Central Australia adventure 1 -the coastal run

Central Australia adventure 1 -the coastal run

Coming over the top of the Otway Ranges from Forest

The view from Beacon Lookout over Apollo Bay is a must stop before making the final descent to the Great Ocean Road

I’ve written about this iconic roadway.

But on a windy day the sea around the monoliths at Port Campbell is foaming white.

Crossing the border into South Australia, the pretty fishing town of Beachport provided a pleasant stop

The Coorong is for me one of the most beautiful and mystical parts of Australia

A string of saline lakes separated from the Southern Ocean by huge sand dunes.

At the southern end the lakes are dry salt pans which gather water as one travels north toward the mouth of the Murray River

Crossing the Murray River near where it forms its estuary and the Coorong connects back to the Southern Ocean

At Cape Jervis which overlooks Kangaroo Island it was time to turn in land

And to night the Flinders Ranges are within striking distance and the vista has turned from sea blue to straw yellow

And the buildings in the small towns are of hard stones

And the sunset starting to gain a desert hue

Tomorrow its further inland to the Flinders Ranges!

Time to test and set up the new bike

Time to test and set up the new bike

I’ve christened the new bike The Steinbock

The name of a Bavarian Ibex

Im sure you can see the resemblance!

So the best place to test the Steinbock is in the trails of the mountains

Close to home on the trails of Otway ranges of Victoria

Where just of the Mount Sabine Trail is the beautiful Lake Elisabeth

But the real test for the Steinbock was on the high planes of the Mount Kosciusko National Park

Amongst the kangaroos and the wild horses

I was so glad to see that my favourite high country camp ground had been spared the 2019 bushfires

The Ghost Gully campsite is named by the stands of beautiful Ghost Gums that ring the campground

A couple of families with their horses were also sharing the campsite and we soon got to talking and sharing a cup of tea around the camp fire

Bushfires are such fickle things

While the Ghost Gully campground and the rest of the Long Plane were untouched by the fires

Just across the Snowy Mountains Highway the Yarrangobilly Caves reserve was badly burnt

But it was heartening to see the forest regeneration down at the thermal pool

And the caves totally spectacular

I was starting to feel the power and agility of the Steinbock both on the tarmac and on the loose and gravelly roads.

It’s a bike that asks to be ridden so I couldn’t stop here.

but that is for the next post!

A little walk in an old wild place

A little walk in an old wild place

There is something about escaping to an old growth forest

A wild place

On a hot summers day and the beaches are crowded

There is something special about the cool air of a mountain

and a shade walk in an old growth forest

The view from the look out at the summit Mount Donnna Buang is a panorama across the top of Melbourne’s Yarra Ranges.

The summit walks are amongst alpine forests

Ghost gums and snow gums well spaced with low ferns and scrub

Even the remnants of an old alpine hut can be found.

Half way down the mountain the transition from alpine forest to temperate rain forest is complete

Giant mountain ash dominate the forest, along with myrtle beech

Along the gullies and waterways the tree ferns spread the wing like fronds

Parks Victoria provide some fantastic interpretation in Victoria’s parks. These two pieces I particularly liked.

There is something about being all at sea

There is something about being all at sea

The phrase ‘all at sea’

Comes from a time past, where ship navigation was much less certain

No GPS or accurate weather forecasts

I learnt to sail in the pre GPS days

In days of dead reckoning, bearing compases, cocked hats, noon sights, star sights and sextant

And you best friend was a lighthouse

At the entrance to ports, like the Point Lonsdale Light at the entrance to Port Phillip

Or looming large over dangerous headlands

Like at Cape Liptrap

Or at Cape Schank

While at sea

Companions at sea are the sea birds, terns, shearwaters and gannets

And of course the playful dolphins

Then finding that safe harbour

Or the sheltered cove

Birds Rocks Anchorage, Waratah Bay, Victoria Australia

Its good to be all at sea again.

A new year and a time to revisit an old past time

A new year and a time to revisit an old past time

March last year the yacht Futura after 30 years ownership, past into anothers hands.

I thought my sailing days were over

But a chance to crew with friends means that the 2021 adventures start on the bright blue sea.

Sailing down the channels Port Phillip

Past ships waiting at anchor

Keeping a weather eye

Before entering into Queenscliff the beautiful small boat harbour near Port Phillip Heads.

After a beautiful seaside sunset it a day for some final checks then out into Bass Strait.

