Travel Diary

Online Journal for the 'Right Around Australia' project.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Day 49 - Perth to Lancelin

The guys at 'The Bike Doctor' fitting our new rubber

We needed to leave Perth today as soon as we can but there was still a lot to be done. The wonderful guys at 'The Bike Doctor' in Mt Hawthorn kindly fitted our new tyres to help us save some time. Once the scoots were shod with new rubber we raced around finishing everything we needed before leaving Perth to head for Lancelin.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Day 46, 47, 48 - Perth - Over 10,000km Completed

Ulls: To all my adoring fans, hanging on my every word ...

Well, we're here, Perth, halfway around. I've decided to let Brooke continue to update the site, as she's doing a fantastic job. Obviously Tor will get photos up as often as possible, however, as I've been having trouble getting access to the net, I will keep entries to a minimum. As stated in an earlier post, you can buy the book when it comes out, to find out all the nitty-gritty.

I have to say, though, while I'm here, that Perth is a great city. Probably my favourite so far. It seems to have eveything the other capitals have to offer and more. I'll excuse them for the bad weather we've had since being here though. We've just enjoyed breaky in Fremantle (or Freo as they say over here), it's a busy hub of activity. On the water, with amazing little streets that run back and forth with clubs, pubs, cafes and quaint little shops on every corner. I can't wait to come back and explore the town in more detail soon.

We had an interview on Saturday morning with the West Australian paper. It should go to print next Saturday. We also met Sam in Bayswater for a service, coffee and yarn. He's a great guy with an amazing array of scooters and bikes from the 40's right up to now. It seems everyone we've met in WA has just been fantastic.

We're off now to have a beer with some of the scooter people from a club in Perth.

Thanks for your support everyone, and don't forget to keep telling people about the trip, the website and to make donations to Cure Cancer Australia Foundation. Let's keep those dollars coming.

PS. Don't forget that you can still read back on past months by clicking on the archives on the right.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Day 45 - Munjimup to Perth

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Day 44 - Half around Australia and stuck!

Well, unfortunately the Vespa part from Brisbane did not arrive in Manjimup today. So sitting tight the boys should receive it tomorrow. They'll try and fix it or they will have to send the bike onto Perth if they can't.

Tomorrow is Day 45, and roughly halfway around the current route. They had plans to spend a few days in Perth working on the bikes anyway, but for now Perth is still so far away...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Day 43 - Going nowhere....

About to load the bikes when we discover 'the noise' I heard last night was my shock giving up...

Onto the old Bedford

Pulling the sides off for a second opinion from Pat the local toll agent.

Ulick's bike did not start immediately this morning, and pushing was again required. Then Torsten's bike had issues. With the help of the caravan park staff, Torsten's bike got carted to the local courier depot. It turned out one of the Toll staff happened to be a bit of a mechanic. However, the spare part was a problem. After getting a bike part sent express from Brisbane, they boys know they will be spending another night in Manjimup. If they can't fix Torsten's bike tomorrow they will have to cart it to Perth and Torsten will have to catch a bus or something....

Yep... shagged

Monday, July 24, 2006

Day 42 - Albany to Manjimup

Well, the bike started no worries today. The scenic route took the boys through some farmland areas and onto the Valley of the Giants. Named as such after a forest of huge trees, and also living up to it's name a rain forest as well.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Day 41 - Ravensthorpe to Albany

Ulick's bike would not start this morning, so the boys had to push start her. Determined to get her going without taking off the panniers and gear they had alternate attempts at pushing each other on the bike. Some cursing and swearing and sweating thus started the day. This is the second day the bike would not start up on her own, and they will have to look at it properly tomorrow morning.

Fillin' up in Ongerup


And up

The Sterling Ranges

A view of the ranges from 'The Lily'.

