Southern Region Midweek Ride – “Warburton Wonders”, 7 May 2019

Battery – Charged and checked.  Tyre pressures – Done.  Chain – Cleaned and lubed (Lucky BMW owners).  Weather forecast – Perfect Autumn day.  The Battery Gods deserted Mike and Janet who were leading the ride and had starting problems with the Honda and Triumph.  Success with Janet’s Honda, but a necessary swap of the Triumph for BMW, and our ride leaders made it to Rowville OK.  Things go “pear shaped” at the worst possible time, and we wear crash helmets so the world can’t hear our language when a beloved classic iron stead just won’t go.

With 17 two-wheeled explorers buddied-up and briefed, we headed up Wellington Road to Harkaway Road and with Mike’s local back roads knowledge, South-East through the forests near Beaconsfield and North to Emerald, Cockatoo and Gembrook (Coffee ?, yes please).  Warmed up, and with a sunny clear sky we travelled the Launching Place Road and “off the beaten track” to Kurth Kiln (Wonder No.1).  North to Yarra Junction and on The Old Warburton Road through lush forests, with some extra care on shaded damp patches and wet autumn leaves on this twisty narrow road (it’s a great ride).  From Warburton East, up Woods Point Road to a Canadian Redwood plantation (Wonder No.2) on Cement Creek Road, which needed some cement as it was actually “The Rocky Rutted Redwood Track”, so don’t go if it’s raining.  The green Yarra Valley ranges are a stark contrast to the flat, dry and parched landscape we rode through on the Tungamah run.

Wonder No.1 – The Kurth Kiln was constructed in 1941 and burnt local timber, producing charcoal used as an alternative fuel for the motor industry.  This is not a rusty relic decaying in the thick bush, as a group of 150 dedicated supporters preserve the large brick and steel furnace, the caretaker’s and woodcutter’s huts, public grounds and displays for visitors.  If you have the internet, type in “Charcoal Powered Cars” on a search page.  I found articles on vehicle charcoal burners making Carbon Monoxide gas to power the engine through the 1940’s petrol rationing.  Some Taxis in Korea used this engine fuel as late as 1970!! (OMG).

Wonder No.2 – The Redwood Forest is an experimental plantation of Cedar, Pine and Redwood trees begun in 1930, now numbering 1,476 trees as high as 55 metres (they are HUGE).  Planted in a tight square grid pattern, the tree trunks are in exact straight lines from many viewing angles.  It was shaded, dark and damp, with only the faint rustle of the foliage high above.  With amazement, after hugging some tall timbers we rode back to Warburton for lunch.

The Three Sugars Café in the main street has rear parking, opposite the extensively developed Yarra Riverbank parklands.  This bakery has seriously delicious gourmet food, so after lunch we bought some pastries and cakes for dinner and did our own Uber-Eats home delivery.  The group dispersed on their home trips with unanimous appreciation to Mike and Janet for such a well-planned, enjoyable and interesting day, thank you very much.  Maybe the Battery Gods made Mike take the Beemer to prevent any problems during the day … some things are “spooky”.

David and Mez McLennan


Southern Midweek Ride Participants List 07/05/2019

Name Bike Year
Mike Walker (Ride Leader) BMW GS1200 2005
Janet Walker Honda VTR250 2004
Ian Snadden (Tail End Charlie) Suzuki GSX1100 Outfit 1980
Ray Isles BMW F650CS 2004
Graham Boulter BMW R1200GS 2011
John Killingsworth BMW R1200GS 2011
Robert Mullins BMW S1000R 2014
Reg Hammond Triumph T100 Bonneville 2016
John & Vicki Best BMW R80 1986
Richard Haughton Kawasaki W800 2012
Jack Youdan Triumph Thruxton 2009
Terry Hoare Triumph Thruxton R 2016
Paul Clayton Honda VFR800 2014
Bill Washington BMW K75S 1986
David & Mez McLennan Triumph Thruxton S 2016
Paul Woods Suzuki V-Strom 2011
Ed Sleightholm Triumph Street Twin 2017