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

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Harbour City ~~> to Geordie-Land

Monday 21st March

Our apparel dried-out reasonably quickly from the previous day's (Sunday-20) downpours and consequent very wet ride up from Batemans Bay NSW; most of our gear, including my undies [oo-er] spread-out around the bedroom of our Ashfield-based B&B lodgings.

For your info, Ashfield is a suburb in the inner-west of Sydney, and is located about 9 kilometres [5.6 miles] south-west of the Sydney CBD (Central Business District).

The local news bulletins reported that the Illawarra and South Coast region of NSW (New South Wales), and the stretch of road we had just passed through - the Princes Highway - had over 300 mm [12 inches] of the wet stuff falling out of the clouds during Sunday and throughout Monday night.

Luckily we had escaped the worst of it .. yet again .. by leaving Batemans Bay shortly after breakfast on Sunday morning. Had we set-off from there just a day later, then it would have been quite a different story! This is becoming a habit. Fortunately for us we've managed to dodge - more by luck than judgement - all sorts of nasty weather conditions throughout most of our time in and around this huge continent.

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The local bus stops literally right outside our B&B's front door; so rather than ride the bike into the city centre, we catch a 30-minute bus ride instead. Getting our bearings wasn't easy at street level in amongst the city's skyscrapers, but we spotted a sign for Darling Harbour - which is probably Sydney's third biggest tourist destination.

Darling Harbour is basically just a large recreational and pedestrian precinct that is situated on the western outskirts of the Sydney CBD. Tourists flock there like bees to a honey pot .. so we thought we had better go and join 'em!

Darling Harbour Panorama - click on the picture for full view

Not a bad start to our first full day in Australia's largest city, despite the overcast weather conditions.

As an added bonus, we're able to take the ferry around Millers Point from Darling Harbour's nearby Pymont Bay terminal ..

.. and straightaway the Harbour Bridge comes into view, which is probably Sydney's second most famous landmark.

Some brave souls up there taking-in the views. The outlook must be spectacular if you have the time .. and the spare money to make The Bridge Climb. We had neither, especially the latter at AU$198 a go [that's GB£123.50 at prevailing crappy currency exchange rate!]

Bugger that for a lark! Did I ever mention my fear of heights by the way?!

Ellen would have been 'up for it' though .. if that's .. er .. the right expression under the circumstances?

Then the No. 1 star attraction of this busy city comes into view; the Opera House .. and suddenly, as if conducted to do so, all the passengers start clicking away with their cameras. I'm no exception, as you can see!

Iconic

Better take a look then. May as well .. especially seein' as we're here anyway, eh?!

Fascinating architecture, with seemingly endless curves and angles. No wonder photographers have a field day here.

Every corner you turn opens-up a multitude of different shapes and shadows ..

.. and reflections.

Unquestionably worth a lookaround. BUT this is my second visit to Sydney (I was here back in April 1994) .. and so for me it was definitely a case of Déjà vu.


A 'first' for Ellen though .. and therefore far more exciting for her.

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Tuesday 22nd

A day we won't forget.

Little did we know before we set-off from our B&B for Bondi Beach .. on this very sad day, what was about to unfold back home in England.

Without a care in the world, we were quickly changing into more suitable attire on the promenade before setting off for a stroll along one of the most famous beaches in the world.

Bondi Beach, located 7 kilometres east of the Sydney CBD.

Just like we pictured it .. thunderous surf, bronzed bikinied bodies .. and everything!

Factoid: "Bondi" or "Boondi" is an Aboriginal word meaning 'water breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks.'

Go catch that wave, young Sheila ..

Good onya gal!

'Catcha wave and you're sittin' on top of the world ..'

There's an underwater shark net laid here during the summer months. Surf Lifesavers are always on patrol - and buzzing around in inflatable dinghies barking megaphonic orders .. at the swimmers and surfers in their oh-so cool aussie accents. Yunno what I mean, I'm sure you can hear them now too.

Hunks du Jour [.. lucky bastards!]

Bondi first came to my attention back in the late 60s, when it was featured in the 1966 full-length surfing movie The Endless Summer. I was a mad keen surfer back in those days ..

.. but this is as far as I get nowadays [.. too many frickin' sharks around these parts!]

Here are some of my endearing images of Bondi Beach .. that I shall now carry around with me, in my mind, for the rest of my days ..

.. a cute one!

.. he's gotta be p#ssed, or 'on' something?

.. tweenies' first surfing lesson

.. young love

A great day out at THE beach

About one kilometre long (≈0.6 miles). This is the view right at the north end.

I love Bondi. Such a cool place to hangout, especially if you're under 30-yo.

Time for us ol' timers to get going .. I reckon!

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That evening of Tuesday, 22nd March, Ellen received an urgent phone call from her younger brother, David. Sadly their dear sweet mother had just passed away, aged 91.

A good innings, but a dreadful set of circumstances, when you're 10,500 miles [nearly 17,000 km] from home. It's a worst case scenario for distressed Ellen, who had a very close relationship with her mum.

When something tragic like this happens, during the night time (locally), what do you do?

Well, as upsetting as it is .. you just must get on with sorting it all out.

We were up for half the night on Tuesday / early hours of Wednesday a.m. - calling our airline carrier (Qantas Airways), both here in Australia and back in the UK, and our Bristol-based travel agent, Trailfinders, to sort out an emergency return flight back to England for Ellen.

We did eventually manage to change her itinerary and secure a 'compassionate' flight back to London, which departed from Sydney Int'l Airport on Wednesday at 5:30pm. Thank goodness we were staying in Sydney at the time, which made the whole process that little bit easier. It would have been a nightmare if we had been out 'in the sticks' somewhere!

Qantas were brilliant by the way, and didn't charge us anything whatsoever, not a penny, not even an administration fee, for the urgent travel alterations. It's good to know that some big international corporations out there still have a heart. Ellen secured the very last available seat on the airplane; so I guess she was very lucky indeed to be able to travel at such short notice (like, the same day).

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Wednesday 23rd - the afternoon

Both fatigued from the events of the last 12-16 hours .. with Ellen in quite an understandable state of shock and disbelief .. we take a melancholy last look around Sydney together, before her flight back to London at 17:30.

It's a beautiful day too.

Does this view look familiar? It should. Take a look at the picture at the top of this blog. We're on Garden Island, just a little way north from the Royal Botanic Gardens .. looking across Farm Cove to the classic view of Sydney's skyline.

Panorama - click on the picture for full view

A fitting way perhaps to spend the last hour or two in Australia for Ellen, at least for the time being.

3:45pm. At the check-in desk.

This is one place I didn't think we would be seeing again until mid-May.

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And so I'm on my own again .. :-(

Ellen may, or may not, return to Oz to complete the Australian section of our travels. This will all depend on the circumstances for her back home. We have tentatively agreed that if there is still a month remaining of the aussie tour - i.e. anytime up to mid-April - then she will re-join me, probably somewhere up in the tropical region, like Cairns for instance.

We'll just have to wait-and-see how it all goes.

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Meanwhile I have made my way up to Newcastle, in the Lower Hunter Valley NSW, in order to attend the Ulysses Motorcycling Club's AGM. Riding up, I couldn't help but sing t'meself:

' .. Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Thou shall hev a fishy when the boat comes in.'


WHY AYE MAN!

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More news to follow, in about a week's time.

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