Category Archives: Uncategorized

A new adventure – and a new site

Hi all,

Well it’s been a while since I last posted, but I haven’t been idle – in fact I’ve been busily planning my next trip.  As a part of that I’ve set up a new site and migrated my blog across: http://www.pathlessridden.com

As a sneak peek, I’ve decided going around Australia just wasn’t enough to scratch my itch – so now I’m going to try and ride from Sydney to London.

See you on the new site!

– Dave

Advertisements

Day 12 – Entering the Nullarbor

That morning involved a very early start, around dawn, so as not to be noticed by locals camping out in their sports field sheds.

After a quick breakfast in town (it seems food and petrol are about the only things I’m actually spending any money on), I hit the road heading west.

The roads on the Eyre Peninsula don’t have much appeal sports-riding wise.

P1000891

P1000893

P1000895

So I just followed the front wheel until I hit the coast at Streaky Bay.

P1000900

Then followed yet more featureless roads to Ceduna, the (eastern) gateway to the Nullabor.

P1000901

By this stage I had already covered 350km for the day – making up for the time I lost by detouring to Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Ranges. A quick stop for lunch then it was back into the saddle.

P1000906

The big Suzuki was just eating up the miles, and with the right music in my ears I was regressing into a zen state, only having to concentrate for the big road trains that dominate the roads through much of regional Australia.

P1000909

Although I hadn’t hit the Nullarbor yet, the roads were flat, straight and uninteresting, rolling past in a miasma of blurred scenery.

P1000913

P1000925

At last, I hit the official start line.

P1000929

P1000932

And was greeting with, well, almost nothing – and yet somehow, for all the lack of trees and almost everything else I had seen prior, the stark contrast between the scrubby vegetation on the ground and the leaden-grey clouds in the sky somehow drew the eye inexorably to the vanishing point on the horizon. Somehow, even with less to look at, this was far more interesting than the roads earlier in the day.

P1000927

 

P1000941

I now had more wildlife to contend with, too – adding camels to the danger list.

P1000934

It’s not strictly true that the Nullarbor has no trees – but they’re few and far between.

P1000935

Moving westwards through Nundroo, Yatala and Nullabor roadhouses, the Great Australian Bight crept north to meet the road, until only a few hundred metres of dirt track separated it from the main highway.

P1000942

P1000943

P1000952

P1000954

This is the edge of the continent, and I camped out on one such detour less than 100 metres from the cliff face. The sound of the surf pounding against the rocks lulled me to sleep.

P1000948

Day 7 – Kangaroo Island Part 1

The morning started on another boat – this time they strapped the bike down so I didn’t have to stay and hang on!

P1000521

Then once we landed in Penneshaw it was straight back into exploring.

P1000522

The roads were mostly straight, but there were some good sections.

P1000525

And some good views from the nearby lookouts.

P1000528

P1000529

Then it was on to American River (actually an inlet, not a river), where I managed to see black swans.

P1000532

P1000535

Then it was on to Seal Bay on the south coast, to see the Sea Lions – there’s a great self-guided boardwalk tour that gets in nice and close.

P1000538

P1000542

P1000545

P1000553

I kept following the southern coast westward, next stop Vivonne Bay.

P1000556

P1000559

P1000561

Then I hit the western most area, the Flinders Chase National Park.

P1000563

Some wildlife at the Visitors Centre.

P1000564

After arranging my campsite for the night (with shower, what luxury!), I pushed south to Cap Du Coeudic – firstly the lighthouse, then Admirals Arch and the fur seal colony there.

P1000566

P1000567

P1000571

P1000573

P1000575

P1000578

P1000581

The other sights down there were Weirs Cove and Remarkable Rocks.

P1000584

P1000585

P1000608

P1000589

P1000591

P1000597

P1000600

P1000604

Back at the campsite I went for a wander around dusk to try and catch some wildlife – particularly a platypus, if I could.

P1000611

P1000614

P1000615

P1000618

Sadly no sighting, although those are definitely burrows on the bank.

Sunset and and an early night.

P1000621

 

Day 5 – Grapes and Limestone

I was woken early at the campsite by a group of three wallabies grazing no more than 5 metres from where I slept. Once they’d had their fill and moved on, it was time to pack up and hit the road.

If there’s one image of Victoria that will remain with me (apart from the endlessly overcast weather), it would be something like this:

Image

Despite the mountains and the Great Ocean Road, huge swathes of Victoria are just rolling pasture land.

Once underway, it was a quick run to the South Australian border.

Image

And on to Mount Gambier, the regional centre of the area known as “the Limestone coast”, for its unique geography. For example, this sinkhole in the middle of a suburban park.

Image

As well as the Blue Lake, inside an ancient volcanic caldera.

Image

Image

Image

The township also had several wonderfully preserved buildings.

Image

Image

Image

Then it was back on the road, heading North for a change. At first the roads were surrounded by massive pine plantations.

Image

Then I rolled into the Coonawarra region, the southernmost of SA’s wine-growing districts.

