When I woke up on day 70, I wasn’t in the greatest of spirits (to say the least) and as I’m packing my gear for the last time I burst into tears. And although trying my utmost best I just could not stop for quite a while. Siri looked at me as if to say pull yourself together big man, you’ve brought us to here now don’t be a baby and finish the job.
And I tried to pull myself together by thinking everything has a start and a finish and finishes aren’t always nice, but then it’s time to plan the next one. I’ve experienced quite a lot, I’ve got fantastic memories, I’ve made new friends and I’ve completed (bar 111km) my goal of travelling on my own round Australia. There’s people close to me that know me well who voiced their surprise that I’ve completed this on my own.
So I composed myself, got on the bike for the last time and the moment I rode it I felt better. There’s something to be said for purpose and momentum. And as I’m riding I’m thinking that some of those tears were for relief that I’m safe but I’m also honest enough to admit that it also was for a bit of self-pity. This fantastic experience is ending and that I have to find a new form of routine. Maybe I became a bit selfish that I didn’t have to consider anyone else and could do whatever I want. I’d like to think that I was true to myself and my values throughout and to a degree found new things about myself good and bad, but time will tell how much and in which ways it changed me. And I realised that I just need to let go and a quote came to mind: “Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than trying to hang on”. So I powered on for the last time.
Got safely to Hornsby outside Sydney where it all started and handed the bike back almost 20,000 km later, 19789 km to be precise.
The start on the 8th of March:
Safely back on the 17th of May:
I want to say thanks to:
My mate Andy and his staff who made it possible for me to do this blog by initiating this site and supporting me all the way
For Trevor and his team at Ride Australia Rentals for providing me with everything I needed to complete the trip at a very good price and being on the other end of the phone when I needed them. Sometimes on very short notice!
BMW for building such a fantastic bike that gave me so much pleasure as well as Ewan and Charlie for inspiring me to do it (you don’t know me, but I know you!😜).
All my South African friends and family for your calls and your messages of support. It meant the world to me.
All my Australian friends and acquaintances who showered me with their warmth and kindheartedness. And humour, great humour!!
And to the whole of Australia: I think you have a very special country and I can see why so many South Africans can make a home here. I can only sum it up by saying that your country which is one helluva massive place, is very much like South Africa without the problems. You just don’t always know how good you have it.
And last but not the least Sarge who became a great friend. Thanks for everything you did for me, I really appreciate it mate! Without you it wouldn’t have been the same.
Watch this space for the next one!
🍺 with a Coopers Pale Ale (rolled)
Woke early and was on my bike at 6am ready to miss the traffic and get out of Melbourne. Keyed in Sydney and for the first time on my whole trip the GPS responded with memory full notice. Searched in vain for method to delete. After half an hour of trying to come up with a solution, it dawned on me that my phone’s working again so with Google Maps managed to see that I’ll go past the airport. Keyed into GPS and huge relief when it took it. Went on highways and over bridges in the dark and in the wet and surrounded by trucks with a whole windpipe orchestra playing and the noise of the bike sounded a wee bit different from time to time.😜. It subsided dramatically and completely quieted down when I reached the airport and a sign said SYDNEY!!!! It was a beautiful sign.
