Spring 12 Apostles loop

After months of apalling weather characterised by gale force winds and localised flooding, we finally cracked it for a perfect spring day on Friday. Inspired by a recent video that I saw on Facebook of the Ducati owners club of Vic run to the 12 Apostles, I decided to ride one of my favorite local loops. The route travels inland to Port Campbell, then back along a short section of the Great Ocean Road (in the opposite direction to the GOR tourist traffic) and then inland through some rain forrest. I also managed to drop in on Phil R, a mate from the Ulysses Club, and see his new abode at Deans Marsh. It was a sensational day of riding with little traffic, dams overflowing and the countryside more green and lush than I can ever recall.

I stopped in Simpson for my first break and then on to Port Campbell via Timboon.

Overlooking Port Campbell.

Lunch at the waterfront in Port Campbell.

This was a whole lot more tasty than it looks – proscuitto, egg, spinach and relish. A delicious lunch from an excellent, friendly place called ‘Forage‘ right oppposite the main beach. I actually took my plate from the cafe and walked across the road to be virtually on the beach for lunch.

From Port Campbell I headed just a few kilometers up the road to the famous 12 Apostles. I’ve been to the Apostles so many times in my life I have to admit that I get more of a buzz watching the helicopters than the scenery! (Maybe my son will buy me a joyflight for my next big birthday!)

I love the way that the grazing sheep seem completely unfazed by the chopper landing

From the Apostles I had a brilliant run through the twisties to Lavers Hill (my last run along this stretch of the GOR cost me 3 demerit points and $300 thanks to a newly imposed speed restriction and my inattention to the new signage) and then on to Beech Forest and Turtons Track.

From here it was another 20 kms of twisty bush roads to Forrest, then through mainly open farmland to Deans Marsh. After enjoying Phil’s hospitality I headed off andarrived home around 5.30pm after a magnificient day’s riding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last ride for 2015 …….

….and can’t wait to see what riding 2016 has to offer.

Two up to Timboon ….. and home via the 12 Apostles

Mrs T and I were greeted with a beautiful sunny morning and a forecast of a pleasant 24C for our last ride for 2015. Our destination was the Timboon distillery for lunch via backroads and then home along a short section of the Great Ocean Road. Mrs T actually cheated and drove her car to friends’ place 70 kms away and then rode pillion for the ride loop. We wanted to keep away from the main parts of the GOR due to the recent and ongoing bushfires there.

Map

I made a decision to travel to Timboon along the Carlisle River road which weaves through heavy bush that grows virtually up to the roadside, with just a very small margin of green grass on the road verge. Taking that route in the morning was a bit of a mistake as there were a number of small black wallabies on the road verge who were very difficult to see in in shadows. I didn’t spot the first two which Mrs T spotted and alerted me to. I then slowed down, kept my eyes peeled and subsequently spotted another four. Fortunately none hopped out in front of us!

We pulled up at a nice little spot in Simpson for morning coffee. In what is an otherwise unremarkable little township, there is a lovely little picnic area complete with a small man-made lake.

After a drink and reading some of the info about how the bush was cleared in the 1950’s it was only a short on some quiet back roads to the Timboon Distillery for lunch.

The still

We enjoyed a tasty lunch and were offered a free whisky tasting, which alas we declined prior to riding. As we were leaving we met and had a chat with a great couple from Tasmania who have been touring Victoria for the last week or so. They were aboard a Triumph triple Explorer and were really satisfied with it as a two-up touring machine. Ride safe guys and smooth sailing back to Tassie on New Years Day.

We fuelled up in Timboon to avoid the mayhem of tourist season in Port Campbell and headed for the 12 Apostles in gorgeous riding conditions. The sky was blue, the sun was getting hot but there was a lovely sea breeze coming off the ocean. Tourists were all over the Apostles area, from a distance it looked like a swarm of ants crawling all over the place, so we kept going, hence no pics of the Apostles.

