Tag Archives: Mornington Peninsula

Solo But Never Alone

More fuel? Yes, please!

It’s been a little while since my last post – sorry, guys! After getting my new wheels at the beginning of August, I’ve been out riding every spare moment and revelling in my re-discovered freedom. Volty and I have clocked up over 1,000kms this past month, exploring coastal Victoria from the gorgeous wine valleys and beachside villages of the Mornington Peninsula to my favourite local ride, the scenic and wonderfully twisty Great Ocean Road.

The novelty of owning a brand new bike really hasn’t worn off. I know it sounds silly, but my Suzuki TU250X is the first thing I’ve owned since my beloved 1973 VW Beetle (back in London over 10 years ago!) that I’m really rather proud of. And just as happened when I owned the Vee-Dub, everywhere I go on Volty I seem to make friends.

Neighbours who previously never acknowledged me now give me a friendly nod or wave when they see me donning my helmet and gloves as Volty’s engine warms up in the communal garage. At roadside cafés or petrol stations, total strangers come over to chat, admiring the Suzuki’s classic retro-style look or telling me they wish they were on two wheels on “a lovely day like this”. At traffic lights, car drivers wind down their windows to chat to me as we wait for green – and yes, it turns out there are some bike-friendly motorists! (probably closet motorcycle riders…)

“Arty” shot of Volty’s front wheel in the sunshine

On the road, the “biker’s nod” from other motorcyclists still gives me a little boost every time it happens. By getting back on a motorbike, I’ve re-gained my automatic membership to a very special secret society: It doesn’t matter what you ride, it just matters that you ride. I like that. Today, about 20 balaclava-ed Harley riders on bikes five times the size of mine nodded and tooted and thumbs-upped to me, one after the other – quite a sight, I can tell you! As they roared off down the coast in the opposite direction, I gave Volty a quick burst on the throttle for good measure, buoyed up all over again.

By its very nature, motorcycling is a solitary activity – but it’s just about the most sociable thing I’ve ever done in my life.

This sunny Sunday morning, I stopped off at the Sandown Racecourse to say hi to my old Ridetek riding instructors, Mel and Al. Two years ago, they saw me through my heady days as a wobbly scooter rider right through to passing my test on a 250cc motorbike. As we stood talking in the warm sunshine, admiring Volty’s sparkling chrome and gleaming bronze paintwork, I thanked the guys yet again for putting me on a road that now gives me so much happiness and enjoyment.

Before I became a motorcycle rider, I didn’t know what I was missing – but now, I wouldn’t be without it for the world. 

Oh and to any non-riders reading this, wondering what on earth I’m talking about but thinking it sounds damn good – go get yourself a motorbike licence: it will change your life! 🙂

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Australia’s Great Outdoors

Walking along the craggy cliffs at Point Nepean

Hi All! I’m writing this after a long weekend hiking the National Park around Point Nepean, about two hours’ drive from Melbourne.

This morning, I walked along the spine of the peninsula to the Point, a craggy cliff walk from which you can eventually view the heads of Port Philip Bay. Apparently this is one of the narrowest shipping channels in the world – and I can well believe it, as I watch the Spirit of Tasmania (the ferry that plies the route between mainland Oz and Tassie) cut its way carefully through the channel and out to sea.

Yet again, as I enjoy a full day out in the fresh air, walking pristine beaches and tasting the salt in the breeze, rambling overgrown tracks along the coast that are brimming with noisy birdlife and all manner of tiny creatures foraging in the undergrowth, I’m reminded of how wonderful it is to be in the great outdoors. This is my little corner of Australia. I come here a lot – a stone’s throw from where I live, it’s a great bolt-hole for when city life gets too much (which is most of the time, actually!). Getting back to nature like this isn’t just good for the health – it’s good for the soul. 

The Spirit of Tasmania sails through the heads at the entrance to Port Philip Bay

The outdoors is something Australia does really well, I think. Although only a couple of hours from the city, the beaches here feel raw, untouched, wild. The walks are well-signposted but still overgrown and rough, giving the illusion of tracks yet to be explored by human feet. And it’s peaceful – just the rise and fall of the waves against the shore, and  birds stirring in the bushes as I pass. A solitary hang-glider passes noiselessly overhead – up there with the seagulls, he must be getting a brilliant view.

After a weekend of walking, I’ve come back with renewed vigour to take on another trekking expedition this year. It’s been just over a year since my Sahara UNICEF trek in Morocco…definitely time to get the maps out and plan the next one!