Melbourne and the “Great Roads”

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We had our flight to Melbourne booked tonight at 1850 and the Russels kindly delivered us to the airport by car.  When 45 min before we boarded and we still had not heard from GT  we called them. AGH the bikes have been bumped off their flight by priority cargo! They are re-booked in two days time on Thursday.

This means there is no way we will make the only Tasmania ferry booking left for Friday night. The Tasmania ferry service is atrocious. You can book with them and then not cancel the reservation until the sailing  actually leaves without penalty and this means all the reservations are always full. The other issue  is  there might be room for 2 bikes, but on a night sailing there are only shared cabins and  this weekend there are only female bunks available.

Australian customs are notorious and  it is possible the bikes may fail inspection. This means you pay to move them, pay for cleaning, pay to move them back, and then pay for re-inspection. This could take ??? days. Even if they do arrive on Thursday it is unlikely we will get them until Tuesday at the  earliest as this is a holiday weekend.

We have been invited to the home of Ian who is a friend of Garry and Ivonne Dymond in Mexico City. We share the bond of broken down BMW at Garry’s place with Ian. He was super kind to drive clear across from his place as far as you can go in Melbourne, which is to the airport to pick us up at 10 pm. He set us up at his house and we crashed when we arrived in Chelsea at 1 am.

Ian is the host with the most! He has provided us with his comfy home, his V-strom, riding gear, GPS, transit cards, and tons of advice.He is also an amazing cook.

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Ian set off for work and we rode off just a few km away to Chelsea beach to meet with one of our Camino family Daniella! So great to catch up and  get some advice for the sights here in the city. We will now consider flying to Hobart Tasmania as going with the bikes will not happen, but we really want to see our good friend Deb and Tassy.

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It’s Saturday today, but Ian has to go into the city to ABC and he will tour us around and then we can spend the rest of the day down town.

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Today we did a ride out on Ian’s bike to the Dandendons “up in the hills” where it is a pleasant 24 degree. We saw lots of watch for wombat and Kangaroo signs, but no actual critters.

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Today we got some work done and then road up the coast road past the crystal blue Melbourne Bay water to St. Kilda.  We had dinner out with Ian’s good friends Paul and Alison Peruvian restaurant in the “food desert that is Chelsea”.

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The weather is cooler today with some clouds and we headed back up to the hills . The first step was to get on the highway and get to Warburton. We stopped here at a cafe popular with bikers. The speed limit on much of the route here is 60, except on the freeway. We did a side trip on the 505 to walk up the Mt Donna Buang observation tower and then back tracked to the 507 (the 505 continues as a dirt road to Healesville, but it has been gated off. There is about 15 km of dirt rod from the junction on the way to Narbethong. The forest here is right out of a movie set with massive ferns and  super tall trees. When we got to the B3360 south it was already 3 and there was quite a bit of traffic. We managed to make it home by 430 and then headed over to Paul and Alison’s for dinner.

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Today is a holiday and that means Ian is getting to work rebuilding the carburetors on his   BMW and Dan is out doing yard work. The bikes are in a quarantine facility today,  but we still have had no other news!!

Well the bikes have been at customs for 8 days now and no news. They have not even been inspected yet and it is Friday afternoon again. Thus means nothing will happen until at least Monday. We have been sitting  around waiting for the call to come get them, but nothing! You have to use an agent in Melbourne and can not contact customs directly.

We have decided to give Ian a break from us this weekend and we will try and see the Great Ocean Roan and the 12 Apostles now because we are unlikely to get the bikes till some time next week and want to meet our friend Deb in Albury next weekend. We were supposed to spend the last 2 weeks with her in Tasmania, but customs has ruined that.

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We  set off on a sunny hot Saturday to Sorrento. Here you can catch the road ferry across the mouth of the Melbourne harbor to Queenscliff in 40 minutes, which will saves hours trying to cross the city.

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The crossing was calm and we arrived at 1145. From here we are headed south west to Torquay, which is the start of the Great Ocean Road (GOR). This road is 245 km to Allansford. There was actually not too much traffic and we were hardly held back. There are stunning views of the sea cliffs and beaches. There are several sections thru dense forest as well.

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We finally arrived to Apolo Bay about 4 and found a backpackers 77 km farther along in Princetown and on the B100 and just 6 km from the iconic 12 Apostles.

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This way we can see the sun set there and minimize our chance of hitting a kangaroo on the way back after dark. The gas station after Apolo Bay in Lavers Hill was closed and so we were getting low when we arrived to Princetown and checked into the slightly sketchy backpackers. We were on fumes 12 Km later in Port Campbell.

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Here we grabbed some food (actually it took over an hour at the Frying Nemo to get 2 souvlaki) and bolted back up the road to the Apostles parking area and walked over just in time for a pretty spectacularly sun set. We also saw our first Kangaroo (alive and with a joey).

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It was windy when we rode back, but by 930 it was gale force and then the power went out. It never came back on, which meant no running water either. The next bad news was because of the wind overnight ALL the roads west and north from here are closed by fires. Plus now it is raining and we do not have our own gear. This means we were told a complete back track on the GOR. We decided to ride back to Lavers hill and then try to get north to Colec.

