Start of a new trip in Australia January 1982

 

It was now getting near to my next Aussie trip and I tried to organize things but how ever well you think you have arranged everything it is inevitable things will go wrong.

 

I was told my tickets were OK, and the money had arrived in the bank at Sydney so I thought things were going well. However there was a hitch with the bike. The rear wheel fitted OK but there was a problem with the Speedo drive as it was not quite right it had to be returned to the manufacturers. I told them the bike was set to go at a certain time and they said they would try to get it back to me so I could fit it to the bike, but it did not arrive in time so I had to send the Norton with the rear spoked wheel fitted which made it look interesting.

 

It was now 5 years since I had left Perth and the wheel and some tools and spares were sent by air unaccompanied baggage a few days before my departure, the bike having been sent by container ship in December 1981.

 

It was now January 1982 and I flew out of Norwich via Amsterdam which was good, for if I had left for Heathrow I would have been in a muddle as there was a rail strike on at the time.

 

I arrived in Sydney without too many other problems, though when I got to customs I was delayed as my old residents visa had not been cancelled so this was checked and cleared before I could enter Australia.

 

As I might have expected the bike got held up at sea and various strikes and anything else that could have stopped it did so.

It was Monday 25th January when all the tools turned up, but I had to wait one more month until 26th February for the bike to arrive. In the end I picked it up using a hired Daihatsu 2 ton flatbed.

 

The Norton had only just over 21000 miles on the clock when it arrived, though there were some miles not recorded as the speedo drive had broken in the UK.

 

The next day I fitted the wheel and it went in and was all correct, everything OK. It was now the 2nd March and I had the bike checked and registered-the plate was UU 946. Two days later I got a local dealer to fit the plates for me.

 

 

I gave myself a couple of days to sort myself out and get the bike ready for the off. This time I wanted to go the other way and went south, down to Victoria.

 

I had spent a few months organizing this trip and all the delays had taken the enthusiasm out of it. I thought to myself ‘this is going to be a chore’.

 

I spent a couple of days riding the bike and it took a little time to settle in as it had not done a lot of distance, only testing sessions. As time went on riding became easier and I got over my thought of the trip being a problem.

 

Sign at the Victoria border

 

My first main stop was over the Victoria border at Cann River. I started to pitch the tent and the rains fell, so I decided there was no point in getting drenched and I booked in to motel. I dried the tent out in the room before packing it again-not really much of a start!.

 

I set off fairly early the next day and as the day went on I found the Victoria truck drivers very friendly to bikes-nearly all gave a wave. I rode down to Melbourne and it started to rain again, but riding was OK and I ended up that evening in Colac, south west of Melbourne.

 

I remember I was quite tired at this time-I had something to eat-it was dark and I crashed in the tent. I had no idea what the time was as I never wear a watch, not even to this day. I do not like time as it makes you think you have to do things at certain times and I do not like that way of thinking.

 

When it got light I got up. The local birds were up so I rose with them packed up and set off. It must have been fairly early as I had done 200 miles before it got warm…

 

I thought the bike had settled in OK and was running quite well-it was like its owner-works better in a warm climate!  

 

 

I carried on along the coast crossed the border into South Australia, then onto Mount Gambia.

After that I arrived in a place called Kingston, which is where I saw a sea food shop with a large lobster outside. I took a picture of it and it looked as though it was going to eat the Norton, as the bike looked so small against it.

 

 

I carried on along the Princes Highway I rode past a lake that looked quite pink-quite an unusual site. At this point the Norton was running really well and the King & Queen seat was the right kit for the job. I ended up at Tailem Bend that afternoon and clocked a bit over 400 miles without a sore behind, which is first class comfort.

 

The lake does not look too pink on these photos but I can assure you it was.

 

I was a fair distance into South Australia and only had about an hour the next day to reach Adelaide.

 

The next day I got up, packed away my things and set off fairly early, before 7 am, to do the hours ride to Adelaide. All this part of the trip was fairly familiar and nothing really interesting or remarkable happened.

 

I continued north up through Crystal Brook and had a look where the pipeline hut had been but there was no longer any trace that they had ever been there.

 

While travelling up the Spencer Gulf just after I had passed Port Pirie I had a Yamaha XJ650 overtake me and the rider gave me a wave as they went by.

