November 2012 - Take off across the Nullarbor and head for the mountains in Victoria & NSW. Which I did, solo. What else has a 47 year old women got to do with a Triumph Tiger 800 sitting in the shed just itching to go prowling. I would have loved to do heaps of gravel roads but being by myself, I thought it would be sensible to stay on the tar. Couldn't help myself thou on the way home outside Streaky Bay. Just had to get the Tiger dirtier before returning home. Perth To Norseman Left home at 7am in the sunshine. One hour later it starts raining. It followed me all the way to Norseman. Consistently wet and at times heavy. That wasn’t meant to happen. Good ride thou with lots of trucks going backwards and forwards to Kalgoorlie and heaps of motorbikes heading towards Perth. They were all returning from Phillip Island. After a quick lunch and a chat with the Sulfur Crested Cockatoo at Southern Cross, I was on the road again. I noticed little rivers starting to form along the sides of the road, then water across the road. Oh dear. It was getting quite dangerous and the fact I was freezing cold and soaked right thru, I thought it would be best to stop for the night in Norseman. I was also worried the road into Fraser Range Station, were I was heading, would be a red river by now. Norseman To Eucla Started off nice and sunny and just because I had finally dried out and taking the weather for granted, a huge thunderstorm tracked me down just outside of Madura. There was lightening all around and the rain was so heavy at times I was forced to slow down to about 35km/hr so I could see what was in front of me. I managed to out ride the storm and just watched it follow behind me all the way to Eucla. Booked a room at the Eucla Motel as there was no way I was going to get wet again. Had to slow down for about 6 roos on the road. They are everywhere. Dead ones too. Saw an emu. Lucky he was just strolling along cause I didn’t see him till the last minute and I also saw 3 huge eagles taking off from a road side feast as I rode by. Massive wing spans. Pulled into Eucla at about 4pm and decided to call it a day after 702kms. Met up with 3 guys coming back from Phillip Island and we stood around and talked bikes for a while. Most expensive fuel price I paid today was $2.11/ ltr and that wasn’t premium fuel. Apart from the thunderstorm and the degree of difficulty with the wildlife on the road, I had a super ride. The Nullarbor is not all open plains of nothing as the vegetation is forever changing and there is always something to look at. Eucla to Streaky Bay What a beautiful day for riding. It was warm enough to take the liner out of my jacket and drink about 3 litres of water. Thirsty work this bike riding across the Nullarbor. Stopped off at ‘Head of the Bight’ for some camera shots but it was too late in the season for whales. I was heading towards Port Augusta today but I’d lost a bit of time weathering the storms the last two days and didn't think I would have had enough time to get there before dusk. After speaking to a couple at Penong who mentioned they were going thru to Streaky Bay, I change my route and decided that sounded nice. So glad I did as Streaky Bay is lovely and peaceful. My campsite is right on the beach with one of the best views. Not bad for $24 a night. Head of the Bight Pelicans at Streaky bay waiting for fish scraps Streaky Bay to Gawler Didn’t really want to leave Streaky Bay but thought I must push on. Such a relaxing place. Crossing the bridge in Port Augusta I saw a nice looking park by the water and thought that would make my perfect lunch stop. Hopped off the bike, made a nice chicken wrap and no sooner than I took my first bite, an aboriginal bloke approached me. We introduced ourselves then he asked me for $10. When I said no, he insisted I give him my lunch. I offered him a wrap with no chicken as I had used the last of the chicken, then he handed it back and said he wanted mine with the chicken. As we argued over my lunch, I kept eating it and was down to about half. I made a deal with him, if I had one more bite and give him the rest, would he leave me alone and walk away. He agreed to this and I had to give up my bloody lunch. Not fair, I was starving. With that I packed up and left my cheery little lunch time river spot. Couldn’t decide where to go after Port Augusta. My travel plan said I should have gone across to Burra, Renmark and then onto Mildura. For some reason I decided to go to Gawler and from there I would do the Grampians and the bottom half of Victoria, then go up to the Mountains and go back home across the top of the state. Keep in mind, I made this decision on a half empty stomach and when I’m hungry, I’m angry. Stayed at Gawler Caravan Park for