Travel Diary

Online Journal for the 'Right Around Australia' project.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Big Thankyou!

It's almost all over now, with just a few media spots to contend with before getting back to work. I'd like to take this opportunity to say a few words about some people that helped us out along the way.

Mum. What can we say... I guess the only thing fitting would be, "there's nothing quite like a mother's love."

for keeping all the followers up to date with diary entries when we started finding it difficult to manage ourselves. Thanks for the biscuits and muesli bars, the camp meals, the letters of support, the phone calls and your incredible and unconditional efforts toward this project. You have out done yourself.

Jim & Irene George at Aztec Coffee Co. for their financial contributions and ongoing support from the shop in Brisbane. Even down to the last day, their drive and genuine attention for the RAA project has been amazing.

Hermann (our dad) at Europtica for his financial support, the Mexx sunnies and prescription glasses, and the phone calls from Germany from day one till our arrival. A big thank you for flying out to greet us in Montville.

Clare from Europtica for getting tyres, shock absorbers and anything else we needed to us wherever we were. She's a gem.

Paul & Terry from Retroscooters in Brisbane for their work on the bikes before and after the trip. Thanks for getting those parts to us as well while we were out and about the country.

Paul Keis for helping us with our crazy rack construction needs

Paul Dennon from City Skoots in Adelaide for his help with the bikes.

Sam Furfaro at Scooter Centre in Bayswater Perth for his help with the bikes.

Frank at Vespa House in Melbourne for helping us with the flawwed PX mirror design issues

Glynn and Veronica of Planet Roper (the Roper Bar Store). Never have I been so amazed by genuine kind hearted people and concern for our well being. You will forever remain in our hearts and the highlight of this experience. We could never thank you enough.

SIP Scootershop in Germany for the parts we needed for the trip. Thanks guys, they really came in handy.

Everyone at Nomad Tanks. Without the extra 7.5L tanks plumbed in, things would have been a little harder. There are some mammoth distances between roadhouses around the country.

David & Michelle at Aussie Biker for giving us the discounts on the AirHawk seating. What a relief. The number of people asking us how our rear ends are after completing this trip is astounding, and to be able to say "fine", astounds them.

Nir at Active Planet in Sydney for the generous discount on our luggage needs. They performed flawlessley and kept all our camera gear dry and dust free

Brian & Steph McLennan (our Uncle & Aunt) for their financial support and for the use of your property on our last night before the big arrival. We cannot thank you enough.

Peter & Ken from Mocopan.

Amelia Chappelow & Robbie Buck from Triple J for their ongoing support for the project.

The Nine Network, Brisbane Extra.

The West Australian - John Innes For taking the time to do a story on us. Our thoughts are with you and your family for your daughter.

Jock for putting us up in Adelaide. It's a shame Germany lost later on.

Paul & Laura McIntosh in Melbourne for a putting up with us for those few days. We really loved Melbourne.

Ron & Anne Russel in Perth for accomodating us for a few days. Thanks again.

Bill Richmond in Darwin for taking us in for the week and showing us a good time on the town.

Brad & Sue at the Warren Way Caravan Park in Manjimup.

Pat and the guys at Manjimup Freight Forwarders for letting us store Torstens bike when the shock gave up and for helping us get it sorted

Richard the Barista from Cundletown. That coffee I promised you is on the way! :)

David Bryce from Outback Proven for the UHF. Luckily we never had to use it.

Byron and the rest at AMA Rider Training for doing their best to squeeze in some lessons in dirt riding before we left. Congrats on your Q-Ride certification

Tim Stouter for his generous contributions.

Alan Wasono
Emily Rogers
Gai & Jim Rogers
Pip McManus
Caitlin Dillon
Laura Williams
Mel Steeden
Brooke Falvey
Mark Hinchliffe
Berni, Pete, Ben, Matt V, Matt, Jane, Andy, Dr. John, James, Mark, Pablo and the rest of the Canetoads.
Paul, Derek, Alan and the rest of the Melbourne Scooter Connection.
The Adelaide Scooter Club.
The Paradise Lost Scooter Club in Perth.
Sam Laurie
Darren Power
Greg & Ed
Russ aka Katana Boy

Day 91 - Montville to Brisbane

Our last day and the weather has not let up at all. In fact it's worse.
Most of us arose quite early to the sound of Pete's Austin Healy warming up as Pete had to head off at the crack of dawn. This was followed soon after by the sound of Pete's car stalling which has us giggling. One by one we got up, had showers, breaky and got ready for the ride in.

