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Run to Whitfield

A lovely spring morning for a run down to Whitfield. I had search to do in the cemetery for findagrave.com, just the excuse to to kick the Cali EV into action. It’s about a 90 minute cruise down there, along the King Valley, past all the vineyards. Everywhere was green from the recent good rain. Edi Cutting, where we hold the Spaghetti Rally, was full of campers and caravans due to the school holidays. The King River was running strongly.

I parked at the cemetery and strode along the rows of headstones but couldn’t find my man. There were a lot of unmarked graves and no cemetery key to locate gravesites.

The cemetery dates from the goldrushes in the mid-1800s and as goldfields cemeteries go, this one was grassed and attractive.

Headed back home, intending to stop at INeeta Cafe in Moyhu, which makes excellent coffee and cakes. Alas it was closed. The state government had declared the day before the AFL Grand Final a public holiday but few small businesses can afford the staff penalty rates so many of them don’t open – Catch 22!

Home for afternoon tea. Go Demons!

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The Absurdity of Climate Hysteria

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The author is a grape farmer and wine maker, and a close observer of climate.

It is widely asserted that grape vintages are nowadays earlier, due to hotter summers. I reject that assertion. Winters are warmer than in the past. Not summers. The earlier start to a longer growing season and enhanced availability of CO2 enhances photosynthetic capacity. It improves efficiency in the use of scarce water by the grape vine. This very likely accounts for the earlier time of ripening. In addition, when the ripening month has been in February, the warmest month, and it occurs in January, the maturation period is cooler than hitherto, an advantage.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s maintains that Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 ± 0.24 °C since national records began in 1910. But this statistic is the result of averaging monthly data that gives equal weight to autumn, winter, spring…

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Run to Yabba

I had a request to photograph a headstone at Yabba Cemetery. Well, firstly I had to find it because I’d never heard of the place. The cemetery is located on the eastern bank of the Mitta Mitta River, just south of Tallangatta in north-eastern Victoria. It’s a locality, not a town.

Firing up the Breva 1100, I went up across Tunnel Gap Road, onto the Kiewa Highway to Tangambalanga. The Hume Dam was full and backing up into the feeder creeks and rivers.

The Mitta Mitta River being back-filled from Lake Hume.

The Mitta Mitta River flats were green and lush, but the north-facing slopes were already losing their colour as the grass was curing. An hour-and-a-half found me at the gate to the lane crossing pasture to the cemetery.

The entrance to Yabba Cemetery.

The day was warming up by now and there was a lot of heat and humidity coming off the pasture. A short walk took me to the cemetery. Someone was looking after the site because it had been recently mowed. A picturesque place to be buried, I thought, overlooking the river, flats and adjacent hills.

The Yabba Cemetery.

After a couple of slices of Jane’s date and walnut cake and a drink of water, I hit the frog and toad. Came back via the “cow pat highway” (Gundowering Road) and over the Tawonga Gap into Bright. Was held up by numerous road works, especially at Coral Bank.

Five hours from whoa to go.

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Breva 1100 Fuel Filter

As far as I can recall, the fuel filter was last changed a decade ago. I had Brad the Bike Boy change it when stories of the original plastic filter softening and bursting started appearing on the Guzzi forums. I had changed one before, in my wife’s Breva 750, so I had some idea of what to do.

I took the tank off and placed it upside down in a cardboard box, padded to prevent scratching. Undid screws and started to remove the pump.

The pump and filter came out without difficulty. Let it drain and took over to the bench to remove the filter.

Brad had used oetiker clamps when he’d installed the filter, which are definitely the best method. But I had obtained my new filter from Mario at Thunderbikes and he had supplied fuel hose clamps – oetiker clamps require special pliers to clamp them. The first oetiker clamp came off without drama but, as often is the way with the home mechanic, the second clamp put up more of a fight.

Noting the direction arrow on the filter, I fitted the new filter and clamps.

I inserted the fuel pump and filter back into the tank without drama and screwed it all back down, taking care to tighten the screws evenly. I went around the base several times, tightening each screw a little at a time to get it all uniformly seated.

