Grandpa’s new adventure


Grandpa has always loved motorcycles and me and sidecars. We have had a few sidecars over the years and I must admit that they are fun and at times, much more practical than a motorbike. We got our first sidecar, a Goldwing 1000, when I was pregnant with our eldest, when for some reason we didn’t have a car. Luckily, we got a car before the birth especially as a friend crashed the Goldwing into a tree, so that was the end of that one.

The second sidecar was purchased in 1979, as a trailer load of bits of multiple Indians. Over many years it was restored into a monster of a motorcycle and still lives today. We have done many miles in that and it was at one time the ‘everyday ride’. We would pile the kids into it and go for a picnic on Sundays, as we couldn’t afford to do anything else.


Then there was the classic racing scene that another friend got us into. His father had an enviable collection of vintage and classic bikes that would make many a man drool. He had a spare 1939 Norton 500 that ‘would make an excellent sidecar ‘big wheel’ outfit’, particularly when fitted with a JAP speedway motor.


Now, long before this, we had taken a few trips to Winton, Victoria to be corner marshals at the Southern Classic races and I was amazed at all these old blokes on old bikes blasting around the race track like there was no tomorrow. Then there was the sidecars. Wow, that would be fun, I thought to myself.

So, move forward a few years and there we were at Oran Park, Amaroo Park and the inaugural meeting at Eastern Creek around 1990 with me hanging on for dear life down the main straight with the vibrations so bad I couldn’t actually hang on. I had to keep making sure that I wouldn’t shake back and fall of the back of the platform. Then we went back south for the Southern Classic, as entrants this time to Broadford. We came third and I got my only piece of silverware as a trophy. Ten laps is a long way around any racetrack, especially sliding around all the right handers.


Family life took over then, so thankfully racing was put on the backburner.

After spending so much time and money on motorcycles, we finally bought a house for our family. But Grandpa still had to get to work and ever since I had known him, he had lusted after a BMW R100/RS. That, he decided, was the only bike he could have to get to work on. So a family loan and a trade-in meant that he could finally have his wish. This was fine for a couple of years. We always had shiny bikes (as you can probably guess) and crappy old cars, not worth a cracker. Then one day, we decided to go for a holiday to South Australia. Now, the old Holden wouldn’t make it and we only had a motorbike. How could we have a family holiday?? Guess what we did! Put a sidecar on the BMW.


A small fortune was spent on changing the front end, brakes, suspension etc and adding a HRD sidecar and we were off. Now this was something different, riding a motorbike which wasn’t really a motorbike on the road and all the way to South Australia. Not to mention what the kids thought about it. We had all the mod cons, a gas bottle, a tent and some clothes. What else would you need? We had fun, not sure about the kids. We cruised through the Adelaide Hills and the race track at Mt Gambier and back home again.


The next trip was better, up through the middle of Queensland. We went to Lakeside, Mt Morgan and the Beef Road, somewhere between Dingo and Middlemount in the middle of nowhere. The kids were really impressed about that, stopping on the side of the road and telling them we had broken down. How cruel!

Child number 3 made it a bit difficult to all fit into the sidecar so it had to go, sadly. But moving forward, as they say, to 2018 and Grandpa now has a shiny new Ural outfit with reverse gear no less. What adventures we can have now. Travel the outback and to work, wherever! It is very comfy, I have tried out the sidecar seat already and will one day learn how to actually ride the thing. Yeehah!



Flinders adventure

Do you have a list of trips, holidays and adventures you are still to do? Not the Bucket List, just a ‘to-do’ list. Mine is really long and always changing. Ever since buying the 650GS’s we have planned a trip through the Flinders to see what we missed last time. Three years on it finally happened. We invited some friends as we always travel on our own and thought it would be good to share our experiences with others. Ian was keen to ride his Suzuki Vstrom but Paula declined riding her Harley on all that dirt. Fabulous friend that she is, she offered to drive the ute and carry some of our stuff. So we took the big tent, lots of nice water from our tank, some spare fuel and didn’t have to carry so much on the bikes.

We did a small reconnaissance ride at Easter to Hillston via the dirt roads and were shocked at how crap our tyres felt on the dirt roads, though the roads were pretty horrific with at least 6 inches of soft stuff. We met lots of other riders at Hillston and decided that really chunky tyres were needed. It’s amazing that we sometimes spend more money getting ready for a holiday than what we might spend on the actual holiday but boy was it worth the $1000 for these Heidenhau tyres.


