Thursday, 19 April 2018

So farewell Fat Max.. but he could be yours!

After a few years together....  it's time!

It's time for Fat Max to find a new home... care to adopt him?

Max could be yours.... bring cash!

This bike is set to go as a long distance tourer. Just add your clothes, tent and fuel!
Just the facts folks:

Sold new to me by Dalby Moto September 2012

Travelled approx 44,000 km.

Serviced by dealer/mechanic every 10K with oil changes by me every 5K in between.

40K service which was valve check etc had the cam chain tensioner changed to the later type.

New Bridgestone Battlaxe A41 tyres fitted at approx 40,000. 

Options fitted:

Altrider crash bars.

Altrider sump guard.

Altrider side stand foot extender.

Altrider rear rack.

Touratech ABS sensor protector front and back.

Touratech rear mastercylinder protector.

Touratech rear axle nut cover.

Touratech locking GPS mount mounted to generic S10 GPS mount I picked up in Germany.

Garmin GPS with life time maps. (This will bluetooth to your phone and helmet)

Yamaha OEM panniers.

Yamaha OEM headlight guard.

Yamaha OEM heated grips. 

Staintune stainless exhaust. (Awesome note!)

DS Protection (Spanish) locking toolbox mounted in behind RS pannier.
(Standard tools now stored in tool roll in this box)

Merit 12VDC outlet on dash.

LED driving lights. Outer ones mounted on Touratech mounts. (Can be switched to run as DLRL)

Bags Connection tank bag on mounting ring affixed to fuel filler.

In really good condition as I like my bike to look new!

Registered in QLD till September and is at Brisbane north side.

Every trip, even to the corner store has been recorded in my log book.. happy to show to prospective buyer.

So show me the money and she is yours!

Contact me for details.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Fat Max's farewell tour, a violinist called Tor, the amazing Cheryl and the Man from Snowy River

So around this time last year, I decided to take Fat Max to Melbourne and home via the Snowy Mountains. But it rained, and rained and rained.. so no Snowy Mountains.

You can read about it here!

Anyhow.. time passed, the weather Gods promised better weather so I saddled up Fat Max for his farewell tour. You see Fat Max is for sale and is looking for a new owner. For nearly six years we have had adventures together and it is time I moved on..... all will be revealed in the fullness of time.

So the plan is simple, ride the big Yamaha to Cooma in the Snowy Mountains and base myself there for a few nights. This would allow me to have a couple of day trips around the area. And in sunshine if the forecasters had it right too!

The end of day 1 finds me in Armidale at a motel.

I can recommend this place... excellent service and good room!

And right next door.. was dinner and breakfast!

An early start on day two and eventually we pull up in Dubbo for the night. What can you say about Dubbo.. except I spent a week there one night.

But along the way I decided to visit the Sidings Springs Observatory. In my teenage years, school mate Rob Fysh and I would sit out all night on the front lawn at Clayfield and gander at the stars with my telescope. And I still am fascinated by all of this.... so off to the observatory we go. And while sitting outside their tourist centre, an old car pulls up and a young lady hops out with a tray of cakes that she takes inside. I looked at the old bloke next to me.. "Now that could be a scene from The Dish."

An imposing sight as you come up the hill.

Now that's a telescope. Took 2 years to get the wave right on the mirror.

Their second smaller observatory!

The views up here are good too!

Now if you have read other episodes in my blog, you would know about my years spent at Hendra High School. It really was staffed by demented people.. and I hated the place. But I did make some good friends there. One of whom is Tor Fromhyr who is now a lecturer at the ANU School of Music. A very talented concert violinist, Tor has worked with Frank Sinatra, The Bee Gees, John Denver, Cat Stevens etc etc. We both had the same violin teacher 50 years ago.... sadly I lost interest.

Anyhow.. I haven't seen Tor for over 50 years, so as he lives in the country outside Yass... well it was a time for a catch up and to discuss what the past 50 years had been like for both of us.

After 50 years it was though we had only been apart a week!

Tor lives on this amazing block of land. He and Leanne and their 3 children made me feel so very welcome. They have built their own home, planted a thousand trees, built a barn with a granny flat.. for granny and have the most eclectic mix of things to see.

