Days 11, 12 and 13. Friday 14 Feb 2014 to Sunday 16 Feb 2014

The Adventure Travel Film Festival.

Not too many photos, as I was working most of the time as a volunteer. However do not think that it was not fun. Although you don't get to see all the films and presentations you get to meet far more people, especially the presenters when you volunteer and that is really worth the effort. I was able to do a fair bit of promotion and organising for Horizons Unlimited as well, recruting a number of speakers for our upcoming events in October this year.

There were films on bicycle riding through Europe and Africa, motorcycling from the South Africa through to Egypt, the history of the Kombi van, sailing around the world and many others. Presentations to match, including Jakob French's talk on walking around Australia in a stormtrooper outfit to raise money for the Starlight Foundation. Jakob is an amazing young man who has a heart for helping others and here he is below getting ready for a talk.

 Here is Alain and Rupert. Alain is a French-Canadian who shared the unit with myself and another Horizons Unlimited member, Jacqui. Both Alain and Jacqui are amazing people, who both help out whenever asked and have great organizational skills. Next to Alain is Rupert, the main organizer, the Big Cheez. This year Rupert had greater responsibility and control over the event than ever before and its smooth running is a great credit to him.

On Saturday night we had a get together with about 20 people from Horizons Unlimited. 

Day 10, Thursday 13 Feb 2014

Melbourne to Bright and the Adventure Travel Film Festival.

After an early morning farewell to Carol, it was off to Highgrove Firearms at Keilor. Its never easy saying goodbye to Carol as we went to school together in Year 1, way back in ... My family moved away and yet Carol ended up in my school in Year 12 and we have been firm friends ever since. However at best we get to see each other once a year and whilst Adam Brand once sang that good friends are worth more than money any day; Carol's friendship is priceless.

Off to Highgrove Firearms to meet Eric. What is the story there you may ask? Our youngest son, Daniel, was a bit of a handful in his teens but now works in the largest firearm dealership in Australia, Cleaver Firearms. There they do both retail and wholesale and Daniel has become quite well known amongst the retailers across Australia. Indeed, the family that owns Cleaver Firearms have welcomed Daniel into their business and their homes and it is quite a blessing to Karen and I to see how much Daniel has grown and changed since starting there. We are both sure that it is in part to growing up and hormones but also very much due to the efforts of Tony, Jo, Jade and Sam looking out for Daniel. Several years ago Tony gave me his word that he will look out for Daniel and time has shown that Tony is a man of integrity and honesty who keeps his word.

Daniel called me whilst I was in Cooma and asked me to drop in and check out Eric's store, Highgrove Firearms in Keilor, whilst I was in Melbourne and so I did on my way back to Bright for the film festival. Clearly a very neat, tidy and welcoming firearms store and Eric, the owner was thrilled to meet Daniel's dad. Daniel has clearly left a good impression on Eric as a friendly, helpful and most importantly, reliable person to deal with. Eric took a photo of me to send to Daniel and I grabbed a few of Eric and the store. When I went to purchase a duck call for Karen to use at school, Eric refused to let me pay, saying that no mother of Daniel's should have to pay for such a thing.

So a big thanks to the Cleavers and Eric. We have seen Daniel come alive through this environment and that is all a parent can ask for.

Day 9, Wednesday 12 Feb 2014


Today I spent the day with Carol. We spent the day driving down to Sorrento to the venue where he lovely daughter Sarah would like to get married in a few year. The venue is great and the view overlooking the beach is worth every cent. I can see that Carol will have a logistic challenge getting accomodation and access sorted but if anyone can do this, Carol can. A few years ago Carol got her bus licence so that she can drive a bus around with all her relative during he annual sojorn back home.

Sorry no photos.

The most surpising thing was yet to come. After tea I threw a TV series called "The Ride" into the DVD. Its a motorbike story about a group from the UK who travel from Anchorage, Alaska up to Prudhoe Bay and then back down all the way to Ushuia. The unusual aspect of the tour is that everyone in the group except the tour leaders, support van driver and cameraman are all novice motorcycle travellers. "Its not a holiday, its an adventure".

