The Great Ocean Road & farmed rabbits

We got home from New Zealand at 2.00am after delayed a flight and extensive roadworks on the western ring road in Melbourne. By 7.00 am in the morning I was wide awake, my body still thinking it was 9.00 am – as NZ is 2 hours ahead of us. I had in mind to go for a ride as it would be my last opportunity before going back to work on Monday. The forecast was for clearing showers and a top of around 30C. As there were a few spots of rain, I farnarcled around for a while, checked all my favorite online sites, then checked the tyres and added fuel to the ZX14, having decided that I would ride anyway. It was actually getting humid, so I donned the textile gear instead of leather and headed off. Here’s the route

 

I was pretty rusty at first not have ridden for a few weeks, no problem though as I headed down the boring section from Geelong to Colac. From there I turned my attention to the twisty roads, bush lined road that climbs up into the Otways and pulled up in Lavers Hill for lunch. After a hearty ‘breakfast’ I hit the GOR and quickly got into the groove, riding briskly and safely. This inland section of the GOR through the Great Otway National Park is one of my favorite stretches of road. It has some beautiful long sweeping curves under tall eucalyptus trees and a small section of tight twisties. There were some wet spots in a few corners and a lot of bark blown down from trees on the centre of the road. I didn’t stop to take any pics as I was enjoying the ride and lack of traffic going my way. From Apollo Bay to Lorne is a cliff side run composed of hundred of tight twisty corners, and has an 80 kph speed limit now. This section requires considerable vigilance as drivers from overseas often forget that they are driving on what is the ‘wrong’ side of the road for them and cut corners and creep across to centre line into oncoming traffic – not nice to face on a motorcycle when when cranked over and committed into a blind hairpin corner. Here’s a shot of the ZX14 in Lorne when I pulled up to answer a phone message.

By now it was around 30C and very humid, but the grip on the road was great, so I headed inland – a twisty, climbing run up to Dean’s Marsh. Again this section is through eucalyptus forest and the scent from the trees was lovely.I pulled into Martian’s for a Coke (AKA “Black Asprin”).

The drink barely touched the sides, and as I saddled up, a delivery van pulled in to deliver meat. The sign writing had some elements that really gave me a laugh. Wouldn’t you be proud of yourself to be a rabbit farmer? Actually I had some amusing mental images concerning the farming of rabbits, the herding, roping, branding, etc must be hell! The more I pondered the possibilities, the more it made me laugh! The driver returned to his truck as I was laughingly taking a shot of his van, maybe he thought I had sun stroke.

 

 

Agostini at Phillip Island 2013

“I love you Ago”- I wonder how many 71 yr olds get such adulation from an attractive woman at least 30 years their junior? Maybe that’s what 122 GP wins, 15 World Championships and lots of Italian charm can do! And she was serious …. I saw the look in her eyes!

The event was the 20th Island Classic at Phillip Island. Mrs T and I actually attended the very first one all those years ago.

 

 

 The replica

The real thing

The Island Classic incorporates an International Challenge series of races with teams from Australia, the UK, NZ and the USA. The UK team – check out the names on the fairing in the pic below.

A great thing about this event is the access to all areas of the track. We drove through the tunnel into the center of the track to access the pit area and later drove around to some vantage points trackside. Events like this tend to draw some pretty interesting spectators’ motorcycles as well. I probably spent as much time wandering about looking at race bikes in the pits and spectators’ bikes as I did watching the racing. Of the Japanese classics from the 1970’s that I grew up with, I noticed that there were some really nicely restored, but well ridden, Honda CB750’s (including a pair of K0 models) , BMW 90S, Kawasaki Z1’s and Honda CBX1000, as well as a few Moto Guzzi Le Mans that Mrs T is so fond of. The great thing is that many were carrying substantial luggage and had obviously been ridden from further afield that just Melbourne.

Here is a link to around 200 pics from the day. CLICK HERE

also some excellent professional pics and video from SDPICS photography on YouTube – click HERE

 

 

 

 

 

Two up with Mrs T again

Saturday 19 January

Mrs T had suggested a run earlier in the week and I was only too happy to agree. Saturday dawned a little cloudy and not quite as fine and sunny as forecast so we did some chores in the morning and just waited for the weather to declare itself. As midday approached we set off, though Mrs T commented that “….. it looks like the calm before the storm” – which fortunately turned out to be incorrect. I’d made some salad rolls for lunch and we set off for a leisurely ride to the West Barwon dam just near Forrest. Despite still being summer holidays for many, the roads were virtually deserted.

