Bill the Bastard and other Fables

Fine weather forecast leading up to Easter so we set off for a 3-day, 1000km loop around the Riverina and south-western slopes of NSW before hot-footing down into the Murray River and home.

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We tracked out via Wang and Corowa heading up to Urana on the Federation Way.  She was dry and flat out there, with a lot of dead ‘roos and mobs of emus running about on suicide missions.  Didn’t seem much for them to eat.

What we weren’t expecting were dust devils.  It was a pleasant 25C and I’ve always associated them with hot weather.  But there were a series of vortices across the flat landscape and they seemed to suck the air in from quite a distance, knocking us around on our bikes.  Columns of dust rose from the featureless plain as we sped through.

Urangaline Creek at Urana was mostly dried up and the caravan park empty of fishermen.

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But after passing Urana, we entered the Riverina and the landscape greened up.  Our destination was Leeton.

One of my ancestors (my first cousin twice removed) moved here after WW1.  Victor “Garnet” Veness landed at Gallipoli in 1915 and fought in France, being wounded in 1916 and hospitalized in London.  In 1917, Lieut. Veness he took part in the 4th Division’s assault on the Hindenburg Line in the First Battle of Bullecourt.  Tanks which were supposed to support the attacking Australian infantry either broke down or were quickly destroyed.  Nevertheless, the infantry managed to break into the German defenses.  Due to uncertainty as to how far they had advanced, supporting artillery fire was withheld, and eventually the Australians were hemmed in and forced to retreat.  The two brigades of the 4th Division that carried out the attack, the 4th and 12th, suffered over 3,300 casualties; 1,170 Australians were taken prisoner — the largest number captured in a single engagement during the war.

Garnet was captured and eventually repatriated to England in December, 1918.  He married Mary Ann Turner (1882-1921) the following June and brought her back to a Soldiers Settlement property at Yenda, near Griffith, NSW.  Mary died of tuberculosis in the Public Hospital, Leeton, NSW, only two years later.  She is buried at Leeton Cemetery.  TB wouldn’t be cured until Australian Howard Florey and Ernst Chain developed penicillin during WW2,

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Garnet later moved to Queensland, farmed tobacco and remarried.  His diary, in which he describes a medic with a donkey at Gallipoli, is held by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

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Mary and Garnet in their house at Yenda (Griffith Genealogical and Historical Society).

We had booked into the Historic Hydro Motor Inn, which was very comfortable and in the centre of town.

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The next morning, we headed off to Junee to visit the Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory.  A lot of renovations and additions have been done to this old flour mill since our last visit ten or so years ago; restaurant and coffee and outdoor dining.  Well worth a visit.

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Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory

Off to the east for lunch at Planted Cootamundra; the three cheese toasted sandwich with ham and tomato and a coffee, and very nice it was, too.

But Murrumburrah-Harden was our aim, to see Bill the Bastard.  We were fortunate to meet Carl Valerius, the sculptor, and he gave us the gen.  The wax model of Bill was there, the bronze casting was taking place in Sydney at this time, and two troopers were left to cast.  Each trooper cost $45,000 to cast in bronze.  The total cost so far was about $800,000 but the statue had recently been awarded national significance which was helping with public donations.  It’s expected that the statue of Bill and Major Shanahan rescuing the four Tasmanian troopers will be unveiled later this year.

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Bill the Bastard was rideable only by Major Michael Shanahan, hence his name.  During the Battle of Romani in August 1916, the pair rescued four stranded Tasmanian troopers who piled onto Bill as he galloped almost three miles to return them to safety; two on his back with Shanahan and one standing on each stirrup.  The Anzac Mounted Division stopped the Turkish advance and prevented them from seizing the Suez Canal.  Shanahan was wounded and had a leg amputated.  Bill the Bastard went to Gallipoli after the war to help with the cleanup of the battlefields.  He died in 1924 at the age of 21 and is buried at Walker’s Ridge in Gallipoli.  Because they weren’t wounded or killed during their rescue, the names of the four Tasmanians have never been determined.

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Major Michael Shanahan with Bill the Bastard, 1915.

