By the time we arrived at Bakers Junction, the starting point for the ride to the MotoGP, the rest of the crew as well as family and other Club members were already there.
After a few introductions and farewells we were off, all 17 of us!
First victim on the trip was us. I’d overfilled the BMW by about 3mm on the dipstick, thinking it would be OK - But about 60ks out I had an oil leak from the oil filter cover, which was spewing out a lot of oil every now and again.
Being so close to home we decided to return to Albany and fix it.
The rest of the mob kept on going except for our Welsh friends, Ralph and Mo (who flew over for the ride, Raelene generously lent them her Yamaha Seca).
With a new gasket and O rings for the BMW and the oil on the 3/4 mark of the dip stick we were off, again.
Just before Jerramungup the Yammie ran out of fuel! We switched it to reserve, but nothing was happening. After I towed it into Jerry we found out that you had to prime it, as it used a vacuum to suck the fuel through.
By then we had flattened the battery, but a guy in the roadhouse had a portable 12v starter to fire it up and the bike started immediately.
Off we went, by now it was lunchtime, and our revised plan was to reach Gibson Soak Hotel that night.
In the meantime while riding with the main group Andy Burns had bad luck hitting a roo near Jerramungup. His bike was taken to a nearby farm and he suffered a punctured lung and 5 broken ribs. An ambulance took him to Albany Hospital. It was a great disappointment for Andy and everyone felt bad for him as he had been looking forward to the trip for a long time.
The main group apparently ran into bad weather en route to Balladonia and decided to stay in Norseman for the night.
Next morning we were up and away early hoping to catch up with the others.
At Norseman we met Huw, who was waiting for us, and then Merv turned up after a late start from Esperance.
We’d missed the rain, but it was very windy. At Caiguna we spotted Russell Killick next to his KTM with tank off - it didn’t look good.
Russell had problems with the motor cutting out. The oil was way up in the reservoir as well, very odd. We thought maybe it was an electrical fault. Eventually the bike started, but wasn’t running well and Russell decided to return to Albany, the bike eventually ending up on a truck at Norseman
After leaving a disappointed Russell we headed off to the SA border where we thought we would catch up with the others. When we arrived at Border Village we discovered that they had kept on going heading for Nullabor Roadhouse.
We camped in the bush opposite Border Village Roadhouse, having a few drinks and a meal there that night, the food was OK, but Ralph’s chook wasn’t cooked, in fact I think it walked over to the table and jumped on his plate, needless to say he didn’t pay for it..
Once again we were on the bikes early heading east hoping to catch the others up that night.
While riding through the Eyre Peninsular, sitting around 130kph, a friendly cop car came the other way, flashed his lights and waved at us to slow down. Merv, who was trying to catch us up, was not so lucky getting booked instead.
Eventually we pulled into the Port Augusta Big 4 Caravan Park, where the rest of the crew were. We’ve been coming to this caravan park for years (its the first on the left) and is always clean with good, grassy sites.
After catching up with the others, we heard that Ray had hit a sheep not far from Iron Knob. The sheep didn’t fare too well, but Ray didn’t come off and the bike was OK apart from a broken lower fairing part and bent crash bar.
We’d picked up another rider too, John (the Caveman) from Bunbury, on his 1985 Le Mans Guzzi. The bike had done 270,000ks, still looked good and was running well!
We had a good meal in the pub before heading off for a good sleep after a couple of long days in the saddle.
Next morning we set off (this time us all together, first time since Bakers Junction) for Horrocks Pass and the Clare Valley.
It was yet another windy, but fine day. Horrocks Pass is brilliant, the road surface is good and the bends are terrific. When we stopped at the various towns on our way to Mt Gambier we must have made quite a sight with 14 riders and bikes, and Chris and Mo riding pillion.
Not too far from Kapunda Don took off to see his mate in Adelaide. At the same time Ken’s (Guzzi) clutch cable decided to give up the ghost.
Rob came up with a good improvisation - disconnect the rear brake lever and wrap the clutch cable around it - giving you more leverage - the idea worked.
Eventually Ken was wobbling down the road. We’d been in touch with Don, now in Adelaide, and he would pick up a cable from the Guzzi dealer and deliver it that night at Mt Gambier.
We road down a great, big hill, near Sedan in SA - lovely smooth surface too - we remembered it from last time we rode to Philip Island, if you’re over that way - ride it. Eventually we arrived at the caravan park in Mt Gambier.
After putting the tents up, or booking into cabins, we caught a taxi-bus into town, to a great pub with excellent food. Seems like we’re getting into a routine.
Don also had arrived with the cable and so Ken was a happy chappie.
Next morning we were riding in Victoria, heading for Port Fairy (lunch stop) - come to think of it we seem to have a lot of coffee, lunch, smoko stops - but that’s part of the ride isn’t it?
Don had been in touch with the guy from Overlander Equipment, suppliers of stainless mufflers, pipes etc.
The bloke said there’s nothing much to see, but you can come around if you like. The group then split into two, with the one half pressing on - the call of the Great Ocean Road calling and the rest of us headed up Tower Hill to the Overlander place.
Wow - he had hundreds of rare and sought-after European bikes, wasn’t interested in British, American or Japanese - just European. It must be one of the biggest collections in Australia. Each bike is parked close to the next one with 30 odd years of dust on then. The amazing thing was that they were all original - I’d love to get my hands on some of them. Not to mention the old cars, boat and plane! Photos of this amazing collection of bikes will be in the December issue of Club News.
It was just the owner, his dog and another old guy working for him. He was saying he was going to leave all the bikes etc to a trust! I’ve got 4 sets of his mufflers on some of our bikes, when you deal with him on the phone he’s always grumpy, but at his place he couldn’t do enough for us.
