The 22nd Melbourne Branch Odyssey

When looking back at the past couple of years, I feel it is timely to remember the main stated aim of the Ulysses Club is: “To provide ways in which older motorcyclists can get together for companionship and mutual support.”

Attending the 22nd Melbourne Branch Odyssey at Mansfield provided exactly that sort of camaraderie and I enjoyed it with over 30 others.

As we read of road closures everywhere, route planning became a serious challenge. I had a sense of déjà vu as I set off on Friday, 14 October and thought back to the flooded roads I encountered on my way to the national rally at Warwick, Queensland earlier this year! I know of at least 10 people who were unable to attend the Odyssey, mainly because of the floods in Victoria and NSW. My thoughts go out to all those who will be dealing with the effects of the floods downstream from Lake Eildon (and further afield) for months, if not years.

Our usual route to Mansfield via Yea was simply not an option and many other routes were also closed. Lots of communication and checking of road and weather apps occurred as people plotted their way up. Quite a few travelled in small groups via Healesville, over the Black Spur to Mansfield without major incident. We saw water partially over the road as we crossed the Goulburn River near Alexandra. We saw lots of closed side roads and obvious flooding all around us.

Despite these challenges, many of us got through and enjoyed the Friday night BBQ in rather cool conditions. Many tales were told of the challenges overcome in getting to the Odyssey. One member’s trip from South Australia was several hundred kilometres longer than he had planned. A group from the Blue Mountains in NSW gave their car a thorough under body rinse while exploring back roads in “Kelly country”.

On Saturday morning, ten of us (including a couple enjoying their first event / ride with Melbourne Branch) enjoyed a ride around Lake Eildon. We took it at a cautious pace in view of the potential hazards and stopped more often than usual to take some photos and simply enjoy the countryside which was beautifully green after all that rain!  The ride from Jamieson to Eildon is heavily forested and extremely winding with a good road surface. We saw kangaroos, a wallaby, mudslides, trees down and water over the road once, so we figured the cautious pace was appropriate. We had lunch in the Eildon town square as “take aways” from the local cafés and enjoyed a good chat. We then checked out the overflowing spillway of Lake Eildon. It looked both beautiful and spectacular, but I was mindful of the distress it was causing for those living further downstream. We then rode over the weir wall and up Skyline Road taking in more views. At the Fraser National Park turn off, four members on adventure bikes split off and rode the gravel road to Bonnie Doon. The rest of us enjoyed descending through delightful hills to Alexandra and then followed more open highways back to Mansfield.  

After some R & R, about 30 people attended the Saturday night Odyssey dinner at the golf club, where we had ample time to simply chat, partake and relax. The club provided a courtesy bus to get us all to and from our accommodation. I believe these simple arrangements work well and enhance members’ ability to simply enjoy the camaraderie.

 Many thanks to all who came along and made it such an enjoyable event.  We had a great mix of people including some members who no longer ride, yet still enjoyed the camaraderie with “old mates”. It was also great to see five branch committee members go on the Saturday ride along with the “brand new” members. A special thanks to Pat Ryan, who was the registrar and arranged dinner and liaised with the caravan park where most of us stayed.

 One member was keen enough to arise early on Sunday morning and he then road to Phillip Island to watch the Moto GP in person!  I’m well aware that weather impacted recent Odysseys in NSW and SA too, and it is great that members still get out and make the most of circumstances.  

I’m about to renew my Ulysses membership for years 31 to 33 as I’m still ever so happy with the camaraderie and enjoyment I get from being part of this great Club.   

John Cook #5048 DM 51