BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

It's time to visit my own back yard (and escape this bloody cold, winter weather.


It's been a while since I've posted any riding updates on the blog because all of my rides have only been day trips. Now I'm heading off for a two week ride, and I thought my overseas friends might like to tag along. So here we go...

I'm sitting here listening to rumbling thunder, howling wind, and watching rain pelting down out of a very dark grey sky. The rain has just replaced the hail that was trying it's best to come through the roof a few minutes ago. On top of that, the next door neighbour has a yard full of animals and is out in the cold, building an ark. I've decided that my mate's plan to head north, where it's much warmer, for a quick ride, is a good idea.

So Andrew and I are heading out of Perth for a few weeks of riding in the glorious Northwest sunshine, covering a lot of areas I've never ridden before. We'll experience stunning natural beauty, a lot of history, and a few bars along the way.

The odd couple, my Moto Guzzi Stelvio and Andrew's Harley Davidson Ultra Classic, will roll across about 4,000 kilometres of Western Australian roads starting at the end of the month. We'll pass through the following places, among others, along the way.

A little culture and history in Northampton.

A quick visit to Horrock's Beach, 
and maybe some fish and chips.

A couple of nights in Kalbarri, with a visit to Rainbow Park, the largest walk through aviary in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Denham, Shark Bay, and Monkey Mia. 

Carnarvon. It's a long walk out along the jetty to go fishing. 

Coral Bay. Some people say the fishing is so good here that you don't even need a line, the fish just jump into your arms.
We'll see. 

We'll spend a few nights in Exmouth with one of Andrew's old friends, and maybe visit Ningaloo Reef and the Whale Sharks. 

We'll base ourselves at Tom Price for a few nights,
and take a tour of 
Karijini National Park.

Karijini National Park. 

We'll try and avoid the asbestos at Wittenoom... 

...and check out the mine at Newman. 

With a little luck we'll find a gold nugget like this in Mount Magnet. That would pay for my dream South American trip.

And on the last day we'll probably make a lunch stop in Dowerin for a good old Aussie meat pie.

So that's the plan. Check back at the beginning of August and see what we're up to. At the very least you'll learn about a few good places to buy a beer in the Northwest of Western Australia.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Why you should ride your dream today, not "one day".


Firstly, don't worry, I'm fine.☺

Me enjoying a little nap in the Intensive Care Unit at
The Mount Hospital. Suzanne will never miss a
photo opportunity.

I wrote this a few months ago and have been contemplating whether to post it or not. Well, I've decided. Here it is.

I thought I'd tell my little story here in the hope that it encourages people to get out there and do that dream ride now while you can, instead of waiting for "one day" to come along. Also, people have heard bits and pieces about what happened to me, so this is the full story, from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

I've had an annoying and persistent cough for a long time. In October one night I coughed so much I felt really dizzy and lay on my bed thinking I might pass out. The next thing I knew was my wife Suzanne was shaking me and yelling at me to wake up. I had passed out, and she had called an ambulance.

The ambulance guys arrived and by this time I was wide awake and feeling fine, if not a little disoriented. The medic wired me up to a machine, did the usual blood pressure and temperature checks, and said "We're taking you to emergency". I protested saying I was fine and I had just passed out because I was coughing so much. It's no big deal. The medic replied "No, we ARE taking you to hospital. You haven't had a heart attack, or a stroke, but somethings not right". Not really what you want to hear. The ambulance rolled into Fiona Stanley Hospital Emergency Department about four minutes later. As it turns out they probably saved my life.

Boy did I get looked after at Fiona Stanley. The doctors and nurses there were absolutely amazing and cared for me like I was a rock star. I was hooked up to a bunch of machines, X-Rayed, scanned, ultrasounded (is that a word?), and had so much blood taken for tests I felt like a pin cushion. After about four hours of tests a heart specialist came in and told me they thought that they had found the problem, but I'd need some more scans to confirm it.