the night. Thought I was going to get blown away. The wind sprung up at about 11.30pm and didn’t die down till about 4.00am. I had visions of tree branches falling on my tent or my bike blowing over, the wind was that strong. I survived so that’s the main thing. Gawler to Horsham Managed to pack up the tent with no wind and no rain this morning. Got the GPS out for the first time to get myself out of Gawler. I had the nicest ride thru the Adelaide hills to get onto Dukes Hwy. Thru Lyndoch, Williamstown, Mannum, Murray Bridge and onto Tailem Bend. Lots of hills and bends. Had lunch at Bordertown which I seemed to attract some attention. Chick on a bike thing. No joke, guys were milling around for a chance to talk to me and Tiger. I got one guys’ whole life story and saw pictures of all his bikes on his phone, then I got an invite to Ballarat. Funny really but I thought I was never going to escape him. Very friendly in Bordertown. Then the wind started. Think it caught up to me from Gawler . Massive cross wind for about 100 kms. At times I was worried about being blown across the road in front of on coming trucks. It was that strong. All I seemed to do was hang on and ride that bike to the white line on the left side of the road. I thought if I pull over I would have got blown off the bike anyway. Then, up ahead it all went dark. A huge dust storm crossing the road. It seemed to go on forever. Poor Tiger. Didn’t make it to the Grampians today as it started raining and I was well and truley over the wind. I stayed in a cottage at the Wimmera Lakes Caravan Resort which was very nice. It gave me a chance to do some food shopping, washing and re-organise my bags. Horsham to The Grampians What an awesome day, weather wise and adventure wise. Not in a hurray to leave Horsham as I only had about 75kms to ride to Halls Gap, which is the heart of the Grampians. Left the highway at Northern Grampians Rd which in turn lead into Mt Victory Rd. What an awesome road. The bike was in 2nd or 3rd nearly all the way as the road is so challenging and bendy, you really wouldn’t want to go any faster, not with the shear drop offs. I stopped off at Mackenzie Falls and did the walk to the base of the falls. Pretty spectacular and a long way down. The walk back up was no fun especially with bike gear on. After a short recovery under the shady trees, I was off again this time stopping at Reed Lookout. Again the views were outstanding. Thought I’d better cease stopping at all these places and find a campsite in the National Park. Decided to camp at Jimmy Creek which provided me with a nice grassey spot, clean pit toilet and even a outdoor shower. What more does a girl need? Mackenzie Falls Still had half the day to explore so I rode back to Halls Gap, wandered around the cute little shops and then rode back up that awesome bendy road to Boroka Lookout. Boroka Lookout – Halls Gap below A few more stop offs on the way back to camp and one was for a photo of 3 deers grazing in the wild just on the fringe of town. I got within about 10mts of them. Cheeky little deers. Next stop was for a Black Wallaby sitting on the side of the road. Maybe wallabies aren’t as stupid as kangaroos as he/she shot back into the bush. Decided to stay another night in The Grampians as I wanted to go for a walk up to the Pinnacle. What a view which made the 4.4km trek up the rocks worth it. On such a nice day too. Lots of wildflowers and little lizards sunning themselves. Called into Halls Gap again to give the Tiger a drink and stock up on supplies. The Tiger gets thirsty when I keep going up & back Mt Victory Rd. Such a cool bike road. At the top. Photos just don’t do this place justice Portland and Port Fairy Left the Grampians this morning although I could have spent another day there exploring. Such a beautiful place, but I had to move on. Rode thru Hamilton, Heywood and ended up in Portland. Rode the Tiger out along a long jetty, so now he’s been to sea. No picture proof as it was a bit windy and I didn’t want him swimming. Took the tourist drive out to Cape Nelson. Rode around to Cape Bridgewater which had pretty beaches, blowholes and a petrified forest, which are interesting rock formations made by acid water cementing sand together underneath the surface, then over thousands of years the sand has eroded away leaving these tube like structures sticking up in the air. The whole area looked like something from Mars. From Portland I was back on the highway for 75kms to Port Fairy. Hightlight of the ride was I saw a koala up in a tree by the side of the road. How exciting. Port Fairy is such a pretty town with it’s little cottages and old stone buildings scattered around the town. Took a walk along the Moyne River and the wharf in