Archive for September 2007

Multi-purpose pump-Hayes Creek NT

September 13, 2007

(To various; cc NSWPiRiders)

Multi-purpose pump at Hayes Creek NT.

We met two couples there on bikes, one a BMW (R1150RT?, and the other
a Yammy.. (FJR1300? I think). Both were towing trailers (unlike us),
but the Yammy couple, like us, were riding around AUS…except they
were going the long way (clockwise) ๐Ÿ™‚

(Actually I think the difference in distance…anti-vs
clockwise …is about 2 x pi x 3 metres or so… about 20 metres?)

All noted that Top End roads were relatively tough on m/cycle tyres.


BMW R1200GSAs the clincher in APEC security breach by CWOE TV crew

September 12, 2007

I was near ‘civilisation’ tonight (access to TV and computer), and saw the Chaser’s War on Everything (CWOE) on ABC TV (.. some of their stuff is a bit rough..), including the footage of theirย bogus Canadian motorcadeย which seemed to easily get past APECย securityย in Sydney.

I noted the escorting bikes were R1200GS Adventures:ย clearlyย this is why police (initially) gave the motorcade carte blanche …

(Fortunately the BMW final drives held together and there were no ants in the starter motor relays… ๐Ÿ™‚

ย ย Steve ๐Ÿ™‚

(NSW PiRiders et al (recip. undisclosed))

AUS TRIP ’07 – [WARNING: some motorcycle & bicycle pics] [Rating: PG]

September 9, 2007

To friends/family (cc NSWPiRiders, Armidale D.O (Jane/Ken) etc)

Some pics (for those interested – and not so interested – in
motorbikes) from our recent AUS TRIP by m/bike.

For those who have expressed interest, the rest of the pics (nice
pics, mostly by J.) from the trip will have to wait probably until
after we get back from upcoming (shorter!) trips, and may be posted
to the Picasaweb site.

(Other trip posts – sans pics – are at ‘the blog’: http:// )

1.Tent and Bike, Cairns Qld

2.Outside Georgetown Qld where we dropped the bike at lookout
(Nothing serious: just slipped on a big rock. Getting the bike up was ‘interesting’. ‘Good thing J does resistance training and is a lot stronger than she looks. ๐Ÿ˜‰

One Andy Strap was missing by this stage: it got eaten by the back wheel on the Atherton Tableland.

3.Mt Isa…two cyclists + dog from Geelong doing the ‘Round AUS thing..

Most impressive was the Danish cyclist on recumbent (bicycle) averaging ~ 200 km/day.
(The Dane also had a Honda VFR and dirt bikes, and thought BMWs were for older persons. He had great self-belief (and a big bank account?) …necessary for such a trip. He was also able to manage on not more than a few hours sleep/night. This was his first big trip on a recumbent…(‘mostly rides ‘proper’ bikes :-)… MTBs etc)

4.Dutch motorcyclist on BMW R80. Mt Isa QLD. He had ridden through Europe, the Middle East, India etc before coming to Australia.
The rear rack resembled a giant horseshoe (He then told me that he makes horse shoes back home in Holland).

His other bike was a KTM 950 (990?) Adventure. (The orange over-suit is a KTM one)


6.AUS TRIP ’07. 1914 Douglas in fruit display at IGA supermarket Kununurra WA.
(No oil or brake fluid detected in the fruit we bought)

7.Dirty ‘Zed’ [BMW R1200 GA Adventure] – with BestRest* gear – at Peter and Annette’s, Wodonga Vic. (It took ~ 3-4 washes to get Zed reasonably clean).

Thanks again to those who supported/encouraged us.

Stephen L


Using Apple Mail

Solus Christus

*BestRest: ;

(PS Stuart..they told me at BMW Perth that the F650 is no more, and that a F800 GS is coming out next year..But maybe you already knew that. Does Cate? ๐Ÿ™‚

Hmmm.. I wonder if I could cycle around Australia…. ๐Ÿ™‚

AUS TRIP Day 60 (29 August 07; >17 000 kms)

September 1, 2007

We got back home safely the other day (Wed 30 Aug) after 60 days and around 17 500 kms on the road around Australia.

