All photos © TFB, Bludnut, & Mick, 2012.
With what has to have been the most horrendously overdue ride of the century, at last we came to our senses and took off on the weekend of 17/18 November 2012. For a moment there it looked like everyone would make it, but then at the last minute both buzzard (= Hayabusa) pilots, Pete and Edan, piked out for some mysterious reason... solid speculation indicates that they were fearful of being outpaced by a couple of 80's blasters (chiefly a certain yellow beastie), and that maybe the prospect of an all-meat diet for the weekend was beyond these 24-carat pissants.* Their grotesque wimpishness has been duly noted and they will be drafted into firewood duties for
any all future rides.
Rendezvous was set for 4.30pm on Friday arvo at the Serpentine roadhouse. Geoff turned up with his missus' car as transport & recovery vehicle and so panniers, sleeping bags, tents, etc. were loaded into the back. Then the short but excellent run along the winding roads to Dwellingup for our first night's camping. Warwick and Alastair turned up before dark, and as expected Joe was the last to arrive on his long-suffering FZR1000.
How this machine manages to make it along every year has us stookered... let's just say that Giuseppe Baldini isn't exactly known for his rigorous bike maintenance schedule. Although there is one schedule he does faithfully stick to, viz. that of starting this bike only once a year when it's time to go on one of these rides. However at risk of certain jibes involving pots & kettles etc., I should admit that it was on this scoot along the Dwellingup Road that the Katana started showing a misfire at higher RPM... which turned out to be down to the rather ancient set of NGKs still screwed into the cylinder head. Ah, hypocrisy...
But enough piffle about bike maintenance. Once the tents were pitched, Geoff and I did a run into town to check out the dining options, but found to our dismay that the pub's kitchen was being renovated and so there was nothing to eat beyond beer nuts and packeted chips. Thankfully this crisis was averted with the discovery of a few sumptuous meat-packs in the local IGA. After throwing a few beers into the car, we arrived back at the campsite to discover, not that surprisingly, that the resourceful members of our posse had been gathering firewood against campsite regulations! The campsite manager seemed OK with this, probably because Geoff had wisely bought a bag of campground firewood as well.
So it was that the usual festivities began. Meat was cooked, Warwick's veggie-burgers were lightly sauteed in animal fat, and Watto demonstrated the art of not moving out of the way of the campfire smoke. Note also the quite nonchalant yet possessive pose with the dead tree he has single-handedly uprooted.
It was a this point that the camping trip took a turn for the worse well, for me anyway. In the dark, and perhaps in my carnivorous eagerness, I consumed a half-cooked sausage. Now make no mistake, snaggers are delightful items of cuisine a refined version of Scottish haggis, no less but in their uncooked state they are basically tubes of festering bacteria. I had plenty of time to ponder this fact, beginning at about 4am, when I found myself quietly hurling and not-so-quietly blasting out the rear end. Oh dear. Of course one cannot expect much sympathy from Aussie blokes, and so the next morning Warwick couldn't help gleefully taking this snap of the pale, sickly vicar while we were breakfasting in a local cafe.
If I'd had more energy, I can assure you that his iPhone would have disappeared altogether. Anyway I had serious doubts about being able to continue the ride, so while the boys reluctantly left me behind and rode on, I parked myself under a tree with a bottle of lemonade. Finally I managed to summon the will to continue and rode on to Collie, texted the lads and caught up with them at the Cidery in Bridgetown. Onwards and upwards, for the roads of the South West were calling, not to mention meat/beer-fest Number Two!
By now we had finally decided we'd aim for Windy Harbour on the south coast for our Saturday night camp. The riding around Bridgetown, Pemberton, Nannup and the south coast etc. is something a motorcyclist will never get tired of, especially with the cool dry weather we had jagged for the weekend.
Watto was clearly getting the hang of the ZX9 I'd loaned him, as at one point he shot past me. 'There goes Watto,' I thought, and took a fleeting moment to observe the Kawasaki's suspension soaking up the bumps and then the forks compressing as John applied the brakes and tipped into the corner... ah, THE CORNER!! High-time to do some braking and all that myself, hmm. It was by no means a close call, but it did get me wondering what it would have been like to centre-punch my own bike with... my own bike!
As we neared the coast the tall Karri forest gave way to hardy scrubland, and the air was starting to get a bit nippy by the time we finally arrived in Windy Harbour.
Put simply, Windy Harbour is a wonderful place. Excellent beaches, sheltered campsite (because Windy Harbour is rather, um, windy see photo of bent tree below), and great views from the top of the cliffs which are a short walk along the coast.
The thing about looking across the Southern Ocean is knowing there is nothing but the water between you and Antarctica. You really are at the end of the world, and you find yourself thinking about the first European Explorers (Dutch, French and English) who first sailed these waters. Not wanting to take anything away from our modern astronauts, but they have the luxury of radio contact at all times with mission control, etc. But 250 years ago and more, these sailors had nothing but their wits, skills, and a whopping dollop of bravery as they literally sailed into the unknown. Get wrecked here and there was no chance of rescue whatsoever.
None of this was lost on Joe...
For us, however, there was the relative comfort of tents, a campfire, food, beer, and even mobile reception up on the cliffs if we really wanted it. Top this off with free firewood supplied by the campsite proprietors and you have the recipe for an excellent destination indeed.
Next morning it was time to head back to Perth, but not before the usual chain-lubrication ritual with which all owners of centrestand-less motorcycles will be familiar...
Not much more to add. We had an enjoyable enough run back to Perth via Donnybrook. It was all topped off with a few cold beers in the "man cave" back at my place a fitting end to another excellent weekend!
* And thanks to Paul Keating, ex-PM of Australia, for coming up with this golden term of endearment.
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