Perhaps the best road of the trip was between Harden and Jugiong.  A fabulous ride before stopping overnight at the Jugiong Motor Inn where we met up with the Moto Guzzi Owners Association of NSW.  About thirty of them had made the trip, some camping on the adjacent river flat.  We had a very nice dinner from the Irish chef and a few different ales from the bar, sitting outside in the warm evening.

Up with the chirps on Sunday morning for the fang back home.  Hit the freeway for a few miles and turned off for Adelong, intended having breakfast.  Pretty rough and ready road.  But cafes were closed until 10am, so we refueled and headed off to Batlow and had brekky at Coffee and More.  Then a pleasant run through the hills, valleys and forests to Tumbarumba and Corryong, stopping for a break at the Southern Cloud Memorial.  The three-engine Avro 10 airliner crashed in the mountains behind the tree in 1931 and remained undiscovered for twenty seven years.

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Horrie the Wog Dog allegedly lived in Corryong after he was smuggled back to Australia by soldiers returning from the Middle East in 1942.  The evidence is, though, that he was put down by quarantine officials in 1945 – heartless bastards.  We stopped for a cuppa and to give him a pat.

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Two hours more and we were back home to our boys, Paddy and Mick.  The Breva clicked over 75,000km on the trip, so time for an oil change.

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California EV Fork Oil Change

I’ve owned the Cali EV for 3 years now and don’t know the previous maintenance history.  So it was time to replace the front fork oil.  Reading the manual, it was apparent that this wasn’t as straight forward as doing the forks on my Breva 1100 or my previous Metal Stone.  Eventually, I decided to follow the procedure outlined by Bob Schantz in the Guzzitech archive.

First off, removed the windscreen, front wheel and mudguard.  I jacked the bike up under the sump and let her sit there.  I unwound the fork adjusters (at the handlebar) and kept count of how many turns — 15 and 18.  I wrote them down.  I don’t know if it was necessary to do this but it couldn’t hurt I figured.

Undid all the fork pinch screws and slid the forks down.  I used a screw driver to pry the fork clamps open.  Part way down, I re-tightened a pinch screw and undid the fork cap with a crescent.  The manual says to place the fork in a vice for this but I don’t like doing that.  The cap isn’t very tight anyway.

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I undid the cap, which remains attached to the rod; unlike the Breva and Stone it’s not spring-loaded.  I poured the old oil out which initially came out clean but the last third or so was quite dirty.

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I pumped the forks a few times to extract more oil then left them overnight to drain — more came out.

Last year I’d saved a plastic mojito bottle which had an interesting spout.  This proved ideal for pouring the fork oil into the opening at the top of the strut.  I measured out 485ml and poured it into the mojito bottle.  I have a bit of a jaundiced view of this exacting measurement – it’s impossible to know how much oil is left coating the innards of the fork and the container I’m using.  Why didn’t Guzzi just make it 15ml more to 500ml?  I pumped the forks up and down occasionally.

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I screwed the caps back on and slid the forks up into the clamps, stopping momentarily to secure a pinch screw and tighten the cap with the crescent, taking care not to overtighten and damage the O-ring seal.  Using a screwdriver to prise open the clamps occasionally, I twisted and turned the forks up into position.

At this stage, I didn’t tighten the clamps.  I put the wheel, axle and mudguard back on then tightened the clamp screws.  Seemed logical to me…but who knows?  Replaced the brakes and pumped brake lever.  Put 15 turns onto each of the fork adjusters.

Went for a fang.  I felt that there was a detectable improvement in the front forks but perhaps not as much as I’d felt when I did the Metal Stone years ago.  Anyway, another job out of the way and a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

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California EV 50,000 km Service

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It was time for the 50,000km service on the EV, so with the Chief’s help, I ran the big gal up onto the lift, tied her down, and jacked her up.

Firstly. drop all the fluids.

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Then remove the sump to replace the oil filter.  I use a car jack to support the sump while I loosen the screws – it’s not heavy but it leaves my hands free.  The gasket wasn’t damaged in the process so I reused it.  As I have for the past 15 years on my Calis and Breva, I used a Ryco Z418, obtainable anywhere.  It’s the same filter that’s used in the Toyota Landcruiser V8.  I don’t like the Guzzi recommended UFI filters – they’ve always leaked on my Breva 1100.  I use a a hose clamp, with the boss hard up against the oil pressure regulator valve, to minimise the risk of the filter loosening.