We budgeted for up to 90 days, but for various reasons did it a bit quicker. But that’s good: we will be off again soon for another (shorter!) trip (and will be more or less ‘uncontactable’ again ๐Ÿ™‚

The trip overall was good; a mix of really good, OK, and some not so good days.

[GOOD BITS] Some but not all of the better bits: Atherton Tablelands was nice; riding much of the Top End was good, and quite interesting. J especially liked watching the sun setting over the Gulf at Karumba. (I was in a queue at the tavern at the time for our ‘barra’). We liked Kakadu, especially the river cruise and to a lesser extent the flight over Kakadu and Arnhem Land. If you ride/drive the main road through Kakadu -ie the dry eucalyptus forest – you will have no idea what K is like. Take the ‘Yellow River Water cruise’ from Cooinda: it’s good value

[NOT SO GOOD BITS] Some of the western Kimberley and Pilbara was hard-going: fairly hot; long distances, and relatively boring. (Also I was a bit worried about the amount of rubber left on the rear tyre, which I later renewed in Geraldton). We didn’t like Darwin much, but that was partly because we were temporarily without the bike (ants from Kakadu got into the starter relay), it was fairly hot, J was crook at the time, and we could only get accommodation in a dump of a caravan park. (But, we were very pleased with the help we got from BMW road-side assistance).

[MORE GOOD BITS ETC] We also particularly liked south western WA. It was just unfortunate that the weather was wet/wintry, but we really expected that. (We thought it more important to avoid really hot/wet/’monsoon-y’ conditions in the Top End. To get the best of weather at both ends, you need more time (several months), or you need to do separate trips e.g. the Top End (summer rainfall area) in say July, and the Bottom End (winter rainfall area) in say late Spring. (Bits of the Bottom End..e.g the Nullarbor and South Australia – can be quite hot, so the height of summer might not be the best).

[NULLARBOR ETC] The Nullarbor was ‘softer’ than we thought: where we used to live in western NSW can be harsher looking, but maybe the Nullarbor had got some of its rain allocation (200 mm pa) before we got there. (Depending on where you conceive the Nullarbor to extend from …eg from Norseman or Eucla WA – to Ceduna SA – or a smaller area – there are in fact trees on the Nullarbor (=’no trees’), but very few on what some consider to be the Nullarbor Plain proper).

[TIME WARP IN WA ๐Ÿ˜‰ ] By the way, as we headed to SA from the west, we hit an extra little time zone – ‘Central Western Time’ I think – I had never heard of. It’s about 80 kms wide (north-south) and extends for the little bit of WA along the ‘Nullarbor’ before the SA border. It’s 30 minutes behind SA time and apparently was introduced to reduce confusion between telegraph operators either side of the border. (I am not sure how this reduced confusion, but there you go..)

The Head of the Bight near Nullarbor was also worth the short detour. I thought the whale watching thing was another ‘tourist-y’ beat up (like ‘Staircase to Heaven/the Moon’ at Broome), but I was quite impressed by the Southern Right whales: quite a few of them and quite close. The Bunda Cliffs were also great. (By the way, some people say Broome is the ‘Noosa’ of WA).

[ONE MAN’S MEAT..] Not everyone likes the same things when travelling: what some people think is great others think is ‘ho-hum’. Either way, you can’t see/do it all, especially if your time/money budget is limited.

[MORE ON WA/’SANDGROPERS’] Back to WA: we liked Busselton, and especially our ‘wild walk'(’twas blowing a gale) on the jetty which juts 1.8 kms out to sea. Augusta was also good. The tree walk (among the Tingle trees -‘Valley of the Giants’) at Walpole was worthwhile too. The ride through the Karri forest near Margaret River was also a high point (apart from the VERY close encounter with the roo).

We had constant reminders that we were in WA when going to the back of the bike after a wet day’s ride: everything was covered in sand/grit. The sport’s coverage on the nightly news also had a certain flavour: there’s really no sport worth mentioning apart from AFL. (Deleted: inflammatory but tongue-in-cheek comment about non-NSW/Victorian Australians.. ๐Ÿ™‚

Still in southern WA, we enjoyed our stay at Pemberton, and the walk to the Gloucester Tree (a big Karri which you can climb.. ~ 50 m up), and the wood craft gallery there (at Pemberton, not up the Gloucester Tree). The ride from Pemberton to Albany was also really nice, apart from yukky* weather. (* Technical meteorological term).

