Friday, 24 October 2014

Our first taste of the Apple Isle, and it tastes good.


Grab a coffee and a seat, this could take a while.

I woke up to the sun rising behind the ferry as we sailed in into Devonport. The disembarkation was a lot faster than loading and we were on solid ground in no time. Uncle R was given a breakfast recommendation by another passenger so that was our destination. After a few detours, and about an hour’s riding, we found our breakfast venue wasn’t open. Just to finish things off Uncle R went inside to check, and set the alarm off. I hope this won’t be the standard for the rest of our Tassie trip.

We found finally a café and devoured breakfast while we waited for our Tassie tour guide Dave to arrive. Dave rolled up and had Uncle R's wife Sandy on the back of his BMW.

DISCLAIMER: OK, I was told this was a boy’s trip and I told my wife Suzanne the same thing. I’m probably in trouble now, but not as much trouble as Rex and Uncle G are when we get home because they were the ones who told me it was a boy’s trip.

After breakfast Dave took us for a little ride. Tasmania is an amazingly beautiful place. Everything is so green, and all the old buildings are in excellent condition and almost sparkle they are so clean. We wound our way along Tasmania’s serpentine roads, with huge smiles on our faces.

We rode through Sheffield, a little town known for it’s wall murals. Here are a few...

This is an extinct Tasmanian Tiger.
You can read more about them here:

Sheffield also has an outdoor gallery following the same mural scheme featuring more local artists:

You can read about Sheffield's murals here -

Ok, all the artwork was pretty cool, but the highlight of my day was meeting Ricco...

Ricco is an inside pet and actually enjoys a cuddle. His owner said Ricco doesn't sleep on the bed, but it gets bloody cold here in winter, so I'm not so sure.

With the Alpaca cuddling out of the way it was time to go and wearing out the edges of our tyres by visiting some scenic sites including a Hydro dam and Cradle Mountain. We took a quick hike around "The Enchanted Walk" at Cradle Mountain.

The water here is crystal clear.

This is one of the dams which make up a part of
Tasmania's hydro electric system.

Everywhere you look in Tasmania is an oil painting waiting to happen.

Another quick blast saw us park our bikes outside the Mole Creek Hotel. We just made the lunch cut off and to make it easy we all ordered the lamb pie with chips. If you're ever there, go a lamb pie. I can wholeheartedly recommend them.

 Sandy has added some glamour to the trip, and Dave has added some height.

A short stint had us on a dirt road with a planned stop at Alum Cliffs. 

A little bit of dirt road.
Uncle R on his Harley wasn't impressed.

A short 800 meter walk made me realise just how unfit I am now. I was puffing like steam train and sweating like a sinner in church by the time I'd finished our little walk. I will make the effort and address this when I get home. Luckily the view was worth it.

It was now time make tracks to our home for the night. We rode down the driveway into Dave and Jan’s house in Deviot, overlooking the Tamar River. Now I want to move to Tasmania. What a house, with a superb view.

The Tamar River from Jan and Dave's outdoor area.

Dave produced some nicely chilled home brew and our day was complete. Or so we thought...

We now met Jan, a go getter pocked dynamo, who is Dave's partner. Jan had prepared a huge meal for us all and it went over a treat, especially the salads. On the road we haven't enjoyed much in the way of salad or vegetables, so we tucked into like we'd never seen anything green before.

Dinner was accompanied by some very nice wine, and a lot of laughs. Dave and Jan are great people, even if Jan used to work in insurance. I think I can almost forgive her, as long as she feeds me again when we get back there on Sunday night. Dave then broke out his home brew whiskey. Now I don’t mind a wee dram now and then, and my favourite whiskey is Tallisker, but I've always found home brewed whiskey is pretty terrible. Until now. Dave has nailed it and has made the best whiskey I’ve ever tasted. I now have a new favourite. 

I found out over dinner that Dave and Jan are coming along on our Tassie tour and acting as our guides. How good is that? The put a roof over our heads, fill us with good food and wine, ply us with whiskey, and then act as tour guides for a week. Motorcyclists really are the best people.

Tomorrow we'll ride somewhere. Where? I don't know, and I don't really care because I know wherever we go, it's going to be brilliant. I'm living a charmed life right now and I'm having a ball. 
From one island to another.

Phillip Island to Tasmania.


Today was a pretty relaxing day. All we had to do was pack up and be in Melbourne by five o'clock to catch the ferry to Tasmania. After a
 lazy breakfast everyone started fighting to pack all their gear back into their luggage on the bikes. It seems that once you unpack everything expands and won’t fit back where it came from.

Once that was out of the way we gave our house a quick clean and vacuum and it was time to leave the Island.

Uncle G had some commitments back home so he was off to Melbourne to drop his bike at the freight depot, then on to the airport to fly home. Rex and I rode toward Melbourne together, Rex to go into Melbourne to buy some more suitable (read warmer) riding gear for Tasmania’s varying weather conditions, and me to drop in for a quick visit with my in-laws. The rest of the crew had nothing to do so they just headed in the general direction of Melbourne.