which there were a collection of boats moored. Rode out along Ocean Drive to view the towns beaches then headed back for a walk around Griffiths Island. The island supports a small mob of swamp Wallabies and is also the breeding grounds for thousands of Shearwaters or Mutton-Birds. I also found another lighthouse and the walk is scattered with informative boards about the history of the area. Port Fairy to Wandin Left Port Fairy after packing up the tent in the rain. I think this must be the wettest November right across Australia. I was heading to Apollo Bay via the Great Ocean Road to explore the Otways area for a couple of days and set up camp in a National Park. I stopped at all the lookouts and took the standard tourists photos of the Bay of Isles, The Grotto, etc. After riding along for a couple of hours and getting almost blown away, the rain got heavier, the crappy Victorian roads got even more slippery and the temperature dropped even further, down to 8 degrees. I looked at the gravel road into the N.P and it looked very wet and slippery. Don’t think the Tiger would adapt to well to mud. Again I decided I was a bit over the weather so made the decision to ride onto Wandin to stay with Dad for a few days. Missed my exit on the M1 and ended up riding thru the heart of Melbourne in peak hour traffic on a Friday evening. I must say riding in peak hour, rain and with tram lines was interesting. I have heard people have died riding across tram lines on a bike. Took me ages before I built up the courage to do so. Very scary experience. Good move Wendy. Got to Dad’s at about 6.30pm and was relieved to be out of the rain. Was so good to catch up with the family. London Bridge The Grotto Wandin My Dad lives in Wandin and thought I'd stay with him for a week or so. The plan is to do some day rides and go down to Phillip Island while I'm staying with him. Went for a couple of rides around the property on the Tiger. Hit a log hidden in the long grass and bent my brake lever but managed to straightened that out in no time. Lucky it wasn’t my foot that got hit. Also had a few rides of a BMW Sertao G650 which is built for paddock bashing. That was fun, a bit lighter than the Tiger, knobby tyres and a 21″ front wheel makes a big difference. Black Spur & Steavensons Falls While I’m staying so close to the Yarra Ranges National Park, thought I’d better go and ride the Black Spur & the Reefton Spur which basically forms a big loop from Healesville, thru Narbethong, Marysville, Cambarville, Reefton, Warburton, Yarra Junction, Woori Yallock and back to Wandin. Brilliant riding with bend after bend and hairpin after hairpin, more so on the Reefton Spur. These bends are so tight, most of the time you are in 2nd or 3rd gear with the occasional 4th. I had lunch in Marysville at the new bakery. The whole of Marysville was burnt to the ground in the February 2009 bush fires and the town is in the process of re-building. So beautiful up there. I went up to Steavensons Falls for a quick walk and ended up walking to the top of the falls which was a 800mt steep walk to the top. It was great being at the top but I think the view of the falls is more spectacular from the bottom. Just up past Marysville is the turn off to Lake Mountain which is a ski resort. So pretty and once again a very challenging road to ride. You can just imagine how beautiful the area would be covered in snow. It was very cold up there and a mist was starting to roll in at about 3pm covering the top of the mountain. You could feel the temperature drop dramatically. Good time to head back to Wandin. Mornington Peninsula Rode down the Mornington Peninsula for old times sake. Haven’t been down there for years & years. The family used to have a couple of beach houses down at Rosebud so I wanted to see if they were still standing and get a couple of photos. It’s been about 40 years since I have been down that way and they’re both still there, just with a fresh coat of paint. The Peninsula has changed a lot over the years, as expected, with development of shopping centres and the like, but I still recognised most areas including the old landmark, the Frankston clock tower, which always meant to me that we were nearly at the beach as a 7 year old. The Queenscliff Ferry which commutes between Sorrento & Queenscliff I rode back via Flinders and Hastings which is on the eastern side of the Peinsula which was very pretty and a lot quieter than the Nepean Hwy. Came up to Wandin thru Koo-wee-rup, Pakenham, Cockatoo and Seville. More nice roads to ride. West Head beach near Flinders Boat Shed at Hastings Jetty Phillip Island Decided to take a run down to Phillip Island and stay the night just to see the Penguins. Stayed at Cowes Caravan Park which was