Y2K Off Centre Run Part 6
Thursday 29th August. Glad I didn't put up the tent last night. It blew at gale force numbers and pissed down. I waited on a clear patch before heading off for the Pinnacles. There was a clearing but there was plenty of serious black stuff around too, and the wind was still howling. The $3 entry to the Pinnacles gets you into a bizarre moonscape right in the middle of the scrub. You can ride around the area on a marked track and you have the feeling you are on another planet.
(For those who remember Billy Connoly's Australian trip by trike, this is where he danced naked).
From here it's back to the Brand highway, through Cataby and Gin Gin then into the big smoke of Perth. I can't believe how easily I slipped back into the city traffic. Perth is an easy city to find your way around and was quite picturesque, but the big difference is that all the roadwork and building construction happens in a sandpit. I had arranged to stay with Chris Parker (Crispy to his friends, I had met him on the Off-Centre) and headed for Ballajura.
It was nice to finally chat to someone interested in adventure touring. Crispy's bike was a Suzuki GS750 with sidecar and it had handled the trip well, but was still as dirty as my beast. I ended up staying here for two nights, and on the Wednesday Crispy kindly took me for a tour of Perth. We went to Motts (Perth's BMW dealer) and I ordered a new rear tyre to be fitted tomorrow. I had done around 11,000kms by now, and given the gear I was carrying and the conditions endured, this wasn't bad. On the other hand, the sides if the tyre were like new, where the centre was like a shit carter's hat! A couple if relaxing days with good company and given the poor weather it was nice to be under a roof for a while.
Thursday 31st August. Off to Motts for my new tyre. Spent some time shopping in the 'burbs before winding up at Kenny Gawenda's place around 4pm. (Remember Kenny G from the Off-Centre?). Again I had arranged to stay for 2 nights, and on Friday we headed for Munich M/C to pick up some gear to do a little maintenance. Kenny was fitting new bearings to his R100GS/PD after the rally and I desperately needed to do an oil change.
After spending a good part of the day in the shed, Kenny told me he had organised a tour of the Matilda Bay brewery where he works. He had to drag me kicking and screaming but I enjoyed the trip. This is a boutique brewery but standard beers are also produced. The range includes Matilda Bay Premium, Dogbolter, Redback, Midstrength and even VB among many others. After the tour there was the obligatory tasting in the bar which was just terrible! Try dragging me out of there with some of the best beers in the country on tap! A nice way to finish off a day of maintenance.
Saturday 2nd September. After 4 nights staying with friends it was time to have some time on my own. Perth was really kicking as it was AFL grand final day and due to the time difference it was live in the pubs from midday (I had missed the ARL last week as I was on the road). Essendon thumped North Melbourne and as usual it was great to listen to Roy & HG's interpretation of the "stink". Booked in at the pirates backpackers in Essex street, Fremantle for 5 nights then walked the town. I've been told that this place was to be leveled of all its old buildings until Alan Bond and the America's Cup gig of the mid eighties, when there was fortunately a push to rejuvenate the place and keep the old traditions. Good decision, as now this is a really happening place with plenty of character and feeling. There is a plethora of pubs, cafes, restaurants and characters and is a great place to spend some time.
Over the next 4 days there were plenty of things to do. On Sunday I met up with the BMW club of West Australia for a breakfast run from the city to Mundijong. About 20 people arrived and again it was nice to talk bikes with the locals. After breakfast most were keen to go straight home, but I managed to get some of the keen ones to take me on a tour of the good roads. Gunner (From Motts) & Bea and a few others led me through Serpentine dam, Jarrahdale, Canning reservoir and Pickering Brook, circling the city and arriving back at Guildford. Later that night I sat up until 3am watching Garry McCoy win the Estoril GP, and Troy Bayliss lead both rounds of the Assen GP until crashing out in one and stopping with mechanical failure in the second. Great to catch up with a little racing.
On Monday I took a trip to Rottnest Island. For $38, an 33 knot vessel roared towards the island 18km away. I had picked a great day, warm and a nice breeze. Toured the island by bus (you could hire a push bike, but with a perfectly good mechanical device to get on, the choice was easy). Beautiful coastline and plenty of holiday accommodation which is allocated by ballot. Although the quokkas are nocturnes, I managed to find a few around garden lake. The inland lakes are extremely saline and water supply is a problem here. The quokkas come out in the late afternoon in search of fresh water, so for the best photos, take some water with you. Very relaxing spot and nice to be off the bike for a while.
