12 day solo motorbike ride – Apollo Bay to South Australia return

There are quite a few photos in this post – an iPhone might not be the ideal device on which to view them.

Without a whole lot of planning I decided to do a solo road trip from Apollo Bay to South Australia and back on my 14 year old BMW R1200 GS motorbike. I had a number of destinations and turning points in mind before leaving but the final decisions were made on the road.

In short, I rode to Adelaide, Yorke Peninsula, Flinders Ranges, Kangaroo Island, Victor Harbor, Warrnambool then home. I covered 3,950kms, and early in the trip the bike ticked over 240,000kms since new. My bike is 14 years old and performed flawlessly. As this was a winter ride, it rained at some point on just about every day of the ride, and daytime temps were uniformly cold throughout, typically in the 10°-12° range. I stayed warm and dry throughout. I carried my Nikon DSLR and with 150-600mm telephoto lens attached in my top swag. All non-telephoto lens photos were taken using my iPhone 8.

I saw quite a bit of wildlife near and on roads on this trip. Kangaroos were most numerous followed by wallabies then emus. A few wild goats were seen in the Flinders Ranges. An eastern grey roo hit me side-on when I was in the Innes National Park on the Yorke Peninsula. I stayed upright and he hopped away. Good result.

Dawn departure from Apollo Bay Air temperature through the Otways in single figures.
Trip odometer reading zero. I had clocked a total of 3,950kms by the time I returned to Apollo Bay 12 days later.
Boat Bay and motorbike on the great ocean road
Boat Bay, near Peterborough on the Victorian west coast.
Whale spouting in the distance
I dropped in at Logans Beach whale nursery at Warrnambool on my way to Naracoorte on day 1. Things were pretty quiet on the whale front, and this puff of whale breath was the best whale-related shot I could get. I was not to know then that I would do much better at Logans Beach on the return trip visit.
In the rich farming land of south-eastern South Australia lies the tidy town of Naracoorte. I arrived in this town late in the day in heavy rain and woke up next morning to thick fog.
Narscoorte main street in heavy fog
I could’ve ridden off slowly and safely in this fog, but I knew it would clear before long so I settled for a leisurely breakfast and a safer departure under blue skies.
I spent the second night of my trip, and two other nights with my friends Kym and Jo in Adelaide, and enjoyed their great company and a very comfortable guest quarters. Thanks again Kym and Jo. Kym rode with me on his motorbike to Point Turton, and later down the Fleurieu Peninsula when I was riding south to catch the KI ferry.

Yorke Peninsula

Minlaton bakery Yorke Peninsula
My friend for over 40 years, Kym, rode with me from Adelaide to his family’s beach shack at Point Turton on the Yorke Peninsula. The YP is a very prosperous farming area. I visited many bakeries on the ride, but Minlaton Bakery was one of the standouts. I ate there twice on this ride.

Corny Point

Corny Point lighthouse Yorke Peninsula
When I lived in Port Lincoln and Adelaide between 1978 and 1982, I regularly flew light aircraft on a direct track between Pt Lincoln and Adelaide. 94 nautical miles of this 135NM route (each way) was over the sea. Corny Point was a reporting point after a lengthy over-water leg. Pilots are often heard to say that heading out over open water in a single-engine aircraft the engine goes into ‘auto-rough’ which somehow remedies itself when flying over land resumes. That might be why Corny Point was always a welcome waypoint.
So, having seen Corny Point from the air so many times (and sometimes at night, simply having overflown it without meaningfully seeing it) I was keen to visit the place on land. It’s a beautiful spot whether you arrive by light aircraft or motorbike.
The Corny Point lighthouse has operated continuously since 1882.
Motorbikes parked at ocean lookout at Corny Point
Motorbike on dirt road on Yorke Peninsula
A quick roadside stop to photograph an elusive bird I spotted earlier low flying as it hunted over this coastal scrub. I got a few shots and later identified it as a brown falcon. Leaning up against the bike is the extended monopod for my camera and telephoto lens.
Motorbike on dirt road on Yorke Peninsula
Good quality dirt road for the last few kms to Corny Point.

Point Turton shack

Holiday shack at Point Turton Yorke Peninsula
This shack has been on three different blocks of land and in the Harris family for many decades. In its earliest form I am told it was not much more than a bathing box. It can house a lot of people and has all amenities. It couldn’t be closer to the waters of Spencer Gulf. The shack has successfully avoided the introduction of any form of modernity, and is a wonderfully preserved example of the simple beach shack of 50 years ago. A comfortable and pleasant night was spent here after a hearty meal at the nearby Warooka pub.
Holiday shack at Point Turton Yorke Peninsula
I was standing on the rocky beach to take this photo. The sizeable window shutter is to protect against the howling northerlies which can blow in SA.

Innes National Park

Map of south west tip of Yorke Peninsula South Australia
This map shows detail of the western tip of Yorke Peninsula.
Road in Innes National Park Yorke Peninsula
The 60kph road through the Innes National Park. Wallabies and roos were plentiful. Sea Eagles are known to nest along the cliffs between Cape Spencer and Ethel Beach. I didn’t see any on this trip.
Spot Satellite Messenger check-in locations on Google Earth map
My Spot Satellite Messenger check-ins (the ticks) from Cape Spencer and West Cape.

