South West WA with Merry

A week in South West, WA… by car!

Merry and I have spent the last week touring South West WA. It’s wonderful for me to have Merry here and also good to have a rest from riding Azulo. The quality of food and lodging has also improved significantly.

This is just a quick update …not much commentary. Just a few photos from our trip for the record.

We spent our first night in Eaton, near Bunbury with my cousin (once removed) Alex and his wife Rachel. We phoned Juliet, my cousin in England. Alex and Rachel have a lovely home in Eaton and a 6 acre block in the hills nearby, Currently they have a shed and 9 Alpacas on the property, but their dream house is in the planning phase!

Alex and Rachel Thornton

Alex and Rachel Thornton

Alex and Rachel's country retreat

Alex and Rachel’s country retreat

IMG_0748

Photo – Busselton Pier… It’s very long…2 kilometres!

DSC03105

Photos: Vasse Félix Vineyard in the Margaret River district

DSC03109 DSC03108

We saw some lovely beaches… this one is Hamlyn Beach

DSC03119

The Karri Tree forests are superb. The trees grow up to 80 metres!

DSC03132

We visited a 500 year old Jarrah tree… it was saved in the nick of time from being cut down!

DSC03143 DSC03142

We visited the Jewel Cave… there are many others but one was enough! It is spectacular. We chose well!

DSC03121

DSC03127 DSC03126

We visited a Truffle Farm, the largest in Australia and one of the largest in the world. They have Labrador dogs to sniff out the truffles and tours are possible but unfortunately the season starts in June.

DSC03139

We stayed in a variety of places from a very nice Airbnb in Fremantle to comfy a cottage near Nanup

DSC03131

IMG_0736 [2434345]

It was pizza night in Nanup. The local café lays it on every now and then. There was loud live music of very doubtful quality but the pizza was terrific. As you see they made a fuss of us with the table sign

IMG_0732 [2434357]

We saw this sign outside a beach shop which amused us (sign enlarged on second photo below).

DSC03155

DSC03154

Our last three nights were spent in Fremantle. I am really impressed with Fremantle. It’s got lots of character and is full of life, restaurants, lovely old buildings etc.

We took the “hop on tram” ….an amazing coincidence happened…The tram driver RECOGNISED ME….He said… “You were in the same hotel as me in Kalgoorlie… just a few days ago… you set the smoke alarm off burning your toast didn’t you.”

It turned out that I even slept in the same room as him…Don’t worry, he left a day earlier than me. Just to complete the coincidence, his name is also Geoff.

Tram driver Geoff...I met him also in Kalgoorlie.

Tram driver Geoff…I met him also in Kalgoorlie.

DSC03173

DSC03183DSC03178

Cicerello"s Fish Restaurant. Famous in Fremantle

Cicerello’s Fish Restaurant. Famous in Fremantle

We visited the Gaol which has been welcoming guests since 1850’s and only closed in 1991. It was built by the convicts.

DSC03164

DSC03159

DSC03160 DSC03162

Some more photos of “Freo”

DSC03191

DSC03188

Swan River Cruise to Perth and Perth hop on bus

Merry and I are very impressed with the quality of the infrastructure here. The trains and stations are clean, the busses are excellent…there is a free bus service called the CAT They are building a superb new Football/Cricket stadium which looks impressive. There are good roads and more!….Also there is very little graffiti!

DSC03204 DSC03203 DSC03200

DSC03198

They had a free wine tasting on board..

DSC03192

 

Perth hop on bus

Perth hop on bus

DSC03223  DSC03213

DSC03212

Magnificent meals

Naturally, we’ve had lots of good food and wine on this trip… as always!

Perhaps the pick of the restaurants’ though is “Bread in Common” in Fremantle.

It is modern and the food is fantastic. Food prices are reasonable but wine is expensive.

It is packed out all day from breakfast till dinner. You must go there if you are in Fremantle!

DSC03157

IMG_0808 [2434338] IMG_0807 [2434339]

Now sadly Merry leaves and I start the journey again. Merry will meet me again in Darwin in three weeks. I’m looking forward to that already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esperance and Albany

This may be the last post for about 10 days or so as Merry arrives on Monday 15th and we are spending a week touring the Margaret River, south of Perth

I’m in Perth now staying with my old mate Gordon Roberts. Gordon rode with me in my trip to Nepal, India and Bhutan.

AZULO has performed magnificently but I need new tyres and the speedo and GPS fixed. This will all be done next week whilst Merry and I have a good break.

Kalgoorlie – the final word

I forgot to mention in the last post something I found amusing. I hope you do too!

This is how the 19th Century Kalgoorlie Politicians solved the difficult problem of the “unsavoury behaviour” in what is now Hay Street, Kalgoorlie.

Broockman Street, Kalgoorlie, in the late 19th Century had some 30 brothels. As you can imagine, it must have been hopping!

DSC02795

Photo – The last “old” brothel in Kalgoorlie

The “gentle” people of Kalgoorlie wanted them closed down yet the politicians and many more including 99% of the miners felt they provided a very important service to the town!

Broockman street  had a “good” and “bad” end so the solution was simple…. just change the name of the bad end…. Hey presto, problem solved.

So, they split Broockman street in two and re-named the “bad” end Hay Street. A notice appeared in the newspaper saying there were now no brothels in Broockman Street!

Esperance

Esperance is a pleasant seaside town with magnificent beaches in a beautiful setting.

It’s hard to avoid references to the early seafarers who sailed past in the late 18th Century

Esperance was named after the French Ship L’Esperance.