The last time I rode the twisty section of the GOR from Gellibrand Lower to Yuulong I had a brilliant run and didn’t encounter a single car going my way. Today was the exact opposite, and we saw two cars whose drivers exhibited some of the most dangerous and discourteous driving I’ve ever seen. One little Toyota virtually stopped on every curve and failed to pull into the overtaking lanes despite a line of cars following (and the SUV behind sounding its horn and flashing its lights). The other was a black Mercedes station wagon which weaved from side to side, frequently drifted across the double white lines and nearly side swiped a tourist bus! It was scary stuff to observe!

We had a brief pit stop in Lavers Hill and then a really enjoyable run down through the bush to Gellibrand and on to Colac to or friend’s place. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph Steve’s newest Norton single project now that he has completed the latest resto, a 1938 Norton, which you can read about HERE.

I took an easy run down the Princes Highway to get home, having had a great last ride for 2015 of approx 375 kilometers in perfect riding conditions. Roll on 2016 and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

Bloggers rendezvous

A comment on one of my posts by Chillertek from the famous The Road to Nowhere blog indicated that he was down from Sydney and holidaying along the Great Ocean Road with his family. An email and a phone call later and we had tee’d up to meet for an early morning coffee in Apollo Bay.

Now I really get a buzz out of meeting people who I’ve come to know online, or ‘virtual friends’, in the flesh. My son insists that ‘online friends’ are not actually real friends – whereas I beg to differ!

Mrs T and I headed off at 7.00am and took the inland route to Apollo Bay via Forrest. I love riding in the early morning, MrsT less so. Though a chilly 7C in the hills, it was quite pretty with some fog swirling up through the gullies and the sun breaking through the gum trees. Here’s the route we took

Anyway, we had virtually just pulled our helmets off in front of the Apollo Bay bakery and Chillertek and his delightful family turned up. Sitting down outside in the sunshine in front of the bakery, we had an enjoyable conversation over coffee – easy when your both are motorcycle enthusiasts. Well an hour (plus) passed bye quickly. I was mindful that team Chillertek  had a trip to the 12 Apostles planned, so we didn’t want to hold them back any longer.

Pic courtesy Chillertek ‘The Road to Nowhere blog’

Steve, it was great to meet you, Kate and the girls. I will take pleasure in telling my son that online friends ARE indeed ‘real’ friends! Hope that you folk had a great day trip to the Apostles via some of what I consider to be the most scenic parts of the GOR. Hopefully you will have a pic or two that I can add to this as well.

MrsT and I had an excellent run back along the GOR to Lorne where we stopped for brunch, and then sat by the beach for a little while before heading home. Lorne has a huge population of sulphur- crested cockatoos about the town.They can live as long as humans (or longer) and I think this old fella might have a few kilometers on his odometer!

It turned out that the AFL grand final day is actually a pretty good day for motorcycling and socialising with like minded people.

 

 

Autumn

Monday’s forecast was for fog followed by sunshine, which was very welcome after a wintery weekend. Better still, there is great Autumn (Fall for those of you in North America) weather forecast for the rest of the week. I left home around 10.00am in fog, however, it had lifted by the time I was 10 kms down the road. Just for a change I planned to ride the inland, rainforest section of Great Ocean Road in a clockwise direction, which provided a different perspective on this very familiar countryside – which I really enjoyed.

My first stop was the West Barwon dam.

I then tracked further inland through the Otway Ranges to Apollo Bay for lunch at the bakery. The road conditions were a bit a bit tricky actually, with sunlit entries to curves dry, but the shaded exits wet and greasy ( or vice versa). However, it kept me on my toes and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. From Apollo Bay my next stop was at Gibson’s Steps – near the 12 Apostles.

View from Gibson’s steps. (Grrr – dirty lens on camera!)

I didn’t stop at the Apostles and continued on to near-bye Port Campbell for a drink and some fuel. The bike was showing the ambient temp as 18C. The place was virtually deserted except for some international tourists in their camper vans. To my surprise a couple of people headed for the waves for a swim. (Perhaps they were from the UK and thought it was summer!).

The ZX14 probably didn’t really quite need fuel,especially at $1.75 per litre! However by gassing up here I was able to do a non stop, inland run back to Geelong.  After concentrating hard in the twisty and shaded sections of the ride, it was actually great just cruising along through the farming country with the sun shining on me. By the time I got home at 4.00pm the air was getting chilly and I had done 379 kms of enjoyable riding.