Rendezvous with a roo

Motorbike beside road in Innes national park Yorke Peninsula
This is where I pulled up after an Eastern Grey roo travelling at some speed on a path at right-angles to my direction of travel, appeared out of the bushes to my left and hit my motorbike square on. I was doing the speed limit of 60kph at the time. He hit the bike with a solid whack which I felt and heard. The bike gave a bit of a wobble but I did not feel in any danger of dropping it. Just before he collided with the bike I looked left and for a split second before he was collected by my left pannier I was looking directly into his face which was level with my head while I was seated on the bike. He was a reasonable size. I was neither touched by the roo nor injured in any way. The motorbike was not damaged. In my rear vision mirror I saw the roo hop away. He was struck forcefully by my left pannier and judging by the hair and blood left on the front corner of the pannier he would certainly have had bruises, and probably a broken rib or two. When roos and motorbikes meet at speed the outcome is usually serious for the rider. Both participants in this incident should be well pleased with the outcome. Things could have been different if the roo had hit the front wheel, the handlebars or my upper body.
Kangaroo hair and skin left on motorbike after collision with it
The front left hand corner of the left pannier, with blood sticking kangaroo hair to the plastic moulding.
A few more tufts of kangaroo hair left on the pannier. The roo also broke the length of dowel I had stowed under the top box (which I use in refuelling from a flexible fuel bladder I carry to extend my range in remote areas).

Cape Spencer

Cape Spencer lighthouse in Innes National Park
Cape Spencer Lighthouse. Althorpe Island is in the distance. There have been numerous shipwrecks on Althorpe Island This photo was taken facing south. Colin Spratt and Bruce Brereton were pilots I met when I lived in Pt Lincoln where I flew privately from the aero club at the local aerodrome. Spratt and Brereton flew an Aero 145 for Commodore Aviation at Port Lincoln for tuna spotting and for supply runs to Althorpe and Neptune Islands for quite a period including the late 1970s. I understand the 145 was used in these roles throughout the 1960s and 1970s. I have flown over Althorpe island on numerous occasions in the late 1970s; the strip was very short in those days. The Aero 145 was manufactured in Czechoslovakia as a light twin with very good STOL (short takeoff & landing) capability. I recall seeing Bruce Brereton climb out of the 145 after a flight to Neptune or Althorpe Island with his dog who was his constant companion.
Aero 145 aircraft
Commodore Aviation Aero 145 VH-WWC.
It was powered by two 4 cylinder, fuel injected, supercharged engines with electrically operated propeller pitch controls.
It could operate for up to eight hours without refuelling which was ideal for tuna spotting operations. I understand the Aero 145 used from Port Lincoln is in the South Australian Aviation Museum. The Commodore Aviation Aero 145 was a common sight at the Port Lincoln aerodrome. Commodore Aviation operated two Aero 145s.

There is a fascinating account (with photos) of the story of the two Aero 145s operated out of Port Lincoln (from which some of the above information was obtained) published by the South Australian Aviation Museum at:

Click to access SAAM%20Profiles%20-%20COMMODORE%20AVIATION%20AND%20THE%20AERO%20145.pdf

Coastal cliffs near Cape Spencer Yorke Peninsula
Beach and cliffs running NW from Cape Spencer. The inshore water looked so clear and inviting, and so cold.
Coastal cliffs near Cape Spencer Yorke Peninsula
The bowl in the foreground is perfectly shaped and located to produce smooth laminar air flow and lift ideal for hang gliding in onshore winds. This is immediately adjacent to the NE side of Cape Spencer. There would also be lift created in onshore wind conditions by the rest of the cliffs shown.
Wild ocean bay under cliffs at Cape Spencer Yorke Peninsula
Cliffs and bay as seen immediately to the east of the point on which Cape Spencer lighthouse sits. That little light green bay looks very inviting as a snorkelling location. Boat access would appear to be the only option of getting there. I would also need some reliable local information about sharks in this area.

The wreck of the ‘Ethel’

Wreck of the Ethel
Wreck of the ‘Ethel’. Althorpe Island in the distance to the south. Ethel Beach is about half way between Cape Spencer and West Cape. I have long been interested in shipwreck sites, but so often there is very little to show after the passage of considerable time and it is the story that animates the scene. But this wreck is very clearly the skeletal remains of a ship.
Wreck of the Ethel
Wreck of the Ethel
Story of the wreck of the Ethel