IMG_0081

In 1792, two French ships, L’Esperance and Recherche nearly foundered amongst the many islands and reefs here. The ships were saved by the lookout, “Monsieur Le Grande” who at the last minute spotted a channel.

Esperance, as said above was named after the ship.

The nearby peninsula, now a National Park was named Le Grand and the whole archipelago named Recherche Archipelago.

Whilst I’m boring you with some potted history, I found this story in the museum interesting

Matthew Flinders, who was the first person to circumnavigate Australia, passed by Esperance twice. In 1803, he too had a near disaster.

He only managed to save the ship by cutting the ropes on two anchors which were lost until 1969.

DSC02859

In 1969 the two anchors were discovered and salvaged.

The home made wooden aeroplane in the photo above was used to search for the anchors. it was a sort of “submarine”. The plane was lowered in the water, a diver hung onto it and they were then dragged along the sea bottom by a boat. It apparently speeded up the search!

The anchors once recovered, were spirited away from Esperance. One is in Canberra and the other in Adelaide. Poor Esperance got the aeroplane submarine and nothing else!

Enough of that!

Esperance and the whole coastline is extremely beautiful. The beaches are stunning.  Some, like “Lucky Bay” have “OMO  white” sand and the sea appears a bright turquoise colour. The photos don’t do them justice. Lucky Bay by the way is in the Le Grand National Park some 40 k away and was named by Matthew Flinders who stopped there after his near death experience.

Lucky Bay has Kangaroos on the beach at certain times of the day. Unfortunately I was there at the wrong time. No Kangaroos!

DSC02907

DSC02951 DSC02948 DSC02947 DSC02946 DSC02944 DSC02929  DSC02926

On my way to Lucky Bay I saw a very strange site….

DSC02876

DSC02880

Yes, Stonehenge!

It’s a full sized replica of what Stonehenge looked like 5000 years ago! The stone was  quarried nearby. I’m not sure quite why anyone would think of rebuilding Stonehenge but someone has!

I stayed at and Airbnb which was excellent but I made a bit of a fool of myself. I tipped over the bike as I was about to leave. The family kindly helped me lift it. It’s much too heavy for me but the two kids of Fiona and Brendon, my hosts, made Azulo look like it was made of feathers!  I must be getting old and feeble.

Photo : Charming Airbnb owners Fiona nada Brendon

DSC02954

Albany

The 450 ride to Albany was rather boring.

Unfortunately the weather was bad in Albany and I once again got soaked a few times and had to dodge the many showers. At times like this I wish I was in a car!

Albany is in a magnificent setting in King George Sound. It’s Western Australia’s oldest town, founded in 1826.

The little ship Amity sailed from Sydney in 1826 with a few soldiers and convicts and set up the settlement. They didn’t want the French to get there first!

This is a replica of the Amity in the photo below

DSC02958

The most impressive thing in Albany is the Anzac Memorial and Museum. The ships taking the Australian and New Zealand Corps and their thousands of horses to Egypt in 1914 sailed from here. This was the last Port of call for those poor soldiers (and horses)

Here are some photos but as you see the weather wasn’t very kind to me!

All the ships lined up in the Sound. It must have been an impressive sight

DSC02967

DSC02968

DSC02991

I love this sculpture of an Anzac giving his horse water.

DSC02972

A very beautiful and emotional statue

DSC02965

The old Guard House

DSC02975

Below – The Anzac Memorial ….Typical…why are monuments always under repair when I’m there!. This is an impressive monument to the Anzacs,

DSC02993

Other things I saw in Albany in between heavy showers…

The Gaol House

DSC03022 - Copy (2)

The Whaling station. It was closed in 1978

DSC03026DSC03028DSC03032

The Gap…This is a very impressive structure over a gap in the cliffs.

DSC02994

Again, the pictures don’t do justice to this

DSC03015

 There is one other piece of interesting history here…..

Australia’s very own pirate – Black Jack Anderson

This story fascinated me. My brother in law Cam told me about it, There’s a book on it and it’s apparently all true…. but there is nothing on him to be found here, although the people in the museum know about him.

I think Albany is missing a magnificent tourist opportunity!

Black Jack Anderson was a big Negro Whaler from Massachusetts who in the early 1830’s found himself in Albany. He killed someone in a brawl in the pub and ran away stealing the whale boat.

He set himself up on nearby Middle Island and over some 10 years terrorised the passing ships. He was very cruel but must have had charisma as he kept several Aboriginal “wives” and even a white woman. He made a lot of money which has never been found.

Eventually he was killed by his own men.

Why does Albany fail to cash in on this amazing story! It beats me!  Sorry, no photos.

Off to Perth …the final leg of “stage 1″of this trip

I left Albany to ride the 400 easy kilometres to Perth. It was a good ride and the weather had improved.

Unfortunately I had a “senior moment” at the petrol station…. I filled up Azulo with diesel. Ugh….. My feeble defence is that there was not caution sign on the pump gun.

I managed to borrow a hose and bucket and siphoned out all 30 litres of diesel, not a pleasant taste. I then filled up and continued the journey.

So now I’m having a couple of days off in Perth before Merry arrives. I’m excited about her arrival.

Gordon is a terrific host. We had nine holes at a superb Gold Resort, Joondalup…lots of wine…bacon and eggs and more!

Photo -Joondalup Golf Resort

DSC03086

Some company on the course. Gordon and friend

DSC03082

DSC03064 DSC03060

Some “Cockies” in Gordon’s garden

DSC03091

Sian, Gordon’s daughter with Jack and Gordon looking on.

DSC03087

Bye for now…. If I get time (and Wi-Fi) I’ll put some photos up of the Margaret River and district.

