There is nothing dead about the amazing ‘dead-end” ride to O’Reilly’s and back on the Lamington National Park Rd in South East Queensland.
Despite the Gold Coast hinterland being ravaged by bushfires in September 2019, the scenery along this road is as spectacular and pristine as ever. You wouldn’t even know a bushfire had been through the region!
That is not the case with the nearby Binna Burra Lodge which was sadly decimated in the bushfires and has closed the dead-end Binna Burra Rd south of Timbarra Drive.
However, Lamington National Park Rd is still open and is as challenging, varied and spectacular as any of the Alpine roads in NSW and Victoria.
In fact, massive roadworks over the past couple of years have made it even better.
Roadworks and retaining walls make the road safer
However, the last few kilometres to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat are fairly bumpy.
It’s a virtual paradise for riders, yet it is relatively unknown by riders outside SEQ and little used compared with some of the other “motorcycle routes” in the region.
Riding south out of town into the beautiful valley you will notice O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard which is a great place to stop for lunch and wine tasting (pillions only!).
About 2km down the road, it crosses one of several metal cattle grids before ascending the mountain.
The cattle grids are often on blind corners and need to be taken at right angles to avoid slipping, especially in the wet.
They are among many other hazards such as narrow one-lane sections, blind corners, rock falls, dangling vines, foreign tourists in clapped-out vans, bumps, potholes, leaf litter, oblivious bushwalkers, occasional cyclists, and moss on the road edge and even in the centre!
Watch out for slippery hazards
Despite all those hazards, it is a great road for motorcyclists of all types, so long as you take it easy and/or do an exploratory run.
The speed limit is posted at 40km/h with some 10km/h advisory corner speeds.
Plenty of hairpins
We have yet to see police on the road, but being caught for speeding is not the only reason to take care.
Weekdays are a lot less busy than weekends.
The old alpaca farm with its jaw-dropping valley views has now moved to the O’Reilly’s vineyard.
Old alpaca farm is now closed
However, just down the road is a short detour to the postcard-perfect Kamarun Lookout. It’s well worth a photo stop!
It’s not a complete dead end for adventure riders as they can turn right just before O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and descend into the next valley via the very rough and challenging Duck Creek Rd.
However, that road has been closed for several years due to flooding and is still closed, awaiting funding from the Scenic Rim Council. Let’s hope it opens again soon.
Duck Creek Rd
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat at the end of the road has a coffee shop, restaurant, clean toilets, paved parking, a bird feeding show and gift shop.
Feed the birds at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
Once you’ve rested up and refilled your tank (with food, not fuel), it’s time to head back down and enjoy the view from the other direction.
This “once in a lifetime” ride that will take you in some of the most remote and dramatic areas of the Spiti Valley (pictured above) and Ladakh, in north India.
It starts in the foothills of the Himalayan range and goes all the way to Leh.
Riders will travel on some of thehighest roads in the worldsuch as the Chang La and the Khardung Lah at 5300m, visit ancient monasteries and immerse yourself in the Indo-Tibetan culture.
The price for thisall-inclusivemotorcycle tour through the Himalaya is $US4350 (about $A6490 on today’s exchange rate) but Motorbike Writer Followers can enjoy a10% discount saving $US435.
The offer isvalid only until 15 March 2020.
The tour includes:
Bike, fuel & oil
Accommodation (tented camps & hotels)
All meals, snacks, drinking water & soft drinks
Local & English guide
Domestic flights from Delhi to Chandigarh / Leh to Delhi
Choose between a Royal Enfield Bullet 500cc or Himalayan 410cc for this motorcycle adventure of 16 days on top of the world (12 days of riding).
Although the tour has been designed to help the acclimatisation process by starting at lower altitudes and gradually ascending to higher altitude up to 5600m, it’s a physically challenging adventure and it requires some riding experience and skills.
Definitely not for the faint hearted. Are you up for the challenge?
For more info, write to[email protected]and don’t forget to claim your Motorbike Writer special discount.
When headed out on a long distance trip in another country, there is quite a bit of excitement involved. However, before you get to the good stuff, there are a number of important considerations that you must make first. Being aware of certain details ahead of time can help you to stay safer and happier on your extended ride. So, without further ado, here are the things that you should be paying attention to before you set out…
Be Aware of Differing Laws
You are naturally aware that the motorcycle riding laws in other countries are different from what you are used to. Nonetheless, you also need to understand that these laws can differ from one region to another as well. Let’s consider DUI laws as an example.If you are riding through Canada, for instance, a Milton DUI lawyer will tell you that the intoxicated while driving laws are the same across the board.
However, if you were to cross the border into the USA, then the laws can differ from one state to another. Thus, you have an entirely different set of rules to contend with. So, how can you keep track of all of these laws? Well, doing a little bit of research beforehand certainly can’t hurt. At the same time, make sure that you have a few local legal contacts as well. For instance, if you will be spending quite a lot of time in Canada, know who to call for DUI assistance in Toronto.
Identify the Least Motorcycle Friendly Cities
Believe it or not, there are cities that have been identified as being the “least motorcycle-friendly cities”. Now, there are several reasons for this title. It could be that certain areas don’t experience a great deal of motorcycle traffic and are, thus, unaccommodating. Or, it could mean that those places have an exceptionally high rate of motorcycle accidents.