 

Right at the top of the Spencer Gulf I stopped at Port Augusta, and as I was looking around a local Police car came over to where I was. The officer could see the NSW plates and asked what I was doing so I told him I was intending to do a round trip of Australia, and became quite interested. He then went on to tell me where the best place to take photos was, wished me all the best and I moved on.

 

The photos were taken from a tower of Port Augusta and you can see the Flinders Ranges and also how high it was from the road.

 

I continued on to Iron Knob which was where I worked in 1974/75 on an iron ore mine. I took a few photos of the place, noticing it did not look much different to when I was there 7 years before.

 

I got back on the bike heading to the next town as that was where I intended to stop that day.

 

Of course the first place to stop was the pub and parked outside was the XJ 650, so I went over to talk to the rider and the pillion. They told me their names Keith & Marti and they were heading west and when I said I was going that way also, we agreed to look out for each other on the road.

I got up fairly early the next morning and carried on to the other side of the Spencer Gulf to Ceduna where the bike picked up an oil leak. It came from the cable the one that drives the tacho and it only needed tightening. It was Ok after that.

 

I later met up with the people with the XJ 650 and we travelled together for a couple of days.

The next part of the trip on the last adventure was when I went through a plague of locusts. This time it was not as bad as the weather was warm and riding was quite pleasant.

 

This photo is courtesy of Jim who I met later in Broome as you can see there is not a real lot there a pub and a petrol station that is all I remember.

And that is where I went through the plague of locusts

 

 Just beforeNundroo was where the old dirt road started to cross the Nullabor.

 

There were some lovely views from the edge of the Great Australian Bight you have to come a few 100 yards off the main Nullabor road to see this.

 

Quite a nice sign near the SA and WA border giving various distances to places and even other countries.

 

The South Australia and Western Australia border and camped in the border village this is where I got up packed my gear and a scorpion walked out from under the tent what a surprise that was for me.

 

The ride across the Nullabor was quite windy as the cross winds made riding a bit harder so I stepped the speed up but still within the limits and dealt with it that way.

This sign was a t Norseman at the end of the long road across the Nullabor.

 

I had now been riding a week and stopped at Esperance for a couple of days to get some washing done. I had clocked just over 2500 miles in that week, and just a small oil leak to deal with. I was working on 10,000 miles being the total distance around Australia so I had done a quarter so far. However there was still along way to go and the bike still had lots to deal with.

After my stay in Esperance I started to make my way to Perth. I noticed the south west was quite damp and sort of misty and also the trees were a lot bigger and greener-it was quite a lot different from the east in that respect.

 

It was on this part of the trip where the bike had its first problem-the tacho cable broke. It was quite a useful instrument. It makes you check on the engine and also when the speedo cable broke I could almost know my road speed within a little.

I noticed as I got nearer to Perth the weather was getting warmer which made it a lot better as far as I was concerned. I like it really warm though when you ride a bike you are not aware how warm it is till you stop, as the wind cools you down.

 

In Perth I was told by a traffic warden there was a problem at Fitzroy Crossing, some 1750 miles north east. This is the only bit of dirt road left on the round trip which I need to tackle and he told me it was cut off due to rain and bad weather and nobody could get through till the roads dried out.

 

After Perth there were a lot of forests of fir trees, apple trees and grape vines which was quite nice to see.

Going north for the next one or two days the roads were quite long and straight and there is not much to say about this part of the trip. It was a case of every 200 miles fill up with petrol stop for a beer and do the same thing 200 miles later.

 

There was however an incident which made me run cold at the time… I was riding along at about 45 mph when I noticed something drawing along side me. When I looked properly I saw it was an emu, towering above me as I sat on the bike. I shouted at it and it ran off. This was quite an unexpected and unnerving experience.

 

I noticed there were a lot of dead animals lying on the side of the road due to the road-trains that travel a lot at night. That is when most get killed as they are attracted by the vehicle lights.

 

It was now Sunday 28th March and I had been on the road for almost 2 weeks, having clocked 4200 miles and I ended up at Karratha quite near Dampier.

 

I got up the next day and at this point I started to go slightly north east and as soon as I turned in this direction I noticed the glare from the sun more in front of me, which made riding more tiring. I carried on through Port Headland, where I made my first mistake. I thought I would continue to the next town to pick up fuel but there wasn’t one and being Sunday this caused me a problem as I would find out in the next few hours.

