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August 2008 Club News

Paul and Kate's Around Oz Ride - from Dec Feb April and June

Paul gets his tyre warm in 2003 Hillclimb

We got caught up on the Pacific Hwy for a while with all the roadworks going on. Coff’s Harbour looked a bit big and wanky so we continued down to Bellingen, a beautiful rural small town at the bottom of the mountain road that leads up to Dorrigo, where we managed to camp for a few days. Bloody good patisserie just off the main drag and the locals were friendly.

The ride up to Dorrigo was a hoot and we called in to Australia’s smallest motorcycle museum, an old beemer, ex-military WLA, old pommy bike and a 250 Virago rounded out the collection. It was actually a cafe cashing in on riders doing the mountain road. We went to the park then headed back down the fantastic road. I was having a great ride when this bloke on a Suzuki RG not sure if it was a 250 or 500 blew past me on the outside with his knee down. He looked like he knew the road well and he was in his groove. The country at the bottom was all green pastures and budding deciduous trees.

After Bellingen we headed for Wauchope to have a go at the Oxley Hwy. At Wauchope our plans of camping were dashed, but some old boys from a campervan club agreed to keep an eye on our trailer at the showgrounds for us. At the fuel station we asked what the road was like and were disappointed to hear that it was pretty straight for the first 50km but got windy after that. Luckily his idea of straight meant nice top gear sweepers over small hills through magic scenery. The tight stuff got real tight and the fun really started. We stopped in at a little store at Ginger Creek, about half way along, for a drink then headed back to Wauchope. A great ride.

Back at Wauchope the old fellas told us about one of their favourite free camping spots at a spot south called Coopernook, just north of Taree. It turned out to be a cracker of a spot in the bush on a grass clearing surrounded by tall trees and that night under a fingernail moon. Next morning we headed south and called in at the National Motorcycle Museum at Nabiac. Some nice old machinery there but my favourites were thin on the floor because ‘people were still enjoying riding them too much’.

From Nabiac we rode down to Hawk’s Nest, across the water from Nelson Bay, to camp for a couple of nights. It was a bit too windy and cool to really appreciate the place. While there I rang John and Mary, the bike enthusiasts from Sydney we met up at Kalbarri, to see if they were still keen on us calling in. They were mad keen and Mary had just bought a new bike and would be picking it up that weekend. So that was sorted. The famous ‘Pieman’ of the area didn’t live up to the boasts. Not a patch on the Denmark bakery.

We then headed to the top of the Putty Road via Kurri Kurri, breeding ground of world champion motorcyclists Chad Reed and Casey Stoner, and ended up camped out the back of the Wollombi Pub under the trees by a river. Brilliant. It was a free camp so we cut our fees out over the bar. Brenda, the manager, got us to try the local hooch affectionately known as ‘Dr Jurd’s Jungle Juice’. A mix of a good port and brandy that slid down dangerously easily. We bought a bottle as a present for John and Mary. A good night.

Next morning was a pea souper as we packed and headed north to the Hunter Valley area through roads and hillsides that had a few bushranger spirits hanging about. It was then a run down the Putty and what another great bike road. We were going to camp at Colo but the park had shut down so we jagged a spot on the Hawkesbury river at Sackville in a deserted water ski park run by ‘Old Arthur’ for $7. We had time left so we headed up over the Sackville Ferry, free, to Wiseman’s Ferry. Had a great lunch at the Coffee House then crossed the Hawkesbury again and followed the river towards Gosford for a while. Bloody beautiful scenery but this road was a bit rough. We called in at the Wiseman’ Pub on the way back for a cold ‘unleaded’. Then back to camp.

We headed around the back of Sydney then came up to John and Mary’s from the south. They were picking up Mary’s new bike, a BMW R1200S, and had told us to make ourselves at home as they’d left the house open for us. In the days we spent there they took us touring the best roads around west and south Sydney; Macquarie Pass, Kangaroo Valley, The Skyroad near Stanwell Park and the road through Royal National Park. They also took us to their son Dave’s 30th birthday party and we had a top night. I loved it when, over breakfast on one of the rides, Dave (VTR 1000 rider) asked his mum for her bike keys so he could take her new bike for a fang. How good’s that?