Unpacking lunch 

After lunch we headed towards Apollo Bay but turned off at Turton’s Track. This road is really narrow – one lane in some spots – but incredibly scenic as just about its whole length is under the canopy of huge eucalyptus tree. I should have stopped for some pics, however, there are few suitable places and the ground still looks quite soft in the rain forest. I had visions of pulling up, putting my foot down only to have it slip away and us take a tumble – so no pics this time! Actually, I just Googled for an image of Turton’s Track and actually found an old shot of my own that I’d forgotten about. See below. Just as an aside, I then Googled ‘Tarsnakes images’ as an experiment, and whilst there were lots of other people’s pics there – there were an incredible number of thumbnails of pics that I’ve taken, including many I’d forgotten about. Try it with your own screen name and see what you come up with.

By now the sky was completely blue and the temp was around 22C (71F) – perfect riding conditions really. We pulled in at Beech Forest for a brief pit stop, always a good photo op for the ZX14. Try as I might, I still haven’t taken the ‘perfect’ shot of this bike that I’m always aiming to get – you know – the one to be enlarged and placed on the office wall. I guess that I will just have to keep trying!

As you can see by the squiggles on the map, the section from point C to point F is all pretty twisty – just the kind of riding we love on a mild summer’s day.

Mrs T insisted on taking my pic, I suspect just to demonstrate how bloody annoying I am, by always taking pics of others. OK a shot of me – but only if I can keep my helmet on.

From here we headed down to Gellibrand and had a coffee at the bike friendly Gellibrand store – a favorite of ours. I mentioned to Maria how quiet it was on the roads and she was of the view that a weekend immediately before a long weekend (Australia Day long weekend next week) is always pretty quiet. Being quiet, Maria was free to chat a bit and we wound up having quite a few laughs as she told us about their last family holiday disaster.  We made our way back to Geelong via a series of back roads and I really didn’t want the ride to end – it was great just rolling along in the sunshine.

All up a satisfying day out together. Only 250 kms (155 miles) but it seemed ‘just right’ today.

 

 

 

 

Two up with Mrs Tarsnakes 2013

I go back to work next Monday and I can feel my riding opportunities diminishing. Unfortunately yesterday was 41.6C (106F) so far too hot for riding. Fortunately we had a cool change overnight and today dawned as a perfect riding day.

Click on the map to enlarge, then use the back button.

We left Geelong and traveled along the highway to Colac (H on the map), planning to have breakfast at a restaurant that had been recommended by our son after a recent visit. We arrived only to find them closed, so headed out of town to Otway Estate vineyard as they have a good cafe as well. We drew a blank again, as they are in the midst of a revamp and only have platters etc to have with wine, rather than providing meals as they had done in the past. My hunch is that they are feeling the loss of an excellent chef, who has left and now has his own highly rated restaurant – named Fusion.

By now I was really hungry, so we headed for Lavers Hill, (B on map) my logic being that cafes on the Great Ocean Road would surely be open, not to mention an incredibly twisty road that climbs through the Otway Ranges to get there! We stopped at a great place named Blackwood Gully. We ordered and sat out on the deck.

This place has lovely views over the Otways, which I couldn’t quite capture today.

A simple, but delicious (late) breakfast.

From here we headed along the inland, forested section of the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay to check out the little art show that runs in the church hall there in summer. Sections of the road are limited to 80 kph over the holiday season, however, it’s still exceptional riding with big open sweepers lined with tall eucalyptus trees, and a few tight sections thrown in as well. We had a great run as all the traffic was heading in the other direction towards the 12 Apostles.

Country town church hall art show.

Some samples

I’d had enough of the art so headed out into the sunshine and experimented with a self portrait taken from the back of the bike. Look at all that blue sky, just perfect riding conditions.

It just occurred to me that there are no motorcycle pics yet – easily fixed!

Further down the road is the harbor and right across the road is a golf course, with the sea in the distance. It’s quite a pretty spot. Some of my ancestors lived here in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, but I really don’t know much about them.