Still raining we carefully navigated the driveway (800m dirt road) and made our way to the meeting point in the villiage to see if anyone was going to join us for the ride in. I wasn't hopeful as this was definitely 'stay in bed' weather. We waited til 9.30 and there were no arrivals so we headed off down the mountain back to the highway. That was until just out of the villiage, my bike cut out. No splutter, no kick, just off as if someone had turned the key. I pulled over to the side of the rode and tried to start her up again. The started motor was turning but nothing. It didn't even sound like it was trying. It wasn't looking good.

We tried rolling her down the hill, clutch out, nothing. Dead as a doornail.

The rain was coming down hard and everyone was getting soaked so we sent them back to Montville to get a cup of coffee and I would try and sort it out with Ulick and Bens help.
Pulling the side off it appered that the earth wire from the CDI unit I had installed in Alice Springs was broken. Not cut, just snapped. Very odd. We bandaged this up and tested - no change.

Swapped the sparkplug - no change.

This didn't look good. We tested to see of there was a spark coming from the plug at all... Nothing.

This was terminal. By now we had been standing in the rain for about 45 minutes. People were expecting us in Brisbane at a certain time as well.

I had no choice but to call the RACQ (Breakdown Service) They said a tow truck would be here within 45 mins. An hour later we still hadn't seen anyone so we called again and were assured someone would be along soon. Eventually a patrol car arrived. I explained the situation to the guy and he said I'd need a towtruck. I said that I had established that already with the lady on the phone and he just shook his head giving the impression that this was a regular occurrance.
He then made all the calls to get the towtruck here.

The rest of the group couldn't wait and had to get going, so off they went. My heart sinking as I watched them pass me one by one. My last day and here I am stuck in the rain waiting for a towtruck. Then the patrol man dissappeared. What the hell? I was made to believe that he would look after things so I could get going.

Back on the phone to RACQ - 'oh no, you have to wait with the vehicle'. 'Well how long till the tow truck gets here?' I asked. 'I don't know, i'll find out and call back.

15 mins later I get a call for the contractor who will be picking up the dead scoot. 'It'll be about an hour, is that alright?' By now it's getting to the point where i'm feeling totally defeated. 'You don't have to wait with the vehicle though'. That's reassuring, I can leave my bike on the side of the road and hope someone collects it. Back up the road there was a house that looked like there were people home, so I asked them If I could leave my bike in their driveway til the tow company picks it up which they kindly agreed to. So back in the car, wet, tired and quite upset we drove back to Brisbane.

Not far out of Brisbane I got a call from Ulick asking where I was. He had stopped short of arriving at Aztec. 'I'm not arriving without you mate'. I could have cried. That sums my brother up.

Soon after I let him know we were around the corner and all the scoots pulled out for the final 500 metres, pulling into Aztec. I jumped out of the car and ran up with them.

We made it!

21,000 kilometres

Right Around Australia

Day 90 - Montville

Today was a bit of a rest day. Some of the guys from our local scooter club rode up to meet us and ride in with us tomorrow. The weather has turned nasty with strong winds and rain and cold.
Eventually they arrived soaked to the bone and had to thaw out in front of the fireplace. Some didn't brave the weather and turned up in cars but that's OK :) .
Well we couldn't have asked for worse weather but what can you do? We entertained ourselves with red wine and board games and our uncle Mac cooked up a storm on the barbie.

All in all it was quite an enjoyable evening. We just hope the weather tomorrow will be kinder.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Day 89 - Arriving at Montville

After making sure our family were on the road we set off on the road to Montville.
Not wanting to arrive before they did we took our time and got off the Bruce Highway, to wind our way through the Mary River Valley. The road winds its way through some of South East Queenslands most beautiful countryside. Rolling green hills, and small dairy farms, all soon to be flooded to make yet another shallow dam in a cheap & easy attempt to provide Brisbane with more water. Anyone on two wheels, or anyone at all for that matter should take the time to ride through this amazing landscape before it's destroyed.

The view from behind the Mary River Valley

Other bikers enjoying an early morning ride through the rolling hills

So on we went up the very steep Obi Obi and made our way to Mapleton to make a quick call and find out where everybody is. From there our Uncle Mac and Dad met us and we rode to Montville meet a local MP (as today is a state Election day) who wanted to welcome us home.