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A smear of grease on the pan surface, then onto the car jack to replace the screws.  The grease allows the pan to slide around slightly on the gasket as I search for the first couple of screw holes.

I had some left-over Penrite 15W-50 Diesel and Penrite HPR10 10W-50 Synthetic, so I mixed the two together and gave the Guzzi a 3 litre cocktail.  Used Penrite 80W-90 gear oil in the gearbox and rear drive.  Since Guzzi recommend adding molybdenum to the rear drive, I gave it and the gear box a shot of Penrite Shift Eze.  As you can tell, I like using Penrite – it’s easy to get where I live.

Next job, check the tappets.  One exhaust gap needed to be reset.  I use a drinking straw or wood skewer to determine top-dead-centre, rotating the engine with a spanner on the alternator nut, watching the valves close.  I use a light hand on the skewer – I don’t want it break in the cylinder!

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A light smear of grease on the rocker cover allows the cover to move slightly as I find the screw holes and protects the gasket.

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Note how clean the rocker covers are.  Years ago I used to get white, creamy smegma in them but that stopped when I changed to Penrite.

While she was on the ramp, I had a good look underneath her, checking for loose centre-stand bolts and gear linkage, particularly where it joins the spline at the back of the gear box – that came loose once on my ’01 Metal Stone.  All OK.  The side-stand boss was showing some wear where it supported the weight of the bike.

New spark plugs and she was ready for a test run  Next, the fork oil and the brake fluid.

 

 

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An oil leak resolved

 

No sooner had I sorted out the CARC issues on my Breva, another problem arose. Well, she is thirteen years old now. While refueling the bike I noticed a small oil splatter on the ground. I assumed that it was from a previous vehicle, but when I arrived home, I put the big gal up on the centre stand and slid a sheet of paper under the sump. Yep, there it was the next day…an oil spot.

Groaning around on the floor, I determined that it wasn’t the sump plug — I keep reusing the sump plug washer and was sure that I was about to be punished — but that it was coming from the blow-by-system oil pipe where it attaches to the sump.  And it wasn’t coming from the metal fitting screwed into the sump, but from the textile-covered oil hose where it attaches to the fitting. A new one retailed at about $150. Heck, how much oil goes down this hose, anyway? Maybe I could put up with an intermittent oil drip.

No, I couldn’t. I drained the sump and pulled the fuel tank off, after an argument with the quick-release fuel line, and examined the hose’s route through the engine. Cripes. Then, an epiphany…a brilliant idea that occasionally comes to bods who work on their own bikes. I pulled the starter motor off, after extracting the 30amp fuses, and all was revealed. Five minutes work and the hose was out. It seems that the hose had perished at the join and was oozing oil. The manner in which the bike had been assembled — with the fitting hard up against the back of the engine — had put pressure on the hose at this point, and it had perished at the junction over time.

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I headed off to ENZED Wangaratta (the “Hose Doctors”) to see if they could repair it. No probs but they didn’t have the textile-covered hose…could have it on special order. So, I settled for plain hose and 30 minutes later, and $30, it was in my hands along with a couple of hose clamps.

The new hose was quite flexible and fed easily through the engine. Attached this end, attached that end, replaced the starter, replaced the tank, replaced the 30amp fuses, REPLACED the oil — it’s easy to get too enthusiastic — turned the key, watched the needles do their thing, and thumbed the starter.

She started. No errors displayed. No left-over nuts or screws. Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again!

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Michelin scalloping on the front tyre

I noticed that the front tyre on my Breva was scalloping on the right-hand-side.  I think that there’s about 10,000km on the Michelin Pilot Road 4s.  It never occurred on the Road 3s that I had used previously.  A search on Google revealed quite a few complaints from riders of heavy bikes, such as Yamaha FJRs.

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I had a chat to Clint at Morrison Moto Garage.  He said it was common and it was unlikely to be my suspension.  So, I swapped it over for a Pirelli Demon.  I’ll see how that goes.  The rear still has a bit of life left so I’ll replace it with a Pirelli later this year.

