Sunday, November 10, 2013

Time for tea

My good friend Damien and I went for a ride on Saturday.   It was raining and he wanted to retreat to the loungeroom but I would have none of it, and so we slipped and wound our way through the Dandenongs.  At Olinda we stopped for a roast lunch.  Following that Damien was not satiated, and so he ordered Devonshire tea.  We discussed our writing projects for a time (see here for mine, Damien's involve writing Apps, one of which is proving quite successful) before setting off again.   A silly and pleasant afternoon jaunt.   The pleasure was increased by the fact that Damien rides my old Yamaha SR500.   It was nice to have the SR and W650 together and to take turns riding each.

Damien just emailed me a photo from almost a decade ago of he and I out riding together when the SR was relatively new to me.  This was before he lost his license for 18 months and a week later crashed his Triumph Sprint (in the background).  The other bike, the Honda Hornet, belonged to my friend Adam, who is taking the photograph.  It is the one that I later purchased from him and rode for 18 months on this blog, while the SR sat with a stripped drive shaft.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Golden Flashes

Shining days.  Glorious.  Motor cycling through magic landscapes, explosions of light through the green. 


That was last Saturday.  Lunch on the lawn of the bush-church at Caveat.  Devoid of others, just the lowing cattle to keep me company.

Coming upon an old school-house and church. 


These places make me so happy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wimmera and Mallee 2013

Once again back into these sacred spaces, retracing the steps of a magic ride that I took four years ago this month.  Then the earth felt fresh, new, and so it did again this weekend past, over four days.  

Rising at dawn to a blue sky, and motoring along roads hedged by ochre, through pleasant currents of air, that was the path I found and retraced.  I might call it a promise: the original ride has taken on the value of legend within me, as something halcyon.  Some old men will sit in the over-crowded nursing home and remember copulation, but in the year 2063 as I sit, harassed by ridiculous functionalist neglect, I will remember the brilliant good earth north of Nhill.  Perhaps I will escape and return, to release my soul in that place.

Yes, the same route, to Ararat, then Halls Gap and those fantastic winding roads, then onto the canola-coloured plains, then from Horsham seeking out that road that cuts through the Little Desert National Park to Nhill.  I remember my bike running badly here last time, as it did for the whole trip - I could not go over 80kph.  I suffered anxiety as I headed into the desert and dusk on a faulty bike, but this time I suffered no such fears, and enjoyed the sense of confidence that I have developed over the years: a trust in myself, in chance or fortune (or rather a stoic forebearance of its fickleness), and in the kindness of most strangers.

Alone in the desert I sat and ate my evening meal.  Not a soul showed himself, no eye of the Other to reduce me to an object of their perception, and so the whole scene a play thing of my subjectivity, as well as something outside of me that inspired and drew me forth.  I loved the dying day and its beautiful colours.

This is true motorcycling.  A heart-warming desert, a brilliant world, a tent, and a plan to go wherever the road goes.

I spent the night in Nhill.

And then the next day, waking shivering at 5AM and waiting for the sun.  A big meaty breakfast at a service station, washed down with a deep mug of coffee, the smell of fresh petrol on my hands, morning sun warming my skin; and the roads north rising in my memory, in my anticipation, calling me forth.

The brilliant world!  Somehow out here it always feels like a beginning.  Like the turn of a new century, but an old one at the same time, as though it is 1913 and the world feels new and exciting, and I have my own motor to propel me forward.

Rainbow is covered in old murals, to complement the very old shops and the silent streets which yet feel occupied and loved.

I love the towns as much as the country.  A coffee and a feeling of people, a unique character that shifts with every dusty centre.

I visited Lake Albacutya again.  Still it is empty, so I suppose it is fed (or starved) by irrigation and they have not returned the water as they did in most other places after the drought.

The lake sits at the edge of Wyperfield National Park.  This park has always sat deep in my being like some profound unconscious, with a sense of the secret multitude of its life, the shifting currents of its sand, its waves of heat, an ocean that is spirit as much as trees, tracks and dirt.  I explored.

After Yapeet I entered the park to the camping grounds with the massive sand dunes and dry, green, hilly fields with their native pines, which had the feeling of a golfing range but which was wholly natural.

At the entrance I was greeted:

That was the second day.

On the third day I decided to explore some dirt roads between Nyah and Hatttah, and to sit in silence for a while at Hattah as I love the landscape there so much.  Last time I sat in this place a piano echoed in the old hall, playing an old-time song.  It sounds like I am making it up, but it is true.  And all the while the approaching, almost emotional storm sat high above on a sunlit day, with a sound like a massive didgeridoo that held all things in its being.

I love these roads:

At first the dirt was wonderful.

But then the sand became deeper and deeper, until my road bike felt exceedingly unstable at anything faster than walking pace.  It was a very hot day for this time of year.  I reassured myself that should I drop the bike and be unable to re-start it, I had water, and was only 15km walk back to the highway.  But when I stopped for a drink, parched as I was, I found I had left the water behind.

Never mind, I took it gently and eventually emerged from the sand on to clay roads and then to the highway, with the decision to ride tarred roads for the rest of the day, it being a very sandy region.