From there it was highway double lane cruising all the way and it gave me lots of time to reflect on my experience. Sarge wanted to organise me staying with his sister in Bondi Beach so that I can have a bit of a party for my last night on Aussie soil. When he phoned to say she’s unfortunately got some business meet on, I was actually relieved as I somehow wanted to be on my own for the last night. Stopped at a small town called Chiltern for fuel and was amazed at the butcher’s prices
Had lunch at an arty place
Our last redbull stop and an interesting bin into which I placed it. Amazing what redbull does to one’s hair 😜
At 16h30 feeling a bit cold and tired and with only 111km to go I checked into my last stop at a little motel in a little place called Bargo. Paid $80 (just for the record) for a place with great heating, a clean bed and a hot shower and had time to reflect
I organised some cheap accommodation close to the bar where we were going to meet up thinking about all the exciting things I wanted to do in Melbourne. Oh, the plans of mice and men (or something to that effect). Off the boat at 6.45 so stopped for a coffee and a croissant at a cafe close to the port. Wanted to swop my simcards over as I wanted to have my phone repaired but couldn’t find the pouch with my passport in it. Eventually unpacked everything on a table outside but it was just gone. I must admit to a small panic attack as I was sweating buckets. Pulled myself together and started phoning the ferry, Heidi and the hotel in Hobart but nobody had it. Kept phoning The Regatta Point in Strahan, but seeing that they don’t serve breakfast, finally got through at 9.30 and they had it!!! What a relief. I wanted to change simcards the night before and the tool was in the pouch. Fell asleep with it wrapped in the duvet and didn’t see it the next morning. They didn’t have my number as I couldn’t access it on my broken phone. Gave them the address where I was to return the bike in Sydney. They phoned me back saying they posted it express post and got it out of Strahan with a few minutes to spare. It will take two days and hopefully will be there on my arrival. Well this was Tuesday and I was flying out the Thursday evening. Cost was $11.50 but they said not to worry about it. Consider it Tasmanian hospitality 🤗. I was overcome with joy, but felt completely drained. What a fwit I am!! And then something occurred that last happened during the first 4 years of running my own business when lack of cashflow was a severe and constant issue: A humungous bout of flatulence set in and I was playing trumpet and the trombone in the brass band! 🤣.
Managed to sort my phone out with the camera still a bit misty, got the worst haircut ever while I was waiting. (Sarge confirmed it later that evening in no uncertain terms as he doesn’t mince words) and when I finally reached my upmarket hostel in the rain at about 2pm after my GPS took me to weird and wonderful places, I was completely knackered as they say in Glasgow. So when the going gets tough, the tough buys Coopers (just across the road). Armed with a Coopers and a rollie I went to the smoking area where I encountered an old man standing there wheezing. He was bent over and clearly not well. I asked him if he’s ok, and while it sounds like he’s sucking air through a straw, he grunted “I will be if you leave me alone”. I didn’t enjoy my rollie so much after that and hit the sack for a power nap exhausted.
Great evening with Sarge, Brooke and their friends. Started off at a pub called The Holy Grail where you could smoke at tables what appeared to be inside, but it’s actually outside. First time ever in Australia. Great eastern food and last drinks at The Lucky Coq. Hard to say goodbye to friends who took me in and did so much for me. Hopefully I can somehow return the favour.
Photos to follow
This morning I went with the flow, but it’s flowing on the Gordon river into the most remote wilderness untouched by man. We went out of the harbour area through a very narrow gap which is quite treacherous to enter when the sea is rough. Today was plain sailing with the sun shining and no wind. My seat was in the middle of the boat downstairs with Peter and Jan travelling in “business class” upstairs. Jan came looking for me and on my visit upstairs Peter, whose got a great sense of humour, said something to the effect that he summed me up as a man with money but that he was clearly wrong. Had a good laugh that the lady at the info centre thought I wouldn’t have enough and didn’t give me the option. On my second visit upstairs I was politely asked to leave. Peter said he called security but Jan felt sorry for me and smuggled out cheese and biscuits.🤣
When going up the river the reflection of the trees were spectacular in the still, clear, brown water. This area is well known for its Huon Pine trees that grow very old. They said this one was over 1000 years.
At the turnaround point deep into the river, there’s a rainforest where we went on a guided walk. Small things were pointed out and never before saw mushrooms shaped like this. And beautiful little flowers produce a very special type of honey.
On the way back Jan and I had a deep conversation about life and how it’s not always plain sailing. Amazing how quickly you can emotionally connect with likeminded people. Peter said he loves Billy Connolly and we both reminisced about his tour of Australia on a trike many years ago. That also subconsciously played a roll of choosing Australia as a biking destination for me. Peter remembered a joke of Billy’s. He said it gets so cold in Scotland that the next morning when you wake up there’s a small little ice cube lying next to you and when you throw it in the fire after a while it goes “poof!!!l” and the whole room stinks! 🤣. Maybe it’s because we were both rugby players that we cherish a bit of toilet humour. Had some lovely salmon for lunch (yes, they do feed the poor diwnstairs as well!), visited Sarah Island where the prisoners lived in very poor conditions and floggings were common. Whole tour and experience of the island expertly presented by an actor. Very well done.