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Breva CARC issues

The Breva lives!  Some months back I detected a strange noise coming from my ’07 Breva 1100.  By the time I arrived home, it was so loud that my neighbor came out to see what it was.  I was unsure if it was the CARC or maybe the alternator.  I freighted the bike up to Moto Moda in Bungendore.  Then Michael had his accident and Peter Roper was in North America, so the bike languished for a time.  Finally, Roper determined that it was the CARC but not the wheel bearing.  Something deeper.  It was not cost effective to break open the CARC, for which parts and spacers are hard to get, to repair it when secondhand ones were readily available.  Peter and Jude brought the Breva back to Bright for the cost of a tank of diesel, overnight accommodation and a few pints.  They like visiting Bright, they said.  Lucky me.

I’d forgotten how enjoyable the big Breva is — that comfortable seat and sitting position, its mile-munching, loping motor with the Beetle map, its touring capacity, its crap rear brake.

Crap rear brake?  It felt crappier than I remembered.  Upon parking the Guzzi in the shed I saw the tell-tale signs of a leaking CARC seal with oil splatters on the wheel rim.  Yanked off the wheel and there was oil on the seal and brake rotor.

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Spoke to Peter and a few bods at the Spag who all seemed to think that, if I could replace fork seals, I’d be capable of replacing the wheel bearing seal.  One Tuesday I ordered the seal from Mario at Thunderbikes in Perth and it arrived in Bright at midday the following day.  Wow!

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Removing the CARC to the work bench, I couldn’t get the old seal out; had to resort to a technique that I’d only read about.  Using my trusty drill, I attempted to screw a self-tapper into the old seal.  It wouldn’t go in!  That Viton seal is hard.  I didn’t want to rev the drill any faster for fear of drilling into the bearing beneath.  Selecting my smallest drill bit, I drilled a pilot hole.  That self-tapper then slipped in as if into butter.  Grasping the screw with pliers, I easily levered the seal out. 

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A smear of grease on the new seal, I tapped it in with a mallet, using a piece of wood to keep it flush with the housing.  Reassembled the bike, added Penrite 80W-90 to the rear drive, and went for a fang.  A fortnight later, no leak!  I hadn’t realized what a simple system it was.

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The Silo Art Trail and Australia Felix

We were in need of a long ride so set off to do the Silo Art Trail in western Victoria.  Initially we followed the Murray River north-west, surprised at the urban sprawls of Yarrawonga and Cobram.  We crossed the river at Barmah into NSW.  I wanted to avoid the shemozzle of Echuca so we came down into Moama and stayed the night at the River Park Motel – highly recommended and close to the flash Moama Bowling Club for tea.

Next morning we crawled through the Echuca crappola and onto the Murray Valley Highway for the run to Kerang.  Two oncoming adventure bikers gave us big arm waves. V-Stroms.  Twenty minutes later it happened again.  Beemers.  We were getting a lot of respect!  Yessirree!  From Kerang we struck inland, away from the river, to Quambatook for lunch.  We diverted to Sea Lake for fuel – it was raining all around except on us.  So, for some time we avoided the showers.  But it couldn’t last and, as we approached Dumosa, it bucketed down.  But I spied a toilet block near the silos into which we zoomed.

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The handy toilet block at the Dumosa silos.

Of course, a truckie pulled up and needed to use the facilities, so we wandered over to talk to his dogs.  Then the storm really hit us.  It’s times like this that I wished I’d paid more attention to what Jane Bunn had said instead of just paying attention to Jane Bunn.

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Jane Bunn explaining the weather to me.

Our destination for the night was the Woomelang Hotel which I’d read some positive reviews from motorcyclists on Facebook.  It is slowly being restored by Graham and Lisa.  The room was comfortable and seafood basket tasty.  The hotel is closed on Monday and Tuesdays but open for travellers, mainly tourists visiting Lake Tyrell and the silos.  Ours were the only vehicles on the street.