West Cape

West Cape, Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula
View NNE from West Cape, over the closest bay and narrow headland to Pandolowie Bay. That Bay is a popular surfing location, particularly in summer.
Long ocean beach at West Cape, Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula
View to SSE from a vantage point on the sand dunes at West Cape. Althorpe Island is in the distance.
Wedge Island viewed from West Cape West Cape, Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula
The vantage point from which the previous photo was taken, and the view to the WNW. Wedge Island can be seen faintly through the mist on the horizon a couple of finger widths left of the RH side of the image. It is 18 nautical miles from West Cape where I was standing to take this photo. See enlarged detail in next photo showing the silhouette of Wedge Island through the haze and mist. The labelled panoramic photo mounted in the lookout structure on the sand dune might also assist in spotting the island.
Wedge Island viewed from West Cape West Cape, Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula
During 1981 when I lived in Adelaide, I obtained my commercial pilot licence. I was very pleased to have casual work at weekends flying tourists to and from Wedge Island. I used a Piper Cherokee Six for those charter flights which were all conducted under the Visual Flight Rules, even though bad weather was frequently encountered. In those days we landed on a dirt road on the island which was short and had a bend to the right and rising sand dune terrain at its southern end. The approach to touch down was over low coastal dunes. Takeoff was from a short straight length of dirt track which was on a more elevated continuation of the track we landed on. Pilots conducting commercial operations to and from the island had to be checked and approved by a flying instructor approved by the Civil Aviation Authority to perform the necessary briefings and check flights. The length of the airstrip was less than the takeoff performance charts in the Flight Manual for the Cherokee Six required. A dispensation was obtained from the regulator to permit these charter flights. During this era of operation the handful of pilots authorised to conduct these charter flights did so without accident. That is not to say there are not some great stories of weather conditions and particular takeoffs and landing which will probably never be committed to writing. When I left Adelaide the owners of Wedge Island presented me with a framed photo of Wedge Island to thank me for contributing to that record.
Long ocean beach at West Cape, Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula
The beach running SE from West Cape, and Althorpe Island in the distance.

Yorke Peninsula to Clare

Motorbike odometer about to reach 240,000 kms
This odometer reading occurred on the Yorke Highway north of Minlaton as I was heading north from the Yorke Peninsula to Clare and the Flinders Ranges. The boxer air-cooled engine on the BMW has never required repair or overhaul. It uses next to no oil, and continues to perform flawlessly. It’s a great machine. The triangular orange warning light shows that the remote pressure sensors mounted in the tyre rims have flat batteries. I carried a hand held pressure gauge.
Roadside wild flowers
Beauty sighted beside the highway on my ride north up the Yorke Peninsula.
Yorke Peninsula long straight highway
Yorke Highway
Crop on Yorke Peninsula
Vast expanses of flourishing crops.
Back road near Clare
One of a number of appealing dirt road diversions taken en route to Clare.
Back road near Clare
Another appealing dirt road diversion taken en route to Clare.

Clare to Hawker

Storm clouds over remote airstrip
Landing field beside the main road between Orroroo and Cradock, in the south Flinders Ranges en route to Hawker. The stormy weather shown petered out as I rode further inland.
Windsock and storm clouds at remote airstrip
Mammatus cloud looking ominous on the NE horizon. This airstrip may not be completely abandoned but it certainly looked seldom used.
This X has folding covers in the closed position (the three grey panels) and one cover which I folded out to show the white surface. A white X beside a windsock indicates to pilots in the air that a landing field should not be used.
Video
Light and variable wind, not a light north-south wind.
Storm clouds ove red soil country
Mammatus clouds over red soil country with motorbike
A curtain of active mammatus cloud crowning the red landscape with the mighty GS front and centre.
The camera and telephoto lens were out as I had stopped to photograph some raptors dining on road kill. Rookie error: I pulled up a little to close to the road kill. Didn’t repeat that error on the ride. So the wedge-tailed eagle departed the scene completely as I unpacked the camera, and the black kites departed for nearby gum trees. The Australian raven flew through the area carrying construction materials for a nest, unaware of the road kill and not caring about my camera pointing at him.
Sandstone farmhouse ruins near Hawker
Between Cradock and Hawker. Mandatory sandstone farmhouse-ruins photo.
Video
The beginning of the end of my 12 litre flexible fuel bladder which I carry to extend the range of the 20 litres which the tank holds. Sadly this bag had perished and was leaking at all four corners. I was at a servo when I discovered this and couldn’t give the fuel away (potential recipients present had already filled up from the bowsers). Discovery of this problem was well timed compared to the alternative of riding off with 12 litres of fuel leaking all over my belongings and the bike. There was no ‘use by 2021’ warning on the bladder. But I should’ve checked the bladder before I left home.

Video
Quite heavy rain (5mm) late afternoon at Hawker not long after I arrived and checked into the motel. Not a great omen for the full day of riding including some of the gorges and other dirt roads which I had planned to ride the next day.
Water on roads at Hawker in the Flinders Ranges

A Great Day in the Flinders Ranges

Motorbike under blue skies
Friday dawned with bright blue skies. But as I discovered during the day, this did not mean the dirt roads I had in mind would be dry and dusty.

Slippery clay sections of road after two lots of 5mm of rain in recent days, and no accommodation at Arkaroola on Friday night meant my day in the Flinders would consist of a ride to Blinman and back, with a few forays along dirt roads to lookouts and places of interest left and right of the Flinders Ranges Way sealed road. It was a great day of riding in this wild and beautiful area.

Motorbike in Flinders Ranges parked in dry riverbed
Mandatory dry river-bed shot.