When you walk away from there you certainly cherish freedom and to have choices in life and execute on it. Once there, they didn’t have many and misery was bestowed on them. A story that stuck was a hanging that took place. Three guys from the island got sentenced to death in Hobart and were returned for the execution to teach the other prisoners a lesson. The whole hanging procedure apparently turned into a carnival atmosphere with laughter and singing and the condemned kicking their boots into the crowd shouting damn the devil! Maybe they had choices after all with pain a definite but suffering optional. But life must certainly have been misery if you’re looking forward to your death. Just for the record, no further hangings took place there after that party.
Docked back at 2.30, got geared up and left for Devonport. The ride was again absolute bliss and almost a copy of the day before. I only stopped once for a splash and dash (and this didn’t involve a petrol pump) plus a redbull and a rollie next to a bridge. I don’t know how many gear changes I made, but sometimes my arms were getting stiff with all the changing and breaking. When I saw a little bit of a straight it was bliss to relax for a moment and then it was again full-on attention needed with skills tested. Arrived at the overnight ferry for Melbourne at 5.30, gave the bike a hug and after dumping my bags in the cabin, I celebrated with a Moo Broo pale ale (almost same as a Coopers) but this time a little gin on the side as a chaser. The adrenaline was pumping big time for quite a while. Arranged with Sarge and Brooke to meet up the next evening in Melbourne with another couple. Listened with only 4 other people to a guy playing live music while having my dinner. He was really good. Wondered what it feels like if you’re really talented, good enough to fill a hall and only 4 people turn up. He gave it his all and I clapped as loud as I could. It doesn’t cost anything to show appreciation and he appreciated it.
Had a final rollie and glass of Tassie Pinot Noir on deck and the ship gently rolled me to sleep 😴
What a day!
I’ve heard about a special museum just outside Hobart that I promised Sarge I’ll go visit. It’s called Mona (museum of old and new art) and it’s famous for it’s Great Wall of Vagina. I think it’s best if the artist himself explains:
“Why did I do it and what’s it all about?” I hear you ask. Well, vulvas and labia are as different as a faces and many people, particularly women, don’t seem to know that. Men tend to have seen more than women, who have often only seen their own, and many have never looked that closely. Hence the exposure of so many, showing the variety of shapes is endlessly fascinating, empowering and comforting. For many women their genitals are a source of shame rather than pride and this piece seeks to redress the balance, showing that everyone is different and everyone is normal.
Well, there’s 400 life-size casts and let’s just say it’s the most interesting art I’ve come across. I’m naturally not going to publish photos but you can check out the website for more info
Then it’s on the bike to Strahan which is a picturesque fishing village on the west coast of Tasmania. It was a glorious day for biking. The sun was shining and it was completely windstill. About 4km on the road I passed two cars and then a pickup truck pulled out right in front of me. No indicator, nothing to give me a warning he was coming. I passed him on the verge of the road as breaking wasn’t an option. Luckily I didn’t, because behind me he did a right hand turn. That was close, but all good in the end. I said a thankyou prayer and continued full of appreciation for life and that I have the opportunity of experiencing it further… And then Scotland appeared in front of me (only this time with sunshine !). Rolling green hills amd stopped at small village named Hamilton. A little more picturesque than the one below Glasgow.
After that was a turn-off for Bothwell and I crossed the river Clyde.
The hills became more mountainous and I climbed higher through the most beautiful forests where trees formed canopies over the road. At times it felt like I was tunnelling through various colours of green foliage. On the bike I could smell the trees. And at the top it formed a plato with several lakes.
There were different forms of roadkill next to the road and once I had to break hard for a kangaroo lying in the centre of my lane. I stopped and pulled it off the road.
When I met the old bikers in Norseman, they said whatever I do I shouldn’t miss The Wall on the way to Strahan just before Derwent Bridge
“The Wall” is a modern shed in a forest of trees where the work of an artist who does almost life-size wooden murals is displayed. Him and his son truly makes wood come alive and tells the story of the early pioneering days with it’s toil and hardship. The one where the mother and little boy buries her husband/father who passed away almost had me in tears. Not allowed to take photos, so got this off the web just to remember how beautiful it was.
I certainly were “walled” today, but I have to admit that I’ve never come across two more different walls in one day!
The rest of the ride to Strahan was probably the nearest to biker’s heaven that one can get. No wonder bikers anywhere I spoke to encouraged me to go to Tassie with a faraway look in their eyes. Well believe me they understated it!
