke’s Highway!), looking for a side-road that we could sneak down to find a decent place to bunker down for the evening. We travelled about twenty k’s down the road, and still saw the same properties on either side of the road. I was reminded about the sheer size of Australia, with the length of these properties bringing to mind cattle stations that are bigger than France, or electorates bigger than all of Western Europe piled together. We soon decided that, with failing light, beggars couldn’t be choosers (a similar mindset for when we’re trying to pull girls), and so camped on the side of the highway. Oddly enough, it was one of the best nights of sleep I had on the trip.

We opened the Reisling, which was by now somewhere a few degrees on the wrong side of room temperature. See it as a testament to the willpower/poor taste of university students that the bottle was drunk. We stayed up a little past the sunset to watch more of the night-sky, spot satellites and talk shit.

Day Nine

We had planned this day as a fun way to break up the trip. We planned to ride up North through the Grampian National Park, then head a bit further East and kip down for the evening, with the goal of putting ourselves within striking distance of Milawa, the heart of the Victorian gourmet region for the next day.

We were now well and truly into the heat wave, and, given that we didn’t shower yesterday and were sweating like motherbitches all day, we decided to do our utmost to avoid the heat of the day. With best intentions, we set our alarms for before sunrise, which meant that we were well and truly able to wake up about an hour past sunrise. We quickly packed up, said goodbye to the rare and refined beauty that you can only perceive after sleeping on the side of a major highway, and rode along. We crossed over the border into Victoria about half eight or so, and celebrated by being served breakfast by quite possibly the grumpiest corner store lady known to mankind. Although we attempted to immolate her in a firewall of charm, as is our wont, she simply retarded the flames of charm with a blanket of asbestos-laded ill-humour. She also made rubbish hamburgers (we were both doing Samuel L. Jackson impressions à la Pulp Fiction, which I suppose was facetious, given just how un-tasty the burgers were).

We headed off, and stopped at the Southern tip of the Grampians around lunchtime. After the long stretch of highway riding, it was a beautiful relief to get back onto smaller, twistier roads. We were both amazed to see the extent of the flood damage that still existed, with portions of the road gone, branches and limbs of trees strewn to the side of the road, and large sections of pastures either ruined or still flooded. The morning’s ride had been good, and the Grampians were just beautiful. The road snaked and scythed through massive stretches and slabs of rock (possibly granite?), and we had the road to ourselves. However, the day was getting unbearable, so we stopped halfway up the Grampians in a campsite for a few hours to wait out the heat. We read, made some tea, attempted to flirt with a ranger (with limited success, which we put down to her professionalism, rather than our poor grooming and hygiene), and just generally lazed. We rolled out around four, and snuck through small back-country roads that were the most amazing mash of block-colours – the red of the earth was beautifully weighted against the most intense sky-blue, with the two separated by a golden band of wheat.

We peeled off the road a few hours before dark, and rode for about twenty k’s trying to find a quiet place to sleep, though farmhouses kept on popping up at all f the best locations. We eventually found a side dirt road, which led us just far enough off the road to feel comfortable enough to pitch a tent. This was another day without a shower, and instead of trying to write about the smell, I’ll just describe the inputs and let you do the rest. Several days of no showering? Check. A heat wave with temperatures easily above 40 degrees Celcius? Check and Check! Spending days in the sun wearing leathers and Kevlar jeans? Check. Yum yum!

Wheat field campsite

And what a campsite! Notice the wheat damaged by flooding on the right

Is it a Koala? Is it a Wallaby? Is it one of the 6 of the top 10 Deadliest Snakes in the World? No! It’s Days 6 and 7 of Karl and Yaegan’s Hedonistic Motorcycle Adventures through South East Australia!

