Friday, April 30, 2010

Preparing for Outback Australia riding

It was not uncommon to see cruiser with trailers here.

We left the Great Ocean Road via Geelong, near Melbourne. Hoping to see more, as we had expected more, as the advertising was so powerful about the Great Ocean Road, we were not impressed with it. Maybe we had seen better and none ‘advertising’ ones.


Getting out of Geelong was a headache as it was a big city. We never liked to visit cities like this. We spend a night in Ballarat campground. It was a tough day for us to escape the dark cloud from Geelong to Ballarat. When we reached Ballarat, we were eager to look for the information counter to get the price of the cheapest campground. The sign leads us to no where… to somewhere, perhaps to everywhere. The English that designed the town really needs to go for UFTDAC ‘User Friendly Town Design Architect Course’.

Bad night for us. Mosquitoes in the camp ground, rained while we cooked our dinner and we never get out of our tent after having our dinner in the tent. Zzzz…..

We had internet access. We checked at the weather forecast and it would be raining in south Victoria for the next 4 days. I was thinking if we should stay or not.

I decided to gamble: move on and see how it goes. Challenge the weather forecast.

Not far, we rode less than 300km to the next town but stopped at the cool place call Stawell, visited the gold mine for free and headed to Horsham, which was indeed another nice town to stay. The moment we had our tent set up it started to rain.

The gold mine in Stawell, Victoria.

On Anzac Day, flags were half raised.

There were lots of interesting site to visit like the wool factory and rock climbing sites but we were restricted for the 3 days due to the Anzac Day holiday and the bad weather condition. Sam took the chance to do some laundry while I do some research on shipping. Being bored at the campground, we decided to treat our tummy with….

Left Horsham on the 24th April 2010, headed toward Murray Bridge, get some info and hit towards Adelaide. We came across a town by the name of… can’t remember what… but it’s about 35km east of Adelaide. For those that have not gone to Germany, that town is worth a visit. Desperately, sun was setting and we followed the signboard to the nearest campground, which was a high class resort. I stopped at the reception, went in and query about prices for staying in tent. Wooo.. That guy wasn’t too welcoming and the price was a 10 star price. Telling my dignity against desperate, I chose to leave that 10 star campground, where ever we could sleep but not that unwelcoming place. In the end, before the sun sets, we had a very good place to stay for a night with nice host and friendly campers. My heart gave me a good decision that was Mount Barker which we stayed.

2010 April 26th morning, we woke up from the cold cold cold cold cold cold cold night. (We had sent all the winter gear back to Singapore with Adrian). Navigating the big city of Adelaide wasn’t easy, while cursing the English for the bad road and town design. When we reach Port Augusta, I found out that Hope Too’s rear tire was bald! Before we left Swan Hill, I had contacted a bike shop in Alice Springs to have the new tires ready for me. Looking at the current situation, from Port Augusta to Alice Springs would take us at least 1200km on the straight boring road, on the bald tire. There wouldn’t be any many towns in between this 1200km except for 4-5 gas stations. That’s the outback of Australia. Don’t expect much from here. If there would be free drinking water, please go on your knees immediately and thank what ever you believe in at that moment. Outback Australia, tough!

It was bloody Anzac Day Holiday and the bike shops were closed. I couldn’t have a good sleep that night. I do not want to have a tire with out rubber in no where.

2010 April 27th, we packed up and went to the bike shop. A pretty lady served me. Usually in such industry, how would a pretty lady would know what tire would i need and want to sell me a tire? She should work in a shoe shop.

Just in 10 minutes after she had a look at Hope Too, she got me a cheap, good, fitting Bridgestone Trailwing for Hope Too! Sorry, I shouldn’t under estimate her by the looks. Thumbs up. They charged me a$20 for the rear tire change… well, it was the first time that I paid for someone to change Hope Too’s tire.

Happy customer rode off Port Augusta into the outback of Australia. We had a new bad news, which was the shipping schedule from Darwin to Dili (East Timor) wasn’t as planned. It was much earlier. That means we would be home a little earlier and we had to skip many outback plans.

We reached the only gas station that provided bore water for shower only.

(Note: shut your mouth tightly while shower if you do not want to taste salt).

Site report:

Ground condition: soft red soil
Environmental condition: at least 20 flies would be sticking at ears, nose, eyes and mouth while there's sunlight.
Neighbours: Old retired couples in their caravan.

We still cook our rice and beans for dinner. We decided to go into the ‘pub’ and paid for the most expensive beer in our Australia trip and we would not want to have a 2nd glass, for it’s taste and price. Out of surprise, we met 4 Singaporeans in this place. They were doing some technical testing around this area.

After a few minutes of conversation, I found that they were hiding somethings about their stay here. I do not want to mention more about this in the blog as I knew what they were here for. Kind enough, Mr Quek (1 of the 4’s) came to us and said:

‘can I buy you a drink?’

Later, they gave us all their supplies of food as they were heading home the next day. I felt pleased, not because they gave us something but the …. ermm.. the touch of Singaporeans overseas. Thumbs up again!
I promised them not to post the pictures of them on the blog.

Cold cold night again, we left this gas station and headed north, towards the everyone was talking about town: Coober Pedy. When we met caravan travelers, they always said: you must go to Coober Pedy on the way up!

bikers take note: know who are you trying to overtake. These 'road trains' can tow up to 5 of the 20 feet trailer.

Known for it’s Opal mining and underground lodging, we went into the town. Guess what, we met Kathrine! remember when we were staying in Adrain’s house in Sydney some months ago, she was also staying there. I must say the world is really small.