Dreaming of Bunjil the Eagle and all eagles

Dreaming of Bunjil the Eagle and all eagles

The panorama from the Bunjil lookout at Maude north of Geelong takes in a valley in the Barabool Hills where the Moorabool river has cuts its path

Bunjil the Eagle is the dream time creator of the lands and the people that traditionally inhabited the land now known as Victoria Australia

Bunjil is depicted as a Wedge Tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey

A majestic bird in flight

The lookout Bunjil Lookout is shaped like an eagle its powerful bill in front and the huge wingspan behind

Many decades ago the air over the Barabool hills would be full of soaring wedge tailed eagles but after years of European settlement the great bird is listed ad threatened in Australia

I parked my Moto Guzzi in front of the look out

The emblem of Moto Guzzi is the eagle, a mythical eagle inspired possibly by the Golden Eagles that live in the mountains that surround Lake Como, the home of Moto Guzzi.

And looking at the two emblems together I could not help but think of how eagles have inspired us through the ages from the Dreamtime of the oldest culture on earth to the modern machine age

And despite this inspiration, this fascination the awe which these mighty birds install in us

We don’t treasure them, but have hunted eagles over centuries, destroyed their habitat and threatened the beautiful birds that are so inspirational.

The old gold mining town of Steiglitz is an interesting stop to look at an old settlement village

And in contrast to the indigenous names of Barabool and Morrabool the is the sister villages of Maude, Meredith and Elaine the run from south to north through the hills.

A stop in Geelong for a coffee and the view over the bay that was created in the dreamtime by Bunjil the Eagle.

On the Umbrial Pass in the Stelvio Region of the Italian Alps

There is a memorial to the to the Italian Aviators of WW1

And at the crown of the monument is the Golden Eagle in flight

Carlo Guzzi and his co-founders of Moto Guzzi were veterans of the Italian WW1 airforce.

And maybe that is their affinity with the eagle and how it found its way to being the emblem of the Moto Guzzi motorcycle.

Release from the Melbourne Covid-19 Lockdown and a loop around Victoria, Australia

Release from the Melbourne Covid-19 Lockdown and a loop around Victoria, Australia

After four long months and the defeat of the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Melbourne, restrictions were lifted and travel within rural parts of the state of Victoria is allowed.

Time to spread the wings

The route – an 1800km loop around the outskirts of Melbourne – A route I will dub the outer Melbourne Ring Road.

Victoria, is the smallest mainland state of Australia but with a diverse landscape some iconic riding roads, along the coast and over mountains.

This route took in aspects of them all

Starting with a trip in company past the Port Phillip Bay Heads (the Rip) an often treacherous piece of water but calm and benign this day.

Off the ferry it was a ride through the Mornington Peninsula to Cape Schank and its magnificent view over Bass Strait

There is a lovely ride from Cape Schank to the township of Flinders before heading up to the first set of mountain twisties around the base of Mount Baw Baw.

And through some magnificent old growth forest.

After a run on the back roads of Gippsland camp awaited at Bruthen and the start of the Great Alpine Road.

From Bruthen the Great Alpine Road runs up the Tambo River Valley

Up to the summit of Mount Hotham

The northern side of the mountain is the most steep and a bit of a testing ride at times and then just after it flattens out there is a turn off to Mount Beauty over the Towonga Gap Road; with its beautiful views over the Kiewa Valley and the Mount Beauty Township.

Storms were forecast and a caravan was found beside the Kiewa River

After the storm the next morning was cool and the clouds still hung in the Valley

The run was now west through the King Valley

One of Victoria’s famous food and wine regions

With beautiful country pubs

And views over the valley from the mountains that flank it

The final twist for the day was to head north over the Macedon Ranges to Mount Franklin

Where there is a camping area in the crater of this old volacano

And walks around the crater rim

Mount Franklin is near the historic gold mining town of Maldon. See previous post here

The route west was then onto Maryborough and its amazing Victorian Era Railway station built during the gold rush

Then Avoca in the central highlands and central to the Victorian Pyrenees wine region

To the Grampian Ranges and a ride through these amazing rocky outcrops.

By this time the weather had turned wet and cold and it was a dash south across the western district plains to a warm hotel in the green rolling hills of the Otway Ranges hinterland.

A gentle ride along the Great Ocean Road.

An old time favourite ride see previous posts here and here

The overall trip was just under 2000km

So different to being confined to a 5km radius

Yes it was time to spread the wings.

Next week the interstate borders open!!!!

