Great Ocean Road (Trip!) A Motorcycle tour from ADL>MELB

Mission : Fly to Adelaide, sell an almost-forgotten car, buy bike, ride it 1000+km down one of the worlds best coastal scenic roads to Melbourne…Oh, and do it on a baby sportsbike, on sports tyres, and on the way take it for a 30km offroad detour through the gravel backroads of the Otway Forest? Why not. 

Ingredients : Well for starts, a steed.

Yamaha R3
2015 Yamaha R3 : 321cc of raw, learner legal fury.

At the time of purchase, I was still on my probationary licence (LAMS scheme) which in Australia restricts you in two forms. Maximum capacity and below that, a power-to-weight ratio limit. Although fully licenced now, I wanted a “smaller” bike for it’s nimbleness in traffic, fuel economy, ease of parking, etc.  Don’t be fooled by the above, however. She’ll still hit 60kph in 1st gear (it has 6) and get across the lights faster than most street cars, and just as fast as a much larger bike.

Preparing for touring : Gear, farkles, trinkets, oh my!

Quite a few “ease of life” mods were added however, most rather cheaply. These included a inflatable cushion, puncture repair kit, clip on auxiliary windscreen, and an automatic chain oiler.

The route : 1100+ km of touring, 3 days, dodging storms and bushfires.

The South Australian coastline is gorgeous, but having been an Adelaide resident for a long time previously, I’d explored quite a bit of it already. With limited time the decision was made to bomb down the main freeway all the way to Horsham, a popular mid-way stopover for the ADl<MELB run. Airbnb saw me settled overnight in a lovely semi-retired mum-of-6’s place for the night, before an early start.

Ready to go

Fully kitted out with a front tank-bag, and a 65lt hiking rucksack wrapped in it’s rain-cover and strapped securely down with mini-ratchets, off we went!

It didn’t take long, at the very first gas-station stop the attendant, a truckie, and a passing rider all wanted to chat about the unusual sportsbike+touring setup. I think it still looks pretty sharp despite the barnacles!

The ride out of S.A was a pretty straight, boring, uneventful highway bomb. This sign was actually quite a surprise, it hadn’t felt like much time had elapsed! Had to do the lame pull over photo op.  This is when I felt like I was really on an adventure.

Much of South Australia and early Vic was like this. Big plains, quite dry at this time of year. Nice, big, wide open skies. Pretty nice to be outside of the city…but the best was yet to come.

Click to expand

There is an infamous “Pink Lake” right off the main inter-city highway, just over the border. It sneaks up on you, cruising along a highway with a stand of tree’s on your right, a slight ascending right hander then BAM : Scenic lookout on your right! I can report the salt left behind in the middle of the pan is pretty delicious.

That was day 1, all the way to Horsham, ever so slightly north of the Grampians. Day 2 saw me hitting the road, and taking a turn off the main highway to head south through the Grampians National Park. Almost immediately things started getting more lush, and the roads even had a few corners! Started seeing more wildlife, a bit more of a concern on a bike.

The Grampians far exceeded expectations. This picture doesn’t do the sheer scale of that woodland justice, nor the mountain range in the distance, and this is just a small fraction of the park. I’d budgeted 2 hours for this run, 4 hours later I really needed to get a move on.

Sadly this meant ignoring all the enticing “lookout” and “historical” markers, all of which had been worth visiting to date. I had to remind myself I was on a scenic tour, not a in depth holiday, and get moving before dark!

Roadworks weren’t helping. I reckon I ran into ~20 of these setups on the trip. At first they were annoying, but later along the G.O.R they were great for making sure the road ahead of you was empty when you were let through!

Speaking of that road…

The official sign, just around Warranambool on the coast of Vic, south of the grampians. I rode through some smoke from some ongoing bushfires on the way here, and saw a huge wind farm off in the distance. Quite scenic bushland.

But check out the very view from the first corner where the road finally met the sea…

Not bad at all, and you could pull over every 5 minutes to get shots like this one up and down the coast.

Despite the setting sun, I took a detour down a gravel forest backgroad to visit the Cape Otway lighthouse, the 2nd most southern point of the Australian Mainland. Except nope, it was closed. Closed, locked, chained, and no way to walk “around” just to enjoy the grounds…because **** me, right?

Racing the setting sun into Apollo Bay lead to this spectacular shot. I’d been fighting incredibly high sidewinds to this point, resulting in a very sore neck, the bike getting blown around, and huge amounts of salt spray covering the bike in this section. Beautiful yes, but needed to be washed off to prevent corrosion, and covered my visor in a permanent mist regularly!

Seacroft, a converted former monk monastery – turned – overnight stay accom, provided amazing afternoon views to relax and unwind.

…and check out the view I walked out to on the morning of day 3 below! 904km down at this point, with a relatively short blat along the rest of the Great Ocean Road, and up into Melbourne.

A short blat back down the G.O.R to turn into a juicy looking back road I’d scouted on google maps the night before, which would add a few hours to my journey, but I’d gotten up early so why not!

Hard to leave that behind, but I was coming back…and oh, was it ever worth it. A worn asphalt road quickly turned to dirt and gravel, but it also quickly turned to this…

…and it seemed the worse the road got, the better the views. So much debris on the ground from the last few days of wind and storms, much shin-slapping sticks being kicked up, but it was worth it.

That was genuinely the best dirt road I’ve ever been on in my life. Plenty of enticing side-markers to waterfalls and the like around, but again, I was dying for time. The road back down from the town off Forrest was just as lush, but on a perfectly banked and perfectly smooth 80kph highway.

No joke, it was the best offroad trail followed by the best highway road I’d ever been on, in my life. G.O.R is pretty, but that road was fast. Sadly, nowhere appropriate to pull over on, but this google street view shot may give you the barest idea

The rest of the great ocean road was quite pleasant. I decided to give most of the major tourist pullovers a miss, as I’m absolutely coming back here one day with company. The great ocean views continued right up till Lorne and Torquay, for one final coffee break before returning to civilisation .

Total ride? 3 days. 1200km. Highway, dirt, gravel, and coast rides. Crosswinds, storm dodging, bushfire dodging…not bad.

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