We left Apollo Bay on Oct 19th and headed up into the Otways for the
last part of the Great Ocean Road. We called into the Twelve Apostles
and things had changed there since our last visit. The carpark is now
on the north side of the road with a tunnel that passes under the
highway. It was busy too. On we travelled through Port Campbell and
into Portland for lunch. We missed seeing Portland last time because
it’s just off the main route.
I don’t know about you but after travelling quite a few kays around
the country and being constantly bombarded with morbid traffic messages
like ‘Microsleeps kill in seconds’, Share a slab (morgue table)’, ‘Rest
or Die’, ‘Numbers of fatalities and injuries blah blah’, I was a bit
worried about the morbid messages and the power of suggestion on the
subconscious mind and whether it could induce a form of psychosis or
suicidal tendencies. Maybe it’s just me but it was something that
rattled around in my head as the road rolled under us. Would it kill
them to have a positive message?
Anyway that said, we pulled into Mt Gambier that arvo and booked
into the Blue Lake Caravan Park. Last time we went through we didn’t
really explore the area and now we regretted it. Mt Gambier is situated
on limestone country, dotted with extinct volcano craters, of which
Blue Lake fills one. It was bloody spectacular having a look around the
craters, sinkholes and caves. A quick run south to Port MacDonell was a
good ride to a nice little fishing town with limestone coast that
reminded us a bit of Windy Harbour.
We met up with Peter and Anne, some friends we met while we were
riding around the NZ’s south island, who were down from Adelaide.
They’d invited us up to stay with them in Adelaide and had offered us
the use of their shack on the Fleurieu Penninsula, south of Adelaide
and just north of Cape Jervis. So after a couple of days we headed up
the coast to Adelaide calling in at a beaut little seaside town called
Robe for lunch. More beautiful stone houses and good tucker. From there
it was up through Kingston and along the Coorong made famous in the
film Storm Boy. I had to laugh along here as there were the odd rickety
shacks here and there. The shacks were all hooked up to mains power via
power poles and high tension cables. The poles and wire would have cost
more than the shacks themselves.
About that time the sweltering conditions took on another twist,
wind. And it blew like a bastard, hot and hard. To top it off it was a
headwind and I had a belly full of low octane fuel and the old girl
didn’t like that too much. We struggled on through Talem Bend and
across the flash new Murray Bridge bypass up to Hahndorf, one of the
quaint old style towns with a distinctly German flavour. We went for a
walk, very nice place, and stopped in for a beer, unleaded of course.
The menu at the pub looked fantastic but we were expected for dinner in
We camped with Pete, Anne and their lovely daughter Claire, who
corrupted me further by teaching me how to make decent café
style coffees on their flash coffee machine. These guys love their food
and funnily enough that’s how we met in Akaroa at my favourite
restaurant, the world famous ‘C’est la Vie’.
We couldn’t visit Adelaide without riding the mythical Adelaide
Hills. I remember an old mate Derek recounting tales of epic blasts
through them with a fond twinkle in his eyes. After a few wrong turns
we eventually got to sample ‘Chain of Ponds’ and ‘Gorge Road’, twice.
Wicked. I’d heard more about Chain of Ponds but my favourite would have
to have been Gorge Road. We rode up to Birdwood and I went to the
museum alone as Kate had had enough of petrol-head shrines. Brilliant.
We also hit a few of the other hills roads and they were winners too,
but the first two really stood out.
After a few days in Adelaide we headed south to Pete and Anne’s
shack which was situated on the coast in a little place called Second
Valley, just south of the town of Yankalilla. Beautiful green rolling
hills with gum trees was showing south oz in a good light. A great ride
down through winding backroads.
While down there we explored the Fluerieu, riding down to Cape
Jervis and looking across to Kangaroo Island. We then headed over the
ridgeline to Victor Harbour, South Oz’s equivalent to Albany. Lots of
building and retirees, and no wonder because it is a beautiful spot. We
kept heading east through Port Elliot, Middleton, Goolwa and onto
Hindmarsh Island to look over the mouth of the Murray River. Pretty
small mouth for a river that big, by the time it gets to the ocean.
Nice area down there.
Pete and Anne came down for the weekend and we cooked up a storm.
Then the weather turned to shit. Wind, rain, hail and thunder for the
next few days. Back in Adelaide we had to prep the bikes for the
Nullabour crossing, new back tyre for me, front for Kate plus new chain
and rear sprocket (I’d done the front in Victoria). We thanked Pete and
Anne for their hospitality and headed north hooking a left after Port
Wakefield to cross the York Peninsula to get to the ferry at Wallaroo.
We nearly didn’t make it as Kate’s bike wouldn’t start. I finally
tracked down to a faulty cutout switch on the clutch lever. We made it,
just. The ferry crosses the Spencer Gulf from Wallaroo, on the York
Peninsula, to Lucky Bay, on the Eyre Peninsula just above Cowell. It
cost us about $120 for the two bikes, trailer and us as passengers and
cuts out the run up to Port Augusta and down through Whyalla. The trip
takes about two hours.
On the ferry we met Grange, another West Aussie who’d been over for
a HOG rally on his white and silver Harley Heritage Outfit, and Bill,
an Oyster Farmer from Coffin Bay on a red Moto Guzzi. Nice blokes. Bill
offered to show us around his Oyster Farm if we got down there. There
was 11kms of dirt road from Lucky Bay out to the highway which Kate
wasn’t too pleased about.
