Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nullarbor, I'm not done with you yet, "I'll be back!"

Our last leg home (Mt. Gambier to Melb) was 'interesting' ... we were both looking forward to and glad to be finally home but, at the same time a little sad for the end of our first BIG adventure :-/

We've been home just five days now but already we've been discussing and planning our next big trip!!! ... I think we're hooked ;-)

There were many places we wanted to stop longer in and explore, but time was the enemy ... so too our bikes in a way ... so in 2011, we're thinking about catching the "Indian Pacific" from Adelaide to Perth, then hiring a Brits van or similar to go see more 'stuff' around south WA and of course the Nullarbor, drive to SA and then fly home from there ... or something like that :-)

But then, 2011 is the year of MY 50th!! OMG!!!! F'n FIFTY! :-O

... maybe we should spend a few weeks heading north instead! ;-)

"Nullarbor Reflections" ...

Our lovely big Beemers were brilliant for the job given (long-haul kms) but they also had their limitations - not all roads (unsealed) were suitable for big heavy road bikes and, if a photo 'needed' to be taken along the way, the camber of the soft gravel road edges was often uninviting, to put it mildly!

Our rider > rider comms: a good start, but too often 'scratchy' and need improving - we'll investigate stronger units that will be hard-wired to the bikes ... Oh! and I need a helmet or bike cam! ;-)

These really were the only 'negatives' about our trip, the other 98% was TOTALLY fabulous, and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat!! :-)

Thank you all for following, I hope it wasn't too boring ;-)

Thank you also to Vince at MotorCycle Motion for instilling a bit more confidence into this Nervous Nellie prior to our trip :-) And big thanks to Ed at Peter Stevens in the City for getting us geared up with all the good stuff! Wearing the right gear helped make our trip even more enjoyable! Big thanks also to our friends in SA, for putting us up for a few nights at their gorgeous place in Carey Gully - to have your support and friendship is invaluable :-)

And the biggest thank you of all - to my man!

Two and a half months ago, I was a "newbie rider on a BIG bike" who hadn't done more than a 500km ride (in one day, let alone consecutively!) prior to starting this trip. Chris planned and 'lead the tour', but had me constantly in his mirrors all the way and full of praise for every little achievement ... I'm nowhere near as good a rider as he is, but now having done this trip I'm a lot better - couldn't have done it without his encouragement though :-)

Sigh ... back to reality tomorrow, to start saving annual leave all over again ... BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!! :-D

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday … Carey Gully to Mt. Gambier

In the saddle around 9am, and we didn’t get lost finding our way out of Carey Gully this time ;-)

We were all of 10kms down the Highway, when we spotted a Cop bike parked in the shadows of the trees in the center … radar gun in hand, he ignored our cheery waves … I wonder if the white Beasts had anything to do with that ;-) Then a little further up, two more Cops on bikes had another motorbike rider bailed up – I got a wave in reply from one :-)

Rest stop and “2nd breakfast” in the pretty township of Meningie, on the shore of Lake Albert – what a historic past!

The next 40ks of road out of Meningie were a casual picturesque 100km limit, with much of the undulating winding road running alongside the coastal wetlands and dunes … lovely! :-)

Fuel at Kingston SE (does anyone know what “SE” stands for?) before pushing on to detour to Robe for lunch … such a pretty spot, we MUST come back for a much better longer look!

Millicent, and a requested photo stop …

This pic is dedicated to my Dad – for as long as I can remember, there has always been a boat of some sort “in the family”, and a little two masted wooden sailing boat called ”Penola” was in our family for a very long time – fond childhood memories :-)

It’s getting noticeably colder and darker – Autumn with shades of approaching Winter is definitely on its way! The Beast’s heated hands grips are my best friends!!
Mt. Gambier finally, and it’s a lot bigger than I remember … lodgings for the night easily found, dinner at the Hotel across the road of Chicken breast stuffed with ham and Camembert … and we are just a short 25kms from the Victorian border!
Monday … a rest day, spent very quietly, Blog catch-up done while seated outside in the afternoon sunshine (if only there could be a ban on those blasted peace-disturbing trucks using Greenhill Rd as a through-way!) took loads of photo’s of MsD’s garden ;-) and we enjoyed a yummy "last supper" with our friends :-)

Of the 50 or more I took, just few of my fav's ...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunday … Port Augusta to Carey Gully (SA)