A place that kept my spirit vibrant during the long Lockdown

A place that kept my spirit vibrant during the long Lockdown

At the end of my street is Newport Lakes

A 33 hectare urban forest created in the 1970’s from an old bluestone quarry

What a wonderful vision of the then Local Government Council to create this haven in what was then a very industrial suburb devoid of open space.

Only about 12 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne

The fate of the quarry was sealed when the digging hit an underground spring and the lake was formed.

Over the the four months of the Melbourne lockdown I have walked the trails of this urban forest.

Seen the changes as winter turned to spring and now as summer approaches.

The trees in blossom

The resident black swans with their cignets

The flock of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos that came for winter and went back bush in the Spring. Unlike us terrestrial animals free to fly to and fro as they please.

The bird life by the lake is vibrant wattle birds, butcher birds all too quick for amateur wildlife photographer like me

But this little blue wren wasn’t shy and struck the perfect pose.

The hard bluestone walls that surround the lake loom large and bare the cracks from the many explosions that were used to extract the bluestone.

Those cracks now form handholds for climbers to practice their skills.

And in the rock faces there is the subtle marks of human presence

Mosaics of the birds in the park

And as the days got longer and warmer and summer is only an month or so away

The Blue Tongue Lizards come out to bask in the sun.

Walking in Newport Lakes and cycling on the Williamstown bay trail (posts here, here and here.) have made me appreciate my local space very much. How lucky I am to have access to these elements of nature in a big city.

After for months of lockdown in the City of Melbourne the restrictions that have kept Melbournians separate from the rural areas of the State will be lifted in a few days.

The Mighty Breva will roam again across the local countryside, on the coastal roads and over the windy mountain passes.

But before I sign off my local explorations

A pelican in flight a couple of evenings back down at the Koroit Creek estuary.

Moonrise Sunset

Moonrise Sunset

There is a little place I go

A peaceful place that juts all so slightly, out into the bay

At the right time of the year

On the the night of a full moon

On a still cloudless night

When the water of the bay is smooth like the surface of a mirror

I can watch the moonrise

I can watch the sunset

Simultaneously

Look to the east and the moon makes its ascent

At first pale in the twilight

She creeps higher and higher slowly asserting her power over the night sky

Its her night

Once a month she fills the sky

As she rises its as if she is pushing the big red globe of the sun below the horizon

The sun as if in anger fills the sky with orange red

As if unwilling to leave the sky stage for the moons solo performance

Casting a pinkish reflected glow in the moons direction

But the suns end is inevitable

Soon the moon dominates the sky

less pale, more bright

casting her silver beam across the water.

The vapour pale of a jet

A rare sight in the Melbourne lockdown

Like a knife slash across the sunset sky.

Its a warm evening

Early spring

The first full moon of the spring equinox here in the southern hemisphere

I cycle around the peninsula

To catch the moon as she reaches her full glory

Spirit of Tasmania leaving port under a full moon

And there she is filling the sky with her soft silver light

Her glow sparkling on the water.

LOCKDOWN Melbourne, Australia -finding the place within.

LOCKDOWN Melbourne, Australia -finding the place within.

Jawbone marine reserve, Williamstown

In many ways a severe COVID-19 lockdown is about finding oneself

In ones own environ

Reconnecting and finding peace within

I grew up 5 or 6 km from where I live now

We were A Bunch of Ratbags

Back in the rough industrial suburb of Footscray 

And as a kid I ride my bicycle to the City of Williamstown

To look across at the City of Melbourne and dream.

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Walk along the old piers looking at the boats and dreaming of adventures in distant lands

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Now this area is my home and Im back from adventures in distant lands

And am again cycling by the waterside, sometimes dreaming and often appreciating the beauty of the place

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The mighty ships coming up the Yarra River to port the ever present reminder of modern industry

So different  to the time when the ball on the Time Ball Tower was raised and lowered so the waiting ships could set their chronometers.

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Riding along the trail over the weeks of the restrictions I see and experience the moods of the slowly changing hours, weeks and months

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Lost in the winter fogs

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Feeling stranded like the boat at low tide

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Rejoicing in the joy of a clear winters day the bear cloudless sky reflected in the still waters of the creek estuaries

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Clear but cold with the beach all but empty apart from some hardy souls walking on the sand or buying a hot coffee.

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Sometimes having to ride home hard in the cold chill of a waning day

The trail I ride is about 15km its like a meditation as my legs move to the rhythm of the trail.

The same trail but everyday different.

Lost in the place and its beauty.