The Peninsula of the Rider’s Holy Grail

Melbourne to Mornington Penninsula – Day 1

Apparently there are a few things that can keep me away from the bike… Besides the ridiculously weird and wicked Melbourne weather; so was the biggest chest infection I’ve ever had in my life … It hit me hard and so so very cold!  I’ve never been good with the cold, but being in Melbourne and hearing into winter, my body is just not coping.  I usually can’t handle anything below 20 degrees with a min of 99% humidity.  Was born in the Mediterranean and then moved to a place with the same mild and hot temperatures.  What didn’t help either was the fact that the place that I found long term accommodation did not have heating, so the room was always cold, and felt… wet.   I remember lying down in the mattress with every doona and blanket thrown on top, with my pyjamas, jumper, beanie and socks on, and still feeling wet, cold and clammy. It was very ikky feeling.   I was in bed not being able to move for 2 whole weeks, coughing and blowing my nose out.  It was only on the 3rd week that I was contemplating going to the doctor, where I started to get marginally better.   I went and they put me on antibiotics.

Only when I had enough energy to put my clothes to wash including the now very gross sheets, I nearly fell backwards in shock.  I was horrified and this explained the chest infection.   The bottom of the mattress was thick with furry stuff, green all over.  No wonder that the mattress felt – wet.  Because it was wet!  Since this house didn’t have heating, and was hardly ever opened up to air out, spores had been floating about the house, and since this was a spare room with a spare mattress on the floor, it wasn’t moved from there.  So mould from the bottom of the skirtboards of the house touching the mattress absorbing everything but never getting aired out or dried out was just gross.  I was literally sleeping on a wet petri dish, breathing in fungus spores and god knows what else!!   My poor lungs!

As soon as I had the energy, I threw the sheets into boiling water with plenty of bleach, and then put them through a dryer to kill all spores.  Then the mattress was thrown out and I brought a new one from Gumtree thoroughly inspecting it for fungus or nasties.  Amazing the difference that it made; as for the 1st night that I swapped the mattress, I felt dry and way warmer.  From here I started getting better and better so by nearly the 4th week I was feeling human again and not having the smoker’s cough that sounded that I had been smoking 3 packets a day habit.

Due to the lag in time, I went back to the consulate and more paperwork and pleading occurred.  More lodgements and now again waiting game.  Not being able to stay sedentary and within Melbourne any longer, and using the short window of what seemed to be ‘good’ weather by Melbs standards, off I went for a couple of day’s tour to visit the Holy Grail of Aussie riders …. PHILLIP ISLAND and the GrandPrix track!

A little hole in the wall cafe

Next morning I left early so I could try a tiny hole-in-the-wall Crepe place that made gluten free crepes.  I heard they were to die for! Breakky was a special French banana and Nutella crepes. At an authentic French place, only big enough to fit no more than 5 people inside, plenty cozy with romantic music playing in the background. The only romance this girl was experiencing, was from the chocolate and crepes! Get. In. Ma. Belly!

Get in mah belly!

The photos say it all! 😉

Belly happy, I headed south, following as close as I was able to the bay on my right, so I could see the type of places Melbournites call a ‘beach’.  I kept going south until I needed a break and the little ladies’ room after having processed breakfast.  For this I spotted a swimming pavilion which certainly fit the bill to what my needs currently were.

Comfort stop

I worked out that I had stopped at Frankston, and since I was off the bike, I decided to lock it up and do a walk around.  It had the feel of an upbeat, beach town with shopping centre nearby and plenty of trendy coffee shops near the water.   The sun at that moment was actually quite nice, albeit a bit windy.

First I went over to the water’s edge, and saw that the beach wouldn’t be too shabby in the height of summer here (in the 2 weeks a year it gets to about 40 degrees).  And then I realised that in the short summer this place has, and so many people in Melbourne, that there wouldn’t be a single metre square of beach that wouldn’t be covered in someone’s picnic blanket, towel or sun shade.  No thanks.  Give me the Gold Coast beaches that run for 30+ kms long and much, much wider….

