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

Friday, 4 March 2011

A Busy First Week .. Down Under

Tuesday early morning, March-1st

It's good to met by a local friendly face after a long-haul flight first thing in the morning. Kris, wife of John Cook who is the recently re-elected president of Melbourne's branch of the Ulysses Club did just that for us; two very tired new arrivals from the other side of the world at Tullamarine International Airport.

Around 60 km [37 mi] later our extended journey finally finished at John & Kris' home in the north-east part of the city, under the shadow of the Dandenong Ranges in the district of Montrose.

Not too much was accomplished on March-1st, our arrival day, apart from changing the bike's air filter; and making a start on fitting the new Barkbusters hand guards. Fact is, we were just too darn tired to do anything that involved utilising more than a couple of brain cells. We just weren't thinking straight.

Most of the following day, Wed-2nd, was used-up in and around the City sorting-out the bike's essential paperwork and acquiring some other items.

So now our carnet is extended for a further 12 months, which involved visits to the headquarters of both the RACV and Customs Office to purchase mandatory TAC [transport accident cover] insurance from the VIC Roads centre.





Good jobs done then.

We owe John, Kris and their son, Greg, a huge debt of gratitude. Relative strangers to begin with, yet nevertheless the Cook family didn't hesitate, not for a moment, to offer and provide us with some very valuable help and guidance, in all sorts of ways over the last 10 months.

Good folk .. and a Top Family.

Maybe the opportunity will arise in the future when we can repay them in some way. We hope so.

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Thursday-3rd, late afternoon

An hour's ride south to the Moorooduc District to visit family friends, the equally top blokes Colin and Tracy (& family) down at the chook sheds! (cuz they rear free-range chickens). One bike wash and an early night later ..

… see's us up and outta bed the following morning at 5:30am; before we set off in the total darkness, of what's left of the night .. and in pouring rain (yuk!) to make our way back north in commuter traffic to the ferry terminal.

Our adventure begins from here.

Except our ferry, The Spirit of Tasmania II, is running 90 minutes behind schedule; instead of a 09:00am departure, we won't be casting off until closer to 10:30am. BUGGER! .. so we could have had at least an extra hour in bed after all.

But the enforced wait quayside did present us with an opportunity to strike-up a conversation or two with some fellow bikers .. Geelong-based Rob & Debbie in particular on their 35-year old classic BMW R75 motorcycle, who, like us, are also planning on spending 10 days on the Apple Isle.

Time enough to admire my new front fairing stickers comprising of:
  • A silver fern, a widely recognised symbol of New Zealand, representing the fact that I'm riding a NZ-registered machine;
  • The New Zealand flag; and the Saint Piran's Cross (the Cornish flag) .. representing [maybe] the beginning and end of this trip-of-a-lifetime; and
  • A Kangaroo in white silhouette, representing Australia. Positioned at the most forward leading part of the bike's bodywork, out of courtesy, and in my recognition and grateful thanks to the Australian Nation for allowing us the privilege of free and unfettered passage around their homeland. Copying the example of when a ship berths in a foreign port; it usually always flies the host country's national flag out of courtesy for allowing it and its crew members 'free practique'
'The Spirit' makes the daily 429 kilometre, 9-11 hour, voyage across Bass Strait at a cruising speed of 27 knots (equivalent of 50 km/h.)

As ferry crossings go, this one is quite typical. Blink .. and you could imagine yourself crossing the English Channel on a P&O or a Brittany ferry.

Halfway across the Strait and we go 'port to port' with our sister ship, The Spirit of Tasmania I, shipping its passengers and cargo back to the berth we just departed from in Port Melbourne.

7:15pm – around 75 minutes later than the regular scheduled time – just as dusk falls, we enter the mouth of the Mersey River at Devonport, TAS. Our disembarkation 30 minutes later is conducted in total darkness. Nevertheless, aided by my Zumo GPS unit, we find make way to our pre-booked hotel ..

.. only to find ourselves queueing behind a coach-load of gabbling Asian guests at the check-in desk!

"Ying Tong, Ying Tong" .. !!

Starving, we discover that there's not a single decent restaurant to be found open anywhere along the high street. It's Friday evening and Devonport 'shuts' at nine o'clock! So we have no other choice but head for the Golden Arches and settle for a Grand Angus and a Crispy Chicken Deluxe .. with colourless fries.

Maybe tomorrow .. we can finally hit-the-road .. [?]

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Saturday-5th

Except for a few townships like Boat Harbour and Stanley, the north coast of Tasmania is not ordinarily why you come to this southern island state. The Bass Highway winds its way largely through farmland (grazing) countryside.

We stopped, however, at the coastal community of Penguin for a spot of mid-morning brunch. Got our photo taken by a helpful old lady alongside the town's monument.

And bumped into - not literally, of course! - Rob & Debbie again, who had exactly the same idea. Funny how you can just 'click' with some folks. Rob & Debs fall firmly into this category.

A view from just along the coast, no more than 1 kilometre west from Penguin; as you can see, it's a glorious day.

The Lookout at Table Cape (looking back eastwards)

The secluded little beachside community of Boat Harbour Beach with its white sandy beach and crystal clear waters.

Panorama - click here to enlarge

Boat House Beach - a fabulous little spot to unwind, that's for sure.