Stopped at one of the most beautiful waterfalls and the different shades of green on the way with the size of the ferns just blew me away. After more than 2 months on my own I still find it hard to experience breathtakingly beautiful nature with no mates to share it with. I forgot I wasn’t alone, so I woke Siri up and told her. She asked if it was more beautiful than Whitehaven beach. I said no, it’s a different beauty but both makes me feel small, very small in the magnificence of what I experience. Our conversation was briefly interrupted when a 35km/h warning appear indicating a very sharp right hand turn and came to an abrupt end when a big red sign said DANGER, SLOW DOWN, SHARP BENDS FOR NEXT 8 km. And when the very next sign said SLIPPERY WHEN WET and I knew that’s not the title of a Bon Jovi album because there’s a motorbike on the sign, all conversation stopped. It was only one of several mountain passes I experienced that day. On that windy, twisty, downhill bit with wet patches here and there where the sun’s rays never reach, it felt like I totally and truly became one with the bike.
Reached Strahan just before sunset and went to their info centre. Very friendly lady suggested a room for $175 somewhere. I said that’s out of my budget. All I’m looking for is a comfy bed and a hot shower close to a pub that serves food. I got all of that and more in my own little no 8 cabin at Regatta Point Tavern for $99. She also booked me a wilderness cruise on the Gordon river for the next morning. Just when I wanted to capture the sunset the tourist train came by and it all looked very romantic.
Unbeknown to me it was mother’s day and the Q for food in the restaurant was long. Befriended Peter and Jan whose touring Tazzie from Perth. Joined them at table no 1 and immediately felt like old friends with whom I could and did share the beauty with as they experienced it too.
Only damper was that my phone got damp in the storm, became damper although I had it in a packet of rice and the touch screen didn’t work. The charge on it went down as well as a piece of rice wedged itself deep in the charging hole and it took ages to scrape out. Had to swop sim cards with other phone but couldn’t take photos or blog. Thrown out of my routine and all a bit frustrating. But I found when touring on my own that frustration is a natural companion.and that things don’t always go your way. I think I learned that I just have to accept that not everything is in my control and that I just have to go with the flow. Such is life.
(My phone got damp in the storms, so I’ll post rhe photos of the next few days later)
Woke up to a cloudy blustery day but NOTHING icw yesterday. Found my washing still wet in the dryer as fwit forgot last night to set the time. Note to self: How did you ever managed to get as far as this being SO disorganised?! If I can , anyone can!! Went for a coffee at same place as yesterday after drawing money and found Heidi there. She and Jo are sisters in law
Thanked them all, made an appropriate donation as Heidi didn’t want any money from me and set off with the sea this time on my left (the right!) shoulder.
If I enjoy this ride next to the sea so much when it’s raining, what must it be like when the sun’s shining? Stormy seas wipped up by the wind, twisty corners and then inland now and then with beautiful rolling hills.
Rode past a motorbike shop that said “bike museum” and immediately made a u-ie (don’t think there’s such a word so maybe ewe-wie?), iow I turned back mostly because I’m on a cultural trip and don’t want to miss any museums but mainly to get out of the rain a bit. All these great machines were lovingly and immaculately restored by the owner. I persuaded him to add anther dollar to my museum entry and made myself a coffee in his kitchen. Amazing how you can tell by the cleanliness of a kitchen that your bike will be in safe hands here 👍 The bikes were just so beautiful and takes one back in time.
There was a photo of him and Charley Boorman on the wall who became famous with his trips with Ewan McGregor in Long Way Round and Long Way Down. These series inspired me to ride as well and do a big trip when I was quite ill in hospital in 2009. Back then I didn’t know it’ll take me 9 years before I’ll do it but such is life. You just never know. He said those trips completely changed Charlie’s life. He was a painter and life-long friend of Euan’s who persuaded him to do it. Now he rides all over the world with local guys and he was in the shop only 4 weeks ago. I don’t know what the impact of this trip exactly will hold for me but I certainly don’t feel the urge to start painting!😜
On my way to Hobart there was time for a little wine tasting at Richmond. I’ve actually became used to spitting and it amazes me that you can actually taste the wine, but after all said and done I’ve decided I’m a swallower for sure!! They’re Riesling won a first and they’re Pinot Noir was delicious.