It turns out that I had a bicuspid valve in my heart. A normal heart valve (tricuspid) has three flaps that open and close to let the blood through. Mine only had two, so it doesn't allow as much blood through. Hmm, not good.

"A bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is most commonly a congenital condition of the aortic valve where two of the aortic valvular leaflets fuse during development resulting in a valve that is bicuspid instead of the normal tricuspid configuration".
Thanks to Cleveland Clinic.

This is a hereditary thing, not anything that happens to you as a result of lifestyle or any other external influence. I was born with a bicuspid valve, but never knew it.

As we get older our valves calcify, and reduce the blood flow through them. In a normal tricuspid valve it's not usually a problem. If a valve's performance drops below 45% it's replacement time. My valve was flowing about 31%! No wonder I've felt so bloody unfit and tired for the last couple of years. My body wasn't getting the oxygen it desperately needed to function properly. It turns out that because my heart was working so hard trying to pump as much blood as it could through a very small opening, there was also substantial thickening of the heart muscle (not really desirable) and an aorta that was looking pretty ordinary as well.

Dr Chris Judkins was my Cardiologist who was keeping an eye on me. He came in and explained exactly what was wrong, and how we could correct it. He also loaded me up with medication so I'd survive long enough to have a rebuild.

Then I met Dr Rob Larbalestia, my Cardiothoracic Surgeon. What a man. There's only one way to describe him, he works his bloody arse off! Dr Larbalestia performs three or four valve replacements, a four or five hour operation, in a day. Then he has all the follow up work, and his other commitments with various foundations on top of that. He works hours that most of us wouldn't dream of, and I genuinely believe his only motivation is to help people. He first visited me on a Saturday at about 7:30pm after a full day in theater. He's constantly looking for ways to improve procedures and is held in very high esteem by anyone in the know. You can read about him here:

Yes, I did my research. I wanted to know a little about the man who was going to be holding my heart in his hands.

He told me that I needed a replacement valve, and possible an aorta as well, but that decision would be made once he opened me up. There were two options, a porcine (pig) valve, or a titanium metal valve. His suggestion was to go with the pig valve. It will need replacing in ten to fifteen years, which will be a much more simple procedure that the initial operation. His reasoning against the titanium valve was that I would have to take "Rat poison" (Warfarin, a blood thinning medication) every day for the rest of my life, and he doesn't like it. So a pig valve it was to be. There's no becoming a Muslim now. I must admit that I did feel a little sad that somewhere a poor piggy was going to give up his life so I could continue mine.

He also told me I was lucky to survive my "episode" and if it happened again I probably wouldn't, so we need to get things moving quickly. So a date was made, and I was off to the theater with with my new best mate in a few weeks.

I'm not a good patient, so I was happy to say goodbye to the fantastic nurses at Fiona Stanley Hospital after being there for four or five days. They do an awesome job.

OK, it's intermission. Go and make yourself a cup of coffee, or pour yourself a glass of wine (red, it's good for your heart). This is the interesting bit...

Welcome back.

Now something I didn't know is that before heart surgery, you have to ensure your teeth are all in excellent condition. Oh oh! Apparently the old teeth are an easy way for infection to get into your system, and infection is a big no no when you have any type of heart surgery. It's a long story, but I had a couple of broken teeth that happened years ago. After a less than professional experience with a certain dentist I haven't seen a dentist for many, many years.

We were sitting in Dr Larbalestia's office late on a Friday afternoon when he told me this, and I was due in surgery on Tuesday. Of course I couldn't get a dentist appointment in time, and I also needed another CT scan, so Dr Larbalestia said we'll put the operation off for a couple of weeks. This is where Suzanne sprang into action. She said "No! Simon is having this done on Tuesday!" Between Suzanne and Dr Larbalestia's assistant, I had a CT scan booked for 5:30 that afternoon, and a dentist appointment for first thing Monday morning. Wow! 

So off we went for the scan. Now this was interesting because it was one of those scans where they inject dye into your system. The radiographer told me that it will feel very warm, and then you will feel like you desperately want to urinate, but don't worry, you won't. Man, was she right. It was one of the most "unusual" sensations I've ever experienced.

