Words by Maral Yazarloo
Photos by Pankaj Trivedi
Pankaj’s family resides in Melbourne and he left India two days earlier than me to spend time with them. As I landed in Melbourne, my most dreaded fears proved true! I realised ‘Winter is coming’ in Australia and the journey started on a difficult note for me. I have always hated cold weather and here I was, Down Under, all set to ride a bike in the vast open land of kangaroos.
Insisting on putting the heater on in our car, we made it home safe and warm. Now, another challenge lay ahead of us – getting the customs to clear our steeds! Australian custom officers are not really known to be lenient with imported vehicles. Paying $620 upfront, we got our carnets and the bike keys, although the process took another 24 hours for clearance.
The next day, we were asked to visit the ‘quarantine’ area of the shipping yard. Being Indians, we had done jugaad and shipped our two bikes as a single shipment (saving us $620, you see!). However, it required an additional inspection fee of $80. Neverthless, the $540 that we saved was more than enough to compensate for the trips that we had to take back and forth between the customs office and quarantine. Apparently, they are stricter with sea shipments. Who the heck cares; we had our bikes and were all set to venture in to unexplored territories!
Indonesia had been harsh on the BMWs and a couple of things had gone kaput on our bikes, including ABS. The labour costs in the garage were estimated at $130/hour and the total process would take more than 48 hours, we were told! Go figure. That reminded me that I am not really fond of ABS. I could even do without a tacho and speedo with such steep pricing. I kissed my Beemer and promised to pamper it after we head to USA in the next leg. And then we were on the road.
And what a time to be on the road! The maximum temperature during the day was hovering at just 10-degree Celsius, which would drop down to freezing cold by late evening. Thankfully, there were no rains! To top it all, most of the roads out of Melbourne were under construction. Also, the traffic is not too different compared to our metros. We took four hours to cover just 50km! And at the end of the day, it was cold and dark and we were in the middle of no where. But in Australia, that is regular fare. This is the time when I wanted the temperature gauge to stop working, but that was never the case and it kept reminding me of the severity of cold. We ended up in a quiet motel lodge, which was unnamed. Australia is strange.
Over the next few days, we rode every day; from Melbourne to Morwell, Macksville, Balina and Eden, enroute to Sydney. We preferred to take scenic coastal routes instead of monotonous highways. Google Maps was our saviour here as we sailed through beautiful countryside, small cafes and all that nature has to offer. We also chatted with a few kangaroos and alpacas on our way. And this is when we realised that we had found home.
We rode through Sydney, then headed north towards Byron Bay, Gold Coast and Brisbane. The next day some Indian friends met us at an organic café called ‘The Farm’, where everything they serve on the menu is grown or reared on the farm itself. We also visited the pristine beaches of the famed Gold Coast. I wasn’t freezing, but there was no way that I was going to even remove my jacket. And here, the locals were swimming and surfing! But that’s okay. At least I’m riding around the globe on a bike and they are not, I consoled myself!
After our initial meeting in Malaysia, David had promised us Metzeler Karoo3 – 50/50 tyres for the remaining leg of our ride. We will be running these tyres through the most gruelling terrain across South America, Africa and even Antarctica!
We contacted the President of BMW Queensland Club and asked him to put us in touch with other group members. Gladly, they had planned a ride the next morning itself. And we are talking about the oldest BMW Motorrad group in the world. The 59-year old club takes on rampant challenges offered by Australia’s unforeseen terrains. Richard was also gracious enough to accompany us to the legendary Pitstop Café and Wivenhoe Dam.
The next day, we visited the second oldest Harley-Davidson showroom in the world, oldest outside of the USA! The ‘Morgan and Wacker’ showroom is over 100 years old and houses classic photographs of the dealership and also a vintage Harley.
Next up was a visit to the local BMW showroom where I lay my eyes on the G310 R for the first time. It was a proud moment to spot a ‘Made in India’ product here in Australia. We wish to see it on our roads soon. Hope you are listening BMW.
Finally, it was time to ship our bikes to Chicago for the next leg. I managed to grab a few quotes from the internet and also learned that individuals cannot legally crate their bikes in Australia. After having traversed nine different countries, we had learnt our lessons. We then got hold of professional packers to help us obtain certificates to present to the airlines. And this is where leg one of the ride comes to an end!
I am really comfortable with Pankaj. We are opposites but that is what keeps us going. On to some new adventures in our second leg then, as we head to the land of Donald Trump.