very nice, right on the beach and close to town. Walked around the boardwalk at ‘The Nobbies’ and saw lots of birds but no seals. Oh well. They were probably all in the water as it was freezing cold and overcast. Great coastal scenery. Strolled around the Koala Conservation Park for an hour and saw heaps of grey furry bundles up in trees. Oh to be a lazy Koala. The highlight of the visit was seeing a mummy koala with her baby sticking out of her pouch. So cute. Rode around the island until dark looking at all the sights, as the Penguin Parade starts when the sun goes down. So exciting to see the first group come up the beach. There was about 1600 penguins that came in. Sat there watching for about 30 minutes then walked up to the boardwalk and that’s where you see them trying to find their chicks in their burrows. Again, so cute. Unfortunately photos were not allowed to be taken. Next morning started heading back to Wandin, but before I left the island I had to check out the Phillip Island GP circuit. Wandered thru the museum and took a walk thru the gardens to the viewing platform where you can see about 70% of the track. Very exciting place. Rode the long way back to Wandin of course via Wonthaggi, lunch at Inverloch on the beach, up to Leongatha, Korumburra, Warragul, Nooji and then home. Found some more nice roads to ride , just as good as the black spur. Victoria has some great roads to ride as long as you make allowances for the potholes and rough surfaces that need repairing. I guess that just adds to the challenge of staying upright. Kinglake Dad and I went for a nice ride up to Kinglake today. Kinglake holds a lot of history with the Stokes family. We even have a road where my Grandfathers farm was, named after us. Pretty cool. They used to grow potatoes up there and Dad was telling me about using the draught horse to plough the paddocks and picking up the spuds in the snow, then lugging them up an almost vertical hill in sacks up to the car. Hard times. Saw some of the old houses they lived in, dropped in on some relatives in Whittlesea to say hello and went to the Yan Yean cemetery to visit my grandfather and great grandfather. Had a goodbye dinner at my brothers place in Seville and met some more of his & Erin’s friends. A great night with lots of laughs and I hope it’s not another 9 years before I see them. I’m a bit sad to be leaving Wandin & the family but if I don’t go tomorrow I won’t get to see what I have planned. Kosciuszko National Park Back on the road again after leaving Wandin. Rode thru Yarra Junction, Nooji, Willow Grove to hit the Princes Hwy at Moe. Stayed on the hwy thru Traralgon, Sale, Bairnsdale, Lakes Entranace and stayed in Orbost for the night at the cute little caravan park. Coped rain until Lakes Entrance which is very pretty and the sun was shining. Orbost CVP Lakes Entrance Today I travelled from Orbost out to Cann River and up the Monaro Hwy to Bombala, onto Cooma and across to Jindabyne. I stuck to the tar as it was raining again most of the morning and apparently the gravel up the Barry way gets a bit slippery, so I played it safe. Bit of a bugger really as I was looking forward to the Barry Way. Set up camp at Thredbo Diggings campground which is right on the Thredbo River. Very pretty area. Collected some firewood as it is going to be cold and they are expecting snowfall tonight. There’s still snow on the top of the mountains so tomorrow I will take the chairlift and do the 13km walk up Mt Kosciuzsko, that’s if this Perth girl survives the zero degrees predicted tonight. Thredbo Village Mt Kosciuszko Up early this morning and took a chairlift ride up the mountain. The Kosciuszko Walk to the summit is 13.2km return in which I did. Only took just under 4 hours to do and my legs are feeling every step now. It was so beautiful and I even had to trek thru snow in some parts as the walkway was still covered. Little running streams everywhere as the snow was melting and the scenery is to die for. Had the most perfect day for it although it was a little chilly up the top. Look how deep the snow still is. Dumped my backpack off at camp and rode into Jindabyne (30kms) to get some shopping. Was craving for some fruit & vegies and had a calcium fix while I was there in the shape of an iced coffee and a tub of yoghurt. On the way back I called in to pay my national park fees which is only $6 per day for a motorcycle and the camping is free. I could stay here for another couple of days and fit in some more walks as the park has plenty to offer, but have to move on or I won’t get home in time for work on 3rd December. That would be a shame, hey? Alpine National Park Left Kosciuszko on Wednesday morning and headed for Bright, my base for the Alpine National