First thing Monday morning I scoffed down six huge antibiotic tablets (preventative maintenance) and headed to the dentist. It turned out that my teeth were pretty good and I only needed the two broken ones repaired. Bugger me, a few weeks later I broke off the side of a tooth while eating something, and that piece jammed between my teeth and broke another one. I now have two broken teeth again. By mid afternoon I was comfortably in bed at The Mount Hospital.

On Tuesday after some prep medication, they rolled me into the operating theater. One of the anesthesiologists (they have two for this operation) was a very attractive, blonde woman who I tried to set up with a mate of mine. Sorry Ian, she was married, but I was thinking of you mate.

Dr Larbalestia and his crew went to work and quite a few hours later I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit where you get your very own nurse, 24 hours a day. Unfortunately you're not allowed to take them home with you. I was once again hooked up to all sorts of machines and had tubes coming out of all sorts of places, including two in my torso where there weren't holes when I went into theater. I actually felt pretty good, but that may have been the pain killers and medication I was on.

After a day or two (I think) in ICU I was shuffled off to the ward where I was told it would be eight to ten days before I could go home. Ten days? In hospital? No way. After telling anyone who would listen that I wanted to go home, they eventually let me out after five days. Woohoo!

Once again the nursing staff were exceptional, and the food was actually pretty good in The Mount as well. But I can only spend so much time in bed, watching day time TV, before I want to kill someone.

A couple of X-Rays were taken to make sure Dr Larbalestia's missing Porsche keys weren't inside my chest cavity.

Nope! No Porsche keys in here.
I thought I'd see a nice line of staples in my sternum, but it was wired up with some dodgy looking twitched stainless wire. I do a much better job when I safety wire my bikes. Maybe I could assist Dr Larbalestia from now on.

Sideways view of the wires, and you can see 
part of the synthetic aorta as well.

So there you go, all fixed, or so you would think.

Dr Larbalestia had told me I would notice the difference almost immediately, but I wasn't feeling much better than before I went into hospital, and I was still coughing. Believe me, you don't want to be coughing after you've had open heart surgery. OUCH! After seeing Dr Larbalestia and telling him I was coughing non stop, not sleeping, actually struggling to breath, and had enough of everything referred me to a cough specialist. Is there really such a person?

Enter Dr Michael Prichard. Dr Prichard is actually a respiratory and sleep physician that happens to know a hell of a lot about coughs. After sitting in something that resembles a large aquarium (don't knock on the glass, it really is loud in there) and going through a whole lot of breathing tests, Dr Prichard was pretty sure I was suffering from Asthma. The plan was I would take some medication to settle my cough down, then we could conduct some tests to see if this was in fact the case. Another appointment was made.

A week or so later I was back to coughing like I was the night I passed out, and I was totally exhausted. This is not how my recovery should be progressing. I won't go into detail about what I was coughing up, but it wan't pleasant.

Then it got to the point where Suzanne said "That's it! I'm taking you to hospital". Noooo, not again. Ten minutes later I was wheezing and coughing in Fiona Stanley Emergency again. More tests, and the doctor there told me she was no specialist, but she thought I had chronic bronchitis and I should see a specialist. I had well and truly had enough of everything by now. I just wanted it to stop.

Suzanne went into admin mode and was on the phone. Before I knew it I was back in The Mount Hospital waiting to see Dr Prichard. Thanks Suzanne.