I thought that Carol would watch an episode or two and enjoy the laughs. She watched the whole ten episodes and announced that to travel like that on a bike would be great and would now consider getting her licence. Another convert!

Day 8, Tuesday 11 Feb 2014

Tourist Time!!

I dragged Carol around to the Victoria Markets and then Werribee Mansion. We had a great time and the markets have changed a bit since I was there last, some 20+ years ago. There are a few more eateries where you can sit and have good coffee and a little less hustle and bustle. Actually quite nice and I look forward to going back. It did, and still does as I type this, bring back pleasant memories from when Karen, Benjamin and I lived there.

Werribee Mansion is a great window into our colonial past and it is a location that stores memories of a great dynasty - the Chirnsides - and great tragedy. I see things a bit differently to when we lived in Melbourne as time, experience and study make me more sensitive to issues of social injustice, especially that of both class and race. Nonethless the vision of the Chirnsides was nothing short of spectacular and the work of the Victoria Parks staff is just fantastic.

For those among you who are fans of the television show "The Great Australian Bake-Off" you may recognise the grounds.

Day 7, Monday 10 Feb 2014

Cooma to Melbourne.

Another big day in the saddle. After the detour back to Cooma from Cann River, it was an early kick-off to Melbourne ... or so I had planned. The smoke and mist on the Snowy Mountains Highway was daunting and I waited to see how it would clear an set off once I thought visibility was safe.

The helmet camera video shows another story. Mum, once this is uploaded, don't watch.

For scary Helmet Camera Video click here.

The view from the Snowy Mountains Highway was spectacular and the detour, eight hours in the saddle, overnight stay in Cooma was all worth it.

I must say thought, that when the visibility dropped once again, I found myself behind a silver Mazda 3 that seemed to be driven by a local who knew what he or she was doing. The MP3 playing was playing "Carry You" by a Christian band called Paradox and it sure seemed like a gift from Heaven. So I ducked in behind this car all the way to Tumut. A godsend.

Now this is where I learnt another lesson: Photos for the web, for blogs, facebook etc of course only need to be low resolution. I have always known this but for some reason not really applied it to the camera in my Samsung phone. Of course with the lower resolution comes a lower file size and quicker upload. In this case the files dropped down from eight megabytes to around 256 kilobytes. Imagine how much faster the uploads become after that change. So from here on in I will use the phone camera for Internet pictures and my lovely Panasonic camera for pictures that I want to print out. Another lesson learnt, or perhaps better put as remembered, revised and re-applied.

I finally arrived safely at Carol's place in Melbourne and it sure was great to see her and catch up. Her partner John showed up a little later on his new bike - an newer, cleaner and basically better version on my V-Star. So we stood around and compared notes. John obviously knows how to piece together the right accessories and his bike looks brilliant and I am sure that with the aftermarket exhaust, hypercharger and re-jetted carburettors it will go quite hard. My V-Star look quite sad next to John's, but, well its mine and it goes just fine and as Shrek said to his little pal "That'll do donkey, that'll do".

Day 6, Sunday 9 Feb 2014

Sussex Inlet to Cann River and turned back to Cooma.

I spent Saturday in the company of some great people I have met through Horizons Unlimited, the organization I've been involved with for some time that promotes overland travel by bicycle, motorcycle, car, truck; whatever. Tony and Peter and their families invited me into their home and circle of friends and we had a great time. They gave me some great tips on the ride down to Melbourne and I headed off early. The trip was brilliant, I got to do some of the side tours Tony and Peter suggested and still made good time.  So I decided that I would try to reach Melbourne and suprise my friend Carol by arriving a day early.

Yeah right!

I was still in with a chance to make it as I reached Cann River. The skies were foreboding but never having really had anything to do with fires before I did not not really know what the colours in the sky all meant. The police at the roadstop at Cann River explained. This meant detouring back to Cooma via Bombala and then down the Snowy Mountain Highway and down to the Hume Highway. A small detour of about eight hours. My sore butt!

It actually was a pleasant experience. The area is known as a great motorcycle riding area and there is an annual motorcycle rally at Bombala that is known around the world. Perhaps one day I'll get to it.
I will load up some helmet camera footage once I have edited it well. That may take a while ... 