 

 

 

The pictures …..

…can do the talking as to the destination for today’s ride.

All up, 433 kms in perfect Autumn conditions.

Welcome, now be scared!

When I was a child there was not a single guard rail or fence to be seen and we used to just run about the place. I wonder how we survived?

There are about 8 left – if you have a good imagination!

View to the East

Layers

I really was there!

Port Campbell jetty

Great Kriega luggage on these two. I should have taken a closer shot of their luggage systems.

 

 

 

Procrastinators’ New Year ride 2014

The 2014 New Year’s Day AGM of the West Coast Procrastinators was thwarted by an unfavorable weather forecast, which actually eventuated in a day of wind and rain of ‘biblical proportions’ as Marty described it. In a rare display of decisiveness, the ride, lunch & AGM were re-scheduled to 2nd January, 2014. Mind you, I packed my wet weather gear as I wasn’t 100% convinced that it would remain dry for the whole ride.

Marty and I met on the outskirts of Geelong then headed via the Cape Otway Road to Steve’s property just outside Colac.

When we arrived at Steve’s the team were found to be in good form, with Andy deriding the exhausts on my ZX14 before I even had a chance to get my helmet off. It seems that size does matter in this case! There were two very different generations of motorcycles present – the old 1970’s Brit bikes and the latest from Japan.

Two ZX14R’s and a Commando

Steve’s Norton Commando

Marty’s ZX14R

After some more good natured banter and New Year handshakes we headed off for a tour of the salt lakes near Warrion, then on to our destination at the Timboon rail shed distillery for lunch. Fortunately we had booked a table as the joint was packed and even getting a parking spot was problematic.

Tarsnakes’ ZX14R

The ambiance of the restaurant was only sullied by the presence of a former politician who had been at the heart of the “Children Overboard” affair (suggested by some as one of Australia’s great political lies) and who had condoned unprecedented strikebreaking measures during the Waterfront dispute. (Imagine security guards in balaclavas with German shepherd dogs used for the first, and only, time in Australia’s history).

Anyway, after a tasty lunch and an uneventful and mercifully brief AGM, we hit the road and headed for the 12 Apostles via the Great Ocean Road and then tracked inland to Beech Forest for a pit stop and photos.

Three of four at Beech Forest

And with no procrastination at all, rode Turton’s Track to Forrest. Turton’s was in excellent condition with none of the usual slippery wet bark covering the asphalt.

Here’s a file shot of Turton’s Track

Our last stop for the ride was the Forrest Brewery. Time for a drink, swatting the abundant flies, a bit of a debrief, some more New Year handshakes and we were on our way again – Marty and I back to Geelong and Steve and Andy back to Colac.

 

A really enjoyable day of riding and banter with mates – a great way to start the new year. All up, I’d done 390 very enjoyable kms for the ride – and it didn’t rain once!

The cat’s away ……

I’m batching at present and planned a big ride while Mrs T is away – though just a day ride. We are having a spell of unbelievably good weather for this late in Autumn. The forecast for today was 25C and windy. Marty and I headed to Lavers Hill via the back roads from Geelong. We stopped at a new coffee shop in Lavers Hill which has some lovely recycled timber in it. From here went our separate ways, Marty headed to Apollo Bay via the Great Ocean Road and I headed for Warrnambool via the 12 Apostles and the Shipwreck coast. After lunch in W’bool I made my way back to Geelong via Timboon, Port Campbell and part of the GOR back to Lavers Hill (the twisties near the Moonlight Heads are sensational so I had to ride them twice today). From there I tracked inland to Colac. After a quick visit to Steve’s I made my way back to Geelong in failing light, but balmy temperatures. A few shots below, for high res pics click HERE

mjo

Marty at “The Shoppe” Lavers Hill (Vic)

From the inside looking out

Port Campbell (Vic)

Deakin University, Warrnambool “Sherwood Park” campus. When I was a student here in the 1970’s part of the old sandstone mansion was still in tact. All that remains now are these pillars. This is a very attractive rural campus.