The journey continues again on Tuesday 23 May!

 

 

 

.

 

The Nullarbor and Kalgoorlie

The highlight of the past few days is the Superpit in Kalgoorlie. It’s a simply amazing goldmine that produces 22,000 kilograms of gold per year. The pit is 700 m deep, 1.5 k wide and 3.9 k long. More later!

DSC02840

First though, I rode through the Eyre Peninsula and over the Nillarbor

Journey through the Eyre Peninsula

Near Port Lincoln I stopped at Coffin bay. This is an Oyster producing area. Port Lincoln is a Tuna fishing centre. Coffin Bay is a sweet little place but it’s still the off season and everything was shut!

DSC02547

Photo :Coffin Bay’s Oyster beds

Many of the Bays along those stretch of coastline were named by Matthew Flinders who sailed past here in 1802. Streaky Bay and Smokey Bay are two named by him.

The countryside is pleasant and there are always photos to take.

DSC02548DSC02561

I thought the use of rain tanks as toilets was very creative at this roadside stop.

DSC02550

Just after taking this photo I had a minor drama… My “good angel” came to my rescue.

I rode on from this café about 15 k and for some reason I checked to see that my camera was in its correct spot in my pocket. It wasn’t there. I went back to the café hoping to find the camera but no luck. I thought I had lost my camera. How would I do this blog without a camera! Ok the phone is an option.

Anyway, I rode away dejected but kept an eye on the side of the road in case it had fallen out of my pocket. About 12 k along the road I saw it. How lucky am I.

There it is in the photo below. Luckily it was in its case so no damage.

DSC02551

Near Streaky Bay there are these amazing rocks called Murphy Haystacks. They are 1500 million years old.

DSC02552

DSC02554 DSC02555

The journey across the Nullarbor Plain starts at Ceduna SA and ends at Norseman WA, a distance of 1200 K. The journey must have been horrendous before the road was sealed and before the roadhouses and fuel stations were established. The myth of a difficult journey still continues today but it is actually a very easy journey, albeit  a long ride; The road is excellent, the roadhouses are surprisingly good, there is fuel within easy distances (the longest gap is 200k)

DSC02567

DSC02565DSC02584

DSC02585

I saw just one kangaroo, no camels or wombats however there were plenty of squashed and very dead ones!

The road trains are interesting….The weather for me was good so they weren’t a problem but I heard that in the wet they can blind you with the spray for several seconds as they pass…best to pull over.

DSC02582I had a chat with Rex the Road Train driver at one of the Roadhouses where I found a motel bed. He said he prefers to travel at night as they can see lights ahead. Most of the poor wildlife gets mowed down at night. Rex told me he travels 1200k per day. He is allowed two half hour stops and cannot legally drive more than 14 hours. I thought my 750k was a big achievement. How on earth they stay awake beats me!

Some say its a boring trip. I can see why but it has things to see on the way and the scenery does change slightly!

The highlight along the way is the “Head of Bight” which is a whale watching lookout. This is where the white dunes meet the spectacular Bunda Cliffs. These cliffs are 90 metres high and stretch for 200 kilometres.

DSC02573 DSC02581

DSC02587The photos don’t do justice to the view. Also the sea is a deep blue that is fabulous.I saw one whale but he /she wasn’t doing much and was far out but at least I saw one!

There are other things along the way that add some interest!

DSC02594

DSC02602DSC02600

As I neared Norseman there is a forest of gum trees that have rich golden trunks. Maybe someone knows what they are called.

DSC02606

The 90 mile straight road is very straight. It’s quite a shock when suddenly there is a bend

DSC02604

Kalgoorlie

I reached Norseman at 1.30 on my second day. Too early to stop given there isn’t much at Norseman so I headed the extras 190 k to Kalgoorlie. After riding nearly 1500 k in two days I need a rest.

Kalgoorlie is a fascinating place.

DSC02741 DSC02740

DSC02768

It was founded more or less instantly after Gold was found here in 1893 by Paddy Hannon.

The town used to have some 90 Hotels (Pub’s to my UK readers) Some of them are splendid. There are Hotels on every corner. Some have wonderful stories to tell.

Here are a few photos:

DSC02728

DSC02856

DSC02738 DSC02735

The Hotels catered for different clientele

The Exchange Hotel (photo above) was the rough place.

They used to have a “Skimpy of the week competition”. The bar maids were very skimpily clad (actually they still are but I was unable to get a photo, sorry)

The customers all put a coin in the “Titty Kitty” and this was given to the most skimpily clad lady providing she had a nice smile!

The Palace Hotel  opposite was the posh place. Herbert Hoover the US President was here when he was a mining engineer. He had a liaison with a bar maid and later sent a huge mirror to the Hotel (why would he do that????) He also wrote a very romantic poem to his lost sweetheart. Here is a photo of the mirror and his poem.

DSC02748

The town hall has an impressive theatre. There are 1200 cast iron chairs. One can imagine attending a show here.

DSC02730

There were over 30 brothels too.

One of the original brothels remains and is still a working brothel today!

DSC02795

Kalgoorlie has a lot of street artists or did today! They are painting all sorts of pictures on shop windows

DSC02761 DSC02759

Kalgoorlie and Boulder are now one town. Boulder also has some fine buildings and Hotels. It also had the Railway line that brought miners and equipment to town. At one time it was the busiest station in Australia, busier than Flinders St Station in Melbourne

Some photos of Boulder

DSC02825DSC02828DSC02831DSC02833

Now to finish, some more about the Superpit

Alan Bond instigated what is now the Superpit. The Golden Mile as it was called had over 260 separate individual and uneconomic mines. His idea was to buy up the leases and create one open cut mine.

