Sunday, March 11, 2012

DBMA - Part 2 - Apollo Bay to Colac

Daws Brothers Motorcycling Adventures - Apollo Bay to Colac

Heading west out of Apollo Bay was not the popular choice, which suited us just fine as it meant that traffic was light. We topped off the tanks before leaving town - the only service station we saw was on the east side of town, so if you're passing through Apollo Bay and you're thinking of fuel, stop at the shell on your way in.

We still experienced the seemingly mandatory "I drive at 20 for all corners" but as the road cuts away from the coastline and starts heading up through the ranges there are more opportunities to overtake. There was the typical idiot P plater who decided to accelerate as we were going past them, but a) that's par for the course at the best of times, and b) their car was never going to be an acceleration match for either of our bikes.

The road from Apollo Bay to Lavers Hill oscillates between 80 and 100km/h zones populated with sweeping bends that take you up and down the Otway ranges. Much of the time the road is shielded beneath the canopy of the surrounding forest which makes for an almost fantastic experience carving up corners through a tunnel of trees and bitumen. On the down side there is quite a lot of leaf litter on the road, so you need to pick your lines with care and stay clear of the outside edge of the road in particular. That said, it's time to start shifting your bum in the seat and leaning into those corners for 40 kilometres of sheer riding pleasure.

Arriving at Lavers Hill we pulled up in the car park of the store. In fact that probably should read The Store since as far as I can tell, Lavers Hill only has the one. It's situated at a cross roads: you can go west and continue along the Great Ocean Road; north to Carlisle River; East to Beech Forest; or south to Apollo Bay. Having already booked accommodation in Colac for the night, we decided to head there to check in and remove the bags from the bikes, so east we went, following the Beech Forest - Lavers Road until the turn off for Colac. This was, as they say, a Good Decision™.

This road has several names as you travel its length but the best of them is Charleys Creek Road. And like Charley Boorman himself, this road is epic and legendary. Variously 100 and 80km/h zones, this road sweeps and winds, climbs and dives, including one absolutely epic sweeper that seems to stretch on for well over 180 degrees. If roads could talk, this one would be whispering sweet nothings into the motorcyclist's ear. It is magic and majestic, carving a path through forests and ranges, throwing one corner after another as if it understands intuitively what it is you're longing for in a road and is more than happy to oblige.

After a somewhat disappointing commute down the Great Ocean Road, the run from Lavers Hill to Gellibrand was an unexpected and outstanding highlight.

From Gellibrand to Colac the road has a very fun stretch around Kawarren that will keep you grinning inside your helmet. It's a good quality surface and visibility is great, allowing you to see a long way into the corners and to pick your lines early. The final stretch into Colac is straight and slow, and though I didn't see any it's not hard to imagine a police car sitting there picking up bikes that haven't adjusted to the 50 zone after such an invigorating ride through the hills!

We were booked into the Colac Mid City Motor Inn, which is nice and central and easy to find, just a hundred metres past the McDonalds on the main road through Colac. Trevor - the proprietor - was excellent to deal with and charges a very reasonable rate, so I'll definitely look at going back there next time I have the urge to explore the ranges around Cape Otway. We didn't stay there particularly long though, just long enough to check in and strip the bags off the bikes so we could head back to Lavers Hill down that magical road.

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