The tank will be back on the bike in a few days time, after changing the oils and brake and clutch fluids.

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Breva 1100 Alternator Belt

The Breva is now up to 80,000km so I decided that it was time for a service. And since we are in partial lockdown due to Covid, I had plenty of time. The alternator belt was last replaced seven years ago, so now was the time to learn how to do it. I read everything I could on the Guzzi forums and ordered the belt from Mario at Thunderbikes in Perth.

First job, remove the fuel tank.

Then I put her on the bench and jacked her up so I didn’t have to scramble around on the floor.

Moved the oil cooler out of the way, and removed the alternator cover. A bit cramped getting the top screws out, but took my time.

Before I moved anything, I tested the belt tension with my fingers so I had an idea of where I was heading. I moved the coil out of the way to access the lock nut and screw. This tightens up against the alternator to tension the belt. There’re two bolts holding the alternator in position. One undid easily but the other refused to loosen. The nut at the rear was turning with the bolt. Eventually I inserted a spanner from above the left-hand cylinder onto the nut – there was just enough room and I had to get a workshop light to see what I was doing. This held the nut, and the bolt let go with a loud “crack”. (I would have liked to put some grease or CRC 5.56 on the bolt but access wasn’t possible.)

The alternator didn’t move enough to simply lift the belt off. I rotated the lower pulley crank shaft nut and wedged a screwdriver between the belt and the pulley, and she slipped right off. The belt was in good condition – I have seen photos of them being quite worn and shredding. For info, it was a Gates 4PK725, available everywhere. I replaced it with a Moto Guzzi belt, so we’ll see how it goes. The Gates was slightly smaller in diameter than the Guzzi belt and seemed more substantial.

The new belt slipped on with a turn of the crank shaft nut. Tightened up the belt by turning the tensioner screw and lock nut. I assessed the belt tension as I went – should be able to turn the belt 90 degrees the gurus reckon, and that’s how the original belt was when I tested it. Then tightened up the two alternator bolts, replaced the coil, belt cover and oil cooler – job done.

It took me two hours and I wasn’t hurrying.

It’s handy to have a variety of tools. I was continually changing from Allen keys to inhex ratchets, and so on. This el cheapo Kinchrome ratchet which I found in a “Sale” box was worth its weight in gold. Removal of the cover screw (up at 2 o’clock) would have been tedious without it.

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My “new” Moto Guzzi 850 T3

My new 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 T3.

Currently going through the process of putting it on Club plates (cheaper rego for bikes over 25 years old).


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Granya Run

The totalitarian Stalinist Victorian government lifted some of the Covid restrictions so it was time to go for a longer run, without the fear that the Stasi would intercept me.

I’m a member of findagrave.com where people put in requests for photos of their relatives’ graves.  I help out for north-east Victoria, an old gold rush area.  I had a request for a photo at the Granya Cemetery, up on the Murray River, the state border with New South Wales.

 

An hour’s run on the Breva 1100 took me up to the Bethanga Bridge, which crosses Lake Hume near the dam wall.  This leads onto the Murray River Road which, I see, is now called the Great River Road (presumably a tourist marketing promotion to leverage off the Great Alpine Road and the Great Ocean Road) and follows the Murray River into the Snowy Mountains.

The beauty is that there is bugger all traffic on this road compared with the other two.  I went from Bellbridge to Granya without seeing another vehicle.  It’s pleasantly curvy and with a good surface.  The Granya Cemetery was easy to locate and so was the headstone.  I took some photos to upload to findagrave.com.

I came back via the Granya Gap Road, which has claimed a few motorcyclists over the years.  The road was dry, except in a few corners where the sun don’t shine, and in very good condition.  Then into Tallangatta for fuel.  I could have come back via my preferred route, the Cow Pat Highway (Gundowring Road), so called because of the dairy farms along the route, but I’ve done it a few times recently so went via Tangambalanga and Yackandandah and Carrolls Road.  A big black snake was absorbing some heat – a bit late in the season I thought – it was 14C.