Arkaroo Rock

Video
This is a video. Watch the alternating cloud shadows and bright sunlight wash in turn over the mountains and the field of wildflowers.
Arkaroo rock in Flinders Ranges with wildflowers
Arkaroo Rock in all its winter splendour.
Arkaroo rock in Flinders Ranges with wildflowers
Arkaroo rock in Flinders Ranges with wildflowers

Parachilna Gorge Road

Road to Parachilna Gorge
The start of the road down the Parachilna Gorge. I tried it out for a km or two but the unavoidable slippery clay sections made the turn back to Blinman the best option.
As it turned out, this was the case with the Parachilna Gorge dirt road.

Blinman

Cafe in Blinman, Flinders Ranges
This small town has the highest elevation of any town or city in SA.
Blinman in the Flinders Ranges SA
This pastie was made at the Miners Crib cafe. It was simply excellent.

Great Wall of China

Great wall of China rock formation in the Flinders Ranges
The Great Wall of China – a feature requiring a ride up a dirt road for a closer look. I have never gone up this road until this trip.
Dirt road in the Flinders Ranges
Bumps
Landscape in the Flinders Ranges

Stokes Hill Lookout

Wilpena Pound in the distance. Informative and durable topographic model in the foreground.

Landscape in the Flinders Ranges

Motorbike and landscape and dirt road in the Flinders Ranges
Riding downhill off Stokes Hill lookout.
After returning to the highway from Stokes Hill lookout, I took this shot with the telephoto lens looking back at the track up Stokes Hill where I parked for the previous photo
Vista in the Flinders Ranges
View north from the track up Stokes Hill.

Aerial warfare a couple of kms north of Hucks Lookout

Flinders Ranges Way highway in the Flinders Ranges
I pulled over here because I saw an eagle being harassed by some Australian ravens. By the time I had the camera ready to go the eagle had headed off and only a couple of ravens were still flying around. Given the wind direction and terrain I guessed the main action might well be in the gully over the hill beside the road. I traipsed up and over the hill in my motorbike gear (it was a bit further than it looked) and was rewarded with a box seat to the aerial display of many ravens seeking to evict a large wedge-tailed eagle from what was obviously raven-controlled airspace. It went on for a while and was exciting to watch. At time the engagements soared to some height and at other times the dog fighting was down near ground level.
Wedge-tailed eagle being attacked by numerous Australian ravens
Wedge-tailed eagled being harassed in a display of territory protection by what I would call crows, but I understand they are actually Australian ravens.
Wedge-tailed eagle being attacked by numerous Australian ravens
Wedge-tailed eagle being attacked by numerous Australian ravens
Wedge-tailed eagle being attacked by numerous Australian ravens
Wedge-tailed eagle being attacked by numerous Australian ravens
Motorbike parked in vast landscape in Flinders Ranges
What a reliable and powerful machine to ride through such beautiful country.
Motorbike parked in vast landscape in Flinders Ranges
The BMW R1200 GS on tour in its natural element.
Highway in Flinders Ranges
The Flinders Ranges Way winding south from where I photographed the eagle.
Fast curves in the Flinders Ranges
Beautiful curves ahead of me and behind me

Pugilist Hill Lookout

Sign to Pugilist Hill in the Flinders Ranges
This turnoff is just north of the Rawnsley Park Station front gate.
Excellent quality recently graded dirt road late afternoon as the shadows lengthened.
Road to Pugilist Hillin Flinders Ranges
Sunset landscape in the Flinders Ranges
Atop Pugilist Hill. The climb up was steep and a bit rough in places. Another ‘moment’ occurred on this climb. It’s important going up rough steep inclines to keep power on and the speed up. This of course involves making quick decisions about which bit of track to aim for next and if a significant rock or rut cannot be avoided it will be hit at speed. This can jar then unweight the front wheel and it can also turn the front wheel requiring corrective steering and more power. It’s exciting provided you stay upright. Momentum is the rider’s friend going up very steep rough inclines. The road I arrived on can be seen on the right hand side of the image. Going down a very steep incline is done without power and using only the front brake to go slow being very careful to make sure speed doesn’t build up and get away from you. If done properly, there is plenty of time to make precise and good route decisions (compared to the climb under power).
Sunset landscape in the Flinders Ranges
Sunset landscape in the Flinders Ranges
Sunset landscape in the Flinders Ranges
Late afternoon light and cloud shadows working their magic.
Sunset landscape in the Flinders Ranges with motorbike
The end of the road. There was a sense of solitude in this remote and wild place such as I have seldom experienced.
Sunset landscape in the Flinders Ranges and track up Pugilist Hill
Sunset landscape and motorbike in the Flinders Ranges
Memorial to aboriginal man
Inscription on memorial to aboriginal man
Memorial to aboriginal man
Motorbike and mountain vista in Flinders Ranges at sunset
My favourite panoramic shot from this trip.
Hawker Hotel in the Flinders Ranges
Dropping into the pub to book a table for later that evening after returning to Hawker tired but exhilarated after a great day of riding. I enjoyed the company of Ajay over dinner at the pub. He is a young commercial pilot employed by Bush Pilots Australia. The owner of this operation is a friend of mine who also operates a fixed and rotary wing charter business out of Apollo Bay. Ajay is based in Hawker flying passenger charters in a C172 and a C206 through outback areas within range from Hawker and William Creek. It’s a great way for a relatively newly qualified charter pilot to build up experience. Ajay enjoys his work and I sense he is very competent as a pilot.
Fully packed BMW R1200 GS
Back at the Outback Motel after a top day.

