I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.

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PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Monday, 15 March 2010

Australia .. at last

The Qantas flight freighting the bike across the Tasman from Auckland should have got into Melbourne (via Sydney) at 8:30am on Wednesday, 10th March .. around about the same time as our Pacific Blue passenger flight was due to arrive. But alas .. ‘twas not to be! The black beast was ‘stuck in the system’ .. and didn’t even get off the ground from Sydney until midday; landing at MEL ninety minutes later at 1:30pm.

‘Unaccompanied passenger baggage’ (the bike’s deemed status) doesn’t rank as high up the priority list as other types of cargo such as animals, animal products, fresh food and other perishables. So my checking-in process was way down the disembarkation pecking order. This struck me as being rather odd? .. particularly as a motorcycle is classified as ‘Dangerous Goods’ because of the fuel content.

It was, however, finally checked-in by 4:30pm – part of the last batch on this unseasonably overcast and occasionally rainy day of no more than 12°C. There was no chance, therefore, of getting through all of the importation formalities until the following day, Thursday-11th.

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By 4:30pm the following bright-and-sunny day, Thursday-11, we had cleared Customs, which turned-out to be a fairly painless process; then sailed through the very superficial AQIS quarantine inspection; re-connected the electrics to the battery; and filled the near empty fuel tank at the very first service station we saw after exiting the Airport.

By 5:00pm were safely back at our motel. Phew!

Time to rip-off all the security & identifying stickers .. then remount the mirrors on the handlebars.

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Friday morning, March-12th

9:15am. We’re facing many thousands of aussie kilometres over the course of the next two months .. don’t know precisely how many of course, my best guesstimate is around 15,000 (9,300 mi) .. so I s’pose we better get going, eh?!

I’m under no illusion as to what lies ahead .. IF I do indeed manage to complete this aussie circumnavigation – plus take an excursion down through the red centre. I realise Australia is a HUGE country .. 95% as big in area as America’s lower (contiguous) 48 states to be precise.

Factoid:

America’s lower 48 states = 3,119,885 square miles (8,080,464 sq km)
Australia = 2,941,300 square miles (7,617,930 sq km)

[Source: Wikipedia]


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Last piece of the paperwork jigsaw to deal with: get the beast temporarily registered into the aussie system, which is a compulsory requirement, even for visiting overseas vehicles. Registration does provide third-party ‘bodily injury’ cover .. so it has to be worth fitting in to the system for this insurance benefit alone.

Looking at the map, I reckoned the Vic Roads Customer Service Centre at Geelong City would be a good place to get the bike registered, because its location is about 85 km [52 mi] down the road in our general direction of the coastline – so off we go..

.. then my satnav system gets us completely lost! My fault, no doubt, as I’m still getting used to my new Garmin GPS unit. Getting back on track provides us with our first aussie unsealed road experience.

I must have caught the officer(s) at Vic Roads on an ‘off guard’ moment, as no-one there had much of a clue how to deal with a temporarily imported motorcycle (from New Zealand), travelling under cover of Carnet De Passages .. owned and ridden by a couple of poms. But after about an hour of to-ing and fro-ing .. and frantic phone calls to their Head Office, we were all sorted .. for a cost of AU$112.20!

Incidentally, if you’re wondering just how much, in total, it costs to ship a bike across the Tasman by air, then click on this link for the numbers.

And so having dealt with all the and paperwork protocols, we were free at last from all the bureaucracy .. and finally on our way.

20 km [12½ mi] we reached the Surfcoast Highway at the familiarly-named township of Torquay ..

.. in absolutely perfect weather conditions. Lucky .. or wot John?! ..

.. and start our west track across Victoria’s Great Ocean Road ..

First excursion: the Split Point Lighthouse where we find out what a restricted ‘S’ area is [means 'No Standing' / parking] .. and nearly get our first motoring ticket!

Twisting along the strangely familiar coast road gave us a feeling of “Déjà vu” .. a sorta mix of California’s Big Sur; New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula (Firth of Thames side); and Cornwall’s own Atlantic coast .. offering us plenty of photo opportunities.

Riding along the occasional near deserted beach ..

