November 28, 2008 GMT
I very much enjoyed Sydney. Lots of history, nostalgia, and modern day mixing. The Rocks area was especially inviting and I spent most of my time there. But, it was time to move on and check out the Snowy Mountains. I planned to cross them twice, once North to Southeast on the Snowy Mountains Highway and then again from South to Northwest on the Great Alpine Road. There would be a little stop at the beach in between. :=) I headed out to see whether that snow had melted on the Snowy Mountains Highway.
As Julia said “they are called the Snowy Mountains for a reason”.
The roads were clear but it was COLD!!! I stumbled across this little town up there that had quite a claim to fame, “Highest Town in Australia“.
The math works out to about 4500 FEET above sea level. :=) I think my upstairs bedroom has more altitude than that. For you Aussies reading this, I WAS JOKING, for the rest of you …….. shrug! :=)
I finally made it down to the beach again and enjoyed a little “warm up” on a lake cruise.
Headed back up into the mountains via the Great Alpine Road to see if things had warmed up at all. The first part of the ride was excellent. Nice roads, great scenery, fairly sunny and the Tambo River to follow.
That was the first part. The second part was filled with RAIN and FOG so bad I was forced to follow the yellow line on the side of the road at times.
It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the ONLY fool up there! :=)
As I dropped down in altitude, the fog finally went away but the rain NEVER let up!
The Around Oz Adventure is coming to a close. :=( It is now back to Castlemaine, turn in the bike and see if I can get an earlier flight home! :=)
More pictures here starting on page 114
Posted by Rick McDermed at 06:37 AM
November 24, 2008 GMT
Up to Sydney via the back roads!
I got Corey and about a ton of gear (I have TWO tons to contend with later) on the airport bus and headed off for some back roads riding on the way to Sydney. I worked my way south and east of Melbourne on some really great two lane roads thru farming and ranching country and hit the coast again for some more beach riding. Stopped at the nice little town of San Remo for the night. San Remo is the “gateway” to Phillip Island. Since it was raining again I stayed on the mainland! Headed via more back roads toward Lakes Entrance. Several people had told me that this was very nice harbor area where several big lakes connect to the ocean (thus the name). I had time, so took some very minor roads that folks had told me about. They did NOT tell me about the bridges that were out and all the detours. These roads didn’t show on the map and the GPS said I hadn’t even been on a road for a long time :=) I would never say I was lost but I was “unable to confirm my position” for a couple of hours. :=)
I finally made it to Lakes Entrance and it really was as nice as they said.
Lots of seafood restaurants right on the water.
I wandered the back roads some more and found a wonderful one that followed the Snowy River
all the way to the Ocean for some more great beach riding.
Finally made it to Sydney. Decided to splurge a bit and got a very nice hotel where I could see “some” of the Sydney Harbor Bridge from my room. :=)
and within walking distance of the Opera House. It was in an area known as “The Rocks”. I booked a harbor and city tour and got a LOT of pictures of the Sydney icons
including Bondi Beach.
All the weather people on TV kept saying that we were having an “unseasonable” cold snap (it was very cold) and that it was snowing in the Snowy Mountains which was where I planned to go after Sydney. I thought it couldn’t be snowing much since it was only a week till summer (although Julia told me they were called the "Snowys" for a reason)! :=) I took these pictures off the TV weather cast.
They are exactly in the area I planned to visit. I hope it melts soon!! I’ll let you know.
More pictures here starting on page 107!
Posted by Rick McDermed at 05:19 AM
November 18, 2008 GMT
Tasmania and Back to the Mainland!
We finished our ride from Apollo Bay south along the Great Ocean Road on the way to Melbourne to catch the ferry for a 5 day tour of Tasmania.
We were a little concerned about the weather and seas in the Bass Straights, but it was a very nice uneventful crossing.