The amazing home with yard space for Rosie the pooch.

Rosie with Max and Tor's amazing Mercedes!

The Friday night I arrived, Tor took me into Canberra to collect his son Gabriel from high school and drop him off at the ANU for his cello lessons. Like his dad he is a gifted player. The ANU music school is amazing right down to the piano stools in the lift!

Saturday dawned really foggy... but I enjoyed it all.

Poor old Max lost in the fog!

Such a magic spot to live!

On Saturdays young Gabe makes coffees in Yass at the amazing little cafe. But the Chinese cafe next door tickles my fancy.

Well.. Fook Me!

The Court Hose in Yass is impressive. Like a Masonic Lodge!

Saturday afternoon finds me punching out ZZZZeds and relaxing totally. Right on dusk I wake up so go out to have look at Gabe's home-made bike. Take one bicycle, add a $90 Ebay petrol engine and away you go. Just fabulous.. would have loved one when I was a kid.

What a talented young man!

All too soon it was Sunday morning and time to head into Canberra to see the War Museum and the incredible Cheryl.

G for George. What an aeroplane. If only it could talk.

The Lancaster "G for George" was the main thing that attracted me to the museum. I have always been interested in war birds, but this particular aeroplane is something else. With nearly 90 missions over occupied Europe, that is a record in itself. Over 220 men crewed George with 70 of them later being killed in action.  Hard to imagine the odds of surviving as air crew in WW2. My late friend Allan Gay who Captained Halifax heavy bombers out of Pocklington in Yorkshire in WW2, told me that when he finished his tour of duty, he was the only one left from his multi engine conversion course in Canada prior to serving in the RAF. He like the men who crewed G for George were heroes in every sense of the word. Talk about the right stuff!

The other thing I like is the view back to Capitol Hill and Parliament House from here.

One of the great views in Oz!

After a quick brunch at the Museum, it was time to catch up with Cheryl. Now Cheryl and Debra were childhood buddies and they lost contact over the years. But by an absolutely amazing chance, they were able to reconnect about 10 years ago. A diary left in our studio contained a photograph of Cheryl and the diary's owner. Amazing stuff and so it was all sorted there and then. Cheryl has worked in all media; print, radio and TV and also as chief of staff in Political offices.  What a talented lady. She took me to Old Parliament House in her Mustang and gave me a tour. The stories are amazing. Cheryl has a Mustang GT for an every day drive and and HSV for her Sunday muscle car drive experience. After a tour we went to the local sports club to see her football team win. And had a magic dinner later. Many thanks for putting me up Cheryl.. or perhaps I should say putting up with me?

Cheryl standing where her desk was when this was Malcom Fraser's office.

Monday Morning dawns fine and clear... so off to Cooma go Max and me to see the Snowy Mountains.. again.

Sans rain thank you!

Arriving at Cooma I rent an apartment as the motel rooms are all booked for bus loads of pensioners.... awesome!

Max in the car park. Waiting.......

I decided today is a day to explore Cooma in detail so Max is locked down and shank's pony takes me around town. They have an amazing bakery here.. but I am good and only visit once. Otherwise I wouldn't fit in my bike pants and jacket. Cooma is a lovely town and a special place to visit.

So the next day finds me up early and away on Max to discover Lake Eucumbene. This lake can hold 9 times the volume of water as Sydney Harbour. That is a lot! At 1160 metres elevation, it certainly is an alpine lake. I rode around and across the dam wall past a coach load of pensioners who alighted from the coach.. and then blocked the road. They just strung out like cattle on the long paddock and watched as I approached. Like rabbits blinded by the lights! Except it was daylight. Don't know if they thought I was some sort of sideshow.. but eventually the driver had to point out to them they were standing in the middle of a road. If I get like that in another 20 years.. please shoot me.

Max on the dam wall at Eucumbene.

Drive across the dam wall... or not if the pensioners are there!

On the way along one of the many roads of the high plains, I came across this old church literally in the middle of nowhere. Just had to stop for a gander. Located on a rise, the view from the front door must be amazing when the snow is falling in winter.

Just so beautiful in the middle of nowhere.