Outside of Nyah West I stopped again at that place that was the culmination, spiritually, of the original journey.  That place that is a physical unconsciousness brought to light, a placed drenched in a calm deep emotion just as it was drenched in a calm unrelenting sun.  The salt flats where time is absorbed into a centre, all the folds that take in each moment of a life that is otherwise obliterated by time, but which is somehow remembered by the land and held close.  A secret unknowable, and yet barely concealed.  A pattern for my experience of place everywhere else, and a teacher of my relationship with past, present, future and grief.

I took no photos on the final day although again I travelled many wonderful roads all the way back into Melbourne.  Motorcycling is the equivalent of a spiritual retreat.  A Nietzschean exertion of contact and physicality and silent contemplation.  A wonderful time was given to me by these places.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another day on the Hughes Creek Road

It was the first day of Spring and I spent it on a motorcycle on roads that were shy of humans but buzzing with insect life.  It was as though a sunny morning had broken after the violent storm.  The golden triangle, Hughes Creek road, sunshine glittering on the waterways, coffee at the Ruffy store in the middle of nowhere.  

I revved happily along these roads at 80kph (they are 100kph roads), just cruising through life for a day.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hughes Creek Road

It has been a while since I have blogged.  Sometimes I like my rides to go 'off-line', to record nothing of them so as to be more in the moment.  Of course recording them, as I have through these years, has mostly enhanced my presence in the moment.

Today I had such a wonderful revelation.  There is a road I have ridden partly, once on the GR650, and once on the Hornet.  I had never taken it its full length.  It is in my beloved "golden triangle", and is called Ponkeen Creek Road and then Hughes Creek Road.  What I have failed to experience and know all this time is that some of the most beautiful parts of the triangle have been hidden from me, waiting for that day in August when I would cruise confidently along the dirt on my W650.  What peace, and what beauty I found in this place.

There were small farms, estates, shacks, old school houses, all wrapped up in a sunny winter quietude.  I did not take many photographs - as usual I enjoyed the motion too much to stop - but these few capture something of the feel of the winding, hilly landscape and the way it invites you.

By nightfall I made it to Axedale. south of Bendigo, to meet another for dinner at a pub, and then home in the dark.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mount Donna Buang

Today Marlon and I went for a ride up Mount Donna Buang.

It was absolutely freezing.  I was sodden wet, all through my clothing.

At the summit we climbed the look out tower.

On top of the tower we were battered by waves of sleet.  Every bit of exposed flesh ached with the pain of the cold.

So we ran to a rotunda for shelter, and found free BBQs.  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

First ride of Winter

I am happy to say that I still find new roads in long-loved landscapes.

I am happy to say that I have found my true love from among the seasons, that riding in winter is like no other time.  As with any period of the year, time and space constantly shift with my speed, so that at one moment I look and the mist rests magically on top of hills, and the next it is hanging in the air about me.  But the truly magic thing is the sunlight, which sits in the air like another mist, a distinct element.  For while the summer glare digests everything, yet in winter you see the light hanging there, a discrete being with its own life.  On a motorcycle, with contemplative eyes, I enter into that life for a series of unexpected, passing moments.

A beloved tar and dirt track: Killingsworth Road....

Later I motored along something new: Whanregarwen Road.  This twisted, turned, rose, sank, flattened, and threw me up and out at Alexandra, where a friend waited.  And so I also spent time in friendship, before remounting and riding into the cold winter night.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


“I have stopped finding fault with creation and have learned to accept it. We have some power in us that knows its own ends. It is that which drives us on to what we must finally become… This is the true meaning of transformation. This is the real metamorphosis.” 
-David Malouf's Ovid

I rode to Hamilton yesterday to stay overnight with a friend, and returned to Melbourne today.  The weather was forecast to reach 11 degrees and then 13 degrees today, and I think that forecast was about right.  Drenching rains were also forecast and that came true.

I took scenic routes both there are back.  Yesterday I took back roads out from Melbourne and made through the Brisbane Ranges and Meredith.  I continued on such roads beyond Meredith.  The dense rain made it hard to see my surroundings (including the road ahead) but I found my way along slithers of tar and then dirt roads.  Now and then when the rain stopped I pulled over for a photo or to check my paper map.

I continued in this way until Skipton, stopping to look at interesting buildings as my whim dictated.

My friend expressed surprise at the fact that I went ahead and rode to him despite the weather.  But I quite enjoy winter riding.  Riding is in important part about losing oneself in the elements.  That means that in the heat I get hot, in the cold I get cold, and in the wet I get wet.  It's a matter of not fighting whatever happens, not finding fault with it, but giving oneself over to it as an inviting experience, as something with the potential to surprise, enliven and transform us.  And to focus on the shifts, the constant new details.  The most obvious example of this was the sudden transformations into sunlight, that lasting a moment or fifteen minutes, before the rain and clouds came again.

Today I left Hamilton at 10AM and headed north to Halls Gap, in more drenching rain, rain that was thick, cold and misty.

I took an arc northwards that returned me to Melbourne via Ararat, Avoca, Maryborough, and Bungaree.  It was a good ride.