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It is, as was Quambatook, just one of the many dying towns in north-western Victoria — empty shops, derelict and abandoned businesses, houses and sheds.  The mechanization of the large grain farms and the use of contractors for sowing and harvesting has expelled the jobs and youth from the towns.  Occasionally, a few people move in, attracted by the very cheap houses.  But they, of course, don’t have any money to spend or invest.  A whole way of life has gone and is evidenced in the forlorn deterioration of the towns.

Just up the road is Lascelles, the site of the first silo on our route.  The silos on the art trail have all been decommissioned.

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Lascelles: local farming couple Geoff and Merrilyn Horman, part of a family that has lived and farmed in the area for four generations.

Then on to Patchewollock where we had a very good coffee at the local store.  The chick who made our coffee lives on a nearby farm and rattled off the crops that she and her husband grew – some I’d never heard of.  Patchie was preparing for its music festival the following weekend and caravans were already rolling into town.  Thousands attend.

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Patchewollock: The rugged, lanky local, Nick “Noodle” Hulland, exemplifies the no-nonsense, hardworking spirit of the region. Perhaps more importantly though, Noodle had just the right height and leanness to neatly fit onto the narrow, 35-metre-high canvas of the twin 1939-built GrainCorp silos.

An issue now arising was fuel.  My Moto Guzzi EV 1100 and Jane’s Ducati GT1000 required 98 RON petrol.  We’d take 95 RON if we had to.  But these towns had only 91 RON and diesel.  Some town tourist signs had a fuel icon but the servos had closed down.  Some towns were names on the map.  Some had automated service stations — but only 91 and diesel.  We were covering quite big distances so we took on-board a couple of litres each of 91 to tide us over until Warracknabeal.  Out here, fuel up early and fuel up often.

Down the trail to Roseberry.  The rain had been replaced by wind.  A high pressure system was sitting in the Bight, directing strong easterlies over us as we motored south, and pushing us all over the road.

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Roseberry: The silo on the left captures the grit, tenacity and character of the region’s young female farmers, who regularly face drought, fires and other hardships living and working in the Mallee. In her work shirt, jeans and turned-down cowboy boots, the strong young female sheep farmer symbolises the future. The silo on the right portrays a quiet moment between dear friends. The contemporary horseman appears in Akubra hat, Bogs boots and oilskin vest – common attire for Mallee farmers. Both man and horse are relaxed and facing downward, indicating their mutual trust, love and genuine connection.

Through fields of grain, we sped on to Brim.

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The first silo artwork to appear in Victoria, it depicts an anonymous, multi-generational quartet of female and male farmers.

Finally at Warracknabeal we filled up with 98 and had lunch.  Then down the trail, battling the wind, to Sheep Hills where we ran into two other Guzzi club members, Tony and Karen.  Small world.  They were doing the trail in the reverse order to us and had been in continual rain since leaving Gippsland.  These were the most striking murals, to my mind, due to the colour.

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Jane, me and Tony at Sheep Hills.

This celebrates the richness of the area’s Indigenous culture. The night sky represents elements of local dreaming and the overall image signifies the important exchange of wisdom, knowledge and customs from Elders to the next generation.

The final silo of the run was Rupanyup.

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Rupanyup residents and local sporting team members, Ebony Baker and Jordan Weidemann. Fresh-faced and dressed in their sports attire (netball and Australian Rules football, respectively), Baker and Weidemann embody a youthful spirit of strength, hope and camaraderie.

Time was moving on and we were a bit worn out from the wind battering.  We headed off to Horsham for the night.  As usual, Horsham seemed booked out but the tourist bureau found us a room at the Horsham Mid-City Court, which was a stone’s throw from the city centre, and we had a very pleasant meal at the White Hart Hotel.

We left the silo trail for a run across Australia Felix to Edenhope, then into South Australia to Penola and Beachport.  We were now traversing richly pastured country where sheep, cattle, lakes and stands of eucalypts gave the area an iconic Australian feel.  Unlike the towns we’d seen in the Wimmera and Mallee, Edenhope felt prosperous.  It is where the first international cricket team was formed — all Aborigines — and they toured England in 1868.

We wound our way through very pleasant scenery, crossed the border into South Australia, and entered the Coonawarra wine region.  Miles of the most meticulously pruned vineyards and interesting wineries welcomed us into Penola.  A drink and a wuz, then another hour put us on the coast at Beachport where the Beachport Caravan Park upgraded us to a unit on the beachfront.

