After a leisurely breakfast and pack up, with a plan to go to Hamilton today, we set out on an exploration of Portland. I was last here a few years ago when the Ulysses AGM in Mt Gambier held the closing ceremony here. We took a ride out to Cape Nelson for a look at the lighthouse and to see if we could spot any whales here but no such luck. End of the season unfortunately. Then to Cape Bridgewater to see the Petrified Forest which is an incredible site. Apparently, the belief is that a sand dune covered the trees then seeping water calcified the outer trunks and the rest rotted/dissolved away. All that is left is what appears to be tree stumps over a very wide area. Some a metre or so high. Again, no whales so we turn east and with the prevailing wind now at our backs, we head to Portland and turn north. We started looking for a rest area for smoko as we neared Dunkeld and no sign of one. I was getting pretty frustrated I can tell you. Every few kilometres there was a TAC sign telling me to take a break, or, a micro sleep can kill, or, only sleep can cue tiredness and many more but at no time did they bother to provide a rest area. Apparently being tired is more dangerous than pulling up on the narrow shoulder and having a sleep with trucks rolling past! Eventually we find a rest area, no water, broken table etc but somewhere to stop. A fellow Queenslander pulls in and has smoko with us before we both head on to Hamilton.
One of the riders we spoke to earlier told us of a camp grounds at Walloon near Hamilton, owned by his mate, a fellow rider so we were tempted to go there for the night. By the time we arrive in Hamilton, it is still early. We take a break to ponder our next move and are followed into the rest area by a police car. No problem, the senior officer rides a ST3 Ducati and just wants to have a yarn. Tells us of a couple of good rides when we get to Melbourne and although he likes the wing and is sure his wife would as well, he reckons the ST3 just might be more fun in the tight stuff.
We leave Hamilton and head for the Grampians and Halls Gap. There are a couple of different routes to Halls Gap and I took what appeared on the surface to be the right one but it just followed the valley all the way. That meant we missed all the scenic spots and look outs coming the other route. So, it was back up over the high point of the range to view the sights then the obligatory u-turn back ti Halls Gap. Now for the mistake. The caravan park in Halls Gap looked really impressive but after having to cover unnecessary ground, I felt like moving on so we headed to Stawell. Two caravan parks here, neither looked too good and the one we stayed in certainly didn’t prove me wrong. Dinner at the pub was alright but the atmosphere on the Friday night wasn’t too good with tables all booked and having to eat in a pokey corner of the bar. Never mind, the weather is fine and the heater works well.