 

A tale of two rides

I’ve had the days after Easter off as annual leave days and I’ve really been looking forward to a couple of decent day rides as Mrs T was working unexpectedly.  We’ve had lovely autumn (fall) weather. I took off Thursday morning to head inland to the historic town of Maldon, as the weather along the coast was not looking as good as forecast. I was just near the end of a bush section not that far from home and thinking that I was too late to disturb any kangaroos when a little wallaby bounced out onto the road. I braked safely and was never at any risk of hitting it. The rest of the ride was uneventful, though colder than forecast, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I was indifferent about riding, which is quite out of character – though I have had it happen before. I just couldn’t get into the groove and headed home early, though I ended up doing 345kms for the run. The highlight of the ride was seeing a Wedge Tailed Eagle up close as it made a meal of a dead sheep, though I was unable to get a photo. All in all, a much anticipated day of riding that I just did not get to grips with and it ended up a being a disappointment really.

Observation tower at Mt Tarrengower, near Maldon.

It’s all a matter of perspective!

The next day (Friday April 5th) Marty and I met at 8.30 and headed towards the 12 Apostles via the inland route. We had a good run inland (straight and boring) and arrived at the Timboon distillery in what seemed like no time. After a drink and a chat, we headed along the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. The bike and I were loving the twisties and the ride was thoroughly enjoyable, even though it was overcast and a bit chilly, again much cooler than forecast. After lunch in Apollo Bay we headed inland again, climbing up through the eucalyptus forests to the township of Forrest where we stopped at the brewery café for a short break. There were some other riders there who we chatted with briefly and then another group of three pulled in as well. We had a great day of riding, a nice pace and reasonably deserted roads. What a great day of riding and a huge contrast to the day prior.

Friendly owners explained their products to us.

Marty’s ZX14R

Despite our stops being booze vendors, we adhered to our zero alcohol when riding policy.

So there’s the story of two contrasting rides, only one day apart.

New Year’s Day 2012

Happy New Year to all who follow Tarsnake’s blog!

The West Coast Procrastinators got their act together again to reprise our New Year’s Day 2011 run. The aim for the day was to ride some back roads and then enjoy a leisurely lunch to usher in the New Year at the cafe at a distillery in the tiny Western District township of Timboon (Pop 850). This place is just inland from the famous 12 Apostles and the gas processing plant for the Casino Natural Gas off shore rigs is based nearby.The motorcycles present were two early 1970’s Norton Commandos and two big bore Kawasakis.

Andy had a gift for us –  a couple of personalized stubby holders each!

Let me tell you a little about the “Procrastinators”, just in case you are new to Tarsnakes. In addition to his Norton Commando, Andy has numerous other motorcycles. Complete and running are a 500cc BSA twin, a lovely 1972 T250 Suzuki Hustler, and an old 350cc Panther single. Under restoration are a 450 Ducati and another BSA. I’ve probably missed some of his machines, as there are numerous other motorcycles in various states of completion.

Other than his Commando, Steve has another complete and rideable 500cc twin cylinder Norton Dominator, a Norton 500cc single and a 1970′s RD350 Yamaha (which he rode to some of the most remote parts of Australia on back in 1979). He also kindly houses my wife’s rideable, but incomplete, early 1970′s 175 Yamaha CT1 dirt bike. Both of these guys were my mates from our teenage years, when we came together with a love of motorcycles and riding as our common bond.

Neither Marty nor I are are into restoring old motorcycles. He’s my main touring buddy (and features in most rides reports on this blog) and we’ve been great friends for the past 26 years.

Our route. For a bigger map click HERE

I had some new gloves to try out. They are Held Steve II’s, featuring kangaroo skin palms. They are a recent birthday gift from Mrs Tarsnakes.

Marty and I met on the edge of town. The blue sky, a forecast top of 35C and the lack of traffic looked very promising for a great day of riding. I guess many folk were still in bed being New Year’s Day.

About 40 minutes later Marty and I arrived at our rendezvous point near Colac (Vic) which is approx 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Melbourne. From here we headed to Timboon via Cobden.

Lunch venue. The Timboon Railway Shed Distillery

The motorcycles in front of the distillery. Steve’s Norton in front.