Part of the Uniting Church flock.

The road going past the church!

The road going past has this amazing right hand sweeping bend.. just the place to give the big Yamaha the berries.. until an errant wombat wandered out onto the road. Ended up with one surviving wombat, one undamaged bike and the rider left over. Bonus!

So along the road I go until I come to a Snowy Mountains History Museum. First time in my life I have used my Senior's Card. Saved $1 off the $6 admission cost. Awesome! Lots of interesting stuff in there. The men and women who built this entire thing must have been amazing people. Cannot see it being done again. For a start Sarah Hyhpen-Young and her crew would object to blasting tunnels through mountains. Upset the spirit or similar I reckon.

Think it stopped here when it broke an axle.

This EK ute was restored. Part of the original motor pool.

All wheel drive fire engine!

Learnt tech drawing using stuff like these from Mr Miller in 1966

Remember overhauling a CA45 starter from one of these back in 72.

So after this wander around it was back to Cooma, a fill up on fuel for tomorrow for a big day out. A Chinese meal for dinner and and early night.

This shows my next trip, a loop from Cooma to Khancoban and then back.

Thursday morning and I am awake very early. A quick breakfast at McDonalds (try their BLT McMuffin with an egg) and away we go. Riding in the mornings is cold, so I bought a long sleeved top the day before at Target to wear over my T shirt under my jacket. Seemed to help a lot. Now the destination for today is Murray 2 hydro station. It is the only one open to visitors. Murray 1 is normally open, but the individual turbines are being overhauled. And the figures.. $10,000,000 per unit to overhaul and one year in time. And.. there are 10 units at Murray 1. Murray one feeds its water post power generation down to Murray 2 after which the water goes into the Murray River.

The road to Jindabyne is easy going but as I leave Jindabyne,  the GPS goes nuts and turns me towards the coast. Then it gives me an error message. Pull over, reboot the stupid thing and away we go. The ride goes through the National Park and there is an admittance charge, $7 per day for bikes. But if you are going through as I was.. no charge. The country here is stunning. Really beautiful alpine scenery and once past the turn off to Thredbo does the road become "interesting".

Lots of steep climbs, steep descents and very tight corners. I think I am riding sensibly but a lot of corners have light up "Slow Down" signs that I manage to activate as Max powers up and down those alpine roads. I need to be at Murray 2 by 11:00 for the tour. GPS says ETA is 10:30 but all the signs I see say I have more time needed and will arrive just after 11:00. There are no cars going in my direction but less than 10 pass me coming the other way.. including a Winibago... climbing  the hills like a slug!

Eventually I am down out of the hills and there is the turn off to Murray 2.

This place s amazing. The facts that were spelled out during the tour are as follows:

1. Snowy was designed as an inland irrigation project. The power generation part was to raise money to pay for it all.

2. Snowy 2.0 is not a new idea. Has been kicking around for years.. not viable before, perhaps now with final figures to be released later this year. Snowy 2 will require electricity to pump the water back up.. and they have to buy it from the grid, just like us. So if it happens.. only when power is cheap.

3. Lake Eucumbene is around only 30% full. Never been this low. Snowy Hydro was built to supply power when needed at peak times. A hot summer combined with the closure of Hazelwood power station led to high demands on the Hydro over XMAS. Once the water has passed through the turbines.. it's gone. It might be renewable but until the next winter and the following snow melt... water is low.

These pipe walls are 15mm thick at the top and 35mm at the bottom.

Temporary Visitor Centre while Murray 1 is closed.

Where the water exits post power generation.

Like a scene from Dr No. The unit nearest the camera has been upgraded.

This water is Murray bound.

Tour over and the next stop is Cabrumurra.. the highest town in Australia. A Snowy Hydro town, there is no visitor accomodation but it does have a nice cafe... apparently. I pointed Max at the hills again and twisted the throttle. Always love the power of a 1200. Light blue touch paper and stand well back. I wanted to get up there and then back down and across to Cooma before the light started to fade. Too many wallabies and roos out and about. I just missed two very small scrub wallabies the day before coming back from the lake.

Highest town in Australia gets a visit from Fat Max!