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At Lavers 2 other bikers headed up the 155 and so we followed, but found the road to Colec blocked off. We kept going and turned onto the 159, which is a curvy paved logging road.

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About 3/4 of the way across we ran into the police who had turned back all the cars also trying to get thru. They did not say anything to us and 300 m later we saw the other bikers. Up ahead 200 m the ER services truck had just arrived and they set about chain sawing the massive tree blocking the road. 45 min later the was a hole big enough for the bikes to get thru and we were off.

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It was raining hard at times and incredibly windy. We were almost blown into the oncoming lane twice. We pulled up behind 6 guys on Harley’s white knuckling and watched as in turn each pulled off to cower in the ditch. We pushed on and stopped in Winchelsea for some food and to warm up. Checking the ferry schedule we had 45 min to make it 63 km and we just did it.

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We finally had time to connect with our other camino friend Theresa!

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Long story short the Customs here have been  a nightmare. They will not give you an estimate of when they can inspect the bikes. The said they would do it finally march 20 after 2 weeks waiting , “but did not get around to it” What actually happened was the shipping agents had the bikes moved to a second quarantine facility where an agent was scheduled to arrive already March 21. That meant we could go over to get them March 22.

We took an Uber to the Chelsea train station, the train to Southern Cross station and another Uber over to Arrow Services. The bikes that were to be roll on (which is what we pain for), but have been crated and the luggage crated separately and hence we had to pay a 500$ extra charge! The warehouse guys were very nice to us and fork lifted the pallet with the luggage over to where the bikes were parked.

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You know you have waited too long for your bike when it is covered in cob webs.

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We remounted the windscreen and mirrors and hooked up the batteries and we were off to get fuel by 330. This was just in time to hit the early rush for the bridge and then the tunnel, that said we made good time after that and were back in Chelsea by 5.

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Ian booked off work early to check out the bikes and meet us for a farewell dinner. We can not say enough about how much Ian did for us picking us up at midnight from the airport 2 hours from home, moving out of his bedroom to the spare room, loaning us his V Strom, setting us up with transit cards, maps and routes, and making us some very good meals!!! We only hope to return the favor one day in Kamloops.

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We set off from Chelsea and headed back towards the Dandedong hills at Emerald.  Here we continued north and made our way to Noojee and Mount Baw Baw. The road is curvy and sealed except for 35 km between Noojee and Rawson.

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Declared hazardous area??

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This is good gravel, but some of the corners are a bit slick with mud.

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We made it to Traralgon about 330 and stopped for a nice cafe lunch. We had another hour and 15 min to Bairnsdale, but this was on the A1 highway. This is mostly single lane. Here we had booked to a small motel and rain was forecast. We walked down the road to the Pho place…this is not Vancouver and this was no Pho I know!

As promised it was raining at 8 am , but was better by 10 when we left to start the B500 or the Great Alpine road.

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This route rises slowly and constantly towards the Alpine national park. Watch out for Wombats!

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We did have to put on the rain suits about half way there. The section from Hotham almost all the way to Hariettville was in very dense fog. We were going 20 km per hour and still could barely see where we were going. It was pretty treacherous.

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There is then a rapid descent thru the forest to the Village and we were met by the Swede! We had though he would wait in Bright on his way south, but he rode the last 25 km to meet us. He did not like the food options here and so we went back to the Bright Brewhouse.

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We have now met Orvar on 6 contents! While we were eating linch at 330 it started to pour torrentially. It would be an unsafe ride over the mountain and at least 4-5 hours to Bairnsdale to arrive after dark. He has to catch the ferry to Tasmania tomorrow at 8 pm and will now retreat with us to Wodonga and go to Melbourne  on the freeway tomorrow (4 hours direct).

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We are headed to the home of our great friend Deb Hewson’s parents. We go way back with Marg and James as they were there when we started. They were in BC to accompany in a car Deb on her trip from Vancouver to Prudhoe bay in 2012! They welcomed us and the Swede into their home and fed and hosted us all.

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Orvar set out in the rain but after an hour it cleared and the boat was an hour late so he could get off the main road in the end.

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We managed to get out after the rain stopped in Wodonga and hike up the hill. We spotted quite a few grey kangaroos and several wallaby as well. Deb has been at the folk festival all day and came home with pies from the famous guy there in Yackandandah.

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Today we are going on a ride out to have lunch in the pub in Jingilic NSW. Leaving town you ride by the barracks and the grounds are liberally littered with kangaroo family groups. We rode put along the reservoir and out to the dam. The ride back was thru Corryong and it was a pretty chilly 6 degrees at the top of the pass.

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2 Responses to Melbourne and the “Great Roads”

  1. Andrew says:

    Again..thanks for sharing your life / adventure…something most of us can only DREAM about.

    QUESTION…I know , near impossible to answer

    ..but BEST country visited..for roads , scenery , people / food..and NOT forgetting the wine / beer ?

    ..lol

    Ride safe

    Andrew

    • Sara says:

      Very complicated question! Overall we love Brazil and Colombia, but for roads Dolomites or Pyrenees. Food Mexico! Best wine is Argentina! Sara

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