Dr Prichard arranged more tests. I was beginning to feel like one of those laboratory rats you see on TV. More blood tests, medication, oxygen, Ventolin, and so on. Then it was time for the highlight of my visit, a lung biopsy. This was actually the best part of this whole experience. Well the Pethedine before hand was anyway. The rolled me into the prep area and there were three nurses chatting away. One of them said something funny and I laughed. She turned and said "Did you hear that?" I said of course, I'm only a few feet away. The nurses all of a sudden became much more professional and one told me that usually people are so zonked by the Pethadine they don't hear a thing. Then Dr Prichard rocked up and proceeded to squirt some anesthetic down my throat, followed by the most revolting tasting stuff i have ever tasted in my life. Blah! A nurse said "Just pretend it's a good scotch." Dr Prichard turned to her and said "you've never tasted this have you?" The next few minutes were spent with Dr Prichard and I trying to get the nurse to sample this revolting stuff. We failed. It was time for the show, the nurse masked up and said Look, I'm a duck" to which I replied "You can't be, there's only room for one quack in this room". That's the last thing I remember.

The next day Dr Prichard came in and told me my lungs were healthy with nothing to worry about, and with no infections. The problem was that with all the coughing I had inflamed bronchioles and a lot of them were blocked up. This explained the coughing, and the difficulty breathing. At last we were getting somewhere. After more medication, breathing oxygen, and doses of Ventolin four times a day I was feeling good. Dr Prichard told me when I checked into the hospital my lung capacity was 1.7 litres, when I was ready to go home, it was 3.8 litres, and it should be up to around 4.8 litres pretty soon. When I left his rooms he smiled and said "Tell your wife she did the right thing".

So now seven months later I'm all good. Obviously I'm not back to 100% yet, but I'm a hell of a lot better than I was before this little exercise. Now I just have to do a bit of exercise to lose some of the weight I've gained from sitting around doing nothing, and eating too much.

A fortnight ago I had an electrocardiogram and Dr Judkins was very happy with the result. The valve and aorta are perfect, and the thickening of my heart muscle has reduced to almost nothing, and will continue to improve. The other good news is I'm now down from seven tablets a day to only one.

So the end result is I'm fine, and it could have been very different if...

I think the lesson here is, any of us could drop off the perch at any tick of the clock. You just never know. Check your family history, my daughter is going to see a doctor and have her heart checked. A quick ultrasound is all that is required to verify all is OK. If you have a family history of heart issues, get it checked out, but most importantly, get yourself organised and to that once in a lifetime trip you've dreamed about.

You never know what's around the corner. If you're thinking "One day I'll..." don't keep making excuses and putting it off. Do it now, while you can.

See you on the road somewhere.

Huge thank yous:

Ambulance drivers / medics.
Fiona Stanley Hospital nurses & doctors.
Dr Chris Judkins - Cardiologist.
Dr Rob Larbalestia - Cardiothoracic Surgeon.
Dr Michael Prichard - Respiratory and sleep physician.
My mates that came in to visit me, and gave me moto touring books to read.
The Mount Hospital nursing staff, who laughed at all my really bad Dad jokes.
The little Piggy who never go to go to market.

And of course my wonderful wife Suzanne, who took names and kicked arses to make all this happen very, very quickly.

I may not look any better, but I feel better. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Are we there yet? The Balladonia express to my front door.


The sun was beaming in through the hotel room window at 4.45 am and I was wide awake. Rexy was up and making coffee, so I knew I had one co-rider for today. Uncle D and Uncle R stirred soon after, so the four Mild Hogs would finish this ride together as a team.

With a forecast high of thirty four degrees Celsius today I decided it was time to remove all the liners from my riding gear. I know I've raved about it before, but my Rev'it gear is probably the best investment I've ever made as far as motorcycle gear goes. It's kept me 100% dry riding in hours of down pouring rain, it's warm, but with the liners removed it's comfortable in the heat. I was ready. 

My standard rule is not to ride within an hour of sunrise or sunset, this way we avoid the kangaroos and other wild life that like to throw themselves at our bikes. With just under 1,000 kilometers to cover, our wheels were rolling westward again at a quarter to six. The light was quite harsh for this time of the morning, making the strong colours of the desert even more bright and vivid than usual.

More of the same.
Luckily we didn't get lost.

It was a really pleasant ride as we made our way toward Norseman and the crisp morning air made the bike run strongly.

