Tag Archives: Melbourne

A Fork In The Road

Hey, hey. Well a week since my last post, it’s been all systems go as I start packing up my Melbourne apartment, ready to move on. Life’s become a whirlwind of op shop runs, Cash Converters dashes, and other cross-city errands to sell, trade or otherwise offload the vast majority of my material possessions. Furniture, car, household goods…all are gradually being “re-located” to new owners. And all I can think is: How the hell did I end up with so much stuff?!

Which way next?

Which way next?

Happily, Volty’s been keeping me sane – regular daily rides down the coast are my “Happy Pill”, as I feel the sea breeze through my helmet and riding jacket, and enjoy the sensation of freedom on the road all over again.

I’m making the most of these rides. I’m still undecided about whether to do a cross-Oz trip on the bike or head to Spain to cook up a whole new two-wheeled adventure exploring Europe and Africa. But right now, it has to be said, Europe’s looking like the more viable – and cost-effective – option. And that being the case… it means I’ll have to sell my beloved Suzuki in a couple of weeks. This is of course gutting – regular readers will know how much I love my TU250X – but having looked into shipping/freighting options, I just don’t think I can afford to take the bike with me. 😦

On the up-side, once I’m in Andalucía I’ll hopefully be able to buy the new bike I’ve already got my eye on – the sturdy, characterful Suzuki Van Van – which hopefully will be the start of lots of new moto adventures! 🙂

At this fork in the road, I’m excited about what’s to come but also rather trepidatious about which road to take. It’ll be another week or so before I finally make up my mind – I’m going to enjoy the Adventure Travel Film Festival next weekend and then see how I feel after mingling with the great and good of the adventure world!

Whichever path I choose, I can’t wait to be out in the world again, exploring new places, meeting new people, and soaking up lots of fresh life experiences. Bring it on! 

A Place To Hatch New Adventures

Mondo Enduro’s Austin Vince regaling the crowds at the 2012 Festival

As many of you know, in recent months I’ve been helping set up the 2013 Australian Adventure Travel Film Festival. I went to the inaugural Festival in Bright, Victoria, earlier this year and had the best time mingling with the great and good of the Aussie and international adventuring world and watching some truly inspiring adventure travel films:


Well, I enjoyed it so much that when asked if I’d lend a hand with the next one, I was only too keen! Brit motorbike adventurers Austin Vince and Lois Pryce, curators of the Festival, are coming back to Oz again 15-17 February 2013 – and this time the line-up of films and speakers is going to be even better, oh yes! Just take a look at who’s already confirmed:


I can’t think of a better way to spend a long weekend than soaking up some amazing scenery, hanging out with motorbikers and adventurers of all persuasions, watching great adventure travel films, swapping adventure stories and generally getting inspired to dream up new plans. Plus it all centres around the Bright Brewery – which is actually being refurbished and enlarged this year, just for us! – a suitable watering-hole indeed for such a glorious gathering.

Tickets are on sale now and selling like hot cakes already. So don’t delay – when they’re gone, they’re gone! http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/buy-tickets/

Hope to see you there, folks! Come say hello. 🙂

Solo But Never Alone

More fuel? Yes, please!

It’s been a little while since my last post – sorry, guys! After getting my new wheels at the beginning of August, I’ve been out riding every spare moment and revelling in my re-discovered freedom. Volty and I have clocked up over 1,000kms this past month, exploring coastal Victoria from the gorgeous wine valleys and beachside villages of the Mornington Peninsula to my favourite local ride, the scenic and wonderfully twisty Great Ocean Road.

The novelty of owning a brand new bike really hasn’t worn off. I know it sounds silly, but my Suzuki TU250X is the first thing I’ve owned since my beloved 1973 VW Beetle (back in London over 10 years ago!) that I’m really rather proud of. And just as happened when I owned the Vee-Dub, everywhere I go on Volty I seem to make friends.

Neighbours who previously never acknowledged me now give me a friendly nod or wave when they see me donning my helmet and gloves as Volty’s engine warms up in the communal garage. At roadside cafés or petrol stations, total strangers come over to chat, admiring the Suzuki’s classic retro-style look or telling me they wish they were on two wheels on “a lovely day like this”. At traffic lights, car drivers wind down their windows to chat to me as we wait for green – and yes, it turns out there are some bike-friendly motorists! (probably closet motorcycle riders…)

“Arty” shot of Volty’s front wheel in the sunshine

On the road, the “biker’s nod” from other motorcyclists still gives me a little boost every time it happens. By getting back on a motorbike, I’ve re-gained my automatic membership to a very special secret society: It doesn’t matter what you ride, it just matters that you ride. I like that. Today, about 20 balaclava-ed Harley riders on bikes five times the size of mine nodded and tooted and thumbs-upped to me, one after the other – quite a sight, I can tell you! As they roared off down the coast in the opposite direction, I gave Volty a quick burst on the throttle for good measure, buoyed up all over again.