Lovely beachside structures

But what it didn’t have in the temperature appeal, the place had really lovely footpaths, walkways, coastal gardens and beach pavilions.   At the end of the infrastructure, there was also a very long jetty, which of course had fishermen on it.

Walking back to the bike, I was pleasantly surprised with another BIG, little thing.  Wasn’t able to take a photo of it with the Lawnmower next to it for scale, but did hitch a ride 🙂

Saddled up and kept riding south, and only realised there was another WTF random BIG thing – the ‘Chrome Gnome’ behind a fence that looked like a land lot that was getting ready to be developed…?  I had no idea what it was or represented, but it’s going in my collection.  🙂

Please explain?

I don’t understand it.  But I like it.  The thing is hard to miss as the sun catches the surface of it and sends glints of light into all directions, much like a disco ball.   Next stop was the eastern/south(?) most tip of Melbourne’s bay, at Point Napean.

Stopped at Point Nepean National Park for a walk, sightseeing and a history lesson.  I thought it was funny that this place was called a national park, but I guess it made sense from a historical point of view rather than the natural and ecological conservation.  Although the bay was pretty, with the very windy beach, and coastal woodlands skirting clearings with war-like buildings (barracks and the like).

There were plenty of people enjoying the afternoon walking their pooches, riding their pushbikes and jogging with beanies, mittens and headphones.  As soon as the wind picked up the temperatures plummeted.

Windy beach!

The national park was nice to see and have a wander around, but not really mu cup of tea.  My national parks need to be very bushy and wild!   I was getting rather hungry, so saddled back up and ride towards the ‘millionaire’s walk’ for some fish and chips.

Napean’s well maintained walkways
Barracks at Port Napean

Probably spent quite a while there just walking all the jetties and pontoons, while enjoying some local fish and chips and I realised that the sun was setting and I was getting a bit cold.  Here the sun certainly started to go very early.  By 6pm it was dark!

Not a bad place to have fish & chips for dinner

Concluded that peak hour wasn’t going to be fun at all, considering there would be about 3 hours of it riding back and it was soon to get dark.  So I decided to look for a cheap nearby Airbnb and stay the night down this way.  That also gave me the opportunity to check out Arthur’s Chair lookout – a most awesome light display of the entire bay with Melbourne city in the background.  Of course shitty photography from the iphone, doesn’t do it justice.   Since I was not too far from another place I had heard about, I decided to go see it since it was just round the corner.

Arthur’s Chair lookout

To top the night off with an hours’ soak in the Peninsula Hot Springs (no cameras were allowed there to take photos of steaming baths unfortunately)… Bit expensive for my budget but I thought I would treat myself, to help my body recover from the recent bout of sickness. Haven’t felt more at home in the thermal pool’s temperature since having left Qld! Lol Highly recommended! 🙂

Mornington Peninsula to Phillip Island – Day 2

The Airbnb room I found was tiny and cozy.  Under $50 but had heating and a hot shower, so nothing more I needed.  It was owned by a young army guy, who did Airbnb in his spare ‘cupboard’ of a bedroom to help him pay for the mortgage.  Quiet and kept to himself, but it was good to be able to sleep soundly in a real bed with heating – heaven!!  These are the places I like, as you get to see differing ways in which people live, and you can get some interior decorating ideas.  Cheap and cheerful.

I took my time leaving the next morning waiting for the winds to die down, as well as hoping for the temperatures to climb a little. As well as giving the house owner’s preference to the bathroom. So he could get ready to get going to work.  I wasn’t in a hurry anyways.

From south of Mornington Peninsula I headed off to San Remo, as there was one photo that I had to take.   The BIG wave 😀  This was a nice warm up for what was to come later on after a hop and a ship over the bridge and onto Phillip Island.

