Monday, August 3, 2009

Somewhere near Murchison....

More meandering today! I had ride and visit my mother in the Mallee, but there looked to be heavy winds when I woke so I figured I would stick to the mountains. I wanted to do something different, but I am so in love with my little empire of empty land above Yea that I could not help but return. Exiting the city via the Eastern Freeway some time after 9am, on wet roads telling of earlier rain, the sun was shining - as it would do for most of the day. I headed north on the usual route through King Lake National Park to King Lake and King Lake West, and along that fabulous stretch of road to Yea. A Parma pie for lunch and I caught the tail of a Harley leaving town, and we both exited the highway and headed for Highlands, holding pace together for a short time. It is like that on a bike - you instinctively connect with other riders, even if you never see their face or hear their voice.  You play together for a while and then head your separate ways, often with a shared wave acknowledging what you have shared.

It was another crisp, beautiful winter's day of subtle water colours, green and blue, and I sung to it in my helmet in joy as I danced across the hills at speed. Somewhere beyond Caveat I stopped:

and again when I reached Ruffy, I took a dirt road which pointed to a Recreational Reserve. There was a tennis court carpeted with moss, there were buildings, and there was silence and the absence of others and their activities...

North of Ruffy I entered a region of baby mountains and twisting road, where I stopped for this waterfall.

Just south of Longwood, below the Hume Highway, I decided to look for old graves at the Longwood cemetery. I made some friends...

...and found graves as old as the 1860s...

From Longwood I continued heading north, figuring I would have a coffee in Murchison. However I kept giving over time to exploring side roads and tracks. The main roads were wonderful in themselves; long and straight and with - as everywhere else - almost no other traffic.

At one point I turned down a side road at the suggestion of a sign which said 'Old Historic School'. On this road I think I made a breakthrough in dirt riding on a road bike. It was sandy and I came to see clearly how going too slowly and carefully made the bike waddled around more on the loose surface, whereas if I powered through with speed the bike was much more stable, although I had to let it weave as the dirt would have it. Travelling along, three sheep ran out from the quater mile track in a state of fear, and ran along the road in front of me. They really are stupid, affection-worthy animals.  When three more joined them I expected Benny Hill music.  Finally I came to a cross-roads and no school... I turned back. At a hole in the fence I tried my hand at rounding up sheep on a motorcycle and they bolted for the hole, throwing themselves through it. Except for the last sheep, who threw himself at the fence, failed, and bounced back as though by a rubberband into a backwards summer-sault toward me! Stupid animals, sheep.

At a cross-roads somewhere I stopped to hear the silence. The only other traffic was a light plane high above. I didn't want to leave this place.

Looking at the map I see now that I managed to reach as far as only a few kilometers south of Murchsion, but I was unsure of where I was and decided it was getting time to head back. 

I took a turn-off which pointed to Euroa, day-dreaming about a book I want to write about motorcycling, a work of popular philosophy, but expressing my love for the country with which riding connects me.

From Euroa I went south via Strathbogie and to Merton. On the way I stopped again at that small damn

I arrived in Yea after dark, as per the photo, and rode down the Melba Highway, hugging the tail-light of a slower car like a night beacon, basking in his safety.  It can be quite difficult to ride twisty 100kph roads on a motorcycle at night when you have lots of bright oncoming headlights. I simply fixate on the red lights in front and follow their lead.  I arrived in Melbourne much later than I had intended, and very cold.

As usual, it was a wonderful, soul-refreshing day!

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