Throughout my whole riding life, I’ve had some great opportunities to ride with a variety of other riders. Most prominently, my exposure to some significant social riding groups in Sydney allowed me to explore the joy and passion that others similarly cherish in their lives. You can travel 50 kilometres on a stretch of road alongside another rider that you do not personally know, and end up treating each other like brothers and sisters by the time you reach your final destination. Riding in smaller groups with friends have also allowed me to share my riding experiences with them, and further our friendships. It’s amazing what a motorcycle can achieve. It’s not just a machine that you ride, and surely cannot only just be considered as a hobby in which you simply allow to meander within a non-significant area in your life. It becomes a lifestyle, where it evolves into something as natural as heading to your local cafe for the morning ritual, or heading to the gym as part of your daily routine. It becomes part of your blood.
In contrast to riding with others, motorcycling has also allowed me to explore the unequivocal joy of travelling alone. Whether you are in a car or on a motorcycle, an introvert or extrovert, and where you believe you stand in your current stage in life, there is a definitive catalyst that becomes formative in being by yourself to experience different things in life. Ultimately, only you can change yourself, and no-one else can do the dirty work of personal development for you. Similarly, only you can secure your own happiness in your life.
For this very reason, I have become a believer in being a lone wolf on the road. Just because you are alone does not mean that you are lonely. In fact, it really means that I can explore different roads on my own accord, and this is an essential element when placing time to allow for documenting and photographically capturing my riding experiences. This means also that I am able to control the pace of the journey; I do not need to worry about anybody other than myself. As I am by myself, it allows for me to experience everything from my point of view, my very own perspective, without anyone else influencing my thoughts and responses to certain events that I encounter.
If you do not favour the idea of travelling alone, I must point out that it’s actually easier to be able to meet new and different people as you travel, and this is another aspect that I really enjoy in many of my lone trips on the bike. An individual person who is open to a conversation in a bar is far more inviting to other people than a group of friends within their own social enclave.
To this day, I still hesitate when having to make up my mind when invited by friends and peers to a multi-day group trip. Riding with others has its perks and I still do so when I can, but the satisfaction in completing a journey alone is something that really gets my endorphins running, and encourage everyone to take their own big trip out there and alone. You will enjoy it. Mark my words: You won’t regret it.
Day 12 – Adelaide to Warrnambool
Ambient Temperature: 3°C to 15°C
I make my way out of the Adelaide CBD and towards the hills of the outer city area, where clouds of fog were becoming increasingly dense, to the point where it was basically like it was raining. My whole gear was getting drenched, and my wet weather gear had to be used.
My phone, again, was playing up, so its GPS map was almost of no assistance to me. As I’ve figured later, it would point north when it would actually be east. Or west. Sometimes, it would not indicate anything consistently even though I would stand still to allow for it to gain composure, but to no avail. I resorted to using just the map to navigate my way out of unknown territory. Eventually, I reached a recognisable town called Stirling, which helped lead me back to the South Eastern Highway. By this time, I had already spent 2 hours and a tank of fuel, riding without a proper sense of direction, and I was quite disappointed. In my phone. And myself. I should have planned my route more carefully.
I must highlight, on the other hand, that the Adelaide Hills area is a fantastic place for motorcycling. Many good twisties are to be carved up, and there’s not really too much traffic to stop you reaching the usual 80kmh speed limit around the hilly bends. Even with the moist and foggy conditions, on a weekday, there were quite a few motorcyclists doing their thing around the region. I’d imagine summer in Adelaide to be pretty good for riding, and it’s highly recommended that you visit this location for a day trip and enjoy the greenery, even if you are just driving.
I reach the Murray Bridge area within the next hour, and stopped over for a much needed lunch break. Nothing much to see out here, the only prominent item of interest being the bridge crossings over the Murray River. I’d imagine the area to hold water-based activities during the summer, due to the large river.
I resume going towards Meningie, and reach Coorong National Park where I rip up the many kilometres of gravel roads, a well suited venue for the Pirelli tyres. What I need to note is that the whole SA coastline, going down to Kingston, was incredibly isolated. Not too many souls around, and a fuel stop that I had intended to make was unsuccessful, because it was either abandoned or closed. At 3pm. Luckily, the fuel canister came in handy once again for me to make it out.
Arriving in Kingston at 5pm, I was definitely falling massively behind my schedule. 6pm at Robe. 8pm at Mount Gambier. At this point, I really wanted to make a call to the place hosting my accommodation but, yet again, my phone decides to not boot up at all. I was getting fatigued, and just needed a place of refuge. Oddly enough, at the time, I thought that I could still make it on time despite the sheer distance remaining for the night. And then I resume. 10pm arrival at Port Fairy. My accommodation arrival cut off was at 8pm, and I arrive at the place at 10pm. I lost the battle for today.