.. where very few folk take to the surf.

Great (Ocean Road) stuff!

By late afternoon we call it a day and pull-in to the township of Apollo Bay and secure a neat little 2-bed cabin in one of the Bay’s beachside campground ..

.. before wandering the kilometre or so into town, alongside the lagoon and flocking seabirds, for our first ‘on-the-road’ pub grub meal.

‘Tis been a good day.

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Saturday, March-13

I should show you our last night’s accommodation.

Here’s a pic of the campsite cabin I mentioned.

Looking in from the front doorway

Nice lounge, bedroom, kitchenette and bathroom, eh? .. oh, and there’s also another bedroom with bunks and another double bed.

Not bad .. and all for a cost of AU$85.00. Even better if this can be shared between 2-3 people.

We’re away and back on the road by 09:15am.

The Great Ocean Road isn’t just all about a coast road; it also twists and turns inland, through alpine-type farmland hills (mainly dairy/beef and sheep); and some dense pine and beech forests too.

But the coastline is always going to be the No.1 main attraction. The view of Castle Cove (Great Otway National Park).

Around 11:15am we stop at our ‘first’ Roadhouse for a cuppa .. but sadly this one was closed!

Gibson Steps - Some visitors/tourists took the path down to the sand. This is not for us though (not enough time, you see) ..

.. moreover, we couldn’t be arsed!

The view in the opposite direction (to the west)

The BIG star of the GOR is, undoubtedly, The Twelve Apostles .. which looks remarkably similar to our own (Cornwall’s) Bedruthan Steps.

Ellen poses for a photo op .. in, as you can see, absolutely perfect weather conditions .. under a cloudless sky, an ambient temperature of 26°C .. and hardly any wind - maybe just a very gentle sea-breeze. Yet the surf still thundered in from the Southern Ocean.

So we walked on out to the end of the cliff head.

This is the view looking back east (from the general direction we came from) .. absolutely glorious.

The Twelve Apostle .. a classic picture

.. avec moi in the foreground.

'London Bridge' .. from an unusual angle

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Now all 'scenery’d out', we take a break at the next township up the road, Port Campbell ..

.. and had-a-go at munching halfway through two cartons of justabout the worst fish ‘n’ chip we’ve ever eaten.

The Mars Bar for afters made up for the first course though. Indeed .. over all, quite decent grub .. thinking about it again! [NOT]

We soon found ourselves heading inland .. northbound, towards the township of Mount Gambier, where we passed the state line .. from Victoria into South Australia ..

.. and tuck down for the night in Mt Gambier ..

.. where Ellen gets herself chatted-up by the only blind man in the local pub! .. ;o)

‘Tis been another Grand Day Out.

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Sunday, March-14

346 km [216 mi] today, mainly northbound, up the Riddoch Highway to the ‘one-horse’ township of Tailem Bend ..

.. through one of the most impressive wine-growing areas I have ever seen ..

.. literally thousands of hectares of vineyards.

BUT the undoubted highlight of today’s ride was visiting the lovely little town of ‘Keith’ .. which is probably the finest and bestest named place in the whole of Australia .. nay .. I reckon the whole wide world!

You better believe it!

Tailem Bend? Surely its name must be derived because of the location alongside a natural bend in the mighty Murray River?

One horse town or not, we did nevertheless witness a stunning sunset from our motel room that, as you can see, backed onto the River. A fantastic sight .. that, as always, is all too soon gone; lost to the night’s encroaching darkness.

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Monday, March-15

Today we meet-up with one of our newest mate, Peter, who has ridden around 100 km [63 mi] on his candy-apple red Honda ST1300, across from Eden Hills, in southern Adelaide, especially to guide us back to his home. He turns-up 30 seconds early, at 08:59am [.. and thirty seconds!]

We’re going back to his place, though, by a 300 km [187 mi] ‘scenic route’ that Peter has devised especially for the occasion, which starts ..

.. by way of a ferry ride across the Murray River at Wellington

Peter on his ST .. from the perspective of my LH side rear-view mirror

Tailem Bend is just a few minutes away .. back up the River from this ferry crossing.

