Tag Archives: motorcycling

Aussie Adventure Travel Film Festival 2013

Yes, our limited edition ATFF T-shirts were on sale!

Yes, our limited edition ATFF T-shirts sold like hot cakes!

Well its been another busy and exciting time at this year’s Adventure Travel Film Festival in Victoria’s beautiful Alpine region. Despite the threat of bush fires, which have been ravaging the land barely 25km down the road, here in Bright our only worries have been keeping hydrated and sun-creamed up in the searing heat!

Jon Muir signs books after his talk

Jon Muir signs books after his talk

Our festival organiser Rupert did us proud this year with a superb line-up of speakers. TIm Cope and Jon Muir returned for a second year to jam-pack the big (sweaty!) marquee with those eager to hear more of their incredible exploits. Tim’s stories of his time living with locals in Mongolia were truly mesmerising, and Jon’s tales of walking solo across the Aussie Outback and wanting to push himself to the limits of endurance had me marvelling all over again at the sheer balls of the guy!

Lisa and Simon enjoying a cold beer in the Brewery

Lisa and Simon enjoying a cold beer in the Brewery

2RideTheWorld Brit motorcyclists Lisa and Simon Thomas were probably my favourite speakers this year, giving a really entertaining insight into life on the road as a motorcycling couple. They’re both really down to earth, no pretensions, and their “anyone-can-do-it” story really did endear them to the crowds, I think. It was great poring over their bike, wondering where each little dent and mud-splatter might have happened… Still can’t believe they’ve ridden over 400,000kms through 77 countries. Brilliant stuff.

I also loved hearing Kate Leeming talk about her epic cycle across Africa from West to East through the Congo – a tale of true daring if ever there was one. And Melbourne-born Eric Phillips is proof that you really don’t have to come from a freezing cold country to be a polar explorer extraordinaire – his talk was also fascinating.

Kate Leeming and Eric Phillips outside the marquee

Kate Leeming and Eric Phillips outside the marquee

And the adventure travel films really were top-notch this year again – too many to list, but my personal favourites were the golden oldie 1933 epic solo motorcycle adventure Twice Upon A Caravan and Congo kayaking epic Mazungu (both shown as starlight screenings out in the balmy open air, wonderful).

Austin and Lois at the registration tent

Austin and Lois welcome punters at the registration tent

As ever, the festival was hosted by the affable Lois Pryce and Austin Vince who once again lent their special brand of informality and good humour to stamp this event with its unique trademark. They’ve curated all this year’s films and have a genuine and excitable enthusiasm about each and every one, which is truly infectious, I can tell you.

And that’s the key to the success of the Adventure Travel Film Festival, I think. This year, I was the Aussie festival’s chief “spruiker” (Lois will love me for using that word!), drumming up press and publicity for an event which last year had me so excited as an attendee, as I mingled with like-minded adventurous types, sharing stories of the road and planning new ones over lashings of cold beer. I’ve really enjoyed being involved this time round and I’m already thinking hard about how I can wangle it so I can attend the UK one in August! 🙂

Adventure Travel Film Festival UK, 16-18 August 2013:

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/uk-festival/

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! 

New Year, New Adventures…

So here’s the thing. Christmas Day, I’m sitting at home staring down the barrel of yet another year spent thinking about lots of adventures I desperately want to do but can’t afford. Maybe it’s the rather nice Spanish jerez I’m sculling, but from somewhere very deep within something suddenly clicks: Fuck it, life’s too short. If you keep waiting till you have enough money, you’ll be sitting here till Doomsday! Within the week, I’ve handed in notice on my TV job (much to the chagrin of my employer!), on my rented Bayshore apartment…in short, on four years of life in Melbourne. That’s it – I’m off!

So what’s the plan, I hear you cry?! Well…Let’s just say it’s evolving by the day. No, really. First task is to drastically “downsize”. That means clearing out the contents of my flat, putting personal items into storage, selling the car, the furniture, getting rid of the cat… (oh hang on a minute, scrub that last one – I don’t have a cat!).

Plan #1: Head off across Oz on Volty?

Plan #1: Head off across Australia on Volty?