Kathrine hired a 4x4 camper and travel the Great Ocean Road and to Ayers rock with his brother this time. I asked her about Great Ocean Road and she had the same feel as me. Hi-five!

The Highway was so intresting. the first hour of ride you will see this.. then after 2nd and 3rd hour of ride, you will see....

This! Isn't it the same? actually both are the same picture but i am just exaggerating about the highway.

While we were catching up, a French backpacker walked up, that was Alex. Kathrine and his brother just picked Alex as he was hitch hiking to the north. They put Alex to his destination, that was Cooper Pedy, and done for their job. Alex came up again to say hello and the 5 of us decided to go somewhere to have a small picnic.

While picnic at a remote building, the 5 of us were happily chatting, some aborigines came up to say hello while walking by. In my eyes, they seemed drunk at 2pm. Kathrine and his brother needed to rush for their journey and all of us waved goodbye after the ‘picnic’ in town.

Sam and I continued to roam about the town. We saw more aborigines sitting at the side of the road doing nothing. Later we went to a camp ground and set up our tent. While Sam had set up the tent, I walked out to replenish our kitchen supplies. After walking out of the supermarket, I saw Alex again. He had no plans ahead and it was too late for him to get some hitch hiking. I invited him to our camp ground and had a good chat with him.

we visited one of the underground art gallery. a white man selling the art work of the arborigines.

While walking back, we passed by a group of old aborigines hanging out and one of them saw me, knowing that I am a tourist. He stood up and caught my attention. Usually in such scenario, I would ignore him but it was my first approach with a Australia aborigine and I would want to see him ‘perform’.

I acted to be a tourist. He held my shoulder and put his left palm out, mumbered something like asking for money. then he was distracted by something behind me, a police vehicle. The police in the vehicle shouted at him at some weird languages like :OM BA LA BA KA LA BA MI BABA KA BA!!!!

I watch that guy (the aborigine) which was holding my shoulder, looked dissipointed and walked away.

Alex had a good chat with us. We cooked him instant noodles and some lamb. He was only 24 and now back packing around Australia. When he go back to france, he would start a new job, being a car and motorcycle instructor. His dream is to ride a bike to go around the world. We tried to motivate and answer all his queries during the short night we had. We really hope that he could have his dream come true.

a japanese rider who shipped his Hayabusa from Japan to Australia. I asked him why don't he fly from Japan to Australia and buy or rent a bike here, saving all the hassle of custom clearance and shipping fee.

He replied: riding his own Hayabusa is his passion.

490km took us 8 hours along the highway, we reached Erldunda, which was about 200km East of the famous Ayers Rock on 2010 April 29. Along this straight and boring route, we had many good moments to think about ourselves. The 4 Singaporeans we met, Kathrine and his brother, Steven from Germany, about Alex if he had any chance hitch hiking, about what we going to do when we get back to Singapore.

What would we see tomorrow about this big rock?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grampians National Parks and Great Ocean Road

west entrance.
Too tired to walk to another light house, again. Taking the picture from this position also looked all right.

A strange building along the highway. Reckon it's somebody's house.

East entrance.

Hope Too was barely coping with the great ocean road as the weight pulls down us when there is a slight slope and the curves were too tight for this buffolo. I had to use very low gear to drag this buffolo up the slope and push for the corners. Hope Too is still on holiday mode.

Strangely: when we were riding in New South Wales and Queensland, not much folks came to talk to us. Once we left Swan Hill to the south, everybody that passed us would say a few words of greeting and ask about our trip. Is it because people in the south are more friendly because of cool weather as compared to people living in the hot and humid areas?

Grampians National Parks: one of the very few only mountain in Victoria.

For the first half hour of riding, after resting for 3 months, we were met many hitchhikers along the road. When they saw Hope Too, they would just want to dash across the road without giving the 'thumbs direction', hoping to get a free ride from Lake Boga to Grampians National Park. Too many of them. Some hopped on without saying a word.
Some hitchhikers did not made it to their destination safely.

Tips for hitch hiking: find a good seat first.

Some of them got to their destination. These are the hitch hikers that found a good seat.
My boots was not spared.

I guess this guy must be dizzy after reaching his destination. He chose to be on the wheel.

They really stinks! It was our 'first day of ride' and Hope Too stinks like shit. the stain that they left on the radiator was heated. I smells like putting them on the oven. What to do? it's the locust breeding season in north Victoria.

They were the ones that made it to the park.

The view in Port Fairy.

Beautiful falls (autumn).

saying goodbye again

Doggie only have 1 friend, thats me. If you see her facebook, her only friend is me!

my best friend, Doggie and the pigs. i'm gonna miss doggie.

Ailoon cutting my hair... this hairstyle should last me till singapore.

The big family too...

The 'family'.

Diane, a taxi driver, drove us in the night, 25km in the dark back to our farm house. she is very brave. she just divorced with her husband that is staying with his girlfriend and right now, Diane had to feed her 4 children.

Ruru giving us a treat at a local hotel.

This lady is 71 years old and yet, she come out in the night and go around asking for donation in the town, for the salvation army.

anybody know what is this plant? it is illegal in singapore to grow this.

It was really hard to say good bye with the good friends we made and lived together for the past 3 months. we don't know if we will meet again. Like to thank Mickey Goh for the support in the work, like to thank Guido Caruso for giving us a chance and like to thank Yao, Tiff, Kang and RuRu for all the love, kindness and forgiveness in us.
we shall meet again!