We fueled the ZX-14 at the only gas station in town and headed for the Forrest brewery for afternoon tea. (D on map). This road is all twisties and all of it is climbing uphill through the bush, again there were few cars travelling in our direction and we picked off those that were pretty quickly – the ZX-14’s power is really useful in such circumstances, as compared with my old VFR 800 which really had to be revved hard when overtaking in the mountains and two up.

The brewery was reasonably quiet and we took a table outside to catch the cool breeze. I’ve posted pics of the outside of the brewery before, however, Mrs T took this shot of the bar area inside. It probably gives a better idea of the place.

Alas we didn’t sample any brews and stuck with coffee and a milkshake. However, we did buy a bottle of stout to give to our son as he and his girlfriend are a bit keen on craft beers at present.

Mrs T seems to be enjoying a sunny day out on the motorcycle.

From here we took the back roads through farming country back to Winchelsea  (F) and  then along the Princes’s Highway (yes we are a British colony) back to Geelong. All up we covered 315 kms in perfect riding weather, a sunny 24C. It was a grand day out and helps ease the pain of returning to work next Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYD ride with the Procrastinators

I’m having a problem linking some of the pictures, which I don’t have time to troubleshoot right now. This report is duplicated – with pictures – at the Procrastinator’s web site HERE.

The NYD ride has become a regular event in recent times. We do some other rides together throughout the year, but this one is a bit special as it marks the beginning of a year of riding ahead. When we four ‘fellas get together, there is a lot of shared history and with that goes a certain amount of banter, story telling and laughter.

Marty and I left Geelong and met at Steve’s property near Colac. Andy had traveled from Ballarat on NYE and spent the evening drinking fine wine with Steve.

Omitting the Geelong to Colac section, the circuit ridden was around 210 kms, virtually all of it on back roads and through some beautiful farmland and bush. It also takes in the famed 12 Apostles and a short section of the Great Ocean Road.

Andy’s Commando Fastback 

The weather forecast had been for a sunny 25C day with a late changes, however, it was obvious at the start of the day that this was not to be the case, and so waterproof gear was packed – by some! The run down to the Distillery only took around an hour and we were actually a tad early. There was a little drizzle as we neared Timboon, but nothing to warrant donning wet weather gear.

I received this sticker with a T-shirt that I bought and it accurately encapsulates my mechanical abilities and knowledge. 

We had booked and were allocated a seat out on the deck. Unfortunately just as we started eating two families were allocated a table near us and the sound of poorly behaved squealing children was fairly intrusive.

Gourmet garlic prawn pizza

Marty’s grilled fish

My steak sandwich

In a new feature for 2013, here is my score card for our meals. As they say, your experience may vary! This proforma is not mine and I’d like to acknowledge its author, however, I can’t find the URL where I first saw it – so my apologies to someone in advance!

Category

Score

Comments

Seating

A

We had booked and were a bit early at 11:30 but there were plenty of open seats. In the summer on a busy weekend they could easily be full.
Atmosphere

A

Nice modern, but rustic feel. Train theme abounds, including a model training circling overhead. Lots of produce as well as their whiskey for sale. Sitting out on the deck was lovely until a couple of families with poorly behaved children screamed incessantly. There were plenty of sunny and shady spots to sit.
Wait Staff

A

Very friendly and pleasant, friendliness didn’t seem contrived. Handled the full restaurant well.
Food

B

Garlic pizzas were tasty but rather spartan. Grilled flake OK but on wilted salad. Every aspect of my steak sandwich was tasty, EXCEPT the steak! It was so tough to chew that I left half. French fries were excellent and meals arrived hot.
Value

B

Par for what one would expect to pay at a modern, nice place in the country.
Overall

B+

I’d go back, but the food didn’t really wow me.

I took a few pics around the building and in my absence my helmet mysteriously disappeared from my bike! Hmm, didn’t take the bate and lo and behold, it reappeared from Steve’s bag. The truth be known, I was in a drowsy post postprandial state and didn’t even notice its absence.

 

From Timboon we took a short run down to  the Great Ocean Road at a tiny place called Peterborough. The weather was really deteriorating and in the strong wind it was easy to appreciated why around 200 sailing ships sunk along a short 130 km section of coast- commonly known as “The Shipwreck Coast“.