We met some motorcyclists in Apollo Bay that gave us information and recommendations on a nice route that would take in the mountainous western shore and some nice beaches on the eastern side. We rode off the ferry to a little rain, some cold, and a lot of wind. Without giving it too much thought (yup, you KNOW what’s coming), we headed for the mountains on the way to Strahan. As the elevation rose the temperature descended and the wind increased (I told you we didn’t give it too much thought). :=) There were some great motorcycle roads but the clouds, rain, and cold made them less than enjoyable.
Not many pictures because my hands wouldn’t work the camera. We tried to make Cable Mountain Park but when it started SNOWING we “holed up” at a very posh resort (surprised they served us). When I entered the lobby, I was reminded of just how long I had been away from home (it was summer when I left). :=(
Made me a little homesick!
Strahan was another nice little beach town (but when it is on the verge of snowing …..)!
We made it to Hobart the next day via some more great roads and with just a little more warmth.
We did a little walking tour of Hobart then rode up to Mount Wellington above the town, the harbor and the Tasman Bridge for some great views (and a LOT of wind)!
We got another day of warmer weather so we rode out to Port Arthur, a very tough penal station in operation from 1833 until 1877. This place was for the very hardened types with a separate colony for boys (the first boy’s prison built in the British Empire). It was a very interesting tour.
Can’t go to Tasmania without getting a picture of a Tasmanian Devil!
We continued to enjoy some great motorcycle roads and scenery on the way from Hobart to Launceston.
Had to stop at Australia’s #1 Harley-Davidson Dealer for a t-shirt.
We headed for a little beach town named Stanley on the north coast for our last night in Tasmania. The Stanley brochures boast of its landmark called “The Nut”. It looked like the Tasmania aquatic version of Ayres Rock to me! :=)
Nice roads, nice scenery, nice town, bad RAIN and spitting SNOW!! :=) It was a miserable ride. Just how close to Antarctica are we anyway? :=)
Another easy ferry crossing of the Bass Straights and we were back in Melbourne on our way to Castlemaine (I picked up my bike there in Aug.) where Cory would turn in his bike and I would get another bike to finish my trip (the company asked if they could substitute another since they had a 7 month rental available for the one I was riding). Cory left for California and I was on my own again with this nice BMW for the last few weeks of my trip.
I am going ride up the southeast coast to Sydney, visit the Snowy Mountains, and return to Castlemaine to turn in the BMW and then it will be back to California for me also (if it hasn‘t burned down)!
It HAS been an adventure!!
More pictures here if interested starting on page 99.
Posted by Rick McDermed at 05:14 AM
November 08, 2008 GMT
Koalas at Apollo Bay!
It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and we were at church -- no wait, we were visiting the museum, well, I actually don’t remember but we ran into a local resident (bartender) who told us he heard that the rain had brought out some Koalas. There were several in the trees on the road out to the Cape Otway lighthouse. I REALLY wanted a picture of a Koala in the wild so I figured a ride in the rain might be worth it. Off we went, and we were NOT disappointed!! Several Koalas, and even a mother and baby.
This guy was my hero.
He was taking a nap in the afternoon (one of my favorite pastimes)! :=)
We climbed to the top of the lighthouse where we could see that the wind was blowing at 42 knots and the Bass Straights seas (which we will cross on the ferry tomorrow) looked wild and stormy.
The ride was well worth it for the pictures and we were able to get back to town BEFORE the drugstore closed (seasickness medication). :=)
More pictures here if interested starting on page 98.
Posted by Rick McDermed at 08:22 PM
South to the Great Ocean Road!
We did the 6 mile hike around Ayres Rock
and visited the Olgas for some more hiking.
We pretty well OD’d on red rocks and were starting to miss the ocean so we headed south. 150 miles east to the Stuart Highway then south to Coober Pedy. Coober turns out to be a very unique place. In addition to being the Opal Mining Capital of the World, most of the town and residences are built “underground” in old mines. Even the Catholic church is underground!
We stayed at a very interesting underground motel. The owners bought an old mining claim, opened it back up and started digging out the motel.