I’m up early, hoping to get some pics of the Flinders Ranges with a sunrise … 20 minutes earlier and I might have got some half decent pics … oh well, next time ;-)

The Motel's very friendly and personable "Kitty" drops in for brekky ... I share a little bit of my scrammbled eggs with her ;-)

On the road by 8am and it starts to get very windy, but at least it wasn’t raining – yet? It had been threatening to rain though, with much of the southern end of the Flinders Ranges shrouded in dark low cloud, the furthest end invisible with rain … 100ks down the road, it was getting considerably chillier – we opt to stop at the next available servo to rug up some more; ten minutes later, it starts to drizzle and the road ahead already wet – the extra ‘rug’ had been good timing! Happily, it didn’t eventuate to more than a shower – for once the BOM got it right!

Food, real coffee and fuel at Port Wakefield BP … by this point, we’re both tired of being buffeted by the strong head/side-wind BUT! The fact that it isn’t also pouring rain is enough to make it bearable!

A friendly couple of elder lads stop to chat and check out the bikes – we’d passed them earlier towing a large caravan – they said we initially had them a bit worried by the “double bubble” in their rearview mirror … until we blasted past ;-)

After all the fast Highway riding over the past three weeks, riding Greenhill Rd into Carey Gully was a treat! Thirteen kilometers of mostly uphill, fabulous twisty windy roads with a few switch-backs, 1st to 3rd gear stuff only that had us concentrating the whole way – great fun, and it’s easy to see why this road is a favorite haunt (weekend particularly) of local bikies, cyclists and vintage car clubs!

Early afternoon arrival for a two-night stay with our friends again, dinner at a local wood fired Pizzeria to cap off the day. For a Sunday night, it was nearly full – easy to understand why - the food was GREAT!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ceduna to Port Augusta ...

Limited (and expensive!!!!) internet access here, so today's full adventures and pics to come ... but can at least tell you we had a DRY RIDE!!!


We’re woken early morning to the sound of HEAVY rain!! I thought those clouds late yesterday evening looked a bit too ominous, even though Chris thought they wouldn't amount to much if anything … ha! Famous last words! By breakfast though, the rain had cleared, by saddle-up, the sun was out more than hidden! Phew!

Two pairs of tandem cyclists we originally spotted somewhere between Bordertown > Ceduna, had made considerable progress during our rest day – into a headwind, we rode past them again the other side of Poochera – Chris noticed their two support Campervans had “Perth > Sydney” written on their sides!

Rest stop at Poochera - checking the map, to the sound of full-bore Melissa Etheridge "Someone bring me some water ...", blasting of of one of the nearby houses! ;-)

Food-stop at the local Bakery of Wudinna … great Beef Pepper pie and real coffee - just caught it though as the shop is open only during the good old fashioned Saturday hours of 9-12! It had just gone noon, and the owner was pulling in the street sign, but she was happy to make us a dose of caffeine and nuke something, as everything else in the pie-warmer had been sold … we weren’t her last customers in the door either – the window blind finally got drawn and door locked at 12.15 ;-)

On our way to Perth two weeks ago, we had noticed from the road how impressive Iron Knob is, so we decided to take a closer look on our way back and dropped in to Iron Knob township, but what a total disappointment pictorially … the best viewpoint of Iron Knob was definitely from the Highway itself, the afternoon sunshine showing off the full colour range, but there is nowhere off road to stop! The vast and spectacularly sculptural Flinders Ranges: again, in the mid afternoon sun with shadows cast by clouds, the best pictorial view point was from the highway but sadly no roadside stop to take advantage of! The SA Tourism Commission (?) really needs to pull their socks up!!

Slightly ‘lost’ into Port Augusta (missed the turn), almost hardly worth mentioning, but just out of habit … ;-)

And the significance of this pic is? ;-)

Accom sorted and bikes unpacked, we stretched the legs with a walk across the western Port Augusta Bridge – busy with road-trains and other afternoon traffic, it was a relief to find stairs down to the river bank, and access the much older original bridge, which is now open only to foot and bicycle ‘traffic’ … lovely and peaceful!

A decripit large barge, left to rot in the mangrove swamp, original old bridge in background ...

"New" main western bridge ...

Just part of the massive sculptural Flinders Ranges ...

