Touring Australia 2012
Planning & Preparation
After about 6 years of... ahem! pre-planning, I finally decided 2012 would be the year I would get around Australia on two wheels. I spoke to my mate, Mark, who had by then moved back to Sydney and we agreed it would be best to aim for March 2012. So off I went looking at the options for shipping my BMW R1200GS Adventure to Sydney. I gotta say, I was disappointed to work out that for such a short trip (3-4 weeks), it was hardly worth it. Up to 8 weeks each way by sea, £1,000 each way and all the associated paperwork. We agreed I would search for a bike online and Mark would go and inspect it & pick it up.
I found a lovely-looking BMW R1150GS and Mark soon had it in his garage. One 25-hour flight later, I landed in Sydney with a brand new pair of tyres for the bike and sailed through immigration and customs. It was 06:30 on the 4th of March and it suddenly dawned on me that the trip was imminent!
Stage 1 - Sydney to South West Rocks to Sydney
Sunday the 4th was a chilled out day. Lunch with Mark's wonderful parents, his sister & brother in-law. Apart from the jet-lag, life was good.
Time was not an ally on this trip! The plan for the week was clear. The reason we were going to South West Rocks was because Mark had said it was an unforgettable scuba diving spot (more on this later). Diving is something Mark is very experienced at and something that I enjoy but had only done a few 10m dives up till then. Those that know about diving will know you're not allowed below 10m unless you have passed a course and got your certificate, so I'd booked my course for Monday & Tuesday having done the theory online before leaving the UK.
While resting after lunch on the Sunday, I called the insurance company and got the bike insured. The lovely lady pointed out that because they had a 4-week no-quibble cancellation policy, I could get all my money back if I didn't make a claim and cancelled the policy as soon as my trip was over. What a result?!!! :D [Note to self: Don't drop the bike!]. This also meant I wasn't insured to ride it till the day before we set out...
So the plan was:-
Monday & Tuesday - Diving Course (0km, 0mi)
Monday morning, I drag myself out of bed early, still feeling the effects of the 25-hour trip, but didn't have time to feel sorry for myself as I had a diving course to pass. I can hardly swim a length of a pool, but somehow, against all odds, I pass the course and get my ticket. I was happy as Larry!!! After the course, I stop at the RTA (Roads & Traffic Authority) and get the bike registered. I'm good to go.
Not drowned yet...
Fellow students & instructors
Wednesday - Final Preps (100km, 62mi estimated)
I spring out of bed today... I've got so much to do. Get the new tyres put on the bike, have a shake down ride to get tyres scrubbed, other prep. I hadn't even ridden to the end of the drive when I knew I had problems. The bike ran rough and the twist grip was very stiff. Also, two miles down the road, with my new tyres strapped on the back, I had to stop to investigate a burning smell that was coming from the bike. It turns out it was coming from the exhaust box beneath the bike. It seemed to be running very hot and something was burning off it. I carry on to the tyre shopand get the tyres fitted. The staff are very nice and knowledgeable. The receptionist is quite intrigued to learn how far I've come and how much riding I have planned. She gives me a few tips on places to go and things to see along the way.
I rode out, but the bike was still running rough and the exhaust still giving me cause for concern so I decided to find a BMW shop for another opinion. After an hour or so, I find them and they are good enough to give the bike a once over without a booking but sadly they could only have me come back in about two weeks to try to fix it. I didn't have that kind of time to spare, so I buy some petrol additive & dump it in the next 6 tanks. I did this as the seller had said the bike had been sitting around outdoors under a canopy for two years before I bought it. The additive seemed to make things better but only so much; it still ran rough but now only when cold or running at low speed. Also, I found that as the day went on, the burning smell subsided and I was convinced it was from dirt and grime that must have gotten stuck on the exhaust box as the bike lay dormant and it would all burn off soon. Also BMW told me that unlike the 1200, the 1150 exhaust did normally run fairly hot. So apart from the stiff throttle twist grip, I was happy the bike wouldn't break down. I headed for Sydney CBD (Central Business District) to meet a friend for a meal & a drink.
I was feeling good as I headed back to Mark's from the CBD... This time tomorrow, I'd be a long way from Sydney on the biggest ride I'd have ever done. The torrential rain that was finding the gaps between my helmet & goggles didn't even bother me.
Cue the wet ride...
On getting back to Mark's, he talks me through our ride up to South West Rocks. We've planned on 2 days to get there (no motorways in our future). The he shows me the brochure and as he flicks through the pages I'm looking at the beautiful flora, fauna and wildlife that we can expect to see on our dive, but HOLD UP!!! Are those not sharks I can see in the picture, Mark? "Yes" he says... "didn't I tell you? We're going shark diving" I'm thinking out loud "I'm sure I'd have remembered if you said sharks, mate!" He knew me... he'd got me so far and knew my desire would not make me turn back. Damn! I figured if people were being eaten daily, they'd have stopped doing trips out there. So off I went to sleep, hoping I wouldn't be a shark's dinner in a couple of days.
Thursday - Hit the road. Sydney, NSW to Walcha, NSW (480km, 300mi)
We awoke to the same heavy rain from the night before.
Me ready for the off :-)
Stop to refresh man & machine
Friday - Walcha, NSW to South West Rocks, NSW (245km, 153mi) - detail coming...
Stop for much-needed fuel, outdoor loo & helmet camera check
Saturday - Diving at South West Rocks, NSW - detail coming...
Sunday - South West Rocks, NSW to Moree, NSW (553km, 346mi) - detail coming...
Monday - Moree, NSW to Sydney, NSW (791km, 495mi) - detail coming...
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