They struck it rich with more new veins of Opals. They financed the completion of the motel with the profits. Our room was very nice (once you got used to being in a cave) :=) I ask about the two umbrellas,
and was told that there were two air shafts to the surface and when the wind blew hard, small pebbles would come down the shafts. Another interesting thing about the room was that when you turned out the lights, your eyes NEVER adjusted because there was NO light from the outside. Nightlights were required.
We toured a working Opal mine next door.
and I was able to “snag” an Opal for Julia that came from the demo of the equipment.
Christmas shopping done!! :=)
From there it was further south toward Adelaide. The scenery changed remarkably. Vineyards and wineries all around.
Lots of chances to sample local wines.
Next up was “The Great Ocean Road“. This is billed as “One of the most scenic ocean drives in the world”. I agree with them. The road runs right along the ocean, sometimes next to beaches
and sometimes high up on bluffs that overlook the ocean.
The rock formations formed by the wave action on the different layers were gorgeous!
The ride WOULD have been even more enjoyable if it were not for the CLOUDS, RAIN, and GALE FORCE side winds. I am sure they escaped from the Patagonia! :=)
We are now heading toward Melbourne to catch a ferry over to Tasmania. Julia said it was totally appropriate for me since I was a little “devil”. :=)
More new pictures here starting about page 90!
Posted by Rick McDermed at 12:33 AM
November 01, 2008 GMT
Great Central Road! Laverton to Uluru
In Esperance we heard about a great scenic loop road that passed many of the beaches in the area. Even though it was raining the morning when we left, we still did the loop road and they were right. Some of the nicest beaches and prettiest water I had ever seen.
We made it to Kalgoorlie, a historic mining town. It is straight out of the Old West. Lots of classic hotels and buildings.
Kalgoorlie also has on of the worlds larger open pit gold mines. We drove up to a lookout point and took a few pictures. It was incredible. 3.5 Kilometers long and 1.5 wide, 330 deep (will be 550).
To really appreciate it, you would have to see it from the air. We checked Google Earth for the satellite picture. It was even more impressive. A fellow we met said they were starting another mine that was going to be three times as big (of course we were all on our 4th rum and coke by then). :=)
On to Laverton where the “fun” begins on the Great Central Road. Out of the three major dirt roads I was going to ride in Australia, this was the one that concerned me the least. After all, it was called the “Great” and it was a BIG red line on the map (even though it was “dashed”). How wrong I was. More than enough sand/bull dust to make riding treacherous. It was totally unpredictable as it constantly changed very quickly from fairly nice hard gravel to sandy corrugations, red dirt and bull dust holes.
And before you ask, “Yes”. We each had a “get off” and HUNDREDS of skivvie soiling near misses! :=)
We did have some interesting company on this road every now and then!
Occasionally there was a stretch of road with a good surface and even a little scenery!
We even camped out one night at one of the several Road Houses along the way (figured we would make it a REAL adventure). See, Julia, all that time shopping with me for the perfect tent and sleeping pad wasn’t wasted after all! :=)
And again, before you ask, “yes” the flies were BAD!
4 days and 700 miles of fun and torture (mostly torture) all at the same time but the BIGGEST torture for the entire 700 miles was …… NO BEER AT ALL! It is illegal in the aboriginal areas along the entire road. :=(
We finally made it to Uluru/Ayres Rock
and tarmac, which we both really appreciated! :=)
Then straight to the BAR for a few beers that we really deserved!
I rode a bit over 10,000 miles to take a picture of Ayres Rock.
Yes, there are a LOT of pictures of "The Rock" but I DID ride a long way. Everyone (employees of the area hotels) kept telling us how fortunate I was to get pictures with it raining on "The Rock" since it NEVER rains around here! I didn't quite see it that way. :=)
More pictures here if interested! The new ones start on Page 81.
Posted by Rick McDermed at 12:34 AM