It all came together after Colin Dowsett serviced the bearings on the trailer (thanks Colin) and those going on the trip started dropping off their gear at my place on Friday. The weather predictions were not looking good with strong westerly winds and all sorts of warnings out.
A few riders took off on Saturday. Phil O’Halloran left Kojonup joining John Davis and Steve Collins at Gnowangerup. Andrew and President Kim went solo. Andrew rode through to Esperance while Kim camped out on the way at Hopetoun and mingled with the locals well.
Sunday looked pretty gloomy on the radar and so we had a quick ring-around and we got everyone to meet at my place so that we could at least put their bikes under cover while we were loading up the trailer with the excess stuff. Warwick did the honours by driving backup in his X5.
First to arrive was Jim Sharp from the other side of Denmark. He was soaked through to the skin. So it was off with his jacket and he put it in front of the fire to dry out. Phil Trent, Warwick and Garry arrived, but Rob Boyes slipped the net and was waiting up at Mercer Road (sorry Rob).
Then there was another hiccough. Garry’s friend Carol who was
accompanying us, turned up in her newly acquired camper, only to find an
alert had come on. A quick call was made to Ronnie and he said “Don’t
drive it!” Garry and Carol decided to swap campers and head off later.
While all this was going on, it started to hail and blow. Not looking good. All donned their wet weather gear. As soon as the rain stopped, we made our getaway. We decided to go north through the Stirlings as the radar showed dark green and purple right through to Gairdner River. Believe it or not- we only got about three spits of rain around the Porongorups and then it was clear, although the cross-winds were up there.
Turning east just north of Borden, we virtually got blown through to Esperance. We picked up Wes at Ravy on the way. We arrived in gale force winds. A few brave souls pitched tents (Andrew, Phil and Rob) while the rest of us had hard accommodation next to the RAC caravan park.
Monday 21 - Jim Sharp had organised a morning visit to a firearms dealer, Donal Henderson. He has an amazing collect of firearms.
Jim Sharp’s story:
Sunday we arrived in Esperance, a long way in the wind and rain. It’s amazing how a good feed and a beer help warm the cockles of your heart. On the Monday morning we had an invitation to Don Henderson’s to view his private collection. And what an amazing collection it was.
Don was happy to give us a run-through of his firearm collection and the background of memorabilia from the Whaling Station and the Great War WWI. A few of the items included a Lifesaving Machine used for propelling ropes across ships and buildings - you might say the equivalent of the modern day SES climbing ropes.
There were firearms from the Bonnie and Clyde era through to the present time. Some beautifully, very ornately engraved shotguns. A double barrel rifle in use from the 1920 – 30’s, that shoots two different size rounds. Only a very small number were produced after this period, And a standout modern-day rifle that shoots over a long distance and at 1.5k can hit a target of 25cm every time. Our thanks to Don for a most interesting time. The preservation of this unique display couldn’t be in better hands.
After lunch we all went to visit Stonehenge, which is a full-size replica of the original in England. It was a very windy day, but inside the construction it was quite calm. It was well worth the visit.
Most of us had a meal at the Pier Hotel that evening which was very busy.
Tuesday 22 – We broke into two groups this morning. Half of us went to Cape Arid National Park and the rest went to Duke of Orleans Bay. Beautiful beaches at both locations. About mid- afternoon we all met up outside our park and once again we broke into two groups.
The first group went with Andrew to see Wendy’s uncle’s collection of wood-working planes. It was huge. I didn’t realise there were so many different ones. He also had a fantastic collection of porcelain and other collectables. All exquisite and interesting.
The second group was guided by Wes to Ray MacNeall’s son Kevin’s Bee Business- Esperance Honey.
Wes Thomas' story:
After the ride back from Esperance's Stonehenge the riders split into two groups. Some went to check out Andrew’s uncle’s collection of planes while Jim, John, Steve and I called into Kevo MacNeall’s honey processing site. Kevin showed us through the shed where two of his employees were extracting honey from the hive frames.
They had a big stack of hive-top boxes with I think 10 frames in each with about 3 kg of honey per frame. Each frame is hung on the machine where a rotating knife warmed by hot water scrapes the caps from the honeycomb cells. The frame then slides down a rack where they assemble to be placed in the extractor (a type of centrifuge). All the honey wax and the dripping honey is collected and through various means is separated. The extractor is warmed by the hot water as well and takes at least 30 frames, spinning for maybe 10 minutes.
