Sunday, September 6, 2009

“We’re going to Bonnie Doone!”

I began a ride on Saturday morning on the SR500, heading to Bendigo to visit my Mum. In the hills just north of Melbourne, at 100kph, the bike was bogging just like last week. I decided to do a plug chop – to kill the engine at that speed as the problem was occuring, then take a look at the spark plug. It was white! That means a lean fuel-air mixture or pre-ignition, either of which can damage the engine. So I turned around and rode back to Melbourne.

Sunday morning I set out again, on the GR650, this time heading east so as to make it to dinner that evening with the in-laws in Woori Yallock. I rode out with no plan, through Kangaroo Ground, Yarra Glen, the Black Spur, and north to Eildon. I decided to attempt a loop of Lake Eildon, beginning with the town of Eildon and heading anti-clockwise to Jamieson, Mansfield, Merton. An early lunch at midday in Eildon, and I set out.

The Eildon-Jamieson Rd is sealed most of the way. It is tight and twisty and enclosed by thick bush, with a lot of bark and environmental debris on the road. At one point I came across a quarry in which a minature lake of pure clear rainwater had appeared.

To my left was a heavy creek, which later turned into a heavy river at the base of an even deeper drop, seen through the trees (the camera did not capture it).

The bushland opened up into a forest with a clear floor. It reminded me of some very early descriptions of Australian bush – that it was like an English park.

Most of the way along this road and it turned to dirt. It was clay and exposed rock, deeply corrugated in sections such that it gave the bike a terrible pounding. I could see out of the forest into a view of the hills through which I was travelling.

I cruised along at about 40kph and the surface was easy-going. But then it became increasingly damp, and eventually I was riding on wet clay. I stopped here, seeing that it had become chopped up further along. In the knowledge that it was likely I would come off the bike if I attempted a sustained distance on such a surface, I decided to turn back, short of my destination. I will attempt this loop again when the road is dry.

So I rode back to Eildon and north into the National Park, seeking the road from Eildon to Bonnie Doone. The road climbed and climbed through bush and then across grasslands at the top of this part of the world.

I came to a roundabout with the option of left to Alexandra, right into the National Park and the lake, and forward to Bonnie Doone, and on I ventured. The road quickly turned to hard clay and I cruised along happily, but then it turned to thick stones, the size and shape of ball bearings. I perservered on this surface for a while, ignoring the twitchy moments as I floated and sometimes weaved across the surface, but I was not prepared to drop the bike and so I decided to turn back. At the roundabout I took the turn into the National Park and it was a fantastic road, at the bottom of which I exlpored the various camping sites on offer as well as the shore of the lake itself, which is a beautiful place!

I intend to camp here.

Returning to the roundabout I took the Alexandra option and made my way back to Woori Yallock, arriving as the night closed in. I will certainly return to this National Park and its roads, as well as exploring soon what lies past Bonnie Doone.

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