We set off to Hay the first day. Now between work and kids and grandkids and other stuff, I hadn’t ridden my bike since Christmas, except around the block a couple of times and away at Easter. Plus in the month before we left my wrist had become incredibly painful. You know, when it hurts to wipe your bum or pick up the kettle. I saw the doctor and had an Xray and I finally have some old age arthritis. Crap, I was really worried about how I was going to ride for 2 weeks, luckily Nurofen helps. The first day I was so excited and happy that I didn’t get sore or bored on the highway and felt great!

The next day was 200km of flat and I mean flat tar north to Ivanhoe and then 200km of dirt to Menindee Lakes. I have had visiting Menindee Lakes on my bucket list since way before there even was such a thing as a bucket list. And when I say dirt, I mean rough, hard dirt that was great to do 80kmh for the first 105km and then it turned to bulldust. Too late to turn around now, so you slow, change down a gear and go through it. This worked most of the time until in the middle of one patch, I decided it was too hard and had a lie down.

Eventually, it got better and had some well earned beers at the pub at Menindee and camped by the dry lakes. The next day we followed the tar to Broken Hill and into South Australia and Peterborough. The greatest threat then was emus, I don’t know if they are more dangerous when they are stopped in the middle of the road or hiding on the side of the road.

We saw the strange sight of the monstrous tomato factory near Port Augusta and the sea. Then on to Quorn to find that we couldn’t stay in a pub as planned. We went to Warren Gorge to look for yellow footed rock wallabies, which was one of our missions on this trip but were not quite sure what they looked like when we spotted a likely suspect. No, we didn’t see one.

Next stop was Wilpena Pound and we were beginning to think that something was not quite right, the place was empty except for multiple school groups out for their wilderness experiences. Luckily we were too early for the ‘grey nomads’. We had a few walks around in the bush and up and down hills for the views.

The next dirt road was through Bunyeroo Valley and the road was magnificent and the views were the classic Flinders views that make you want to go there.

The colours were there and the one thing that South Australia does have is an abundance of is rocks. The creek beds were all dry (which is a good thing) so you could see where the rocks were and a gorge in SA doesn’t mean a descent of hundreds of metres down a sheer rock face and up the other side, it means, this is where a creek flows now and then. But the river gums are huge and beautiful.


We camped at Chambers Gorge on a station property where there were hundreds and probably thousands of feral goats completely eating out all the vegetation. Walking down the gorge, there were so many dead kangaroos, at first I thought it must have been wild dogs or foxes but no, they must have just starved to death. There was some impressive aboriginal rock art there telling stories of initiation ceremonies.

Then we were off to Arkaroola and the road got even better. I suppose there are not that many roads in South Australia so they have lots of time to grade the dirt ones.

Arkaroola is a private sanctuary started by a geologist who went there to look at rocks. He was a student of Douglas Mawson of Antarctic fame and was searching for uranium during WW2 for the Manhattan project according to his grandson on the epic and scary 4WD tour to Sillers Lookout.

They were able to get rid of thousands of goats, foxes, cats and rabbits so that we saw a dozen yellow footed rock wallabies here. I had fun doing some of the walks there and the views were so good looking east to the salt Lake Frome.

It always happens that the 4WD gets the flat tyre so we went to Copley to be sure of getting the right spare and a Quandong pie.


From there it was back down the Stuart highway to Parachilna for a feral burger, ‘eat more goat’, became my motto for the trip.

Parachilna Gorge is the end (or beginning) of the Heysen walking trail, all the way from the coast south of Adelaide  1000km or so away, that remains for another adventure.

A small detour to Beltana and a rough farm track south brought us back to Hawker then Orroroo and THE BEST pies in Australia. We finally got our pub night at Burra, our first ethnic cuisine of the trip, an Indonesian restaurant and Guinness.


So now we were heading back home. The weather forecast was looking like rain in a couple of days at our planned camp at Yanga National park at Balranald, so we headed straight through from Burra for a relaxing night camping by the Murrumbidgee River. Too bad, it rained overnight so the tents were wet and was drizzling most of the next day, then turned to rain after Narrandera. So a motel it was at Wagga Wagga. There was more rain and cold the next day, after near perfect weather the whole trip it’s not too bad for the last day or two. We stopped at our daughter’s place near Boroowa that night and Ian and Paula continued on home. This was our opportunity to try out our tyres on mud for the first time on their drive in, they grip really well on mud too.

We did over 4000km and had so much fun, I at least feel so much more confident on any dirt roads now. That is not to say that it is easy or enjoyable, on the road to Menindee Lakes, I was screaming a myself, ”What do you think you are doing you stupid bitch??” but it’s all fun when you are finished and are telling stories….Till next time.