Then, somewhere swirling in the back of my brain – as yet not fully formed – is “The Plan”. Well, it’s two plans, actually. First is to take off with minimal luggage on my beloved Volty – yes, the Suzuki TU250X that has been my absolute joy and salvation since I purchased it a few months ago. I’ve put nearly 5,000kms on it from new so it’s well and truly run in, and I’ve got this idea of a kind of “last gasp Australia”, in which I’ll head across the country for an indeterminate amount of time and actually experience some of this vast continent I’ve been living in for the last few years.

Plan #2: Head across Europe on a Suzuki Van Van?

Plan #2: Explore Europe and beyond on a Suzuki Van Van              Photo ⓒ Suzuki (promotional)

Then again… After such a long time in Oz, I’ve a real hankering to head east for a while, to Europe. I’m craving history, culture, old buildings, speaking foreign languages, joie de vivre! After a couple of trips to Andalucía last year, I’m thinking of going back to hatch a plan that – surprise, surprise – also involves una moto! I’ve been looking at a particular motorbike there – the Suzuki Van Van – and reading about people crossing the Alps, Mongolia and other far-flung places on just such a bike. It looks like a kind of “off-road” version of Volty, with chunkier wheels and a more rugged set-up, and I’m thinking what an adventure it would be to buy one and ride through Europe, North Africa and beyond…

So there it is. I’d love to tell you the plan is more formed than it actually is, but there’s something rather delicious (if bloody scary!) about making it up as I go. Which plan I’ll plump for (or maybe I’ll do both!), I have no idea just now. All I know is, 26th Feb I have to vacate my apartment and hand back the keys once and for all – so I guess I’d better make my mind up by then, eh?! Maybe you guys can help me decide…

PS For anyone who’s wondering, yes I will still be at the Adventure Travel Film Festival 15-17 Feb! I’ve been working hard on the press and PR for it and wouldn’t miss it for the world! Come join us for a weekend of adventure and cold beer! 🙂

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/

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:

https://jeaniedavison.com/2012/02/26/adventure-travel-film-festival-2012/

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:

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/added-attractions/

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! 🙂

The Call Of The Open Road

My new pride and joy at a coffee stop on our first ride

As some of you already know, I received news at the weekend that UNICEF have had to cancel our India motorcycle adventure. This came out of the blue and for those of us on the team who were already getting excited about the trip, it’s been a huge blow. It was a hard decision for UNICEF, but ultimately they weren’t able to recruit enough team members to make the trip financially viable. Such a shame.

With uncanny timing, the news from UNICEF coincided with the day of delivery of my new Suzuki motorbike – a gorgeous new retro-style TU250X – and being back on two wheels again has compensated somewhat for the India trip being shelved.

A 100-km spin down the coast round Phillip Bay on a beautiful sunny Sunday was enough to get me out of my funk and remind me that the simple pleasures in life are really what count. A couple of hours on the bike and the world opened up to me again. It’s true what they say: motorcycling really is good for the soul. 

“Volty”‘s odometer on delivery – time to put some miles on that clock, eh?!

The Melbourne weather hasn’t exactly been conducive to riding this week – freezing temperatures, hailstones and gales: always favourites with the biker! But that hasn’t stopped me turning my thoughts already to longer trips on the motorbike. With India fading from my mind, new adventures are starting to fill my head, the maps are back out on the table, and my head is racing again with possibilities.

One adventure may have gone away, but rest assured another is already being warmed up. Watch this space… 🙂

Long Way Across India: Our Route

Route-planning for our Classic India Adventure

This week, in addition to wrangling filming kit for our India trip, I’ve been sizing up the route we’ll be taking across this vast country. There’s nothing quite like poring over maps to get the adventurous juices flowing!

Our journey will take us through more than 1,000km of South India, across three of the country’s most spectacular regions – Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. We’ll be skirting inland lagoons and lakes, traversing reserves teeming with tigers, and tackling the steep jungle ascents of the Western Ghat mountain range. Descriptions of our route conjure up magical images – elephants, monkeys and bears, beautiful wetlands and backwaters, ancient monuments and temples, gorgeous sweeping mountain vistas, and hot, dusty plains. Even the place names have a mystique about them – Bandipur, Mudumallai, Kodaikanal, Masinagudi, Ooty…

South India - UNICEF route

Our intended route through South India

South India’s going to be a really exciting and unpredictable place to travel through, especially in the way we have chosen – using classic motorbikes and cars synonymous with travel in India. We’ve already been warned about the changeable weather, unforeseen roadblocks and numerous other obstacles that may force us to veer off our intended route. Throw in erratic road rules and towns and villages teeming with chaotic activity – people and animals everywhere! – and it’s certainly going to be an expedition that will require all our stamina and sense of humour.

