This is part of the tenth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Australia (part 1)
11/1/04 South again, resting in Grafton at a Born Again Christian rest stop with free coffee. This large highway house is run by an ex-druggy, 26 years on heroin, found Jesus and is now trying to save other drug and alcohol addicts through religious belief. The house has beds for 25 and is sometimes full, travellers without money, drunks brought here by the police or others just needing assistance are welcome. Wayne, "the preacher" full beard and powerful head of hair will give his version of the Lord over a cup of coffee, but is happy to listen to alternative views. Lunch at Coffs Harbour, full of tourists, school holidays and south to a small motel room in a van park alongside the Bellinger River as rain set in late afternoon.
12/1/04 The Northern N.S.W. hinterland has a string of rainforest national parks, world heritage listed on the slopes of old volcano's. We visited the township of Dorrigo and the Dorrigo National Park with it's new visitor centre and elevated walkways. The size and number of vines growing throughout the trees impressive. A recent storm had blown down many trees bringing down their treetop epiphytes and vines.
13/1/04 South again, Terrigal where Kay spent her high school years. Now an overgrown suburbia on the coast. The seagulls and pelicans settled into the routine of accepting handouts of left over food from tourists. Generations passing down the tradition and probably now not able to fish for themselves. Wildlife everywhere that become habituated to handouts, begging for their next meal are usually in poorer health than those surviving naturally. The more we feed these animals the more there are, yet the parallel with humans and social welfare seems to escape the same observations.
14/1/04 A reminisce of Terrigal for Kay. Their old unit boarded up for destruction. Their old house removed, now a block of flats. Her first job, the hotel replaced by a bigger more modern hotel, shopping complex. Their pet shop now a pizza shop. The motel her father last lived in closed, the site to be redeveloped. The place looks the same, the beaches, the waterfront the headland, but the personal place memories rapidly being redeveloped away. Fifteen years ago we last visited here. An old school friend, still in the old house, but she divorced years ago, family grown up, the house now for sale, moving to Newcastle. The place has changed.
15/1/04 A coastal ride to Avoca Beach, less developed and through Woy Woy almost forgotten on our way into Sydney. My sister Bev lives in the north coast suburbs of Sydney, a home with views over bushland and to the ocean. Sydney was where both Kay and I were born, the beach/headland, beach/headland coastline of sandstone cliffs and yellow sand backdropped by national park bushland is bettered nowhere else in the world as a place to live. The climate, temperate and the rainfall moderate add to it's appeal.
16/1/04 It rained all day, steady drizzle, thankfully we were already here, not travelling. Another BBQ dinner and wine. BBQ's are popular in Australia, and the wine as popular as beer in our age bracket.
17/1/04 My nephew, Bev's son, Graham's birthday and we had organized a fishing trip offshore. Nine of us chartered a boat which supplied the gear and bait, would even put it on the hook if necessary, and even though a popular pastime out of Sydney there are still enough fish to be caught. Mixed results from individuals but the boatload managed to catch three snapper and about fifteen flathead over the six hour trip. BBQ fresh fish for dinner.
18/1/04 A series of taking passengers, mostly relatives, for a joy ride in the morning. Harley's still have that mystique tempting people to have a ride. Then back to Goulburn and to Kay's mum's place this afternoon.
19/1/04 Still alert and trying to keep up with modern technology, Kay's mum needed to upgrade her five year old computer. She is our link via email and monitors our snail mail. Organized a new computer capable of digitalizing a lifetime of photos. An ideal way to give each grandchild a photographic record of a person's life, permanent and readily duplicable.
20/1/04 Installed the new computer, an easy transfer of data, unlike years ago. Worked on the motorcycle at cousin Philip's workshed. We have been destroying front engine mounts too frequently. A mechanic suggested it could be the engine alignment. With the laptop manual we discovered the alignment to be way out. The rear wheel slewed to the right. By tightening the front stabilizer and adjusting the top one, new engine mount and rear brake pads, the bike on the ride to my mum's in Canberra handled like new. The sloppiness in corners gone, no more wallowing.