I’ve always said I’m so lucky as I have the best in-laws in the world. It was really good to see them, and we had a surprise visit from my brother-in-law John as well. Clive and Marie have just moved into a retirement community and this was my first visit to their new home.

Wow! What a great place. There is everything you could want there and it’s in a great location. I’d move there today if I had the chance. Marie whipped up some lunch and we enjoyed a coffee with some of her renowned shortbread. Before I knew it a couple of hours had flown by and as I had a date with a ferry to Tasmania it was time to leave. It was great to catch up, even if it was so briefly. See you when I get back to Melbourne guys.

A quick ride into Melbourne had me hooking up with the rest of our crew at a pub across the road from the ferry terminal. 

A quick beer was in order prior to boarding the ferry.

It was now hurry up and wait time for the couple of hundred motorcyclists waiting to board. Queue up at quarantine, then again to get a boarding pass, then to ride onto the ferry.

Waiting to ride up the on ramp...

...and here we are.

Once our wheels were on deck the crew did a great job of tying the bikes down. Three of the boys headed off to find their cabin while Mark and I took the cheaper option of recliner seats for the night. Then it was off to the bar, um, I mean dinner, and it wasn’t a bad feed. After a few quiet drinks and lots of talk about the weekend's racing we called it a night.

I grabbed my blanket and pillow and hit my recliner. The rolling of the ferry was very soothing and was asleep in no time... dreaming about Tasmania's winding roads. Zzzzz.
Phillip Island - Race day at last.


We kicked off the day with our lunch preparation forming a production line making wraps for lunch. For about the cost of one wrap at the track we managed to put together eighteen wraps at home, and they were delicious.

Uncle D, Rex, and Uncle G on lunch detail.

Out at the track I played catch up with some more old friends then set of for a walk around the track to pick my vantage points for today's races.

There are hundreds of places you can read full race reports so I'm not going to write one here. I'll just post a few photos that I took with my little travel camera.

The Moto 3 race was by far the closest and most exciting race of the day. Aussie Jack Miller was obviously a crowd favourite and didn't let us down taking a really close win, followed by Alex Marquez and Alex Rins. How close? Less than 3/10 ths of a second covered the top six riders. Fantastic! Remy Gardner was given a wild card ride but unfortunately he suffered bike problems on the warm up and started behind the field. He rode a great race and managed to catch and pass two riders, finishing 26 th. I'm sure he still impressed some team managers with his skill though. Well done Remy.

Jack on the celebration lap.

The Moto 2 race ended with Maverick Vinales winning from Thomas Luthi and Esteve Rabat.

Maverick Vinales leads Johann Zarco, Thomas Luthi,
and Nicolas Terol.

Esteve Rabat.

The boys giving the trophy girl a taste of champagne.

Then it was time for the main event. With Marc Marquez having already sewn up the championship it could have been a boring race...but it wasn't. 

This race was Rossi's 250th GP start, and he is a huge crowd favourite. Marquez bolted early and looked to have it in the bag, but then crashed, like many other riders had done during he race. Rossi and Lorenzo who were having a great race for second were now racing for first place, and the crowd were loving it. Rossi found his old mojo and took off winning he race easily in the end. The crowd went absolutely crazy, and Rossi looked pretty pleased as well.

Obligatory trophy girl photo.

Mr Rossi pre race psyche up.

Ready to go.

Vale on the way to his win.

Who's a happy chappy then?

OK, it's a very ordinary video, but it'll give you and idea of the crowd support for Vale.

Wow, what a weekend. That's another Moto GP under my belt, and it was a good one. It had a lot of great components, including an Aussie win, tyre issues, great racing, a fantastic atmosphere, and meeting lots of old friends.

I'll sleep well tonight.

We miss you Marco.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Phillip Island, Day 2. Practice and qualifying for the riders, meeting up with old friends for me.


A good friend responded to my plea for a free ticket to get into the track and snuck me in using his pass. It's a bit naughty, but I'm on a tight budget, so it had to be done. For obvious reasons I can't name him, but thanks Mate. You know who you are.

First stop was the Moto GP Expo where I caught up with a whole bunch of people from my previous life in the motorcycle industry. It was really good to see so many familiar faces.

Suzuki had next season's Moto GP bike on display.

Then it was on to the Moto Guzzi stand where Nathan had my gaskets waiting to fix my ailing, noisey bike. Thanks Nathan, you're a life saver.I will pay you back with a beer or two next time you're in Perth.

Practice got under way and the bikes were in and out of the pits trying different setups to chase that elusive 100 th of a second advantage. There are a million images on the net that you can see, so I'll only post a few here. I still haven't had my camera repaired from our last trip so these blurry photos are from my pocket camera.

Mr Rossi was a huge crowd favourite.

Ninteen year old Jack Miller. Australia's hope in Moto 3.
Has he got the goods?

Sometimes it got a bit crowded.

My arty shot for the day.

On my way out of the track I stopped in for a quick look at the Phillip Island Visitor's Centre. It's only small but interesting and worth a visit if you're on the Island.

