Apart from the fact that it was home to an amazing race track and fairy penguins I had no idea what to expect when I reached Phillip Island. Therefore I was completely unprepared for the sight of cattle everywhere, and the fact that most of the buildings on the island seemed to have been slapped together out of fibro without much concern for aesthetics or building codes.
The house we stayed in was an interesting exercise in seeing how many rooms could be shoved into an incredibly small space, outdone only by the bonus round where an attempt was made to fit as many beds as possible into the afore mentioned small rooms. The only consolation for me was that as the Dave from Albury Compound has the smallest bathroom outside of a Collins class submarine, I had no trouble with the tiny bathroom in the rental house. The most important thing about the house was its proximity to the track, and on that detail it scored quite well, but I did wonder why on earth anyone would stay there during the 49 weeks a year that there’s no big motorsport events on.
Friday morning gave me my first chance to see the track, and my first taste of Phillip Island weather. We got to the track a little after nine and the support classes were already buzzing around the track. The ground was sodden from the previous day’s downpour and I’d barely gone fifty metres beyond the main gate when I found that the walkway I was on wasn’t as solid as it looked, as it unhelpfully bowed underfoot leaving me and everyone else with wet shoes from the unseen puddle beneath. We walked along the main straight, where a familiar string of catering and merchandising tents were assembled, and on to the exhibition hall.
The exhibition hall, unlike the one at the Formula One, was jam packed full of stuff you’d like to buy. All of the major manufacturers had bikes on display and merchandise, and every other nook was stuffed with accessory manufacturers, tour operators and promo girls wearing leathers. Only the limited space in my bag and the fear of Mrsdave’s wrath stopped me from collecting a host of extra bits for my bike. I eventually settled for a GP stubbie holder, a Casey Stoner one and a Casey Stoner beanie. As it turned out, the beanie was an essential piece of gear over the weekend.
After looking over the varied bikes in the show and shine, and making a brief stop at the XXXX gold bar, we made our way around turns 12 and 11 and up the hill to Lukey Heights. The view was fantastic. One of the most appealing things about Phillip Island is that because of the way the track is laid out you can see half of the track from almost any point. From the Lukey Heights stand you could see the bikes coming out of Siberia and towards the Hayshed, where you lose them momentarily until they roar past you and down into MG. The bikes are visible again once they’re in turn 12 and then you can see them all the way through Southern Loop until they drop down hill towards turn 4. This is all against the backdrop of Bass Straight, a prettier race track you could not ask for.