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The Great September Trip

by Marilyn Smith

SOME 20 bikes left Albany on a very cold and rain threatening Saturday morning, on this the third spring ride. The rain held off – but on nearing the Stirlings the temperature took a sharp dive, no snow, but must have been very close to it.

DIRT ROAD: On the way to Leonora.

First stop the Amelup Roadhouse where most enjoyed a hot cuppa in an attempt to thaw out. On the road again towards Lake Grace – and what a difference the countryside looks compared to last year – beautiful fields of green and gold.

At Lake Grace we were joined by a few more bikes and all enjoyed a relaxing lunch. Off again with a couple of stops to Bruce Rock where we were staying the night. Approximately half the contingent were camping with the others in more salubrious digs at the pub or motel. We were joined by Huw Jones who had ridden up from Perth for the night – apparently misplacing Bronwyn on the way and Mark and Gwyn who were to join us for the rest of the trip.

With the Bruce Rock Hotel being invaded by the group we all settled down for a meal and a few drinks – and that was what most did except for a certain three who rocked on a bit longer – apparently to “get it out of their system” before embarking on the rest of the trip.

The camping brigade knew there would be a few sore heads in the morning after hearing them arrive home later that night – trying not to make a lot of noise but not succeeding very well. In fact it was a rather unsettled night for the campers because not long after Spencer’s dog broke free and decided to do a runner at 3 in the morning.

Sure to form the “3 musketeers” (alias Pete, Russell and Robin) were very subdued and even missed the camera shoot outside the pub at 9am the following morning. By all reports they had “got it out of their system”, and would now settle down for the rest of the ride. Not so subdued – Ken and Richard who shared the “singles?” room at the Pub – and with so much swinging Ken flattened his battery – he was also late for the camera shoot.

Off on the road again – next stop Merredin – with a look at the War Museum – then off along Great Eastern Highway and into Westonia where Phil “sowed his oats” – so the story goes. Then to our next stop at the No. 7 Pumping Station where Phil once worked and “sowed more oats”. This stop definitely held the boys attention with heaps of steam engines, pumps, compressors, nuts and bolts, - you know – things that keep blokes attention for longer than normal. I must admit it was very interesting – especially when you think all was put there some 100 years ago.

Next stop Coolgardie where the group split into campers, hotels and motels. Clive had the camper up in record time – even did a one and a half pike off the lawn when erecting it – Bob gave it a 7 out of 10. Clive was first at the pub to get drinks for the campers – and came back informing all that there were skimpies at the pub. The 3 musketeers decided to break their pledge, got cleaned up in record time and off to the pub – only to find the skimpies had gone – so decided on the road house for dinner instead later joining everyone at the campers campfire later for a nightcap.

Wes apparently called in again to the pub, hardly got his drink down when the police arrived and sent all patrons, including our Wes, on their way. Des was falling down on his job of keeping an eye on Wes and its only Day 2.

Unfortunately Merv and Debbie had to return to Albany on Monday morning – as most of you now know their nephew was lost off the rocks on the Sunday afternoon. Sympathy to all the Drew family at this very sad time.

Monday, great weather, and its up and off to busy Kalgoorlie – the group split – going in all directions – some doing the touristy thing – catching up with friends – the superpit - Hay Street - or just enjoying a nosh up at the local eating houses. Midday and its off again to the famous Broad Arrow hotel to regroup, touch up previous signature if you could find it and a lunch break before hitting the road again to Leonora.

Some adventurous folk – Murray (minus Erin on the back), Spencer and John with their spouses Joyce and Jan in the sidecar decided to visit the ghost town of Kookynie – some 100 dubious kilometres round trip off-road. Bob photographed them embarking to the unknown – luckily in retrospect, as it would have been evidence if the sidecar passengers did not return - which nearly happened as either: (a) they could have been thrown out of the side car on the rough road and never seen again, (b) lost in the dust that enveloped them, (c) left in the outback by their husbands after too much complaining and blame shifting as to whose idea it was to attempt the trip or even (d) a murder could have taken place!

By all reports Erin made the right decision not to make the trip with Murray – therefore not getting herself into the same predicament as the sidecar girls. Two very dusty-red outfits and a Harley finally rode into Leonora some hours after the main posse. Was it worth it – no one really was game enough to ask that question!

Cleaned up we all ventured to a mining camp mess for tea. All you could eat for $11! Des made the comment that the only thing missing from the array of food was “hot and cold running women”. Think he got that saying from someone I know. After we all had taken as much as possible on board word was out that “skimpies” were again the order of the day at one of the three very busy local pubs. Sure enough most diverted in that direction.

Quite a group of lads (and some lassies) availed themselves of the skimpie service – even had a jug personally delivered to a private room (just joking – it was just off the main bar and open) – then it was everyone put in $2 for the skimpies to be even skimpier! Des decided to donate $20 just to make sure there was enough in the kitty!

Gwyn and Clive entertained some of the campers with their array of jokes while Mark did some running repairs to his panniers – he actually sewed them up with fencing wire – showing off that he is a NAM (new age man)!

Up to another beautiful Goldfields day – and a few kms down the road to Gwalia. You could spend a day here looking at the museum and miners huts etc. It was hard to pull every one away and get them back in the saddle for the next leg of our journey still heading north. A drink stop on the side of the road caused a few ongoing problems. Firstly where we stopped – at the entrance to a station – Clive’s decision not mine! With over 20 bikes blocking the entrance – guess what - someone wanted to get in – probably only happens twice a year!