This happened in 1989.

The operation is staggering. The equipment is awe inspiring:

DSC02671

This truck carries 225 tons and cost $4.4 million

DSC02658DSC02698

DSC02647DSC02850

The bucket carries 68 tonne and the machine costs $18.5 million

To finish… you don’t want to get in the way of one of these trucks!

DSC02720

Journey to the Outback

My apologies for such a long time between posts… I’ve been having “Wi-Fi trouble”. It seems many of the places I’ve been staying at either don’t have Wi-Fi or it’s very limited.

Flinders Ranges and beyond

Here is Marree Man…Australia’s version of the “Nasca Lines” albeit it’s only 20 years old…. It’s a scratching in the sand of an Aboriginal man, 4.2 kms tall with a perimeter of 28 kms. It’s caused a heap of controversy…. more later..

DSC02536

I’m now in Ceduna, about to tackle the Nullabor

In the last few days I’ve crossed the Coorong, navigated through the Adelaide Hills, crossed the Flinders Ranges and ventured into the Outback as far as Marree where I flew across Lake Eyre. I then rode south and crossed the Eyre Peninsula. 

The Coorong is a great place for bird watching and fishing, neither of which I did. It’s an interesting ride though, but the cold and miserable weather didn’t really help! After a few hours shivering I weakened and treated myself to a superb bacon and eggs in the Salt Lake café. Well worth a stop if you’re going that way!

I skirted Adelaide and rode through the Adelaide Hills. This is a stunningly beautiful area. It is very varied with a mixture of green, wooded hilly country, pretty vineyards and rugged gorges. It’s got the lot!

My next destination was the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Sound.

En route I passed through Orroroo… what a great name

DSC02459

Orroroo’s only claim to fame is that it’s on the Godyer Line… just in case you’re unsure what that is…. the Goyder line is a rough line across South Australia… Above the line, rainfall is less than 10 inches per year making it suitable only for grazing. The line was created by George Goyder, Surveyor- General in 1865. It has proved correct and those who plant crops north of the line do so at their peril. The line is a “heritage icon” of the National Trust.

In the Flinders Ranges I stayed in an overpriced cabin at Rawsnsley Park Station but it was a lovely setting. It’s hard to beat the quiet still  evenings in the Aussie Countryside.

DSC02471

DSC02486DSC02464DSC02495DSC02496

The main activities in the Flinders Ranges are walking or four wheel driving so I thought I should do a walk. I even saw some locals

DSC02477

 

DSC02476North of the Flinders Ranges National Park is a little town called Blinman. There’s nothing  much there but it’s typically Australian.

DSC02489DSC02494DSC02492DSC02493

My hope was to do a flight over Lake Eyre. Flights go from various places including Wilpena but my problem is that I’m a single. No luck at Wilpena so I thought I would ride the extra 200 k to Marree. I rang the General Store that handles everything at Marree and was assured I could get a flight, so off I go.

DSC02499DSC02543DSC02542

Marree is a literally a one horse town! It was once on the Ghan railway line but no more. There is really nothing but tourism now at Marree. There is a pub and a general store. I expect there’s a church but I didn’t see it.

DSC02540DSC02501

I met Jenny the Manager of the “Oasis” ( General Store/ Post Office/ Petrol Station/Caravan Park/ Café/ bottle shop) She was a breath of fresh air. I thought she was a Pom as she has an English accent but she said she had been brought up in Whyalla which was “full of Poms” hence the accent.

She showed me to my “Luxury Cabin” which I must say was very comfortable.

DSC02502

Dinner was at 6.30pm. It was “roast night”. Boy did I get a feed… three couses, lots of everything, beef, pork, lamb and to cap it off a bread and butter pudding, all for $15.00. The cracking on the pork was the best I’ve had in years ( even a match for yours, Doug!)

The next day I waited to get a flight. There isn’t much to do in Marree except chat to the locals and the few other visitors. Everybody is very friendly and a conversation that takes two minutes at home lasts for hours.

I met “Bill”, an 83 year old German from Brisbane. He had recently lost his wife and wanted to talk. He left me some “Minties” this morning as he left. I found them on Azulo. Isn’t that sweet. He came to Australia in the 50’s. He called himself a “10 Pound Krout” He had been in Bonegilla Refugee Camp in Victoria (Merry and I and our friends visited Bonegilla at Easter… It’s a fascinating place. Many non-UK  Migrants passed through Bonegilla when they first arrived in Australia)

Jenny and Lyle, the owner of the Oasis and Chef extraordinaire  became good friends! Lyle is a typical country Aussie… gruff, loud and friendly. He has lived his whole life in Marred.

The “Oasis team” also included Laurie the Caravan Park cleaner who sat chatting  with me over dinner and Avail, a 22 year old Queensland girl who answered an advert in Gumtree and drove all the way from Rockhampton to get the job.

She said she needs a job and this was going. There’s a lesson for other unemployed people isn’t there. A little effort and flexibility go along way.
DSC02541

I made a video of Marree but can’t load it onto YouTube which should be easy but won’t work. Very frustrating. If you think you can help me… email me on gbransbury@gmail.com…maybe you can sort out my problem.

I eventually managed to get a flight over Lake Eyre. There isn’t much water in it now so there were no birds, but it is very special.

I’m sorry , the photos don’t do it justice.

DSC02520

DSC02518DSC02523DSC02537DSC02513

Now, back to Marree Man.

He was discovered 20 years ago. Nobody has owned up to doing it. It is controversial because it was done on Aboriginal land without any permission or permits.