Day Six

Road to Cape Jervis with Kangaroo Island in the background

The Road to Cape Jervis- Kangaroo Island is just visible in the background

I woke up with the sun. I decided to get in touch with my trendy-inner-wanker/hippy, and did some taichi on the beach, which, although being supremely peaceful, left me feeling very silly. Whatever. Yaegs woke up, and we took it slow. After quickly taking down the tent, we hung about and read for a half hour. The plan for the day was to make it onto Kangaroo Island (KI), which meant a five-hundred-or-so k day. The first few hundred k’s were high-speed, low-interest riding – essentially, more of the same long, straight roads that had bored us shitless yesterday. At least we weren’t riding into the sun, but rather chasing our shadows, à la Ewan and Charlie. Once we crossed onto Wellington, and turned ninety degrees to now be riding into the south-east, the roads changed and we were blessed. We followed the roads down into Victor Harbor (note the American spelling – like Kingston S.E., another thing that we wondered about but never got to the bottom of), and were slowly drawn in and enchanted. Our brains were so relieved to be done with straight-line riding that every corner was a godsend, and our bikes responded beautifully. We tucked and turned in, every corner a little piece of bliss. When we got into Victor Harbor we were both enthused and excited again. Feeling thoroughly over burgers, we went into a Lebanese joint for lunch.

Next on the agenda was Cape Jervis, from where we could catch a ferry over to Kangaroo Island. We were led through the Fleurieu Way (said as French-ly as possibly), past many wineries and vineyards, and on these great, small country roads. These roads ducked and weaved, bobbed and sailed, with crests, dips and corners enough to make you feel so glad to be riding. After dealing with Victorian drivers, we were pleasantly surprised to find South Australian drivers pull over and let us through.

Sadly, when we arrived at Cape Jervis, we found that all of the ferried for the day had been booked. We decided to head up into Hahndorf (a.k.a. Little Hamburg), an old German settlement in the Radelaide hills, and make a decision from there. Heading onto KI wasn’t going to be cheap, but we had heard such amazing things. We travelled through the same great country roads to Hahndorf, and, over a few beers and a ridiculous amount of meat and sausage, we decided to change our plans. We’d head back to Cape Jervis and KI tomorrow, spend the day and night on KI, then come back tomorrow. The meant missing out going to the Barossa valley, home of some of Australia’s biggest boldest reds. Whilst the prospect of not getting a good Shiraz saddened me no end, I made amends by deciding to pick up a cheeky Reisling from the McLaren Vale on our way out of KI and on the home run.

Day Seven

Beach Side Camping

Our humble home- note the abandoned cottage, location, location, location

We woke up early, still stuffed full of several varieties of German sausage and feeling vaguely ashamed (you know what I’m talking about), and booked our ferry over to KI. We made our way back to Cape Jervis, thoroughly enjoying the road. Due to a navigational error, we ended up on the same track as had been used for the Tour Down Under (an atrocious name, I know). We overtook cyclists on both the descent, then, after realising our mistake, the ascent, which made us feel very clever. About twenty k’s out of Cape Jervis, we realised that we didn’t have quite as much time as we had thought, which necessitated some quick riding and aggressive overtaking, which the Sprint relished. I’ve realised that by commuting on it, I’ve never really taken it for the rides that it was built for, that it was designed for – lots of corners at high speed seemed to be just what the doctor (mechanic?) ordered for the bike, and it was responding beautifully to the prescription. We made it into Cape Jervis with five minutes to spare, loaded our bikes onto the ferry, and thought of our plans for KI. I had heard that the west coast of the island was amazing, so we decided to aim to camp over there, and, on the way, check out the descriptively named Seal Rocks, Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch.

We landed on the island at about lunch-time, and so stopped in at the local pub, which had a beer garden that went all the way to the edge of the cliff, which we thought was a fairly dangerous and poorly-thought-out combination. We filled up with petrol, which was incredibly expensive, and set out. The roads on KI were very well maintained, though quite straight, which left us with no choice but to tackle the KI Speedway! (our wording), and open the throttle a bit. We both did, and were both quite scared at just how fast our bikes were going. Seal Rocks were about a hundred k’s away, so we arrived there in the early afternoon. Before the car park, there was a small section of gravel that made us slow down – perfect timing, as around the corner, a wallaby (much like a kangaroo, only smaller – and there’s nothing wrong with that!) was sitting on the road. We both pulled up next to each other, glad that we hadn’t taken the corner at speed. As we were tossing up just how well the wallaby would respond to a game of chicken, and just how our bikes would respond to a wallaby, the bastard hopped away, into the scrub. Our little touch with nature, except not in that way prohibited by the court order.

