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December 16th, 2011 | Australasia

Forbes to Melbourne… Finally all over in Oz…??

After another long ride, I arrived in Melbourne late yesterday afternoon…

This reminded me of a horse that ran in the 1976 Rothman's July... My Dad lost a packet on Wagga Wagga...!! It was one of the favourites that year, as I recall, and the bloody thing failed to live up to the hype surrounding it...!! Sorry to remind you, Dad...!!

Came across this slightly inebriated looking Santa, parked outside the entrance to a farm...

My route took me from Forbes through West Wyalong, where I refueled and took a short break while trying to decide whether to go to Melbourne via Wagga Wagga and Albury, or take the more direct route south via Gillenbah…

I chose the latter after hearing that there was some bad weather to the south-east of where I was making my deliberations, and promptly decided that I wanted to arrive in Melbourne dry, rather than wet…!!

The countryside in this the southern part of New South Wales was a bit of a surprise to me…. I expected it to be far drier at this time of year, but the huge pools of water on the roadsides, and lush green paddocks that were filled with grazing cattle, spoke of rains that had come earlier than expected…

Many of the smaller creeks that were no doubt dry for most of the year, were running with water again…

The road looped around a series of rolling hills for the most part, and like most Australian roads, was in excellent condition…

This is also a wheat and grain growing area, but most of these winter crops had been harvested already, and sheep had been left to forage among the dry stalks left in the ground…

"Yes, I have, as a matter of fact...!! I've bought a plane ticket to Chile...!!"

A good many place names in Australia were named by stutterers...

I crossed into Victoria State at Tucumwal, close to Koonoomoo (I kid you not…!! That’s what the place is called…!!) and rode due south to Shepparton, where I refueled again…

Victoria was the last state I would ride in on my grand tour of Australia...

There are places with even stranger names than those above…

Take Boomahnoomoonah for instance…!! What possessed somebody to give a town a name like that…??

For the infinitely inquisitive among you, you can look it up on your Google Maps… It’s a short distance to the south-east of Yarrawonga, and west of Gooramudda…!! Right on the southern border of New South Wales…

I strolled over to a large picnic bench to eat a sandwich, and when I sat down, a wave of fatigue washed over me… It was like running into a wall…!! I felt my shoulders slump, and I barely got my elbows onto the table in time, to prevent my forehead making contact with the timber…!!

I guess it was the combination of heat, maybe a little dehydration, and the little matter of the 1020 km I had ridden the previous day, that did me in… Or maybe my brain was saying “So far in Australia, and no further…!!”…

I drank two bottles of cold water in an effort to revive my flagging body and brain, and half an hour later, began to feel a little better…

At this point I was halfway through the day's ride, with Melbourne over four hours away...!!

I had already covered 600 km for the day and with Melbourne only 200 km further on, I had an easy and relaxed ride to edge of the city… The late afternoon traffic spoiled what was an otherwise trouble-free ride, but I was happy to be off the bike when I reached my destination…

There was a small celebration along the way, though…!!

Somewhere close to the town of Tallarook, the Big Fella gave a discreet cough, which normally meant there was something on his mind…

“So….” he began, “How long have we bean on the road now…??”

“Almost two years… Why do you ask…??”

“And how many kilometres have we traveled together since we left home…??” he went on, ignoring my question…

“With you under me…?? About 90 000, I reckon…!! Why all the questions…!!”

“Just look at my bloody speedo for heaven’s sake, and tell me again how much I mean to you…!!” came the curt reply…

The Big Fella has another birthday, his 9th since leaving home almost two years ago...!! As you can see, I slowed right down to take this photo...

I glanced down and saw that my trusty companion had just clocked 130 000 km…!! Well, actually, the event had occurred 40 km behind us, and just as I had in Tasmania, I had missed the exact moment of his “birthday”…!! He gets touchy when I do that…!!

I leaned forward and gave his tank a vigorous patting, all the while telling him what a wonderful fella he was…!! That little event did a lot to revive my spirits… As I usually do, I got to thinking about where and when we had shared his previous “birthdays…

I ticked them off in my mind, the countries we had been in at the time, and as best I could, the towns or places we had been riding through… It was getting harder to remember them all…!!

The first had been in Malawi, the next in Egypt, then Belgium, Hungary, Cyprus, Laos, and the last three in Australia; one on the road to Kununarra, the next in Tasmania and now this one, on our last ride in the country…

I wasn’t sure if I should tell him that he most likely would have another six birthdays before we got home next year…!!

Entering the Mullum Mullum Tunnel on my way into Melbourne...

Back in Rowville and parked in his usual spot... Time to start thinking about South America, Big Fella...!!

Richard put the finishing touches to a sign in Mornington...

Compacting asphalt the old way...!!

I am now back at the home of the Goodwin family, where I was welcomed with open arms and within a short space of time, was sampling some of Richard’s home brewed whiskey…!!

