Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Last Blast Across the Desert

In the photo above we are more than happy, it's taken us 2 weeks in Darwin to get to this point where our bikes are being released from the container. We had four bikes in the container, mine, Kevin's and Sylvia and Thomas bikes....a kiwi and three Swiss! After the two and a half week delay getting the bikes out of Timor we faced another 2 weeks in Darwin!!

There were delays with generating the paperwork for quarantine, and we had unwanted hitchhikers on the outside of the container, a whole party of ants, Asian king snails and spiders, this created extra work for quarantine and delays for us. The inspection of our bikes was all done in half an hour and we were all go to go except for another issue with the paperwork which threatened to hold the bikes into the weekend. Fortunately the computer system was overrun manually and we were aloud to take our babies. What a process, the sailing from Timor to Darwin is only 3 days but all up including the cleaning time it took over 5 weeks in the end!!

While waiting for the bikes we took to the road as greybeard's to explore Kakadu!!

After the crowded roads of Indonesia the empty Aussie outback roads were a dream. This was the Tamani Track between Halls creek and Alice Springs.....600km between fuel and not much else for that matter but what a fun ride blasting down this!
The crater near Halls Creek

Sadie the town camel trying to eat everything on the bike

On the phone to Safari tanks to order a new tank from the middle of the Tamani Desert, I'd already had one attempt of heading off down the Tamani Track with a patched up tank but it leaked so I headed back to the small Aboriginal town of Billuna rather than attempt a 600km run through the desert with a leaking fuel tank. I managed to get a hot spot for the cell phone and get a replacement tank dispatched to Adelaide were my mate Will would bring it up to meet me for the upcoming Simpson desert crossing. The second attempt down the Tamani and the tank started leaking again, this time I carried on and after another patch attempt in Alice Springs made it to Coober Peddy and the new tank!

Was absolutely brilliant to meet up with Will again in Coober Peddy after 7 months....and he had a much needed fuel tank!

Heading out into the Simpson via Oddanata and the Pink Roadhouse. Feeling excited at this point as we are about to attempt an unsupported crossing of the Simpson Desert. It's no easy feat involving a 500 km stretch between Fuel and water on difficult sand riding.

Fitting new Tyre's at Mount Dare station, looking for any help possible to get through the sand!

Will, we're in now, no turning back!!

With 47 litres of fuel and 22 litres of water on board the bike was heavy, a mistake and loss of momentum would result in trouble, with lots of struggling and fuel consumption to get up and moving again. The key was to keep moving as fast as possible at all costs which at times was not so easy!

When I wasn't worrying about what might go wrong out here it was an absolute blast riding in the sand, the challenging riding and the remoteness providing a real highlight and a fantastic last adventure on the way home.

The French Line in the Simpson Desert is simply a straight line bulldozed across the desert perpendicular to the dunes. Theres over a 1000 that need to be crossed!

Happy to be on the top of Big Red, the last and biggest dune we was an epic ride!

Feeling pretty happy after a successful crossing

The second big cleaning mission in Sydney, thankfully this time round the dirt came off a little easier

Re united in Auckland, I arrived at the airport in the early morning and had the customs paper work and MPI quarantine inspections done and was on my way by 4 in the afternoon, a far cry from Darwin were this process took 2 weeks.

Some short cuts on the way down the North Island, delaying the inevitable, the final few days on the road!

Calling in at the longest place name in the world

And this is it, arriving in my home town of Takaka to a great little welcoming party. It was an emotional time.  Almost 6 years after I crated the bike and sent her over to South America its back at home. 3 years of ride time and 160 000km on the DR which has done amazingly well. So many places, people, and great experiences.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Into Indo

It's taken a while to get round to posting this chapter. The time frames for travelling through indo were looking a little tighter than ideal, Indonesia is not small, the rush combined with I guess you could say a fading enthusiasm for blogging has meant that it just hasn't happened. It's a bit of a shame because i simply can't post everything worthwhile now, too big a job!

Part of the rush was driven by the fact that the document for the motorcycle was about to expire, I wanted to be in Australia to do the extension. After a skype interview in Sumatra I also got a job back home and a start date along with it. It was a bit rushed, but in a way I was happy to do this, I was starting to miss home.

First up after landing in Medan, Sumatra was to get some work done on the bike, new fork seals and fork oil, along with a new shock bearing. I only had about 6 weeks to ride Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, and onto Timor from where it is possible to ship to Darwin. Indonesia does have some great riding, but it comes with a catch, its called traffic. With 240 million people kicking about the traffic is a bit much at times. There are places where its thin and this is great, i think my favorite place was the island of Flores, partly because there is not much traffic and partly because at this point I decided to miss the container ship I was aiming for and catch the next one. It meant that it would be real tight with the documents but should be ok and it gave me a bit more time to explore the more interesting side roads.
Shipping from Timor Leste to Darwin is a popular option with overland travelers as it's a natural route from South East Asia to Australia with the shortest amount of shipping and the most riding/driving. However, like a lot of shipping it's not reliable and with a dwindling volume since the UN pulled out of Timor it's even more unreliable. It means that bikes might not even load as scheduled if there is insufficient cargo.

