All photos © TFB, Watto, & Warwick, 2015.
This year's ride (2015) could have happened in the warmer months, but we left our run a bit late and managed to just make the end of autumn/ beginning of winter. The downside of this, of course, is the chance of wetter weather, along with cold mornings and evenings. However, as we poked through the entrails of the online weather sites, they augured well: we were going to jag perfect sunny weather for the long weekend -- you beauty!
As has become our tradition, we (myself with Katana, Warwick on R1, Watto on ZX9, Edan with Hayabusa, Joe with newish GSX-R 1000, and Geoff piloting new Ford Falcon to carry the gear) gathered at the Serpentine Roadhouse before the short but fun hop to Dwellingup for the first night's camping.
Initial festivities completed, we set off on the brisk little ride to Dwellingup. We pulled in to the local camping ground, only to find that because we didn't have a booking, the proprietor was triumphantly declaring that the premises were FULL because of the long weekend. Hah!! -- of course there was LOADS of room and it was pretty clear that he didn't want us 'biking scum' in his campground! The truth is (ahem) that the last time we were there, we had been perhaps a little eager in our gathering of firewood -- so was it that he had remembered Watto's single-handed uprooting of an entire dead tree (see write-up of previous trip)?!
The only thing for it -- apart from arguing with the proprietor, which we weren't going to do because we are actually genteel, peace-loving souls -- was to go for dinner down the pub. A bit of a no-brainer. Then we scooted a little ways out of town to Nanga Brook/ Lane Pool to see if we could find a patch of dirt there to light a fire and pitch the tents. Nup, all spots were taken. So instead we found a deserted forestry track a bit further on, and set up camp there -- perfect! Plenty of firewood was gathered, beers were liberated from the esky in Geoff's car, and the first night of embellished tales around the fire began as the air temperature steadily dropped.
And mate, did it DROP. I had decided not to go through with the palaver of setting up the tent, and just put out the inflatable mattress and sleeping bag instead. Some time in the dead of the night, wearing all my clothes inc. the leather motorcycle jacket, and with my beanie pulled down over my ears, I woke up COLD. "Blast it," I thought... and then I wondered: had I brought the lightweight sleeping bag, or the heavyweight one? Holding the material up the moonlight, and seeing the moon virtually straight through it, confirmed the worst. Ah well, I just curled up tighter (the tried-and-true biological principle of reducing surface-area-to-volume ratio, see) and managed to nod off until first light.
We got up at the crack of dawn and it was just so blasted cold. Must have been around zero degrees for sure (the temp. gauge on Warwick's R1 instrument panel did read 3 degrees when we were riding out at about 9:00am). Nothing for it but to re-light the fire and get our blood temperature up. It got me wondering how the wildlife finds these sort of conditions. The fact that nothing was stirring and not even a bird was chirping until about the time we left, provides the answer: they were all still in their sleeping bags! Only those crazy bikers were disturbing the peace...
So after the bikes had warmed up and finished blowing enormous clouds of vapour into the crisp morning air, it was off down the winding tarmac to Waroona (zoom zoom), and from there to Harvey, then up Morrison Road to Collie(more zooming), then Mumballup (gotta love that downhill run), Boyup Brook (fast open road), and finally Bridgetown for lunch and a well-earned ale at the Cidery. Lovely.
By now we had decided that, in the interests of a warmer night's sleep, we would camp closer to the coast (warming effect of the ocean is significant here in winter). So we ended up doing the afternoon's riding to Nannup and then onwards to Hamelin Bay for the night -- great roads that have faster open bits as well as tighter twisty bits. You have to be a bit careful on the latter, though, as some of the bends are pretty-much invisible with crazy cambers and random gravel and honky nuts just to make life interesting. The bikes, as usual, loved sucking in the cooler-season air as we barrelled onwards to Hamelin Bay.
By now we had stocked up on meat, other food and (of course) more beer. The campers kitchen was the place to cook up our slabs of dead cow, as the fire places around the camp ground were lacking hot plates. In fact, just getting hold of a spare steel fire place thingy was hard to do, as pretty-much all had been snaffled by other campers. However Geoff managed to work his gentlemanly charms on some lady, and came back with both firewood and fire place -- good work matey! And here he is at his seductive best...