Flinders Ranges to Kangaroo Island

Clare aerodrome. Now that would be a low pass….
if the aircraft wasn’t unserviceable and mounted on a pole, which I edited out of the photo just for fun.
Cumulus cloud, rain, green crop
Where rain comes from and what it does.

Fleurieu Peninsula

Track in fog on Fleurieu Peninsula
Inviting little track in the mist on the Fleurieu Peninsula en route to Cape Jervis.
Rain and fog on Fleurieu Peninsula
Kym and I left Adelaide in sunshine, but a large bank of cloud was pushed up against the hills of the Fleurieu Peninsula producing quite thick fog at the higher elevations. Kym rode to Yankalilla with me where we had lunch at the bakery, then he returned to Adelaide and I continued on to the ferry to Kangaroo Island.
Rain and fog on Fleurieu Peninsula
I suspect this tree and others like it in this location on a ridge have seen more than a few strong winds.
Descent through cloud on approach to Cape Jervis.
Cape Jervis
Good visibility below cloud en route to the ferry terminal.
Cape Jervis lighthouse
Cape Jervis lighthouse in mist and rain under low cloud.
Cape Jervis ferry terminal and Backstairs Passage
The Cape Jervis ferry terminal.
Cape Jervis ferry terminal
Pole position for ferry loading. As it turned out, they load motorbikes last.
Motorbike secured in hull of ferry to Kangaroo Island
Tied securely using the front shockers to tension the tie-down ropes.
Rocking gently to the rhythm of ocean swell while crossing Backstairs Passage at the eastern end of Investigator Strait.
Penneshaw harbour
The Penneshaw harbour and ferry docking facility.
Colonnade of trees between Kingscote and American River
Upon leaving the ferry I rode from Penneshaw to American River where I spent the night. I do love a colonnade of native trees.
Road on Kangaroo Island near Baudin Beach
Hotel at American River
My $100 a night motel was closed for winter, but the Mercure Hotel was open and was more than $100 a night. I was kindly invited to park my bike under cover as shown. This was appreciated as I unpacked in the rain and re-packed the next morning also in heavy rain.

Kangaroo Island

Map of Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is approximately 150kms long and 55kms wide, and claims over 540kms of coastline. My impression is that the south coast is its main attraction. It is too large to have an island feel, such as eg Thistle Island has.
Winding road in Flinders Chase near Cape du Coeudic on Kangaroo Island
A wonderful example of road construction in Flinders Chase national park near Cape du Couedic.
Winding road in Flinders Chase near Cape du Coeudic on Kangaroo Island
Same stretch of road as a shower passed through.
Winding road in Flinders Chase near Cape du Coeudic on Kangaroo Island
Lighthouse at Cape du Coeudic on Kangaroo Island
Cape du Couedic lighthouse on the SW tip of Kangaroo Island.
Pacific gulls
Pacific gulls and Australian fur seals at Cape du Couedic

One of my missions on this ride was to seek out and photograph a wedge-tailed eagle, a white-bellied sea eagle and an Eastern Osprey. I found and photographed the eagle (in the Flinders Ranges) and the osprey (nesting at Kingscote). But the sea eagle proved elusive. I only saw one on the entire trip and it was soaring above the steep cliffs between Cape du Couedic and the Remarkables which I was riding along. At the time there was a squall with solid rain and wind gusts in the order of 30-35 knots. The motorbike was being buffeted around and I saw no way of unpacking the camera and keeping it dry while I put its waterproof cover on, nor of getting the shot in these circumstances. I would have had to point the telephoto lens into wind to capture the soaring eagle, which would have resulted in the lens getting covered in rain and salt spray.