Lots of dead bugs on the screen now!

Talk about a well laid out town... or village perhaps!

Possibly the highest helipad in Oz too!

So after visiting this wonderful world of alpine intrigue... it was off back to Cooma. Refuelled Max and then worked out my homeward journey for the next day. Debra was having internet dramas at the boutique and as the account is in my name, I had to get to an Optus shop and sort the mess out. The next morning I left Cooma at 07:00 hours and headed into Canberra just in time to join the peak hour traffic. From there to Sydney and the M7 crawl to Pennant Hills I was so hot that I stopped in an emergency lane and took my long sleeved top off. Pacific Motorway was next and finally Newcastle appears on the GPS map. Refuel here and push on to Port Macquarie for the night. By the time I arrived I could hardly walk.

Checked into a motel, had an Italian meal and hit the sack early. Friday early I am on the road again and on towards Hendra. I needed two refuelling stops to get home.. but around 13:45 I pulled up in the drive at Grant Street.

I was stuffed, Max was filthy.. but ready to do it all again! Shame I couldn't! What a bike.

Final trip details.

Hi lights of the trip were spending time with old school mate Tor and meeting his family. And also chatting with Cheryl and learning more of her time in the media when based in the Old Parliament House. Thank you to both.

And.. the Snowy Mountains. What a place. Just something magical about those alpine areas and the magic of that scheme. Blasting tunnels through rock to divert rivers. No pipes in there... water just flows through the rock tunnels.

At primary school we were taught a lot about the Snowy Scheme... to actually see it all working is something else. I just wish Australia could be that great again instead of all of our politicians getting caught up in every day rubbish that doesn't do anything to advance our great country.

And Fat Max....

At home.. post trip and covered in bugs and crap.

Considering he is just a machine (and a better one according to Yamaha) I am really attached to this motorcycle. I will be sad to see him go but I have plans for Max 2.0 in July.  In the meantime I have to catch up on paper work at the shop and the studio and then give Max a rub and tub and prepare him for his new owner.

And what a deal he/she will get. All set up for touring with GPS, factory panniers, Staintune exhaust, crash bars and sump guard, LED driving lamps plus a whole mess of extra farkles I have fitted over the years to make touring a pleasure on this bike.

Bitumen or dirt.. Max doesn't care... he just goes... and quickly too.

Stay tuned for another instalment on my blog when I get myself back together after this amazing trip.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

The day we went to Mr Chicken's farm.

So my late dad had a mate in the Buffalo Lodge and his name was Don Chicken.

And he was a farmer.


Around this same time I was about 4 years old and going to Mrs Henzle's kindergarten at Nundah. It was a big old Queenslander and I hated the place. If you were naughty (like me.. saying the word "bum") then you got your tongue painted with a mixture of castor oil and soap. And then the old bag would turn off the taps really hard so you couldn't wash your mouth out.

I think she may have had a Phd in the torture of small children.

We were made to drink luke warm milk that the milkman brought each day.

I hated the milkman's semi sour milk and I hated him even more when he ran over Mrs Henzle's dog and killed it.

You see the dog was the only thing I liked about the place.

Actually, twice I ran away from the place with David Lentz, son of Earl Lentz and what an adventure that was. My first motorbike ride.

But that is for another day.

Anyhow... dad decides it would be good if all the kids could visit Mr Chicken's farm. So the day came and we all boarded a bus for the bush of Pine Rivers.

Now at the farm there were lots of things to see, chickens (and not just the Chicken family) and cows and even some horses. The kids were in seventh heaven.

And then I spied the tractor. It was what I now know to be TEA Fergy. I just would not leave this tractor alone. I climbed on it.. was ordered off and sent to feed the chooks. But as soon as no one was looking, I headed straight back and jumped up in the saddle of the tractor. Not an easy thing for a 4 year old to do I might mention.

I'd love one now!

Day's end came and we all headed back to the bus and back to Nundah from where our folks collected us.

The next day at kindergarten, we were all asked to talk about the farm visit... almost a deposition really.

What sort of sounds did you hear at the farm yard ?

One boy said.... "cluck cluck" of the chooks.

A girl piped up with "moo" from the cows.