One thing that happened around the fire that evening, bears some relating in detail. A bunch of Australian men with beers around a fire might look like a fairly accepting and tolerant context for conversation -- but of course that is just a thinly-veiled front. Because at some unguarded point, Joe let slip that HE IS A MEMBER OF A WINE CLUB. No sooner had Joe uttered those ill-advised words, than there was an ERUPTION of sorts around the fire: for the next 5 minutes or so, Joe received one of the most thorough bollickings I have ever witnessed. "OHHHH -- Joe's a member of a WINE CLUB!" chortled Warwick in a pompous faux-British accent, complete with his little finger extended from the side of his beer can. A split-second later the rest of us had chimed-in and were in full flight, taking the complete mickey out of the hapless Joe who was trying in vain to chip-in and offer some lame justification or qualification in a futile attempt to avert the verbal tsunami. After the first 30 seconds of relentless bollicking, it became more like a nuclear firestorm as it generated a life of its own -- not even we could stop it! Finally, with ourselves breathless and Joe rueing his careless words, we all reached for another a beer and carried on. Who knows what the rest of the unwilling eavesdroppers in the campground were thinking? An unforgettable moment indeed.
Next morning, Warwick (aka Bludnut, aka Wart, aka Veganpawz, aka Herr Hodensack) was up nice and early, and shot this vid. of yours truly, schnorring (allegedly). Yes, I should be grateful because our ol' mate Bludnut has been known to do all sorts of darstardly things to his sleeping victims, eg. shaving their eyebrows off -- whereas instead this time around he settled for merely recording the vicar purring in his sleep. However a debate has ensued as to whether I was merely "purring", or comitting the greater social crime of "schnorring"! You be the judge...
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Anyway, after a much more comfortable night's sleep and a late-ish start, Sunday morning saw us choofing up Caves Road to Yallingup for morning tea. Spot the photo-bomber...
From here most of the lads went back home to Perth, but John and I hadn't had quite enough motorcycling for the weekend, and decided we'd do more exploring of the South West and head home on the 'morrow. So what's better than one trip along Caves Road? TWO trips along Caves Road, that's what -- so off back down to Augusta for lunch!
With the wonders of modern tech. and his iPhone, John booked a chalet at Coalmine Beach (Walpole) and we cut across to the legendary Manjimup-Walpole Road. Only problem was, by the time we got there the darkness was falling, but being still over 100kms out of Walpole we had no choice but to carry on in the face of kamikaze kangaroos.
Southwards we went, swooping through the Karri forest which by now was pitch-black: not even moonlight made it through the giant forest canopy. In fact, it was more like riding through a huge dark cave, with (we felt sure) the ghosts of Tolkien-inspired beasts lurking in the darkness! A great experience which was tempered only by the danger of hitting very-real kangaroos... and we saw plenty of dead ones which had been taken out by cars earlier in the week. About 15kms out of Walpole we had our closest encounter, as a large specimen boinged across the road in front of the Katana. Hitting the brakes we had plenty of room, but then it dawned on me why the Qantas logo has always filled me with a vague sense of dread: it's the view you get of a kangaroo before you hit it! So it was that, fully frozen and moderately terrified, we arrived at Coalmine Beach and a good night's kip in the cabin. Watto's shot next morning of the track down to the inlet...
Next day we rode the excellent coastal tarmac along to Denmark and then Albany, then headed north to the Porongurups and the Stirling Ranges. Out here the country opens up; gone are the huge Karri trees and the forests with their high rainfall, and you enter drier scrub country with scattered swamps. And, of course, the ancient mountain ranges of the Porongurups and the Stirlings are looming in the distance. We pulled over a couple of times for photos, and just to soak up the silence and mood of the land. I know that sounds a bit arty-farty, but it's true and there's something in me which is always in awe of these remote landscapes.
Finally we cut back across to Kojonup and then on to Perth via the Albany Highway, getting home knackered but happy. All in all, a weekend full of great camping, camaraderie and motorcycles: hard to beat! Stay tuned for the next ride...
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