21/1/04 My parents built the house in Canberra back when I was 14 yrs old and with the exception of a few years away on naval postings have lived here till now, my mother on her own for the last 20 years since my father died. The house and gardens are immaculately maintained with minor jobs being handed out to anyone who visits. The garden sprinkler system needed some maintenance, my job for the day.
22/1/04 Many building and manufacturing businesses close for the month of January. The official end being the Australia Day long weekend around the 26th of January commemorating the founding of the country. Cousin Philip, his wife Tanya and us decided to ride into the Snowy Mountains over the next five days. Philip has a 1998 Electraglide Classic and tows a self built aluminium trailer. Meeting in Canberra we departed for Captains Flat, an old mining town, 50 km's out, and having somewhat of a revival due to its rural surrounds and proximity to Canberra. We had decided on a backroads ride and followed the dirt roads to an old fishing spot frequented by my father and myself many times together. Camped at Nimmitabel, a small country town, basic but adequate facilities, enjoying the luxury of a couple of comfortable chairs supplied out of Philip's trailer.
23/1/04 The Kookaburra, a kingfisher bird, has a call that sounds like laughing, often heard in movies for dramatic effect, is a prevalent bird species in this region. It is usually the last bird sound to be heard in the evening after dusk and is the first awake in the mornings at dawn. An eerie sound in the noisy bush. The summertime buzz of flies and shrilled pitch of cicada (a large hard bodied flying insect spending a few days as an adult after years underground in the pupae stage) disappear on dusk to be replaced by chirping crickets and croaking frogs. Bombala, Delegate, mountain dirt roads, a swim in the tannin creek waters from the higher rainfall eastern slopes and dry forests on the western tablelands. Bush fires spread across this region exactly a year ago and burnt for hundreds of kilometres through the Kosciuszko National Park, almost joining up with equally devastating bushfires in the Canberra region at the same time. The Australian bush has evolved to survive fires. Eucalypt trees will re-shoot from buds beneath the bark and if severely burnt will shoot from the ground, some species even require fire to open seed pods. The couple of "Australian characters" at Seldom Seen, an eccentric petrol stop on the Barry Way, had their home, bike, cars and most of what they owned burnt out, only surviving themselves by being immersed in the dam as the fire raged past. Undaunted they recently reopened, burnt relics surrounded by new junk. Camped inside the National Park alongside the Snowy River.
24/1/04 We awoke to find an emu just outside our tent eating grass seeds, skittish but not too concerned by our presence at his breakfast. A short ride to Thredbo, one of the premier ski areas in winter and rapidly becoming a mountain bike mecca in summer. Using the same chairlifts to the top and a long track down, the armour clad cyclists punish their bikes. We undertook the more sedate, probably no less strenuous, option of walking the 13 km track to the top of Australia's highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko, a mere hill in world terms at 2228m, and back to the chairlift. Across alpine vegetation above the tree line flowering in summer sunshine with dozens of small streams. The long weekend in full swing, roads busy, campgrounds packed.
25/1/04 Headed towards Khancoban, twisty mountain roads, popular with motorcyclists. Popular also with restrictive speed limits, 60 km/hr on some sections. Unfortunately enjoying the mountain road we were radar clocked at 83 km/hr and suffered the $203.00 fine from the police. At Khancoban, Australia's highest town, we met a group of Harley riders from the Sydney area also enjoying the mountain riding this holiday. Inviting us to join them in Tumut for drinks and dinner at their Motel pool, the Motel manager showed how not to ask a group of bikers, or anyone else, to leave the pool area at 9 pm to reduce the noise level. The local pub, to where we moved, also closed at 9 pm, on a Sunday night of a long weekend? This council rule unusual in N.S.W., the town obviously not wanting party revellers. We moved, as a group of 25, to the local park to finish drinking and eating.
