Day 9/10 – Down to Port Campbell then into Melbourne
Prior to us heading south from Halls Gap, we detour over the Stawell. Well, the Stawell airport to be exact. Here we were to meet up with a guy called Terry, who had flown in with his own private military training aircraft.
It was an ex-Singapore Airforce SIAI-Marchetti S-211 turbofan powered aircraft. Apparently they were sold off by the Singapore Airforce a few years ago, and he bought one. Not sure how that happened, maybe it came up on eBay. He’s waiting to get the gunpods, missiles and rocket launchers installed (no he’s not – just joking!).
He offered to take Charley, Chris and Billy on an individual basis for a ride in this rather impressive aircraft. He had enough fuel for a fourth joy-ride, and so everybody put their name in the hat, except me. I don’t function well after riding in something that has the capacity to fly upside down and pull +6g’s/-3g’s through turns, loops and barrel rolls. The ferris wheel at Southbank is my limit. Anyhow, Rob’s name was drawn out. I did notice some of the other contestants heave a quiet sigh of relief. Rob is an adrenalin junkie, and he was over the moon. Everybody agreed he was a very worthy winner. The four guys all had grins on their faces that a crate of lemons wouldn’t remove.
Then it was back on the bikes for a ride down to Port Campbell, which is one of my favourite places. It was great coffee shops and restaurants, and has a sheltered bay for a quiet swim if the mood takes. Did the helicopter ride around the Twelve Apostles, which is a great experience.
It happens with any motorcycle trip, but the realisation comes that it is nearing the end. Day 9 was that day. It’s always a time of mixed feelings. The next, and final day, we rode along the Great Ocean Road and then into Melbourne.
After enduring Friday afternoon Melbourne traffic finally made it to the hotel. Took the opportunity to get Charley, Chris and Billy to sign my helmet. It goes into my memorabilia cabinet, never to be worn again.
After a great evening meal at Rococo, and several wines, it was off to bed. Farewells all round, exchanges of contact details. Next day, out to the airport for the trip home.
This was the inaugural ‘Sydney to the Outback’ tour organised by Compass Expeditions. Inaugural tours are brilliant, as there is always that element of surprise, as no amount of planning can foresee everything. As long as no one dies, it’s always the best kind of tour to be on.
I’m sure Mick and Jerry will hone it up over the coming years; but it will remain, in my humble opinion, a ‘must-do’ tour. I’d rate it five stars; not only for the itinerary, but the fantastic group of people who came along.