"What about you Mark" asked the old biddy?

"I told you before, get off that fucking tractor!"

Yep.. well that's me.

Please note: While this really happened in 1957, the story may have been enhanced for the reader's enjoyment.

Don Chicken's farm went under with the North Pine Dam construction. His son Lindsay has a farm stay at Kobble Creek. In the late 90s I shot many weddings there.

You can stay there too. Check it out!

But.. stay off the fucking tractor.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

So what is it with scars.... ?

A few years back I am swimming in a friend's pool. As I get out and start to towel off, he notices the 8 x 5cm rough looking scar on my upper leg. How on earth did you get that he asked me.

(I have other scars on me too... but that one is a stand out.)

A warm sunny day in July 1988 and a 35 year old me is standing on the flight deck of the USS Nimitz, all 1090 foot of aircraft carrier, photographing jets involved in war games in the Mediterranean. A Tom Cat is loaded down in the catapult, both engines screaming towards maximum thrust ready for take off.

Without warning, the starboard engine has an uncontained compressor fan failure and shards of high speed metal rupture through the side of the aircraft and spray the deck. A piece of metal hits my Nikon F3 hanging around my neck and smashes it to pieces.. but the camera has prevented the flying object from punching a hole in my chest.

My upper left leg is not so lucky and a smaller chunk of metal punches a 2 inch hole in my leg. Blood everywhere and me in shock.

USS Nimitz. Entered service in 1975

At this point my friend says.. "Bloody hell.. that is an amazing story."

Well.. there could be another explanation.....

I am visiting my brother Viv and his bloody red cattle dog runs at me and literally chews a hole in my leg. Destroyed my new dacks I bought in the US of A and just missed my wedding tackle. Came back for another go at me so I shoved an Ericson mobile phone in its mouth.

By this time Viv had grabbed the dog (which had form on attacking people) and dragged it away. A trip to the Doctor followed, shots of antibiotics etc and a post treatment infection.. all good fun.

So the truth is...

The dog bit me... but the first story sounds a whole lot more adventurous, even romantic. In fact I did photograph the jets leaving the Nimitz.. but with a telephoto lens from a harbour wall in the Med.

But now with time, that scar has faded.. but do we not also carry scars in our hearts?

Do they ever fade?

Flashback to 1963 and in our school reader there is a story of a man going away on business. He tells his son to behave for his mother, and gives the mother a piece of timber and some nails. "Every time you are naughty, your mother will drive a nail into the timber... and I will see them on my return. But if you do something nice for your mother, she may remove a nail.. or two".

So away goes the business man and the small boy gives his mother grief, but then redeems himself.

Father returns a week or so later and asks to see the piece of timber. No nails.. and he says to his son... "Son, I am glad to see there are no nails in the timber. But I can see where 4 were in there, and then removed. So obviously you were naughty and then made it up to your mother. And see the holes left behind, these are like the scars you have left on your mother's heart when you were naughty and upset her."

At around age 10 this had an amazing effect on me.

You can drive them in... but the scars remain when you pull them out!

Some time around then, I bought a small electric motor from the local toy shop... and ran it night and day using up a king's ransom in batteries. Sunday night it is getting cold and the motor won't go. A very overtired boy who badly needs a bath asks his father to repair it. Now remember my father at this stage is 65 years of age. He takes it down under that big old house at Clayfield on a cold night and in poor light, he solders  new copper wires to the terminals on the motor. I get shuffled off for a bath by mother. When I come out of the bath, I try the motor and it won't go. (The reason is the varnish insulation on the wires.. but as it is still some years until I become an auto electrician.. I don't know this)

So this overtired boy yells at his father who is in front of the TV set and throws the motor at him. It hits his cheek and draws blood. That man must have loved me.. he just said.. "You are overtired son, go to bed!"

So now after his cheek heals and there is no sign of the cut, he is carrying those scars in his heart and as I grew up I found I had them too. In 1979 as he lay on his death bed in the hospital, I reminded him of that and begged his forgiveness. I think I cried.

His answer surprised me....  "Son... you were but a boy and I never gave it another thought. Your mother had asked me to put you in the bath and send you to bed when you came to me with that motor. That is what I should have done".

