To my surprise, I arose from my slumber to the sounds of sheep bleating and a heavy fog. As the sun rose it shone through the fog creating a scene as if from a dream.
The fog lifted with the sun and the location of our sheep was revealed. We had parked in the midst of a beautiful farm in the NSW high country.
The disappearing fog presented a beautiful clear, blue sky and even though we had to cover a lot of miles, we were excited with the prospect of hitting the island by late afternoon. To make matters even better, our ride south on the Monaro Highway to Cann River was an absolute blast. The road was high speed, the scenery brilliant, the bitumen high quality and there were enough corners to keep you entertained. Further to this the speed limits were set at realistic speeds allowing you to concentrate on riding and get stuck in without fear of losing your licence. We crossed the border into Victoria
and decided it would be a good time to stick to the speed limit. The rumours were that the Victorian Police didn’t take to kindly to speeding and no doubt there would be plenty about as we got closer to the Island. One thing worth mentioning was there were plenty of electronic signs for riders with warnings for upcoming corners and bad road surfaces. Good on the government for looking out for riers, you don’t see it enough.
We arrived at Cann River after about an hour of brilliant riding, fueled up and had a decent breakfast. It was at Cann River where we finally started to see a lot more bikes that were making the pilgrimage. And with the bikes my excitement grew! We left Cann River and frequently found ourselves riding with groups of bikes. And the closer we got to Phillip Island, the more bikes there were.
There’s something about riding in a group of motorbikes that is just…great. Passing cars as one, the sound, different bikes and gear, I love it! Maybe I should join a bike club. Or a gang. Maybe I’ll start a gang. Fuck it; I’m starting a motorcycle gang! Now to think of a name…
The road to Orbost was decent with a fair amount of turns and very few straights. However once passed Orbost, the road towards Lakes Entrance consisted of dull highway with some sweeping turns thrown in every now and again. Thankfully we were able to set a good pace (don’t you just love sitting behind bikes who set the pace and are willing to take the risk?) but were slowed down by frequent road works. Usually I hate road works, but after 3 days on the road it was great to stretch the legs and wrists while we were stopped. And since we were stretching regularly it allowed us to just keep moving and cover some serious ground.
We stopped at Lakes Entrance to get a cold drink and to stretch the legs. And bloody hell it was hot!
I thought it was supposed to get cooler the further you travel south! There are worse places to stop though. The town itself is right on the ocean and certainly easy on the eyes.
After trying not to nap in the shade (Gandalf had a good little powernap under a tree) we headed west to Sale. This was without doubt one of the most boring parts of the trip and was only made slightly exciting by massive wind gusts. The Princess highway from Bairnsdale to Sale is dead straight for km after km. The wind gusts also made riding extremely tiring. My ZX10R is reasonably streamlined (there were still some hairy moments) but Gimli’s ZX12R was acting like a sail (the irony), catching the wind gusts and threatening to throw him off the road! You have been warned!
We crawled in to Sale for some fuel and a counter meal. We were well and truly buggered after fighting the winds and the heat (it was about 35c that day). It was so good to sit down and have a nice meal in an air conditioned pub. The last 3 and a half days were starting to take their toll on me and I simply wasn’t used to riding such long distances. I certainly don’t think I’ll do the ride on the sports bike again. And we weren’t even half way!
From Sale, each town was filled with more and more bikes. A couple of towns even appeared to have organized rides to the Island and back. We turned off at Morwell onto the B460 to avoid the main highway. This was a pleasant ride with green, rolling hills. The bike numbers started to seriously swell and by the time we made our last stop at Leongatha there were bikes everywhere. Awesome. What was also great is the communities in this area seem to be very pro-bike. Several locals even went to the extent of warning us that there was a large police presence from here to the Island, especially at Wonthaggi. And they weren’t wrong. After seeing pretty well 3 police after the last 3 and a quarter days, there must have been 20 on the way to Wonthaggi. After hearing horror stories about how over the top police were at and near the event, we were never hassled (even got some waves from motorcycle police) and the only people we ever saw pulled over were cars!
Leaving Wonthaggi we turned off the B460 and onto the main road to Phillip Island. As I merged onto the B420, I came ahead of what had to be about 50 bikes. I felt like a bad ass, leading a procession of my fellow bikers to the track. Good times.
Arriving at the track, I was surprised at how large Phillip Island itself actually was. I was thinking it would be a tiny Island with a race track in the middle. Instead it was a solid 15-20 minute ride till we reached the circuit. And what a relief it was to get there. We had made it! But our adventure wasn’t over yet. We couldn’t bloody get in!
We followed the signs to the campsite to find out from security we needed to get a pass. Cool, where do we get the pass? They told us. Wrong place. We asked more security and it felt like I was talking Spanish. We went to another tent, wrong place. By this stage I was starting to get a bit annoyed. I asked another guard who told us it was too late (4.30pm!!!) and it was shut so we wouldn’t be able to camp for the night! I politely told him that this wasn’t an option and we would be camping. After some further investigating we found where to get our passes. It was open (albeit only a side door) and we got our passes with no fuss after some serious bum steers. Was this a sign of things to come?
We rode our bikes to the track side camping to find they weren’t lying, it was literally right next to the track. Hell-freaking-yes! Being the lads we are with our priorities right, we bought a carton of beer before setting up Gimlis fancy new tent and my new swag properly for the first time.
After a few beers and a long (and brilliant journey) I was absolutely knackered and looking forward to a good sleep in preparation for the next 3 days. And I wasn’t disappointed…
Here are some more pictures from the day