Really?? ;-)

Dinner of local whiting fillets at the WestSide Hotel … Ok for pub food.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday … a rest day, a big Blog catch-up day (again!) and a day to DRY OUT!! Late brekky, a bit of washing, LOTS of clothes drying, and the sun thankfully comes out to dry the sodden sheep skin seat covers …

A wander down ‘main-street’ Ceduna, send off a postcard, chat to three other bike-fellas headed for Perth … they were from Geelong too!

Lunch … I don’t think we reeeelly needed it but, the chicken Caesar wrap looked goooood! A long stroll along the foreshore and on the Pier to settle the lunch … a Dad (blue jacket and cap) and his 8yo daughter fishing, had been to Geelong and Apollo Bay … What’s with this Geelong-thing!???

As we were walking back from the end of the pier, we hear the little one shout “I’ve got one!” … she’d caught eight Leather Jackets to Dad’s two the day before ;-)

One thing I have really enjoyed about our trip is the never-lacking amount of people, total strangers, happy to have a chat – this afternoon, long-moustached jovial Bill and wife Karen (from Cranbourne) who are also staying here, are no exception and Bill is particularly chatty and entertaining!

Dinner … still full from lunch, do we really need any? We settle for just a dozen Oysters Kilpatrick between us – delicious! We have no complaints about the food or amount of at the Ceduna Comfort Hotel Motel, it’s definitely the best place for a meal anywhere here, as evidenced by the near full-house tonight!

The reason Ceduna is here: wheat!
Thursday … Madura to Ceduna … WET!

All that grey cloud ahead of us yesterday proved to be a bit of an omen. Around 4am, woken first by the incredibly uncomfortable mattress (the badly sprung old type that rolls you into the center!) and then thoroughly by another guest starting up his motorbike and heading off (probably couldn’t tolerate his mattress either, as we saw him at Bordertown Roadhouse just getting back on his bike as we went through) we heard rain!

Fortuitously, having to park the bikes on the gravel (no choice here) we’d placed a couple of pieces of found scrap cement sheet under the side-stands. We took advantage of the rain soaked bikes and easily wiped off yesterday’s smashed bug grime. A lovely big serving of yummy scrambled eggs (prepared by the Manager himself – obviously his speciality!) an exit strategy across the wet gravel decided upon, and we were set to face the day.

Madura Pass > Eucla Pass – the escarpment on our left, what we could see of it through rain-spotted visors, ocean we knew was to our right … Before today, I used to like the sound of rain, especially on a tin roof or similar … and our first leg Madura to Eucla fuel stop, the pitter patter of light rain on the helmet and visor was Ok – in fact, we commented to each other that hey, it wasn’t so bad riding through a bit of light rain … with some respite while fueling up at Eucla.

We had made a mental note two weeks ago to visit on our way back if we could at least one of the other photo points of the Great Australian Bight – as the rain had stopped, we were able to access with bikes the Western end, which had an unpaved but large car-park …

Compared to two weeks ago, the horizon was invisible!

Pics taken, we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves … and then, 10kms down the road, the rain started again, and heavy! Ok, that’s enough, the novelty has worn off, make it go away!! … we still had 520kms to do!

Nullarbor Rd House for fuel and lunch … perfectly BAD timing, as it was “peak-hour” at the few premium pumps! The vintage MG car club (sorry Leaping, no pics) had had an AGM in Adelaide, and a dozen or so Perthians were heading back home … then there were also the cars with caravans, and us … everyone who needed fuel had to hand in their license before the operator would open the pump (because of the number of non-paying run-offs) … nonetheless, the system incensed Chris enough to give the operator an earful of “what is this country coming to!” He was not alone with that sentiment - other disgruntled customers agreed out loud as well – and still it rained.

I don’t know why, but seeing puddles of water beside the road through the Nullarbor is not something I expected to see … OF COURSE it rains on the Nullarbor, but was still surprised to see it ;-)

Another unexpected surprise was to see a Dingo loitering around the Servo, totally unafraid of humans … there were notices placed around saying do not feed the Dingos –a Dingo tamed with hand-given food is considered dangerous to human life and will be destroyed … this dog certainly wasn’t scared, but while we were waiting for fuel, everyone ignored it.