After a quick breakfast and refuel in Norseman we turned north toward Coolgardie. On the way we rode past Lake Cowan, a huge salt lake that reminded me of Lake Lefroy. Lake Lefroy was home to WA's biggest and best desert race. It was a challenging race, but once you got to the end you felt an enormous sense of achievement. Unfortunately the race is no longer. I miss those days of racing.

We stopped in Coolgardie for fuel and a quick energy drink, then the other side of Coolgardie threw up some more road works for us. It was just a final little slap in the face for the boys who don't like dirt roads.

Check out that sky.

Our next refuel was in Southern Cross and while we were there we shared our lunch with the local flies, who were even more friendly than usual.

After another refuel at Tammin it was just a matter of continuing east until we crested Greenmount Hill, the gateway to the City of Perth.

Perth city from Greenmount Hill.
Nearly at my front door.

I experienced mixed emotions when I saw Perth. I was sort of glad to be home, but also sad because it meant our ride had come to an end. After quick farewells at a set of traffic lights I wheeled left toward home and parked the Guzzi in the driveway about forty minutes later. It was over.

So, how was the trip? I'd driven across Australia a few times before and didn't enjoy it at all, but I'd never ridden across so this was a first for me. I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to the long, straight, flat roads we had to cover, but I found I actually enjoyed it and I would happily do it again, so that's good. Maybe it was the company and laughs in the evenings that made the difference.

The Moto GP was fun, but Tasmania was a real highlight of the trip. If you enjoy riding a motorcycle, you must visit Tasmania. It's just fantastic.

The bikes ran faultlessly for the whole trip apart from my exhaust gasket issue, which was easily fixed, and the running on one cylinder problem that I have to look into. Surprisingly, for six blokes living in very close proximity for so long, there was only one little tiff, and that was my fault. Sorry Rexy.

We'd ridden a tad over 9,000 KM in 24 days. For my European friends, if you plot our ride in Europe it would be like riding from England, through The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Turkey into Lebanon, then back again. Yes, it's a long way.

What was the best part of the trip? That's easy, as always, the people. My riding mates are a great bunch of guys and made the trip all the more enjoyable. Thanks guys. Catching up with family and old friends who I never see often enough is always a good thing. Then there are the new friends we made along the way. People are the best part of any trip and they create memories that last forever.

Of course the dogs I met were great too. I still believe that dogs are better people than most people, so a big "Woof" to all my new canine friends.

What was our final conversation about at the last fuel stop? It was about planning our next ride, of course. We have a few ideas in the mix already. I don't know where we'll be going, or when, but hopefully I'll see you on the road somewhere soon.

So that's it...for now...

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

White line fever. Ceduna to Balladonia.


The dawn bought a perfect riding day. A bright blue sky with lot's of sunshine, but cool, and with no wind. Bloody fantastic.

About to roll down the road.

On the way out of Ceduna we rode past these huge wheat stockpiles which came from the area we rode through yesterday.

Ceduna jetty in daylight.

After a quick breakfast we were heading west. Once again it was a very long, straight road in front of us, but joy of joys, we actually had a tail wind. For some reason that rarely happens when riding. It was great, and felt like we were just cruising because the wind in our faces was reduced dramatically. It was also unusually quiet due to the lack of wind noise on the helmet. We made the most of it. 

These big trucks were pretty common out on the road.
We gave them plenty of room.

Before long the vegetation got sparse and the terrain was very rugged. It's not pretty, but it still has it's own kind of beauty. I probably appreciate it more now after travelling in Europe. The closest I've come to this sort of terrain was riding from Estoril in Portugal to Barcelona Spain. That run was about 1,200 km (about the same as this road) but only part of it was like this, not every kilometre.

Our next stop for fuel was Yalata at the Nullabor roadhouse. Here we found Kondole...

Kondole is a whale that features in Australian Aboriginal mythology. The story goes that Kondole was a rude and mean man. One night the tribe needed to keep the fire going and Kondole was the only one with fire. He hid it from the others, an argument ensued, and one of the men threw a spear into Kondole's head. All the men then turned into animals like wombats, kangaroos, and possums, but Kondole turned into a whale, with the hole in his head turning into a blowhole.