On my trip throughout people told me that when in Tasmania I must go to Hobart. There I’ll see people with two heads (because of inbreeding) and one head will have a mullet and the other a mohawk and the city is about 20 years behind the times. I went out with low expectations and was blown away by their modern waterfront with bars and eateries. Art galore everywhere and at a bar with live music got the best chicken chips and salad for only $10. The bouncer told me that he works during the day at the university and it closed down because of massive damage caused by the floods two nights ago. Lucky students?
Later was having a rollie with my drink outside when an elderly couple approached. Said to myself I’ll eat my beanie if he’s not South African. My observational skills were proved in the affirmative by his daughter Hayley who asked me if I can langarm (two-step). They invited me for a braai the next day but unfortunately I couldn’t fit that in otherwise I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my goal of going round Tasmania and Strahan on the west coast is a must!
It was p@ss&ng down when we left ferry at 6.45, so when the goiing gets tough, the tough goes to McDonalds. Met 2 Harley guys that’s just as tough. They’re Tazzie boys whose been to Perth and back dor 3 weeks. One guy lost a bearing (or maybe it was his bike) on the Nullabor and 900km om the back of a truck later got it fixed. I stayed quiet about my petrolcap. Some info you don’t part with unasked😜
Rain stopped and we headed to the East Coast with the plan of riding round Tazzie (as it’s fondly known over here). Rain came pelting down and after a slow 2 hours being hammered with rain and spray and wind, stopped for a coffee with great messages on the walls. Warmed me up!
Fuelled with warmth and the joys of life I went on to test my waterproof gear to the limit. The gloves got quite wet but the handwarmers on the bike have two settings: warm and moer (very!) warm. And the new boots kept (most of) the water out as they were getting a pounding.
The weather was bad , but I got into a wet weather rhythm and actually enjoyed the ride through a mountain pass with 35km/h turns which I took at 20 👍 I was following my GPS which was set for St Helens on the east coast, when suddenly I realised whilst going over a bridge that the sea was on my right shoulder. I’m not dumb but I’m slow, so first looked for a hell of a big bridge ahead. By way of eliminating all other options I knew it was time for a coffee and ask a local. She asked first: Are you completely and utterly mad to ride in this?!! Had a great chat and she indeed comfirmed that I need to turn round and keep the water on my left!
She said her mad husband put the bike on the concrete
There was a roaring fire in their living room that I can remember very, very well! Noticed that the wind got stronger in the meantime and on exiting was blown around. After a km down the road I realised that I just couldn’t safely continue and stopped at the side with hazards on. Wind was so strong that I didn’t dare put the bike on the side stand as afraid it would blow over. Sat there with feet out and fight the wind while it was chucking it diwn. Sat like this for five minutes not having a clue what to do when a girl cane past, made a u-turn, stopped on my side. Got out and got soaked immediately. All she said is I’ve got a room for you and a shed fot your bike. Let’s get you out of this. I expect no payment. Follow me! And with that she got into her car and I slowly followed. Crapped myself on the bridge, but with brilliant skills (needs must!!😜) made it to her holiday apartments called Carmens Inn. Got shown my room after shedding the bike and with “stay as long as you like and feel free to use anything” Heidi was off.
I had time to check the weather:
And decided to stay put for the night!
Siri got an absolute soaking. She said a rainforest’s rain is softer and warmer
So for the first time she felt a heater
And liked it, promptly falling asleep
And just when I was thinking food, a knock om the door and the very friendly lady in charge gave me these leftovers of her granddaughter’s party that she baked herself. Even brought me tomato sauce!