The honey from the extractor is screened and pumped into 1000 litre
pallecons - the poly-lined steel framed type. The honey settles in these
containers and is then drained into another pallecon and is ready to
transport to various outlets.
The picture with the beeswax block shows very little is wasted. Kevo also supplies all the honey in the Esperance IGA stores. He is very passionate about his industry and carries out an extensive bee breeding program, supplying not only his own improved queen bees but other bee-keepers as well. The new queens are bred and developed on Rottnest Island. We were lucky enough to score a 1 kg tub of honey each and one for the other members of the club on the run. Thanks a lot Esperance Honey! Keep a look out for it!
Wednesday 23 – At 9:00 AM we all met outside the park and headed off north, stopping for morning tea at Salmon Gums. We pulled in for a look at Bromus Dam (32 km from Norseman). It was built in 1925 to supply water for the steam trains. We all lunched in Norseman in a park with shaded seats before heading up to the local lookout. It has a commanding 360° view of the area.
Then it was on to Kalgoorlie, with a brief stop at Widgiemooltha for an ice-cream. There was a bit of confusion with the accommodation as there are two Discovery Parks in Kal. But with a bit of shuffling about all was good. John Davis’ son Trent caught up with us all for pre-dinner drinks. He is currently working in Kal.
Thursday 24 – We all met up at the Super Pit at 9:30am. It is quite awesome. The stats showed that 60 million ounces of gold has been extracted so far, with 456,000 ounces in 2019. This big hole is 3.7 km long and 1.5 km wide and goes down 480m.
A few of us then rode to the Broad Arrow Pub, about 40km out. It is the only building left in a town that used to have eight pubs. The old pub is covered with people’s names. Rob Boyes tried to find his name, he wrote it 40 years ago, but it was to no avail. But we did find Warwick’s, but not our Warwick. The rest of the group visited various museums in town and just enjoyed the old buildings down Hannon St.
We all had a meal at the Albion Hotel which more than filled us.
Warwick’s Taxi Service was very welcome by those who ate too much as it
was two km back to their digs.
Friday 25 – Kim and Andrew headed home early as they had some commitments back in Albany. That made it an 800km home run, about 9 hours in the saddle. The rest of us met at 9:30am in the main street of Coolgardie for morning tea. We stopped at a park with a talking musical toilet. It was very enlightening.
The next stop was Southern Cross for lunch. In his previous life, Jim informed us, he worked as a stock agent. He had quite a bit of knowledge about the area. We had a quick stop at the local lookout before pressing on to Bullfinch where Jim took us up to the Sons of Gwalia Pit. It is now defunct. At this stop we realised that Steve was missing. That should not have been a problem as he had his GEE PEE SSSS.
On we went to Muka. We all checked into the caravan park when Steve finally arrived. Wel,l his GEE PEE SSSS took him from Southern Cross to Westonia where he had a run-in with the police. I think he mentioned that there was a discussion about him being 25km/h over the limit. After being breathalysed and frisked, smooth-talker Steve managed to work his way out of a fine and got away with a slap on the wrist.
The campground at Mukinbudin is one of the best we have experienced and I would highly recommend it. Most of us legged it to the pub for the evening meal and it can only be described as ordinary.
Back at the park we found there was a campfire with a soloist singer/guitarist playing, compliments of the park.
It was at the Muka caravan park that we met up with Stuart Barrie and Rachel, members from Perth.
Saturday 26 – An early start saw Carol heading off to Perth while the rest of us did a short ride that took us to Nungarin Heritage Machinery and Army Museum that is run by volunteers.
The museum was housed in the original massive army vehicle workshop that was built in 1942-43. It was part of the Australian Defence setup and 4000-odd personnel were billeted here. A very worthwhile visit.
Sunday 27 - The next morning Wes and Phil took off early for their respective homes: Bremer and Koji. The rest of us had a short stop at Pingerup for a cuppa.
As soon as the Stirlings came into view it was hard to hold our steeds from bolting.
Even Warwick said his X5 took some stopping.
All in all it was a great week away.
Where the rain had fallen there were some very good crops.
Dry areas were very poor though, the worst appeared just north of Pingerup.
There was lots of laughter from all the BS that was sprouted. It would have filled the 68 tonne bucket at the super pit. A big thanks goes to Warwick for being the pack-horse ( but not slow) and taxi service. It is always reassuring to know we had backup. On the ride we travelled about 2400km. A special thanks goes to Garry for organising the ride.