 

I saw a sign to Mount Goldsworthy and decided to go off the beaten track onto the dirt road to try to pick up some petrol. When I got there some fellows came over to see me and asked what I wanted-they told me the petrol station was closed and the local police officer did not seem to want any one other than the workers around. To cut along story short the men set me up with a full tank of petrol and a couple of beers. I asked what I owed them and they said ‘we want to help you out of trouble’ and sent me on my way.

 

I thought ‘what great blokes’.

This next part of the trip was where I met some more really great people. I arrived at my next stop Sandfire Flats.

The story goes that a man filled up a ute with 44 gallon drums of petrol, filled the ute’s tank up and when it ran out that was where he built a filling station and it was named Sandfire Flats.

 

I filled the bike up ready for the next morning and met a road work team who told me to come over to the hotel and join them after I had a shower.

I was warned to get out of the tent before dusk as the mosquitoes would get in and would be waiting for me when I crashed out. I went over to the hotel that night and we had a real laugh-they made me part of their group and it was free beer for me that night-those road fellows were a really good gang!

 

The next trip was to Broome-208 miles between petrol pumps. At this stage you really know you are in the outback. I saw 2 cars a truck ad a motorcycle on that trip.

 

I was nearly into Broome-about 20 miles away at the time-and the bike got a real wobble on the road. I was white metal and extremely glary, so it was hard to see all the ridges in the surface made by all the large road-trains. What had happened was each wheel had got into a different ridge, causing the bike to become unbalanced. I thought I had got a puncture so it was a relief to find out I had not, as the temperature was quite hot and it would have made me sweat to stop and mend it…

 

I spent a few days in Broome waiting for the all clear to get through the only bit of dirt road on this round trip. While there I met a couple of Canadians Jim and Dave they were cousins and a couple of Aussies Ken and Chris which made a bit more company.

 

This photo courtesy of Jim he took this Broome sunset before I got there.

 

Over the next few days I kept checking at the police station for the all clear to leave Broome. At last I was informed that the dirt road had dried out and it was time for the off. What happened next was amazing-I had made it almost half way through the trip and now I had my first breakdown-the bike refused to start. I made various checks and after a time I found the rotor at the end of the cam in the electronic ignition had come loose and as I did not carry a manual everything had to be done by memory. I had to sit and think for a bit and go back to when I first fitted it in the UK. I think it was quite an easy setup and after a few minutes the old thing was ready to hit the road again.

I filled up with petrol and made for the next station which was just over 100 miles away.

 

I intended to travel with the 2 Canadians and the 2 Aussies but they did not see me break down so I did not see them again for a while. I had a bit of a late start and I knew I had to get through from Fitzroy Crossing to Halls Creek by the end of the day. I was almost to the next stop and the roads were flooded in 2 places. The first bit I got through as I kept my speed up, then over the hill there was another flood for about 1 km. As it was quite big I went a bit slower-the bike stalled and I had to push it out. I then stopped on the dry part, undid the points cover (this is where I had previously had problems) dried it out, kicked it and it started again.

 

This was another picture courtesy of Jim taken from their Datsun.

 

These photos are courtesy of Jim this was the dirt road between Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek flooded, left Ken and Dave and also others checking how deep it was, right a photo of Ken giving directions to Chris in his MK 2 Escort and getting through without much problem.

 

As I was using racing wheels I did not know how they would handle the dirt road so I kept my speed down and took more care. The ride from Fitzroy Crossing to Halls Creek was one of the hottest ones I made in Australia and I remember there being a ford which I had to cross, with a few cm of water. I rode through a bit faster than I should and the water came right over my head. It was the best thing I could have done as it cooled me down. I was quite soaked but it dried out very fast.

 

It was getting a bit dark when I came off the dirt road and I rolled into Halls Creek, stopping in town to ask where I could find a motel, a couple of men stood there and one of them said ‘don’t stay here join us. My name is Smokie and I am the leader of the road train gang. So I followed them and spent the night under one of the trailers.

 

They were another good gang and set me up with a steak sandwich and a few beers, they also fitted a bolt to my headlight as I had lost one the previous day.

 

The next day they all wished me good-luck and sent me on my way and I must admit I met some great people on this section of the trip. I feel they are the real Aussies and are a really good lot. I always enjoy my time with Australians as they are my sort of people.

I was a bit over 100 miles on the road where I made a stop at Mabel Downs I stopped filled up with petrol and the 4people I met in Broome turned up. We decided we would all travel together for the next few days.