Cowell looked like a nice place but with the extra daylight we
decided to push on to Tumby Bay and camp the night. Great spot but the
next day we rolled on to Port Lincoln, looked around and decided to
keep moving on to Coffin Bay. We were sitting at a café when
Bill pulled in in his Magna that he’d bought and sold three times. He
ended up showing us around his operation, feeding me oysters and
homebrews that the locals trade with him.
If you’re down that way his name is Bill Stenson of Odyssey
Fisheries 08 8685 4455, tell him you’re a mate of Paul and Kate’s and I
reckon he’d be happy to show you around. And Coffin Bay is a stunning
spot. Bill also gave me the answer to why there are so many beautiful
stone houses in South Australia, they don’t have the supply of hardwood
timber that we do in the west and their most abundant local material is
stone. Now I get it.
From Coffin Bay we headed up the western side of the Eyre Peninsula
stopping at Elliston, another great spot we’d liked to have camped at
with its unusual coastal formations and bay. We kept going up to
Streaky Bay, where we camped the night. Nice place but the weather was
coming in. Next morning down she came. Pissed on us all the way to
Ceduna where I did the oil changes in the rain in the carpark of the
The bloke there said that just north of Streaky at Smoky Bay they’d
had flash flooding. The bloke said in the 50 years he’d been there he’d
never heard of it before. The rain gods were back. We stopped for a
cuppa and heard some bad news that a friend of the family had lost his
battle with cancer and the pressure was on to be back for the funeral.
We headed out in the rain. Funny but it rained last time we crossed
the Nullabour too. We stopped in at the woolshed at Penong then headed
on. Bit of a headwind too. We had to turn around just past Nundroo
Roadhouse to go back for fuel as Yalata was no longer operating. You’d
reckon they’d warn you before the fuel stop not 5kms past it. All the
way across the Nullabour I was patting the old bike and promising if
she just got us home without breaking down I’d take the towball off and
she’d never have to tow again. That seemed to perk her up.
I really like the Nullabour, it’s just so different to anywhere else
and there is a calming groove to the place. The Nullabour roadhouse
itself hadn’t changed much and we grabbed some very expensive fuel and
pre birthday beers and headed on to the cliffs of the Great Aussie
Bight. We called into a beaut spot that had the road closed. Turned out
to be the best view of all the spots. We pushed on and ended up camping
40km east of the WA/SA border right on the cliffs. This is where I said
goodbye to the ‘dirty thirties’ and hello to the ‘naughty forties’.
That morning I awoke the elder statesman of 40yrs with a cup of tea
standing on the cliffs edge. Not the place to go sleep walking. We were
a bit worried when a jap fella was hanging off the cliff, which was
limestone and very unstable, to get a couple of happy snaps. If he’d
gone over that’s where he would have stayed. We packed up and headed
west again, stopping at the border and getting a few text message best
wishes from family and friends for the birthday. Thanks for those.
Border security had been stepped a fair bit since last time. It was
like crossing the border to another country.
It was a long run that day through Eucla, past Mundrabilla, fuel at
Madura, past the bra, bottle and shoe trees, past Cockelbiddy, stopping
at Caiguna for a feed and a shower in their excellent facilities (the
ones at Balladonia were shit), more fuel at Balladonia after the
longest straight bit of road in Australia, 146.6km, with a rabid
truckie hot on our tails, through Norseman, a place I called home for a
year and a half, and down to a beaut old camping spot I knew from the
old days, Bromus Dam.
Kate did bloody well. It was an 820km stint, the longest she’s ever
done. We set up camp in a top little spot behind the Dam, lit a fire
and slipped into a few ice cold beers. Not a bad birthday. Cup of tea
on the Bight, bit of a ride and ice coldies around a fire in the bush
with your best mate. What more could you ask for? Next morning we were
up and headed to Esperance for brekkie, a mere 170km down the road. We
were going to stay and rest up but Kate had had enough of the ‘big
smoke’ so we headed to our shack in the bush near Bremer Bay for a
couple of days, we even had a tailwind.
We’d clocked up around 2000km in the previous three days so we were
due for a rest. The mate’s funeral ended up being on Friday so we got
an extra day at the shack. Nearly stepped on a bloody dugite as I was
walking barefoot through the bush with Kate. Yep those stains didn’t
come out in the wash. Then we were headed to Albany to catch up with
family and friends and attend a funeral. The folks were happy to see us
nearly back safe. I ended up getting splattered at the wake catching up
with old mates. Massive hangover from the chemically brewed beer.
Then Kate and I were on the final leg of the journey. Distance to
home now measured in two digits. We called in for a coffee in town and
were welcomed back by more people than we could have expected. It was
nice to be back in Denmark. Then it was down Ocean Beach Rd to our own
little patch of paradise. I’d forgotten how comfortable our bed was.
It’s like sleeping on a cloud compared to the camper. Now we are
getting the house back in order, the vehicles running and the garden is
going to need a bit work. But there is nowhere we’d rather be.
Hope you enjoyed the ride, we definitely did and I think Kate’s feet
are itching again already. .