Thinking about filming, I’m excited at the prospect of shooting in such a diverse and colourful country. It looks like there’ll be no shortage of extraordinary places to capture on film – not to mention the exploits of our intrepid team as we encounter daily adventures. I’m also looking forward to visiting the UNICEF project in Mysore – a chance to see how the money we’ve fundraised is being used to help kids in need.

As Charley says: “There’ll be long days on the road and we’ll be pushed to our limits on some sections. But we’ll have lots of time to take in the fantastic journey and experience all India has to offer.”

Yup Charley, I can’t wait to be on the road tackling everything India has to throw at us – bring it on!

Ambassadors & Royal Enfields

With preps and fundraising for our UNICEF India Adventure well underway, this weekend I’ve been reading up about the cars and bikes we’ll be using on our epic 1,000-km roadtrip. As both a car and bike enthusiast, one of the key drawcards of this particular adventure was the chance to be part of a rally of classic motorbikes and motor cars – and by all accounts, the Enfields and Ambassadors are as classic as they come.

Cruising India astride a Royal Enfield Bullet

Some of the team, including Charley and Marc, will be riding 350cc Royal Enfield Bullets. Originally launched in the UK in 1949, the Bullet came to be used by the Indian government from 1955 as a bike for its police and army to patrol its country’s rugged border areas. Now based in Chennai, Royal Enfield is the oldest motorbike brand in the world still in production. The Bullet’s excellent pedigree bodes well for some of the more challenging parts of our route across Southern India – and for Charley, it will certainly be a very different kind of ride from his more customary 1200 Beemer GS!

The trusty Ambassador on the road in India

The rest of the team will be driving 1950s-style Hindustan Ambassadors. Originally based on the British Morris Oxford III model (1948), the “Ambi” (as it’s fondly known) is now considered a quintessentially Indian car, dubbed “the king of Indian roads”. Although they look quite sturdy, their engines are only apparently capable of 37 horsepower and their handling is generally thought to be “temperamental” at best – so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare in some of the mountainous and unpredictable terrain we’ll encounter in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
                                                                                                          Reading up about these brilliant cars and bikes, I can’t wait to be on the road in India to see how these classic vehicles – not to mention their riders/drivers – hold up! It seems pretty inevitable that we’re going to have some challenges along the way, given the ever-changing terrain and the unique handling styles needed for these cars and bikes – but hey, that’s all part of the adventure!
                                                                                                                             

Gearing Up For India

Filming the UNICEF Sahara Trek in 2010

As you’ll know from my last post, I had a great time in London and I’ve returned to Melbourne with lots of excitement about our India Adventure. This has been tempered by the inevitable anecdotes from people about how crazy the roads are in India – not to mention tales of near-misses or crashes in cars and on bikes that seem to be par for the course in that part of the world. So I’m approaching our roadtrip with a healthy mix of anticipation and trepidation – well it is an adventure, after all!

After get-togethers with Charley and UNICEF in the UK, I’ve realised there’s actually quite a lot of prep – not to mention fundraising! – to do in the next few months. So I’m making the most of a long weekend here in Oz to start hatching plans for wrangling gear for the trip and getting support from companies who may be able to help me out with the things that we need.

Right now I’m compiling a kit list – potential equipment, including camera (video and stills), tripods, GoProsⓇ and so on for filming and otherwise documenting the adventure. During my rendezvous with Charley, we compared notes about various filming techniques and ideas – including using Spot Tracker GPS or similar on the trip, so that people can follow our journey as it unfolds on the ground in India.

It’s always a trade-off between taking enough gear to properly cover the event and not getting bogged down with stacks of fancy kit. I’ll be stowing it all in the back of an old Ambassador, which isn’t renowned for its huge luggage space, so I’ll need to be clever about what I end up taking.

