Fun In The Sun
Being an unconventional nonconformist has been a descriptive that has placed me in some very interesting situations. From the company of former tennis champion Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon to that of the late River Phoenix in the USA. However, the focus of this brief account will concentrate not so much on the many interesting people I met along the way, with the exception of Ron Clarke but more on my 1500km adventure from Adelaide to Sydney on a Vmoto 50cc scooter.
Most people would consider this an absurd idea, but that’s most people. In fairness, after some reflection, I too was willing to review attempting the challenge. The Australian bush can be a very hostile place to be stranded in with upper 40 degree summer heat and long rural distances void of any civilisation separating small towns and cities.
I am not a fastidious planer but I did take advice from people “in the know” such as mechanics, local outdoor enthusiasts and seasoned veterans like Steve who all made valuable contributions to the vital preparation put in place prior to such an undertaking. This was invaluable to me because I am in a suit and tie on a daily basis to survive in the environment that is familiar to me. I am unfamiliar with the Ozzy Out Back, despite spending countless truly memorable adventures in the wildest of African bushveld.
All things considered, the following may be of some assistance to anyone who is willing to travel this route by whatever means they choose but doing it on a motorcycle is by far the most rewarding.
Best is to plan the trip, taking the time of year or season you intend to travel into consideration. This will impact on what you need to take along with you. In my experience, travelling light was very sensible yet still having access to all the bare necessities certainly made life on the road more comfortable. For my intended five day trip I packed a tent, stretcher, sleeping bag, refillable water bottle, extra fuel container, small set of tools, puncture repair kit, an up to date road map, handy wipes, a few LED flashlights, two mobile phones, mp3 player, camera, etc but by far the two items that I was most grateful to have packed were the 30sp factor sun block lotion and a lip balm stick also containing a sun protection agent. Australian summers can be brutal and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight is very dangerous. There is almost no protective ozone layer on this side of the world, take heed!
I literally flew into sunny Adelaide picked up my bike that had been in storage for a year and after a quick jump start, drove off in the direction the National 20 motorway heading east towards Sydney.
The first section of main road is called the Sturt highway and near a town called Hay you have the option of either taking the Mid Western via Bathurst or the Hume from Wagga Wagga, as I did.
Thanks to Jet star I had a five hour delayed start so only made it to the Barossa Valley by the first night. From this point onwards people are really very friendly and I met some good folk as I past through many riverside towns along the banks of the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers.
The second over night was spent between Mildura and Robinvale. I chose not to drive at night and began looking out for a place to set up at approximately 7pm. Sun set in December is usually around 9pm local time. Had I known about the most amazing freshwater lake situated just 20km out side of Euston on rout to Balranand, I would have taken full advantage of spending the night there. At leased I managed a welcoming swim that eased the strain of riding in 30 to 40 degree heat.
The third night was spent in Hay. As you come into the town, just over the bridge turn left into a spot called Sandy Point “if I recall the name correctly”. It is the perfect site to set up for the night and like most amenities in Hay, it’s free.
With temperatures reaching the mid forties, I decided to spend an extra day at Sandy Point. The excellent swimming and waterskiing in the river only a few meters from the campsite and the refreshing Olympic size pool, in the town, were the only sensible places to be during a heat wave.
All the soft plastic items that I had left in my tent had melted and were not functional including my camera – like most electronic goods it was subject to a minimum and maximum operating temperature restriction.
Pressing onwards, I made a necessary refuelling stop at Waddi and coincidently wondered over to some shade adjacent to the petrol station were I struck up a conversation with an interesting looking fellow on the other side of a fence, dressed in a white hat, vest and a belt with a large buckle, holding up a pair of old jeans.
After exchanging some courteous small talk, I was soon in fits of laughter and sharing an ice cold ginger beer, whilst looking over some works with one of the most refreshingly interesting characters I have ever had the good fortune of meeting in Australia.
Turns out, he’s an admired artist who works in steel. Some may disagree with the terminology but I have an appreciation for art, so much so that I spent two weeks in the main gallery of the Louvre alone. In addition to countless other galleries and places of significance all over Europe and in New York. This mans genius with an oxy-torch is only overshadowed by his personality. Good meeting you Ron Clarke!
The final night was at Gundagai just past Wagga. I met a nice family who allowed me to spend the night near the race track only a few meters away from the Murrumbidgee that was flowing rapidly and I was advised to be very careful if I had any intention of swimming.
I arrived in Bondi in time for dinner on New Years day, having not seen any indigenous peoples or any native animals apart from the occasional dead Roo on the side of the road.