Day 37 23rd July St Helens to Davenport
It’s a late start today, and that’s not a bad thing. The locals tells us the black ice hangs around until mid morning so we all take that advice and decide to stay on the main coastal highway. That’s not a bad thing. If you look at any motorcycle specific map they all have the North East corner of Tassie as a ‘road to ride’. Less than 25km from St Helens we climb into the hills and sure enough – ice. At least there’s signs put out to warn us of the worst bits. I’m travelling with my sons Stephen and Gavan and taking it easy. John Laird and Huddo are also trundling along with us. He and Gavan travel a bit quicker than Stephen and me and that’s fine. I want to make sure my boys are okay. This is the hardest riding anyone can do on the road really. Unpredictable road surface that’s unfamiliar to you needs to be treated with respect. Even so, I find it beautiful cruising through the parks, small towns and villages. There’s a car rally on and there’s quite a few modified cars doing the road section travelling in the opposite direction. At Derby we pass Spike and John Felton pulled up at a café. We continue on to Scottsdale and do the same for a coffee and re-group. Georg pulls in. We decide to continue on the highway while Georg wants to head to Bridport. No worries. Again, it’s more of the same, great winding roads through hill country then open farmland. We get a little separated and Stephen Huddo and me roll into Launceston with no sign of Gavan and John Laird who left before us. It takes us some time to meet up. We’ve all decided to ride up the A8 or the East Tamar highway and cross over the new bridge up there then come back the West side of the Tamar river. The A8 is a two lane each way highway and only allows glimpses of the river. But after crossing the Bridge neat Deviot the ride down through the smaller settlements on the West side is slower but far prettier. Lairdy wants to go chasing wineries, the boys Huddo and me are happy to cruise into Devonport via Westbury and Deloraine.
We catch up with Luke at the pub just near the gates to the ferry terminal. The boys and I go for a ride to another establishment to watch the AFL and chill out before boarding time.
We settle in and talk about the Tassie ride. It was great to have my sons travel this leg with me and they both loved it. Many thanks to their wives for allowing them the freedom to travel with their old man.
The ferry boarding process is fairly smooth, the meal is good, the beers and small talk afterwards is a little subdued. This really is the last leg of an epic journey. All of us are either a little tired or lost in our own thoughts about the journey and our reasons for doing it. A few old mates faces who are no longer with us flash into my mind. Catastrophic events that shaped me and my career are never far away. Russell Street Bombing, Walsh Street Murders, Tyanan/Eyre murders, Queen Street, mates that were shot – it all floods back.
A smooth crossing and early morning wake up call awaits so it’s early to be for this old biker.
Day 38 24th July Melbourne and home
The dawn over Melbourne from Port Phillip bay is just not there… It’s pitch black when we get the call to go to the bikes. As we ride off the ferry we try to gather together for one final photo. There’s another bike there to greet us. My old Friend Ove has decided to come down to meet us. We take photos and are about to head off and Ove’s bike won’t start. Damn. He says it’s okay. The boys, Stephen and Gavan have to get home to work, Huddo and Luke have to head off towards Sin City via Lairdy’s place to collect their camping gear they left behind for the Tassie leg. I say goodbye to my sons and ride with them out to Warrandyte for breakfast with Huddo, Luke and Lairdy. We say our goodbyes and I head to the BMW at Doncaster to catch up with a mate there, Ron Andrews. Looking over the shiny new bikes with my old bedraggled ‘Big Red’ sitting outside I ask Ron how much he’d give me for her. $500 for my beautiful old ‘Big Red’! She seems to be calling to me, “Please, please keep me – how could you.” No, I couldn’t.
I ride home thinking about all we’ve done together, this bike, me and the wonderful pillion in a million. Around the world twice, around Australia twice and everything in between. The new things are tempting but I don’t think I can give up ‘Big Red’.
The final speedo reads 292,620km as I park her in the shed. That’s 16,175 trouble free kilometres. A big hug and kiss from Shirl, the dog barking in excitement. It’s great to be home.
The wall2Wall ride is something I’m proud to say I had a hand in. It’s a great ride where those that need it, can have time in their own helmets, then, to gather together and remember those no longer here who gave their all – whether they are on the memorial wall or not means so much to me. But life goes on and it’s great to be surrounded by like minded people from all over our great country.
A big thank you to the riders, Lairdy, Luke, Huddo, Georg and Spike. (John Laird, Luke Moore, Stephen Hudson, Georg Berk and Mark Vipond). We shared a wonderful experience. To all the people that met us on the road, to those who rode part way with us (you boys and girls in the NT do big kays). Thanks to you all.
To the Commissioners right across this great country, thank you for your continued support. Your recognition of the importance of this event to your members past and present is appreciated by all.
It’s been a great ride so far. Long may it continue.