Seal Rocks had lots of seals. We then rode onto Remarkable Rocks, which were pretty remarkable. My favourite part of the Remarkable Rocks was the base of granite upon which they sat, which sloped down into the sea. It was only a couple of hours before dusk, and given the wildlife that we had already seen, we wanted to be well set up before the animals got up (and got active). We went round to the deserted lighthouse keeper’s cottage, which had been deserted for a good century. Again, the sun was setting over the sea, which was the most tropical green near the shore, graduating out to a brilliant blue. Once we decided that it was late enough in the day for the rangers not to bother checking on us (or, if they did, too late for them to tell us to move along), we set up the tent about ten metres away from the cottage and went to work creating a nutritious, delicious and (avaricious?) dinner using nothing but four bean mix, kidney beans, masala powder and cumin. I like to think that that the results speak for themselves.

Ridin’ through Oz, Days 4 and 5: Nothing like “Total Recall”, schadenfreude, and sunsets to lift the spirits!

Day Four

The Twelve Apostles near Petersborough, Australia

The Twelve Apostles (but there are really only 8)

We woke up to gray skies, and quickly reached the executive decision that we were making good time, wanted to hang around the area for a bit longer, didn’t really want to slog it out on twisty roads in the rain, and so stayed another day. We lounged about, went back to see the erroneously named 12 Apostles (there are only eight) and London Bridge (which had previously collapsed, marooning a few people on a limestone stack for several hours). All this sightseeing quickly made us hungry, so we continued on to a nearby cheese factory, where we took part in a cheese tasting, ordered a cheese platter, and then bought some Brie and blueberries for the evening meal. The weather started to sour, so we went back to the pad, watched the overly-cerebral and unnecessarily-complicated Schwarzenegger masterpiece ‘Total Recall’, and whiled away the afternoon on an epicurean bender.

Day Five

Bay of Martyrs

Yaegan and I at the Bay of Martyrs

We woke up to perfect blue skies and almost no wind, and so, somewhat reluctantly, said goodbye to sleepy Peterborough. We were both feeling fresh and keen to ride, and set to move into South Australia by the end of the day. We rode out of Peterborough, passing by the Bay of Martyrs, and winding around the coast.

Sadly, as we moved out and away from the GOR, the road turned into an incredibly boring arrow. No bends, no scenery, just red earth, scrub, and an antipodean sun bearing down upon us in our leathers. However, shortly after thinking this, we passed by some bloke on a pushbike going the same way, and my little burst of schadenfreude made me feel slightly better about our situation. We continued along, and passed through the state border into Mt. Gambier in the late afternoon. For the last few hours, we had been riding with our eyes into the sun – I had a tinted visor, which made life better, but we both were in need of a sit down in the shade – this came along in the town of Robe.

We were feeling like camping, so, five k’s after we passed through Kingston S.E. (this presumably stands for South East, though we were never able to find any evidence either way for this hypothesis), we went down a little dirt road. After coming up a crest, we were rewarded with a view of our own private beach for the evening. Being unsure as to the legality of camping, we hid our bikes off the road, set up a tent behind a shrub (quite a sizeable shrub, mind), and were able to watch the sun set over the sea. We had both been reading, but looked up from our book, transfixed, for the last twenty minutes, as the oranges morphed into blues into purples into darkness, forming a perfect blanket dotted with stars. I hadn’t been away from the city for a while, so was floored by the beauty of the un-light-polluted night sky.

Beach Hideaway

Our Beach Hideaway just past Kingston S.E.