Slippery muddy road from highway to Vivonne Bay on Kangaroo Island
The very slippery track to Vivonne Bay. I had to stand on the pegs to be comfortable on this very slippery road. The bike squirmed around ‘yawing’ beneath as I gently applied power to keep moving and stay straight. I regretted the decision to take this side road after the first km but persisted and was rewarded with a view of beautiful Vivonne Bay.
Vivonne Bay on Kangaroo Island
The beautiful waters of Vivonne Bay on a rainy day without sunshine. KI locals actively keep alive the established rumour that Vivonne Bay was declared at some point by someone or perhaps by a university survey to have the best beach in Australia. But my brief ‘research’ online failed to find any clear corroboration for the claim. But what is undeniable, is that it would not be at all surprising if upon an exhaustive and rigorous survey and analysis as to which was the best beach in Australia, Vivonne Bay came up trumps. I would like to return to this and similar beaches on KI.
Runway 05 threshold at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island
Low approach to runway 05 at Kingscote aerodrome near sunset. There are two sealed strips at this aerodrome, but 05 is dirt. I had never been to KI by ferry and road before. But in the late 1970s I had quite a few flights in light aircraft into the Kingscote strip. I recall that my night VFR rating test flight with Barry Firth as the instructor testing me was a long cross country flight in an ageing Cherokee 180 single-engine aircraft. The basic triangle flown was Port Lincoln to Port Augusta and then on to KI to land at this strip (one of the sealed strips) very late on a very dark night, with the runway lighting having been activated using the (then) relatively new PAL (pilot activated) lighting. The pilot simply dialled up the PAL frequency on the VHF radio then keyed the microphone three times within 5 seconds. Barry and I landed at KI that night to top up our fuel from the contents of the tin of avgas we had brought along in the baggage compartment. This ensured we had adequate flight fuel and reserves for the final leg over the dark ocean to Port Lincoln in the middle of the night. It was on that final leg that for the first time I experienced a persistent case of the leans – in this case a strong perception the aircraft was banking when it was in fact straight and level. The task when this phenomenon occurs is to believe the instruments and learn to ignore the body’s balance apparatus. This is one of the interesting aspects of flying at night without any meaningful external visual reference such as a horizon. It was a moonless night with quite a bit of cloud about. The flight was completed without incident and I gained my night VFR rating.
The pilot-activated lights which were in operation across Australia at the time were supposed to stay on for 30 minutes after activation, but at some smaller airstrips I have experienced them turning off automatically in a shorter time. I recall flying a visual approach into Tumby Bay airstrip one dark night with the PAL activated lights on and guiding me down through my final approach to a landing, when they suddenly all turned off. Of course I simply had to transition to flying by the instruments alone, overshoot the runway and climb out for another approach after we had re-activated the runway lights.
Near Kingscote at sunset on Kangaroo Island
On the outskirts of Kingscote late afternoon.

Kingscote to Portland via Victor Harbor

Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island
On descent into Penneshaw.

Assorted birds at the Bay of Shoals in Kingscote

Nankeen Kestrel in the Bay of Shoals at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island
Nankeen kestrel. I originally misidentified this bird as an Eastern Osprey partly because of its proximity to an artificial osprey nesting platform in the Bay of Shoals at Kingscote, a couple of hundred metres or so offshore from where I took this photo. The nest on the platform had an active breeding couple in it. I must take one or two of my Australian Bird identification books with me on the next long ride.
Nankeen Kesrel in the Bay of Shoals at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island
Nankeen kestrel

Eastern Osprey nesting at the Bay of Shoals

Map of osprey territories in South Australia
I obtained this map off the internet prior to my ride to give me some indication of osprey territories in 2018.
There is an osprey facebook users group based in Pt Lincoln. On it I discovered this tracking record of an osprey which had a locator attached to it in Port Lincoln. These flights occurred a couple of weeks before I arrived on KI. It was exciting trying to track down the osprey.
Osprey nest on purpose built platform at the Bay of Shoals at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island
An osprey nest near Kingscote which was at least some decades old was under threat due to a planned development threatening to displace it. So with the cooperation of many agencies and individuals and acting on expert advice, the nest was carefully transferred intact to the man-made nesting platform erected for this purpose in the Bay of Shoals. There was jubilation when it was confirmed the osprey had not only found the nest in its new location, but were breeding in it. All this effort is necessary as there are only 50 known breeding couples of osprey left in South Australia. Projects such as this give cause for optimism as to the future of the species in this state. There are no eastern osprey in Victoria.
Eastern Osprey nesting. Identification confirmed!

Pelican doing beak tricks (3 photo sequence)

Pelican at the Bay of Shoals at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island
Australian pelican
Pelican at the Bay of Shoals at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island
Ferry departing Penneshaw
Ferry departing Penneshaw to cross Backstairs Passage to Cape Jervis.
A convivial and very comfortable night’s accommodation with Barb and Col at Victor Harbour. Barb and Col are friends from our Pt Lincoln days over 40 years ago. Colin is a very experienced motorbike rider and was heading off for a local ride with friends around the time I was heading off, after a hearty cooked breakfast, for home via Portland.
Wellington crossing the Murray River
The departing Wellington ferry – not the exact sight I hoped for as I approached this floatable bit of road. But it wasn’t a long wait.
This is the Spot Satellite Messenger which allows me to send a short message as to my location using the GPS satellite system. It sends an email of SMS to 10 relations/friends I have designated, with a Google Earth map showing my precise location whenever I press the check-in button. It also has a bread-crumb trail mode where it can automatically send a position report every 10 minutes. The Spot relieves me of reliance on iPhone reception to stay in touch with Liz and others as to my locations during the ride.
Mural in Keith cafe
Roadhouse cafe wall mural behind diners’ chairs. At the turnoff from the Western Highway at Keith to Naracoorte and Mt Gambier (on the Riddoch Highway) is a roadhouse with very large surrounding grounds. The general appearance of this large block is pretty much a dustier more disorganised version of all the elements in this mural which adorns an entire wall in the cafe.
Portland
The ride from Keith to Portland via Naracoorte and Mt Gambier (just under 300kms) was under leaden skies with frequent showers and a strong and cold post-frontal south westerly blowing relentlessly. I had to ride the bike leaning slightly to the right constantly when riding due south to track in a straight line. Regular rain was a feature of this weather pattern, and the air temps according to the readout on the GS dash varied between 9°C and 12°C. Wind chill would have been low single figures. I had to rug up with two neck muffs, my heated vest, my warm winter gloves with the gauntlets and my heated handgrips to break even with these conditions which I rode in for four hours or so. I rode 550kms from Adelaide to Portland on this day. I was cold, it was near dark and it was raining when I rode into Portland without a motel booking or even any idea of where the motels were. I lucked in with a suitable motel and headed straight down town for a meal. A little Indian restaurant on the esplanade was open. I was not warm, but I was dry and certainly nowhere near hypothermic. Suffice to say that warm surrounds, with two fresh vegetable samosas followed by butter chicken curry and a clear view of my bike parked outside as night settled over the harbour precinct beyond, was all most welcome.
My Portland motel room.