Day 5, Saturday 8 Feb 2014

NSW south coast from Helensburg to Sussex Inlet.

The photo was taken an uploaded on the day travelling, but the words are written in retrospect as I have found that using the Blogger app and Samsung Galaxy Note telephone and 3G to difficult. I have been travelling with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (with 8 inch screen) a lot more convenient than packing the laptop but finding decent Wireless  just a distraction. The biggest issue though has been working with the small inbuilt keyboard. So the next step is to purchase a small external keyboard and I will do that for the next trip, which will probably be East Timor in June. If that works, I'll mark it down as another travel lesson learnt. There are plans afoot for a few weekends away; one road and one off-road but I'll type those up upon return each time.

This is an ex-Navy helicopter, parked outside the information centre at Jervis Bay. A beautiful spot and very pleasant ride down from Mark and Melissa's at Helensburg.

Now if you are wondering if the ride down was great, well, judge for yourself. This is at Mount Pleasant and a picture says a thousand words.


Day 5, Saturday 8 Feb 2014

I'm sitting at MacDonalds at Bulli using the tablet. So this will be the first chance to put some words to the pictures as using the phone is still a challenge for me.

Last night I stayed at Mark and Melissa's house. Melissa is the oldest daughter of my cousin Peter and his wife Lyn. Their baby boy, Xander is one of only two young children I know who doesn't get scared thefirst time he sees me. The other is another of Peter and Lyn's grandchildren, Ella.  Melissa and Mark have a great house in a town just south of Royal National Park.

Today I am off to spend a few days at Sussex Inlet to catch up with Tony. Tony is another member of Horizons Unlimited; he attended his first meetingat Cavendish, Victoria in 2013 andhas put his hand up to organise a meeting in NSW and we plan to visit a few potential sites.

The sun is out and the bike is fuelled up. It should be a good ride but that doesn't stop me from thinking about the family back home and missing them all.

Day 4, 7 February 2014

You may be wondering why I haven't had too much to say. Still getting used  to using a blogger app on the phone. Anyhow, along the coast at The Royal National Park.

Additional stuff added on 8 Feb 2014:

This is the lookout a group of us led by my friend Dan, stopped at some years ago. One of the group, Jarrod, decided that he wanted a photo of his bike as close to the edge as possible and rode it straight through a gap in the armco and parked it very close to the edge. Very freaky. Royal National Park is lovely has lots of short walks through it.

Today is Friday, so it must be day 4.

On my way to Royal Nathional Park.

Some more day 3 images

Security was not happy!

Today I had the chance to grab an iconic photo of the bike in front ofthe Sydney Opera House. At the same time as a Chinese rider on his BMW GS and a busload of camera-happy Chinese tourists. I'm sure you can imagine the result! Ah well, my 7 minutes of fame.

Another Day 3 picture

Where every self respecting motorcyclist must visit

Day 3, Thursday 6 February 2014

Morning tea and a place to study for a while.

Day 2, Wednesday 5 Feb 2014

Wet, wet, wet. But unlike previous trips I was far better prepared. So this day was basically a highway push through the rain and got as far as Taree. When I booked into a motel there, I was wishing to be in the USA, where standards and prices are very different.

A new February, a new trip. Tuesday 4 Feb 2014

Today I headed of on what has become an annual pilgrimage to the Adventure Travel Film Festival. This is the third running of the festival and if I arrive safely, it will be my third time there. I'm not confident I will make it in 2015, we will have to see how my university studies go.
This year I am doing a few things different. No laptop; I'm using my Samsung android phone and tablet to update the blog and keep in touch. That will save three kilograms of weight off the bike. I've also replaced the bike's battery with a more power Lithium battery which makes it crank better and gives another three kilogram weight saving. The cooking gear has been left at home as there are plenty of places to buy healthy food at decent prices and the tyre changing gear has been left behind as well.
One my first day I stopped overnight at Haydn and Diane's, a couple of motorcycle world travellers extraordinairres and very inspiring.  They will be the official photographers for the next Horizons Unlimited meeting in Beaudesert, Queensland in October 2014.
Here is the view from their front balcony.