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Western Victoria Exploration December 2022

Submitted by John_Cook on Wed, 21/12/2022 - 5:55pm

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The Trip
For the start of summer, a group of us headed off to enjoy some riding before things got too busy.
Things often don’t go to plan and this trip certainly confirmed that while we had an eventful few days exploring some of Western Victoria. 
Twenty members associated with Melbourne Branch took part and several members from the Grampians Branch joined in on different days too.
Sixteen of us assembled at Kalkallo and we rode off shortly after 9.00AM on Monday 5 December.   One person was delayed due to a battery issue (hiccup no 1) on a recently serviced bike, but modern communications prevented that becoming a problem.   There were lots of hints of rain as we set off and appropriate riding gear was certainly discussed.  We got some showers, but I continued without resorting to wet weather pants as some had done.  It certainly was not warm!   Once past Hanging (Dripping?) Rock, the rain finally left us alone.
The next challenge then intervened by way of a flat tyre (new tyre too) and corner markers were spread out over many kilometres before I realised the problem.  We had a longer than planned wait in Castlemaine and got to see a steam train while waiting.

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Phone calls, messages and our corner marking system all worked, and no real issue occurred apart from a late arrival for our morning cuppa stop at Maldon, where we met John and Jim of the Grampians Branch plus Libby who had to leave her bike behind due to a recent foot injury.
We then rode on to Avoca for lunch where we had an odd experience with a local shop keeper who was affronted by motorbikes parked in the main street! 
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We then rode on via Moyston and Pomonal to Halls Gap where we checked into the caravan park and also met up with Holly, Bill, Brian and Jim. 
Once settled in, I did pop out on the bike again and checked out some scenery
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and walks
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before returning.  
Most of us then dined at a local restaurant within walking distance of our accommodation.
On Tuesday
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we were again joined by some Grampians Branch members
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(a stop for roadworks) 
and rode to Boroka Lookout where we enjoyed some views of the Grampians before riding on.
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No names will be mentioned, but it was a very eventful morning.  In the car park a bike overbalanced while stationary and the rider confirmed that his Helite vest (tethered to his bike) worked!  Then a member missed a bend, his bike ended up on a tow truck and of course no phone reception was available at the scene!  Then a member hit a Kangaroo and confirmed his crash bars worked well.  – All before the morning cuppa!   Once all that was resolved, we rode on and had a morning cuppa at Cavendish where we received very friendly and welcoming service,
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We then rode some delightful roads through lovely countryside to
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Coleraine and on to Casterton where we stopped for a brief rest.  The riding and scenery out there are not to be underestimated.  We then looped south to Merino and back up to Coleraine (more delightful sweeping roads) before stopping at Hamilton for lunch.  We were late of course after incidents of the morning and the recommended café was closing as we arrived.  We were given great service at an alternative café and enjoyed a chat and rest. 
We then rode east to Dunkeld which also provides a spectacular view of the Grampians and then back to Halls Gap via Victoria Valley.    
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(the fauna at the park was certainly not shy)  
Many tales and disgraceful lies were exchanged before dinner was had at a variety of venues. 
On Wednesday morning we rode off again at 9.00 AM and I also had a pillion passenger to take home.  I had a misunderstanding with John of the Grampians Branch, and we left about 2 minutes before the Grampians members arrived.  Oh Dear!  Fortunately, we only rode about 4 km before stopping to check out Lake Bellfield
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and John managed to contact Brian of our branch and they joined up.
We then road south to Dunkeld and lots of macropods were seen.  I braked heavily for one, saw another too late to brake and so on.  We all made it safely to Penshurst where I initially stopped at the wrong “Penshurst Store” and created confusion before finding the Penshurst Store Café/Bakery where we all enjoyed a great cuppa chat and service.  Several Grampians members then headed off in assorted directions, while some continued with us on the basically flat straight roads to Inverleigh, where we stopped for lunch and a final chat.  Many then rode home towards Melbourne while about half a dozen of us rode on to Queenscliff and caught the ferry across to Sorrento.
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I then dropped my temporary “pillion” off at home on the Peninsula and used the freeway and tollway to get home.  I don’t normally use toll roads, but I was impressed that I boarded the 3.00 PM ferry in Queenscliff (which left a little late) and I made it home to Montrose by 5.15 PM even after stopping at a member’s home.  I reckon that was a damn good run for a late afternoon on a weekday.

Planning and Organising
We kept it very simple and left it to individuals to arrange their own accommodation after nominating a central caravan park.  I shared a two room cabin with two others and none of us had to think about top bunks.  Most others did the same.  We dined at local cafés and restaurants and “pubs” with no fixed agenda.  My only hiccup was that a tavern in a nearby town I had hoped to visit wasn’t open on Monday or Tuesday nights but the benefits of travelling early in the week in early summer outweighed that minor hiccup.  I didn’t plan particularly hard on long riding days and that enabled us to cope with the issues that did arise without getting time stressed etc.  Often “less is more” I feel. 
  
Review
I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and time away.  Many thanks to all who came along and made it such and enjoyable ride.  I’d certainly be open to doing something similar again.
Cheers
John Cook    

More photos have been loaded here: https://ulyssesmelb.com/ride-album/western-exploration-december-2022    but that doesn't work on smart phones at the moment crying