Downtown Albany

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Day 40 - Norseman to Ravensthorpe

Through Esperance, today is a breeze compared to yesterday's off road experience. However, the overnight stay left a lot to be desired. As the camp site was fully booked the boys opted for the cheap hotel located opposite the grounds. I heard at one stage during the night Torsten woke up to discover his mattress (and himself) were half off the bed base and on the floor. I am betting a complaint will be made about the facilities.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Day 39 - Failed off road mission (Additions made)

Leaving Norseman Ulick and Torsten head west toward Hyden. Today they finally get to try their off road tyres. Well, it's not technically off road, it is just unsealed roads. Pot holes, corrugations, gravel etc. Add rain and you get mud. Despite calling the day a failure, they had some real fun. Apparently the bikes were covered in red mud, all over their number plates, panniers, straps and bags. And I do believe there were a few deliberate spin outs.

At about 70kms into the ride, a 4WD (Four wheel drive, for international readers this is a vehicle designed to be driven off road, although we seem to have a lot of them in the cities that go from highway to driveway), so a 4WD approaches them from the opposite direction and declares the road ahead impassable. So with no other choice the boys turn around and return to Norseman.
Taking nearly 3 hours to wash the bikes and change the off roads tyres back to highway tyres the boys stay in the same caravan as last night. The plan is to stick to the sealed roads and head towards Esperance tomorrow.

What fun!! We fitted the knobby tyres the night before our planned ride to Hyden and the Wave Rock. Winding our way through Lake Cowan, just on the edge of Norseman, we then got more than a little sideways. Fighting a constant stream of rain, cold and wet fingers in the gloves, I pushed my grigio girl to her limit.

With 60kg strapped to her behind, we went for 80kph and got it. I asked her for a little more and she gave it. 90kph over the red brown dirt, muddy clay showering anyone following in my wake. 'Ang on, Torsten's back there. "Oh well ... he'll just have to find his own path," I said to myself. I asked for more, and like the good girl she was, she gave me enough to see the speedo read 105kph for a moment, then settle right on 100kph.

Screaming along the wet track, I bend loomed in the distance. Now I've never actually done any off road riding before, so I felt a little nervous when approaching these bends at these speeds. The vespa is already a little sloppy on the back end with the engine and battery being situated there, however, when you add another 60kg, she can really move about. I found keeping the throttle on to be the best solution for the wet slippery gravel corners, so again I asked her for a little more. She wouldn't have it...

We ended up turning around at the 70kph mark as they'd closed the road up ahead. Too bad. I was really having a ball. It looks to me like I've found a use for my scoot when I return to Brissy. Being all banged up after this trip, it looks like she's destined for a life of a PX ADVENTURE...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Day 38 - Cocklebiddy to Norseman

Arriving at Norseman the boys change tyres. Tomorrow they attempt to cross to Hyden past Lake Johnston on unsealed road. Tonight they stay in a caravan in their sleeping bags.

A challenge awaits...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Day 37 - Border Village to Cocklebiddy

Across the border from SA and into Western Australia. Tonight the boys are camping at Cocklebiddy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day 36 - Ceduna to Border Village

Another huge day. 502km travelled. No headwind means the bikes performed well. Fuel economy also seems to be settling back to normal. A stop at the Great Australian Bight and a spot of whale watching sounds like a nice way to spend a pitstop.

As the name suggests Ulls and Torsten make it to the South Australian and Western Australian border. They will stay about 5 metres from the actual border and will undergo a border check in the morning before they can venture through. Apparently the time variance is 45 mins different to Perth and Brisbane either side, and the 350km stretch has it's own little time zone.

The phone coverage is back to CDMA again and will be until about Norseman. Tomorrow they continue along the Nullabor plain.

With the frustrating issue of very limited internet access whilst on the road, I have been updating the diary on their behalf to give you a brief idea of where they are. Ulls and Torsten will come back later and insert their proper diary entries. So it is a good idea to return to the website and scroll back through the weeks to keep a look out for their updates. At some points during the trip it may be up to a week or 2 before they get the opportunity to get in here.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Word of mouth

Welcome to anyone reading the diary entries for the first time.

How did you hear about the project? If you find the project totally interesting and would like to help you can:
Make a donation to Cancer Research,
Make a donation towards trip expenses,
Tell your mates about the project to impress them with your community knowledge,
Mention the project and website in your work newsletter,
Print the media release and pop it up in the tea room.

Some members of the Brisbane Scooter Club (The Canetoads) have passed the hat around at their respective places of work and raised money that way. Thank you to all the scooter clubs around Australia for your support. The Right Around Australia project is a charity ride that appreciates any support you can offer. Do you have media contacts? Then talk to the RAA team.