Image

Image

Interspersed with more wide open plains as pasture land.

Image

Further up the road was the World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves, famous both for their beautiful limestone formations and for the rich and diverse fossil history discovered there.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Then as I’d made good time, I decided to get a little closer to Adelaide, back on the open road.

Image

One of the most visually arresting features of the South Australian country-side are the dead gum trees that still stand – with their twisted limbs and stark colouring, they become something of an organic statue that stands out against the blue-grey skies and brown earth.

Image

Image

I’m now checking into a small pub in a one-horse town called Coonalpyn, as I was riding into a massive storm front – and sure enough, no more than 20 minutes after checking in I was able to watch the sheets of rain sweep across the road and vivid lightning bolts arc through the sky.

Day 4 – The Great Ocean Road

So this morning I woke up slightly rusty thanks to a few too many beers and rounds of cards at the YHA (thanks Anna, Francine, Peter and Nick!), but it was only a 5 minute ride down to the ferry at Sorrento, to head across Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff.

small_P1000313

Note the stupid expression as the sun was in my eyes, and I had to grip the brake lever to stop the bike from falling over with the swell.

small_P1000317

small_P1000321

On arrival the signs for “The Great Ocean Road” immediately caught my eye, but first I had to find some breakfast – overlooking Surf Beach at Torquay, of course. Ahh bacon, is there no injury to spirit or body that you can’t fix?

small_P1000324

The road wound its’ way down the coastline through a number of small hamlets, presumably full of summer houses for rich Melbournian socialites.

small_P1000326

small_P1000327

small_P1000329

Then you hit the ceremonial gateway for the GOR itself. It was built after the First World War as an employment project for returned servicemen, so there are a number of memorials along the way.

small_P1000332

small_P1000333

It was from here that the coastline became more rugged, and the roads more interesting.

small_P1000334

small_P1000336

small_P1000337

small_P1000338

small_P1000340

This went on for perhaps 50 or 60 kilometres of motorcycling heaven, endless sweeping corners and stunning coastal vistas. There was some slow traffic, particularly caravans, however most were polite enough to pull into one of the many turnouts to allow you past – all except one particularly slow bus driver who tried to block every effort to get past.

After a while the road bends away from the coast (well before reaching the scenery fatigue point) and travels through a combination of rolling farmland and dense forestry areas – both of which still provided amazing motorcycling and great views, albeit of a different kind.

small_P1000341

But after another 40 km of inland routes, it was time for the big ticket items. Almost immediately upon the road returning to the coastline, you come to the 12 Apostles, one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks. It’s hard to quantify just how large and spectacular these are without seeing them yourself – monumental monolithic sandstone pillars jutting out of the pounding surf, framed by vertical cliffs down to the beach.

small_P1000343

small_P1000346

small_P1000348

small_P1000349

small_P1000350

small_P1000352

Then further along the coast there are half a dozen less famous sights where there are just as amazing patterns of erosion in the limestone coast. This is the Loch Ard Gorge, named after a shipwreck nearby.

small_P1000355

small_P1000356

small_P1000362

small_P1000363

small_P1000365

small_P1000366

The Arch.

small_P1000369

London Bridge (which was linked to the mainland until about 20 years ago when it collapsed, trapping two people on the outcrop).

small_P1000373

And the Grotto.

small_P1000378

small_P1000376

But no matter where you were, the views along the coastline were spectacular and rugged, combining with the open sweeping corners to create a kind of two-wheeled nirvana.

small_P1000379

small_P1000371

small_P1000370

small_P1000372

Sadly once the Great Ocean Road ends it returns inland, but instead of glorious touring roads with plenty of corners, it’s back to the dead straight lines through endless pastures – pretty in its own way, but not compared to the rest of the day’s touring.

Today has honestly been one of the best days of motorcycling in my life, with great roads, great views, and now being far enough into the trip to be truly in the rhythm and at one with the bike. I’m pulled up at a free campsite half way between Port Fairy and Portsea, surrounded by backpackers’ vans and grey nomads. Tomorrow I should cross into South Australia to Mount Gambier and the surrounding areas.

First Post

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost (1874-1963), The Road Not Taken, from Mountain Interval (1920)

Everyone’s life has a number of turning points, of choices made that set us of in different directions.  Sometimes we’re conscious of this choice, sometimes it is thrust upon us and we’re forced to adapt.

My life has had a huge shakeup in the last 12 months, from which I’m just starting to return to normalcy.  As a part of this process, I’ve developed a severe case of wanderlust.  I traveled fairly widely when younger, including living in France for a year, but as I grew older other priorities got in the way.  I also love motorcycling, which provide a freedom and escape from daily life that non-bikers don’t understand.  Combining these two seemed like an obvious choice of a way to see the world, on my own terms and relatively cheaply.  I want to take the path less ridden, through strange parts of the world; following my whim and my front wheel.

This blog is admittedly self-indulgent, but I hope to document my preparation and travels not only to preserve my memories, but also to help other travelers, motorcycle adventurers, and those living vicariously in understanding this world.