Perth to Sydney, a solo motorbike adventure
Sunday August 4th, 2013 Really excited. Although i have done many motorbike adventures in Southern Africa before and have been overseas as many times, this motorcycle adventure was the first one i’m going to do abroad. Perth to Sydney, Australia solo.
The military top load duffel bag is stuffed to the neck with my bike gear(helmet, jacket, boots, gloves) and clothes for 8 days. Had to open and unpack a few times just to be sure everything is where it should be. Only thing left to do is to wait for the Emirates flight form Cape Town to Perth via Dubai.
Landed in Perth about 17h30. The rain worried me. Tired after almost 23 hours in transit, I made way to Wickham Retreat Backpackers where i stayed for 2 nights. I was thinking on the way that it took the aircraft 8 hours to do the distance i was about to ride. Long after midnight, having more than enough whiskey and a few shooters, the trouble started in the 4 bed dorm. Three guys and one girl. I snored like hell but was too tired to be bothered by the other’s disturbed rest. They tried everything keeping me from snoring but as soon as they stop i immediately started again. My first night at a backpacker hostel.
It was still raining when i left by train to pick up the motorcycle at BikeRoundOz on the outskirts of Perth. They gave me a brand new BMW R1200GS LC shipped all the way from their head office in Sydney. Not used to ride in heavy rain, it was nerve wrecking riding back on an unfamiliar highway.
All the guests at Wickham Retreat had to prepare, as a team, the curry stew for supper which was a lot of fun. I moved my stuff from the dorm and slept in the TV room, not to spare the others of another restless night, but to have a good rest myself as i was jet lagged and really tired. It was about 3 when i fell asleep. I woke at 6 and started to pack the motorcycle.
The rain was worst than the previous day and it took me an hour to do only 40km to Armadale.The problem was my visor, it steamed up on the inside so i had to ride with it half open. There was less traffic on the Albury Highway from Armadale making riding much easier. The rain stayed for another 220km. I was wet to the bone and freezing.
The road between Perth and Albany is very similar to the Western Cape. Wheat and Canola fields everywhere bordered with Eucalyptus trees. The roads is in excellent condition and nobody exceed the speed limit of 110km/hr. Wherever i stopped, the friendly locals asked about my adventure.
I stayed in the nice coastal town Albany at 1849 Backpackers. After falling asleep at about 2, i slept well till half past eight. It was still raining when i fueled the motorcycle, but luckily cleared when i hit the road. The whole day was cloudy and cold but at least i was dry. As warned, the roadkill was everywhere. Kangaroo and Wombat, a real danger for riders on the highways. With less traffic to Esperance it was clear i was heading for the outback.
The initial plan was to ride from Esperance to Kalgoorlie, but doing that meant i would ride 200km twice on the same road to get to the Eyre Highway at Norseman. The Eyre Highway is a stretch of about 1600km through the Australian Outback via the Nullarbor Plain linking Western Australia and South Australia with no towns in between, only a roadhouse every 200km. Because of its remoteness, some widened sections of the highway serve as emergency airstrips for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Not far from Norseman on the Eyre Highway is the 90 mile straight. The longest straight road in the world. Madura is one of the more active roadhouses in the Outback and i had a good time staying there meeting a few interesting characters. I thought the Outback would be arid like Namibia but it was not. Many species of Eucalyptus and bush like the Karoo with very few inhabitants.
It was with a heavy heart that i began the leg between Madura and Ceduna. Apart from the scenic cliffs along The Great Australian Bight and one road train after the other, there was not much to see or do. I was longing my family and to be all alone on this isolated part of the world was not easy. Things changed about 100km before Ceduna, the halfway mark of my adventure. I enjoyed the powerful new GS liquid cool as i was used to the air cooled Beemer. Almost 3000km and not one bike passed me. Not even the notorious traffic cops.
As requested, i was woken at 8 with bacon and eggs. I had a good nights rest though my but was really hurting. Today’s route took me South along the Eyre Peninsula to Port Lincoln. The west coast of the peninsula was scenic and reminded me of Greece with all the limestone boundaries. The wind was blowing badly making the ride uncomfortable. I reached Port Lincoln before mid day and decided to push on to Port Augusta. Riding North up the west coast the scene change from wheat fields to the bush of the Outback with many small town fishing communities. Past Wyhalla i saw the Flinders Range, the first mountain range since i left Perth.
The plan was to sleep later than usual because of the time zone that constantly change about every 1000km. (8am in Perth=6:30am in Adelaide) but i was woken by the cleaners and had to leave. The starter switch was giving me problems so i adjusted the average speed upwards to be early in Adelaide. Unfortunately nobody could help me other than making an appointment at BMW Motorad in Melbourne and instructed them to order a new starter switch. As it was still early afternoon, i had some rest and went out clubbing till early morning.
I woke up to find my wallet with cash, credit cards and drivers license gone. I asked the wife back home as precaution to transfer all money from credit card. I warned my two room mates from Germany that when i return from the bathroom and my wallet is not back where it was, they will be very sorry. The wallet was returned without anything missing.
I left Adelaide for Warnambool in cold and stormy weather. Soaking wet and freezing i stopped at a Agrimark to buy a oil skin or something else waterproof. With only 30 dollars cash and no money in credit card as the wife went to sleep in South Africa, the manageress was so kind as to give me 150 dollars discount on a nice waterproof rubberlike jacket. Warnambool is a nice coastal town reminding me of Stilbaai on the South Coast of South Africa. Tired of the cold and wet ride and raining, i decided to stay at the hostel. With a bottle of wine and a cozy fireplace, i could not have made a better decision. The difference in time took its toll, it was not easy getting up. It was a clear sunny day, perfect for the Great Ocean Drive i was about to take.
After a stop at the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, by the Great Ocean Road, the bike refused to start. While towed by a tourist passing by, i managed to jump start the BMW 1200GS. This was the most scenic and enjoyable ride so far. The service at BMW Motorad in Melbourne was superb and i was on the road again within an hour. Too late to go any further, i stayed at the first hostel i could find. And what a mistake it was. Filthy, noisy place with drunk people in the streets all night through. It was still dark when i left for Cooma.
At Albury I had a difficult decision to make. Take the easy shorter route to Sydney or risk the Snowy Mountains. I decided on the latter only to be warned that it is going to be dangerous if not impossible to go with the mountain pass on a motorbike. The locals call it black ice, a phenomenon when a thin transparent layer of ice form on the surface of the road and is very slippery. At the start of the pass the electronic signs forbid motorcycles and motor vehicles without chained wheels to proceed. The sun was shining, it was almost mid day and i was not prepared to turn around. I ignored the warning and proceeded. Riding almost 160km to get over the mountain, was tiring but definitely worth it.
Cooma to Sydney. The last leg of my journey. There was not one day so far on this adventure that i did not enjoy, but today was different. The scenery passing the Blue Mountains was incredible but my but was hurting to much to take anything in. All i want was to get to Sydney in one piece. As usual i had a wonderful time in Sydney visiting Bondi Beach, Kings Cross, The Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
The first sector of the return flight was on the Airbus A380 on which i flew for the very first time and had the privilege to be allowed in the cockpit. This adventure changed my life forever. I left Australia with a heavy heart although i was excited for she has made me realize that motorcycle adventure travel is what i really want to do.