There, a nice little bed time story for the kids.

In the shop at Yalata we met a German traveller who told us how much she loves being in the middle of nowhere. She's been working at the shop for six months, and "only" has another eighteen months to go before she can apply for Australian citizenship. Apparently if you agree to work on a remote area for two years, you can apply for citizenship. Wow, that's commitment. What surprised me was when this young girl said "There is nothing I like about Germany and I want to live in Australia". Ouch!

On the way out of Yalata there is this warning sign.

It's obvious that kangaroos and camels could be an issue on the road, but wombats? Oh yes! Wombats grow to about a meter long and weigh between 20 and 35 kg, and they're all muscle. You do not want to hit one on a motorcycle, although what a wombat would be doing on a motorcycle I have no idea.

You can catch up on the wombat gossip here:

We made the most of the tail wind and rode on, past the tourist lookouts on the cliffs, and into Border Village, where we found Rooey...

I know there are some big 'roos out there,
but this is ridiculous.

Lunch and fuel were consumed, and a waitress made to blush, and it was time to go again. We were making good time.

Back on the road we came across a motorcyclist's nightmare sign...

Motorcyclists nightmare.

Ninety miles in a straight line, at 110 kph. That's one and a half hours riding non stop in a straight line. Yeah right! Like that's going to happen. Apparently some motorcyclists and drivers exceed the sped limit on this stretch of road, not that we would ever do that of course.

We had been making good time. An early start, the tail wind, and short stops all combined to have us further down the road that we expected. We also picked up a couple of hours with the time change at the WA border so we cancelled our room at Caiguna and pushed on to Balladonia.

With just over 1,000 kilometres under our wheels we parked the bikes at our luxurious, five star accommodation in downtown Balladonia. Well, the room had a TV at least.

The average was up a tiny bit.
Must have been the tailwind.

We were now only 950 kilometers from home.

We enjoyed our meal at the bar, that was served by another traveler, a young lady from Sweeden. She must have been here for a while because she'd picked up an Aussie accent.

Over dinner I told the boys I was going to leave early in the morning. It gets light here at a quarter to five, so I'd like to be on the road by six at the latest. If they wanted to ride with me, that would be great. If they wanted a late start, that was fine too, but I'll be on the road.

We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

It's time to start the long haul home. Adelaide to Ceduna.


The bonus leaving Adelaide this morning was the fact that being a weekend, there was no peak hour traffic. We only had eight hundred kilometers to cover today so we did the logical thing and took a detour through the Clare Valley, just to add a few more ks.

The Clare Valley is a part of South Australia's wonderful wine growing region, and riding through little towns along the way we saw lots of signs pointing out some well known wineries, such as Jim Barry, Knappstein, Taylor's, Leasingham, and a whole lot more. I reckon a taxi and a couple of days here could add up to a good time. Unfortunately riding and sampling wine don't make a good combination, and we had nowhere to carry any bottles we might buy, so we rode straight through. 

I love the old buildings found throughout these towns. Some are still in use and well maintained, while others need a little love to be bought back to their former glory.

Unfortunately once we were out of the Clare Valley the soothing green vegetation was gone. The trees and vines were replaced with huge, golden wheat fields.

And the flowing road that rolled up and down hills turned into looooooooooong, arrow straight roads disappearing into the distance. This would be our world for the next three days, riding under a very big sky with only sightings of the odd lizard or snake to break the monotony.

We had a bit of excitement when we arrived in Iron Knob. They were blasting and closed the road to traffic, so we had to detour through the actual mine site, down a dirt road. The boys were thrilled.

The Iron Knob mine was first established in the 1800s and is known as the birthplace of iron ore mining in Australia. The mine was closed for quite some time but has recently reopened and is pulling ore out of the original pit again, and developing two new pits.