 

Lake Argyle, just south of Kununurra it is a very lovely view I had to put it in.

 

Over the next few days I was on old familiar and enjoyed what I saw but nothing really new. I had got the dirt road behind me and I was glad I went I went in this direction as the bike had now started to show various signs of  things that needed doing, so I had to be very alert and keep checking on the bike for any problems that may occur.

 

 

We all travelled together taking us into the Northern Territory up to Darwin, then south to the 3Ways that take us to Queensland.

 

On the left picture is Ken with the hat Chris with his back to us Dave standing and Jim walking from the back car, and the second picture me with a very red face.

 

This photo courtesy of Jim me packing up and ready to leave our camp.

 

Me with Ken’s hat on near a road train at Elliott about 200 miles south of Darwin

 

This photo courtesy of Jim, another road train and as you will see the road is a concrete one on this north to south road

 

Jim and Dave wanted to go Alice Springs and also to Ayres Rock, I went as far as Tennant Creek with them a short distance south to pick up a tyre and inner-tube as it was almost worn out, as I had covered around 7000 miles at this point. Jim and Dave also had a couple of tyres fitted and at this point we said cheerio.

 

I went back to the 3 Ways and met up with Chris and Ken and we travelled together right in to Queensland. Jim and Dave went to North Queensland after going south and met up with Ken later.

 

It was now Thursday 8th April and I finished up at Barry Caves Roadhouse and changed the tyre and tube. By now I had been on the road for 24 days. This road was fairly easy riding and did not cause too many problems to me or the bike.

 

This sign had loads of hole in it where it had been shot at.

 

I eventually got through to Townville and as I like the area and Ken said come up and see where I live I thought it was a good idea, he lived north of Cairns at Cape Tribulations.

This is Chris being a bit silly myself and Ken as you can see very typical Australia with the hat and dog making it complete

 

I was only there a couple of days and there was a warning about some bad weather brewing up down south at Rockhampton, I decided to say cheerio to Chris and Ken and started to make my way south.

 

I was not riding long before the rains started and that was a real test of skill-the visibility was quite low and the rains were quite heavy which made riding a lot slower. While riding through the sugarcane area the rains were flooding the fields and crossing the roads in places.

 

I stopped that night at Bowen south of Townsville, hoping the next day it would stop raining. When I set off it was however still raining.

 

This was just north of Proserpine near Shute Harbour

 

The bike was showing signs of problems and next I got diverted by floods on the main road, I had to go onto a minor road towards Shute Harbour then get on the main road again further down. At this point my speedo cable broke so I had to ride on experience and try to keep my speed within the correct limits. I got down as far as Mckay when the clutch cable snapped so to keep going I just had to carry on without the clutch-the hard bit was when you had to stop! At this point I did not have a tacho, a speedo or a clutch-it seemed the bike was falling to pieces. I had a spare clutch cable but it was a bit short, so I could not use it. I stopped that night at Gladstone.

 

I got on the road the next day without a clutch and had to go into my memory and think how I should get over this problem. I thought at the beginning I would have to try to get another cable, but it was even simpler than that-all I needed to do was to adjust the pushrod to get my extra length on the cable. I stopped in the next town and borrowed a large screwdriver to open the side cover-the adjustment was very easy and I now had a clutch again. I thought to myself you are very slow-you should have thought of that before.

 

I continued down the coast with very few more problems and next I called in at Linda’s parents in Lismore for a couple of days. While I was there, her father fitted a new bolt to my headlight as the old one got lost again.

This was a great view Linda’s parents had from the back of their house.

 

I made my way down the coast to Sydney and was at Newcastle, about 145 miles away, when the final problem occurred-the chain and sprocket had worn, and the chain was jumping teeth. As I had run out of adjustment I got over the problem by taking two links out of the chain and that did the job.

 

I got back to Sydney and stopped for a while at Linda’s grandmother got the bike in order and found work after a short time.

 

I thought all in all it was not bad. I had got most of the things sorted out for a 10,000 mile trip and 6 weeks on the road and really all the things that occurred were down to wear and tear.

 

I lost touch with Linda for some time but caught up with her via the Internet she still lives in Melbourne and has got 2 great sons, we still keep in touch at various time of the year.

 

Jim the Canadian wrote to me while I was in Australia, he is married and still lives in Canada, we lost touch but he caught up with me via the Internet and we are still in touch.