Park. From Thredbo to Khancoban the road was awesome, not easy with all of it’s hairpin bends and I was lucky to get out of 2nd & 3rd gear for most of the way, but I was heading down the mountain. Stopped in at Corryong to delve into some of ‘The Man from Snowy River’ history. Went out to the Corryong Cemetery to see Jack Riley’s grave. What a legend. Got into Bright mid afternoon and caught up on some washing & shopping. Met up with a Ulysses guy from Nowra and went to the pub for dinner. I was hanging out for a pub Chicken Parmy. Yummy. Decided to do the loop road on Thursday which left Bright and took me thru Tawonga, Mt Beauty, Bogong, Falls Creek, Anglers Rest, Omeo, Dinner Plain, Hotham Heights, Harrietville and back up to Bright. First stop was at Fainter Falls, which was a 1.4km return walk to the falls. Pretty. Called into Bogong Village and not much was happening there so I kept going. Once again I was on a road that had so many bends & twisties, it was hard to get out of 3rd gear but lots of fun. From Bogong I was soon travelling thru Falls Creek, which I loved. So pretty then it opened out into the Bogong High Plains. I saw 2 Brumby’s grazing near the road and as a horsey person just had to pulled the Tiger up and go say hello. I slowly approached one and quickly learned she was a mare in foal. She was so pretty with her white blaze an dark bay colour. I managed to get within 2 mts of her then put my hand out and she backed off and nuzzled up to her stallion, who was also dark bay and beautiful. Apart from seeing my Dad on this trip, seeing wild Brumbys has been the highlight. I'm really a horsey girl at heart. I did the 1.5km return walk to see Wallace’s hut, which is a cattlemans hut, built in 1889. Just up the road was another hut, Cope hut built in 1939. This hut was built as a mountaineering hut. Wallace’s Hut Travelled further south to Anglers Rest and had lunch at the ‘Blue Duck Inn’. Great food, then onto Omeo for a look around. Checked out Dinner Plain with all it’s newly built chalets and then rode up to Hotham, which is a huge Ski Resort and boasts the highest road in Australia which is sealed. Pretty scary in some sections with all the really tight bends and sheer drop offs. Back down the mountain, thru Harrietville and back to Bright. Had the best day and did I mention I saw wild Brumbys? Glenrowan & Echuca Rode from Bright to Echuca today. Meet some really lovely people at Bright CVP who all waved me goodbye when I left. How cute is that? Rode thru Myrtleford then over to Glenrowan. Walked around town for a while and did the touristy thing of retracing The Kelly Gangs last stand and strolled thru one of the museums. Had a healthy chicken & salad roll for lunch at the local bakery, took some pictures, then thru Benalla, Shepparton and into Echuca. Checked into the caravan park then raced down to buy a ticket for a paddle steamer ride. I just made it and managed to get on the ‘P.S. Emmylou’ for a hours ride up the Murray River. I must say it was very relaxing sitting up the front. Could have sat there for hours. I actually sat next to an old guy who is the current partner of of Shirley Watts who was married to Edward Turner, The Triumph guy. Google him... Walked around town for a couple of hours looking at all the old buildings and had a yummy Rum & Raisin ice cream at the Ice-Creamery. Seemed to be the thing to do. Back to the CVP and moved my tent to a better site, one with grass and meet some more lovely travellers who after happy hour invited me for Prawn & Noodle stirfry for dinner. Rod was a Ulysssian and we managed to talk bikes for most of the night. Who could get lonely travelling on a bike by yourself with so many people wanting to talk to you about where you have come from and where you’re heading? Mildura Off to Mildura this morning and again had a group at the CVP wave me good bye and wish me safe travels. Makes me feel special…… Bit of a boring ride today really up the Murray Valley Hwy then onto the Sturt Hwy. It’s very dry out here and every now and then you get a glimpse of the Murray River. No more green paddocks or mountains from here to Perth. Was 36 degrees today in Mildura so I spent the afternoon sitting in the pool at the CVP talking to everyone about their travels. It was relaxing and when the sun went down I rode around town to see some local sights. Not much to see in Mildura while your by yourself. Lots of wineries & eating places. Swan Hill Attraction - Big Murray Cod Paddle Steamer in Mildura Burra What a cute little town. So much history. Went for a walk around town to look at some of the historical sites and old time cottages. Then headed up to the old copper mine which was in operation in 1874. Very interesting and as you walked