All photos © Edan, Mick, & Warwick, 2009.
Well 2009 saw in the end of a long dry autumn, and Joe's missus had bravely said that we blokes needed to do more than one bike trip per year. No one really argued with that idea, of course! but in the end only 4 out of the seven lads were able to make it. So Warwick has written this lively little account of what happened. Please note that I wasn't there to witness things for myself, so I can't vouch for its accuracy. Although Warwick is, of course, an absolutely honest character...
A quick wrap-up of the trip for those who weren’t able to make it! Send any complaints and omissions to Baden-Powell...
We met at 'Gus HQ' around 10am on the Friday, with my good self taking the honours for being late. All the gear got tossed into the Lux and we headed off for our first stop in Dwellingup. It soon became apparent that the Hilux was not going to be able to convey Gus in the same wild-eyed manner as a Saab, although its other attributes would soon be appreciated (especially by Gus). A nice lunch at Dwellingup was had and then a nice jaunt to Quindanning where we stopped for a quiet pint in commemoration of our previous stop/pint there.
Sadly on leaving Quindanning we took a right when we should have gone left... so instead of a quick ride down to Boraning and then on to Collie, we spent around 30k on gravel roads to Harvey! Not good at all. This was the first and only time that Gus was able to formulate a passing manoeuvre and make it stick! A fine shower of gravel and dust with no doubt maniacal laughter emitting from the Hilux as he came past. Worse still was that some evil, twisted road engineer put in a few k's of proper road before it returned to gravel. Still the ride past the dam and into Harvey was brilliant, if not enough to make up for the gravel. The real travesty here is that I had thought this was poor route planning (until a follow-up Google Earth investigation) rather than a navigational error... but either way I’ll put my hand up for the torture. But I’m not buying Mick another faux-Kevlar rego holder!!
We made it into Collie an hour or so later, booked into the caravan park and set up camp [photos above]. Whilst not the most scenic of campgrounds there was the bonus of it being staggering distance to the bright lights of the Club Hotel. I would like to say the Club Hotel is a cosmopolitan extravagance, where men and women of exotic backgrounds mix and mingle, conversing gently over their Belgian beers and Margaret River chardonnay, discussing weighty world issues.
However that would be far from the truth: the décor hasn't seen any changes since Harold Holt was in power and the crowd mostly wear reflective safety clothing. Then it was off to a very nice Asian restaurant, which provided an excellent meal. A quick after-dinner drink at the Club Hotel's back bar proved too much for me, with whatever we’d been served seemingly coming from the spill containers. We headed back to the campground in the rather brisk conditions and our first night under canvas.
The next morning saw us up and packed away fairly quickly. A brilliant breakfast at Jimendy's Café had us ready for the day and a trip to Coles/Liquorland stocked with supplies. As per Mikey resolution MEAT-1 the boys managed to spend nearly as much on steak, bacon and snaggers as we did on the usual goods, nice one boys! Mikey was with us in spirit if nothing else.
After double-checking with the Service station lady that every single centimeter of the remaining route to Hamelin Bay was sealed, we set off. The road through to Mumballup was excellent, lots of twists and turns and the opportunity to put Gus back in his place...! We continued on down through Boyup Brook and onto Bridgetown where we stopped for a quick pint at the Cidery. Once again the midday beer and sun put us in a fine mood, which was then enhanced by the brilliant Bridgetown-Nannup Road. Coming down the hills towards Nannup and seeing 50k speed advisories was gold! (Although there were a few resealed spots which limited speeds somewhat.) A fuel stop in Nannup and then down the Nannup to Karridale road had us within spitting distance of Hamelin Bay. Edan and Mick decided that cobwebs needed to be removed en route and were well and truly arrived at Karridale by the time I got there. Gus steamed in a few moments later and we then made the short last leg to Hamelin Bay.