Setting up for a shot of Team UNICEF tackling a steep ridge in Morocco (as my trusty porter Mohamed looks on!)

Plus, there are particular challenges on this trip that didn’t come up when I filmed our last UNICEF adventure in the Sahara Desert. On that trip, with everyone trekking on foot within a relatively short distance, it wasn’t too tricky to film – I could see the entire group and catch up with particular individuals and happenings at any given moment. This time, we’ll be a convoy of cars and motorbikes potentially strung out over a fair distance (albeit contained by a leader vehicle, sweepers, support crew etc) – and, of course, moving vehicles always require particular tricks and techniques when it comes to filming. I just need to make sure I’ve got a plan of action and the kit to cover it all, so I don’t miss all the good stuff!

So, lots to plan – but it’s all good. Half the fun of any adventure is the preparation, eh? 🙂

Classic Indian Adventure with Charley Boorman

Jeanie Davison, Producer
Sahara Trek, 2010

Back in 2010, Long Way Round producer Russ Malkin and I took part in a trek across the Sahara Desert on the Morocco-Algeria border to raise money for UNICEF. I filmed, photographed and blogged about the adventure for the charity and had a brilliant time doing it.

So more than a year on, I’m excited to announce my next UNICEF adventure. On 30th November 2012, I’ll be undertaking a 1,000-km journey across Southern India. There’ll be a group of us, including the indefatigable Charley Boorman (Long Way Round, By Any Means, Extreme Frontiers) and Motor Cycle News editor Marc Potter, riding Royal Enfield motorbikes and driving classic 1950s Ambassador motor cars.

Starting in Port Kochi, we’ll head north along Kerala’s coast and then inland to Mysore on a challenging route that will see us tackling everything from dense tiger-infested jungle, hairy switchback mountain roads, chaotic villages, and incredible tropical backwaters. We’ll also be visiting a UNICEF project or two along the way, to see how the money we raise is being put to good use delivering life-saving projects for children in India.

Charley Boorman, UNICEF Ambassador
ⓒ By Any Means/Big Earth, with thanks

Once again, I’ll be filming, photographing, blogging and Tweeting about the adventure for UNICEF, including plenty of updates and insights from Charley and Marc. For me, this is a huge undertaking – not just to plan the coverage and wrangle kit for the event, but also to find sponsors, both individual and corporate. This time, I’ve pledged to raise around £4,500 before we set off.

Looking forward to sharing this adventure with you all. India awaits!

Jeanie

Miss-Adventures On A Motorcycle

Ready for the road!

So this Easter weekend, having postponed a bigger adventure trip overseas until I can save a bit more cash, I decided to make the best of things down home and venture out on a few local mini-adventures on the bike. On a whim, I got up on an overcast Easter morning and headed off down the coast towards the beautiful Otway Forest…

Trouble is, being spontaneous can have its downsides. First up, I didn’t check the weather forecast – which under normal circumstances isn’t so bad, but on this particular day I was barely an hour into the trip when exceptionally gusty winds and hailstones forced me to stop by the side of the road. Sitting in the saddle with no shelter, while the elements gave me a solid drenching, I looked to the heavens cursing my lack of foresight.

As the rain eased, I started off once more but it was turning into the mini-adventure from hell when, rounding a hairpin bend dead slow, unable to see properly through my visor for the rain, I felt the back wheel slip and yup…down I went. It wasn’t a big off but already deflated by the weather, I struggled to get the bike upright, skidding and sliding in some surface mud that seemed to have appeared from nowhere underneath my wheels.

Back on the road, I battled the elements for another couple of hours, following the windy coast road through bend after bend, until – joy of joys – I saw a coffee place at the side of the road and parked up for a vat of hot java and a cake. Warmed and with renewed gusto for my journey, I jumped on the bike, pressed the starter button and – nothing. Really, nothing. Oh shit. Bugger. They say things come in threes – this was the third thing.

But as always on the road, someone appeared out of nowhere to save the day. A guy on a gleaming Ducati spotted my problem (or more accurately, heard me swearing at the bike!) and came over to assist. I’ve no idea what the problem was – I was too sodden with rain to care at that point – but he got me going again and in a flourish of shiny red metal was gone!

