After playing gentlemen and giving Susie (who used to own a Honda CB400) a quick ride, hopping from island to island, we headed into Bega, a town best known for producing so-so cheese, for brekky (or breakfast, as it is traditionally known). As we were preparing to skip town, a big gang of Harleys ridden by people of various states of obesity and decline crawled by – an old bloke walking down the street winked conspiratorially, then proceeded to spend at least five minutes slagging off Harley Davidsons and those who ride them, and finished with the line “Brando rode a Triumph in ‘The Wild One – end of story”. Today was going to be a big-ish day – we wanted to be down in Melbourne by nightfall. We continued down along the Princes Highway, which was lovely coming out of Bega – windy, curvy, hilly, all with a bucolic idyll as a backdrop. Before lunch, we cross over the border into Victoria – unfortunately, our progress was immediately slowed by Victorian drivers. At one point, I had to drop back into first and was travelling at 50 km/h on a highway. It was like some mass exodus from rural Victoria, led by a caravan owning Moses, beseeching the world “Let my people go slowly!” Very frustrating.
We had a late lunch, and trucked along. The road was interesting, and the caravan convoy had mercifully thinned. Towards the end of the day, the road got very boring, the weather turned up a few degrees, and we were just slugging it out. We ended up getting into Melbourne about eight, just enough time to catch up with my parents (who were coming back from test-driving a four-wheel drive) for a few drinks. We decided to make the most of our big day and take the next day a little easy, and so we went out with a few mates to some of the wankier establishments about town.
We woke up late, and continued our wanky Melbourne adventure by heading into a hidden restaurant (through an office building, down some stairs, through a black curtain, turn right, down some more stairs and hey presto!). Yaegs had a mate who very kindly offered us her pad halfway along the Great Ocean Road at Peterborough, and so we only had a few hundred k’s of riding today. The first hundred or so were getting out of Melbourne, and were just boring highway riding in a high wind.
We stopped off at Torquay for a sit down and to steel ourselves for the next bit. We’d both driven down the Great Ocean Road (GOR) before, though admittedly only a small section, and admittedly in a Toyota Prius (quelle horreur!). Now, on high-performance machines, we promised each other that we’d be very responsible, very safe, and not speed. Sadly, this resolution lasted about fourteen corners, where we both gave it some stick. Again, some overtaking was required, in situations that were sometimes a little hairy. More than once, we got close to using the “Ross Bowey Lane”, which is that little lane in between those two lines painted in the middle of the road, just wide enough for a back tyre.
The first section of the GOR was winding right along the cliff, and just spectacular. Sharp, hairpin bends, with a vertical rock wall on one side and the Southern ocean beating down on the other. There was roadwork in some places, due to the floods a few weeks previously, which gave Yaegs and myself a chance to regroup. I was very surprised to find a second, different section that followed the coastal part, which was ripping through the rainforest at a higher speed, with some terrific high-speed corners. This was easily the most entertaining and riveting riding I’d done – I was starting to feel more confident on my bike, which allowed to me take corners faster and lean in a bit more. The scenery was brilliant, and the rich, earthy smell of the rainforest was tempered by a fresh sea breeze. The late-afternoon light left dappled shadows across the road, and the entire world seemed to be tinged orange, making everything seem hyper-real. Just beautiful.
We were both sad to see Apollo Bay come, as it meant that the best parts of the road were over. We enjoyed yet another burger for dinner (some say that variety is the spice of life, but then there are also those that say that eternal beauty can be found by bathing in the blood of virgins, so there’s obviously a wide variety of opinion on the subject), which was very good for two riders with dangerously low cholesterol levels. After washing down a tasty burger with a delicious beverage, we made the last hundred k’s or so to Peterborough, where we came upon (ew!) the pad we’d be crashing in – seven bedrooms, two kitchens, and a view of the ocean. We walked up to the bottlo, bought some ales and an invalid stout, which we saw as just the thing to help revive our bodies and relax our minds, both of which had been drained (ew?) by the GOR.