After meeting at lunchtime on September 28 we set off on the first part of our journey via the Stirlings on our way to Dumbleyung for our first overnight stop. Our group consisted of 4 sidecar outfits, a trike and 7 solo bikes together with 17 happy folk on holidays It was a great day for a ride so we went the long way, via Borden and Nyabing before Dumbleyung came into view.
We were told that the caravan park wasn't too flash, but it was fine with grassy sites and friendly faces. After pitching tents we walked over to the pub. On the way we came across a broken-down Harley (flat battery), so as you can imagine the poor bloke had plenty of advice on what his problem was, but after pushing him up and down the street and giving him moral support (he was very grateful) we carried on to the pub.
We had a good evening, although some of the food was a little on the cold side, the pub itself was great. We left the ones who were staying at the pub and wandered back to the caravan park and a good night's sleep. Next morning we met the lady who turns the sprinklers on. She said we were lucky she hadn't put them on earlier as she didn't know we were camped there. She told us that once she switched the sprinklers on at 4 am, not realising that a guy on a bike had pitched his tent on top of a sprinkler, he woke up in his tent balancing on a fountain of water! She was a real character, a good laugh.
It was then off to the Tracmach in Kukerin which was very interesting. There were some very old tractors, Des was able to help one of the exhibitors who was having trouble starting his old, huge single piston tractor. There was a variety of trucks, old and new, from the largest prime mover in WA to a mini road train. The burn-outs and mud race caused quite a bit of interest for the crowd, although the smell of burnt rubber was a bit too strong for most of us. There were plenty of other exhibits - all up a very interesting morning.
We then regrouped and headed off to Lake Grace where Wes was waiting on his GT Ducati, which he rode from Bremer. Finally we arrived at Bruce Rock. It's interesting to see these small wheatbelt towns turning more to tourism, which I guess is a good way of adding to the local economy. The camping area at the caravan park was also very good with plenty of grassy sites, and there was a backpackers there which looked OK as well! A pleasant evening was spent in the pub and the food was excellent!
Next morning it was off to Merredin, our first stop for the day. There was a bit of confusion with one of our group heading to Merredin in the opposite direction to where everyone else had gone. After a bit of discussion and a laugh we eventually all headed off in the same northerly direction. Some of the outfits were running a bit low on fuel (no petrol available at Bruce Rock at that hour of the day) but we all easily made it to the roadhouse after a bit of economical riding.
In the Merredin roadhouse there was an ex BSA 250 RAAF bike on display - you never know what you're going to find! After confirming that there was petrol at Mukinbudin (being as it was Sunday) and a bite to eat and drink we continued on our way to Dalwallinu. When we arrived at Mukka petrol cards were to be bought at the deli, then a short ride up the street to the servo - but they'd run out of tickets. The roadhouse lady kindly opened up the bowsers for us and after filling up our tanks we headed off into the dry northern wheatbelt.
Lunch was on the verandah of a deserted church, by this time it was very hot and a bit of shade went down well. Riding along in the afternoon there was a noticeable noise coming from the front wheel of our sidecar outfit particularly when cornering. We stopped, had a look, but kept on going until we got to Beacon, about 50kms from Dalwallinu - it wasn't looking good. Do I take the wheel off there or continue onto Dalwallinu? Chris and I decided to keep on going (slowly) as there was nothing in Beacon.
As tempting as it was (with the heat) we passed the Dalwallinu pub with a line of bikes outside and headed for the caravan park where I could take the wheel off and have a look at the damage - the bearing had disintegrated and what was left fell onto the dirt. So we did the next best thing and shared a bottle of red with Clive and Marilyn - then we went to the pub. It was Happy Hour when we arrived, things were picking up. Great pub (then again I haven't come across a bad one!) The bar staff organised a long table for us for dinner and the meal was excellent, the iccky sticky pudding even better.
Next morning I borrowed Clive's outfit and went in search of a replacement wheel bearing. At 8 o'clock I was outside a hardware shop, waiting for it to open, the John Deere boys down the road had assured me that the bloke would have one the right size. After the shop opened I asked him (with fingers crossed) if he had one. "What do you think this is?" he said "A dunny in the desert, course I've got one." Yippee.
Then around 10 of us put the bearing back in the wheel. The outside of the old bearing had spun in the hub and loosened it, but luckily in my tool box was a tube of Quicksteel, so I was able to build up the worn part of the hub so the bearing was a tight fit - worked very well. Then it was a pleasant if uneventful ride to Dongara where we set up camp. Great spot, great views, a little bit windy, but you get that. This night we'd cooked a BBQ, great facilities at the Caravan Park and another enjoyable night.
Next day, we rode out to Greenough Historic Village for a look and a bite to eat at the famous Hampton Arms before a spot of afternoon tea in Dongara. It was then fish n chips in the evening (we always seem to be eating). Next morning it was off to Cervantes riding down the coast road. Just before midday we arrived at Jurian to view Ian's fantastic collection of Vincents. It must be one of the best collections of the marque in the world. He took us out to the shed out the back where another was being restored - I should have been a cray fisherman. After thanking Ian for letting us have a look at his bikes it was off to Cervantes. This was the most busy of the caravan parks we stayed at. There was a wild looking sidecar outfit and a couple of off-road bikes accompanied by their foreign backpackers camped near us - touring Australia in style!
Late in the afternoon we rode to the Pinnacles a very interesting and unique place, and to make it even better the old corrugated road was now bitumen. After paying at the entrance it was off with the helmets for a putter around the National Park - taking plenty of pictures. Back at the camp for dinner, sheltering from the wind. By this time Chris was starting to feel ill and after an uncomfortable night for her we decided to head for home instead of the planned overnight stay at Toodyay. It was a great holiday, excellent company and good roads.