Story: Wes Thomas. Pics: Wes and Chester Powell
Saturday. . . it was a bit cool and apparently almost drizzling in Albany when Bob Jackson, Chester Powell, Clive Smith, Des Gaze, Barry May and Ron Henzen were waved off by Chris Rees for Jerramungup. At Wellstead the riders met a Japanese motorcycle tourist. He’d hired a bike in Perth and was on a 250cc Kawasaki tour of the south-west. This fella was really dedicated, dressed in just denims, but he beat the rest of them to Jerramungup! I had left Bremer about 11am for the rendezvous at the car park opposite the Ampol garage.
By the time everyone had re-fuelled it was bouncedown in the AFL Grand Final. The only radio that we could listen to was on Barry’s BMW. A tourist bus pulled in and we were surrounded by Sydney Swans fans from somewhere in country NSW. We all joined in some good-natured rivalry!
It was hard to break up the party, but we headed to Ravensthorpe, arriving at the next fuel stop, to catch more of the game. Chester discovered that he knew the owner of the Ampol servo, and we were allowed to watch most of the final quarter in the dining room. You can imagine about 6-8 umpires bellowing the outcomes of some decisions! We all nearly brought the roof down at the end.
Hopetoun was the easy ride and the destination for the night. Some of us stayed at the motel, and the others camped, meeting Rob Sedgewick and Des and Margaret from Bruce Rock. I think we all had a few ales and dinner at the pub restaurant, amid the rowdy celebrations of the mining crews.
Sunday. . . Bob took Des and I on a quick trip around Hopetoun . . . it is really booming with developments all over the place. According to Chester, Clive has developed a somewhat worrying trait on these trips! Once again the female ablutions have been graced with Clive’s presence, being caught shaving (not his bikini line) by some rather unfortunate ladies. You should have seen his face, Norman Gunston would have been proud!
We rode back to Highway 1 and stopped for “brunch” at Munglinup. Food is as important as fuel on these trips. We turned off the main road just out of Esperance and found the Twilight Cove road. It is really worth the ride into town this way. Sensational views with rolling hills covered in a low, pink flowered heath on one side and the wild, ocean on our right. We stopped for pictures and a good look, before riding into Esperance, passing more breathtaking coastline.
Reading Chester’s notes, some of we softer folk had hard accommodation while he and the others roughed it in tents and the like (like Ron’s home-away-from-home camper setup). More riders joined us here. The Halls from Kendenup and Warwick Jones caught us up to make a total of eleven bikes. Murray Hall was loathe to leave his sheep! As I said in the itinerary, it is a short staggering distance to the Traveller’s Inn. You can tell this was another “It’s all good" trip.
Monday. . . everyone gathered in town, near the well patronised bakery for the ride to Orleans Bay. It was a warm run out Fisheries road to Condingup. The Tavern here was the gathering place for smoko. It was south then to Orleans Bay. After directions from the caravan park there, we rolled into the car park at Wharton beach. I suspect the reader may be bored with my descriptions, but it is another beautiful piece of this great coast line. White hard sand, crystal clear water . . . you know . . . all the superlatives !
By this time we were all quite hot. Several daring riders had a swim . . . it was rather cool, but very refreshing. Beach fashion was at stake here . . . but no names mentioned. I spoke to the caravan park manager . . . he said after the school holidays, it was really quiet there until Christmas . . . sounds good.
Some of us visited the Bandy Creek Boat Harbour and others rode out to Cape Le Grand after lunch. It was a nice relaxing day, capped off by a pub dinner, although this “tour leader" had to wait for his!
Tuesday. . . a cool change had blown through overnight, but only a hint of rain. The bikers main worry of bad weather had so far been only a dim memory. Chester had a brush with the law. Or so he says . . . his licence to ride had expired. I guess his sweet talking must have paid off because he was still on time to leave the bakery with the rest of us as we stocked up on lunch again.
Smoko at Salmon Gums and then onto the Bromus Dam. Phil Penny showed some of us this old piece of history several years ago. Rock lined and still holding plenty of water it’s a pity there is not more information there for travellers.
At this stage the wind was right on our left shoulder, gusting and making riding a challenge, as we stopped for lunch and fuel at Norseman. Some of the rolls from the Esperance Bakery had lasted this far!
Several car loads of Eagles supporters pulled in from Melbourne looking elated, but very tired. As was last year some of the “young bloods" wanted to camp in Kalgoorlie that night, citing the all night truck noise at Coolgardie was too hard to put up with. You guessed it, Mawson led the exploration to the bright lights! However he didn’t follow the script. Warwick arrived in Coolgardie before dark, saying camping was at a premium in Kal.
The people running the Caravan-Camping Tourist Village have always been great to deal with and Warwick had a room in no time. We fronted the bar at the Denver City Hotel (six-guns at the door!) and then wandered down to a motel restaurant for a great meal (I think it was Murray’s birthday). Des and I had promised ourselves a look at some Irish mist, but the leprechauns put the light out early.