Andy’s Commando

Me astride the ZX14.

The West Coast Procrastinators doing what they do best!

It was time for some lunch and we secured a table out on the decking. The temp was climbing, I’d say approx 26C by this stage. Some had beef, some had pie & some had fish. The background music included a Derek Truck’s band number so all was good.

No whisky for us, but at least it was local.

I’d heard of an old timber trestle rail bridge in the area so we asked for directions and headed off to check it out. “Watch out for snakes down there” our waitress warned. It was down a dusty, corrugated gravel road, but certainly well worth a look.

Arty shot as suggested by Marty.It was really hot down in this valley, maybe 35C and no breeze to be had at all. The bikes were parked in the shade!

Here’s a framed shot of Steve.

The bridge is now used as part of a bicycle path. One of many “rail trails” in the Australian countryside.

Two brave motorcyclists walk across the bridge towards a large black creature with horns.

Two brave motorcyclists return, the horned creature stands its ground!

By the time we rode the few kilometers back up the corrugated, gravel road Andy was concerned that his clutch wasn’t feeling quite right nor functioning correctly so he and Steve decided to head for home back along the way we had come, rather than taking in the 12 Apostles – Great Ocean road loop.

Marty and I said our farewells and headed off to the coastal township of Port Campbell. We fueled up and the rode the GOR through the twisties to Laver’s Hill. At Laver’s Hill we turned off the GOR and headed inland to Beech Forest and then Forrest via Turton’s Track. from there we headed back to Colac to see that the Norton devotees had arrived home OK, which thankfully they had!

We sat in Steve’s shed and chewed the fat for a while, then Marty and I saddled up and headed back to Geelong via Hwy 1. All up, 385 kms of scenic and really enjoyable riding with mates.

Summer has finally arrived – it’s forecast to be 41C (105F) here today!

To see this report on Pashnit motorcycle forum click HERE

Two Zeds to the 12 Apostles

We finally got the two ZX14’s together for a post Christmas ride. Pete and Robyn were on a trip from Melbourne to country South West Victoria and team Tarsnakes arranged to ride part of the trip with them. They rode from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and met us at our place in Geelong. An ideal run would be to ride the whole Great Ocean Road, however, the reality of such a ride with all the Christmas holiday traffic heading to the beach resorts really makes such a run just too frustrating, so we rode the back roads inland to the tiny township of Gellibrand and joined the GOR at Laver’s Hill.

Here’s our route

It was a little cooler than forecast for a summer’s day, but quite OK never the less.

The two big Kwakas together for the first time at our Gellibrand coffee stop.

The old saying that it’s a small world is often very true – it turned out that Paul from the store (an avid dirt bike rider) and Pete actually went to school together many years ago.

Pete and Robyn aboard the red one.

Plus team Tarsnakes on the black one

From Gellibrand it seemed to take no time up through the twisties to our lunch stop at Lavers Hill.

Good food and magnificent views over the Otway Ranges.

The traffic along this part of the GOR towards the 12 Apostles was as expected – namely bloody awful, especially along the best bits!

We had a look at these.

I’ve edited all the people out of the following shots, but trust me, the place was jam packed with tourists like never before.

The Tarsnakes – 31 years married and still having lots of fun messing around on motorcycles.

 

Mrs T, Robyn & Peter

 

The sandstone cliffs are crumbling – all that rubble at the bottom is new rock fall.

The choppers were on constant rotation and still the queues for flights were long.

From here we split up and went in opposite directions, Peter & Robyn headed further west and we headed back the way we came. We were then running against the flow of tourist traffic and had a brilliant run on the curves through the Otways and then just had 80 kms (approx 50 miles) of freeway back to Geelong.

All up it was a great day’s riding and it was fun to have the two big Kawasaki’s together, observe each others bike in motion and really appreciate their incredible capability as two-up Sport- touring motorcycles.

To see this report on the PASHNIT motorcycle forum, click HERE

Post script 2nd January 2012

Peter & Robyn dropped in on their way home having ridden parts of the GOR today. But this was no day to be riding a motorcycle, it was 40C (104F) when they left for Melbourne!