Recently, a group of Publicans keen to encourage tourism in the area set about restoring Marree Man and took their tractors and graders onto the site to renovate it.

The Aboriginals are furious and the State Government has imposed bans and Law suits are pending.

Whatever the rights or wrongs, Marree man is an impressive sight and rivals, visually, anything I saw in Peru at the Nazca Lines. (Mind you, the Nazca Lines are a little older …they were created between 500 BC and 500 AD)

 

 

 

 

Around Australia trip begins – 24/25th April

Azulo is rearing to go!

He should be rearing to go as his service cost me $1000! …By the way…Azulo, if you haven’t followed my adventures before, is my trusty Kawasaki KLR 650.

Azulo and I are now doing our fourth trip together. Azulo is showing signs of old age. Fingers crossed he makes it around what I expect will be some 20,000 kilometres.

Actually I’m getting a bit long it the tooth also. Merry even bought me some Pilates vouchers for Christmas as she jokingly thought I might have trouble getting on the bike! You’ll be pleased to know I proved her wrong.

Here is roughly my route. I’m heading clockwise around. Merry meets me in Perth and again in Darwin which will be great.

Azulo and Geoff's route 2017 - Copy

It was a lovely day but rain is forecast for Western Victoria.  After a coffee and croissant with Merry, we head out.

11

Normally I don’t book anywhere to stay in advance but since this is the first day I had booked a motel in Portland, Western Victoria.

Big mistake! Not because of the motel but because of the rain. The first 200k are lovely but then it rains cats and dogs.

I arrive in Portland absolutely soaked. My feet are sloshing around in my boots and my wet weather gear is totally useless as I’m soaked. In all my travels I haven’t got so drenched.

Luckily the motel has a drier and I have a cask of red wine so I’m soon feeling better. There is a Kentucky Chicken place next door so that is tea fixed.

12

Things get better still when my footy team, Richmond Tigers win their fifth game of the season

13

My Portland Motel

This is all I saw of Portland. It looks quite a nice place but the rain doesn’t help14

The forecast for 25th wasn’t great. Actually it was terrible. Hail and rain were forecast.

I stopped for petrol and thought it might be a good idea to anticipate the worst and put my useless wet weather gear on. Now, if you’re an aging biker like me you’ll understand that getting the wet weather trousers on is quite a struggle. It’s a lot easier if you have a chair otherwise its nearly impossible!

So, I asked the girl at the counter if I could borrow  a chair…” No we don’t have any chairs” she said emphatically and extremely helpfully.

I was therefore left with no option but to balance on the ice cream fridge and struggle to get the wretched wet weather trousers on.

I crossed the border near Mount Gambier. As you see this farmer proudly supports his footy team the “Crows”

15

125

Mount Gambier is famous for it’s “Blue Lake” This is a volcanic crater filled with water. The water is meant to be a deep blue.

It wasn’t very blue today but it is still impressive and the big crater is virtually in the town itself!

121

122

This is my arty shot!

April 25th is Anzac Day. For your information, if you’re not an Aussie or Kiwi, Anzac Day is our remembrance day for those killed in all the wars. The significance of April 25th is because on 25th April 1915 the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the beaches of Gallipoli

Every town in Australia and New Zealand commemorate this day with dawn services and marches.

I attended the Mt Gambier march. The proud old soldier in the photo below was the only one left to march in his section. It brought a tear to my eyes and everybody was clapping him. Good on him.

16

18 17

19

This old soldier was the only one left in his section. It doesn’t look like it in the photo but he is in the march

Mt Gambia is a pretty town with some lovely colonial buildings

120

The rest of the day was spent dodging the rain showers and meandering along the pretty South Australian Coast through some nice little towns such as Beachport and Robe

123

The Pier, Beachport

124

126

Robe

127128

The Customs House Robe

Tomorrow I head towards the Flinders Ranges and the outback. I hope to do a flight to Lake Eyre.

 

 

 

 

just for kicks

The next big trip starts on April 24th 2017, This year Azulo and I are riding around Australia ..heading West

Merry is meeting me in Perth and again in Darwin.

I hope you’ll all come with me again and send me messages!

Take a look at this video…it will bring back memories for all old bikers!

You’ll need to turn the sound up LOUD!…The song was recorded by Mike Sane back about 1963

Journeys end

I’m home in Melbourne now. I flew out of LA on Monday 27th July. Azulo is waiting for a ship home!

Me with Maggie (left) and Mister

Me with Maggie (left) and Mister

Merry has had her second operation on her ankle and is doing well. It’s a bad break and she has had a bone graft. She will have to go to rehab and won’t be home for a while. It’ll be a long haul for her.

San Antonio to Los Angeles

I liked San Antonio. Apart from the Alamo and the other Spanish Missions, the City has a fabulous “Riverwalk” area. This is a sort of an “American Venice”! There are dozens of restaurants lining the narrow river…Maybe it’s a canal…I’m not sure. Anyway it’s excellent

Riverwalk - San Antonio

Riverwalk – San Antonio

WP_20150722_004

The next day, my journey to LA began in earnest. I decided however to detour a little from the main “Interstate 10” to see some interesting countryside.

I headed South West towards El Paso but detoured South to the Deep Bend National Park which is on the Mexican Border.

DSC01148 DSC01155

I decided to lash out and stayed in a lovely Hotel called the Gage Hotel in a little place called Marathon. I really could have stayed a few days there!

DSC01157DSC01156DSC01161

That night I had dinner with a father and son who were going camping in the park together. The son, Jack, 15, was driving Brian’s Hummer! Brian asked me if I would like to have a drive! Naturally I said yes but unfortunately we had too much to drink and the moment was lost!