Day 2 and 3 of Easy Ridin’- Cruising through Oz: “Brando rode a Triumph in ‘The Wild One’ – end of story”

Day Two

Marlon Brando in the Wild One

Brando- the only fail-safe way to end any argument

After playing gentlemen and giving Susie (who used to own a Honda CB400) a quick ride, hopping from island to island, we headed into Bega, a town best known for producing so-so cheese, for brekky (or breakfast, as it is traditionally known). As we were preparing to skip town, a big gang of Harleys ridden by people of various states of obesity and decline crawled by – an old bloke walking down the street winked conspiratorially, then proceeded to spend at least five minutes slagging off Harley Davidsons and those who ride them, and finished with the line “Brando rode a Triumph in ‘The Wild One – end of story”. Today was going to be a big-ish day – we wanted to be down in Melbourne by nightfall. We continued down along the Princes Highway, which was lovely coming out of Bega – windy, curvy, hilly, all with a bucolic idyll as a backdrop. Before lunch, we cross over the border into Victoria – unfortunately, our progress was immediately slowed by Victorian drivers. At one point, I had to drop back into first and was travelling at 50 km/h on a highway. It was like some mass exodus from rural Victoria, led by a caravan owning Moses, beseeching the world “Let my people go slowly!” Very frustrating.

We had a late lunch, and trucked along. The road was interesting, and the caravan convoy had mercifully thinned. Towards the end of the day, the road got very boring, the weather turned up a few degrees, and we were just slugging it out. We ended up getting into Melbourne about eight, just enough time to catch up with my parents (who were coming back from test-driving a four-wheel drive) for a few drinks. We decided to make the most of our big day and take the next day a little easy, and so we went out with a few mates to some of the wankier establishments about town.

Day Three

We woke up late, and continued our wanky Melbourne adventure by heading into a hidden restaurant (through an office building, down some stairs, through a black curtain, turn right, down some more stairs and hey presto!). Yaegs had a mate who very kindly offered us her pad halfway along the Great Ocean Road at Peterborough, and so we only had a few hundred k’s of riding today. The first hundred or so were getting out of Melbourne, and were just boring highway riding in a high wind.

We stopped off at Torquay for a sit down and to steel ourselves for the next bit. We’d both driven down the Great Ocean Road (GOR) before, though admittedly only a small section, and admittedly in a Toyota Prius (quelle horreur!). Now, on high-performance machines, we promised each other that we’d be very responsible, very safe, and not speed. Sadly, this resolution lasted about fourteen corners, where we both gave it some stick. Again, some overtaking was required, in situations that were sometimes a little hairy. More than once, we got close to using the “Ross Bowey Lane”, which is that little lane in between those two lines painted in the middle of the road, just wide enough for a back tyre.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

Maxin' out relaxin' all cool- Torquay

The first section of the GOR was winding right along the cliff, and just spectacular. Sharp, hairpin bends, with a vertical rock wall on one side and the Southern ocean beating down on the other. There was roadwork in some places, due to the floods a few weeks previously, which gave Yaegs and myself a chance to regroup. I was very surprised to find a second, different section that followed the coastal part, which was ripping through the rainforest at a higher speed, with some terrific high-speed corners. This was easily the most entertaining and riveting riding I’d done – I was starting to feel more confident on my bike, which allowed to me take corners faster and lean in a bit more. The scenery was brilliant, and the rich, earthy smell of the rainforest was tempered by a fresh sea breeze. The late-afternoon light left dappled shadows across the road, and the entire world seemed to be tinged orange, making everything seem hyper-real. Just beautiful.

We were both sad to see Apollo Bay come, as it meant that the best parts of the road were over. We enjoyed yet another burger for dinner (some say that variety is the spice of life, but then there are also those that say that eternal beauty can be found by bathing in the blood of virgins, so there’s obviously a wide variety of opinion on the subject), which was very good for two riders with dangerously low cholesterol levels. After washing down a tasty burger with a delicious beverage, we made the last hundred k’s or so to Peterborough, where we came upon (ew!) the pad we’d be crashing in – seven bedrooms, two kitchens, and a view of the ocean. We walked up to the bottlo, bought some ales and an invalid stout, which we saw as just the thing to help revive our bodies and relax our minds, both of which had been drained (ew?) by the GOR.