Tuesday afternoon I went to the Fremantle prison, closed in 1992 after the 1988 riots where there were 5 officer hostages and the building set on fire. A deeply moving site from the original 7 by 4 foot cells to the solitary confinement slots and the chilling gallows where 42 ended their days. A sobering experience.
Wednesday saw me on the train to Perth city for a wander around the CBD, where you could walk every street in about an hour. Much smaller than Sydney, but a neat place all the same. Tonight I was going to see some live music, something I had really missed since leaving Sydney. Caught the bus out to East Victoria Park and headed for the Babylon Hotel. Tonight it was The Fauves and 78 SAAB and I was pleased to get my fill of loud!
Thursday 7th September. Before leaving Perth, I went back to Motts to return the speedo drive I had bought a few days before. My speedo had not worked since Sydney and I thought it was the speedo drive but it turned out to be the spigot drive on the front wheel which was not aligned properly. Unfortunately they said it was a special order part and I am now the proud owner of a spare speedo drive and something else to carry back to Sydney.
Leaving Perth on the southern freeway gives you a good idea of the landscape - this place is a huge sandpit, yet despite this the road conditions are excellent. I'm surprised how well the roads hold up with such a seemingly poor substrate. By comparison to the eastern states, the WA road conditions are just sensational. A hundred or so km's later you are in Mandurah, a pleasant seaside location. I was heading for Bunbury from here when the sky blackened again and the approaching front could be seen about a kilometre away. Enough time to stop, put on the wets and ride into it. One thing I can say for the rain here is that it can be seen approaching for some distance, it advances quickly and passes just as fast - the nature of strong on-shore winds.
About 15km short of Bunbury is Australind, where I called in on a couple whom I had met in Alice Springs. They had been travelling by 4WD and were quite surprised to see me arrive. We spent some time talking about our respective travels over a quiet beer. I was offered accommodation, but decided to move on to Bunbury where for $17.60 I stayed in the Wander Inn Backpackers. I had decided to stay here for two nights, and the next day spent some time touring the coastline and checking out the views from the observation tower. This tower was once the site for the lighthouse, which was subsequently moved about 200 metres closer to the coast and resembles a rocket ship, but I was at a loss as to why they had bothered moving it. A lazy afternoon catching up on music and postcards, the a few beers with the other travelers.
I met up with Colin & Debbie Gander from Warrington, England who were travelling around Australia. They had sold their Suzuki TL1000S and were yearning for a ride or at least a chat about things motorcycling. They were heading across to Phillip Island for the GP in October, and we had plenty to talk about. Nice to occasionally talk about my favourite subject. He talked me into going down to the local pub for a few of his favourite ales, Caffrey's which is a beautiful creamy dark ale.
Saturday 9th September. Left Bunbury about 11 am heading for Bridgetown. Nick & Stacy Aplin hail from here (I had met them on the Off-Centre rally, 2 up on a K100RS) and I tried unsuccessfully to contact them. The road to Bridgetown was great but nothing compared to the road to Nanup - finally some corners - I might actually wear my tyres evenly this time. From here through to Bussleton, where there were a large number of vintage and veteran bikes here from a Perth club.
Took the road from here to Dunsborough and Cape Naturaliste, a whale watching area but no sightings by me, probably due to the rough conditions. Then back to Yallingup and Prevelley Park where the Margaret river enters the Indian Ocean and the location of the Margaret River Masters surfing competition. Once again due to strong on-shore winds there was no real surf to speak of. This is a beautiful road through great forests and National Parks with many wineries and arty-farty shops everywhere, but a welcome relief from the straight boring stuff up north. You could easily think you were on the NSW south coast or Victoria.
From here down to Hamelin Bay which had a pretty but deserted camping area adjacent to the beach, due to the strong prevailing westerlies. I decided to move on to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin, found by Matthew Flinders and marks the meeting of the Indian and Southern oceans. From this point the difference was immense - the Indian Ocean was choppy and inhospitable, the Southern Ocean being calm and inviting. Augusta is a sleepy tourist/fishing village which provided great shelter from the westerlies. Although it had been an overcast day, it was quite warm and comfortable riding conditions. Although the camping area was more than half full, it turned out they were permanent on-site vans which were vacant - probably holiday accommodation, so the tranquility of the beautiful grassy spot by the river made it all the better.