[ROADS] As to roads, I think overall WA has the best roads, but I guess the government is getting a few royalties from the mining boom. Some of the roads in the Kimberley – and also on the western end of the Nullarbor – are top notch. The Kimberley and Pilbara roads however are built to last: coarse gravel is used, which is good for road longevity but not so good for tyres.

If you are crossing the Nullarbor and need to stop along the way, you can expect to pay as much for a motel room at one of the roadhouses as you would in a capital city (Say, $100+).The roadhouses are OK for caravans (powered sites) but no good-as far as we could see – for tents (besides which it was too cold for us – around zero overnight).

[TEMPS/COMFORT]. Daytime/riding temps ranged from 5 degrees C (when we left home), to 36 degrees in the west Kimberley. Most days were pretty good in the Top End, often in the 20s. Nights were mild to cold, with a minus 3 at Alice Springs (which we didn’t go to: we only went as far south as Tennant Creek in the NT). Day time temps got a tad cooler once we were in the Bottom End (the southern third of AUS), with riding temps commonly in the low teens. At times, J had as many as 5 layers of thermals on: she did really well. Overall, we were pretty comfortable on the bike, with some periods of discomfort (overly hot, overly cold, and a bit stiff at times if we went too far without a break). J remarked the seat on the R1200 is quite good, noticeably better than on the old R1100GS (‘Zatopek’).

[HARMONY] Some have asked how our marriage went, spending so much time together. We went well and got on well together. The only moments of tension were when I was cranky or irritable (probably because J wasn’t performing tasks to my expectations: setting up or breaking camp; preparing breakfast, doing all the washing, servicing and cleaning the bike, taking my potty to the amenities block etc ๐Ÿ™‚

[CITIES ETC] Cities and big towns: in general we don’t like them much (country bumpkins), but they all had their good bits. Government house at Darwin for example looked impressive. Fremantle – effectively a suburb of Perth – was nice. We thought Bunbury was yuk, and so stayed at Busselton instead, which was a good move. J liked Adelaide, especially the leafy/upmarket suburbs we briefly got lost in (’till I consulted Gabby the Garmin: it turned out we were only two blocks off course). Adelaide Hills, the Princes Highway-M1 through the hills, and Hahndorf, where we stayed, were nice. Melbourne we just drove through/around, and that was more than enough. (Cars have decided benefits, but the infrastructure for them really ‘uglifies’ and dominates cities. Of course, motorcycles -and bicycles – are all good :-)).

[MEXICANS] Speaking of Melbourne, we noted there are no speed cameras in Victoria. Yep, they are called ‘Road Safety Cameras’ and, according to friend Peter C at Wodonga VIC, they not only measure your speed at one point in time, but the network measures your average speed over a distance. Good to see the ‘Mexicans’ are interested in road safety and not just speed limits and revenue collection related thereto. ๐Ÿ™‚

J noted that many grey nomad vehicles in the Top End were sporting rego plates with the slogan, ‘Victoria -the place to be’. ‘So, why don’t they stay there?’, J quipped :-). (We don’t really mind Victorians: we even have friends from there :-).

[CROW EATERS] South Australia was interesting in parts. The Eyre peninsula looks like it is covered in snow drifts in places, due to all the limestone on the ground. The miles and miles of dry stone walls down towards Port Lincoln is interesting too. The stone buildings in SA were quite impressive. Mt Gambier was the last place we stayed at in SA: that was good because it is quite picturesque (The Blue Lake etc), the Caves Garden (a limestone sinkhole) right in town, and because of family connections. It was quite chilly however.

