While staying in Queenstown I lived with a guy called Clint Williams who had just finished a four-month motorcycle trip around Australia’s south-eastern corner before coming to New Zealand. The trip was a long one, which he mainly travelled off-road where possible to get the most out of the experience. I decided to ask him a few questions about the trip to get an idea of what it was like. Keep in mind that when you go out the bush in Australia, you are off the radar and off the beaten track!
Total time taken – 4 months
26,000 KM on the bike..
What bike did your ride?
A KLR 650 Kawasaki Red (but it faded to pink during the trip!)
How much was the bike and did you get insurance?
The motorbike cost me $3500 Australian. I seen in on Autotrader website and bought it through a private sale. I got 3rd party fire and theft cover with Swan insurance for $300.
Milage + did you carry extra fuel?
The tank on the KLR is 20 litres and a full tank of fuel cost me $30-35. I would get 400km out of a tank and never carried a jerry can during the whole trip… One day when the headwind was very strong, I only got 250km and barely made it to a petrol station!
How did you sleep during the trip?
I had a small 2 man tent with me and slept in that most of the time. If I was in a city I would stay in a backpackers but the majority of the trip was out in the open and I would just pull over and pitch the tent by the side of the road. There are lots of free campsites in Australia I had a book which showed me where they were. This proved invaluable.
Where did the trip start and what route did you take?
I tested the bike first with a one week ride down the Great Ocean Road and back again to Melbourne.. I had two Kangaroos jump out in front of me on this drive and almost crashed..
From there I drove up the East Coast through snowy mountain national park, back across towards the coast mainly off-road to the east coast near Sydney..
Spent a week in Sydney and then drove through the Blue Mountains down to Jenolan Caves..
Looped back and bypassed Sydney into Newcastle, Koff’s Harbour..
Took a trip up Rainbow beach and camped. It was very hard work on the bike with the soft sand.. The track that comes off the beach on the north end was a disaster.. There was at least a foot of powder soft sand and the bike just wouldn’t drive. There are always people there in 4×4’s to help you out which was handy..
Any major bike troubles?
Coming back from the Blue Mountains, at night, all the fuses blew for my lights (probably because I dropped my bike while off-roading)… So I had to take off all the pannier mounts, side panels just to get the seat off which is where the fuses are on a KLR. Luckily there was a spare fuse in the fuse box!
In between Alice Springs and Kings Canyon – a 6-7hr drive , you can either take the main road which goes south and comes back up, or take the off dirt road red track which is a more direct route. As the road was so shaky, there was problems with the bike. The vacuum pipe which comes off the air filter fell off. When it falls off your bike wont start.. It sounds like it should start, but it wont. It took me 3 hours to realise what was wrong, keeping in mind it was 40 degrees+ heat, in the middle of nowhere in the Australian outback. In the time I was there only one car passed, and they stopped, but were of no help to me.
So how did you fix it?
Pushed the pipe back in! There are 5 pipes coming off the bike held together by zip ties and eventually I realised what had happened and jammed the pipe back in.
I love Byron Bay!
My bike nearly got stolen in Port Fairy which was right at the end of my trip. My insurance had run out and I was 100km off my start point on the Great Ocean Road. I stayed at the YHA in Port Fairy and parked my bike around the back, out of sight… Normally I would lock it, but I figured it was safe around the back and wrapped my bungee ties around the wheel for some reason. In the morning I get woke up by a policeman who asks…
“Where is your motorbike at”?…
“It should be around the back, but it isn’t isit?”… I replied..
Someone had attempted to steal it at 4am and tried to smash a knife into where you put the key to start the ignition. When this failed they started pushing the bike down the road.. When they saw the local baker coming to work in the morning, they dropped the bike and ran.. The baker knew something was wrong and he picked up the bike and took it to his bakery and called the police.. So I got my bike back and could now start it with a screwdriver!
To wrap it up..
Australia is an amazing place to travel on a motorbike and it would be better to ride with someone to keep you company. If you are going to travel in the outback then plan your travels according to the seasons. Summer is too hot up north and also the rainy season which i found out the hard way!