 

Within 200 meters of the shore at Peterborough, lie the wrecks of three ships; the Newfield (Aug 1889), the clipper Schomberg (Dec 1855 – skippered by the legendary James ‘Bully’ Forbes and the Young Australian (May 1877). Actually the scandal of the Schomerg offers some interesting insights into the captaincy of Forbes.

The reason these guys still have their helmets on is because it started drizzling about this time, as it did until Port Campbell,where we stopped for gas. In the gas station the console operator had a secondary screen with a readout and wave forms tracking across it. I asked her about it and she told me it was real time wave height and interval between swells measured from a beacon 20 kms out to sea. It was typically reading 7 meters while I was talking to her, but she told me that waves of 17 meters can commonly occur during winter!

As we were leaving the gas station it started to rain a little and by the time we reached the 12 Apostles it was raining properly, so Marty & I donned wet weather gear over the leathers. The sightseeing  helicopters had stopped flying due to the poor conditions. We hung around for 15 mins and then headed off in light rain and gusty winds – so much for a sunny 25C! We headed inland via some bumpy back roads rather than continuing along the GOR.

As a consequence of the rain there are no more photos, nor did we stop at the Apostle Whey cheesery as we had originally planned. Despite the rain and drizzle, it was actually OK riding through the bush on virtually deserted roads. By the time we approached Colac the rain stopped and as we emerged from the bushland into the farming land the temp actually went up 4C from the 14C it had been.

Despite the weather, we had another great start to 2013. What could be better than riding motorcycles with your best and oldest mates? Well actually along with the enjoyment of our comradeship was a tinge of sadness.

Our thoughts were occupied throughout this ride with the loss of an old mate (and flatmate for Andy) with the sad news that he had died on New Years Eve after a battle with cancer.

RIP Terry Stokes AKA “Mother”.

 

Last ride for 2012

…. so bring on 2013!

I don’t think that I will be riding tomorrow so today’s run with Marty was my last for 2012. It never rains but pours, metaphorically that is, as I was not long home from today’s run and my neighbor Mitch texted to see if I was interested in a twilight ride to Lorne, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it.

Today’s run was on the inland, forested part of the Great Ocean Road and then inland and home through the bush, rather than via the really twisty ocean side part of the GOR. Apollo Bay was absolutely packed with tourists and the traffic in the other direction, that is, towards the 12 Apostles, was very heavy. However, our direction of travel was ideal for a holiday weekend and we had a great run in low 20C temps.

Here’s a pic of the 2012 ‘Bike of the Year’.

Marty’s ZX-14R at Apollo Bay

A pit stop at the Forrest brewery.

Happy New Year to you all.

Ride safe in 2013, cheers Jules.

Our next ride is in 2 days time with what has become the West Coast Procrastinators’ annual NYD run. And the weather forecast is great!!!

 

 

Boxing Day 2012

Mrs Tarsnakes and I took a post Christmas ride. The riding conditions were excellent though the traffic was heavy in patches. Our stops were at the West Barwon Dam at Forrest (point C on the map below) and then at a quirky cafe in an old potato shed at Ferguson, (E on map)  the Otway NouriShed

Being Boxing Day a few of our regular coffee haunts were closed, however, it prompted us to try somewhere new which was a positive experience. I’d certainly stop there again and it’s only a few kilometers from the Otway Fly.

There is a picturesque picnic ground at the West Barwon Dam. It’s a great place to take a break and have a stroll across the reservoir wall. I was told by a caretaker that there are lots of snakes around at present down by the water’s edge – where people often stand to fish for trout.

Mrs T and the ZX14 taking it easy. It was warm enough to be looking for the shady spots.

The NouriShed at Ferguson, Vic. Point E on the map above.

The old potato shed, converted to a cafe and repository of some local timber industry memorabilia. Mrs T’s laughing at the fact that every table has a tomato sauce (ketchup) on it. I guess it speaks to the style of food on offer.

All up we covered around 270 kms of leisurely riding. My next scheduled ride is our annual New Years Day ride with the West Coast Procrastinators.