[THE GOR] We ‘did’ the Great Ocean Road, the second time I have ridden it. It’s good, but I reckon it is over-rated as a motorcycle road: maybe most motorcycle journos are based in Victoria. (It was a long and cold day: so may be my opinion is a little jaundiced ๐Ÿ™‚

[THOUGHTS ON TRAVEL] Which brings to mind an observation from travelling/riding on this ‘Around AUS’ trip, as well as in North America: there are lots of nice places in the world, but chances are you have their equal (if not the same) in or near your own backyard. For example, for me, it would be sad to miss future rides on a nice day across the Dorrigo Plateau, but I wouldn’t care overly much if I never get to ride the Great Ocean Road again. Still, it is great to be given the opportunity to see other places: often they’re good – even superb – in their own right, but they also help you appreciate what you already have close by. ๐Ÿ™‚ (May be de Botton’s book on travel should be recommended reading for travellers: I haven’t read it yet :-). de Botton possibly has never known the joy of motorcycling, so his views on travelling could be seriously limited ๐Ÿ™‚

[PEOPLE CAN BE A HIGH POINT] One of the things that makes travelling special – IMO – is the people: friends and strangers. We were pleased to catch up on various friends and family en route (though friends in Canberra and Wagga carefully contrived to be away when we passed near by ๐Ÿ™‚ (Sorry Sydney-siders; we made a point of avoiding Sydney. Nothing personal. ๐Ÿ™‚

[XENOPHILIA] As to strangers, the two things that stand out is that most of them are very pleasant and friendly (with some notable exceptions), and also some remind you that it is a big country but a small world: a number of people we met know people, or places, that we know.(What’s that about 6 degrees of separation?)

In the NT for example, we came across two Harley riders, one of whom comes from Dorrigo and lives next door to some people we know there. The other interesting thing is that the Harley person – one of them at least – was happy to talk to us. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Aside: I think overall that NSW riders are the friendliest).

And a nurse I met in Darwin – who works in remote aboriginal communities – was born in Guyra and her parents met when they were at UNE.

Most strangers were very friendly and helpful (apart from a couple of grey nomads who almost cleaned up the bike (parked), and one or two people on the road with road rage..maybe ‘roid rage (They say haemorrhoids can make you very cranky)).

A number of times we stopped in the middle of nowhere at rest stops, and were asked to come over for a coffee or a meal with others in the area (Usually grey nomads). Others were very helpful with (usually) good information/local knowledge. For example, we planned to stop at Sandfire Roadhouse in WA, but some grey nomads told us it had burnt down. (Otherwise we would have stayed there and complained afterwards about the poor facilities :-). The Danish cyclist only comfortably managed the longer stretches (~300 km between services) in northern WA because of the kindness of grey nomads and others at rest stops (water and, less critically, food).

At Halls Creek (which someone warned us about), we had three Pommy motorcyclists camped near us. One pair (guy and girl) were riding dirt bikes and had just done the Tanami. The other guy – whom maybe I mentioned before -was a guy in his 60s (?) who lives in NZ. He brought his 1957-58 Triumph Tiger over, with three main aims: to ride the Nullarbor (which he had done (and which I now know is not really hard), to ride to Wolf Crater (which he was about to do), and to overtake a road train – on single track (which he had done, just).

Many of you know about road trains already. (I had my first experience of them in ’96, on the BMW Safari to Cairns). They can be up to ~ 55m long, and typically, but not always, carry cattle (usually Brahmans/Bos indicus). Many of the main roads in the Top End are good quality, sealed and double lanes. Some bits are still single track (one lane of tar, with usually good quality gravel verges/shoulders). Etiquette says to get off the tar when the road is narrow to let road trains pass. This is a good idea for safety reasons, but also because of large amounts of red dust if road trains are forced – or sway off – the bitumen. (On one section, we were tailing a road train and an oncoming grey nomad in caravan forced the ‘train’ partly on the gravel. This was very unpleasant – and even dangerous for us: we were invisible for some time in a long red cloud. Also our washing (which we dried in mesh bags atop our luggage as we rode) – got some nice red GT stripes).

Anyway, the Pommy on the Tiger told us about his overtaking of a road train. He came up behind one on single track, checked to see the road was clear ahead, and pulled out on to the gravel verge to overtake. The blast of air that hit him made him realize that ’57 Tigers are not overly endowed with power (by modern standards). After about ‘two weeks’ (he said), he had drawn level with the cab of the road train, and looked up to see that the driver was killing himself laughing. The driver then took pity on him, backed off a little, and let our English-Kiwi friend pass, thus reaching one of his goals for the trip. (I didn’t have the heart to to tell him that we had already passed a couple of road trains on single track, and did it with relative ease. (But he has probably done the ride to Wolf Crater: we didn’t. (We did no more than about 100 kms of dirt on the trip)).