26/1/04 Through the village of Wee Jasper, wild blackberries for breakfast, said goodbye to Philip and Tanya and into Canberra through the burnt forests. A 1200 km loop, about half on dirt roads, a pleasant 4 day ride.
27-27/1/04 This is the last time we expect to see our parents for a while, saying goodbye to each.
29/1/04 Back to Philip's workshop for an oil change and final checking of the bike before heading out. Twenty five years ago Kay and I both gave up good Government jobs in Canberra and moved to a bush rural block with our one year old son John. We had owned the block for a year at the time and had built a large double garage, no walls inside, water and showers in the creek below the house. Dropping out of the city rat race of 9-5 we wanted the alternative. The property, half way between Boorowa and Young, is still there, still owned by the person we sold it to, two years later. In that time we had converted the garage to a house, connected water, fenced the block and discovered angora goats, moving on as we required more grazing land. Our neighbours of the time, Bill and Christine, retired here from the steel mills of Woolongong. They have since moved to the town of Young for health reasons, where we stayed the night, reminiscing old times, special because our other two children were born whilst we were living at this farm.
30/1/04 After a look around Young in the morning we headed to Murringo along the Boorowa Road to Jocelyn's farm. A fellow angora goat breeder years ago she has successfully made the transition to breeding Jack Russell dogs, having won the prestigious Sydney Royal Easter Show for her breed of dogs six years in a row, a result never having occurred before. As with her goat stud the dogs get better treatment than she gives herself, living in a small cottage packed with functional items surrounded by kennels of her loved Jack Russell's. We stayed in a caravan on the block enjoying the rural lifestyle, again reminiscing and catching up on each other's lives, 12 years since we last met.
31/1/04 Lunch with Eric and Gill, in Frogmore, more friends from our rural days. We first met them on our third property. After selling the first we leased a property for 18 months, breeding up the angora goat herd before purchasing 700 acres capable of running 1000 goats. Here we had stayed for four years, improving the property, renovating and extending the house, building a pool and tennis court. We left the area in 1987 and for the next 18 months travelled Australia in a small motor home and caravan, educating our children as we went. The last farm has not been maintained well, swimming pool near empty, house unpainted and unlived in, now for sale again, a bit depressing looking back.
1/2/04 Marg and Will from Rugby had organized a dinner party for our arrival last night with two other couples from our past and their eldest son, (now working on the property.) The rural hospitality in Australia surpassed nowhere else. More filling in details of each other's lives and stories of the past shared. A walk across the property to new stockyards and dams and meeting other family members filling the day.
2/2/04 The intensity of socializing can be tiring, time for ourselves again but as we were calling in on Paul and Mary for morning tea our first puncture in 230,000 km occurred. We hadn't inspected the tubeless plugs we use for a while, finding the glue had dried, required a trip to town, more hospitality from Paul and the need to stay for lunch before having our own time. To Crookwell, to Bathurst, Australia's oldest inland settlement, 1815, still has some magnificent old buildings in the town centre.
3/2/04 Lithgow to Blackheath, up in the Blue Mountains, 1000 meters high, in back of Sydney and with magnificent sandstone cliffs, cool weather.
4/2/04 Some who occupy our time do so for the purpose of interest, others extend more time to see through the achievement to become friends and others on a parallel course remain contacts for perhaps future benefits. True friends, happy with each other's extended time together are a rare and valued commodity. We have booked into a van park for four nights and will be doing day trips away. Govett's Leap lookout and a walk along the escarpment with views down the valley past waterfalls, sandstone cliffs and rainforest. The ridge top heath in full flower, bronzed lizards sunbaking and the porous sandstone feeding small creeks.