 

Pre-Christmas on the Great Ocean Road

My neighbor Mitch and I made an early start around 7.00 am to beat the holiday traffic on the GOR. Our route ran from Geelong along the GOR to Lorne where we turned inland and headed to Forrest via Dean’s Marsh. After a brief stop at the West Barwon reservoir we headed to Apollo Bay for a coffee stop and re-fuel. Check out what I paid for 98 octane in Apollo Bay in the pic below. You guessed it – there is only one gas station and it’s holiday season! From Apollo Bay we rode the GOR back to Lorne and encountered surprisingly little traffic. We didn’t stop in the tourist mayhem of Lorne but again headed back inland to Dean’s Marsh and had another pit stop. From here I headed to Colac to visit Steve and Mitch headed home. It was an excellent run in perfect motorcycling conditions, namely blue skies, no wind and around 25C temp.

Yes, that $185.9 per litre! Holiday season profiteering?

Mitch (AKA Sir Skuffy in some circles) can really hustle this modded Honda CB1000R.

Ohlins rear suspension matched to his weight and modded front forks.

Heated grips, bar end mirrors & small aftermarket screen

In a moment of introspection, brought about by this ride and a recent birthday, it occurred to me that I have now been riding the GOR in all kinds of conditions for 40 years now. The run from Lorne up to Colac reminded me of my first covert winter runs along the GOR as an unlicensed 16 year old on my Yamaha 175 trail bike, the occasional ride on Andy’s 250 Suzuki Hustler, and also blasting along the GOR on either of my CB750 Hondas (with the young Ms Tarsnakes on the back), let alone the evil handling Kawasaki Z1R!

On the topic of Kawasaki’s, the ZX-14 performed beautifully and my love affair with the big Kwaka continues! It is hands down the best motorcycle I’ve ever owned. It’s also worth a mention that the 2012 ZX-14R won Two Wheels magazine’s “Bike of the Year” award.

Too hot to ride?

Yeah, probably!  The forecast was for 37C today with high winds and a late change. Actually we were planning on going camping for the weekend, however, Mrs T was too ill with a stomach bug, so I thought that I might as well go riding. I got up early and headed off before it got really hot. It was a good chance to try out my new kevlar lined jeans, rather than the usual leathers. Oh, and I had the joy of a brand new helmet visor that I bought ages ago, but didn’t want to use until the weather was warm enough to stop needing the pinlock visor. My first stop was the Gellibrand store. The township was virtually deserted, probably as a consequence of government advertising re risks of being in the bush on high fire danger days.

Once I hit the hills the temp dropped a bit and it was quite nice riding, despite some wind gusts. On the GOR between Lavers Hill and Apollo Bay I overtook two motorcyclists and they were the only traffic I came across until about 3 kms out of Apollo Bay – a dream run on the GOR! I bought $10 of gas in Apollo Bay – which wasn’t much at the rip off price of $1.65 per litre for premium (that’s around $6.25 per US gallon). Next stop was Forrest for a (non alcoholic) drink at brewery, buy which time it was damn hot outside.

Note the new visor! was unable to buy an import from the USA, so that little Aus standards sticker means we have to purchase locally and pay well above the US online price (despite the global economy and numerous free trade agreements – don’t get me started!!

Forrest marked the end of the enjoyment of riding as it was so hot and wind wind gusts so strong that I would have preferred to have been in the car with the AC cranked up for the final run home. I didn’t mess about and was home by around 1.00pm. Was it worth riding on such a hot day? Yes, but only because I left early, dodged the worst of the heatwave and the deserted roads were a treat. Six months ago in the depths of winter, I would never have conceded that it can be too hot to ride.

 

Freestone’s Roadhaven diner

I’ve been so busy at work and home (and at my son’s new home) that I haven’t had a spare moment to even write up the Snowy’s weekend trip yet. Mrs T and I had in mind to go for a ride today. However, it rained in the morning but then cleared up after lunch so we decided on a quick spin for some coffee down along the coast a little. As fate would have it we pulled up in Aireys Inlet, a place I never usually stop at, and came across a new retro cafe which is a replica of a  classic American diner. Some might say kitsch,  but I loved it! This is a trucking magnate’s retirement project and you will see a little of his car collection through glass windows at the back of the diner. The lass making coffee said that all of the interior fittings had be sourced in the USA. The owner has also renovated the old hardware store next door.

Mrs T loved the light fittings

I preferred the cars!

For a few more high res pics CLICK HERE (Best viewed by clicking on Slideshow)