So with a bit of manoeuvring it was achieved. Clive decided he wanted to be the leader again – and took off with Chris’s helmet on his trailer. Now this is apparently what then happened – because I haven’t got eyes in the back of my head I can only take other peoples word for the following events. Clive took off – fast – to make sure the fast bikes didn’t beat him to Leinster – when the mob realised Chris’s helmet was bouncing around on the trailer – Richard took off after Clive – leaving his gloves on the back of his bike – some 20 kms down the road and Richard had still not caught up with the Mad Max setup in front – the helmet finally decided it had had enough and jumped off – not a clean jump mind you – at 110kph what did you expect – and many little bits departed company with the main helmet structure, but surprisingly still intact.

By this time the main hoard with Chris helmetless, enjoying the wind through her long blonde locks – arrived at the scene. Richard was given his gloves, a search party found the little bits of helmet and like Humpty Dumpty it was put back together again – and they were on their way again, finally catching up with Clive at Leinster.

After all the excitement we all enjoyed lunch at this lovely shady little company town. BBQ packs were purchased in anticipation of a night around the campfire for all at Sandstone our next overnight stop, but not before nearly everyone embarked on another offroad adventure to see London Bridge (a stone structure) and another camera shoot – but unlike the last - incident free! A meal and drinks around the camp fire for all topped off another great day.

Morning – fuel up – another picture shoot in the main street of Sandstone where it was discovered that Wes had taken heaps of photos with no film in his camera, Richard who had been filming for a later movie night - had jammed his film and all was lost! But Richard had done a good job as the “guardian of lost property” with the helmet, gloves, and also finding someone’s handbag.

Off then to Mt Magnet for lunch and a visit to the hairdresser for Richard so he would look his best for Lynette who was riding up from Albany to meet him next day. While a group decided the medium strip in the middle of the main street was a nice place for a rest – the police decided it was time for a closer look at what was visiting their town breathalising 3 of our riders as they left town!

Here we said bye to Ken – who was then going on to Newman, and Ron and Fran who were heading back to Perth. Murray and Erin, Ron, Ian and John decided to head to Cue for a look before meeting up with us again later that day at Yalgoo – our next stopover.

I must admit the camping ground was the salubrious accommodation in this town – but Bob was given a guitar at the pub and a bit of a sing-a-long took place with the help of a couple of girls on vocals. After finally getting off to bed we were entertained by the locals to the wee small hours.

Still fine weather and with a spectacular display of wildflowers we said goodbye to Des and Wes – who had to get home for the shearing – the rest headed off on Day 5 to Mullewa for our first stop. Unfortunately Russell had an encounter with a kangaroo on this leg – luckily the only damage being a scratch on the silver Triumph. Robin was having trouble keeping up (social wise) with the other musketeers and decided to head to Geraldton instead – so it was bye to him also. Through beautiful wildflower country taking stops to look and take photos – we then headed to our next destination, Dalwallinu.

Seems we have visited this place on most trips – so it was that we hit the dining room of the local for a few drinks and a great evening. Natalie, Murray and Erin’s daughter joined us for the next leg of the trip to York – Erin takes the car while Natalie goes pillion on the Harley. The joke telling continued – with some of the “quieter” participants being not so quiet – Rob and John – our farmers - starting to find voice – Mark is still having trouble keeping Gwyn in check – seems a bit of country is rubbing off on her!

Yes, another beautiful day – slightly cooler – we head off to picturesque York via a few other stops – for lunch Here We meet up again with Richard and Lynette. Seems Lynette caused quite a stir in this little hamlet the previous day when waiting for Richard to meet her. Apparently the story goes he was 2.4 minutes late – so she flagged down the police car – asking for help. Looking like the damsel in distress the call went out on the police radio to look for Richard – but all was well he arrived just 4 minutes late – unforgivable!

But it seems a lovely lady in leathers on a black bike gets the police into action and they even came to check on her welfare the next day – that’s how we found out about the story. We were met later that day by Barry from Cuballing – who then escorted us to his property – where we all bunked down – either in their house or in our campers in the yard – for a fantastic show of hospitality.

A big shed with BBQs, salads, tea and coffee, rolls etc – a band (yes a country band!) all paved the way for a fitting finale to our odyssey and the same all available for breakfast the next day. In the meantime the local publican found out that Richard was a hairdresser and he got a job on the post outside the pub cutting the lady’s hair.

What a great night – a splendid rendition of Australiana by Phil (definitely not in the running for the Alzeimers Award) and a big thank you to Carole and Barry and their friends.

For the first time I can’t say we woke to fine weather – it wasn’t, in fact it was atrocious – wind and driving rain set the scene for everyone to put on the wet weather gear and head in all directions for home. Luckily the rain held off most of the time, but the wind was severe and we just headed south to beautiful Albany tired but full of stories to tell family and friends about the last week.

People on trip:
Jan & John Bond, Spencer & Joyce Sheffield, Ron and Fran, Pete Boshell, Russell Killick, Robin Gilpin, Bob & Chris Rees, Debbie & Merv Drew, Wes Thomas, Des Gaze, Ian Alexander, Erin & Murray Hall, John Gillam, Rob Sedgwick, Ken McWhirter, Mark & Gwyn Stupart, Phil Penny, Richard & Lynette Malski, Clive & Marilyn Smith.


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