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Beachport on the Southern Ocean.

We had an excellent chowder and roast potato and bolognese for tea at the Water Front Cafe at THE Jetty, sitting in the evening sunshine with a beer and prosecco, overlooking the jetty and the bay.

After a rest day, we headed back to Victoria.  Battered by strong winds, we took the main highway from Mt Gambier through Mumbanner — “the town that they forgot to build” — which has 60km/hr speed signs but no buildings!  Heywood for a coffee, an historic timber town,  then back roads to Woolsthorpe and Mortlake, the one-time home of Clarke’s pies.  Stayed at Macs Hotel which has been refurbished and is very comfortable.  Very nice curry for dinner.

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I was impressed with the graffiti in the dyke at Woolsthorpe. Normally offering sexual advice, this not only had an apostrophe but it was in the right place! A credit to the local teachers in this small community.

The forecast had the high pressure cell moving away — it had hung around for a while — and dragging in wet weather behind it.  Time to head for home.  Took one of our favourite roads, the Streatham to Beaufort (officially the Eurambeen-Streatham Road).  After a false start, this opens up into a curvy romp across central Victoria, with wide-open views across to the Grampians, no roadside vegetation and smooth surface.  Fields of yellow canola stretched for miles.

Beaufort for a coffee and a leak and then through the goldfields and hills of the Great Dividing Range.  We knew this area well from a previous lifetime.  But the smegging wind was still with us!  Roast lamb and gravy bun in Dunolly.  Where to for the night?  Moama of course!  The roads from Serpentine to Mitiamo then Echuca have to be the straightest roads I’ve ever ridden in Victoria.  Into the rabbit warren of Echuca, where the sprawling housing estates are engulfing the hay paddocks, to cross the bridge into Moama in NSW.  Stayed at the Meninya Palms Motel — the wind keeping me awake half the night.

Choofed off via Barmah, back-tracking our route of a week before, continually being blown about.  Had a Caesar salad  and coffee at Watts in Bundalong Cafe — very pleasant — the owner, a trumpy rider, recognised our bikes.

After seven days and 2000km, we rolled into Bright to an enthusiastic welcome from Paddy and Mick.  It doesn’t matter if it’s been a week or an hour, they’re always glad to see us back home.

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New Tyres for the Cali EV

With 46,000 kays on the clock, the EV’s tyres have come up for renewal, with the rear tyre showing the cross-bars.  The front was OK, although some scalloping was evident –  a problem I’ve encountered before with Bridgestone BT45s on my Metal Stone and Jane’s Breva 750.

But I like them, so I ordered another set from Alpine Motorcycles in Myrtleford.  I didn’t know how old the tyres were so I replaced both.

Firstly, I had to remove the wheels.  The rear needs to be jacked up so that the rear wheel clears the mudguard; it has to lift quite a lot but I had a scissor jack with two supports which could lift at the swingarm.  Then it was lowered so that the front could be jacked up a tad, too, to pull the front wheel out.

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I took it slowly and methodically so that I didn’t knock the bike over.

Before I replaced the wheels, I gave the girl a bit of a spruce up, getting into places I normally couldn’t:  checked up under her skirts at the rear of the gearbox and swingarm.  I gave the rims a polish with a metal polish.  There’s some flaking chrome which is a known “feature” of these EV tubeless rims.

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All set for another run.

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On the trail of Breva 1100 fault

I went for a two-hour fang on the Breva 1100. About 10kms from home I detected a whistling sound through my ear plugs. Visor? Nope. Windscreen? Nope. I played with the throttle and clutch – the sound seemed to change with revs. To me it sounded like the whistling some car fan-belts make at idle.

By the time I reached home, it was loud enough to draw the Chief outside to see what it was. Maybe it was the alternator belt.

I popped the bike on the centre-stand and started her up. Nothing. I revved her. Nothing. Well, couldn’t be the belt, I reasoned. I clicked her into first and as I eased out the clutch lever, the sound started up. Leaning over the bike I reckoned that it came from the CARC.