Hours later, after a day battling the elements on two wheels, I arrived back home just as the sun started to shine brilliantly over the bay. Of course. Rain-saturated, muddy and over it, I settled on my sofa with a large glass of wine. An episode of Long Way Round (the one with all the mud and shit in Mongolia) was enough to get my day back in perspective. You win some, you lose some, eh?!

What Makes An Adventure Traveller?

Jon Muir and Tim Cope (with adoring companion Tigon!) at the Adventure Travel Film Festival

At last weekend’s Adventure Travel Film Festival, I spent a brilliant few days hanging out with fellow adventurous spirits from far and wide. Some were high-profile adventurers like Tim Cope, Jon Muir, Lois Pryce and Austin Vince. But many were unknown explorers, trekkers, mountaineers, motorcyclists, rock-climbers, off-roaders, overlanders, kayakers… ordinary people with an insatiable hunger to see the world or experience the great outdoors in its broadest sense.

It struck me what a diverse group we all were. No “type”, no particular age, height or build. Adventurers, it seems, come in all shapes and sizes.

Some are super-fit athletes for whom physical endeavour and achievement is a huge part of what drives them. For others, it’s the compulsive desire to break away from the  “nine to five” and propel themselves into unknown places and cultures – to learn in some way about the world and the people that inhabit it. For others still, it’s the need to get back to basics, to live “off the grid” and escape the stresses and trappings of modern “civilised” life – to experience “life in the raw.”

In fact, the more time I spent talking to people at the festival, the more reasons I heard as to why certain individuals give up the safety of the sofa, whether for a weekend or a lifetime.

But there was, I think, a uniting theme. In their own unique ways, most of these people had gone out there and DONE IT. Not just talked about an adventure, but actually given it a go. I met one couple in their 50s just back from a week motorcycling in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains – they’d always wanted to do it but weren’t sure they’d be up to the long days of gruelling off-road riding in desert heat. Now they have the photos to prove they did it, and boy do they look good! At the other end of the scale, adventurer Jon Muir talked about his solo trek across Australia – it took him FOUR attempts, but he said failure was all part of the adventure and it was something he just had to do. (This from the guy whose first thought when he arrived at the top of Everest was that he desperately needed a piss and a cigarette!).

Jeanie trekking the Sahara (2010) - one of my all-time dream adventures!

It was an inspiring weekend and I certainly came back with renewed vigour to keep pursuing my own adventures whenever and wherever I can (I’m cooking up another one for Easter, yeeha!).

And I’d say to anyone that thinks they’re too unfit, too old, too cash-strapped, too tied-down, or too scared for adventure – think again! People like you are out there dreaming up and then pursuing their own challenges great and small. You don’t have to break a world record or be the first to do something (although if you do, big respect to you!).  Your adventure is unique to you, so own it – then get out there and do it!

You won’t regret it, I certainly haven’t.

And you can check out a video report on the Festival right here (keep an eye out for yours truly!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqv5qAe4XPE&feature=youtu.be

Adventure Travel Film Festival 2012

Mondo Enduro's Austin Vince regales us with his wit and charm at the opening drinks!

Hey there! I’m writing this from the Adventure Travel Film Festival in beautiful Bright, a small country town in Victoria’s Alpine region about four hours out of Melbourne. For three days in this picture-postcard setting, the air has been filled with the sound of people talking adventure, regularly punctuated by the vroom of yet another motorcycle rolling into town to join the throng.

It’s the first time the festival’s been held in Australia and if this weekend’s anything to go by, I really hope it comes back next year. It’s being hosted by the affable Austin Vince of Mondo Enduro fame and his adventure motorcycling other half, Lois Pryce, and has been a veritable smorgasbord (I never use that word, but it’s absolutely appropriate here!) of adventure films, talks, and general waxing-lyrical about all things adventure.