We left Sydney and headed for Canberra via the Liverpool MCA superstore where we picked up some goodies. Heated grips among them for Canberra and the Snowys. We then took a route mapped out by John of some interesting backroads down to Canberra. We did the usual while there; took in Floriade, War Memorial, Australia Museum, National Galley and the Fyshwick bike shops. Kate had picked up a pair of ‘Blueant’ units to be used as intercom and at $360 for the pair as opposed to $2000 it was going to cost for the full Autocom set-up, these are great. They only have a range of about 400m but are fine for us and they were easy to install and can be charged from the bike. Makes a difference talking our way through busy traffic or dodgy surface conditions.

After Canberra we headed down to John and Mary’s Farmhouse in the Snowy Mountains just south of Dalgety via Cooma. I had Banjo Patterson coming unbidden to my wandering mind as we headed through the Snowy High Country. I was blown away when we crossed the actual Snowy River on our way to the farmhouse. The farmhouse was a ripper that they use during the ski season as Jindabyne is only 30km away. A top set-up. We stayed there about six days resting when the wind blew too hard and riding when the conditions were better. The heated grips got a good test when it snowed on us up at Thredbo and Dead Horse Gap. Another day we made it all the way up to Charlotte’s Pass, above Perisher Valley. The snow was in walls up to 8ft high either side of the road.

I was told by Wayne ‘the Guru’ at Mach 1 that the clutch plate replacement was a simple job. I’d had the gasket and plates posted to a town nearby. After removing the heat shields and front header pipe, right footboard and rear brake pedal, lower frame rail, 18 bolts for the right side engine cover, the gasket in one piece, a large circlip and the pressure plate I was confronted with a large nut (24mm) instead of the usual 5 or 6 bolts. I rang Wayne and asked what the story was as he’d said it was a simple job. ‘It is’, he says, ‘If you’ve got a rattle gun’. Not something I had in any sort of abundance in a lonely farmhouse in the Snowy Mountains. So it was a case of put it all back together and hope the old gasket didn’t leak. It didn’t.

We headed out of there in a gale force wind. Up the Alpine Way through Jindabyne, Dead Horse Gap, Khancoban through the beautiful Murray River Valley and across the border to Corryong. We ended up camping in Tallangatta in a quiet spot. Next morning we were on the road again through Kiewa down to Mt Beauty and over the windy Tawonga Gap road, excellent, to the town of Bright, where Kate’s parents camped on their motorcycle trip in 1952.

Bright is a beaut spot and from here we got out to Beechworth, where Ned and his mum were convicted. We stood where he stood in the old courthouse and had a good look around this historic town. Called in at Glenrowan, the site of the siege, and were bewildered by the animated show there.

Yesterday we came across the Great Alpine Road over Mt Hotham where we were riding above snow covered peaks. Like the Snowys we stopped and filled our esky with snow because we’re too tight to buy a bag of ice. Funny thing is that the snow lasts longer. Again the road is motorcycle heaven. Met Billy and Ben at the High Plains Lodge at the Dinner Plain settlement just past Hotham. Into their bikes and run a good bar. Said we’d keep an eye out for them at the MotoGP. Down the windy roads through Omeo into Bairnsdale. We camped just south of there at a place called Eagle Point and the mozzies are fierce. Left over from their floods.

Managed to change my front tyre and Kate’s back and the boys at Shield and Doyle’s bike shop, Dale and Wally, kindly let me use their rattle gun so the clutch is now done. Next morning we packed and headed to Wilson’s Promontory after a delay with a flat tyre on the trailer. But with the help of a couple of friendly locals I managed to reseal the bead and pump it up again. Checking it in the park swimming pool showed no obvious leaks so I’ve put it down to a slow leak.

Wilson’s Promontory is a beautiful place and I can now see what all the fuss is about. They hold a lottery at Christmas for people wanting campsites, such is the demand at Tidal River. It reminded me a little of Cape Le Grande near Esperance. High granite peaks surrounded by bush and beaches. The wildlife is a little too tame and we were warned about wombats breaking into tents to get at food a bit like the bears in America but on a smaller scale.

I was sitting down with a beer in the in the arvo and had opened a packet of chips when about four bright red and blue king parrots landed on and around me. One landed on the table next to me and waltzed straight up to the chip packet and stuck his head straight in bold as brass.

Kate got very excited when a wombat wandered past the campsite and made me follow it around for a while giggling and carrying on. Made her day. The night was a different story as one made a hell of a racket trying to get into our camper. I was worried the bastard was going to tear the canvas. We shooed him off. Next morning, sure enough, nice big muddy wombat footprints over the canvas wall.

