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Rob en Dafne de Jong,

Ride-on India and Australia, part 1

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Howdy friends,

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 ten pieces.

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 animals.

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) classics.

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 after all.

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 dessert.

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.


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de Jong's Home

Travel Stories, English:

January 2002,
Ride on 2002...
October 2001,
Ride on Home
July 2001,
Russia and
April 2001,
Jan 2001,
Dec 2000,
Oct 2000, L.A
to Fresno via
Sep 2000,
New Zealand
July 2000,
Australia part 2
April 2000 India
and Australia,
part 1
Dec 1999,
to Kathmandu
Nov 1999,
Shoeshine boy
of Gondar

Sept 1999,
Uganda to
May 1999,
Zimbabwe to
Dec 1998,
South Africa
and Namibia
Sept 1998,
Swaziland &

June 1998,
S. Africa 1
April 1998,
W.Africa 2
March 1998,
W. Africa 1

Travel Stories, In het Nederlands:

July 2001,
Rusland en
April 2001,
Jan 2001,


Story and photos copyright © Rob and Dafne de Jong 1998-2002.
All Rights Reserved.


Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

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