5/2/04 Australia is a young country, 215 years ago the first settlement, in Sydney. It took 25 years till 1813 before anyone managed to go west, just 100 km, to cross over the Blue Mountains, such was their sheer cliffs at the end of gentle valleys. The need to expand the settlement had a road built within a few years and settlers in the mountains. This top tourist attraction brings 3 million visitors a year, mainly day trippers from Sydney, Katoomba it's centre where we viewed the three stone pillars, the Three Sisters, walked, the Furber Steps to the bottom of the cliffs, and the 3 km suspended walkway through rainforest and caught the cable car back to the top.
6/2/04 Cave House at the Jenolan Caves, nestled in a steep valley has been drawing tourists for 100 years. My grandmother, were she alive, would have been 103 and had her honeymoon here. A dozen or more caves can be visited, one to two hour duration plus walks in the area. We rode to Mt York where the first explorers crossed the mountains, evidence of the Cox's road down into the valley remain, hand chipped sandstone cuttings. Onto Blaxland Mountain the final point of their trek and into the Jenolan Caves Valley. Here we met a traveller we had met three years earlier in Mali, West Africa, enjoyed a boat ride on the Niger River together. He is now entrenched in a different life, recently married, doing photography for commercials, busy out of Sydney. It really is the motorcycle's trip, it attracting his attention to our presence. Another coincidence showing how small the world is.
7/2/04 The fight between businesses and unions has been bitter over the years yet has probably led to great technical advancement. Without the higher demands for wages and conditions management wouldn't have come up with labour saving devices. It's not a coincidence that in low labour cost countries, technological advancement is also low. To save labour costs on farms automated cattle yards have been developed and built. The new cattle crushes will weigh stock and computer guided, draft them into different weight ranges, drench, delouse, electronic tag records kept, all processed by one man. The unions and govt regulations causing more advancement than a complacent entrenched management. Left the Blue Mountains (the blue tinge coming from the eucalyptus oils given off by the trees) via the Bells Line of road to the north with the early morning sun reflecting vividly off the sandstone cliffs. The day heating up as we headed across the plains, back of Sydney where the original settlers farmed. Down through Kangaroo Valley, nestled in the hills to the beach at Nowra.
8/2/04 Julie was Godmother to our three children. At the time she was married to Chris, their Godfather, but as often happens now, their marriage only lasted till eight years ago. Now married to Ray we stayed at their house in Nowra, visiting the popular and expensive seaside town of Kiama for the day doing the Australian traditional thing of eating fish and chips out of butcher's paper sitting on the grass at the seaside. Also popular with Australians our age is tea or coffee at a sidewalk cafe, there being many such places lining the main street in this Sydney weekend escape destination.
9/2/04 Southward to Bateman's Bay, Moruya and Narooma. More rivers running east off the "Great Dividing Range" forming lagoons, supplying sand for the beaches, making idyllic holiday destinations and a place to live. It rained in the afternoon and with no particular destination we stopped before getting too wet, not able to see much in the drizzle it was pointless to continue.
10/2/04 We were offered a trip to Montague Island by the National Parks and Wildlife Service on their supply boat. About 10 km offshore the island had aboriginal cultural significance prior to European settlement, later it was occupied by lighthouse keepers and their stock giving recent historical importance and just 14 years ago, management was transferred to National Parks primarily to protect the 12,000 fairy penguins that nest here but also the seal colonies and other nesting birds. The island's vegetation has been altered significantly from wooded scrubland prior to Europeans to Kikuyu, an introduced grass to feed stock, which has become the dominant species, it's runners smothering other grasses and entangling nesting penguins and making it difficult for them to dig burrows. The difficult task of blending the cultural past and protecting wildlife has been given to the National Parks, officials today reviewing past trial plots and planning future strategies with researchers. The adoption of poison, burn, native plant regeneration with follow-up spot spraying of introduced weeds. Over ten years the plan to return the island to a more natural and therefore more penguin friendly environment. As with any bureaucratic organization many vested interests and opposing lobby groups have different opinions that may slow or derail the seemingly logical solutions. In the afternoon followed the coast road to Eden. Virtually National Park or forest along this section of coast.