By mid-afternoon we arrived at our intended destination of the historic commercial fishing village of Stanley [my first forename's-sake], that nestles at the base of 'The Nut' [pic above], a sheer-sided bluff - all that remains of an ancient volcanic plug.

Got ourselves some bargain accommodation too; a neat little chalet big enough to permanently house a family of four or five ..

.. with cover for the bike thrown into the bargain.

A takeaway dinner al fresco style, consisting of fairly indigestible deep-fried shark meat and greasy crumbed scallops with chips .. quickly brought-on the burps ..

So the local shitehawk community ate well that evening.

That night the entire coastal region suffered a power failure. Then you realise what a remote part of the world you're in!

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Sunday-6th

We had a real blast riding down the Murchinson Highway (A10) through the rainforest-clad valley of the Hellyer Gorge in particular. As good a motorcycle road as you could hope for anywhere in the world. Such fun!

3:30pm: we pull-in to the resort township - a former major port - of Strahan (pronounced "straw-n").

AND just look at our accommodation. B&B aboard the 65' (20m) steel ketch "Stormbreaker".

Gotta hand it to the operator-owners, Trevor and Megs Norton. Classic entrepreneurship. Why have your charter boat tied-up empty on its berth overnight, when you can let out a cabin or two and make a few bucks?

So here's a pic of our luxury lounge/saloon

Our 'pit' up in the fo'c'sle (the sharp end)

Entertaining our guests, newest and bestest mates Rob & Debbie .. before the four of us enjoy a super seafood dinner together in one of the quayside restaurants.

A terrific evening ensued. We slept well that night to the sound of creaking ropes and clanging mast rigging.

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Monday-7th

Decision, decisions .. should we make our destination today, (a) Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania; or (b) the Mount Field National Park, taking-in the Russell Falls?

Well, we've enjoyed the benefit of an anticyclonic high pressure system since arriving on the island, which has left us basking in glorious sunshine for the last three days. This system, however, is drifting eastwards; more unsettled conditions are expected over the next few days. Mt Field NP is exposed to the west coast climate. The weather report forecasts an 80% probability of rain in the region .. so our decision to head-on down the Lyell Highway (A10) to Hobart is a fairly easy one to make.

The 300 km [186 mi] ride is predictably enjoyable.

Brunch in the mining township of Queenstown, 42 km [26 mi] down the road from Strahan. The high street has a certain 'wild west' ambiance going on.


The road east out of Queenstown. No fancy editing .. no background music; just the raw video footage here. [Dunno what the odd sound is in the background? - maybe we were being followed by a skein of geese, or chased by a couple of yappin' dingos?!]

Panorama - click here to enlarge

Scenery that is very reminiscent of New Zealand's countryside.

Yep, this most definitely could be anywhere around North or South Island, NZ.

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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

"Halfway Around The World in 80 Days ..

.. and Back Again"

A catchy title for a book maybe?

Well, that's the total amount of time I've set aside for this little expedition up the right-hand coast to the top end of this Great Southern Land - The Counterweight Continent .. often referred to in the native vernacular as, "Straya .. mate"



My travel insurance policy is right on time and the money too, at a premium cost of just over GB£1 per day. Although I do hope this particular investment turns-out to be a complete waste of money.





When Jules Verne's character - Phileas Fogg - undertook his extraordinary challenge in 1872 to voyage around the world in 80 days, he could only do so by means of a frantic series of interconnecting rides on steamships and steam-driven trains. The age of steam truly rocked and ruled back then. In those days long-distance travellers were completely unaware of the innovations and advancements in the field of energy production that lay ahead; just around the corner of time .. a mere generation away.

And now here I am, 129 years later, on the other side of the globe, back in the Antipodes for the fifth time in as many years, courtesy of diesel and electric powered vehicles (car & locomotives) .. and a not inconsiderable amount of Airbus A380 aviation fuel, all in the unimaginable time frame - to Victorian Verne and Fogg - of around 30 hours.

And just in case you're wondering, I got here this time around, almost entirely sat on my pommie arse, aboard one of those new and quite astonishing double-decker Airbus A380-800s; the largest passenger airliner in the world .. and Strewth! .. it really is a bloody awesome piece of tackle!

Goodonya Qantas Airways - 'Spirit of Australia'

Eat yer goddamn heart out, British Shiteways! .. 'ya dags'

Looking forward, I wonder how similar trips will be undertaken 129 years from now? I'll bet, with some confidence, that such futuristic journeys will no longer be powered by our finite and diminishing subterranean store of fossil fuels? .. 'Peak Oil' and the whole expensive Petro-carbon age ('our age') will surely have been consigned to history by the year 2140, just like steam power is today. This is progress. The evolution of science & technology is indeed unstoppable .. and one of the very few exponential concepts I can think of.

BUT enough of my pondering and yakkin-on about all this philosophical stuff.

Quite simply, today, we are where we are, back in Oz .. and therefore the time has once again arrived for me to fill-up my trusty little Honda's 20-litre petrol tank more than a few times with ULP91 (plus the occasional treat of PULP95) from the forecourts of more than a few upside-down filling stations - colloquially known as "servos" down here - and move onwards and upwards, indeed backwards towards the Equator .. in the general direction of home.


So let's get on with it then, eh?

Only 78½ days to go!

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