The trip to Phillip Island was a bit exciting as I’d been dreaming of making this pilgrimage for nearly 20 years. Past Wonthaggi and the bike traffic started picking up. We pulled into our campsite about lunchtime on Thursday, set up, introduced ourselves to our neighbours and went for a ride into Cowes. This was only Thursday and there were bikes by the hundreds. A celebration of the motorcycle. Thursday night was cold and wet and we all got to know each other around a fire over a few ales.

Friday was practise day and to see and hear those GP bikes in the flesh was something I’ll not soon forget. Stoner was setting a blistering pace early in practise and definitely looked the man to beat. Walking back from Siberia we were treated to the riders pulling up, not more than 20m in front of us and practising their starts. How good is that. I was barracking for Ant West as he was on the Kwaka and was finally being recognised as the talent he is. Other highlights were seeing Mick Doohan being interviewed and doing his Legend Laps with Magee and Beattie. The Superbikes were also a hoot to watch.

Friday night was a burster with the campground crowd swelling and the fireworks and burnouts. More ales around the fire. Couldn’t believe when a mate from Denmark wandered past. Aman had trained his S2 Ducati to Adelaide and ridden over that day and was camped only 50 yards away.

Next morning Kate needed to get away from the campground for her sanity so I took her back into Cowes for a coffee and a wander. Another highlight was walking back to the bike and bumping into ‘The Goose’ after handshakes and a brief chat we were very impressed at having met Steve Bisley. At the track that arvo it was qualifying. Big crowd. Stoner put his stamp on early then Rossi pulled out a blinder. It was Pedrosa who pulled out a smoking hot lap to take pole. I was in awe.

Saturday night rowdier and pissier than the night before. I can see why people keep coming back. Sunday morning and the atmosphere kept building and the crowds kept pouring in. We took a wander around the track during practise to see all the angles. The view at turn eleven was great watching the riders gas it up getting sideways out of the turn.

Come race time and the circuit was packed. We watched from the hill in front of the visitor’s centre and had a view of nearly all the track. Stoner got a great start and dominated from turn one. At one stage I clocked his lead at seven seconds. Kate was getting right into it as well which was great to see. Westy finished 12th with a tyre that had gone ‘off’. Vermulen achieved a credible 8th considering the set-up problems the Suzukis had been having over the weekend. In the end it was all Stoner. The crowd invaded the track and Kate and I walked into the middle in front of the big screen to see the presentations. After that we walked up the track to Southern Loop and back to camp.

The mass exodus hadn’t occurred and many seemed happy to camp Sunday night and party again. Wicked. Kate retired early and in a lot of pain with a suspected dislocated shoulder. I got on the phone to my mate Dave in Albany to see if he had tracked down ‘The Pudding’. He had and it had been to the GP but was now at his mate Chris’ place in Nunawading. I rang Chris and asked if he’d mind if we called in to see it. He said, “No worries”, and kindly offered for us to stay at his place in ‘Room 42’.

We headed out of a mass of traffic on the Monday and headed up to Nunawading, eastern Melbourne. Chris pulled in to his joint minutes after us and we introduced ourselves. Chris is a mad BMW man and from the numerous ‘Longest Distance’ rally trophies doesn’t mind doing the big miles. While we were talking he nonchalantly gestured to a tea cosy looking thing and says, “Aw yeah, there’s ‘The Pudding’”. I gingerly picked it up and took it out of its cloth drawstring bag. Inside the clear resin block was the battered, dented and worn tin that started out as a Big Sister Self Saucing Pudding. I could make out the names Mick and Vince scratched into the tin at the top and could feel the old pudding rattling around inside. I think Chris thought my reaction was a hell of a joke.

I was fortunate enough to take it for a spin around Melbourne to Kate’s chiro appointment then the next day up into the Dandenongs where we had some great tucker at Pie in the Sky in Olinda and Ripe in Sassafras. Kate got to take it for a lap around the block as well. I was able to service the bike at Chris’, 3000km since Sydney. We headed out through Melbourne after thanking Chris for his hospitality and his indulgence. It was a cool, fine day and the run down the Great Ocean Road was one of the best I’ve had. So here we are in Apollo Bay where we camped the night. Out of all the people I rang to tell them about ‘The Pudding’ only Fergie knew what I was babbling about. Cheers mate. That was a big one.

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