Day 2 – Albury to Port Melbourne
So Albury turned out to be a great success. The hotel, while very cheap at $89 was very comfortable and featured the most important part of any good room – a decent shower head.
We enjoyed a decent steak each and indulged in some delectable desserts. Rhiannon and Ian were our hosts in the restaurant and looked after us quite well. Ian had a bit of a natter with us about his ideas for next year’s menu as he was looking forward right through to Easter. He thought he might be jumping the gun a bit here but, as we assured him, hot cross buns will be in the supermarkets on Boxing Day!
We ate at the hotel again for breakfast (awesome scrambled eggs) before saddling up the scoots for the push to Melbourne. Unfortunately we chose a table next to an annoying couple that either complained about everything or spoke loudly about the fact that they lived in Newtown in Sydney. If only they’d seen Newtown twenty years ago – nothing to brag about back then! I was feeling pretty anxious again as there was only so much time to make the ferry to Tas. My mood was not fantastic and Nikki ordered me to snap out of it later in the day (and I totally deserved it).
Before departing the Twin Cities, however, we just had to hunt down a couple of Geocaches. For the uninitiated, Geocaching is a kind of hide-and-seek game using GPS receiver. Players have hidden ‘caches’ all around the world for others to seek out. At a minimum, the cache will contain a log book which is signed with the cacher’s handle. Additionally, cachers then log the find on the Geocaching website. Those who hide caches also maintain them, so we feel that it’s proper to write a short story about the hunt for them to enjoy. After all, it’s supposed to be a challenge to find these things. If you check out the site, I’m sure you’ll be surprised just how many caches are near your house! It’s like a secret little world.
Finally on the road again, we crossed the Murray River and it was an absolute delight to see it running so strongly. I despair for this river and really live in hope that a viable solution can be found for its welfare.
So, what can we say about the rest of the Hume Highway? It was mostly uneventful. I think there were less than ten trucks on the road today but no shortage of people traveling. One overtaking orange Falcon featured a blonde who took great delight in rolling down the window and laughing derisively at our mode of transportation. Pity her people, for she will never get it. I thought of her and her mulletted boyfriend as we filled both scoots for $12 knowing that they were unlikely to get change from $80!
It was a relief to see the outskirts of Melbourne. As we approached the turn off to Wallan I couldn’t help thinking about our good buddy Luke B who used to live down this way. Luke has traveled with us before and is a frequent and always welcome visitor to our house and, well, is a member of our family. This time last year he joined us in Tassie for a tour and rode with us all the way back to Canberra through Eastern Victoria. It was a memorable trip and one that we will always look back upon with a smile.
As we whizzed past the array of odd-looking speed cameras it became apparent that all was not well in the sky above. The clouds had started to gather and that all too familiar smell of rain hit my nostrils. I don’t particularly mind riding in the rain – as long as I’m suitably attired. The feeling of water slowly trickling into your undies is one of the most uncomfortable sensations you can have on a bike. Ask anyone who rides. At first I thought the rain would be kind but, as it happened, we were soon forced to shelter under and overpass to wait it out. A couple of brave bikers sped past while cars and trucks sprayed us with the wash from their tyres. Eventually we threw on the wet weather gear and rode on. It turns out that wet weather gear is only there to distract you long enough for the rain to stop – as it faithfully did! We soon stopped at another servo and stripped it off again – sigh.
With full tanks we made the final push for Port Melbourne and were soon crossing the Bolte Bridge with Port Phillip Bay awash with sunlight before us. I don’t think I could ever get sick of Melbourne. Its mixed Mediterranean/Metropolitan feel has always appealed to me. Plus, there are few places were the espresso is as good! Plus plus – FOOTY.
We grabbed some noodles in Bay Street before hunting another cache. Then it was over to Station Pier to await the arrival of the Spirit of Tasmania – our transport over Bass Strait. We were quite early (to my relief) and sat to take in the scene. People of all walks of life went by us in a relatively short time. Nikki and I love to watch (not creepy) but we also like to comment – as our friends will attest. We don’t mean anything by it, it’s just for our amusement.
Finally it was time to get in line for the ferry. As with our last time, we were ushered through security and the line of cars quite quickly – yet another advantage of ditching a car for these trips. That being said, some families were travelling in some nicely kitted-out 4WDs and I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous. They were enjoying their own adventure and would get to see parts of Tassie that we just wouldn’t be able to access. Also in the line was a woman and her Harley Davidson who recognised us from our overpass shelter. She asked lots of questions about the bikes and our plans. It’s one thing we’ve had to learn about riding away on Vespas – you must be prepared to talk about them.
Onboard at last, the scoots parked alongside the rest of the bikes and were strapped down by one of the crew. We’ve made this crossing a couple of times before so were quite able to find our way around the ship. We had a giggle at the manic families trying to locate their cabins or a place to park near the feed lot (sorry, buffet). We sat with stubbies of Cascade Premium and took in the scene. A friendly German guy took our photo and at that point I really felt like I was on holiday. We didn’t really feel like eating so we had a couple more beers before hitting the hay.
A great day all round. Tomorrow – Devonport to Orford and Christmas Day!
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