And he went on to say.. "When you were seventeen, I never said a word to you either when you hit a kangaroo in my car and didn't tell me!"

How on earth did you know I hit a roo in your car?

"Ford told me it had kangaroo skin and fur jammed around the sump drain plug when they serviced it. It could only have been you.. your mother doesn't drive."

Why didn't you say anything?

"Well, no harm was done.. apart from the demise I assume of a kangaroo!"

And now nearly 40 years after he passed.. I still carry that scar from throwing the motor at him.

Of course there are also scars inflicted on me by life in general. Finding a mate's body after he has been dead for a few days, losing close friends and family to death.

It ain't all pretzels and beer you know.

And scars inflicted by other people I was close to. People whom I trusted, but turned out to be untrustworthy and they betrayed me. From those traumatic events,  scars remain, possibly the nails too... but they have served to toughen me up. A lot!

Possibly too much as I now find I don't suffer fools gladly. As Debra herself says, "I am just telling it like it is!" But I change that to "I am just telling it as I see it."

Other more regular scars are my right thumb.. where I hit it with a bloody big hammer while using our speedo cable squaring machine. Left arm where Wayne and I fell off a large 3 person billy cart in Roseby Avenue at Clayfield in 1967. Back of my hand where an I.V. drip was installed when I was hospitalised in 1973. All still there... but fading away quietly as I head into old age.

And what I have learned about scars after 6 decades on the planet is this.

The scars all fade.... eventually.....except the ones you carry in your heart.

They never fade despite the fullness of time and make you who you are.

Friday, 8 September 2017

...... and now there is one.

In past blogs I have spoken about my old mate Wayne Pinna. Check it out HERE! So in this ramble I want to take you back to a sunny but coolish day in late June 1969. Everywhere the newspapers talked about the upcoming Apollo 11 trip to the moon, when they weren't reporting the bloody fighting in Vietnam.

So on this sunny Saturday as I chatted with my father about all manner of things, our front door bell rang and there was Wayne. And looking past him and up that front path at 5 Armagh Street I saw this wonderful blue motorcycle parked on the street.

"You've got it!"I screamed... and as fast as I could I made a dash to look at this wondrous machine. What a magnificent thing to behold. Mr Honda's 90cc Scrambler. Silver tank, blue frame and all of that chrome on everything else

"Start it Wayne.. start it and let me hear its exhaust... rev it mate.. rev it!" It's a wonder I didn't pee myself. I soon ran inside and rang Ken brand.. he lived around the corner and was doing first year medicine. Quick as a flash Ken was there too marvelling at this Honda!

Life was indeed rich. God.. I have to get one of these I thought.. even at 15.

Wayne's Honda looked exactly like this one! Ripper Rita!

Now Ken was into bush walking, but sadly he had cystic fibrosis which made trudging long distances hard work. (Although, having said that we did a lot of bush walks together) He instantly saw the idea of taking a bike like this into those out of the way places along paths less travelled. He had been thinking of a motor scooter.. but he now saw the light and thought this was just the ticket.

Of course; only Wayne could ride a bike.. Ken and I had never ridden a motorbike.

Obviously we need lessons.

"Hey Wayne, if we take this to Kalinga Park.. reckon Mark and I could have a ride?" Well silly Wayne said yes, so Ken and I jumped in his mother's old Morris and headed down to the park with Wayne following behind. This would be fun.

Ken mounted up first.. Wayne showed him where the controls were.. and away he went. Up and down the park along the big expanse of grass there. Then it was my turn... and even right now as I type this some 48 years later......

I can still remember it all so clearly. The way the rubber hand grips felt under my fingers, the noise from the exhaust, the new paint smell and the smell of a new engine running a little hot as it runs in. I marvelled at how it soaked up bumps unlike our non suspended push bikes. And I rode that bike around that park for about  half hour .. until it ran out of fuel. Wayne switched to reserve and took it to Shell Clayfield (long gone) to fill it up.

So a full tank of juice and the next plan was.. Mt Glorious. With Ken and I chasing in the old Morris, Wayne was wringing the neck of this little bike all the way to the top. The exhaust header had turned a funny colour too when we got there.. and it smelt a bit warm. Sort of running it in and running it out at the same time.