11/2/04 Eight years today the motorcycle left Australia starting this trip. For over 100 years Eden was a land based whaling station. Towards the end of that period whale numbers were diminishing and a killer whale group led by the whale Old Tom started to herd blubber whales into the bay to be killed by the whalers. Once the blubber whale was harpooned the killer whales would move in, eating its lips and tongue, a delicacy, leaving the remainder of the whale for the whalers. Apparently this went on for years before Old Tom was found washed up on a nearby beach bringing an end to the herding, and whaling in the area generally. The formation of a local museum preserved Old Tom's skeleton in 1931 and still displays it with many other whaling and boating exhibits. It rained all day, a good day to stay put.
12/2/04 Crossed the Victorian border, forests both sides of the road, selectively logged primarily for wood chip and to Lakes Entrance, 250 km.
13/2/04 The lakes district is the largest inland waterway in Australia, held back from the ocean by ninety mile beach, a sand dune dividing the ocean and the lake. We walked just 5 km along the lake edge to the ocean entrance where old buildings and equipment used in the formation of this permanent outlet over 100 years ago still remain. Watched a seal feeding in the swift out flowing waters and walked back on the ocean front.
14/2/04 Wilson's Promontory was Victoria's first National park, is their most popular and is the southernmost place in Australia we can ride. 250 km to Tidal River, the park's campground, 480 sites and full by mid afternoon on this summer weekend, 80% ground camping and 20% hard topped, mostly families with younger children but a smattering of oldies and a few 20's surfies. The attraction, apart from the natural beauty is beaches, pristine golden, shallow surf and large sandy shoals between the river and ocean. We walked to a headland, views to beaches and more headlands, a boardwalk along the river and a cool evening.
15/2/04 Visiting friends always involves more eating and drinking than usual resulting in a bigger waistline. Cooking for ourselves and walking more is helping. A long beach walk in the morning followed by the Lilly Pilly trail in the afternoon, 10 km for the day. The busy campground emptied throughout the day to about 20% of it's last night's capacity, people returning to work.
16/2/04 It's Kay's birthday today and rather than spending it in Melbourne traffic we decided to stay another day at the "Prom". A walk to the top of Mt Oberon in the morning, great views over the whole southern part of the park. An ice cream and spaghetti bolognaise for birthday specials, the only items the small park shop could tempt us with.
17/2/04 With totally depleted tyres, one still leaking from my puncture repair, (luckily we purchased a small $A13, Chinese made 12V compressor last week) we made it to Melbourne where two new tyres were waiting. These are the first tyres that we have had to pay for over the last six years since Dunlop agreed to sponsor us. Dunlop America provided free tyres on the North American continent and Dunlop Germany tyres delivered free anywhere else in the world, a truly amazing arrangement for us. However Dunlop Australia when approached recently were unable to see value to them in providing us with free tyres whilst we continue our Australian section, despite the prospects of magazine articles and rallies we will be attending. They did however arrange for tyres at cost to them, about 60% retail, which we collected today. The Harley-Davidson dealership, Peter Stevens, allowed us to remove the wheels and grease bearings whilst they changed the tyres and balanced the wheels, all gratis to us. The evening was spent repairing last night's spaghetti birthday dinner with a delicious chinese meal followed by a losing effort at the pool competition, downstairs from our hotel room in the middle of Melbourne's China Town.
18/2/04 Town walk, heritage buildings, parks and shops, generally deserted streets till lunchtime emptied the multi-storied offices. Smokers standing like prostitutes on street corners hanging about puffing, people rushing to achieve personal business and others eating, sitting on meagre grass spaces having lunch, 2 pm and the streets emptied again.