One more thing about road trains: I mentioned earlier the Danish cyclist who was ‘circumcising’ AUS with his recumbent bicycle (not with a big clipper, like that Flinders fellah :-). He remarked the roads in the Top End were very clean, and put this down to the blast of air that road trains produce.

(Ah yes…the warning about Halls Creek: someone at Kununurra said the caravan park at Halls Creek was surrounded by a double perimeter creek, with razor wire, patrolling dogs etc. There is a bit of a problem at Halls Creek – and other places – but the report we got was a bit exaggerated. In general the ‘intelligence’ we got along the way had to be filtered, but much of it was quite useful).

Speaking more on good bits, we enjoyed the animals and birds along the way (as well as early appearing WA wildflowers, other vegetation, spectacular and vast scenes, and amazing sky scapes (which you don’t see as well from a car)).

The most common animals in the Top End were Brahman cattle (which I (sentimentally) like, somewhat more than (dull) British/Euro types (Bos taurus); and Whistling Kites. When we got further/south, we (sadly) saw fewer and eventually none of these two species. We didn’t see many roos, apart from the odd roadkill* (and the one live one we came so close to hitting). The crocs- ‘salties’ and ‘freshies’ – were also interesting. (And we made a point of camping away from rivers .. :-).

(*Sign at the Roadkill Roadhouse, Georgetown, QLD: “You kill ’em, we grill ’em”).

[GREY NOMADS] As to grey nomads, there are lots of them! I mentioned in an earlier post that the quarantine officer at the NT-WA checkpoint in the eastern Kimberley said ~ 350 caravans were going through per day. They must make an enormous contribution to local economies. Some don’t like them, not least some truckies, who (understandably) derive little enjoyment from being stuck behind a van doing 90-95 kph for mile after mile.

[BIKE STUFF]. The bike, a BMW R1200GSA, went well, apart from the ants in the relay. There was also a slight problem with a front brake disk being slightly out of shape, much like the rider (but not the passenger). The bike did especially well considering the load (probably close to max. allowable) and the size of the load (wind resistance). I think few other bikes would have done as well with the load. ‘Also a good thing that J is a light, fit and competent pillion passenger.

We travelled pretty conservatively, sitting mostly on the speed limit (commonly 110 kph, until you get to Vic, southern Qld, and NSW, where it is mostly 100 kph), and below the limit in NT (commonly 130 kph, recently reduced from ‘unrestricted’ (Too many Territorians dying, which apparently is a bad thing :-).

Fuel consumption varied from a low of 4.9 L/100km (down to 3.9 L coming down the Blue Mountains) to 6.8 L/100km when riding at 110 kph into a stiff head wind. The day we got 4.9 L/100km was when I was crawling along at 90 kph, to save the back tyre, and because, near dusk, the fear of Skippy was upon me. (Even J complained about how slow we went that day. It was mind-numbing, much like TB testing hundreds of (Bos taurus) cattle… Ah, the memories! :-).

Average fuel consumption was around 5.8-6.0 L/100km, not bad considering the load. We might have used less fuel if we took the TDI Golf, but we opted for the bike for various reasons. (If you need me to explain this, you wouldn’t understand ๐Ÿ™‚

The bike was a travelling billboard for BestRest products, being resplendent in various after market goodies from this company (owned by a mate .. not that I am biased). BestRest gear on the bike: headlight protector, oil radiator guard, splash guard for the front of the engine, bash plates for the engine, and the centre stand, and a spray guard to reduce spray and rubbish onto rider and pillion. J’s back rest did not go on the trip, as a BMW-Touratech top box (with a rudimentary back rest attached), occupied the tail of the bike instead. (We needed the extra luggage capacity). Also on the trip were B/Rest’s CyclePump and air gauge.

[THANKS]. Many thanks to those who encouraged and helped us in various ways. Others being excited about the trip was good for us when assailed by doubts (… all the reasons why we shouldn’t go… the cost (money, and using up leave), the discomfort, the risks, the uncertainties. (I kept reminding myself: “if you always listen to the opinions of others, you will never do anything”. Of course ‘others’ includes you own self-doubts, and inertia when it comes to leaving your comfort zone).

Not least, our thanks to the one who is the ultimate source of all good things.

S & J