Jack and Brian at the "Gage"

Jack and Brian at the “Gage”

DSC01159I had something called “deep fried chicken” for my main course….Actually it’s not chicken but beef that is “deep fried”….it tasted a bit like schnitzel to me.

WP_20150723_001

The next day was as long ride of about 700 K. Again, instead of going straight down the I-10 I detoured North towards Albuquerque stopping at Socorro where I headed West through the mountains to Scottsdale near Phoenix. This route had been suggested by my “Travel Agent” – Stuart. It proved a good choice as the road crossed some varied countryside from green mountainous to dry desert. I stopped for breakfast in a little village at a local diner and had the best bacon and eggs in a long while

DSC01162 DSC01169

Scottsdale

I reached Scottsdale where I stayed with my good friend and ex-business Partner, Jim Josephson and his wife Susan. Jim cooked a fantastic steak on his new and very fancy BBQ. The BBQ had a special “searing element” (I haven’t seen that before???) Anyway the result is that the steak had a tasty charcoal crust which was superb. Why it had a charcoal taste mystifies me as there was no charcoal. Maybe someone can explain that?

DSC01171DSC01178DSC01176

Los Angeles

The next day, Sunday I rode the 600 k to LA. It was a long and hot ride and I arrived around 4.00 pm.

In LA I stayed with my relative Andy Wainwright and his wife Melissa and son Alex. They live not far from Newport Beach and the GPS took me through the Cleveland National Park (I think that’s what it was called) It is a simply fantastic ride through the mountains and a biker paradise. Azulo was in second heaven with lots of long bends. What a great way to end the ride!

Alex (left) me and Andy Wainwright

Alex (left) and Andy Wainwright

We went out to a nice restaurant and later Andy and I polished off a bottle of Port sitting outside on his Patio. It was cool so he lighted a “fire table” (I’ve forgotten what it’s actually called). Again, that was something I hadn’t seen before…It’s a table with a hole in the centre where an element is heated by propane. The element is covered with glass cuttings. The net result is that it feels like you are sitting by a camp fire. I might try and get one of these for our home!

DSC01182DSC01183

It was a great way to finish the trip spending my last two nights with friends in their homes

Andy kindly drove with me on Monday to the shipping agent and we said goodbye to Azulo who will now be shipped home to Melbourne for a well-earned rest. Andy then dropped me off at LAX

Melbourne, Australia

It is good to be home. I got home at about 7.00 AM and received absolutely NO welcome from my two dogs! They were fast asleep. Some guard dogs.

Later Stuart and I visited Merry. It was good to see her and she is doing well

Merry - she must be feeling better!

Merry – she must be feeling better!

So, another trip is over and this is the end of the blog.

A word about Azulo, my Kawasaki KLR 650

I must make a tribute to my trusty faithful bike Azulo. He has now covered 60,000 K on my travels around the world. We have gone from Buenos Aires to LA, Vladivostok to London and Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada to LA.Over these trips, I have had no serious mechanical breakdowns. The only issues throughout the journeys have been water on the petrol in Kyrgyzstan, a puncture in Colombia, a broken side stand switch in Siberia and several problems with the pannier struts and foot pegs.

I think Mr Kawasaki should be very proud….. I should tell them!

Goodbye for now. Thank you all for reading my blog and a special thanks for those who have sent me messages.

 

 

 

 

 

Merry falls of her horse

Bad news. Stuart rang and told me that Merry had fallen off her horse, broken her ankle, has some fractures, and is in Hospital

That was late on Saturday night. Since then, she has had an operation on her ankle…She has to have a second operation soon. She was in as good spirits as possible but fuming that she has to cancel our Alaskan Cruise and drive through USA/Canada.

Poor Merry's foot after the first Operation

Poor Merry’s foot after the first Operation

It seems that because of the fractures and the second operation,she will have to go to rehab. So she might not get home for a while.I hope I can get home before her!

I’ve been pondering what to do. I’ll definitely cut my trip short as I want to get home to be with Merry but that’s easier said than done…I have to do something with Azulo. To cut a long story short, trucking the bike to LA wouldn’t save me much time and shipping from Houston is not an option according to the Agent, so I’ll ride faster to LA!

Stuart and Lucy have been fantastic and her friends are rallying around the flag! It gives me much relief to know she is in good hands

My journey from New Orleans

After that news, my journey seems a bit insignificant, but as they say…the show must go on!

I rode hard from New Orleans to Houston but took the long route via Galveston. There is a free Ferry that crosses the Bolivar Peninsula

Houses on stilts along the Gulf shore

Houses on stilts along the Gulf shore

DSC01073 DSC01077 DSC01065

Houston

My Melbourne friend, Peter Harford had kindly “dobbed” in his son Philip into having me stay whilst in Houston. Poor Philip!

Philip has a lovely home with lots of room! ….

Philip Harford outside his lovely Houston home

Philip Harford outside his lovely Houston home

He kindly had me to stay for the weekend. Philip works for BHP and there are a whole bunch of Aussies here!

On Saturday we went to a Wine tasting of Australian and New Zealand wines and then onto a Bar with his Aussie mates.

DSC01081

DSC01083

Now, as we know, Aussies like a good time and lots to drink….Boy oh boy! By about 9.00 (the wine tasting was at 2.30) I was almost on my ear! They are a great bunch of mates but I wouldn’t like to be here every Saturday night!

DSC01085 DSC01090

The beer here is strong so I thought I would change to wine. Bad move! They serve wine in tumblers….everything is BIG in Texas!