Portland to Apollo Bay via Logans Beach at Warrnambool

Cape Nelson Lighthouse near Portland

Cape Spencer Lighthouse Portland Victoria
Cape Nelson lighthouse precinct is spectacular. It is the best lighthouse I saw on this ride.
The powerful surging waters of the Southern Ocean beneath the lighthouse.
Cape Spencer Lighthouse accommodation Portland Victoria
The lighthouse staff houses are built in the same style as the lighthouse and all are in great condition.

Potholes in the Princes Highway near Port Fairy

Pothole in Princes Highway Victoria near Port Fairy
Princes Highway pothole in Victoria. There were other similar potholes on this stretch of road. Tyre destroyers and possible wheel bucklers for motorbikes. Dangerous and disgraceful in 2022. This is obviously a failed repair. The comedian Russel Brand who is also a motorbike rider, once said that he had discovered what they repair potholes with in Australia – cake! He could well be right.

Whales at Logans Beach, Warrnambool

Southern right whale at Logans Beach whale nursery Warrnambool Victoria
Unlike the mere distant puff of whale breath which I saw at Logans Beach at the start of the ride, upon my return 12 days later the whales were there, they were visible and they were performing. The wind was strong and onshore, with a solid swell running. This southern right whale breaching was a truly awesome sight. A mother and calf surfaced about every 15-20 minutes. I stayed there for an hour or so.
Southern right whale at Logans Beach whale nursery Warrnambool Victoria
Tail slapping is a time honoured southern right whale behaviour.
Southern right whale at Logans Beach whale nursery Warrnambool Victoria
The landings from breaches seem to be performed to maximise splash and perhaps fun.
Southern right whale at Logans Beach whale nursery Warrnambool Victoria
Southern right whale at Logans Beach whale nursery Warrnambool Victoria
Whale experts refer to this behaviour as spy hopping where the whale rises in the water holding a vertical position while it takes a look around.
Southern right whale at Logans Beach whale nursery Warrnambool Victoria
An upside down splashy landing after another breach.
Southern right whale at Logans Beach whale nursery Warrnambool Victoria
More spy hopping behind the breaking waves.
Southern right whale at Logans Beach whale nursery Warrnambool Victoria
Southern right whale at Logans Beach whale nursery Warrnambool Victoria
What a joy and privilege after the 12 day ride in which I saw so many wonderful things, to arrive at Logans Beach whale nursery at a time when whales were surfacing regularly and playing around in rough seas close enough to the shore for me to get those photos. What a bonus this was to an already wonderful 12 days.

Port Campbell to Apollo Bay

Port Campbell Bay
Recent heavy rain resulted in Campbells Creek muddying up the inner areas of the bay.
For comparison with the previous photo, I took this photo underwater between the shore and the jetty and only 40m or so out from the cliffs about a month ago.
Gibson Steps coastline on Great Ocean Road
I stopped here and took this photo looking east down the coast over Gibson Steps beach simply because that’s what I have done for years. No point breaking with tradition. It’s one of my favourite views from a motorbike along this coast.
Otways near Apollo Bay
There is a roadside parking area in the hills about 10kms out of Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road. This photo is looking back to the north west at the mist over the winter-green hills.
Otways and rainbow near Apollo Bay
This shot was taken from the same location as the previous one, but looking down the valley through the trees to the sea and the town of Apollo Bay. The light rain, sunshine and cloud all conspired to produce this rainbow which reached the ground directly over Apollo Bay, while I was looking through the lens framing this shot. There’s no place like home.

This August 2022 solo ride was my sixth ride on the GS to the Flinders Ranges (among other places). The earlier rides were in April 2022 (with Andrew), April 2021 (solo), May 2017 (with Noel), June 2015 (with Noel) and November 2009 (solo).

11 thoughts on “12 day solo motorbike ride – Apollo Bay to South Australia return

  1. What an amazing journey the smells,sights, and varying emotions must give you a lot of gratitude & fulfilment….
    I’m not sure how I stumbled across your page but I’m glad I did…you have motivated me to explore my region & beyond( mornington peninsula) your detail is second to none, I’d feel comfortable having you as my pilot …

    Simply put
    Thankyou 🙏

    Regards
    Dom Hudson

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great photos and narration John, my clinic appointments didn’t show up so I’ve had a leisurely coffee while enjoying your travel log..
    Hchie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely wonderful John. I feel like I have been on a short trip the last hour while reading your travel report and lingering on many of the photos. As you know, I have visited many of those places, mostly with you and your photos bringing back great memories of those trips. The points of interest, technical detail and historical notes adding yet another level of interest.
    Doing such a trip by bike makes it so much more of an adventure, as they say, driving through the country in your car is like a watching a movie, riding through it is like being in the movie.

