Chris' 1994  R100GS/PD ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Feb 3, 2001

VICTORIA -- The Great Ocean Road  to the Snowy Mountains.

-- Story by Erin --

On Saturday morning, January 20th, we started off on the Great Ocean Road on our way to Melbourne, only 350 kilometers away. The Great Ocean Road is indeed one of the more spectacular roads in Australia. It follows the dramatic coastline for nearly its entire length. Along the way there are great scenic lookouts, like the 12 Apostles and London Bridge, and quaint little seaside towns. We stopped in Apollo Bay, about the halfway point, for lunch and to hook up with our new friends Brian Rix and Shirley Hardy-Rix.

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Above:  The 12 Apostles
Right:  London Bridge

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We met Brian and Shirley on the internet, of course. They found our website and invited us to visit. They were toying with the idea to ride from OZ to London -- Now I think it's jus a matter of setting the date.  Brian rides a K1100LT and is Inspector Detective (like a Lieutenant in the U.S.) of the Homicide Unit of Melbourne’s Police force. Shirley is a happy pillion on Brian’s bike and is a writer, journalist and publicist. After a delightful al fresco lunch in Apollo Bay, they escorted us the rest of the way along the Great Ocean Road, stopping at a few interesting sites along the way, and finally into Melbourne.

Our end destination that day was at the home of Frank and Phil (short for Phyllis) Bangham. Frank and Phil are a wonderful and generous couple, with a great big Malamute husky-type dog named Wolfgar, who opened their home to us while we were there. They are good friends with Brian and Shirley, ride a ST1100, and belong to the same motorcycle club, Front Line Tourers. Frank also found us on the web and corresponded with us prior to our arrival.

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L to R:  Phil, Frank, Shirley, and Brian

These two couples set up a wonderful time for us over the couple of days we spent with them. The day after we arrived, we were invited to join them on a club ride up into the Yarra Valley north of Melbourne and then to a post-ride BBQ and pool party at Frank and Phil’s place. The Front Line Tourers is a club whose members are mostly cops, firefighters, and ambulance drivers. They like a spirited ride but also like to have fun along the way. After the ride we were honored to accept a few little mementos such as a club t-shirt, a homicide unit drink (stubby) holder (it says "Our day begins when you day ends."), and a book of cop stories called "Cops, Crooks and Catastrophes" by Shirley Hardy-Rix (signed of course). We met a lot of great people that day including Phil Marshall, a terrific BMW mechanic (and owner of K & R Motorbikes) who worked on Chris’ bike a few days later, and Patricia and Paul McCarthy, riders who had also contacted us on the internet.

View on the Black Spur

While staying with Frank and Phil, we were treated to some wonderful meals. One of those dinners was at Brian and Shirley’s house. They had heard us talk about our friend Liam, Irish RTW motor biker temporarily living in Melbourne, and invited him to dinner as well. It was good to see Liam again and catch up. He had been busy since the last we saw him working on a compilation video from the first half of his trip. He brought the videotape with him that night and we enjoyed a post-dinner screening of it. Brian and Shirley are also planning a RTW trip by motorbike and we were more than happy to share our experiences and hard gained wisdom with them.

On Wednesday, January 24th we left Frank and Phil’s to ride south to the Mornington Peninsula to visit our friends Brooke and Peter. When we arrived that evening they had planned a wonderful outdoor BBQ at the Blairgowrie Yacht Club. On Thursday, Brooke took us on a bit of a tour as she rode pillion on Chris’ bike. Half the day was spent trying to find someone to repair our computer power cord and then she took us to Arthur’s Seat, a scenic lookout at the top of one of the highest hills in the area. The views were spectacular as you could see up and down almost the entire length of the peninsula. That evening a big dinner out was planned with several of their friends, many of whom we had met the last time we visited, like Slip and Rachel. Peter got the two female singers to play a song in our honor. Thanks Pete! (At least it wasn’t "I’m just a teenage dirt bag!")

Friday, January 26th, was Australia Day. It’s very much like our Independence Day in the States. Everyone spends the day outside, having BBQ’s, playing Cricket (instead of Baseball) and watching the fireworks in the evening. Pete had arranged for us to have a sail that day on a yacht (that’s what Aussie’s call sailboats in general) with one of his customers from the boat shop. As it happened there was a race on that day and we had the opportunity to help Jeff, the captain, sail to a second to last place finish!

L to R:  Skipper Pete, Erin, Brooke, and Captain Jeff

Although the day was a bit dreary with intermittent rain there were certainly some bright spots. We had seen lots of dolphins out in the bay all during the three hours we were out on the water. Near the end though, they became a bit more curious of us and paid us a close visit. As we were returning to the harbor the wind had really picked up and we were leaned over hard to the starboard side. Just then one of the dolphins decided to come in for a better look at us and was jumping out of the water following our course just a few feet from where I was perched in the boat. What a magnificent sight that was! Too bad I was so enthralled with the experience that I forgot to take a picture of it. At the end of the day we said goodbye to Brooke and Peter. Brooke is just starting her new business teaching gymnastics and we wish her all the luck in the world. It already looks to be a big success. You go Brooke!

The next day we set off from Melbourne with a small escort. Brian, Shirley, Frank, Phil and Liam all went for the ride with us that day, up through the Yarra Valley toward the Snowy Mountains. After morning tea in a quaint little town, Chris’ bike started acting up again. This time we thought it was the starter going. He quickly found an auto electrician to check it out. We got on the road again but not with the problem solved (more about that later.)

Liam decided to join us for an overnight camp, but the others had to head back for home -- they had another party to attend. Before we said goodbye we had a hysterically funny photo session to record our visit.  Phil, we were all laughing so hard, we forgot to ask if you were OK.....

The rest of that afternoon we had fun riding the twisty roads through the mountains and riding a bit of dirt. Liam made a fabulous pasta carbonara for dinner, followed by eggs and bacon for breakfast. We lazed around the campsite Sunday morning chatting, not wanting to really part so soon. But as it always happens with Liam, we will see him again soon in New Zealand at Tom and Kirstin’s wedding in Christchurch (remember them from India??) on St. Patrick’s Day.

Getting a late start that day didn’t allow us to get very far. Our route took us farther and deeper into the Snowy Mountains. The roads are fantastic, twisty, steep, winding through lush forest and high alpine meadows. Yes, alpine meadows! I couldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself how much the high country in the southeast of Australia looks like the Alps in Europe. We camped that night at about 1300 meters altitude, in a wonderful steep valley and found a spot right near a small river. There must be fabulous fly-fishing up there because the fish are just huge. That night was very chilly and we ended up climbing into our sleeping bags, which is something we haven’t done since Europe! The temperature that morning was only a few degrees Celsius and you could see your breath in the air. What a refreshing change from all the heat we’ve been experiencing.

Sunset at a picnic spot near the Thredbo Village ski resort

It took us 3 days to drive from Melbourne to Newcastle. On the third day we stopped in the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney to see Bill Luhrs, the auto electrician who worked on Chris’ bike after the Olympics. Bill looked at Chris’ starter problem and decided it was a faulty connection. He ran a bypass wire and fixed the problem for us in just an hour or so. After that we were on way to Newcastle and where we relaxed with our friends Sam and Kav, and did some final maintenance on the bikes with the help on the folks at John Brison Motorcycles. On the way to Sydney, we stopped by the Continental Tire shop and picked up a couple of rear tires. Now we are back in Sydney, staying with friends Tony and Sally, and its less than two weeks and counting until we are on our way to New Zealand.  We've ridden 15,000 miles in Australia, and have so far ridden over 46,500 miles on our journey.  Not bad, eh?

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