I wind my way up and down narrow roads and hairpin turns through deep woods. I round the hundredth bend and find a car speeding towards me, tires well into my lane. I carefully swerve to avoid being taken out by the white family sedan. They continue on their way, oblivious to the life they just endangered. Fellow motorcyclists warned me about this stretch of the journey- The Great Ocean Road, one of Australia’s top attractions. Gawking tourists take pictures while driving and do a scary job of staying in their own lanes. Tommo sees the close call and veers past to take the lead. He’s a local, and although riding a tiny postie bike, has far more expertise and experience than I. I’m grateful for the companionship of these two Aussies, and feel better knowing someone’s watching out for me.
Unbeknownst to me I joined a secret society the day I started riding two years ago. Motorcyclists take care of each other the same way bicyclists, hikers, and climbers do. At the Horizons Unlimited event, I met people from all over the area who gave an open invitation to their house, a hot shower, and a comfortable bed. One woman living in Tasmania bid me farewell with, “I hope to see you in my kitchen soon!” It’s an experience you just don’t have when driving a car.
The night before last the three of us were put up by Dave in Portland, a fellow rider, and given a great tour of the area. He drove us to the local sights, including the lighthouse where he lived for several years, being the son of a lighthouse keeper. The whitewashed buildings with perfect red trim were a stark contrast against the windblown landscape and grey-green low lying scrub. The waves below bashed the cliffs mercilessly, the wind howling and threatening to blow you off if you didn’t mind your step. I held on tight to the black cap grandma knit for me nearly 15 years ago.
Tony, another motorcyclist from the Horizons Unlimited event, handed me the key to a house his family owns in the town of Lorne. I was given directions to drop it off or post it back to him after a couple night’s stay, and to enjoy my time there. The generosity of people is heart-warming when travelling in a foreign country, and reminds me just how many good people exist in the world.
Arriving around lunch time, I find myself the temporary resident of a house straight from the 1950’s, down to the ancient fridge and floral drapes. It has an awesome old charm to it, and as I eat lunch on the balcony, I’m treated to a panoramic view of the coastline and sweeping ocean views. After a nap in a sunny window, I’m joined by the Postie gents, and have afternoon tea on the deck with our new winged friends. The wildlife in this country just doesn’t cease to amaze me.