August 24, 2002 GMT
The trip so far...

I bought the GT550 in Adelaide and worked as a motorcyle courier for a few months. Having survived that I thought I would ride around Oz. I bought a swag and set off for Mt.Gambier.

bike pink adelaide hills.jpg
I sprayed it pink and hand painted butterflies and dolphins.

The old jail there has been converted into a backpackers where you can sleep in the old cells - complete with loo in the corner. The guy showed me a cell, $22 and it smelt of pee. So I payed him $10 and put my swag down in the courtyard. I was alot warmer than the guys that slept in the cells too!

bike and swag at jail.jpg

Not far down the road I passed the "Goodbye from South Australia" and the "Welcome to Victoria" signs. I was sad to leave S.A. but I felt like my journey was beginning - which it was, so it would, I suppose.

Posted by Nicky Austin at 02:28 AM GMT
August 31, 2002 GMT
The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is amazing. Lots of bendy twisty bits, but they flow nicely. Riding this stretch of road in the winter is the not the brightest idea I've ever had, but the roads were empty - except the odd caravan. They were easy to pass though because they kept stopping to look at rocks. I didn't stop as much as I would have liked because every time I took my gloves off I couldn't get them back on again.

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Me in Melbourne near the casino.

When I got to Melbourne I was a bit fed up with getting wet. So I was eager to get going. I went to see the Colonial Stadium but there was no rugby on - so it will have to wait until next year.

I have got hooked on photographing “big things”. Australia has an obsession with constructing massive and usually hideous fiberglass objects at the side of the road. Following the Hume highway from Melbourne to Sydney I saw the Big Merino. I was a bit surprised because the Big Merino is on the Old Hume Highway, so I found out I was on the wrong road – saved by a big sheep!

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en-suite swag

Posted by Nicky Austin at 12:43 AM GMT
Sydney to Byron Bay

At last it was getting warmer, Sydney was bright and sunny and I had one last look at the Opera House before riding over the Harbour Bridge - just like Billy Connelly did on his trike (only I don't have a back-up crew!)

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Sunset NSW

Got to know the locals a bit in Pt. Macquarie and ate BBQ'd shark. V. tasty! Spent a whole day in a hammock. Had great fun in Coffs Harbour, but had a few downers too. I was working in the hostel for free board. A group of us went canoeing and held up four lanes of traffic with a canoe chain crossing the road to get to the river. Canoeing didn’t last long before we all capsized and had to swim after the beer bottles that were floating down the river. We did a few Tarzan impressions swinging from a rope swing into the river – I didn’t quite hold on long enough and nearly landed in a canoe.

Coffs is also home of the Big Banana and the Wallabies (Australian Rugby Union team) I had my photo taken with the rugby World Cup – hopefully that’s not the closest England are going to get to it! I also came across a way of drinking a tequila slammer I hadn’t seen before. Instead of lick sip suck, this guy snorted the salt, gulped his drink and squirted the lemon in his eye...

exellant shit.jpg
Coffs Harbour

The most tragic part of my trip so far happened in Coffs – my bike was stolen – I was not happy, but on the way to the police station (on foot and sulking big time) I saw my bike ride past me up the high street. It wasn’t hard to spot as I had sprayed it pink and painted butterflies and dolphins on it. At 5:30 that evening I had a phone call saying my bike had been run over by a ute. Luckily there wasn’t too much damage to the bike (and unfortunately no damage to the rider) However the pink panther was gone forever – the little **** had painted it black.

bike coffs after re-spray.jpg
"The black panther" just dosn't sound the same.

Next stop Byron bay, where anyone who saw me would have been convinced I’d never seen a motorcycle before, let alone ridden one! After the incident in Coffs I had become meticulous with locking the bike up. I just kept forgetting to take the disk lock off. In two days I dropped it twice. I have given up re-placing my brake and clutch levers and they re-main knobbless.

Posted by Nicky Austin at 01:37 AM GMT
East Coast, South Queensland

Surfers paradise was great. I went to Movie World and Dream World where they film Big Brother. Had my photo taken on the Big Brother stage. Found the TT bike races in the arcade and was happy to find I can still win.

Got a bit lost in Brisbane. I went over a bridge and then went over it again going the same way as before, but I was sure I hadn’t crossed back over the river anywhere else. Saw an advert for some extra money:
“Research subjects wanted for sunscreen testing”
Didn't bother.

I went to stay with a friend in Maroochydore and dropped the bike again right outside her house. This time I was trying to park on a hill and I ended up under the bike – great! Before I could think about crawling out all embarrassed and shameful, a man was picking the bike up for me and a woman was picking me up and offering me a cup of tea – excellent! (Thank you both)
Went to see The Big Pineapple – got my photo and left.

the big pineapple.jpg
The big pineapple.

