Day 1

So we left Sydney just after 10:00am – to be precise, which Della is, 10 minutes late at ten past ten! Filled with excitement and anticipation of what was ahead, we headed for the open road and wide open spaces ….. only to get stuck in a Sydney traffic jam just 5 minutes down the road. Seemed every parent seeking relief from their bored kids on school holidays chose to go the Easter Show at the same time as we left. We finally shrugged off Sydney after an hour and a half of busy roads and slow freeways.

Once we hit the M5 things improved. We rode straight to Goulburn which took 3 hours. Traffic was light once out of Sydney and we stuck at about 110kpm all the way to Goulburn. A little cool as we gained altitude by Bowral but not cold enough to rug up.

We stopped in Goulburn for lunch at The Roses Cafe – very good frittata and chicken and mushroom pie – then filled up with petrol and got back on the highway to Gundagai.

We were supposed to turn off at Gundagai on to the A20 to Wagga Wagga which neither of us spotted as it was about 25km further on! So much for my map reading. Arrived in Wagga Wagga just before 5:00pm and decided we’d start a routine we’d continue with for the rest of the trip – filling the bike with petrol and checking the tyres in the evening to make for an easy get away in the morning.

Having got the bike ready we found our hotel, The Quest, checked in, had a shower to wash off the road. We then met Della’s cousin who she doesn’t know that well but who lives in Wagga. Being terrible with names I kept saying ‘Greg’ in my head so as to not forget him only to introduce myself to ‘Gary’ and wife Sue. As I said, Della doesn’t know them well! We had an entertaining dinner with them and that was day 1. Not much of interest given freeway riding but we covered just over 500kms and now we are ‘off freeway’ things will get more interesting.

Arriving in Wagga Wagga

We’re off!

I don’t think, and I’m hoping, that we can’t be anymore prepared. We’ve spent the last few weekends getting all the things we ‘might’ need. We’ve got spare petrol, oil, chain oil, two ways of pumping up the tyres, tool kit, plastic bags to put the petrol and oil containers in – so they don’t make everything else smell – a new tank top bag for sunnies, phone and wallets, and having looked at the mobile phone coverage more closely, a satellite phone. I’d rather get to Perth and regret paying the $375 for a phone we didn’t use than break down somewhere with no reception and wish I’d spent the $375.

So finally ‘we are off’ leaving Sydney with a speedometer reading 8,414kms and the bike full of petrol and loaded to go.

All set!
The bike well loaded

Looking forward to getting out of Sydney and getting to our first overnight stop at Wagga Wagga.

What else?

Well we’ve obviously mapped out the trip. We leave just before Easter hoping to avoid the school holiday traffic. It’ll take us three days to get to Adelaide where we’ll stay a couple of nights before heading to Port Augusta and then across the Nullarbor. We’ve booked all the accommodation through to Perth so that side of things should be OK.

What about the bike? Well we’ve done a bit of work on it too. Nothing major but a few things to hopefully make it more comfortable. I’ve talked about the seat but we’ve also added deflectors to the handle bars and faring. We’ve got a 50 litre Shad top box and two 36 litre Shad panniers. We also managed to track down a mini rack that attaches to the top of the top box and have bought a 20 litre waterproof bag from a bike shop in the UK which will attach to the rack. We’re thinking it will take the wet weather gear and maybe some tools.

Rack for the top box

We’ve joined the NRMA, bought a puncture repair kit and watched endless YouTube videos on how to fix a puncture. My partner also bought me an Advanced Rider Training Course for Christmas – yes I was offended! Actually it was really useful. Another Mick, recently from Ireland, took me for two one on one sessions and a final group ride through the National Park south of Sydney which my partner joined me for. The best thing I learnt from Mick was to counter steer. I think it must be called counter steer as its counter intuitive. Essentially to turn left you push the left handle bar forward and the bike just leans over and scoots around the corner on its own. You don’t have to lean with the bike, in fact its almost better to sit vertically and just let the bike do its thing. My partner reckons it makes her feel safer and I have to admit the bike feels more under control and is very quick to bring back to a straight line but just no longer pushing the left handle bar forward.

The bike has just been into Sydney City Motorbikes in Lane Cove for its final service. Oil and brake fluid change, chain, brake lever, clutch lever and accelerator all tightened up as was the spring given the bike’s going to be well loaded. Final thing to do is a motor bike mechanics course the week before we go.

One nice thing today when I picked up the bike was the guy who I paid for the service actually works in Parts and Accessories. As we were chatting he asked “your not the couple going to Perth are you?”. I said “yes” and he said “Wow, what an awesome trip!”

Can’t wait!

So what have we been doing?

Since buying the bike’s we’ve been practising for the big trip. Initially we had to pass our motorbike licence which is a serious undertaking requiring a number of skills to be mastered like turning the bike around within an area the size of a car space without putting your feet down – tricky! Having passed and got our “P’s” we then had to ride in convoy for a year until I got my full licence and my partner could ride pillion. We’re now well through that and have ridden 8,300kms together. We’ve been away for weekends to the likes of Forster and Mudgee which are good practice but not very long runs both being about 250-300kms out of Sydney. In preparation for the trip we’ve poured over the map to see where we’re going to stop and realised that on a couple of days we’re going to do in excess of 500kms. This required a rethink to make sure we knew what a long day on the bike felt like so we decided to ride from Sydney to Noosa in Queensland over the 2018/2019 Christmas break. We took two days to get up, spent four days there and then two days to get back covering 2,300km in total and more importantly 4 days, each over 550km.

Arriving in Noosa on New Years Eve

It was OK and certainly a good learning. We found it best to do two and a half hours first up. After that you can hardly feel your bum so a 30 minute break is required. Next leg one and a half hours with a further 30 minute break and then about an hour to get to where we were going. The most important part though was discovering that the rather narrow looking pillion seat was indeed too narrow and very uncomfortable for my partner.

We decided a seat rebuild was necessary and got onto Mick McCarthy at MJM Custom Motorbike Seats in Goulburn through the local bike store. Mick is not only a very nice guy but also a brilliant seat re-builder. He does work for locals as well as sending remade seat overseas! You take your bike down to Goulburn to get there by 8:00am and Mick sizes you and your pillion up as he plans what he’s going to do to make the seat more comfortable. You leave the bike for the day picking it up at 4.00pm. Mick did a great job on our seat which is now much more comfortable for both of us. We’ve had one day ride down into the Sutherland Shire National Park and it is was fantastic!

Rebuilt bike seat courtesy of Mick at MJM

The Journey Begins

This all started four years ago when watching the movie Wild Hogs. One of us stupidly suggested that as a part of our desire to circumnavigate Australia we should ride across the Nullarbor on a motorbike. Not having motorbike licenses a mere detail! We started one weekend doing the mandatory 7 hour pre-learner training, then got out L’s and then got distracted with landscaping our garden. After what didn’t seem like a year we thought we should do something about it, like buy a bike only to find our L’s had expired. We thought a renewal would be all that was required but found ourselves directed back to the 7 hour pre-learner training, and applying for our L’s. To avoid having this happen again we bought bikes straight away. My partner a Red Piagio Scooter and me a Honda CB500X.

Piagio 150cc Scooter

Honda CB500X