Maryanne and Hank had very kindly offered to host lunch at their rural property south of Ballarat at the conclusion of the branch ride on Sunday, 27 August 2017.
The late Ron Blomley had offered to lead the ride and had actually done a 400 kilometre reconnaissance on Sunday 20 August in preparation. Unfortunately Ron passed away (at home) the very next day and this ride morphed into a tribute / farewell ride in Ron’s memory. Our branch president Greg Rees took over as ride leader.
The day dawned cold and damp with the odd hail squall to add to the challenge. A dozen people assembled at Ardeer for the ride despite this and several others chose the more sensible option of travel by car.
After much reminiscing (under the odd bit of blue sky) about Ron we had our briefing and hit the road in very blustery conditions and a rain shower which made road spray a real issue at freeway speeds.
We got off the Freeway at Greigs Road and made our way west through Eynesbury and eventually further south before a very brief planned rest stop by Stony Creek Reservoir. Temperatures fluctuated between 4 and 8 degrees, the wind continued to blow strongly, the road surface remained mainly wet and we copped intermittent light showers – perfect winter riding conditions – not! After the short rest break we continued down to Meredith and then northwest.
Much of this area was is not familiar to me and as we approached Scotsburn, I noticed a sign to Lal Lal Falls which I believe was one of the very earliest Melbourne Branch ride destinations back in 1984. Again this brought even more thoughts our branch “elder statesmen” to my mind. We continued on via places such as Mt Mercer where we saw the giant wind generators turning in the strong winds and other places unknown to me before arriving at our destination where we were greeted by Hank at the gate. He directed us to safe parking spots, handed out small plates of wood to prevent the bikes disappearing into the sodden ground and assured us it had not rained there all day! It turned out we must have brought the hail with us as Hank was later sheltering from it while trying to cook pizzas .
He then directed us to a giant pot of excellent and hot soup which helped us all thaw out a bit. He then returned to his outdoor pizza oven and attended to the snags which were to be our second course with a nice smoky flavour. Greeting were exchanged and I must make mention of “Dicko” from Ballarat branch who had arranged (via a family connection) for Ron’s sister, Ida
to attend and meet Ulysses members from Melbourne.
Without going into detail, greetings and reminiscences were exchanged along with the odd lie and exaggeration in the spirit we believed Ron would have enjoyed. Throughout all this Maryanne and Hank kept plying us with warm food including very tasty home made pizzas. I couldn’t help but notice that our secretary Suzanne Clarke was front and centre in the kitchen with Maryanne while Hank “slaved” at the oven.
Unfortunately time passed all too quickly, family commitments weighed and I had a three hour ride home to the opposite side of Melbourne so I and many others had to get going earlier than we would have liked. On rechecking the maps I now know that I managed to find the longest possible way to get to the Western Freeway through Ballarat and I even managed to find a hail squall just after I crossed the Westgate Bridge on my way home.
- I really wish to commend and thank Maryanne and Hank for their wonderful and practical hospitality plus the great fare they put on.
- Thanks also go to our president Greg Rees who took over as ride leader and to all the riders who took part despite the rather unpleasant weather conditions.
More photos available here: http://www.ulyssesmelb.com/content/scarsdale-ride-27-august-2017