Coming back down the mountain and I hear the Archies singing Sugar Sugar on the radio and that is now forever locked in my mind. Whenever I hear that song.. I am back on Mt Glorious in 1969.

But I digress....

We all end up back at my place were mother makes us afternoon tea. We are three young blokes having a great time with things automotive.

That night we go to a drive in movie in the old Morris.. and laughed and joked, talked cars and bikes and perved at all the young ladies in cars around us. What a magic day that was.

And then.... time marched on. Ken bought a new Torana GTR in 1970, I bought a clapped out two stroke Mini in 1970 also.

It's funny how time passes and the currents often drag friends in different directions; along different paths. Wayne graduated to a Ducati and an old Valiant with "fat wheels" and before you knew it.. we didn't see as much of Wayne.

Fast forward to my MAX Instrument days and Wayne found me.. he would regularly drop in for a coffee as he was a rep on the road. Marriages, divorces and all of that stuff came along for us both.

And then in 1990, Dr Kenneth Brand sadly succumbed to his cystic fibrosis.

Wow! I didn't cry at his funeral, I nearly wailed. Comforted by Debra I just could not believe my best mate was gone. All of the crazy things we used to do together. You name it.. bikes, cars, midnight drives to Sydney, parties.. and the more serious stuff like supporting me through a traumatic divorce. And his wonderful sister Beverley said to me at his funeral.. as we hugged.. "We'll just have to learn how to get along without him!" Bloody hard to do, that.. tearing up just typing this some 27 years later.

Ken on his mighty DT2 at Beenleigh. Boxing Day 1973

And so time moved on and through the magic of Face Book.. Wayne and I reconnected. We would email and chat on the phone. We'd talk about old days, cameras (he was a pro photog too) and all manner of things.

My old mate, Wayne Francis Pinna

And then last year... he rang to tell me he was terminally ill.

By now Wayne was living at Glasshouse with his wife Christine.. so onto Fat Max and away I went to see him. It was sad to see him so frail. But he was cheery, positive and we had a rollicking good time remembering our childhood and youth. Like the time somebody else blew up our neighbour's letterbox. And when Wayne's mother heard about this.. she demanded Wayne go and apologise.. despite the fact he didn't do it!

At each visit with Wayne he would get his camera out and take a picture of me.. and I took some of him with my iPhone.. but  I won't post them here. He was far from well and for those of you who didn't know my mate Wayne... I would rather let you imagine this skinny kid who used to ride his bicycle around Clayfield with me over 50 years ago.

Wayne had been given only short time to live... but he was his own man and rolled on way past that medically set expiry date to see another Christmas. I would wander up the highway, sometimes by bike and sometimes by car to say hello and chat.

God we used to get into trouble together as kids!

And Christine was wonderful to Wayne. She was soft, gentle, loving and nothing was too much trouble as she cared for him to the end.

Thursday night last week.... Christine called.

His suffering was over. His heart had finally called time and he left us in a peaceful manner. After that call, I sat in my study and remembered that mate from my childhood and I cried as I am want to do when sadness sweeps over me like a bloody fog.

Wednesday just passed was his funeral. It was funny, it was sad and a whole gamut of emotions passed over me. Happy to see his brother and sisters whom I hadn't seen in over 40 years but sad because of the circumstances. And because we had commitments in Brisbane that night.. as soon as the service was over; I had to leave. And I so wanted to renew aquaintences with Glen, Robyn and Bernie.

And I will still.. Glen your'e first on the list.

This afternoon driving back from the Gold Coast, I was thinking about the events of this week.... and I remembered that day in late June 1969; the Saturday the three of us spent together with that little motorbike and the Morris. What a day it was. Memorable as though only yesterday.

And although the moving parade moves on... it is sad to think now that with all of that excitement back on that day, we never even thought about what our futures might hold for us, and what might become of us.

Those two are gone, and now there is one.

But that June day lives on in my memory... and in this blog.

Monday, 4 September 2017

They have cradled you in custom.....