By its very nature, motorcycling is a solitary activity – but it’s just about the most sociable thing I’ve ever done in my life.

This sunny Sunday morning, I stopped off at the Sandown Racecourse to say hi to my old Ridetek riding instructors, Mel and Al. Two years ago, they saw me through my heady days as a wobbly scooter rider right through to passing my test on a 250cc motorbike. As we stood talking in the warm sunshine, admiring Volty’s sparkling chrome and gleaming bronze paintwork, I thanked the guys yet again for putting me on a road that now gives me so much happiness and enjoyment.

Before I became a motorcycle rider, I didn’t know what I was missing – but now, I wouldn’t be without it for the world. 

Oh and to any non-riders reading this, wondering what on earth I’m talking about but thinking it sounds damn good – go get yourself a motorbike licence: it will change your life! 🙂

1,000 Steps – The Kokoda Memorial Trail

A rather apt sign at the beginning of the 1000-step climb!

After a couple of muddy, soggy weekends on the motorbike, today I strapped on my hiking boots and a Camelbak and headed off to tackle one of Melbourne’s most challenging walks.

The Kokoda Memorial Trail, also known as the “1000 Steps”, is a daunting hike up 2.5km of extremely steep, slippery steps, twisting and turning through dense forest in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. As its name suggests, the trail is actually a memorial to the Aussie soldiers who fought and died on the notorious Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in World War II. I’ve vowed one day to hike the actual 100-km PNG track (I’ll need to be a LOT fitter first, though!). Meantime, the 1000 Steps climb has given me just a small taste of what might be to come…

As I puff and heave myself up dozens of stony steps, slipping and sliding on damp autumn leaves and breathless in the humid forest air, I pass plaques depicting the lives of the soldiers who fought in Papua. I try to imagine what it must have been like for those guys doing such a steep trek, weighed down with equipment and fearing that at any moment the enemy might come charging out of the jungle on either side. As I pause to catch my breath, something bursts suddenly out of the foliage and my heart skips a beat… Phew, it’s ok – just a startled lyrebird foraging about in the undergrowth.

Halfway up the climb, my legs are killing me. (Note to self: need to do more lunges and squats at the gym!) My limbs are hurting big time, my throat is burning, and my heart is pounding. But the sight of every plaque spurs me on – hell, if those soldiers can do it, so can I! Other fitter climbers overtake me at speed but I’m too puffed out to care – and besides, I’m appreciating the scenery….

Kokoda Memorial Plaque

Oh the blessed relief when, on shaky legs, I make it up those final steps to the top. Taking rest in a clearing, it’s only a few minutes that I can really appreciate what a unique hike it is, made all the more worthwhile by its invocations of those brave souls of yesteryear. With Anzac Day just around the corner, it feels like a fitting and timely thing to have done.

And yes, one day I still hope to do the real Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea – but not until I’ve had a helluva lot more fitness training and preparation first!

Aussie Formula One Grand Prix 2012

Australia's answer to the Red Arrows - the Roulettes - put on a brilliant aerobatics display

Well I’ve had a brilliant weekend enjoying the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. I’ve been living in Melbourne for nearly three years now, and taken many a Sunday stroll around glorious Albert Park. But till now, I’ve never been to what is arguably Melbourne’s biggest international sporting event (and this city hosts some pretty big events, let me tell you!).

The vibe here this weekend has been amazing, as Melburnians, Aussies from further afield and overseas visitors all descend on the city for a weekend of fast cars and fun.

The day of the race dawned sunny and warm and, on a whim, I found myself joining the throng queueing for a general admission ticket to sprawl on the grass by the track. Albert Park was transformed, barely recognisable as the scene of my quiet lakeside weekend walks. It was a hive of activity, buzzing with hospitality tents, food stalls and crowds of people of all ages having a good time.

The Roulettes (Oz’s answer to the British Red Arrows) dazzled with a brilliant aerobatic display above the track. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved going to airshows and when the Hornet did its customary fly-past at the end of the display, my child-like excitement was complete. That is, until a huge Qantas 747 glided over, far lower than any large jet aircraft really should over a city – a breath-taking sight!

After the big build-up, there was a sudden roar of engines as the racing cars sped away from the start line, and the race was on. The noise was deafening as the cars’ multiple high-pitched whines filled the air above Albert Park for well over an hour and a half. Brit driver Jenson Button won by a whisker – but the crowd was congratulating local boy Mark Webber who, coming fourth, excelled all his previous Aussie GP performances: result!

I’m not a “city person” – but this weekend, Melbourne really came into its own and proved that when it comes to putting on an event, it’s a city that’s second to none.