After meeting the MP and casting our vote we made our way to where the rest of the family were waiting. SLowly snaking our way along the driveway, we climb the last crest to see a huge banner strung across our path saying WELCOME HOME TORSTEN AND ULICK!!! With legs shaking we broke through the banner and parked our bikes. We hadn't even got our helmets off and I could feel the tears welling up. Mum, Brooke, our aunt Steph, and little Edward all there to welcome us home.

Once we managed to get our gear off we cracked a cold beer and breathed a sigh of relief.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Day 88 - Gin Gin to Gympie

Ulick isn't letting on where they will travel today, not sure why... Perhaps somewhere like Rainbow Beach?

Well, I have just heard they are now in Gympie. Their Dad has landed in Brisbane and things are in order for some family time on the Sunshine Coast. A fairly short ride after voting tomorrow to Montville. This will be my last entry on their behalf. Can't wait for the book! It's been nice keeping you up to date. Regards Brooke

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Day 87 - Zilzie to Gin Gin

Torsten's bike is performing slower than Ulick's bike at the moment, so Torsten is riding in front. A truck decided to overtake both Ulick and Torsten and cut in a little early. Torsten nearly got wiped out by the truck. A hairy moment.

Only a few days to go now. With over 70km/h winds in Brisbane City, let's hope we have a calm day next Monday.

The same beach as yesterday at sunrise

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Day 86 - Mackay to Zilzie

Zilzie is just near Yeppoon and overlooks the majestic Great Keppel Island. The boys stay at a friend's place tonight.

The house we were offeredthe use of for the night, right on the beach.

Overlooking the ocean

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Day 85 - Bowen to Mackay

Monday, September 04, 2006

Day 84 - Charters Towers to Bowen

On the home stretch. Now a week to go until the official ride into Brisbane. If you are not a scooter or a bike rider, you can still come along to the Aztec Coffee Company, Eagle Street for the BBQ at lunch time Monday to support the Right Around Australia Project. We would love to see you there!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Day 83 - Richmond to Charters Towers

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Day 82 - Cloncurry to Richmond

Friday, September 01, 2006

Day 81 - Camooweal to Cloncurry

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Day 80 - Threeways Roadhouse to Camooweal

From Northen Territory to Queensland. Without those screens Torsten and Ulick are finding the highway drive more exhausting.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Day 79 - Daly Waters to Threeways Roadhouse

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day 78 - Katherine to Daly Waters

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Day 76

Today had them taking the off road tyres off both bikes. These will see their way back to Brisbane via post. The road to Roper Bar was their third chance. Both bikes will probably need another normal road tyre for the rear, as the exising rear tyres will be pushed should they be expected to make it back.

Depending on the how tomorrow goes getting the throttle bar/rod thingo sorted, the route back to Brisbane may change. They might have to come back down through Northen Territory and cut into Queensland a lot lower than originally planned. They may have to see Cairns another trip....

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Day 75 - Less than 2 weeks to go...

The update I got today involved much technical jargon. I shall do my best to paint an accurate picture. They removed the existing damaged headstock. The brake fluid had to be drained and this is a bit tricky as it is corrosive. When they got to the throttle they were stumped. The bar/rod thingo was bent. Now this means they have to find another - perhaps a motorbike part will suffice? Or they have to see if someone can bent it back in shape.

The throttle bar hanging limply from the smashed headstock

Everything routes through the headstock, cables, electrics, hydraulic lines and it all had to be pulled out and threaded back through.

Ulick hard at it...

The headstock is a 'part' so it has a black protective coating of paint on it. The whole bike will look a bit shabby for a while until Ulick can fix up all the cosmetic damage and give her a new paint job. As long as she get's him home in one piece it will do.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Day 74 - Back in Katherine

Glen gave the boys and their bikes a lift back to Katherine in his new big truck. Good news - the headstock has arrived. They will take at closer look at the damage just as soon as the heat of the day retreats....