 

 

Tasmania Trip November 1982

 

After a spell at work and getting a bit of cash together I decided I wanted to see Tasmania-it was the last State in Australia to see. At this time I was with some friends in Batemans Bay 180 miles south of Sydney. I went out late in October and booked myself and the bike on the ferry.

 

I contacted a couple of papers and told them of my travels and they were interested to do a write-up of my adventures.

 

On 30th October I left Batemans Bay, went over the Clyde Mountain through Canberra to the Hume Highway to take me down to Melbourne. I stopped at Holbrook and booked into a motel-it is about 60 km north of the Victoria border. I left the next morning it was bright and sunny but quite cold.

 

I arrived in Melbourne early afternoon and got on the ferry ‘Empress of Australia’, it was an overnight crossing and I arrived in Devonport the next morning.

The old Norton looks really dirty there but it had done a lot of work by then.

 

I went around to the newspaper office ‘The Advocate’ they asked me a lot of questions and did a nice write-up for me.

 

This write up and photo were courtesy of the Advocate Newspaper Devonport Tasmania

 

Tasmania was very new to me as I did not know where to go and what to do, so I got my map out and went into a pub and started to look at it. After a very short while I had somebody come over to me and ask what I intended to do, I told him I intended going right round as I wanted to see as much of Tasmania as I could. He gave me some of his knowledge and wished me a happy trip. The Tasmania people are all like that very helpful and friendly.

 

I went left of Devonport to Burnie, Smithton and then down to Queenstown-the scenery was really lovely.

 

The top left is going south to Queenstown but I am unsure of the other photos but it was very nice there.

 

I remember I was down in New Norfolk when I turned a corner and there was the remains of a tree that had fallen been cut up and all the shavings were left on the road.

 

 

A View of Hobart-a very nice clean place well worth a visit

 

I arrived in Hobart, contacted the Mercury Newspaper and it was later in the afternoon when I saw somebody and they did a write up for me.

 

 

Write up and photo courtesy of Mercury Hobart Tasmania

 

This view was as I began to go north toward Launceston

 

I stopped at Launceston and went into The Penny Royal Gunpowder Mill these are photos of inside and out.

 

I continued back to Devonport and got on the Empress of Australia for my return trip to Melbourne. Tasmania is well worth the visit and I recommend it to anyone who can go there.

 

 

 

The Tasmania trip went well and when I was traveling back I though it would be good to look for some work and have a change from the normal stuff and look at Mildura for working on the grapes. I made the trip-work was not there but the place was nice to see.

 

I decided to go back, pick up the car, go down to Victoria and work on fruit in Sheparton. I worked on various fruit and while I was there I met another English fellow called Bob Newton, who told me the next place he wanted to head for was Queensland to work on citrus fruit in Mundubbra. Soon after this I had a fall and twisted my ancle and had to return to Batemans Bay till it healed.

 

We discussed the idea of making the trip up to Queensland on the Norton so after a couple of weeks Bob hitched a lift up to Batemans Bay where he met me.

 

At Batemans Bay I did a bit to the bike and checked it over for a last blast up to Queensland while I waited for Bob.

 

R & B Sydney

 

On the way up we dropped into Sydney to see his girlfriend and continued up to Queensland.

 

R & B Queensland

 

On our way up into Queensland we stopped at Mackay.

 

 

 

 

R & B oranges

 

Bob and myself eating some of our picking at break time.

 

It was a great trip and the old Norton travelled through every state in Australia, covering around 21,000 miles but not all recorded due to the speedo drive falling to bits several times. They were not a lot of good-I went through about 4 of them.

I returned to the UK in July 1983 brought the bike back, it did well but was getting a bit tired as it had worked hard.

 

My father and myself went to the docks to pick up the bike when it arrived back in the UK

 

This photo and write-up is courtesy of Eastern Evening News Norwich

 

I did make one more trip after that. I got married to Heather in 1984, and we went out to Sydney in 1986, then went up to Queensland and had our daughter Maria. We came back to the UK in November 1987 and had our other daughter Joanna in 1989.

 

This photo and write-up is courtesy of Eastern Evening News Norwich

 

 

This write up was due to the newspaper wanting stories of people who have been to Australia and we contacted them and it went from there

 

It is now 2010 and we will be returning to Australia again in June.