I was talking to this Harley rider who was there with his two daughters and he had bought a tumbler of wine for one of them but she didn’t want it so he gave it to me…so I had TWO tumblers which it seems make up ONE PINT. The photo of me shows me with my PINT of wine. No, it’s not water!

DSC01092

On Sunday I had a big hangover but boldly got up early to beat the crowds to visit the Space Centre. The Americans really do this sort of thing very well. There was several films and exhibits etc. and we saw Mission Control. I was hoping to see the OLD Mission Control where they controlled the Apollo Missions but unfortunately that is being refurbished

DSC01106

New Orion Capsule – next generation…going to Mars in 2030

DSC01093
DSC01097 DSC01096

DSC01107 DSC01104

Phil and I had a huge steak that night…the best I’ve had in quite a while…then an early night!

Austin

Austin

Austin

On Monday I rode to Austin, Capital of Texas.

Phil had suggested I go via Lockhart where there is a famous “ribs” BBQ restaurant called BLACKS. I went there and sampled the ribs…they are sensational!

DSC01108DSC01109

In Austin I visited the State Capital Building which is huge and impressive. They financed it after winning independence from Mexico by selling land…they had no money but lots of land!

DSC01127

Inside the building is a big painting of David Crockett….Better known to people my age as Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier! There was a terrific movie of that name in the 1950’s. I went to see it five times! Every kid of my age was wearing Davy Crockett hats…I think they are beaver hats with the tail hanging from the hat! The music from the film “Ballad of Davy Crockett” was top of the hit parade for weeks! Davy Crockett was killed at The Alamo in San Antonio. Whenever I feel like irritating Merry I sing the song from the film…”Farewell to the mountains”…..I get kicked very quickly!

The point of all this totally irrelevant information is that the David Crockett in the painting looks NOTHING like the Hollywood version that featured Fess Parker! (Compare the pictures below!)

DSC01114

David Crockett (Davy Crockett)

DSC01115

Davy Crockett as we saw him in the Movie (Fess Parker)

Davy Crockett as we saw him in the 1950’s Movie (Fess Parker)

very disappointing don’t you think!

On a more intellectual subject I visited President Lyndon B Johnson’s Library. The LBJ Library is quite superb. Again, the Americans do this so well. It is a fantastic legacy on the life and times of their Presidents and how they carved their place in history. I spent most of the day there and was enthralled

DSC01132DSC01131DSC01129

 

My last night in Austin I wanted some good Texas Ribs. Stuart kindly looked up a few places and suggested Lambert’s Downtown BBQ. An excellent choice!

Lamberts Downtown BBQ

Lambert’s Downtown BBQ

After Austin my next stop was San Antonio to see the Alamo

San Antonio

The Alamo is incredibly small…..

The Alamo

The Alamo

DSC01146

The Alamo is right in the middle of town as you see from this photo. Over the years, much of the original property has been built over so it’s a bit hard to get a good perspective of the Alamo as it was in 1836

I also visited one of the other Spanish Missions, The Mission of San Jose.

Mission of San Jose

Mission of San Jose

DSC01142

I’m not quite sure where I’ll head tomorrow but it will be a long ride so an early start tomorrow!

Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

I’m in New Orleans now. I’ve just had the best time on the SWAMP TOUR on an Air Boat. Amazing. It’s worth boarding a plane RIGHT NOW!

DSC01018

Back to the story

The last part of my Elvis pilgrimage was to visit Tupelo, Mississippi, 160 K from Memphis.

DSC00905

Elvis was born here

Elvis was born there and lived there till he was about 13, I think.

DSC00899

Elvis was born here

Before doing the Elvis “bit” though, I needed to change  Azulo’s oil. I thought that would be easy but no…Could I find anywhere to do it…No. None of the car service places would help and I couldn’t find any motorcycle places. Eventually the lady in the Tupelo Visitors Centre located the local Honda Dealer so off I went

They immediately took Azulo off to the workshop and I was admiring the Honda bikes in the showroom when the Owner, David Hill came and spoke to me. He then offered to show me the sites while Azulo was being serviced. So off we went in his huge Ford truck. How kind is that!

Elvis came from a very poor family. His father Vernon spent three years in jail for forging cheques which made life very hard. They lived in a tiny “shotgun” house…They call it “shotgun” because if you fire a shotgun through the front door the shrapnel comes out the back door! David told me the Presley’s were a fairly feisty lot, ready to have a fight if you wanted one!

He said that the whole area was devastated first by the civil war and then the Great Depression so it has taken over 150 years for the area to recover and prosper. This is a familiar tale I’ve been hearing throughout the South. I never realised the huge disruption the War caused for the South with their Cotton and Sugar industries devastated when the slaves were released…not to mention the sheer destruction and huge loss of life. Over 600,000 soldiers died in the war

The tiny church where the community gathered has been moved near the house and they have a simply superb movie “re-enactment” of a Pentecostal Service.

DSC00907

 

DSC00908

It was so unexpected. I was sitting in the pews and suddenly three screens come down…One in front and one each side. They completely cover the whole interior of the church. There then follows a typical service….shown on all three screens. Having never seen a Pentecostal Service it’s sort of like the Negro Spiritual…All were white in the film but there’s lots of singing and joking and the minister holds forth about the glory of god but in a showman like manner. All great fun. No photos allowed though!

Later, I met this guy who told me Elvis was dead!

I said to him that I didn’t doubt it. He then insisted that HE KNOWS FOR A FACT THAT HE IS DEAD…I asked how he knew and he said because his brother was the Paramedic who picked him up from Graceland! He added that the sheets from the Ambulance were taken and ended up in a bank vault but he didn’t know where they were now!