Loading the bikes and gear into the truck

Ready to say goodbye to Planet Roper

Last farewells

Back out on the Roper Highway to Mataranka

Wayward cattle from one of the nearby stations

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Day 72 - Working in Roper Bar

We awake to a cool and foggy morning

Glen and Veronica have been an amazing support to the boys. Giving them accommodation and ensuring they are fed. I know that they are so appreciative of the helping hand they have been lent by all the staff there. Torsten and Ulick had offered their services to help out in any way, and today they were taken up on that offer. Stacking shelves in the store.
Fog off the edge of the airstrip behind the store

In the 'big wet' the airstrip is the only way to get supplies into the area

A view from the airstrip looking back at the store

Because the mobile coverage is basically non existent, the boys gave the phone number of the store as a contact number. The first time I rang this number I asked for the guy that had come off the bike, and Ulick was cooee'd to take the call. Well as best as an English back packer can cooee.
A mustering chopper from one of the local cattle stations picking up some supplies. Beats fighting for parking spaces at the supermarket...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day 71 - Resting in Planet Roper

Finding a positive in the situation - the boys enjoy Austar (cable TV) whilst resting up in Roper Bar.
The view from the end of the airstrip behind the store

RACQ is contacted and will put them up in a hotel at Katherine. Glad they arranged that coverage! So they will back track to Katherine to fix Ulick's bike there. They ring around trying to find a replacement headstock and talk to the mechanics they've already dealt with in the major cities along the way. The advise is consistent, it will be a challenging task to replace it. Not impossible - just hard work.

As we weren't going anywhere in a hurry, Glynn gave us a tour of the area.

Often the only way across to the community is by boat, but now in the dry, a 4WD can cross the causeway

Yes, salties do live here in the Roper River

Alex, one of the girls working at the store hadn't even seen what was around her since she started working at the store, so she came along for the tour.

They still need to consider the route home. They'd always had a buffer of a few days built into the route just in case they encountered a problem like this. So, at this point they are still on track to ride into Brisbane on the 11th of September.

The remains of the old police station. During the goldrush era, the populations in these isolated communities were much larger and the law accompanied them.

Mobile phone coverage is only available in small pockets and you have to be standing on a railing on the top of a hill above the small run way. Torsten and Ulick updated the relevant loved ones with collect calls.

That's all the news for now.....more to come.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Day 70 - An accident!

It was an interesting start to the day. Woken at 3am by strange noises outside, one would assume Dingo? Crocodile? Upon further investigation the culprit was revealed to be a little wallaby. After some shooing away, he hopped over to the next campsite to continue his treasure hunt.

Leaving Katherine Gorge and heading to Roper Bar the boys knew today would pose a challenge. There would be a stretch ahead where the sealed road ends and the unsealed road continues. Having had 2 unpleasant experiences on unsealed roads, you have to admire the determination to give it a good go.

Getting the gear off to get the knobbies on

Preparation involved getting the off road tyres fitted and ready to tackle the unsealed road.

And we're off on an adventure!

As it turns out, the road tackles Ulick. Swapping positions, Torsten goes ahead. Ulls hits a soft spot and fishtails beyond control. Thrown quite a way Ulick does not sustain any major injuries. A few abrasions, some damage on his thigh from his racks and a few bruises (physical and emotional). The bike performed a series of flips in it's acrobatic landing. Torsten continued on without immediate realisation that Ulick had come off his bike and hit the dirt. A local store owner was only a 100 metres or so behind Ulls and approached quite quickly having seen a commotion in the dust ahead. He helped Ulls get the bike and bits and pieces off the road. By this time Torsten has turned around and approached the scene.

Where the rear came out and the front wheel dug in

The damage done

Instinctively going for the handlebars to push his bike off the road, Ulls discovers the headstock (where the headlight and handlebars are fixed) is pretty banged up, with some wires and things exposed. His wind screen is also smashed. It seems the purpose built racks that they had wielded on helped save the cowling as they took the brunt of the impact. However, the entire front of the bike is a bit worse for wear.

Glynn & Veronica, our guardian angels

The local store owner is fantastic in this time of need and helps them get to his store in Roper Bar. He arranges accommodation and even a few beers to help ease the situation. Not sure if it helps the headache.

A few bruises but nothing broken

Assessing the bike will have to wait till tomorrow. What will they do? Will this put their expected return date in jeopardy? Will they have to hitch a ride to Cairns?

The bike needs to be patched up, but Ulick is okay. A full face helmet, protective gloves, purpose made motorbike jacket and boots, and some draggin jeans pay off.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Day 69 - Katherine to Katherine Gorge

Only 30kms today, but Ulls and Torsten experienced Katherine Gorge. This included a walk and climb of the spectacular surroundings.

The view from the top of the gorge

They also went for a dip. Yes, you heard correctly, they went swimming. Now at first I thought they were joking. But I soon got clarification that it was in a freshwater area. Apparently fresh water crocodiles are much smaller and would leave less of a mark on their victim. More of a nibble than a meal. It is the salt water crocodiles that are the real scary ones.

Tonight they camp in Katherine Gorge.