Off down the road again, and it still rained, and got heavier and heavier
Our next rest stop was supposed to be Nundura … with the heavy rain, it concerned Chris that the dirt drive might well be a quagmire and unseen pot-holes – we decided to try for Penong a little further up which we knew was paved, only to find it FULL of road-trains and caravans at every pump! And still it rained … we pushed on for Ceduna

Ceduna being on the SA/Vic border, of course there is a regulatory Quarantine inspection – for Chris, the Quarantine Inspector was the ‘hero of the day’: “Have you got anything to declare?” … “Yes” says Chris, “one very sodden tired and sore body!” … the Inspector chuckles and waves him through, then asks me: I have no available humour left, the tank is empty and reply “No, absolutely nothing” and he waves me through too

Ceduna Comfort Hotel Motel is easily found (thankfully!) and while collecting our room key from Reception (we have to wait in a queue, again!!) we drip water from every piece of clothing … I'd been relatively Ok over the past 300kms, but waiting for our key I start to shiver! Chris kindly lugs my bag into the room, while I can’t get in the shower quick enough! Every piece of clothing was wet somewhere!

To date, it was the most miserable un-enjoyable day’s riding we’ve ever had - no scenery to be seen (we didn’t dare try to look!) just the road ahead with slotted white lines, and for me the back of Chris and his bike! Thank heavens for BMW standard issue heated grips, they kept me safe!

The only saving grace of the day was being able to get some more pics of the Bight, some glorious sunset pics and knowing we had our palatial Ceduna room for two nights!

A delicious Fillet Mignon for dinner, and a glorious sunset (which makes up for missing out at Madura), an early night is very much needed.
Wednesday … Kalgoorlie to Madura …

Much to our disappointment, a modern establishment like the Overland Motel DOESN’T have REAL coffee but help yourself Nescrape! :-/ A fruit juice and cereal downed, side step the fake coffee, bikes packed and we’re off down Hannan Street to fuel up. The top end of Hannan Street takes us past the Kalgoorlie Super Pit … we didn’t realize how close this mine was and with a long day ahead, it’s a pity we don’t have time to stop for a gander … “peak-hour” out of Kalgoorlie – several caravans, utes and 4W drives, and a road train for good measure ;-)

Fuel stop at the Norseman BP … while Chris is fueling his bike, I check the coffee options … OMG! They have a real machine!! Two strong c’lattes ordered, Chris decides we need curried egg sandwiches too and a quick fuel up becomes a ‘major’ stop … but boy didn’t we need it!!! The coffee is superb and has for me redeemed Norseman somewhat from its backwater status … Onwards to Balladonia …

100ks up the road, Chris spies a PAVED roadside stop/parking bay off the road, in amongst the trees … what a grrrreat place for a stretch! The bush was so dense with trees that’d you’d easily lose sense of direction, the air beautifully fragrant with gums and intermittent sound of birds … lovely!

Balladonia fuel stop, before tackling that psychotic bean-counter’s straight stretch of 146.6kms again! SO glad we had the sun behind us by then near to the end of our journey for the day, and NOT facing into the sun over that straight road!
Nullarbor …

About 60ks out of Balladonia, we came across two guys on the opposite side of the road WALKING! Each was towing a light-weight (aluminium?) high-wheeled ‘rickshaw’ with camping gear and other necessities … we figured they were probably into ‘day two’ of their four-day trek across part of the Nullarbor Plain … what were they thinking! I’d want to be sponsored for a charity fundraising before considering such madness! ;-)

Cocklebiddy as a rest stop got skipped in deference to Caiguna instead … from there it was a short skip to our overnight at Madura. After the relatively flat Nuallarbor, coming down through the Madura Pass was special, with the flat landscape opening up to the Madura Tablelands! Getting the bikes parked in front of our room though was perhaps a little too interesting on the shifting gravel drive, for the end of a long day’s journey ;-)

Nonetheless, we determined to climb the hill that fronted the Motel, to get what we hoped would be some good sunset pics … it had been cloudy for most of the day, and the clouds had thickened to the colour of lead by the time we got to Madura … we hung around on the top of the Pass waiting for the sun to do its thing with the clouds ...

Thinking that the sunset was going to be a non-event because of the extensive thick cloud cover, it turned out we didn’t wait long enough up there as the sky put on its best show once we were back down near the road! Bugger! Oh well, its beer o’clock anyway ;-)

Evidence that the sea really was way up here!

Yummy Barramundi lightly pan-fired with side salad for dinner, and an early night – it’s another long day in the saddle tomorrow