Azulo was waiting when we returned so off I went. David’s daughter and four Grand kids were there too so they received a koala!

DSC00910

My next stop was Vicksburg in the Mississippi.

I went down the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Typical of the Natchaz Trace Parkway

Typical of the Natchaz Trace Parkway

Vicksburg Mississippi

The siege and surrender of Vicksburg was a major Union Victory in the war and like Gettysburg was a turning point. By taking Vicksburg the Union controlled the river.

Battle for Vicksburg

Battle for Vicksburg

DSC00927

There was also a naval battle here and one of the Union Ironclads as they were called was sunk when it hit a mine. USS Cairo as it was known was recovered from river and preserved.

DSC00917DSC00918DSC00919DSC00921DSC00923

Natchez

The next day Azulo and I moved on to Natchez. This is a town on the Mississippi where the wealthy Cotton Plantation Owners built their “Scarlet O’Hara” Mansions. There are many to see but I had time for just one…It’s a bit like seeing Churches in Europe…after a while you become “over Churched” Anyway, I visited a House called “Rosalie” which was quite beautiful

Rosalie

RosalIe

DSC00937

 

I visited a Native Natchez Indian museum

The Natchez Indians were first discovered by the French explorer La Salle when he went down the Mississippi in 16-something. All went well for a while then there was fisticuffs between the French and the Indians so they evacuated to seek protection from the British

Natchez Indian Wigwam

Natchez Indian Wigwam

I then headed off to see a Sugar Plantation near New Orleans called Oak Ally.

The night before I stayed in a cheap Hotel about 20 k from the Plantation. The whole area is virtually an oil field and there was nowhere to eat except for…..wait for it…..CHUCK LIM’S CHINESE DINER!

Well….what a photo opportunity missed. I didn’t have my camera. Chuck Lim’s place needs a “Gordon Ramsey Makeover” …actually I think even Gordon would give up…

I ordered a Chicken Spicy Curry and Fried Rice for the princely sum of $9.00. When the food arrived I almost fell off my chair….The very large waitress carried two HUGE plates piled high with food. There was too much for 4 teenage boys. She sheepishly said …”I think you’ve ordered too much!

The other problem was that it was almost inedible! I chose poorly!

The Oak Ally Plantation is a gem. Again, the Plantation was devastated by the Civil War and the owners went bankrupt. Somehow the property has survived. A must visit if you’re down this way!

 

Oak Ally Plantation LA

Oak Ally Plantation LA

DSC00951 DSC00957 There was an excellent guided tour of the house. I love the costume and the added plastic bottle! Very authentic!

DSC00971

 

New Orleans

I checked into an adequate Hotel in the French Quarter called Andrew Jackson. It’s only $125.00 per night which is great value here. The Hotel is on the site of the old Court House where the great man himself (General Andrew Jackson was fined $1000 for refusing to lift the curfew after the war (not the Civil War, the war of 1812)  That’s a lot of money then!

 

My Hotel..Andrew Jackson

My Hotel..Andrew Jackson

Merry and I visited New Orleans in 1977 and stayed in one of the better Hotels in town, the Royal Sonesta. It’s funny isn’t it that all these years later, I’ve slid down a couple of stars! I suppose in 1977 the A$ was 1.14 to the $US compared to .75c today. Also we both had good jobs and no kids!

Royal Sonesta

Royal Sonesta

New Orleans has changed dramatically since 1977. Then, Bourbon Street was full of Jazz Clubs playing all sorts of Jazz and lots of Dixie. That’s completely gone. Bourbon Street now is a bit seedy with strip clubs and many grotty bars. Apparently the night life has the moved to another part of town near Frenchman Street…No Jazz to speak of though. I guess it’s a sign of the times. It’s still a terrific place and the food is awesome!

It may have no jazz but it’s a great place to see and walk about

DSC00977 DSC00993

DSC00997

Great Cajun dish. Sorry, not sure what it was but it was terrific

Great Cajun dish. Sorry, not sure what it was but it was terrific

 

My highlight was a SWAMP TOUR in an Air Boat.

I must thank Carrie, Stuarts friend who raved about it!

It was absolutely fantastic. The boat reaches speeds in excess of 75 KPH and swerves around through the swamps. The driver stops to see the Alligators….They’re so tame you can touch them

DSC01060

DSC01021 DSC01020 DSC01037 DSC01040 DSC01042

There are cedar trees everywhere covered with what they call Spanish Moss. The French called it Spanish Beard and the Spanish called it French Wig!

Spanish Moss...The French call it Spanish beard and the Spanish call it French wig

Spanish Moss…The French call it Spanish beard and the Spanish call it French wig

We were told that Henry Ford used the “moss” as filling for car seats. The moss was put into cedar boxes and shipped to Detroit. The boxes were then used as floorboards for his cars. A good plan you might say…until it turned out the moss was full of bugs and lice and hadn’t been treated properly. The cars had to be recalled when people complained about lice in their cars! The world’s first “recall”! Sounds like a tall story but they claim it is a TRUE story. I’ll have to google that someday!

Sadly I must say goodbye to New Orleans. I wish I had more time here.

Tomorrow I ride to Houston. I’m looking forward to visiting the Space Center from where the Apollo missions were controlled….Remember the famous line from Apollo 13…Houston, we have a problem! 

Note about Comments:

thank you all who have sent comments. It’s your comments that keep me doing the blog so keep the coming

if you wonder why you don’t see any response it’s because I answer every comment (I hope) personally. Your comments come through to my email and I reply to your email but my reply doesn’t appear on the blog