BALLARAT CAMP RIDE
(a personal account.)
If the Diggers going to the goldfields ever thought they were pioneers I can tell you we are too. We travelled to Ballarat via the longest route possible (Im sure I saw Uluru in the distance).
Stephen & I started the day early because I thought Shrek would be on my doorstep at 9.00am to pick up his passenger and me. But no, he sent an sms indicating his ETA as 9.15am as the meeting time was now 10.00am at Maccas. Hmm by 9.30 I was champing at the bit, ready to begin the weekends adventure. He arrived at 9.40am and we saddled up (Stephen becoming the official bike bitch) and took off to Laverton via the back roads from Diggers Rest. Everyone cheered as we arrived as they had been waiting so long for us. No time to stop and chat (or grab a coffee) so 13 bikes took off on a cooks tour of Werribee (uh huh) which was nice actually as I didnt realise they had a beach there (and lots of smelly market gardens)! We then went the back way to Gisborne, the very same route Shrek, Stephen & I had just travelled to get to the meeting point!! So we had come full circle.
Arriving at Gisborne I was desperate for a coffee and we were all glad of a mini-break. Kim was impatient to keep going as he wanted lunch in Daylesford. Shrek took off for a more direct route to Woodend (reason unknown) and the bike bitch changed to Rons bike. We journeyed on a beautiful meandering ride to Woodend via Mount Macedon (I love that road) and decided to eat at the Woodend bakery. Shrek returned to the fold and we took off again. We headed out via Trentham to Daylesford and stopped again for coffee and a chat by now we kind of got the impression we were not going to make Ballarat anytime soon. Sue & Kim live about 75ks from Ballarat and already they had travelled thrice that distance and were no closer to arriving. Whilst here we were met by 3 more people (on two bikes) who had been waiting patiently for our arrival (only about 2 hours late). We were now 15 bikes in all. Somewhere along the way bike bitch changed to Dave Posts mount (boy he was sure getting around).
We left Daylesford heading towards Ballarat (via Darwin I think), it seemed to me that we were never actually going in the direction we were meant too. But yes eventually I began to recognise the compass point had finally turned towards the goldfields. I had had two fuel stops since I left home and was still within 150ks of my place. Brian was intentionally delaying our arrival so they had plenty of time to set up camp.
Arriving at the camp ground found us in beautiful surroundings at a well set up camp. Brians son Brendon & his friend Murray had done an amazing job and the home fires were burning! It was a welcome site and the mobile kitchen (courtesy of Brivis) was a sight to behold. I felt better instantly, as the trepidation may not have been apparent to all but I can tell you I am not a camper .
I was also glad to see a proper working toilet. It was then set up time and choosing a site that was flat was our main objective. The slight incline didnt look too bad so Stephen & I set up our tent equidistant from the camp fire and the loo. Perfect!! It was great to see everyone pitching in and helping) each other with their domestic duties, (well, Neville tossed me a plank of wood to use as a hammer) there were a variety of tents and bedding ranging from the Taj Mahal of camping to the lean to of the more experienced bushman (thats al fresco living). Ron was smart and brought a hammock, very cosy indeed.
As a group we all decided it was the cocktail hour so we raided the mini bar (no, um oops thats how I usually camp) we raided the eskies and I popped the cork on my bottle of Chardonnay (ok, ok someone did that for me, isnt that what bike bitches are for?) and gave a toast to the host (Brian and his crew) for the day so far.
We were then herded off for a bit of activity and fun. Yep, we were in a scout camp and naturally they have an obstacle course! Eeeek, how do you walk a balance beam without spilling the chardy? We had lots of fun out here, everyone got into it and we had a lot of laughs watching each other fall, swing, climb, jump, balance and run. It was team building and energetic, just what we needed after a long days riding (!).
After that we headed back for dinner which was much anticipated. I had been told about the yellieburger and I for one couldnt wait to sample them. At this point I must make mention of Yellie, Brians wife, who made approx. 90 burgers for us. She couldnt come on the weekend but still managed to supply us with these yummy burgers for which she is apparently famous! Thank you Yellie, they were delicious. Served up with peas, mashed potato and gravy and lots of pepper, I tell you this is definitely my kind of camping.
That evening we sat around the campfire talking the talk and telling jokes. Neville is the consummate joke teller however he was closely followed by Dave Post. I had a joke too but I wanted to wait until just the right moment to tell it. It gets funnier the more you drink. We were very comfortable and had a slection of cheeses,cabana,chips and marshmallows. It was cosy and comfortable, warm and fuzzy. Unfortunately I was exhausted and soon retired to bed.