Our next stop was Kimba, home of the "Big Galah". I'm not sure why, but here in Australia we have a "Big Something" in a lot of out of the way places. I don't mind the idea so much, but most of these "icons" look like they were made by the local pre school kids.

The Big Galah.

At Kimba we came across a guy travelling in the opposite direction on a Kawasaki KLR650. He was from Darwin and was just going for a ride for his holiday. He had ridden down the west coast, across the bottom, and was about to ride up through Melbourne and Sydney, through Queensland back to Darwin. That's about 14,000 kilometers, without any side trips for sightseeing, or factoring in Tasmania. Can you say "sore bum"?

With Kimba out of the way we had broken the back of the day's ride and only had three hundred kilometers to go.

You know you're getting bored when you take photos of your own shadow.

Just after Kimba the clouds started forming around us. It really looked like it was trying to rain, but we didn't get a drop. The clouds kept us company all the way to Ceduna.

We were welcomed into Ceduna by a Police road block. 

No, it wasn't just for us. They were checking the roadworthyness of vehicles and testing the drivers for drug and alcohol use. We obviously looked like reputable blokes and they just waved us through.

We'd made good progress today and  pulled up at the Ceduna Hotel in time to watch the sun set over the Ceduna Jetty.

A quick history lesson (it's not all fun on these trips you know.)

The Ceduna jetty stretches out 368 meters into the bay and was the main berth for Ceduna until 1920. It was then that a new jetty was opened in Thevenard about ten minutes down the road. This new jetty offered deeper water and more importantly a railway link. In the 1960s bulk grain handling facilities were also built in Thevenard, and that was the final nail in the Ceduna Jetty's coffin. The last vessel visited in 1966. 

The area is now a thriving oyster farming area, and the jetty makes a great fishing platform for anglers.

Here endeth the lesson.

Tomorrow another big run (840km) to Caiguna, back into our home state. Then it's only 1,100km to home.

Monday, 10 November 2014

A quick tour of Adelaide, and dinner with another moto traveler.


Luke was kind enough to lend us a car today so we saw the sights of Adelaide in luxury, air conditioning and all.

We parked and did a walk around the city centre. but to me all cities are all pretty much the same. Just full of shops trying to sell you stuff. We sat and had a coffee and indulged in a little people watching. That's always fun, and we were happy to provide our expertise on what people were wearing, or how they had their hair. It's so lucky we are all fashion and style gurus, just take a look at us and you'll see that.

 Adelaide Mall street art.

I like this one.
Why does he remind me of a politician?

Adelaide has a lot of military history and we took a stroll down the Pathway of Honour which featured memorials to a lot of Australian units.

The Pathway of Honour.

The SASR memorial.

Every time I see memorials like this, and the hundreds of war memorials in little towns across Australia, I wonder what our lost diggers could have achieved if this nonsense didn't go on. Could one of them have found a cure for cancer? Could one have prevented climate change? Could one have solved the world food shortage? How big would the population of Australia be today if these men hadn't died?

Yet we keep on doing it.

In the afternoon we did a quick run around Glenelg. It's a nice little place and reminded me a little bit of Fremantle back in WA. 

We'd planned a BBQ dinner tonight, and I had a special guest coming. Sherri Jo Wilkins, another moto traveler. I've been a big fan of Sherri Jo's for years, ever since I started reading her blog "Because I Can World Tour".

You can find it here:

Sherri Jo.

I was in awe of Sherri Jo and once again forgot to take any photos, so I stole this one from her Facebook page. I hope you don't mind Sherri Jo.

Sherri Jo is a switched on and determined lady. She spent three and a half years riding her KTM motorcycle around the herself...covering around 130,000 kilometers along the way. That in itself was enough to gain my admiration, then in 2012 during the trip she rode a bike up a Chilean volcano to 5,903 meters. That's higher that any other woman has ever ridden a motorcycle. I've been at 4,500 meters and struggled to suck in breath while walking, so it was a huge effort to wrestle a bike up a rocky volcano at that altitude.