19/2/04 More walking, Victoria Markets, fruit and vegetables plus the thousands of small consumer and tourist items of similar markets under seeming kilometres of corrugated iron roofs. A tram ride, rattling the main streets, an efficient but seemingly antiquated system of city transport, looping the city with it's new docks development, poorer and business areas as neighbours. The ferry to Tasmania leaves at 9 pm from Melbourne docks, we were there at 7.30 along with 80 other motorcycles, most heading for the two Ulysses rallies in Tasmania. We had booked the cheapest tickets which gave us an aircraft style seat but after hunting around found an area on the top deck, inside, to put two mattresses for a bed, tacitly approved by the two security guards patrolling that area.
20/2/04 A good night's sleep in a reasonably rough crossing, unloaded at Devonport at 8 am for breakfast in the local coffee shop. We had teamed up with a couple of other riders and ended up at the rally grounds around lunchtime after a drizzly morning and a short beach side ride. A small local rally, about 90 people, surprisingly mostly from the mainland, as locals call the other island, tented and school dormitory style accommodation. An arriving day, meeting people, with drinking, talking and eating the main agenda.
21/2/04 The Ulysses club is for senior motorcycle riders. "Grow Old Disgracefully" is their motto and you have to be over 40 years old to be a junior member and over 50 to be a senior member. The all bikes club different from the usual Harley rallies we are use to. A few people ride Harley's, a few negative comments, majority great fun. Being at the younger age category, average about late 50's, the pace and conversation a bit slower than the people we meet along the road. An afternoon gymkhana, bike and people events, slalom, slow race, etc, evening band with music from the sixties era, everyone in bed by 11 pm.
22/2/04 60 bikes on a planned locally escorted ride through the twisties farmland of the central north of the island. They seem to grow everything here, berries, stone fruit, apples, vegetables, even poppies for the legal opium market. The high rainfall, long summer day length and fertile soils making for high production. Always a state of controversy between the conservationists and industry the planting of large areas of timber for woodchip seems to have followed on from lack of available timber elsewhere. A couple of stops along the way, the ride ended with a coast road after which many participants had an afternoon siesta, including the author. A quieter evening, few beers etc.
23/2/04 Cradle Mountain, part of Tasmania's main natural tourist attraction, in cloud most of the time and raining, today opened itself up for the five hours we walked the new boardwalk over tussock grassland, through rainforest and beech trees, the 9 km's to Dove Lake at the base of the mountains. A keen eye could spot wombats late afternoon grazing alongside small kangaroos and pademelon (potoroos) in the forest, even an echidna looking for ants. The new shuttle bus ferried us back to the visitor's centre along a newly sealed road. Late in the afternoon and still cold, 8 degrees, we arrived at Hellyer Gorge, a free camp site in the forest alongside a river. A late evening walk showed up another pademelon and a platypus feeding.
24/2/04 A cold night, 2 degrees, no morning sun to warm us in the forest. 400 km to Strahan, the long way, to the north coast town of Stanley, west to Arthur River on the coast then the Western Explorer, a dirt road through scrubland and forests past lobster fishing villages and riverside settlements, rejoining asphalt and onto Zeehan and Strahan. Further than we wanted to travel but without reason to stop, just enjoying the moving scenery. Despite it being fringe season all accommodation, including tent space in town, occupied. We were lucky to get a 6 pm cancellation in an affordable A'frame.
25/2/04 Australia came of age in the 1970's, environmentally speaking, when demonstrators successfully protested the damming of yet another of Tasmania's wilderness rivers. The ensuing fight between the Federal and State Governments ended in a large World Heritage listed area in the south west. Today this previous hydro and logging area attracts tourists to its pristine environs. Funny these are the same arguments we are using in Africa and South America today to protect their wildlife and forests, how recently righteous we are. We took the cruise boat to Hells Gate, the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, to Sarah Island, a penal colony for convicts, the worst of the worst, and up the undammed Gordon River to an elevated boardwalk through the rainforest. The primary reason for the trip today as for the convicts was the elusive Huon Pine. A tree that grows for 3000 years and is resistant to rot and wood worms, sought after by shipbuilders in the past and now totally protected, sought by tourists, alive.