Making donations to Cure Cancer Australia Foundation

Should you make a donation to Cure Cancer Australia Foundation through this website it can easily be figured that the donation was based on the efforts of Ulick and Torsten. If you make a donation through a bank or in another way directly to CCAF and you have heard about the project, please ensure you make a reference to either 'Right Around Australia' or 'RAA' on the deposit slip or internet banking reference comment. If you are unable to enter words then please enter the following reference number to ensure donations are chalked up to these efforts: 38785534. Thank you for your continued support.

Day 35 - Wudinna to Ceduna

Making the most of a tail wind the scooters sat easily on 100km per hour today. The boys pull into Ceduna for the night. Hopefully the wind tomorrow is of help again and not a hinderance.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Day 34 - Port Augusta to Wudinna

Ulls and Torsten tackle the drizzly weather and winds and head across the Eyre Peninsula. The same conditions are forecast for the next few days. Ulls tells me he saw a rainbow at one point when the clouds parted, always a beautiful moment..

They hope to see Streaky Bay tomorrow. Then they push on. The schedule is constantly re evaluated and changed on how the bikes are performing, and by what local knowledge they pick up along the way.

Apparently, they are equal distance between Brisbane and Perth.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Day 33 - Port Augusta

Frustrated - the boys search this town for an internet cafe. Finally they learn there is free internet access in the library. Fantastic! However, the catch is you are politely asked to vacate your post when 30 minutes elapses. So, Torsten got the chance to add some new photo's but only a couple of diary entries got updated.

Ah - technology, we take it for granted when we have it at our fingertips... and we get just a little bit cranky when we can't have it and really, really want it.

With so many kilometres undertaken it is time to change the tyres on the bikes. This skill was rehearsed many times before departing Brisbane. With Perth in their sights, I wonder if they will need to change the tyres again somewhere near Broome.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Day 32 - Glendambo to Port Augusta

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Day 31 - Marla to Glendambo

Torsten and Ulls covered 490kms today. Nearly 500kms in one day on a scooter. Tough going... They nearly ran out of fuel on this long stretch too. The boys are pushing to get back to Port Augusta by Friday. They will get a chance to update the diary entries, hopefully including plenty of pictures.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Day 30 - Erldunda to Marla

Up early to catch the sunrise

Eddie From near Durban

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Day 29 - Yulara to Erldunda

Monday, July 10, 2006

Day 28 - Yulara

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Day 27 - Erldunda to Yulara

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Day 26 - Alice Springs to Erldunda

Friday, July 07, 2006

Day 25 - Alice Springs

Sausage sizzle today

If you are in Brisbane City today, you might be able to smell the onions cooking. Jim at Aztec Coffee Company (145 Eagle Steet) is holding a snag sizzle with part proceeds going towards Cure Cancer Australia Foundation. I was there this morning at 7am and had the pleasure of chatting to some of the cafe regulars with much pointing to the map of Australia posted up near the BBQ. Pop in and introduce yourself to Jim (tongs in hand at the BBQ) and check out the map yourself.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Day 24 - Erldunda to Alice Springs

Although only a relatively short distance to ride today, Ulls had some trouble with his throttle cable. Hours on the roadside and some friendly assistance and they eventually got going again. I really can't wait to see the photo's because the boys keep telling me how gorgeous the scenery is out there. Finding a place for the night proved a bit of a challenge as it is the Alice Show Day (not sure exactly what it is called) tomorrow and a public holiday too. The stay in Alice may extend to a second night depending on the condition of the bikes and how much tinkering is required.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Day 23 - Marla to Erldunda - 4991km Completed

Ulls: What a disappointing start to the day. Germany lost in the World Cup...

Ok, onto the trip, the next leg. Our goal was Alice Springs, but we soon decided that we didn't really want to spend too much time there, so we stopped for a night in Erldunda before we moved on to Alice.

The ride was actually quite uneventful. The only memorable part would have to be rockin' up to the fuel.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Day 22 - Coober Pedy to Marla - 4712km Completed

Ulls: What an experience camping underground was ...

