A Spring Ramble

Every year the local old car club, of which Grandpa is president, puts on a Spring Ramble and this year we actually had a spare weekend to roll out the MG. I managed to get away from work early enough on Friday so we could get to Goulburn before dark. The others had left in the morning and had a very leisurely drive. We kept off the freeway and away from the big trucks and toured down through the Southern highlands.

The weather had finally decided to give us some rain which was badly needed but it wasn’t too heavy. Saturday morning, the sun was dazzling in the morning when I opened the door but nice and cool so we needed plenty of layers when we set out for the day with the roof down. There was a mix of old, not so old and relatively new cars, six in total. The organiser outdid herself with baking for morning tea so not long after breakfast we had lots of choices of cake.

There is a sock factory at Crookwell in case you didn’t know, making the nicest warm woollen socks. They showed us the machines and they are the most incredibly complicated looking. The next day there was a swap meet in town and some fellas were keen to be the first to check out any bargains but we headed to the next little place, Laggan to check out their markets. We didn’t expect much but there were plenty of bargains and lots of baking and crafts and nic-nacs for such a little town. So quiet and slow too, very relaxing.

By the time we got back to Crookwell, it was time to think about lunch! So we checked out the bakery which is always closed on Sundays when we pass through. Then after lunch it was off to the Railway museum down the road. A very small band of volunteers are trying to restore and preserve the remains of the station, some track and a few little railway trolley gizmos.

Then it was back in the cars along the more scenic route back to Goulburn. But first a stop for afternoon tea, what a life!

Sunday was back to cloudy and a bit gloomy but we set off south along some more back roads towards Gunning. We stopped at a little place called Merilla or Parkesbourne at the church hall and had another morning tea. A young girl living nearby gave us the short history of the little school house up the road which is now closed and that was about the sum of the place. It is so close to the freeway but a whole world away in sheep paddocks and dirt roads.

It was time for us to be scooting back home to work on Monday, not like the lucky retirees.  So we enjoyed our last  few miles on the lovely quiet back roads and startled one of the biggest Wedge-tail eagles I have ever seen, massive.

We got home in time to find that even though it had only rained a little bit, it was easy to pull some weeds out of the garden, then we put our feet up on the verandah and had a beer. Cheers.

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Around Australia – Heading East (and home)

We left the south west corner of Western Australia on a very wet and miserable day. When the sun did come out, the glare on the road was really bad, but we got to see rainbows in the rear view mirrors. The next thing on our list was to visit some big trees. We passed through lots of towns ending in ‘up’, which means place, like Nannup and Manjimup and they all had great food and coffee, too bad we weren’t working up an appetite sitting on the bike.

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Now that’s a wagon wheel

A few towns along the way had been yarn-bombed, but Bridgetown was the best so far.

I found the big Diamond Tree which you could climb and had a fire lookout at the top. It was 53 metres up a dodgy set of spikes going around the tree. Grandpa didn’t believe me that I was going to climb it. It did look a long way up and the spikes were a long way apart and cold. No matter, off I went. It didn’t take long and the view once you popped out above the surrounding forest made it worthwhile.

Then there was the tree-top walkway to get a really close look at the Karri trees for those not into climbing.

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Our next camp was at Denmark where we could see the full moon rising over the sea. Much more private than the “Staircase to the moon” at Broome.

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The next day the rainy weather continued, we knew the weather would be like this in these parts. It really was winter but we were getting used to it now, 2 pairs of gloves, thermals and plastic bags in the boots helped to keep us warm and dry. Albany was an interesting place but wet so we continued to Hopetoun on the coast. The rain had eased a bit but the wind was blowing so hard it blew me and the bike over when I foolishly parked side onto it down by the water. The pub had a fantastic fire box which could have kept us warm all night though.

Next stop was Norseman and then off across the Nullabor and the big, long straight. The weather had cleared by then so we made camp at a roadside stop just past Madura (which had THE most expensive fuel of the trip $1.99/l) and had a lovely fire, the best camp of all. We came across this ingenious way of getting water in the middle of the desert. A big roof and some tanks, probably only catches the dew, but it was enough for us. The Roadhouses along the way will not let you have any water, you have to buy it in a bottle.

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The next day we were back in South Australia and it got slightly warmer. This is where the cliffs start along the Great Australian Bight and we had to stop at all of the lookouts. It is amazing scenery and you get the sense of what a big island Australia is surrounded by all that ocean. The last one at the Head of the Bight was where the whales come to calve and play with their babies. The new viewing platforms meant that you could see them closer than if you were on a boat. If you look close you can see a tail! (the phone doesn’t zoom very well).

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Still cold, wet and windy so we stayed at a dodgy Motel/Roadhouse. Where the German manager did a fantastic job of keeping the locals in line. A big day’s ride to Port Augusta the next day and the highlight for me was seeing the setting sun on the Flinders Range coming into Port Augusta. One day I am coming back for a walk. We set up camp and then found the best old pub by the water, Hotel Augusta with good food and beer and ambience. We nearly ended up spending the night. Somewhere along the road today, there was a town claiming to be the halfway point across Australia but all we saw was a bloody big galah!

So cold, cold, cold that when we stopped at a little place called Orroroo we bought thermal socks and had the very best pie of the trip at the Gum Tree Café if you are ever passing through. This was also home to a gigantic gum tree.

We wanted to see Broken Hill on our way home but in typical fashion, we only had time for a brief drive-by and then on our way the next day. The winter rain had been heavy all over and some of the roads we wanted to take were dirt and we didn’t fancy riding on mud, so we headed south to Wentworth  where the Darling flows into the Murray and then along the Hay plain. Our last stop was at the Bland Hotel in Quandialla and a quick hello to Daniel.

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And so back home again. My first thought when going inside was “What is this place? Oh yeah this is a house”. It felt very strange to be inside after being outside for all that time but gee it felt good to have a shower and find some other clothes that I hadn’t been wearing for the last 6 weeks.

We had such a great time, yes it was tiring and yes we would do it again, sometime later and maybe in the car with a kayak. The next day Kevin hopped on the bike and did the remaining 40km so we topped 16 000kms!! The bikes were really great even if they did cost a fortune to service and of course we have already started talking about where our next adventure will be too.

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