26/2/04 Queenstown, where gold, copper and silver were mined, resulting in denuded hills from using timbers to fuel the smelting, and sulphuric acid rain, left a totally barren eroded landscape. We were in Tasmania 27 years ago, our first travelling together, eight months, apple picking in the south east, travelling with two dogs in a car and pop top camper. No children at that stage though John was conceived here, The landscape around Queenstown has recovered slightly in that time. Short walks to waterfalls and rivers alongside the road to Lake St Clair, with further walks near the lake and camped there the night.
27/2/04 Despite only 15% of the old growth timber (trees not logged before) left in this state the government still allows the process of turning these trees into wood chips. With 10% in national parks there is very little remaining elsewhere and soon there will be none. The swamp gum is the tallest flowering tree in the world, surpassed only by the Californian Redwoods (conifers) in height. Towering above all else in the forest it has been recorded at 98 meters. A walk through these giants at Mt Field National park on our way to Hobart the states capital.
28/2/04 The wharf area of Hobart it's main attraction. The old restored warehouses attract craft makers and alfresco coffee crowds even more so on Saturday mornings when markets line the port area and up narrow streets. Crowds, mostly tourists, buy anything from edibles to collectibles, many locally made others imported or old junk. One of our best markets with a lot of unique products. Not overly keen on markets myself I bought a second-hand book and wandered off to read and people watch on grass beneath oak trees while Kay shopped till she dropped. Luckily not able to buy much due to weight, space and budgetary constraints.
29/2/04 Blackberry bushes line almost every roadside in Tasmania, the fruit at its peak this time of year. Every day we stop to gorge on the berries but today's, after rain and in cold weather, they tasted fresher and sweeter. A loop south through the Huon Valley, Castle Forbes Bay where the buildings still stand as do the apple orchards where we picked apples for 3 months in 1973. Light rain eventually drove us back to the hostel in Hobart.
1/3/04 Apart from its wilderness Tasmania's premier attraction is the penal colony at Port Arthur. The place where many of the early convict settlers spent their time in Australia. Now ruins with history. Separated by an isthmus of land 100 metres wide, guarded by dogs and isolated, escape was almost impossible. We spent the morning viewing the natural formations where the ocean cut into the cliffs forming caves and blowholes, before we drove to Freycinet National Park, our campground on top of a small sand dune which ran down onto a lovely, sandy beach bay. A million dollar location for the $11.00 camping fees. A stroll along the beach to the resort for sunset and a wine, where cabin prices reflect the location, and back to our tent in moonlight.
2/3/04 There seems to be a period of time, not necessarily the number of years, where we want to catch up with our past. For us the trip in Australia is fulfilling that need. After a walk to Wineglass Bay as the name suggests its shape, sandy beaches and rocky headlands, we rode to Launceston to visit my Uncle Don, my father's older brother, allowing long ago memories to be brought forward to today. For some reason, unknown the importance of the need to reflect. A dynamic octogenarian, still interested in life and active.
3/3/04 Back east, it's the shortage of time we have allowed ourselves again driving us. This north east corner more remote from the one week holiday maker, rolling farmland to the ocean. The mix of locals on the island different from the mainland. Isolated from mainland Australia the people live in isolated areas. Small towns of semi-retireds pursuing hobbies or crafts, fighting causes and building communities. Wineries, cheese factories, fruit and berry farms, mostly family run businesses at a slower pace, surviving on tourism in summer, relaxing in winter.
4/3/04 We had camped wild again last night, many spots available here, back of a lagoon tucked in behind the beach. Carrying only 1.5 litres of water at the moment restricts many campsites and we were off early, boiling a tea and muesli at the picnic area in St Helens. Unusually the toilet block here has hot showers for free. A steady flow of vans to motor homes rolled through using the showers. Word obviously has spread throughout this community. Slower travelling than us, often retired for years on the road, searching for free overnight comfortable places, these "gypsies" often get together for their own evening happy hour at congregation points discussing the ins and outs of generators, solar panels, and free hot shower sites. Our last day in Tasmania we crossed the dirt roads, through logged and replanted forest trails in the north east, back to Devonport for the evening ferry.