Laying our thermarest mattresses out on the dusty gravel inside our cave, we got to bed early after our tour of the old opal mine on the property. Imagine Dr. Harry, crossed with Russell Coyte, you know, the kind of person that laugh talks (ie. laughing whilst talking). And every thing that came out of his mouth was expectant of a return laugh, and one eyebrow would surreptitiously pop up to signal the punchline.

We did finally get to bed, however, you know what everyone likes to do in a cave? Echo! Being school holidays, the tunnels of our evenings home were riddled with crazed children making use of it's natural acoustics. We did however get some sleep in the end, and tried to get off to an early start tomorrow.

Dreaming of 'joining the academy'

It wasn't to be. Torsten switched our CDI units to see if it would solve the problems he'd been having with his bike. It didn't, we were faced with the grim reality of terminating the trip. Torsten and I had played verbal ping pong on the choices we had and the ones we didn't, and how we would face everyone if we had to end the trip.

Torsten came back from his test ride all smiles. He was pretty confident, so we put his dodgy unit in my bike to see how it affected my engines running ability. If it was the problem, we could have one sent to Alice Springs and put the issue to bed.

By the time we reached Marla, we'd come to the conclusion that it was in fact the problem. Not that I'd suffered any real bucking or kicking like he did, but my performance had definitely been affected.

Anyway, Marla has been a comfortable place to rest our weary bones. Weary bikes? Yes, well they're just going to have to wait till Alice ...


Monday, July 03, 2006

Day 21 - Glendambo to Coober Pedy - 4450 km completed

Ulls: Before we could take off today, Tor had to try to sort out some issues that have been plaguing his bike during most of this trip. So, leaving at around 11am, we knew we would have to push to make Coober Pedy in time to find accomodation.

From Glendambo to Coober Pedy it is a 252km stretch with no fuel stations in between. This would be tight as our bikes have a theoretical range of 260km. Now, if we were to encounter a head wind or other such trouble along the way, we simply would not make it. So our first stop was 'serial killer eyes guy' for a 5 litre jerry can to share, extending our range to about 290km.

The landscape began to change quickly from the typical bush setting of Glendambo, we started to see that orange/red coloured earth on the side of the road. Bushland and trees gave way to acres of bare earth and small shrubs we decided to call 'land coral'. We were riding through the Woomera Prohibited Area, and what that is I am yet to find out. I will definitely look it up online when I get to Alice Springs. We chugged along endless miles of road through this Mars like world and eventually came to a rise where when we pulled over could actually see so much of the horizon it was curved. I'm serious, you can see the curve of the earth!

When you drive in SA they actually have little camera signs to let you know of great photo opportunities. I guess that means everyone leaves with the same impression, and photo album of the state.

At about the 120km mark we stopped to switch over to our external fuel tanks. The conditions at this point along the big stretch had turned to desert like appearance. The 'land coral' had all but disappeared and rocks had taken their place. Just as I turned the tap on the fuel line a willy willy (very very small tornado) caught my eye as it swept across the sandy earth and crossed the road.

As the distance between our tired wheels and our destination, Coober Pedy, grew shorter we began to see mounds of dirt dotting the areas of land of either side of the highway. We later found out that these little mounds are called 'mullock heaps'. Now, these mounds of dirt are basically the discarded remains of what miners pull out of the ground. So that would mean that there would surely be a great big hole left in it's place, sure enough we passed a sign that read;


The sign was accompanied by a diagram of little stick men falling down mine shafts.

The mullock heaps and the signs became more prominent the closer we got to town. The landscape also became more bare and dry. We had in our minds that Coober Pedy would be this bustling mecca in the desert, a bit like Patooine for all you Star Wars fans. However, much to my dismay, it was not to be. Merely a small almost shanty town relying on one thing, one word, to sustain some sort of life. Opal.

For tonight we have stopped going right around Australia, we are going under it. We camp in a cave tonight.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Day 20 - Port Pirie to Glendambo - 4151km Completed

Ulls: We got off to an early start for a change today. You know, we just thought we'd break routine, leave before lunch, maybe cover a good distance for once.