This weekend, I’ve met some of my adventure heroes: Lois Pryce, whose motorbike travels in Africa inspired me to get my bike licence; Tim Cope, the Aussie adventurer whose travels through Mongolia, Russia, Kazahstan and Siberia have long had me wanting to visit those parts of the world; and Jon Muir, legendary mountaineer and explorer who amongst many feats has walked solo and unsupported across Australia. All gave inspiring and entertaining talks about their adventures – their motivations, the highs and lows, the rewards and the challenges. All had one clear message: you have to grab life NOW, don’t wait for “the right time” or worry you’re not good enough, JUST DO IT!

The Festival organisers sported these very fetching Italian Job-style jumpsuits throughout the event - where can I get one?

I’ve seen an amazing array of films here. My favourites are Riding Solo To The Top of The World, about an Indian guy who rode his Royal Enfield Bullet to the highest motorable road in the world, and Back Of Beyond, a classic film about a crazy truck journey across the remote Aussie Outback. Austin Vince’s Mondo Enduro and Jon Muir’s Alone Across Australia have also been brilliant viewing.

Soaking up the vibe in beautiful Bright over the long (and scorching!) weekend, it’s been wonderful to mix with adventurers of all shapes and sizes, amateur and professional, from weekend biker to long-distance expeditioner. You can tell everyone here has been really inspired by the films and the speakers – and for my part, it’s been brilliant spending time with like-minded people who are all adventurous spirits and have the wanderlust riddled through their souls like I do!

As the festival comes to a close and we head to Bright Brewery for one last witbier, I’m absolutely sure many new adventures will be hatched as a result of this inspiring weekend.

Doing The Dakar

Desert signpost, Morocco

My whole life, I’ve wanted to take part in a motoring rally across Africa. From an early age, I remember seeing footage of the legendary Dakar Rally and marvelling at the sheer adventure and excitement of it.

The Dakar today is an incredible feat of endurance for bikers and motorists from all over the world – you only have to watch Charley Boorman’s excellent Race To Dakar documentary series to see that. But the Dakar is phenomenally expensive to take part in and the preparation for it takes months, if not years.

While I’m pretty sure I’ll never do the REAL Dakar (though I never say never…!), I’m still intent on doing something like it – and soon! Right now, I’m looking at The Dakar Challenge: http://www.dakarchallenge.co.uk/challenge/timbuktu+challenge/ which is billed as the “alternative Dakar” for those who want a tough challenge but also to have adventures along the way. And there are heaps of other Africa-based motoring events that have caught my eye. Which one to choose??

I’ll need to find a co-driver: a like-minded person (male or female) who buzzes at the thought of a challenging motoring adventure across the wilds of Africa. That’s assuming it’s a car rally, of course – now that I’m a fully-fledged biker, I can’t help wondering now if two wheels is the way to go…

So, watch this space. Life’s too short to put off dreams: and I fully intend to fulfill this one as soon as I can.

Taken part in a rally across Africa? Can you recommend a good one? I’d love to hear about it – just post a comment below!

Jeanie’s previous adventures on four wheels and two:

https://jeaniedavison.com/2011/02/11/lesotho-4wd-adventure/

https://jeaniedavison.com/2010/06/23/australian-desert-adventure/

https://jeaniedavison.com/motorcycling/

Riding The Great Ocean Road

Jeanie and cruiser on the Great Ocean Road, Australia

The Great Ocean Road, about an hour out of Melbourne, is just perfect for motorcycling. Today, my Suzuki Marauder cruiser was positively humming as we snaked along the coastal road, ocean on one side, dense forest on the other, soaking up the sunshine, at one with the elements.

I’ve done the route loads of times by car, but you really can’t beat doing it on a bike. The route winds through pretty villages like Lorne and Apollo Bay – great stop-offs to pull over, grab some hot coffee, and contemplate the gorgeous views out to sea. It really is biker’s heaven, with seemingly endless kilometres of road hugging the cliffs, then plunging down to the seashore, twisting and turning with satisfying curves that can only truly be appreciated on a motorcycle.

I’m very lucky: the route is only about 90 minutes’ ride from where I live, so I get to do it every few weekends if I want to (and believe me, I do!). But if you’re a biker visiting Oz and looking for a beautiful ride, put The Great Ocean Road on your list: I promise, it won’t disappoint.

Got a favourite motorcycling route? Share it by posting a comment below.

Or click on the Motorcycling tab above to read more about Jeanie’s motorcycling exploits.