5/3/04 Again sleeping on the 10th deck floor, mattress and sleeping bag, arriving in Melbourne at 7 am. Neale Brumby of Heavy Duty Magazine (Australia's H-D mag) had recently invited us to attend the annual CHUMPS meeting. An industry get together of Motorcycle Journalists, (mostly Sydney and Melbourne) for an excuse to ride, party, drink, tell lies, hand out awards and unashamedly enjoy themselves. Started in the mid eighties most are showing signs of long experience in the industry. We joined the group of six leaving from near Melbourne for the 500 km ride into the Victorian Snowy Mountains to Harrietville. All hard riders on quick bikes we were left to catch up at smoko and fuel stops. The twisty mountain ride up from the coast after lunch and a touch of red wine particularly appealing to some. Not really racing but ego's and image a driving force. Twenty odd journalists or pseudo journalists (like us) were there ranging from the legendary to the novice. Their motorcycles as individual as themselves. One could ponder the personalities necessary for a motorcycle magazine to be successful and if partying hard and riding hard is matched by working hard this bunch keeps magazines in the hands of riders not corporate journalism.
6/3/04 Last night's arrivals headed up the mountain for lunch after a late start while some latecomers settled in at the hotel. We worked on the motorcycle, an ongoing intermittent electrical annoyance, no real success again. The "official" awards section of the conference (complying with the tax deduction laws) held in the evening. The MC reviewing everyone's past and present, individually highlighting their failures and successes and finally awarded the recognition of exception, the Ken Award, being the pinnacle. Given this year for an advertisement placed in the local newspaper offering local women the opportunity to party with loose journalists. Not seen as a joke by the hotel owners and locals it caused quite a controversy. This event narrowly beat second place which was rumoured to be a death threat over the phone, taken seriously, reported to police and getting a little out of hand.
7/3/04 Packed up to leave only to find the motorcycle totally dead, electrical. The voltmeter dropping four volts on trying to start the bike and recovering back to twelve volts slowly. After most of the day spent isolating individual components checking each circuit with our limited electrical knowledge plus all the friendly motorcycle advice offered by other riders enjoying this Victorian long weekend at day's end we were no further advanced and grabbed one of the last rooms in the motel.
8/3/04 The RACV, roadside service arrived at 10 am and managed to jump-start the bike. Not sure if it was electrical or battery caused, we waited another day, till after the long weekend, writing an article for Heavy Duty Magazine on the motorcycle's (ironically) reliability and will ride to the nearest town tomorrow when an auto electrician will be open.
9/3/04 Turns out it was the battery. Apparently gel batteries
can cause weird electrical effects, like we were having. For the last two
weeks the tacho would periodically flicker, the indicators would be intermittently
working. The volt meter would drop power suddenly only to then run normally.
The battery, only six months old, was replaced for free by the H-D dealer
in Albury-Wodonga. The joint named town straddles Australia's largest river,
the Murray, near the Hume Weir, now with little water at the end of the
summer irrigation period and after a few years of drought. The countryside
not showing drought effects as the rains have been light and steady, enough
to grow grass but not heavy enough to fill dams and rivers. With the soil
conservation, better pasture, on farm dams, less water reaches the river
systems. The winding road east follows the Murray for 130 km to Tintaldra,
a small riverside town where we camped, not by a billabong although there
were many seen, not in the shade of a Coolabah tree, many of those
as well, but on the river bank with white cockatoos screeching at dusk, swamp
hens calling in the night and kookaburras waking us at dawn. I am writing
this on a crisp autumns morning where all feels well with the world.
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