Filling up, we left the quiet street of Port Pirie almost under the cover of darkness. At the towns edge we stopped to take a couple of 'been there, done that' photos. The town did infact look a lot nicer in the day and from a long distance. The sky cleared of clouds and what looked like a power station blowing a column of seemingly harmless smoke into the blue, what a picturesque sight it was.

Back on the bikes and just around the corner we had to stop again. We'd been confronted by our first sighting of the Flinder's Ranges. It's amazing how the landscape can change so quickly. A couple of happy snaps and away we went again.

Torsten's bike had been kicking and bucking, driving him to drink, but occasionally he was able to maintain a decent speed. He was a little shitty when we stopped shy of Pimba, near Woomera, to take in the incredible view of Island Lagoon. There was no island as such, however, from this vantage point the opposite side appeared to have one rising from the salty water. All the banks of the lagoon gave off an intense white glow due to the salt build up around the edges. We wanted to make Glendambo so got going again as soon as we'd taken our pictures and film.

Even with all the problems Torsten had with his bike, we made Glendambo before the sun set. Prior to setting up camp, we managed to take a photo of the bikes in front of a semi with four fuel tankers in tow, a sight.

We fuelled the bikes up and picked up a few needed things such as milk at the fuel station. Everything is a little bit slower round these parts and the characters we've met have all had little quirks, such as the guy that served us. Torsten dubbed him 'Serial Killer Eyes Guy'.

To truly understand and picture our outback camping experience so far, you'll need to have the scene set for you. Imagine this:

Dusty gravel dotted with islands of sunburnt grass. 20 odd campervans on all sides and the sweet scent of the sceptic floating through the winter night air. The rhythmic growl of the generator in the background as we boil up the billy for coffee. Then, out of nowhere, a fox takes a sticky beak at our camp as Torsten transfers photos from his digital camera to his laptop under the moonlight and the milkyway.

A different kind of roughing it in the outback ...


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Day 19 - Adelaide to Port Pirie - 3741km Completed

Ulls: Definately the 'Wrong Way Round'

After a couple of days in the 'City of Churches', and the bikes serviced, we hit the road north and out of Adelaide. Escorting us for some of the way was Jock, our host for a night in the South Australian capital. Taking us out for dinner to meet some of the local scooter gang was great, and a few too many pints of Coopers later we were set to watch Germany vs Argentina battle it out for a place in the semi final.

In what has proved to be our toughest day yet, we faced a fierce north westerly. This forced us to ride in a fashion that compensated for it. Holding the bike on an angle for hours made it feel like we were taking an endless left hand turn.

After about 150km, we arrived at Snowtown in search of fuel. After riding around the desolute streets, thoughts of nuclear holocaust sprung to mind. Granted it was a Sunday, but really, come on, there was nothing, no people, no dogs barking, no cars. Just this God awful wind and stinging rain. We had to get back to the highway in hope of finding fuel, and to our surprise, low and behold if we'd just stayed on the highway for another kilometre we would have found one.

Filling up and discussing the situation, we decided to turn back and find a way through the nuclear wasteland to reach another, hopefully quieter and less windy road. We did find a way, however, a wrong turn on my part (now I've made few mistakes so far on this trip), left us churning through wet sand, gravel and mud on a track to a place called Yacka, and 'Hard Yakka' it was. You can't forget we're still on our road tyres now, so keeping the back, with 50-60kg extra, from sliding around became hard work fast.

Eventually the clay path we'd been riding on for 15km reunited with the black ribbon our bikes so much preferred. Still no sign from the Gods that the weather would change for the better, and finding shelter in a small fuel station, we found out that the area had not had rain for months. Unfortunately their only supply of fuel was ethanol, a fuel our bikes do not favour.

Bracing ourselves and coming to terms with the fact that we had no other options at this stage, we geared up again after a poor attempt for a coffee, and entered the storm once more. We made it as far as Port Pirie to a not so warm welcome from a motel owner. We, soaked from head to toe and to the bone explained our situation and the details of our trip. He, a prior sufferer of leukemia was not impressed with our efforts and took a miserable $10 off the price of the already expensive room. So we took the discounted price of $92, a little sore, a bit wet and very disappointed.

Well ... what more to say? I thought this was the dry season...