They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching, They have soaked you in convention through and through; They have put you in a showcase; you're a credit to their teaching —but can't you hear the wild? — it's calling you.

Part of a verse from the Call of the Yukon by Robert William Service.

Now outback Australia is a long way from the Yukon; but the same principle applies. It seems to me that one needs to get away from the noise, haste and shapes of grey that are the big cities on a regular basis. And as I spent last weekend in Western Queensland with Debra, at Barcaldine, I have been thinking about the bush a lot this past week.

The big windmill in Barcaldine's main street.

Oh do be careful out here! He's been drinking Red Bull me thinks!

Magic! At the Tree of Knowledge! Barcaldine

And I have been reminiscing in my mind those trips of the past that have taken me out for my spiritual recharge. And I mean that sincerely, for my spirit does get a recharge from time spent in the bush. So it seemed to me to be an appropriate time to recall those journeys of my personal discovery and get them down in writing.....

My late friend Dr Ken Brand was mad keen on the bush.. and it was catching... bushwalking with him when I was 15 in the Lamington National Park. Did I learn a lot about the bush and myself up in those rugged rain forest covered ranges. Navigating from topographical maps and using a compass somehow seemed a world removed form algebra and Shakespeare back in the class room. And how cold were the nights... taking one of mum's eiderdown quilts and sleeping on a canvas stretcher somehow didn't keep the cold away. A very big learning curve indeed for this young bloke.

And then it was motorbikes.... small trail bikes and all of those tracks less travelled in the south east corner. Again Ken was the leader as he came up with places to go and he always.... and I mean always had to have lunch by water.. every time.

Waiting for the billy to boil.

Me in 7th heaven with my Yamaha

And.. we could never turn for home until he saw what was around the next corner. It made for some late nights as we headed home with those terrible little headlights on the Yamahas and Hondas.

Apart from motorcycles, a few four wheel drives have come and gone along the way too. Land Rovers on Fraser Island, Suzuki LJ50s up there too. Daihatsu, Hyundais and of course the Discovery 3. These vehicles allowed me to get out there.. and explore the road less travelled.

My Suzuki LJ50 at Spicer's Peak. (Now closed off to cars)

Max and I even drove the original Holden Cruze to Kroombit Tops... amazing getting that little jigger up there.

Morning tea on the way to Kroombit Tops

Brother Max with me at the Beautiful Betsy crash site

Another place I visited and loved was Carnarvon Gorge. Have been there a couple of times.. but the great trip up there was with John Laverick. Hooked the camper onto the back of the Disco and away we went. Places like Carnarvon are so enchanting; almost like time has forgotten them

Base camp at Tarakka bush camp - Carnarvon.

Another camping trip with Christina in the border ranges.

After  lot of driving/riding in different areas; the place I have really fallen in love with is Western QLD. Debra and I have explored the area in our Land Rover all those years ago, but of late the journeys have been on a motorbike and accompanied by long suffering mate, Gregor Carr.  The first really long run was Birdsville in 2011. The final ride from Windorah to Birdsville was incredible. Yes, very rough roads but the vastness of our land just spoke to me. WOW.

The Cooper where Clancy went!

Mid trip refuel Windorah to Birdsville.

Gregor feeling the serenity!

That iconic picture that all who come here want!

That trip was pure magic.. the Kawasaki performed flawlessly but left me longing for a longer range/more comfortable bike. And so along came Fat Max!

Fat Max in a river bed outside Grafton NSW.

Having Max in the garage tends to make you look further afield for your adventures, so Winton looked good in 2016. And it did turn out to be an adventure too.

Read about it here!

The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.

So what's next?

Well on the way back from Barcaldine a week ago, by pure chance we met the owner of a 44,000 acre cattle property outside Tambo. Over morning breakfast and coffee I got to learn more about the property itself.

Compared to business in the city, these words said to me really resonated...

"Out here, the only thing you have control over is the price you pay for your cattle!"

I am intrigued about life on the land on such a large property and so will head back to visit the place with my cameras.... the only question is.. will I take Max or the Calais? I guess that will be answered when I see how I can condense my camera gear and laptop down to a minimum and pack it on board.

Next autumn looks good.... Yes I can hear the wild calling me.