The next thing I know Im awake and busting for the loo. Its cold outside but very cosy inside our double sleeping bag, doona and tent. Stephen is awake with the same thought the loo suddenly seems too far away! Our idyllic site we chose is also on a bit of a slope and we are heading feet first out the doorway. Like quicksand, the more we wriggled the more we slid, the two air mattresses had separated and Kazza was unceremoniously dumped on the hard floor and very uncomfortable. This evoked a fit of the giggles that wasnt to abate for ages. I dont know why but it was just one of those comedic moments when you know your boyfriend (of only 5 months) is now seeing a whole new you! We tried ignoring our bladders and going back to sleep, but you know thats ridiculous, the bladder always wins, one way or another. So I got dressed , donned my ugg boots and set of to the loo, leaving Stephen to find a tree and fix the bedding. I trekked off in search of relief only to have the bejeezus scared out of me when a mans voice bellowed at me from the dark Its occupied then an animal like scream emanated (from someone who is usually very softly spoken and rides borrowed bikes). This was hilarious and I had then to decide what to do with my own needs. Do I find a tree (they were very skinny trees, or a bush, they were just grass clumps really, or do I wait) at this point I didnt care who saw me I just needed to pee, NOW. Well, in light of my desperation I decided to crouch behind the nearest bush and ignore the fact that I was under a huge spotlight from the adjoining cabins (unoccupied I assumed). The relief was immense and thank goodness Brett very kindly tossed me some loo paper under the door.
I toddled off back to my tent but somehow in the dark I took a wrong turn and ended up lost and alone (ok, I could see the bikes in the distance), I felt mild panic, was a wild animal going to drag me off to its lair and eat my gizzards, maybe an owl would swoop me off to Hogwarts, perhaps I would wander around for days lost and dazed without food or water ..amazing how alone you can feel at 4 in the morning in a strange place with only a torch and your imagination. I called out but no help came, I turned around and around and shone the torch back and forth, I soon found my way out of danger, I was about a 6 metres from my tent. We finally managed to get the bed back inside the tent and zip ourselves in properly and then get back into bed. We hoped to grab a bit more sleep. Alas no, the giggles had not fully abated, the wild life suddenly awoke, the kookaburras were soon laughing and I was feeling totally un-rested. No matter how hard I tried sleep was eluding me. It seemed but a moment before I heard the stirrings of the other animals (of the human kind) and it was obvious that I was not going to be a happy camper this morning. Then suddenly out of the blue our tent caved in, some smart arse thought it would be funny to collapse it on us. It was awful, it was wet, it was cold and I was trapped inside this slippery sleeping bag, no clothes on, no way to escape, the zippers on the tent (5 of them) were all done up and I was starting to get claustrophobia. No amount of screaming brought help to us. No amount of pleading found a sympathetic ear. We struggled our way out and got dressed in our now damp clothes. I was no longer, glamorous, attractive nor sophisticated. I was bedraggled, tired and cranky. I needed a cup of tea and a bit of a quiet moment. Shrek will pay for his mistakes later.
As the day stirrred and the other campers awoke it was apparent that we were to be blessed with a beautiful morning, Breakfast got underway and soon the scent of bacon and eggs was in the air. More yellieburgers, lots of juice and crispy bacon. It doesnt get much better than this even at the Sheraton (well, there was no silver service but it was good enough). I was also ready to tell my joke finally and as is typical I buggered up the punch line I told you it was better with a few drinks!
After breakfast we found out we were in for a treat. We were going Abseiling. Ive never done this before but Im always up for a challenge. Brian had arranged for soemone to come in and teach us how to abseil. It was fantastic and everyone was enthusiast to try it, well almost everyone, I am a bit reluctant to name names but there are those who walk amongst us who are terrified of heights and one of them was particularly petrified at some stage of this event. Let me say though that we all got up the top of the 10 metre wall to give it a go, that in itself is a good effort. It was very scary up there. Getting into harnesses with the intention of throwing yourself off the top is not something to be taken lightly. For me personally it was fun, but getting over the barrier the first time was very nerve wracking. I didnt think I would do it, but once I did I enjoyed the experience. Some people are braver than others, Brett astonished us all by his fearless attitude and doing a forward abseil. Everyone had fun at this activity except Sue. She was so petrified that it took a lot of effort and cajoling to get her down. Yes, she got up but was too afraid to get down. The instructor had to go down the wall with her sitting on his knee, quite funny for us but obviously a harrowing experience for Sue.
After 2 hours of fun it was time to finalise the pack up and hit the road. Kim, Sue & Neville took off together and the rest of us headed to Hungry Jacks. During the fuss of good byes we forgot to nominate a new Tail End Charlie and so lost Brett (who turned back for his sunnies). Ron was then elected TEC and we headed off on a scenic route home. Shrek, Dave, Stephen & myself then veered off at Bacchus March and the rest followed Brian to Werribee.
This was a brilliant weekend and was very well organised by Brian. A big thank you to him, his wife, sons and other helpers. Also a special thankyou to Frank, Jeff & his grandson. As is testified by this, the longest ride report ever we had a fantastic time.
I hope we do it again.
Kazza the camper ?
Weekend away (incl. food/drinks/abseiling) $30
Petrol for bike $20
The smiles on everyones face PRICELESS
If I have missed any details or forgotten anything Im sure you will hear about it. I think this weekend will be talked about for a while, with many diiferent views and memories !