Mac Park racetrack camping – Mt Gambier South Australia

Seven riders set off from Waurn Ponds under cloudy, threatening skies on Friday 28 Sept. Ron H (Gentle), Mac, Nigel and I had our bikes loaded with camping gear and Richard S, Mal S and Phil R had their bike trailers – that were soon nicknamed the ‘B Doubles’ by Nigel.
Mind you, before the weekend was out we were all very thankful for the catering gear and esky’s that those trailers contained. This was my first moto camping trip since my late teens, and this was very much a ‘make or break’ trip in terms of future motorcycle camping for me!
Our ultimate destination was Mc Namara Park race circuit at Mount Gambier, but with the first night at Gary & Paula Foley’s camp at Wannon, just outside of Hamilton.
We decided to take a more northern route to try to dodge the cold front that was moving across the state. Gentle led and we headed up to Skipton and then along the Glenelg Hwy to Lake Bolac for lunch. It was pretty cold with the temp hovering around 11C, but then dropping down to 6C as a brief hail storm blew through.
From Lake Bolac we had a pretty good run along the Glenelg Hwy to to Dunkeld and then on to the supermarket in Hamilton for fuel, drinks and food to BBQ at Wannon. Rob had travelled independently of the ride group and arrived at about the same time as us. We actually arrived at Wannon in bright sunshine. We allocated ourselves rooms, unloaded our gear, broke open some refreshments and the fun began!
The fully enclosed recreation room at Fole’s place is a fabulous facility with a kitchen, lots of lounge chairs and tables, three fridges, a great sound system, an open fire and an indoor BBQ. As it cooled of we lit the fire and cooked a meal on the indoor BBQ.
The evening flew by to the soundtrack of lots of banter, reminiscences and Joe Bonamassa music pumping.
I checked the temperature as I was going to bed. It was 4C in Hamilton at 9.50pm – it was going to be a cold night! Glad that we weren’t in the tents.  We awoke to a clear, frosty morning. It was going to be a great day for our run over to Mt Gambier and Mac Park.
The bikes were coated in frost and Nigel’s Suzuki wouldn’t start. …. but, we were treated to the sight of Gentle actually running as he pushed Nigel’s machine (which started). I think seeing Gentle running was a first in the time I’ve known him. Mal S couldn’t believe his eyes and just shook his head – or was that at my rookie error of another initially non starting bike – due to being in gear with the side stand down! I told Mal quietly that we will never speak of that again.
Foles was packed up and ready to lead us off to Casterton for brekky. Casterton is said to be the birthpalace of the Kelpie and the annual dog trials is a big event here. Then on  to SA and the supermarket and Dan Murphys in Mt Gambier for more supplies. The mighty ZX14R clocked over 89,000kms just as I crossed the border into South Australia.
The Mac Park track proved to be a really nice spot to camp. And cheap, $10 for entry to the track and another $10 camping fee – with free firewood delivered to our site.
Perfect really – except for those bloody noisy motorbikes! Arthur Sissus dominated the superbikes and set a new lap record.

Then sun got low and the breeze became cool and we all reached for extra layers and lit the campfire.

Phil and Mal did a terrific job cooking the evening meal for all of us and then repeating it for a bacon & egg brekky for everyone. Thanks fellas! You two made the catering look easy.

 

Here’s Nigel Sunday morning … when he’s not downing fine tawny port he’s guzzling Sunkist!  (You may have seen a video doing the rounds on the internet re a fella and Sunkist)
Breakfast time also saw Gentle in strife for not wearing a helmet while moving his bike!
We packed up first thing Sunday morning with dew on the tents and then went for more coffees and to check out the first few races. Gentle and Foles stayed on as Ron was staying in Wannon again Sunday night. The rest of us decided to hit the road around 10.00am ish as it was roughly a five hour ride home.
We topped up our fuel tanks in Mt Gambier and I led off along the Jubilee Hwy which became the Prince’s Hwy goatrack in Victoria with a ridiculous number of lengthy stretches of 60kph and 80 kph speed restrictions due to the crappy condition of the road surface. We didn’t see any highway patrol cars on the run home which was a surprise as it was the AFL long weekend blitz was on. Then I was breath tested at a booze bus on the Anglesea  Rd about 10 kms from home.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to a great weekend. I’m certainly up for more moto caming in the future!  Many thanks to Gentle for organising the ride and huge thanks to Phil and Mal who went out of their way to purchase lots of food, carry it in their esky’s and, seemingly effortlessly, cook for us all to make sure that we were all fed properly and not buying trackside garbage. This was all done with good cheer and a ‘no worries’ attitude. You fellas really were terrific … thanks again!
As I rolled in the driveway I’d clocked 777 kms for the weekend.
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Jamieson weekend 3 & 4 March

Mrs T and I had a great weekend away on the bike on the weekend of 3rd and 4th March. The ride was organised by ‘Gentle’ from the Geelong Ulysses Club Branch, and as always, the route planning was excellent. We really got into the groove of riding the twisties, especially the section of road from Eildon to Jamieson – which is my new favourite road. Map below & some pics courtesy of Stan Kluzek.