The BIG wave at San Remo

As I rode closer and closer to the track, I didn’t know what to except.  Straight over the bridge onto Phillip Island looked all like another seaside village full of surfing signs, followed by Penguin tours.  But then the leaving the shops behind the terrain started opening up and turning more into what looked like large pasture blocks with a few cows and not much else.

Then came the moment every Aussie rider dreams of. The glimpse of such a fine race track…

Pity you can’t see the track from the perimiter of the fence

The first glimpses of the track and the racing buildings.

Grand reception building

Unfortunately I was not able to do a lap pr two of the track, as much as I tried to ask the receptionist or even offer to day a bit of money for the pleasure.  I guess this is something that they get asked a lot. You can only have a go at track days or organised races.  Which was not today.  So I was just content in riding outside the perimeter and having a walk around the grounds where I was allowed.  I could just imagine the fanfare, noise and spectacle that this place would be during MotoGP or Australian Superbike season.

From the track, I went to do a lap of Phillip Island itself, looking at the differing beaches, cliffs and stops such as Gull Island lookout, The Nobbies Round Island lookout, Ventnor Beach etc.  I kept a look out for seabirds as I have been told that there are quite a few differing species of them.  Also quite famous are the Fairy Penguins, which are nocturnal so I didn’t spot any… but I did hear them in their burrows on the side of the hill, underneath thick rushes.  And also smell them.  Oh, by Odin’s beard, their pong is quite pungent!

Hard to imagine, but they are able to swim and climb over the rugged coastline, quite high up cliffs and burrow.  There are heaps of burrows underneath the stairs leading to the observation deck near Penguin Parade.

As the winds kept picking up more and more, temperatures were dropping, I rode around to the protected area of the island towards Cowes, where there are plenty of cafes, and racing and biking memorabilia.  I did a lap of the shops and brought a t-shirt or two from one of these shops with Phillip Island track logo. When in Rome…

Shopping for PI memoribilia in Cowes

After having a nice rest and a successful shopping trip, I started making my way back towards Melbourne.  I said goodbye to Phillip Island, happy I’ve ticked that off my bucket list (although it was only later that I found out that I had missed something rather important to visit – The BIG earthworm!  A 100m long worm, which was part of a Museum, that’s now been permanently closed L ).  Just goes to show – always take the opportunity to go see something when you can, otherwise…

Backtracking, said goodbye to PI and headed over back towards the Mornington peninsula.  Coming through the other day I remember seeing all these cool deli or artisan places and since I had a bit of time still up my sleeve, I did a few more stops before getting on the freeway back to Melbourne.

Checked out some of the many delectable farms – cheeses, peninsula honey, apples, cherries, strawberries to get as many free taste samples as possible!  The shitty thing about bike touring is that no matter how much stuff you want to take back home with you – you don’t have enough luggage space. Doh!

The deli houses with hobby farms had some lovely walks and gardens around some of their properties.  And some had interesting warning signs.  Watch out because trees may jump out and lay down on you!

Found some other curiosities.   Last stop before getting back to my usual accommodation in Heidelberg, was the Braaap Motorcycle company.  This was completely new to me as I had never heard of this brand, which is totally Australian!  Who knew?  I stopped to check it out and as soon as I walked in, I could tell that this was not my style of motorcycle but I certainly had respect for the founders and for trying to make a local product in today’s market.

Braaaaaaap away!

It’s style is all about looking cool, on café racers, man-buns, leather sachet bags, and if I am cheeky, tassels wouldn’t go astray… lol

It looked part museum, part coffee shop, part workshop and part retail shop.  Interesting set up and good to stop by and increase my knowledge on the biking world, if nothing else.

Cafe racer
Hipster shop, workshop and bike showroom

From there it was a fitting end to a short trip, to get my touring legs back and get some quality sleep in warmth.  All to recuperate before making future plans for further trips out.

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