Wednesday. . .
the crew from the Kal foray turned up
early . . . it must have been such a wild night that they just
up when they got back to camp! Clive didn’t even get to check out the
female ablutions either. From the note I have here, I’m not sure if
Clive slept in a carton or be bought one! However Clive did give the
rest of the party a guided tour of all the spots he spent (misspent)
So it was onto the Great Eastern Highway. The traffic was fairly steady. Warwick was nearly the meat in the emu sandwich topped off with a road train . . . a bit scary! We stopped at Boorabin Rocks for smoko, found some sandalwood trees and had a good wander about. I had to toot the horn to round up some riders who were being lectured to by some fella in a van about the best way to set up the Telstra network - I’m not sure who was lecturing who!
We stopped for fuel and food at Southern Cross. Another “tourist“ stop at the lookout to the west of town. We seemed to think that Southern Cross was showing some good side-effects of the mining boom. Neat and tidy, and full of life.
Bullfinch was next. We stopped for the obligatory ale (it was only 1.30pm). Unfortunately the owner was away, ‘cos she is quite a character. According to Jacko, it’s a good place to stay. It certainly looked tidy and comfortable. Can you all see where this is leading? Another pub run sometime!
The run west to Mukinbudin was nice and easy. A good road and much less traffic. If you ever notice Australian country town and road names, take this trip . . . there are some pearlers. I reckon we could add . . . ”Justslippinalongup”! Some us stayed in the “palatial” motel section of the pub and the rest at the camping/caravan park. I think the park was the best bet here. Erin had the water coming out the door at one stage. You have to watch these young honeymooners! It was still Murray’s birthday and he bought the bar. He could have bought the pub!
Mukinbudin is another tidy wheatbelt town. Some us had a wander around and took in the sights, discovering the local café, which served a great meal in the evening.
The campers bought barbie packs and had a great meal and night . . . all for $7 per night! There are chalets here as well and apparently it is a good setup. About now Chester’s notes have run out, so I’m winging it from here . . . no pun you Honda pilots !
Thursday. . . another beautiful morning (aren’t you bored . . . ha ha?) We said good bye to Des and Magaret, and Rob. They were riding straight back to Bruce Rock. Ron had to get back to Perth and we farewelled him too. Some farmers are too dedicated. The rest of us headed toward Bencubbin. At the Welbungin siding we stopped at Bate’s museum. It really is a great place. Just a farmer’s collection . . . but what a record of early farm machinery! Quite a few old tractors have been restored along with some machinery. It is an amazing array. As you may imagine a few of the older riders got lost in memories.
Jacko and Des seemed to be able to reel off a lot of the names and the applications of the rusty bits. Barry discovered the first caravan to come off the production line at Coromal Caravans! I think he wanted to swap his trailer . . . trying to keep up with Ron!
We finally dragged ourselves out of there and managed to make it to Bencubbin for smoko. We patronised the café with the rather dubious name of “Country Tarts”. Fuel at Wylkatchem and onto Dowerin where Murray‘s friend and partner joined us on his BMW K1200S(?) for the run to Meckering. More food/fuel and a look at the earthquake damage as well. Somehow we got to York, being led by Murray through some nice winding roads.
We were heading to Yearlering that night after quick stops at Brookton and Pingelly I was in the lead, trying to work out the distance to cover to the turn, east of Pingelly. We weren’t lost, but I was wondering whether we were on the right road, as it was getting to the end of a long day. Not a huge amount of kilometres, but a lot of varying sights. Somewhere along here, Warwick left to head to Perth. I think it was at Dowerin (it’s hard to keep up with him). So we were finishing the ride as we started, riders joining late and leaving as they needed to.
The Yearlering pub looked the goods and the beer was OK too! Clive, Barry and Chester camped by the lake and the rest of us, Des, Bob, Murray and Erin and I, had some great rooms in this old but clean hostelry. The women running it are doing a great job of refurbishing it, with some unique styles and colours. Murray and Des won the hearts of the local kids with bike rides for the whole town! The meal in the dining room was great and some fairly non-risqué jokes were told. No little ball . . . big ball bearings this time!
Whippy Daw rode in to see us, but there was only a couple of us left awake!. He offered to show us his motorcycle collection the next day.
Friday. . . I had an early morning wander around the small town, along the lake to the campsite. I reckon the first settlers of the area must have been really satisfied with such an idyllic setting. All the recreation grounds have been established along the lake side, including the camping area.
The Halls headed off toward Wickepin on their way home, Chester was going to Perth and Bob was dropping in on a mate just down the track. The much smaller contingent of Des, Clive Barry and I rode through to Lake Grace for fuel and a snack. I left the others here and pushed on through Borden and onto the home stretch to Bremer. Apparently the remaining Albany riders made it back after a leisurely run through the Stirlings.
We had some absolutely fantastic riding weather and although it was a smaller group then other years, good friendships were continued on some interesting roads. Thank you all for the company and companionship.