Go Sherri Jo.

While we were chatting Sherri Jo dropped a bombshell that made me even more of a fan. She had ridden bikes before the trip, but obviously she hadn't had a lot of off road experience because she told me she was so scared riding across the Nullabor that she wouldn't go faster than 70 kph! She was scared she'd run onto the dirt on the edge of the road. A few weeks later she was riding hundreds of kilometers of dirt in Siberia. Obviously you learned quickly Sherri Jo.

If today's girls need a role model, I've got one right here.

Luke provided comedy entertainment for the evening, ably assisted by his wife Heather, who apparently snored a lot during pregnancy. The line of the night came from Uncle D though. None of the boys knew anything about Sherri Jo so Uncle D politely asked Sheri Jo if she rides. To with Sherri Jo understatedly replied "Yes, I've got a KTM690". I explained what Sherri Jo had done to the team and they were suitably impressed. I did have to give them a little bit of grief about chickening out on the gravel road in Tasmania though.

Something I found interesting is that Sherri Jo is quite contented being back in Adelaide and enjoying her work. This is the polar opposite to me, as I'm struggling and just want to load up my bike and get out on the road again. When I asked Sherri Jo if that was it and she was all done, her instant reply was "Oh no, I'm saving for the next trip. I've only been to about half the countries in the world." Fantastic!

All to soon the evening came to an end. It was a real pleasure to meet you Sheri Jo. I'm sorry if I talked your ear of, but I reckon I could ask you questions for a week non stop if I had the opportunity. Hopefully we'll catch up again one day soon.

Now, who can arrange a lunch with Malcolm Smith for me? That would really be one to tick off the bucket list.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Homeward bound, first stop, Adelaide.


After last night's get together (read extended party) we were all a bit slow getting going this morning. We planned an early get away because our next overnight stop was Adelaide, 750 kilometers away. By the time we battled the Melbourne peak hour traffic, and a broken down truck blocking two lanes on the West Gate Bridge, I think it was about ten o'clock before we actually got out onto the open road.

Another selfie. How good is the weather?
(Especially for Melbourne)

It wasn't a very exciting ride so it was just a matter of covering some distance as quick as possible.

Sheep Art. 

Painted sheep decorated the main street of Kavinia near the Victoria South Australia border. I liked them. Why are there painted sheep in Kavinia. You can find out here:

Is putting sheep art in the streets a case of "ram"ming art down people's throats?

As luck would have it we rode straight into Adelaide peak hour traffic. We were pretty tired, but that wasn't going to stop us from having a good time after we checked in at the caravan park. Uncle R had a mate, Luke, who was staying there with his family, and Luke was all to happy to give us a cold beer as soon as we took our helmets off. I didn't know him, but I can tell a good bloke when I see one, or when he hands me a cold beer. The first beer didn't touch the sides, nor did the second.

After cleaning up we made our way to The Thai Orchid, a restaurant in Henley Beach that Luke had recommended. Here we were to meet up with my friends Annie and Kevin. I met Annie and Kev while travelling in Europe the year before last, and we hit it off immediately. Kevin is actually the undefeated Hula Hoop Champion of the Mediterranean.

Once again I didn't have my camera, so the only photo from the night is a grainy phone photo.

Kev and Annie had a head start.
That wine bottle was empty when we arrived.

The restaurant turned out to be a great recommendation as the food was superb, and the beer and wine was cold. We had a lot of laughs and Annie harassed me as she does. No, really, it's true. Unfortunately Kev and Annie are working tomorrow night so it was a one night stand for us.

All to soon the night was over and we parted ways, after Kev bought us a beer at the pub across the road of course. Thanks Kev. I promise I'll bring Suzanne next time...maybe.

If you live around Adelaide and want to do something different for that special someone, or need to arrange a staff outing, these guys run Viking Yacht Charters. I haven't been out on their cat, but I do know Kev and Annie, and I can guarantee you'll have a good time. Take a look at...

See you next trip guys.