Wondering what to do about the situation, I knocked, and knocked even more at the door of the hostel. No response at all. Hoping that there would be at least anyone inside the building, I persisted for over 5 minutes of knocking. With a bitter heart, I leave the place and my survival mode was switched on. I try to visit every motel in town in desperation, but every motel approached had an office closing time of 8pm. Time to just give up.
I set out to a park a few minutes ride out from the town centre of Port Fairy, and attempt to make myself a makeshift campsite, using my existing motorcycle gear as my sleeping bag for the night, my motorcycle as a wall between it and the wall of a BBQ park cooker, and a towel to place over myself. I turned on the BBQ cooker to allow for some (or any) heat to be emitted, but it was of no help at all against the falling temperatures, as the mercury indicated 3 degrees. Persisting for another two hours out in freezing temperatures, I decided that I will not be able to make it over the night like this without getting very ill.
I made my way towards Warrnambool, where the riding temperature was freezing, but still miles ahead of what I had to endure at the park. My main aim was to find any servo that was open at all, as all the others in the smaller towns were closed. Eventually, I reach the BP station at Warrnambool, where a kind middle-aged lady was working the overnight shift and was happily accommodating to me. Over the night, she served me hot food and drinks, and there was even a bench and stool which came into good use. Using them as my sleeping arrangement, I call it a night inside the warmth and protection of a petrol station.
Day 13 – Warrnambool to Apollo Bay
Ambient Temperature: 4°C to 20°C
I set off early out from Warrnambool, as I figured that if I was going to screw up my travel schedule and affect my sleeping pattern, I may as well do it very well. I intended to leave so that I can arrive at the Twelve Apostles site when the sun rises, which is when I thought that there would be minimal tourists in the way.
On the way, in the dark of the night, I approached many wild animals on the road. This was a very risky predicament for me to undergo. Before this whole trip, I’ve always insisted that I never undertake any night rides across non-urban areas due to the very high chance of causing (or being) a roadkill. Two particularly very close calls was a cat that decided to run a metre into my path, and a drop bear that was sitting still, directly in my path with a glaring menace in its eyes.
I make it to Port Campbell on time for the sunrise at 7am and, as expected, there were only a small number of other tourists. One oversight that I had made was that I did not realise the sun would rise from behind the hills over from the cliffs, which meant that it would only cast a shadow over the iconic lime stacks.
I met up with a couple, Lydia and Paul, who were coincidently at the same hostel that I was supposed to be staying at Port Fairy. Bah..!
Day 14 – Apollo Bay-Lorne area
Ambient Temperature: 9°C to 17°C
The sole intention on this day was to become completely accustomed to the Panigale. The roads were still wet, but the weather forecast looked promising, at least until the evening where another wave of torrential conditions would emerge, as I would later find out.
By the end of my whole run for the day, I felt so glad that I had done all those laps up and down on the Great Ocean Road, carving as many curves, corners, apexes, bends, whatever you would also call them, as I desired. I had gained the full feel and confidence to chuck the Panigale around with august willingness. I no longer craved for the Multistrada any more. The Panigale was now all mine.
Day 15 – The Grampians, and back to Apollo Bay
Ambient Temperature: 7°C to 12°C
Not much to say about this day. Visited the Grampians. Very windy. Difficult ride back to hostel, due to the weather, and also the immense weight of my backpack, thanks to the grocery items purchased at Warrnambool. Huge oversight. It wasn’t really an enjoyable day, and it was possibly because of the effects of fatigue getting in the way of a good day.
I ended the way very well, though, hanging around with the hostel buddies and watched an interesting movie called “Wild Tales”, an Argentine-Spanish black comedy film with an over-95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes review site. Highly recommended!
Day 16 – Apollo Bay to Port Melbourne
Ambient Temperature: 8°C to 20°C
Further wild weather betrayed the joy of the day of when I had to leave to board the ferry across the Bass Strait to Tasmaina. Constantly having an eye out to the weather conditions, it would deceive me by presenting the most perfect of sunny conditions, only to be decimated by rain, hail and wind. This would occur repeatedly and in frequent 30 minute intervals throughout the whole day until midday.
Eventually, I got myself out of Apollo Bay by 4pm and rode my way towards Melbourne via Torquay and arrived at Port Melbourne by 7pm. Due to wild conditions out at sea, there was a signficant delay with the ferry schedule and ended up getting into the ship with the bike at around 10:30pm, and sitting down by 11:00pm.
At this point of the trip, I still could not believe that I was heading to Tasmania, as it was initially a pipe dream for me to have it included in this whole Panigale adventure trip. On the other hand, my heart urged the brain to submit to the idea of this addition. Would another week of road tripping be that much of a burden?..
To be continued…