I thought I had eliminated these risks when at the office of SDV in Dili, they could do a "full container load" that would load, the price was good for a full 20 foot container when shared with Kevin, a fellow bike traveller on a KTM 690. We spent a week of full on cleaning to get the bikes looking spotless and hopefully satisfy the demands of the Australian Border force who have extremely strict requirements with bikes coming from SE Asia.

It was all looking good, we were in the process of strapping down the bikes in the container when someone comes out of the office and says " the schedule has changed" We head into the office to see what the deal is, next sailing in 3 weeks, wtf !! and are met with varying stories, it's clear that the real reason is avoided, but when I suggested that the ship didn't bother to dock and carried on to Darwin from Singapore they confirmed it. The boat was already delayed and stopping to put our container on and 3 others was just not worth it so they steamed on past!! Buggers. We left and went and drunk some beer in disbelief.

Sometimes things happen for a reason, you just have to roll with it and make the most of the situation. It had taken many emails but I had just managed to get bike document extension process under control, with this delay that was now not possible, but fortunately I could now get a new document sent from NZ. Also, it would now be possible to join the Horizons Unlimited travellers meeting on the nearby Island of Sumbawa which was awesome. I had time to visit a few places that I rushed through earlier, time to put my feet up for a bit, and time to write up this here blog. Right now the bikes are about to load for the second time...not holding my breath though!

Pressing a new bearing into the shock linkage with a vice

New fork seals and much needed fresh oil

Sometimes things don't go as planned...slippery log and the rear end went sideways down the bank. After removing all the bags and dragging the bike up a truck turned up and cut the log!

Lots of biker clubs in indo, mostly suped up scooters and the like

Crossing the equator, back in the better half!

Students wanting to practice there English

Haven't camped much in Indo but this spot was hard to pass up

Stayed at Rickys Beach house, what a spot, surf and then beers and guitars at night.

Nice riding on the south coast of Sumatra


Rubber trees, Indonesia produces a large amount of rubber

Fun trails to access coffee plantations

Was lucky enough to witness this green turtle laying eggs

The eggs are safely held here until they hatch and are released to the ocean

Impressive loads on these log haulers!

Crossing the Sand Sea on volcano Bromo, Java

Had a crack at leaving the mountain on this single track, turned out to be access tracks to vege farms, had to back track out.

Turning the fully loaded bike on narrow tracks on step hillsides was not so simple!

Great riding...

Passing through the island of Lombok

2 day boat trip out to the Komodo Islands

Shame about all the rubbish in's a massive problem here

A big Komodo Dragon, their  saliva is so nasty if they mange to give you a nip you will probably be dead in a few days!

The Island of Flores was my favorite in Indonesia, very little traffic and great riding!

This village was a bit out of the way, entailed a difficult stretch of single track to get there, the village people didn't really know what to think of me turning up on my bike, the kids scattered like wild deer, but by the time I left the whole village was out having a look!

Chilling at Koca beach for a couple of days

There was a road through here at some point!

Quick scramble up volcano Egon.

The round the world Ct riders, Tom, Matt, and Liam. Dili, Timor is a bit of a trap and meeting point for fellow overlanders as it is the jumping point between Asia and Australia

Massive job of cleaning the bikes to please the Australian Border Force. Spent a whole week cleaning the bike and gear

A day off cleaning and a  little outing in Dili

Antonio and the crew and Ford in Dili were a fantastic help allowing us to freely use their workshop and cleaning bay

Loading bikes in the container, at this point we had just found out that we had a 3 week delay

What an awesome time at the Horizons Unlimited travellers meeting on the Island of Sumbawa

And how cool to meet up with these guys again!!!

Some biker legends from the left is Jeffrey Polnaja, event organizer and 420 000km round the world rider, and all round great guy, next is Ted Simon, the man himself no explanation needed, and then a bunch of other legends in the making!

With the poor Dr locked up in the shipping container I rented a scooter to explore parts of Lombok

....and found some time climb mount Rinjani

The weather was a bit rough, but a good camp fire went a long way to help things out

It's sad to see so much rubbish about, these kids wanted me to pay them as guides, I didn't need a guide so employed them to help me clean up a whole bunch of rubbish from the track. There's so much crap about it's all a bit overwhelming, but together we actually had a good time and made a small difference, just hope the attitude here begins to change.

some one just got a down trowl much to someones amusment!!