Some random shots

Astrid & Dorothy

Graham & Stan

It was a lovely balmy evening and there was a local festival on. Below is the local blacksmith in action.

We awoke to a cloudless sky on Sunday morning. ideal riding conditions.

Above: Brekky in Mansfield.

Gentle & Colleen

New Michelin Road 5

 

Approx 780kms of brilliant riding with great company and brilliant weather.

Rawson and Bright December 2017

The December 13th run to Rawson is a Geelong Ulysses annual event. The first day of the 2017 ride had a weather forecast of 36C, after days of unusually cool summer weather. I’m not sure what it actually got up to, but it was damn hot for riding. Unfortunately we encountered a lot of roadworks that we had to stop at throughout the morning section of the ride which involved skirting around the north of Melbourne via backroads. The heat radiating off the engine / radiator was just about unbearable with the dual fans forcing a blast of heat straight up at me.

Pic above by Graham Aitken

After lunch at the Healesville Bakery we headed off through the beautiful bush roads through Powelltown and Noojee and onwards to Moe to stock up on food and drinks for the evening. Most of the riders just wanted to get to Rawson as quickly as possible due to the heat, however, Gentle led a small group of six who wanted to take the road down to the historic township of Walhalla. It’s an excellent road with just one bend after another and tall timber all around.  I did a ride through town to take some photos and then met up with the other fellas at the quaint little pub. We then had a great run up through the twisties to Rawson with Marty leading, to cap off a really enjoyable day of riding, despite the oppressive heat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got to our digs in the caravan park, which is a bush park, and got the riding gear off, and then had a shower and got into shorts as quickly as possible.  We self- cater at Rawson and after a few beers had the BBQ’s fired up and our evening meal cooked. It was a lovely warm evening sitting under the tall eucalypt trees yarning with the crew.

Two Rawson pics below by Peter Barclay 

On Thursday Marty and I headed off for Bright, via The Great Alpine Road, rather than heading home with the others. We stopped Bairnsdale for lunch and to top up the coolant in Marty’s ZX14R. We had a brilliant run to Omeo where we stopped for milk shakes and then headed to Mt Hotham and onwards to Bright. The descent from Hotham wasn’t that enjoyable as virtually every downhill, left hand hairpin bend had very soft tarsnakes all through them. It wasn’t great feeling the front end squirming about on each corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We pretty much had the Bright Brewery to ourselves. It was the perfect spot for some craft beers on a hot afternoon. We strolled around to visit Peter Rees and John Allen (who still rides extensively and rides well at age 82 is a real inspiration) at their motel and had an enjoyable time yarning with them.  After a counter tea at the pub we headed back to the Riverside motel to watch the cricket. I actually didn’t see much of it as I kept nodding off to sleep! Two days of intense riding and heat finally caught up with me and I was out like a light by 9.30pm. We were up fairly early and hit the road. The cool morning air of the Ovens and then the King Valley was an absolute treat. At the end of the King Valley we pulled into Whitfield and enjoyed a cooked brekky at the General Store. I love this area and we camp on the King River fairly regularly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was thinking of dropping in at Stringybark Creek – the site of one of Ned Kelly’s battles with the police, however, a local informed us that it was approx 10kms up a dirt track so we gave it a miss. We thoroughly enjoyed the twisties between Whitfield and Mansfield and rode through to Yea for fuel and lunch. From here it was pretty much a straight run through to Strath Creek, Broadford, Bacchus Marsh and then home.

All up I covered 1250 kms of really enjoyable riding, mostly on twisty bush roads of Gippsland and then the Vic ‘High Country’. The Ulysses crew were great company on the first day, and as always, Marty was a great riding mate for days two and three.

 

 

Rawson 2016

A few shots from an excellent overnighter to Rawson, with stops at Riddels Creek for morning tea, the Healesville bakery for lunch, the Noojee trestle bridge and Walhalla. Ten starters in Geelong and two more met us at Healesville. Beautiful weather on Wednesday and a bit wet early on Thursday – but still good riding. A big thanks to Gentle for route planning and leading, and to Graham for being TEC and organising the digs.

A nice Mazda based Clubman at Healesvile Bakery.

Poker Run 2016

The Geelong Branch 2016 Poker Run was another fun filled social and riding event. Thanks and congratulations to Mac for his flawless organisation of the day, and also for planning & leading the ride. A big thanks to Gentle for purchasing and cooking all the food for us at the end of the run at Balyang Sanctury. There was a good turn out of riders and pillions and everyone seemed to be happy and enjoying the socialising.

Mid ride break at the Moorabool Valley Chocolate went down well too.