While waiting for fish and chips had a Coopers at hotel across the road at hotel bar. After ordering said hi to couple, Cameron and Myriam, next to me and for the FIRST TIME EVER it happened. This guy shook my hand and asked: Are you from South Africa or Glasgow? I was totally bowled over. After he picked me up from the floor he said he’s got lots of South African friends and he’s dad is from Glasgow. He said it was something I said when I ordered…
And dinner was well-balanced
Had lots of time to catch up on a bit of blogging and admin and washing and drying. When I walked out just now could see the southern cross so hopefully better day weatherwise, but regardless said Siri, cause we’re hardcore and going round! She’s got a big mouth. 😜
Sarge shiwed me around the peninsula where they live. Back beach
And front beach where his boathouse is
One of these two were once the most expensive real estate per square meters in Australia. Think the guy oaid $680,000 ten years ago
And The Heads where all sea traffick to Melbourne pass through
The only remainder of a jetty where they offloaded cattle in the late 18 hundreds (I’m SUCH a historian 😜)
A kiln where they heated the limestone to extract … forgot now, maybe lime? Modern twist above
Top real estate
Beautiful blond sandstone. There’s a place in Scotland called Blairgowrie where we go and play golf. My friend Sandy also does consultancy there. The Scots who settled here must’ve been from there. It’s a special place and so is this
Back at the house and ready to go.
First gave my treasured camping gear and straps to Sarge who will look after them for me. They came a long way since picking them up from the Labrador BCF branch and served me well.
Sarge made Siri a raincoat as we were going to get rain for sure
I almost took Brooke’s bike. Such a cutie!
Spotted backyard art
Last stop was at Sarge’s workshop where he does his miracles with these great three legged boats
I wanted to meet up with the guys I rent the bike from. They’re based in Melbourne and have provided me with great backup Trevor gave me some Coffee as well as new boots. The others I got from them in Sydney were never going to do the trick in Tasmania. On our way into Melbourne the odo showed that we’ve done 18000 km. Also time to change the front wheel wich they provided me with at a great price. Also went through biggest downpour ever on way there and my slow speed riding skills were tested to the limit. I reckon I’ve improved a lot with a soft clutch hand doiing the trick
All kitted out went straight through the city to the harbour. Haven’t seen skyscrapers since Brisbane. Boarded the Spirit of Tasmania where bike was strapped in for the ride. Siri and I had a 4 bunk cabin all to ourselves. We came to treasure our privacy.
And the oysters were magnificent with Coopers
But for the main course as much as you can put on your plate. The juggling act’s main theme on my plate was meat, so as there are 8 islands around Tasmania… (tip: Tasmania is also and island)
Once we were through the heads into the open water the boat started to roll a bit and helped to make me sleep like a 🌻when there’s no sun 😜
Sun in my eyes so took photos from where I came. This coastline reminds me of Gordonsbaai to Rooiels. It just goes on and on and on…
A huge bushfire started by lightning wiped out the trees two tears ago and several mudslides took place which now need to be fixed. Quite a few stops and starts but who cares if you can look at the beauty around you
At this loxation 80 houses were wiped out. Made me think of the Knysna fire
Ordered a coffee and the best almond croissant EVER!! Took it across the road and sat in the sun and then my first major accident on my trip so far
After I finished it I found that when I bit into a little almond, a small piece of a mauler broke off. How blessed am I to report that only a little bit of a tooth went missing after 17500km. This just gives me an excuse to visit my old dentist pal Schalk (best dentist in the whole world!) in Franschoek and couple that with a game of golf at Pearl Valley!
And then more twisties and more and more and more…. 👍
And one beautiful beach after another
Until I came across one and couldn’t believe my eyes. Had to do a double take
And on closer inspection I found that the beach artist is called John aka Patto and Alanah aka Ldawg (apparently this is a long story) and dog called Narlah. They said they thought when I walked over I was going to complain. Reason for art is boredom and SHE came up with the idea said Patto. Almost sounds like Adam and Eve 😜
And this house has a fantastic viewing room
Bells beech close to Torquy is famous surfing beach
Stopped at Torquay for lunch
Reached end of Great Ocean Road and took ferrie over from Queenscliff to the peninsula south of Melbourne but there’s always time for a craft ale. Sarge lives in Blairgowrie close by and met me at the ferrie
Where I came from
Sarge in his heyday (in other words not so long ago!) racing his Norton.
Went to his boathouse fully kitted with fridge and Bose system and heater!!!
And a message to serve as a reminder to LIVE!!👍👍👍
Did I mention I love trees?
And back home he lit a bonfire (just for the potatoes) and we had a reunion barbie
In the toilet a reminder that it’s good to leave your comforts behind and bike! (This is actually a Harley advertisement but I’m not going to mention it😜)
Beautiful trees and…😜
Had a bit of a runny nose and Sarge quickly cured it with this secret potion. 👍