Panigale Around Australia 2016: Day 2 – Gundagai to Apollo Bay via Melbourne

“Day 2: Live update – Odometer 45843km. Melbourne, stop trying to impress me with today’s perfect weather, beautiful souls and a vivid sunset scenery.”

The sleeping sun and pillow of clouds all combine to manifest a visual concoction to reignite the heart’s flame.

Woke up in the middle of nowhere on stone-cold asphalt at a parking lot, next to the Hume Highway. Game over. Essentially, I gave up my overnight run to Melbourne that would have enabled me to arrive in the city by 8am. With 3 hours of unscheduled sleep, I was already a few hours behind, and felt groggy as hell. It didn’t help that time was fast ticking by, realising that I lost an item of huge importance. Remember in my previous post that I never actually did a test run for the luggage rack? It seemed that I was already paying a price for it.

The bolt that screwed into the underside of the top luggage plate fell out. Without this bolt, the whole luggage rack was mounting solely on the points where the pillion passenger pegs belong. That was a very small centrally placed area for the luggage weight to be resting upon. A temporary wood piece was wedged underneath the luggage rack to stop the whole rack from bouncing around. A replacement 10mm bolt was needed as soon as possible, or else it was only a matter of time before something might just snap off from the immense stress of all those gear and canisters.

Striking a pose in front of Fraser Motorcycles in Melbourne.

By 12pm, I finally made it to Melbourne! Being 4 hours behind schedule, I had to cancel a few stops that I had planned for the day, which meant that I regrettably had to forgo the time spent in Melbourne. However, if it’s any consolation, I had a decent time in the city trying to stuff myself with some of the best burgers this time last year.

First stop was the Ducati hub of this city, Fraser Motorcycles on Elizabeth Street, to catch up with Stacey, a bubbly and very accommodating salesperson. My chain was literally being held up by the exhaust by this time, and it was in absolutely horrendous condition, with tight spots in many places. We determined that my chain needed a replacement urgently and, all thanks to her, I was on my way to another mechanic late in the afternoon on a Saturday.

An hour of riding down south took me to Mornington Ducati, on the outskirts of the Melbourne metropolitan area. The place had an incredible collection of bikes, including a pair of Ducati Desmosedici RR and the current champion of outright factory-standard grunt, the Kawasaki H2R. Whilst waiting for my drive chain to be replaced, I went on a sneaky joyride on the Ducati Scrambler Icon to make use of stagnant time.

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I made it all the way down to the Mornington, a place that I had not visited before, so it was time to explore and indulge on what I love doing the most: composing a set of scenic shots that best represents moto-spontaneity.

I’ve ridden the Ducati Scrambler countless times on the learner-legal 500cc “62” trim, but never its bigger brother that was released the year prior to the smaller-engined model. The Scrambler Icon is the base model of the full-powered 803cc range, but main differences between them are mostly cosmetic.

I’m not totally won over the whole modern scrambler concept, with all its hipster marketing and branded merchandise but, on the other hand, the riding experience speaks for itself. It’s definitely not a dirt bike, nor will it outrun a sport bike, but it’s a brilliant compromise between the two. It’s a bike that you can genuinely commute in comfort, take on gravel roads with ease, chuck around urban corners with aplomb, and have full confidence that its power will be more than enough for highway overtaking manoeuvres between road trip destinations. The Scrambler is all about simple and easy fun, and appreciation of the outdoors. In fact, it sounds very much like the type of bike that I should be riding.

Compared to the LAMS model, the 803cc packs a huge punch. Plenty of torque on tap, but still very tractable. It actually felt like it performed better for urban situations; where the LAMS model seemingly exhibits a lag in throttle response (presumably tweaked in this manner to suit new riders), the full-powered Scrambler has a bitey willingness as well as the ability to modulate the applied throttle according to road conditions. Despite its relatively sensible image, this is a wheelie machine in disguise.

Mornington Foreshore Reserve.

An hour of riding was done on the Scrambler, and has given me a new-found love of bikes of this type. If I indeed had spare money to burn, I wouldn’t mind one of these Scramber Icon bikes. Unfortunately, we live in a world where dreams are called back into reality, and the concept of opportunity cost determines the validity of one’s decision-making process.

I rode back to the workshop with the Scrambler, and returned to a Panigale that’s complete with a brand new chain! The first image above to the left was taken in my Uluru trip last year, when the chain became so loose that it was dragging itself along the left exhaust pipe! I tend to spread out my servicing on long road trips so that I can get the opportunity to visit different workshops and meet other people on the way. In hindsight, I should have replaced the chain this time before I left Sydney but I thought that I would have had just a bit of life left to make it to Adelaide. I was wrong.

Many thanks to Mornington Ducati for being so helpful on a late Saturday afternoon, when the workshop is usually closed. Labour charged at half price on a weekend was also very much appreciated. If you have the time to visit, they are always very happy to help! (Within reasonable business hours, of course 🙂 )

One last look at the Mornington coastline.

Last look at the coast before heading to the Great Ocean Road. Feeling very mortal, I stumbled towards the bike like a zombie that had not slept at all, but I had to move on towards the west of the city. Eyelids twitching, arse painfully tense, and a back that needed a thorough massage. The mind is strong, but the flesh is weak. Will I actually make it to Perth, when I already feel this terrible?

Sunset at Frankston.

Despite my physical shortcomings, nature is seemingly always there to impress me. It’s as though she knows when the heart is forlorn and a word of encouragement is needed. Peeking across the horizon is an astounding combination of brilliant hues in the sky. The sleeping sun and pillow of clouds all combine to manifest a visual concoction to reignite the heart’s flame. Sunsets are beautiful and mesmerising. A meditative state of mind is brought forth from such a view. Once again, my path is realigned, and my will to live through this wearisome day is rejuvenated.

Observance of nature: setting aside time to appreciate the natural environment is one thing that we tend to overlook in our daily lives, as we wither away at our jobs and within our lives in general. We try to maintain our focus on ‘things that matter’ on a day to day basis, such as our social lives, finances, academia, career, accumulation of possessions and just keeping up with the Jonses. All that, however, is a lost cause when the true reality of our lives is taken for granted and forgotten. We become blase at the notion of economic, political and social stability in Australia, especially those of the Y-generation and younger, whose lives have never experienced dire chaos of pandemic proportions. Peace is to be cherished when it is present. Nature and peace are a beautiful thing that goes hand in hand. An appreciation of nature brings peace; peace is synonymous of the serenity of nature. They can bring out the positivity in our lives. Life is simple for the better and more beautiful when we realise that the things that we thought were huge priorities are what actually suppresses our humanly selves.

Great Ocean Road at night, near Apollo Bay.

What ever happened between the Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road is a question that remains partially unanswered. I assume that I was running on a supreme level of autopilot, because I don’t fully remember the ride but still made it to the destination, alive and well. Thank goodness for photography, or else I wouldn’t have remembered that I had ended up sleeping at the hostel in Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road. Time for the sleep of a lifetime, for now at least… 🙂


Basic Statistics for the day:

  • Route: Gundagai, Melbourne CBD, Mornington, Apollo Bay
  • Total distance: 968km (not including distance covered on the Ducati Scrambler)
  • Range of temperature: 8°C to 15°C

Expenses for the day as below:

Day 2 - Expenses image.jpg

General map route:

Day 2 - Map - Gundagai to Apollo Bay.jpg

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