Winners are grinners

 

 

Warburton overnighter

Just a few pics at this stage. Day 1. A brilliant ride to Warburton via Whittelsea, Kinglake, Yarra Glen, Healesville (for lunch), then the Black Spur to Marysville and then along the  Reefton Spur to our digs at Warburton. The Reefton run was probably my favorite part of the day’s riding – though not everyone shared that view.

Day 2 we headed for home through Healesville and up the Melba Hwy to Yea for lunch. At this stage the temperature had risen to the high 20’s. After a pleasant lunch stop under the trees in Yea we headed for home via Strath Creek, Broadford and Bacchus Marsh. The last part was a bit tedious and quite hot on the bike with the temp hovering around 32C in Bacchus Marsh. All up a terrific weekend with 16 motorcycles (5 that were 2-up), lots of good riding and fun – and not a drop of rain! Door to door, we did 648 kms on the ZX14R.

A quick break in Gisborne.

Some Italian exotica at the Healsville Bakery

After a break at the end of the Reefton Spur.

Dorothy and I took a stroll around Warburton. It is really picturesque, however, the township seems as though it has seen better days.

Yarra River flows through the township

A rare occasion when I was on the wrong end of the camera (iPhone 6S actually)

Socialising at the hotel

Photo credit above pic: Gentle

The most handsome beast there!

Below: Lunch stop in Yea on the way home 

Try a little tenderness

Much thanks to Gentle (Ron) for organising a terrific weekend and leading Saturday’s run. And thanks also to everyone who attended and contributed to making it a successful, fun couple of days.

Post Script: This entry from 2008 on Wikipedia regarding the Black Spur made me smile

In March 2008, the Victorian state government has allocated $547,000 to improve motorcycle safety on the Black Spur. Stage 1 of the works has involved reducing the speed limit from 100 km/h to 80 km/h, effective Thursday 29 May 2008.[4]

Annual Memorial service – Mt Macedon

A good turnout of members gathered at the Corio Roadhouse for the annual ride to the Ulysses Memorial service at Mt Macedon. There was plenty of good cheer and banter prior to heading off to Centennial Park, via Bacchus Marsh and Gisborne led by Jim and Henny, guest riding Mal’s big Beemer. And it was great to see Mal back on a motorcycle for his first decent ride since his surgery. Phil, Lindsay and Gentle drove their cars and towed trailers to take the Geelong Branch chuck wagon and catering gear for the event.

Although a bit blustery on the way up, we didn’t have any showers as forecast, and a nice sunny day greeted us at Mt Macedon.  Members from the various branches began to roll in and by lunch time there was a crowd of several hundred gathered ready for the ride up to the Memorial Cross for the remembrance service for those who have ‘Ridden On’ during the past year. Lauri did a great job selling raffle tickets to the assembled crowd. Around midday the ride leader led everyone a few kilometres up the road to the memorial cross.

Peter Baulch from NATCOM read Helena Gritton’s message.  During the service the names of each member who had passed on from every state were read out. Perry Stevens recited a poignant passage from Tenyson’s ‘Ulysses’, and ‘The Rev’ Barry conducted a brief service with a prayer, a quote from scripture and a blessing – along with a joke! ‘The Rev’ let it be known that he is 86 yrs of age, still riding his BMW with over 450,000 kms on the clock and that his wife has ridden pillion for more than 60 years!

“The Rev” Barry in beanie

Peter T and John T photo bombing the service! Peter Baulch from NATCOM speaking

The crowd leaving

After the service most people rode back to Centennial Park to enjoy the lunch put on by the Geelong Branch and enjoy the socialising. The catering crew had done a brilliant job and everything seemed to go like clockwork preparing and serving hundreds of meals. A big thanks to Gentle, Mac, Phil, Lindsay, Willie, Jim, Mal, Henny, Janice, Dorothy and Lauri for an absolutely brilliant effort. A table had been set up for selling more raffle tickets and the two painted vests and a concept drawing of Tony’s painting was on display.

Jim led an uneventful ride back to Anakie where the ride concluded. Thanks to Jim for leading, Geoff as Tail-End-Charlie on the ride home and I missed who was TEC on the way to Mt Macedon – my apologies!

 

Bendigo Dragons

Sunday saw the annual running of the dragon boat racing with combined Dragons Abreast and Ulysses Club branch teams from Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo – except the Ballarat Ulysseans were missing from the action. Lindsay led the ride with John G as TEC. It was a great day, made all the better by the Geelong Branch winning the event! The ZX14R has a worn out chain (52K kilometers) so Dorothy & I drove the car. We were staying in Bendigo until later in the day visiting friends, a good move as it turned out when the heavens opened just out of Castlemaine and it continued to rain all the way back to Geelong. When we stopped at traffic lights in Castlemaine Jim and Henny pulled up beside us on the Harley. I didn’t envy them the trip home on the bike in pretty crappy conditions! (You can click on a photo to see it full size, then hit the back button in your browser)

There’s a gallery of pics if you CLICK HERE