His latest concoction is a derivative of Johnny Walker, which Richard has labeled “Jolly Jogger”…!! If the usual Johnny will get you walking, this stuff is guaranteed to get you running…!!

It took some time bringing the Goodwin’s up to date with the last 9000 km I had covered since leaving them on the 26th of October, and thrown in to the mix was a three week visit to the USA as well…!!

The guys wanted to know about the bike, the rides, the roads, the weather…. The girls wanted to know about Patricia…!! Go figure…!!

I had covered the 9 700 km in just thirteen days of riding, averaging almost 750 km per ride…!! To say that I was looking forward to a relaxing few days in Melbourne, would be the understatement of the year…

Up in the air, Melbopurne...!! Taking the GBWT to new and unexpected heights...!! Helped Ricard remove and replace a sign at an auto dealer...

But rest has not come easy…!!

This morning I helped Richard replace a sign at a local car dealership, then did some asphalting at another dealership nearby…!!

These guys are making me earn my keep…!!

Later today, I will be putting the finishing touches to my negotiations with the freight company who will fly the Big Fella on to “Continent No: 5″…!!

I am still toying with the idea of a short trip to Auckland in New Zealand, and am hoping to squeeze that in, although the high cost of flights at this time of year is a worrying factor…

Whatever the case, I can now say that my ride through Australia is officially at an end…!!

It has been better than I had expected; a test not so much of skill, but stamina and endurance… The rides have been long, many of them from sunrise to sunset…

In covering the 22 000 km I have in Australia, I have made just 32 rides, covering almost 25% of my entire mileage on this trip, in just 80 days…!!

From the outset I knew that what I was setting out to do, was going to be a challenge, but I was determined to come as close as was possible to completing “The Outer Edge of Australia” as I could, and but for the high cost of flying myself and the bike out of Darwin, I would have achieved this with ease in the allotted time I gave myself…

I am however satisfied with the fact that I managed to get to the most southern tip of the country (Cockle Creek, Tasmania), and as far north on the Yorke Peninsula that it is safe to take a big bike at this time of year… Had it been in the middle of winter, I would have tried to go even further north than that…

All Over Down Under...!! By the time I get the Big Fella crated, we will have covered a liitle over 22 000 km in Australia...!!

I managed to ride in every state and territory that makes up this wonderful country, and met some of the most generous and interesting people you could wish to spend time with… Granted, many of them have been my compatriots from South Africa, who helped to make Australia feel like a “home from home” for me, and for this, I am most grateful…

Mobile dog washing parlors are big business in these parts....!!

I guess the only complaint I have, is the speed limits imposed by the authorities here…!! Well, it’s not so much the speed limits, which I have studiously ignored as much as possible, but the fact that the bloody traffic officers enforce them so zealously, that I have a problem with…!!

Have you ever tried riding a big bike at 40 km/h for hundreds of metres…?? Not much fun…!! And why should you have to slow down to 50 km/h when you’re passing through a town that has a population of 18, and consists of three houses and a general store…!! It’s just not on…!!

And all those bloody road signs warning you about this and that…!! If you actually took the time to read them all, there’d be very little time to watch where you are going…!!

 

Richard stops to ensure his neighbors dog is being properly washed and groomed...!!

I cannot believe that Australians are such bad drivers that they need their hands held through every gentle corner, and traffic intersection…!!

Do they really need to be told that there are traffic lights ahead, 400 metres from the lights themselves…?? And then 200 metres from the lights, another sign saying “Be Prepared to Stop”…!! Duh…!! Thanks for telling us…!! We thought those coloured lights on the poles were Christmas decorations…!!

I have also come to discover what I can only assume is a strange form of greeting between traffic cops and bikers…!! It consists of the officer shaking a finger vigorously in your direction, while wearing an expression usually associated with constipation… You know, bulging eyes and clenched jaw…!!

In any case, this was how they often greeted me, every time they passed me coming the other way…!!

Despite my beef with the Australian Traffic Authorities, I must say on the three occasions I have been stopped by the boys in blue for erring on the wrong side of a speed limit, they have been friendly and in some cases, downright jovial…!!

On two occasions I was let off with warnings after telling them a joke or two, and on another, the guy got so wrapped up in tales of my exploits, that he forgot what he had stopped me for…!!

Needless to say, I did not see fit to remind him…!!

I will remember Australia for it’s wide open vistas, the vastness and beauty of the countryside was staggering after being in Indonesia for so long… The closest I have come to this type of riding was in the Sudan and the Libyan Desert, where you could also ride for hours without seeing more than a handful of people…!!

This place will probably do well over Christmas, when many folks go out and bye....well nonsense, really...!!

I have enjoyed the Australian quirky sense of humour, and their “tell it as it is” manner of speaking… They work hard, and play even harder, and in this respect, are as close to my countrymen as any other nation I have encountered...

AUSTRALIA…….!!! YOU BEAUTY…!!

©GBWT 2011

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