Back home, I cleaned the Breva, washing the bugs off with a water spray and micro cloth, then a light spray and wipe with Plexus.  This is a plastic cleaner and polish developed for the aviation industry.   It can be used on plastic, paint, powder coating, etc, and beats having to wax or polish.  It’s not cheap but a can lasts for several years.

The big Guzzi is now 14 years old and looks good as new.

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2019-2020…The Summer That Never Was

Life gets in the way.  We took a month off to drive to Perth and back, towing an Avan across the Nullabor, to visit our daughter.  Covered about 9000 kms all up, visiting rellies and so on  Missed the Spaghetti Rally!

Then the bushfires surrounded us, so we were stuck at home in smoke for weeks on end.  Couldn’t leave in case the emergency services blocked off the roads while we out and wouldn’t let us back in.  Then heavy rain (“It won’t rain until May” said the BoM) and flash flooding.  And it’s pouring as I write this.

So we only got in a few local rides for a coffee and to keep the engines oiled up.

Now we’re locked up due to the Corona Virus!  Apparently, riding my Guzzi is a bigger threat than joining the walking and jogging throngs out exercising, so I’m not supposed to go for a fang.  Going out for a slab of beer from a supermarket filled with shoppers is OK but not riding my Guzzi on my own.

But we’re allowed out for specific reasons such as getting food.

We’re having kidneys on toast for Sunday brekky, the Chief announced.  And none of that wussy devilled lambs kidney.  Get me an ox kidney!  And a loaf of Milawa Cornbread for crispy toast!

Sadly, ox kidneys are not sold in town but require a trip to another location (sob).  Hmmm, should I take the tin-top or the bike?  Easy peasy.  But which Guzzi?  I tend to alternate between bikes so it was the Cali EV’s turn.  Off I sped to Myrtleford Foodworks, which seems to be one of the few supermarkets that sells ox kidneys.  I took the direct route, the Cali running like a dream in the sunshine.

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Packed the merchandise and considered the run home.  Such a nice day, it’d be a shame to waste it.  I headed north to Mudgegonga for the turn onto the curvy Carrolls Road.

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Looking south on Carrolls Road, Mt Buffalo covered in cloud in the distance.

Carrolls Road wriggles along quite pleasantly, especially today without traffic.  A lovely valley with Mt Buffalo often in view.  I didn’t have any 4WD up my arse, or running wide on the bends coming towards me.  Dodged a large black snake – I often encounter snakes on this road.  The recent rain had washed gravel and sand into some of the bends.  Carrolls Road ends on the popular motorcycle fanging route, the Happy Valley Road, which links the Great Alpine Road in the Ovens Valley and the Kiewa Valley.  Motorcycles coming between Corryong and Mansfield often take the Happy Valley.

A bit more twisting and I came into Ovens ( home of the Happy Valley Hotel , a popular motorcyclist pit-stop).

From here I headed home, with a break at Eurobin for a leak at the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail dunny.

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Run to Barnawartha

I’m a volunteer with www.findagrave.com, helping family researchers with photos of their ancestors’ graves and headstones.  I had a request to find a grave at Barnawartha Cemetery, so I kicked the Cali EV in the starter and headed off in sunshine via Beechworth.

Beechworth is up on a plateau; as I climbed the temperature dropped and the sky became gloomy and depressing.  But as I descended down the other side, the sky cleared into sunshine.  Don’t know how people live there!

I turned off onto the road to Barnawartha which was a pleasant meandering run down the valley and across the Hume Freeway into the old town.  The cemetery is big in area but the graves are in localised areas of religious denominations; they apparently expected the town to get much bigger.

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The chap I was looking for was named “Baumgarten” who had immigrated from Germany and died in 1877.  Alas, although I found some descendants, his grave – as were many – was unmarked and had returned to the landscape.  Others were marked but without names.  One of his relatives was gaoled for receiving stolen horses from the Kelly brothers who lived in nearby Greta.

I slabbed it down the Hume Freeway for a smooth run to Wangaratta then home.

 

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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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