The campground at Hamelin Bay is great; the natural landscape has been preserved and the Peppermint trees reign supreme. We secured ourselves a sprawling campsite away from all and sundry where we could set up, drink, cook and swear loudly to our hearts content (probably throw in a bit of goat-sacrificing for Gus as well... who knows what went on in the back of that Hilux overnight!). We received our first and only rain late that night; I’d been for a walk out to the point, and could see a storm system moving in off the coast towards the south. The front came through with rain, lightening and thunder. It was truly awesome to hear the thunder up close and personal, a few microns of tent cloth does little to silence it! The rain was not too bad and no one suffered any leaks.
Sunday morning dawned crystal-clear, and with a few Weetbix under the belt we formulated a plan to leap into the Hilux, head up Caves Road, onto the beach for a look, then onto Yallingup for a beer and swim. The track from Caves Rd to the beach is sign posted as 4WD only and certainly lived up to that. The Hilux made very short work of it and the beach as well. I was greatly impressed with the ease we went along the beach, Gus even reverted back to high range 4WD as it was all going so smoothly.
After getting off the beach we headed up and took a look in at Giants Cave. The price for entry has now risen to $12 each which we all felt would be far better spent on beer at Caves Hotel! So off we shot. The drive up Caves Road seemed to take forever, or perhaps it was the thought of the beach/beer/lunch that made it slow. Either way we were not disappointed on any front, the waves were up, the beer was good and food reasonable. We decided on the sensible course of food, beer, then swim (which of course all swimmers know is ideal!). ... The water felt warmer than many of the summer swims I’ve had there. A couple of decent dumpings and a few rides in made it all the sweeter.
The drive back to Hamelin Bay brought a new pilot to the Hilux, as Gus needed a rest from the rigours of driving and so passed on the duties to me. All was going swimmingly until we met with the Margaret River Chapter of the Kookaburra Suicide Squad. One section of the road had these mad fiends sitting in the middle of our lane hanging around for bugs or whatever it is they eat. Getting on the horn and swerving around a bit was working well, until we met with one who went left when he should have gone right, or was it the other way around? Anyway, a solid clunk was heard and a bent wing poking up from the grill indicated all was not well with this chap. Gus immediately insisted we stop, perform open-Kooka surgery, mouth-to-beak etc. but he was voted down. We needed to get to Karridale and to the beer shop before it closed!! On arrival at the shop our friend was still on the grill and sadly deceased. Edan gently laid him to rest.
Another evening of cooking, drinking and intellectual dialogue ensued. Edan managed to do quite a bit of damage to his bottle of whiskey, which made his head delighted to be alive the next morning... or perhaps not! A few tired heads hit the pillow that night, the session in the surf probably helping. We had a big fry-up in the morning and Mikey’s, Geoff’s and Joe’s non-attendance was noted. Our mighty meat-eating mammals could not summon the where-with-all to consume the 5kg pack of bacon that had been purchased weaklings! My veggie sausages went down a treat!
There was a bit of head-scratching as to which direction to head home with Gus's intention of heading back to Nannup and up through the guts of the SW seemed most sensible, especially given the amount of traffic we’d encountered around Yallingup. We did the Nannup-Balingup Road, which was fairly damp and provided some fairly timid riding, but beaut scenery (although Gus seemed to be greatly enjoying having four large tyres on it!). Another fuel top-up in Donnybrook saw the group shake hands and split up for the long haul home.
The traffic on the SW Hwy (which Mick, Gus and I travelled) was fairly heavy, as was the coast route (which Edan took). There were definitely a few hairy moments on the SW Hwy... with some stooge on a GoldWing taking top prize for most insane overtaking manoeuvre (or perhaps he wasn’t in touch with just how wide the thing was). A few sprinkles of rain around the midpoint removed a few bugs and cooled things off a bit, but it was definitely hotter as we approached Perth and home.
So, Part I of 'Ride of Your 2009' has been done & dusted, and we all survived generally intact (well, save for one kookaburra). All those who could not attend were toasted, roundly abused (with strong language of course) and generally missed. Onwards and upwards for Part II!!
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