In lovely March weather, eleven Ulyssians on ten bikes from four branches, Torrens Valley, Adelaide and Fleurieu branches set out east for the Great Ocean Road from Tailem Bend. There were six BMWs, two Triumphs, one Yamaha and one Suzuki. In Melbourne, Holly and Ron from Melbourne branch riding a Suzuki and a BMW set out west, making thirteen riders in all from four branches in two states.
The crow-eaters included John Crow, originally a Victorian, who doesn’t barrack for the Crows. We rode to Mt Gambier via the Coorong with a side-trek to a wind farm with dozens of spinning giants, though not nearly enough to keep SA reliably electrified.
Our entry to Victoria the next day was cold and foggy, but it cleared by the time we reached Warrnambool for fuel. There, Mike Green found a Huntsman spider dancing around inside his helmet. He desperately flicked up his visor and dislodged the unwelcome hitch-hiker. Then normally-placid Mike had a road-rage fit, stamping on it. Spider man…Spider man!
(That must now be his Ulysses name, surely! Ed.)
You just have to accept that slow drivers, overseas tourists, caravans, motor-homes and pushbikes all like a slice of the wonderful Great Ocean Road and its views. It’s crowded at weekends and holiday times, but we had a ride I’d rate as 90% and that’s still a top biking experience. Despite lowered speed limits the twisty sections are still great fun.
On the third day, some rested and some of us rode to Colac via Laver’s Hill, enjoying a good run again. The winding road to Colac was almost free of traffic.
We had a good run to Apollo Bay, where we met Holly and Ron from Melbourne, and then on to Lorne. What a remarkable pair our Melbourne friends are! Despite health problems, Holly’s a plucky lady and a good rider. Ron at 83 finds walking difficult, but he capably manages his big BMW K1300 and rides it well. They are two gritty Ulyssians and top friends too.
On the third day, some rested and some of us rode to Colac via Laver’s Hill, enjoying a good run again. The winding road to Colac was almost free of traffic. The girls enjoyed shopping (but of course!), before a lunch for half the price we’d have paid in Lorne. We returned on more top roads through Forrest to Skene’s Creek and Lorne. Later our foodies prepared a lovely picnic dinner by the Erskine River next to our caravan park. What a life!
On the fourth day, we parted from our Melbourne friends, who were riding back east into wet weather, all too frequent in Melbourne. We rode west, carefully at first on wet roads, but as they dried, we picked up the pace enjoying the twists one more time.
Guy had never seen the “stacks” along the coast (rock formations also known as The Apostles), so we made sure we viewed them and Loch Ard Gorge before heading on to the beautiful Grampians. Some excitement was found in dodging an errant koala that tested riders’ reaction times, with a good result for Smoky if not for riders’ frayed nerves.
At Horsham, we had our sumptuous farewell dinner at the restaurant behind the fibreglass Tyrannosaurus Rex opposite our caravan park. The proprietor even gave us complimentary glass of port after the meal – great hospitality.
On the final day, we stopped at Crow’s Corner beyond Goroke for photos where ‘Crowie’ grew up. Further down the road we saw a sizeable murder of crows flying aimlessly about near the SA border. The Port barrackers in our group ribbed the Crows supporters afterwards.
Once back in SA we rode homewards through the monotonous Mallee in warm weather. We hadn’t had four different branches on a ride before but it was great and we’ll do more such journeys.
Guzzi Bob #16461
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