14 April 2000
Yes, we are in Australia, on the road to Alice Springs. Really, time
goes fast and we ourselves have also been speeding up a little. Our last
newsletter ended on the road to Nepal. It seems ages ago already. Yes
we spent Christmas and New Year in Kathmandu with some new friends.
We drove to Varanasi where normally a zillion pilgrims are having a
holy bath but when we arrived there was not a single pilgrim on the ghats.
So we have some rare shots of the Varanasi ghats without a pilgrim in
sight. The road from Varanasi towards the Kanha National Park is one to
avoid at all time. It is one of these half bitumen half dirt with pot
holes as a desert (brrrr!).
Our flex-unit suspension fitted on the side-car had given up and to
prevent any movement of the wheel we chained the unit to the frame of
the side-car with a "very heavy duty" chain "made in India".
You guessed it: After about 500 meter the VHD and MID chain broke into
Kanha National Park is a top spot to see Tigers and we did see them
too. I (Rob) decided that after leopards, tigers are my second favorite
It was a very interesting week we spend with the people from the Royal
Tiger Resort at the Kanha National Park. If you ever get to India, this
is really something you should not miss!
We decided to go to Bombay to ship our side-car to Perth/Australia.
On the way to Bombay we made a stop over in Pune/Poona, a place well known
for the Osho commune. We did not meet any Baghwan followers, because too
busy with motorcycles.
In Poona we met the Solomon brothers, who have a fabulous collection
of British motorcycles in immaculate condition and all (some very rare)
We also met Adil, the editor of a very good Indian car and motorcycle
magazine for which we did an article. We had little, but a lovely time
talking motorcycles together, which made me understand the Indian motorcycle
and car-market a little better.
After Poona we left for Bombay and found another Dutch couple who were
trying to get their VW Camper van to Oz, with whom we thought we might
be able to share a container and split the costs.
The height of their Van, which did not fit into an ordinary size container
turned out to be such an expensive problem that they decided not to ship
Through the Dutch Consulate we found a very good and reliable shipping
agency Buhariwala, who crated our bike in a professional way and took
all the paperwork off our hands for a nominal (reasonable) fee. So much
for all the stories about the nerve-breaking madhouse it is to ship something
out of India.
Around New Year we mailed you the story of shoe shine boy Peter Indalo
in Ethiopia. We cannot only tell you now that we collected enough money
for his operation, Dafne has also already returned to Ethiopia, where,
due to the help of many lovely peoples, Peter Indalo is being treated
on his foot at this very moment. He is also going to school in Addis Ababa
and will find a job at BGI (Dashen) Beer Company (French) in Gondar when
he will return there in about November 2000.
While Dafne flew to Addis Ababa on Feb. 22, I flew to Australia to arrange
everything for the coming ashore of our dear companion. It took me only
one day to get the bike out of the port and on March 22 Dafne also arrived
in Perth from Ethiopia.
We have spent some wonderful weeks with our Australian relatives in
Perth and Denmark (West Australia) and are on our way to Alice Springs
following the Gun Barrel and Great Central Highway.
This is a dirt road that passes straight through the middle of the Australian
That's it for this time. Hope you're all in good health.
Greetings from Down Under with a smile Rob and Dafne
Addition 23 April We have arrived in Alice Springs, but only just. Everything
was already very wet due to a cyclone that raged nearby early this year.
While we started heading east on the 1122 km long dirt road, another cyclone
'Rosita' developed in North West Australia. The road itself is of very
good quality (we were driving around 80 km per hour almost all the time).
The rain got heavier and heavier and the water on the road deeper and
deeper. Every time we had to stop, take shoes and socks off and walk through
the water to see where the ground was solid and not to ride in deep tracks
or holes. Sometimes there was a lot of mud and we had to take a bypass
through the bush or make one ourselves. Three times we were almost sent
back to do a detour of 1600 km (half of it dirt), but because the road
still was not officially closed we could continue. The last part we drove
together with a 4x4, but, although we passed through very deep water,
we never got stuck in mud. When we arrived at Ayers Rock we heard that
the road had been closed.
We are now already four days in Alice Springs, where we were invited
to stay at a camel farm.
Michelle and Nick are wonderful people. Tomorrow we are going to do
a camel safari and we hope to take off for Coober Pedy and Adelaide on
Tuesday, that is, if the tarred road to the south is not still closed
by then because of flooding.