After saying farewell, he took a picture of us, which seemed a bit odd - he was also having a good look and listen to my Staintune mufflers on the R100RS - we headed off once more.
I had a good look at my back tyre and it was just about illegal and so decided to put a new one on in Warrnambool. Great bike shop there, made us coffee and put a tyre on immediately.
We then caught up with some of the others at Port Campbell as we rode around the fabulous Great Ocean Road. It was one of those times when you rode and everything felt good, those bends are great fun, and being as it was late afternoon and a week day the road was relatively empty. Apparently its chockers on weekends.
We caught up with the rest at Wye River. The caravan park must be one of the best in the country with a good pub next door and excellent meals.
Next morning we were up and off around the rest of the Great Ocean Road, heading for Queenscliff to cross Port Phillip Bay on the ferry.
We lost a couple of riders when we were heading around the peninsular towards Philip Island - but eventually caught up at San Remo - just before the Philip Island bridge.
Our group then split up - those camping and those not.
The majority camped at trackside, Philip Island. With excitement building as we were putting up our tents the campground was quickly filling up with bikes and more tents.
At the campground we could buy firewood, alcohol, meals etc, as well as some foodstuffs for cooking.
Two of the nights we were there we bought (very reasonable) meals at the cafe, listening to Willie Golightly playing and singing blues etc - great entertainment. In the main tent there was a concert put on by some heavier bands.
The locals reckoned there were more bikes on the road and in town attending this year than ever before - even on the Friday and Saturday.
Part of the main street of Cowes was closed off except for motorcycles and we spent a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon watching the antics of some bikers getting up to mischief under the favourable eyes of the police - great atmosphere.
Back at the campsite we were able to sit outside our tent and watch GP racers tackling Doohan corner - ah, doesn’t get much better than this.
We used our grandstand seats for race day which gave us an excellent view of the track. We also had a Super Screen across from us, so we could see what was happening on the tele.
There was also a motorcycle expo with most manufacturers displaying bikes as well as a show and shine, demo trials riders, motorcycle stunt riders and many other attractions.
There was always something going on at the campsite, for instance, how about a tandem motorcycle somebody had made with the bloke up front steering it and the bloke behind working the throttle and gears - how scary is that?
Eventually the racing had finished, Monday had arrived and time to go.
Don took us on a day-long tour of Victoria, heading east initially, before heading north to Healesville, then a meandering ride to Ballarat through some great roads.
Don and Judy came from Ballarat originally and had invited us all to
stay at Judy’s dad's place for the night.
Some of Don and Judy’s family and friends came over as well and we were all treated to a beautiful dinner, at the same time being entertained by Judy’s dad, Les - a great bloke.
Next morning we had a BBQ breakfast cooked for us - their hospitality was fantastic and was most appreciated by us travellers.
Don had also organised new tyres, etc for those who needed them at the local bike shop. Huw and Merv had their tyres done first and took off for Port Augusta, before stopping at Border Village and home.
We then headed off to Swan Hill on the Murray River where we stayed the night. Pete organised a bus to take us to a pub for a meal and a couple of drinks.
Pete was very happy about that, though not too happy when on the return trip we couldn’t all fit on the bus and some had to wait an hour for the next one. The pub turned out to be a pokie joint over the bridge in NSW! But it was still a nice meal and good value for money.
This had been another windy day, we seemed to have had a lot of them, although no rain and mild to warm temperatures - can’t have everything can you?
After Swan Hill we followed the Murray River to Mildura before riding through Renmark to Burra where we stayed the night.
Another very good caravan park, this time with a pub nearby which proved great meals.
The next morning we rode from Burra to Peterborough, Wilmington and Horrocks Pass.
What a great ride this was, no traffic, a road with no potholes, sunny day, no wind and no traffic and brilliant sweeping bends. We did a good days ride that day ending up staying the night in Nundroo - which had reasonable camping with some grass for $4 an night including showers! Good value.
Unfortunately Big John got booked close to Ceduna, we were all very sympathetic.
Great meal that night, Owen had a huge steak with the proviso from the roadhouse that if he ate it all he would receive a free RoadKill T-shirt - he devoured the lot!
Pete, Rob and Chris and I were the only ones camped that night, the rest used the backpackers or the motel, so by the time we had packed and had breakfast the main mob had gone.
Pete also took off, leaving Ralph & Mo, Chris and I and Robin.
Just after Mundrabilla disaster happened when the master-link on Ralph’s Yammie snapped in half breaking also a roller on the chain. I towed him back to Mundrabilla while we looked at the different options. We decided we needed a new chain - 70kms from the SA Border!
After a lot of phoning around, some very unhelpful Yamaha shop in Perth, Kalgoorlie bike shops weren’t much better either, before getting the phone number of the Yamaha shop in Port Augusta. They were great, we had discovered that Mundrabilla Roadhouse was the changeover point for drivers from Bunkers Freightline, as was Port Augusta. So Northern Motorcycles, Port Augusta took the chain (correct length, as ordered, so no messing around with linkbreakers) to the motel the truckies used that afternoon, and it was dropped off to us next morning. We were back on the road by 9 am - brilliant.
Robin had left the day before to catch up with the rest of the crew at Balladonia so it was just Ralph, Mo, Chris and me. We put in a pretty big day pulling into Gibson Soak just after dark.
Had a big meal, couple of beers, a good sleep and then a final enjoyable ride to Albany.
By the time we returned home we had done 8,000kms and my trusty BMW had only used 1 litre of oil, not bad for a bike with 215,000kms on the clock!
What a great trip. What a great bunch of people - everyone got on, no hassles, we all looked out for each other to make sure no-one got lost, everyone helped if help was needed and we had a lot of laughs.