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    1. Thanks for those comments Noel. It would have been great if you could have joined me on this ride. I agree totally with your last sentence! The motorbike definitely adds to the adventure and offers so much more than mere transport.
      Please let me know as soon one of your motorbikes is ready for some more touring.

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  4. What an epic trip and blog – wonderful pictures, weather, animals, friends – one with the lot. Glad you had such a great trip Dad, thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your home state Jess! Glad you enjoyed the photos. I flew you and Liz to Wedge Island once when you were a babe in arms – there’s a photo print somewhere.
      The ride was indeed one with the lot. xx

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  5. As ever John, an exciting and illuminating journey into our vast wilderness.

    Good on you for scribing a short three paragraph précis for Darren. Avuncular you are.

    The bird identification, photography and description is up to the usual high standard. You have achieved honours in birding and I shall defer to you forthwith on matters avian.

    I am more familiar with the other side of the Gulf to the one you traversed. I can remember watching, from the footpath, the 1974 Melbourne Cup on a new fangled colour tv in the window of a Port Lincoln electrical goods store. Think Big won.

    Over the years, I reckon I’ve eaten half my body weight of Coffin Bay oysters. I’ve often wondered what else is there.

    It’s always been said that those coastlines are fringed by “sharky waters”. Was that a seabird’s feeding trip away from the cage dive you did a while back?

    A moving short piece on the life of The Ethel and the fate of brave young Stevneson.

    The redoubtable BMW has indeed served you well, on sealed and dirt roads.

    I admired the arresting photos of Arkaroo Rock, prompting memories of the first time I saw it in 1974. There is so much sky to frame the giant, mesmerising for millennia.

    Good to see the author outside The Miner’s Club. Who did you entrust the lens to? And I’d have been up for that fresh squeezed OJ and Cornish pastie.

    I have to remark on those gutless ravens fortified in number harrying the King of the Currents. Your last shot in the sequence presumably presages that last outriding raven on its death flight.

    The fearless advocate, formerly a member of Counsel, was doubtless in his element atop Pugulist Hill. Sounded to me like you were channeling Darren on the thrill riding ascent.

    Very appealing to read of your travels on Kangaroo Island. I’ve never been. We were hoping to visit in May during our SA trip, but a few weeks out realised the ferry in both directions was booked solidly. Good to know the tourists are returning after those recently destructive fires.

    The “ibii fly by” was an A+ in alliteration. And what a winning story about the potential stabilisation of the eastern osprey. Heartwarming to know that those motivated eco-warriors care.

    The pelican sequence was extraordinary. Is that featured bird airing out the underside of the lower mandible? In the pink of health.

    I noted the intriguing location of “Raptor Domain” on the KI map. Yet it doesn’t feature in the blog. Next trip?

    Yes, we heard the inimitable and hysterically funny Frank Woodley use that cake line at a Comedy Festival show years back. Who got there first? Doesn’t matter! And speaking of cake, you certainly iced it with that magnificent suite of whale photos. A glorious winter reward for dropping in to Logan’s.

    Wow. We wouldn’t have swum in that brewed tea turmoil at Port Campbell. Unrecognisable from the idyll we are accustomed to swimming in early February.

    Intrepid you, thank you for taking me on this ride, viewed a couple of times at Waratah Bay with this post finished at 30,000 ft. and sent from Hobart.

    Hunto

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments and observations Hunto.
      I’ve often wondered what percentage of oysters sold as ‘Coffin Bay’ oysters actually come from the SW Eyre Peninsula oyster beds around Coffin Bay.
      As for the ‘sharky waters’ in that area, the entire west coast of the Eyre Peninsula (which of course includes Coffin Bay) and all the islands at the foot of Spencer Gulf (which include Neptune Island where I did the shark cage dive), as well as the southern coast of Yorke Peninsula and adjacent islands would come within that description. Coffin Bay is the location of some great shark stories we heard while living in Port Lincoln. Neptune Island and Coffin Bay are 47 nautical miles apart as the Pacific gull flies (87kms) – and a little further as the great white swims.
      Those ravens called it a day at vigorous harassment of the wedge-tailed eagle – knowing better than to physically engage with it.
      The pelican behaviour was intriguing. I have never seen or heard of it before. He might just be a bit of a character who discovered this trick and trots it out whenever there’s an audience.
      I did notice the Raptor Domain wildlife park on KI, and rode past the turnoff to it. I’m not attracted to entertainment in the form of captive raptors doing cheap tricks for paying customers. My style of raptor domain is a line of inaccessible cliffs over a wild ocean where white-bellied sea eagles are likely or known to nest, or the vast territories in the Flinders Ranges over which the wedge-tailed eagle rules the air.
      I’m delighted you enjoyed my photos and descriptions of this ride Hunto.
      Please say hello to Ashley and Jane for me while you’re in Tassie.
      JL

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