around you could just imagine what life was like in the 1870′s in Burra. Tough….. Built up enough courage to walk into the Burra Hotel for a pub meal and a couple of Bundy’s. Met some interesting locals to say the least, but quite harmless. Great Chicken Parmy by the way and interesting chat with the publican. Apparently the movie ‘Breaker Morrant’ was filmed around Burra, well alot of it anyway. Must watch it again when I get back to Perth. Streaky Bay again Rode 600kms today and ended up in Streaky Bay again. That’s it. I’m on the way home. It’s a bit sad to think the holiday is over but at the same time it will be good to see Steve and the girls. I have missed them and it was a bit weird not travelling with them, but at the same time I have had an absolute blast. I am staying in Streaky Bay for 2 days just to chill out before I cross the Nullarbor again. Not a bad place to chill I reckon. Next morning I saddled up the Tiger and went for some gravel road riding. Ended up doing about 140kms on the gravel, some of which was like a Victorian Highway (potholes and all) and some was a bit corrugated. Took off out of Streaky Bay and headed for Sceale Bay. Just a little beach shanty town really but the bay was really pretty. Then onto Point Labatt to see the Sea Lion colony. There was about 45 seals down on the rocks sunning themselves and there were some young pups playing in the rock pools. So cute to watch. Could of stayed out there all day as it was so peaceful watching them and the waves crashing on the rocks around them. A bit hard to see them but they’re there. Spectctular coastline Decided I hadn’t had enough gravel and I was in the ‘zone’, so I pushed onto Baird Bay. Again another little beach shanty town in the middle of nowhere. I believe you can swim with the seals in Baird Bay, but at $150 a pop, not for me today. From Baird Bay I headed to Calca to stop in and have a walk around the cemetery. It looked interesting and really old so why not. The first person to be buried in this cemetery was a lady in 1894. After stopping on the side of the road to look at some old crumbling stone cottages, I headed back to Streaky Bay to grab a pie at the bakery and get some wine and something for dinner. Very enjoyable day. On My Way Home From Streaky Bay to Eucla. I met an inspirational guy in Nundroo, Igor Bilek, who was riding a recumbent bike around Australia. He was amazed at what I had achieved on my solo motorbike trip, which I thought was so easy compared to what he was doing. Left Eucla bright and early as the sun seems to come up at about 4.15am in that place. So weird. Apart from the 100km/hr headwinds I had to ride into, it was a good day. I met up with 3 young guys riding across to Sydney on their 1980′s model motorbikes. They were checking out my set up on the Tiger and thought that was cool compared to their $20 backpacks strapped to the their bikes as panniers. They had those poor bikes so loaded up, I don’t know if they will make Sydney in 3 weeks or not. One guy even had his pillow occy strapped to the back of his bike. Don’t know what he will do if it rains. I got to Norseman at about 1.30pm and had gained 2.5hrs because of the time difference across Australia. So, I decided to ride onto Kalgoorlie. Glad I did but it was a very long day riding 900kms. I am hoping that means I will get into Perth tomorrow before peak hour which will make life easier along the Tonkin hwy. Kalgoolie to Perth Last day travelling back to Perth. I guess all great things have to come to an end at some point. Up nice and early and out to visit the Superpit. This mine is massive. I was here 10 years ago and I guess they just keep digging. So much bigger than I remember. Was a nice ride home but the closer I got back to Perth, the more clothes I had to put on. What’s with Perth weather this month? Travel Summary On the road for 30 days I clocked up 10,915kms on the trip Purchased 554 litres of fuel, mostly Premium at an average price of $1.68/ltr Highest fuel price paid was $2.11 @ Caiguna 29 full tanks of fuel used. The Tiger has a 19ltr fuel tank Food cost an average of $25/day Accommodation cost $688 for 21 days (included some rooms). I stayed with Dad for 8 days. All in all it was a brilliant trip, met some incredible people, not once was I lonely and the Tiger purred like a kitten all the way. Couldn’t have done it on a better bike or with better equipment. Everything just worked. The only thing I didn’t use while I was away was the bathers. The highlights were seeing my family in Melbourne, riding all the mountains roads, climbing Kosciuszko, seeing brumbys in the wild and I enjoyed the gravel roads down around Streaky Bay. I would do it all again tomorrow if I could, but stay out there longer.