Aron Slight's WSB Honda.

Wayne Garder poster, "What a day" alright.
Gardner beat Wayne Rainey by half a second in 
Phillip Island's inaugural Grand Prix.

It was time for me play mechanic. Back at home I spent about half an hour spinning spanners and then the Guzzi was wearing some nice, new, air tight gaskets in the exhaust. It was a pleasure to fire it up and hear that nice quiet burble again. The boys from Moto Guzzi had offered to do it for me, but they had done more than enough already. Thanks again guys.

We rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous at Pinos for dinner.

Well, we had some pizza. then after dinner I did meet a couple of real celebrities...

Tex & Bundy.

Tex and Bundy (the world's fastest moto dog) are famous in Australia. They spend their days fundraising and guess what they ride...a Moto Guzzi Stelvio. You can read more about this wonderful duo on Facebook, just search Tex and Bundy charity fundraisers. You can also read more about their history at:

Bundy is one of the nicest ladies I've met, and she even gave me a kiss.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Phillip Island, Day 1. Practice for the riders, and a first taste for the boys.


The boys headed off to the track this morning as it was the first Moto GP for most of them. I've been to quite a few GPs, and as it's only practice today so I decided to stay home and do some domestic duties like washing. It also gave me an opportunity to catch up on this blog.

I wandered into town in the very pleasant afternoon sun and poked around in a couple of second hand shops. It's one of my favourites pass times, you never know what you might find. There was quite a bit of Moto GP stuff that I would have liked, but carrying it on the bike just wasn't feasible. Then I saw this...

It's the bear from the big blue house, one of my daughter Paige's favourite TV shows when she was a kid. When I found out he sings, and he dances, I had to have him. He will now be travelling to Tasmania and back across the Nullabour with me before he goes to live at Paige's house.

The boys came back in the afternoon with eyes wide open and talking about how fast the bikes were. Watching the bikes on TV just doesn't give you any perception of how fast they really are. You hear 340 kilometres per hour, but until you're standing by the side of the track, and you see the bikes go past, you just can't comprehend how fast they are. It's mind boggling.

Once again it was time to eat so we had a brisk walk into Cowes. It's amazing who you bump into and we caught up with mates we haven't seen for ages.

The main drag. No cars, just bikes.

One of Cowes top spots, Pinos.

Rex chatting with a couple of old friends we caught up with,
Jay and Mal.

After taking in the sights, and devouring a burger, we were off home for an early night.

Tomorrow is a full day at the track, the it will be into Cowes for a huge Saturday night. The place goes off on Saturday night with a huge crowd and all sorts of fun and frivolity. It's a highlight of the weekend.
Portland to Phillip Island, or,

The Winding Way Round.


It was bloody good day today. 
We got to ride The Great Ocean Road and it was a first for many of us, me included.

The Great Ocean Road runs along the coast of Victoria and has some wonderful winding sections that are motorcycle Nirvana. As luck would have it, this road also features some iconic tourist destinations as well. This can lead to some heavy traffic sometimes and it "could" be frustrating for motorcyclists. It's not though, and do you know why not? Because the majority of drivers pull over and let motorcyclists past so we can enjoy the road. Two huge thumbs up to those who let us through today. Thank you.

Everyone rugged up and donned their wet weather gear this morning because it looked like it was going to be pretty miserable, weather wise. Luckily we only got a smattering of rain in the early part of the day, and sun shine for the rest of the time.

Our first tourist stop was The Bay of Martyrs.

Do those of us that you can see look like
we're having fun yet?

Next stop was The twelve Apostles. Well, there used to be twelve, but they keep falling over. Now there are actually only eight left.

I tried to push over another one.

Back on the road we continued our run down the Great ocean Road.

Uncle G and Mark enjoying the ride.

   Uncle R did a good job wrestling the Harley,
and keeping up.

Next stop was Apollo Bay for a quick lunch and more fuel.

Apollo Bay Bakery makes great pies.

Then I stopped at Wye River and had a happy snap taken outside the hotel. Suzanne's parents used to have a holiday house in Wye River so it's a very sentimental place. And so is the hotel...

The Wye River Hotel.

Then it was a quick ride to the end of The Great Ocean Road. It was a fun day.

We had decided earlier to take the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento. It doesn't save much time, but it will give our backsides and brains a forty minute rest.

A ferry like ours making a return trip.

A coffee was now the order of the day, but Sorrento wasn't playing the game. Most of the shops there close at 4 pm. Damn! Oh well, we'll just have to wait until get to Phillip Island for a coffee. It won't take long.

It shouldn't have taken long, but we had a few dramas with a bloody road works detour. Having a detour sign at the start of the detour is fine, but you need to follow it up with a few more signs so people can find their way back to their original route. After a bit of stuffing around, and some Google mapping, we were back on course.

We finally pulled into the driveway at our awesome house on Phillip Island at about 7 pm. We'd covered just over 4,000 kilometers in the last six days, and our backsides knew it.

Now it's Moto GP time.