From now on some really great viewing stops ensue .. such as:

The lookout above Strathalbyn

Me an' 'er indoors

The controversial Hindmarsh Island Bridge at Goolwa

The Boarding Station at Goolwa Wharf ..

.. where Pete goes into great detail to explain the dire situation that’s been making the headlines for quite some time now, namely the desperate water shortage situation, that's fast turning into a very nasty drought. Everyone hereabouts is praying for sustained rainfall, especially up river.

Better come to England then, eh?!

Middleton Beach ..

.. which is a popular surfing venue. Tiny waves out there today though.

Horseshoe Bay from Freemans Knob at Port Elliot

Boomer Beach from Port Elliot

Lookout above Victor Harbor

An adjacent gravel road to the Kangaroo Island Ferry Port at Cape Jervis

Kangaroo Island Ferry Terminal

But the highlight for the whole day’s ride, for us, was stopping briefly at the picturesque cove and beach at Second Valley ..

.. a beautiful spot

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Then it's the last run into Adelaide – and we were forced to stop by temporary traffic control because of an accident.

.. and believe it or not .. the driver really did walk away from this one!

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Safely back at Peter’s [and his lovely wife, Chris’s] place in Eden Hills by around 5:00pm ..

.. eventually, as darkness falls, for some BBQ’d chicken and salad .. and tipple(s) of ‘special’ red wine .. in the balmiest of all evenings that we’ve experienced for many, many months.

A really superb day.

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Tuesday, March-16

A package had arrived a few days earlier at Pete & Chris’s place, pre-ordered by me a while back, delivered from M.A.P. up in Dayboro, near Brisbane in the state of Queensland.

Time to get it all opened-up then .. ?? ..

.. my new toys had finally arrived! New fairing and engine guards for the Alp!

With fitting instructions from the German manufacturers .. in German!
(Bloody Germans!)

Darn lucky for me that Pete is good with his hands when it comes to this sorta stuff. He has a real boys’-own-dream workshop. So what parts wouldn’t fit .. we/he made them darn-well fit!

Definitely a two-man job though. It was like fitting together one of those crazy Chinese puzzles; every part was dependent on another one. BUT ..

.. 3½ hours later I had the new fairing guards .. and

.. an engine guard set-up.

So Charley and Ewan .. eat yer god’damn hearts out!

Later that day, to celebrate our feat of masterful engineering skills .. we nipped downtown into Adelaide City where I treated myself to a new pair of light-weight [summertime] gloves; and a can of drive-chain lube oil. Luxury!

That night .. covering the same tracks, we viewed the City at night from the very same viewing point in what must have been a temperature of 25°C. Just right!

And got stuck into some good wholesome grub at the local RSL (Returned and Services League – similar to our Royal British Legion) .. entertained by some local Blues jammers.

A great way to finish the day.

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Wednesday, March-17

After breakfast .. and it’s time to get on our way again. Quite simply - time to hit the road.

Pete rode with us for the first 60 km [37 miles] or so. We swapped bikes for part of the way; it was good to feel the smooth power of a Honda ST1300’s V4 engine beneath me again.

By midday the occasion had arrived to say our farewells.

Summary of our time in the Adelaide area:

Peter & Chris very generously opened their home and their hearts to us on our journey through Australia.

Pete spent not only a couple of days showing us areas of the country that we would perhaps have missed, but also practical and mechanical help in fixing up the Transalp.

Chris satisfied our inner needs in the guise of filling ourselves with wholesome home cooked food!

Lovely people .. lovely family. Great company.

Thanks Pete, Chris, Judy .. et al

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We continued on our way, up north, for another 295 km [185 mi] in 38°C mid-afternoon temperatures [PHEW!] passing by dried-up lakes ..

.. and prairie-lands – with the Flinders Mountain Range ever present to our right-hand side – until at around 5:30pm, we pulled into the industrial town of Port Augusta. This will do us for the night.

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Total distance covered so far: 1,631 km [1,013 miles]

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Tomorrow we head out west to the vast desert wilderness of the Nullabor Plains. It’s gonna be just like back in Kansas .. probably .. with a bit more red dirt chucked in .. probably! Can't wait to get going.

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