There wasn’t any oil on the rear rim and it didn’t move when I gave it the 6 o’clock—12 o’clock wobble test. Maybe it’s the brake caliper. I removed the caliper and lay it on the floor. Nope, the sound was still there as I eased in the clutch. The next morning, I went through it all again but there wasn’t a sound from the cold bike. I took it for a short run and it was normal until the bike reached operating temperature…then it started again. I pulled the alternator cover off but the belt looked fine.

I removed the CARC and posted it up to Peter Roper at Moto Moda in Bungendore. He was dubious when I spoke to him. He looked it over and bolted it onto his Stelvio and gave it some curry over the weekend. A clean bill of health! He posted it back.

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Replacing the CARC after its test by Moto Moda in Bungendore. Mick and Paddy offering support.

But the noise was still there when I rode it!  I didn’t want to ride the bike anywhere, so I’ve freighted the whole bike up to Bungendore with Road Hog Transport for Moto Moda to check it out.

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There’ll be a bit of a delay because Pete’s touring the USA.  Fortunately, I also have the EV.

To be continued…

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On the Trail of Dan Morgan

Recently I read that the bushranger, Dan Morgan, was buried in the Wangaratta Cemetery, and that several memorials were around commemorating his reign of terror over southern NSW and northern Victoria.  Seemed like a good reason for a run on the Guzzi.

Involved in petty crime from an early age, Morgan – whose real name is uncertain – was eventually arrested for robbery at Castlemaine during the gold rush.  He was initially imprisoned aboard the hulk the “President”, in cells below the water line before being transferred to the ‘Success’ to work on the Williamstown breakwater.  The conditions on these vessels were nothing short of barbaric, even by the standards of the times, so rehabilitation seems to have failed.

Released in 1860, he failed to report to the Ovens police.  He commenced a series of violent robberies and murders between Whitfield and Benalla in the south, to Henty and Culcairn in the north, and Tumbarumba in the east.  He was probably insane and given to murderous rages.  He was known to torture his prisoners, but it was his beastly act, on the terrified wife of a suspected police informant, that frightened the surrounding population. She was forced to sit upon the flames of the kitchen stove, and it was only when she was well alight that he doused her with water.  There was a desperate shoot out with police in 1863 where Morgan only escaped by shooting his own mate, German Bill, as a distraction.

I thought I’d do a loop, so I fired up the Breva 1100 and wound my way through the hills, past Yackandandah, to Albury.  Hopped onto the freeway for a short run, then on to the Olympic Way to Culcairn – hardly any traffic.  I nearly had a heart-attack here as an oncoming semi suddenly snaked across the road ahead of me.  I thought he’d blown a tyre or lost his load.  A few seconds later I saw a dog in the middle of the semi’s lane.  That was skilful driving by the truckie – and fortunate for the dog that the traffic was light.

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In June 1864 Dan Morgan called at the Round Hill Station, just east of Culcairn, and rounded up all the station hands and their wives.  Here, he shot several people, including station hand John McLean who died.

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A few days later, he killed Sergeant David Maginnity near Tumbarumba.  In September he killed Sergeant Smyth near Henty.

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After a series of major robberies and shootings,  the New South Wales government introduced the Felons Apprehension Act in 1865, which made Morgan an outlaw with a £1000 price on his head.

I turned west and tracked out via Walla Walla, past Morgan’s Lookout, reputedly one of his hide-outs with a 180 degree view (on the hill to the right of the sign).  The roads out here were in good condition, some lovely sweepers, so I may have to ditch my Victorian-prejudices about our northern cousins.

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Eventually Morgan crossed the Murray River in April 1865.  Within two days he had held up and robbed three properties, burned down haystacks and out buildings, and held up coaches on the Benalla Road.  On April 8, Morgan held up his last property, Peechelba Station, near Wangaratta (pronounced peechle-bar, not peech-elba).  One of the maids slipped out and gave the alarm.  The station was surrounded and Morgan was shot by John Windlaw, one of the station hands.

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I rode through Peechelba but couldn’t find any reference to Morgan.  He died later and was beheaded, and doctors shaved his head and removed the skin from his face to make a death mask for phrenological analysis.  Great days!  He was buried at Wangaratta Cemetery.

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What sort of person would add flowers to his grave?

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