After a busy weekend, a small group of us who had been volunteering at the Ironman Event in Melbourne, headed out from Lilydale on Monday morning in great riding weather.
We headed straight out the Maroondah Highway past the vineyards and had one of those motorcycling miracles. We rode the entire Black Spur from Healesville to Narbethong without encountering one vehicle heading in the same direction so we really got to practice some smooth cornering lines. It was simply beautiful!
We stopped at Yarck for morning tea
where John T joined us briefly
before continuing by a more direct route. We also chatted to a couple of South Gippsland members towing trailers. Then it was through Mansfield via Tolmie with some damp patches of road and on to Whitfield
where we were made welcome by swarms of European wasps! Fortunately they performed cannibalism on the deceased insects stuck to the front of cars and bikes and generally left us alone, but dining outside was an anxious affair. We did get to talk to some other members who were also en route to the AGM event and these types of chance meetings really do enhance the whole experience. We then rode north up the King Valley to Oxley and made our way via Everton to Beechworth, where most refuelled.
The signs, as we entered Wodonga, made it simple to locate the registration point where I was greeted by former Treasurer Leo doing volunteer duties. All went smoothly and, once “banded”, I bid farewell to my travelling companions and went on to my accommodation with friends just near the venue. I walked to the adjacent shopping centre had me busy greeting fellow members (both known and unknown). A later walk through the camp sites took an eternity (busy exchanging greetings) before I finally located the entertainment areas.
On Tuesday, Kris and I spent the day with our hosts and visited Myrtleford and a lovely vineyard
but I was a bit chagrined to find a local café in town serving local wine with a meal at a price considerably cheaper than the local cellar door! At times some tourism operators do themselves a disservice.
On Wednesday a group of members, who had met via the website forum, plus a couple simply invited while walking around the venue, met and went for a ride. We headed out past Tallangatta, over the Granya Gap and followed the Murray River Road (all a delightful bit of road in my opinion which would warrant many stops for photos) to Jingellic where we took a break at the beautifully situated pub.
We then continued on via Walwa (fuel for a certain Harley with a very small tank) to Corryong for a relaxed lunch – some adjourned to the pub and others to a local café.
The return trip along the Murray Valley Highway was done more casually.
Many thanks to Patrick D for doing Tail End Charlie duties on the outward run and to all who participated. Kris and I attended the entertainment area that evening, joined with a group of people to form a “team” and participated in the trivia night. It was a great day and night of camaraderie and fun.
On Thursday, I meandered around the venue, chatted at camp sites, looked at the bike displays where I ran into Sam Bateman who was busy taking all sorts of test rides including a scooter!
The day just disappeared having fun and talking to people. That evening we attended the “Forum Group Dinner” organised by Peter M and got to meet more of the people I have been crossing swords with on the forum. Another great night’s camaraderie.
On Friday, Kris and I called in on a friend and also visited the Corowa Whisky and Chocolate Factory where we had a very pleasant side visit and lunch.
That evening we attended the “Friday Night Dinner” and again enjoyed a great night’s camaraderie mixing with people from the Central Coast, the north coast of NSW and some Mexicans.
Saturday involved taking some photos of the Grand Parade (until the camera battery died!)
attending the civic reception in the centre of Wodonga, more greetings and then attending the actual Annual General Meeting where I received a very unexpected and pleasant surprise
That evening I spent with my hosts, who are former members and riders. Essentially the week was over before it seemed to have started. As an observation, I will say that staying off site with friends had some great advantages but in some ways insulated us from some of the atmosphere. On Sunday, it was back on the bike and back to Melbourne via Beechworth, Oxley (morning tea), Tatong, Swanpool and Yea and home in time to have grandchildren delivered for those other duties as school holidays had commenced.
Kris and I had a great time catching up with old friends and making new friends. The event was well organised, the volunteers did a great job and the local community made us feel very welcome wherever we went. The venue was simply fantastic. The weather was good (despite some cold nights) and the surrounding area has some of the best riding roads in Australia. There were also lots of other interesting things to see or visit. I didn’t even get time to visit Bonegilla (which I stayed in briefly when I migrated to Australia in 1954) so I have to go back and it will be more than once.
Thank you to all who organised the event, those who volunteered and those who participated. You all made it a Great Event.