It was getting a bit ridiculous each time I loaded up the bike. Lots of things that didn’t have a place in my luggage were getting wedged under any available bungee strap. It looked like something out of Steptoe and Son. So I bought a tank bag and it’s so good I shall be sending it home at the end of my trip.

At Tin Can bay I asked at the petrol station if there was anywhere I could camp for free. I was given directions and got on my way. Around the corner, left and left again and then the road ran out. I hate riding on rocks and dirt – I’m useless, but I gave it a go anyway. I was doing OK until I hit a bank of sand, wobbled a bit, then a lot, and then dropped the bike again. Good job I hadn’t replaced my clutch lever or else I would have had another knobble in my collection. My nice new tank bag now matched the rest of my things – old, used and dirty!

I took a road that runs from near Tin can Bay to Maryborough where it re-joins the highway. On the map it is a tiny minor road but it is as well maintained as parts of highway one – first note of map being inaccurate.

Posted by Nicky Austin at 02:03 AM GMT
Rockhampton To Cairns and down to Charters Towers

Just after Rockhampton I met another bike on the road. Turned out to be Catherine, also from England, also riding around Oz on a Kawasaki. (Gpz500) We decided to ride together for a while and rode up to Mackay. Visited Eungella National Park and Finch Hatton Gorge. On the way back we saw a snake in the middle of the road. Catherine thought it was dead, but when another vehicle went by it moved pretty fast!

Cat and snake.jpg
Cat and snake

Onto Arlie beach where we both did our first scuba dive. Fantastic day sailing around the Whitsunday Islands. At Townsville I left Catherine as we are both on different time scales. I went up to Cairns for a couple of dives on the Great Barrier Reef then rode down through the Tablelands to Atherton and down towards Charters Towers.
The road to charters Towers on my map is the same colour and width as the main road that follows the coast to cairns. It isn’t. (Note map is inaccurate number 2.) In parts it’s nothing more than a single lane track with lots of red dirt and rocks either side of it. Also it has big signs that read Caution – Road trains 50 metres long. The first road train I saw coming towards me I slowed right down, got off the road, held on to my handle bars pre-paring for a massive gust of wind. Nothing, he sailed on past and gave me a wave – no worries! (I’d heard horrible stories of these huge trucks and how they never slow down and just sit at 140kph flattening everything in their path. It’s not like that.

road train and bike.jpg
Road train and bike

I spent the night at The Oasis Roadhouse, Lynd Junction. At this point this was about as remote as I’d been. There was nothing else there. It was great to meet some of the road train drivers – I even got to sit at the wheel of one and look around the cabin.

Posted by Nicky Austin at 02:24 AM GMT
The Outback

I had ended up in The Outback without really realizing it. The road from Charters Towers to Mt. Isa is very open and isolated. It’s an amazing feeling to be out on the road with no other traffic. Lots of road kill and birds. I had my first kangaroo encounter. They are extremely unpredictable and bounce around in front of you before hopping off into the bush. I don’t ride at night or early in the morning for this reason, but they can be found during the day in very remote and quiet places.

bike fully loaded outback.jpg
There was room for me somewhere.

There is some very diverse scenery around Cloncurry, which is also where Australia’s highest recorded temperature was – over 50°c. At Camooweal there is a sign warning of no fuel for 265km. I needed had to carry a jerry can for this stretch as I only have a range of 200km when the bike is fully loaded.
I stopped for the night about 100km short of Barkley Homestead at a rest area (free camping) I nearly got back on my bike and left after the horror stories I was told by a couple who’d stopped for a bite to eat. Whilst giving me a cup of tea and feeding me biscuits they told me about a mad killer on this stretch of road who’d killed a guy who lay in his swag next to his bike (as I was planning to do) without even waking him up (well why would they?) I went and set up camp near a big pink bus. Later the owners of the bus invited me to sit around their fire and told me that the killing spree in this area had happened near Mt. Isa in 1978 and nothing had happened since. Silly man – I reckon he owned the caravan park in Barkley Homestead because he really thought I should go there to be safe! Instead I saw a beautiful sunset out in the bush.

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At Three-ways it seemed to get real hot. I couldn’t ride with my jacket on any longer. I put sunscreen on my arms, but not far enough up, because when I got on the bike, the wind blew my t-shirt sleeves up and I burnt the tops of my arms. I am now stripy – brown forearms, burnt tops of arms and white shoulders.
At Daley Waters I went to a caravan park. I hadn’t had a shower since Cairns and I needed one.

I am now in Darwin and going on a four wheel drive tour. I’m not to keen on tours but it will be nice to let someone else drive and a lot of Kakadu National park is inaccessible by bike. (Especially when the rider has trouble staying up-right as soon as she leaves sealed roads.)

Posted by Nicky Austin at 02:54 AM GMT
 
 

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