Day 1 Saturday May 18th 2019 Melbourne to Canberra
Big Red Starting speedo reading 276,445km
The little matter of the Federal election day. Damn, I had to vote early and missed my democracy sausage. Never mind. After a thorough going over of my old bike, nicknamed ‘Big Red’ I think she’s ready to do another lap of our great Southern land. Fresh oils, tyres, a new battery (on the last lap my battery died in Longreach), a check of the alternator belt – a spare on board, brake pads – fine, a new GPS to replace the old Zumo 550. I’ve now gone all high tech and have a Scala blue tooth to match. Now how do you work the damn thing!
It’s a frosty cold morning leaving from our beautiful goldfields area in country Victoria. The pillion in a million has a tear in her eye as she and our faithful hound wave me off into the fog and haze. Instantly the ice warning light flashes on the dash… better take it easy. Heading toward the mind numbing Hume Highway, I’m riding directly into the rising sun and it’s kangaroo feeding time. This area has plenty too. I see three standing on the edge of the road….. I count 5 dead. I love the crisp clear air and head towards Heathcote and decide bugger it, I’ll avoid the Hume as long as possible and take the back road to Nagambie then through to Longwood before I have to Jump on the Humdrum highway to make time.
We all meet up at the service station just outside Glenrowan, with the murderer Ned Kelly was captured. Everyones bike looks pristine with new rubber and flash gear. Mark (Spike) Vipond has decked out his K1600 with decals for the ride…. Bugger I didn’t think of that.
As we ride I think of that lovely Police woman Angela Taylor and her wonderful parents we’ve come to know. It’s 30 years this year since those idiots planted a car bomb outside Russell Street Police Headquarters. On the Hume there was Rene Page, who was struck by a dozy driver as he was talking to a motorist on the side of the road. I can’t get these thoughts out of my head.
After a good chin wag, we hit the road. We pull into Holbrook for a bite to eat at the local bakery. I think it’s a good idea to take a photo of the bikes and riders on the grass next to the beached submarine of the same name. My bike is fine, Georg’s BMW RT1200 starts to sink on its side stand – no problem, I’ve got one of those discs…. Next Spike Vipond’s K1600 starts to sink…. No problem we’ve got a spare disc. Photos taken it’s off to the bakery….. not quite. Lairdy can’t get the leg over! And promptly pulls his bike over and it rests on Spike’s nice shiny black pannier…. I tell spike it’s a mere flesh wound and it’ll buff out!
At the bakery we bump into Craig…. Who recognises me. He’s from that great motorbike tour company Compass Expeditions. He’s on his way South to help out at the BMW motorcycle club’s service day they’re running in their factory.
We head off again making good time, but Lairdy is running low on juice so we pull into Gundagai to fuel up. I don’t. I can get to Canberra on Big Red’s 34 litres. An old bloke comes up to talk motorbikes, his wife gives us a knowing nod as she wanders off to the car. Motorbikes create interest and I always take the time to talk to older fellas who have no doubt been there done that.
Fuelled up it’s just a straight run up the highway to Yass and the turn off to Canberra. Crossing into the ACT the traffic gets thicker and trying to keep everyone in sight is a bit of a challenge. The infernal traffic lights on Northbourne Avenue are not synchronised and hold us up…. Not like on the Wall2Wall ride procession when we get a green light corridor! It’s into a hotel, a clean up and a few refreshers to talk over the day.
I can’t wait for our New South Wales mates (aka the convicts) meet up with us Mexicans (because we’re South of the border) to get here tomorrow. Especially my good mate and co-founder of the wall2wall ride, Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy.
Day 2 Sunday 19th May 2019 Sydney to Canberra
After catching up with PFA Secretary Scott Webber the previous evening, it was a later start to the day. We had arranged for a small ceremony at the National Police Memorial at 11.00am. Giving the boys from Sydney time to ride down to meet us.
The weather has taken a turn for the better. I’m still wearing all the liners from yesterday so standing in the glorious morning sunshine…. I’m baking. Now motorcyclist understand the dilemma of internal warm and waterproof liners. They’re great – if you don’t have to take them out while on the road. So a discreet as possible strip tease behind some bushes in the park is going okay until a nice young father and two children walk past….. “Hello – it’s alright mate – I ride a bike too” relieves my somewhat embarrassing moment… I hope none of the boys took a photo.
My good mate Mick Corboy arrives with his contingent, A/C Mark Jenkins, sporting a short goatee shows he’s getting ready to retire, Paul Bousfield, current President of NSW legacy, Rob Arnell who has put together a fantastic visual presentation with that two great songs underscoring it is there on his Indian motorcycles sporting more cameras than the ABC is there to record our little gathering. Others roll up too, including Peter Lunney who came is retired from NSW but rode across the Nullarbor with me a few years back. A little motorbike pulls up sporting “L” plates. It’s the Commissioner of the AFP Mark Colvin. He’s taken the big step to try out motorcycling…. Good on you Sir.
We have a small but very poignant ceremony for those of us there and take some nice photos. The touchstones with names of the fallen glistening in the morning sunshine a constant reminder of our mission. Commissioner Colvin is generous is in praise for our efforts and waves us off with the NSW boys.
Mick Corboy leads us back to Goulburn where some old ladies on a bus tour take an instant shine to us in the local bakery… Can’t blame them! We’re a fine body of men!
Back on the Hume highway it’s a procession to Pheasant’s Nest where we say goodbye to the NSW boys heading out West while we stick to the M5 and battle the traffic into the heart of Sydney to our Air B&B in Surry Hills. Winding our way through the narrow, steep lanes of Surry Hills we fin our little house. It’s a typical early 19C dwelling of small proportions. We’ve got to sleep six of us somewhere ……. Retired Detective Superintendent Luke Moore rolls up on his BMW GSA, as does retired Inspector Steve Hudson on his Harley. We vote for the snorers (make that loud snorers ) take the upstairs bedrooms while I sacrifice a divan to Huddo and Lairdy for my blow up mattress and sleeping bag On the floor…. Ear plugs will be needed tonight!
We vote Luke Moore road captain for tomorrow, contact our loved ones and turn in for an early night. Commissioner Mick Fuller has made space to meet us in his packed Monday morning schedule. So it’s an early start before a big ride.
Today was a relatively short 290 off kilometres but most enjoyable sharing it with good mates.