Regardless, you must be able to identify these cities. You can then be even more cautious in these areas, cutting down on the risk of getting into accidents. Not to mention, you will also find it easier to get on with the locals, especially if they aren’t used to riders passing through their town.
Ride Like You Are Invisible
Following up on the above point, it is best to ride like people in cars are unaware of your existence. As mentioned, motorcycles may not be all that common in certain parts of the world. Due to this, the average driver may not think to look out for you, especially in congested spots.
As a result, your safety will be in your own hands. So, when you are on your motorcycle, don’t execute any sudden movements. Instead, make sure that you are plainly visible to all drivers and make it a point to signal what you are about to do.
Sure, there are a few points to remember when going on a long distance ride in a foreign country. However, as long as you make a note of these, your ride is sure to go a lot smoother so take them to heart.
The recently retired couple and seasoned riders were on a “dream holiday” with a motorcycle tour group when tragedy struck, says son Paul who rushed to Austria to be by their bedsides.
“They were riding on the Stelvio Pass in Italy and were approaching a left-hand corner when a tractor and trailer came round the corner and rolled, crushing them and injuring others,” he says.
The couple was airlifted to a nearby hospital, which wasn’t equipped to handle the severity of their injuries.
They were then rushed to University Hospital in Austria where they have both since been in induced comas while in and out of surgeries.
Both suffered leg and pelvis injuries, Lorna had a leg amputated and Richard has suffered a ruptured aorta.
Richard also suffered a minor stroke but due to his heavy sedation the impact is not yet known, says Paul.
“When they will be home is very uncertain; possibly a minimum of two months before we are home,” he says.
“Mum has another surgery on her leg tomorrow to hopefully close the wound and dad has his major pelvis reconstruction. We are also still waiting on his MRI results on his spine.”
Their nephew, Riley Cox, has set up the GoFundMe page to cover their enormous medical bills.
“Lorna & Dicko have spent their whole lives caring and looking after others and now they need us,” Riley says.
“They are two of the most caring, kind, determined and positive people, that even during retirement, live life to the fullest, travelling to the other side of the world on a dream holiday.”
Riley says all funds donated will help cover medical costs and repatriation to Australia, as well as ongoing rehab costs.
“Due to the severity of their injuries we don’t know how long it will be until we can bring them home, but we do know it will be a long recovery in Austria away from family and friends, followed by a long healing journey back home in Australia,” he says.
After the recent bombing tragedy in Sri Lanka, security has been stepped up and it’s now deemed safe to ride this gem of a destination for motorcyclists. Who better to give us a guide to riding in Sri Lanka than Rohan Sourjah who has written a book about it called “Motorcycling Adventures in Sri Lanka” and recently returned from a ride around the country. Here’s his story:
The island of Sri Lanka is shaped like a teardrop and the people in that nation have shed many tears over the years. There was hope in their hearts because the three decades civil war had ended almost 10 years previously.
But on Easter Sunday this year, fundamentalist suicide bombers blew themselves up in three churches and three luxury hotels, killing more than 250 people and injuring about 500, including many innocent children.
The aftermath has been devastating as tourists stopped arriving. Tourism is the livelihood of more than a million people who suddenly had no way of earning an income and feeding their families. In just a matter of seconds, their lives had been devastated. Almost five months later, their situation remains dire because only a few tourists are visiting the island.
I grew up in Sri Lanka and some of my most wonderful memories are of riding a small Yamaha YB90 two-stroke motorcycle to many parts of the island with school friends on their own machines.
Fast forward to 2014 and I bought a Royal Enfield 350cc “Classic” bike in Sri Lanka. My plan was to ride around the island and once again visit the beaches, mountains, historical sites and wildlife sanctuaries as well as experience the different cultures, religions and diverse landscapes that the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” offers. This took four years to complete and I published a book about those travels in June this year titled “Motorcycling Adventures in Sri Lanka.”
One of the reasons for publishing this book is to attract motorcyclists to visit Sri Lanka because it does offer some wonderful riding experiences in an exotic and tropical land. And I hope readers of this article would consider travelling to Sri Lanka, whether to ride a motorcycle or travel in a vehicle, to help the people of the island. Whatever money you spend over there would benefit families who are suffering and more importantly show terrorists that their senseless and inhumane actions don’t scare us motorcyclists.
Ride for Sri Lanka
The Easter Sunday bombings took place after I had booked my airline tickets for the launch of my book. I didn’t change my travel plans, but I was very shocked when I landed in the island because hotels and tourist businesses were virtually empty.
It was during this time that I hatched a plan with some of my school friends about planning a “Ride for Sri Lanka” to show solidarity with the people and encourage tourists, particularly motorcyclists, to visit the island. The plan was to entice journalists of motorcycle magazines from around the world to come to Sri Lanka, ride on a planned tour, and then go back and write about their experiences. However, the planning for that event takes months and that ride is planned for around February 2020.
I was acutely aware that the Sri Lankan people urgently needed to entice tourists back to the island, and that they wanted those tourists NOW! With that in mind, I sent messages to some of my friends about joining me for a cause which I titled “Riding for Sri Lanka” to occur in August 2019. One of my school friends from Melbourne, Robert “Bob” Peterson, said he would join me even though there were only a few weeks to plan this ride.
Sri Lanka, being an island, experiences two monsoonal seasons every year. These bring rain to different parts of the island at different times during the year. In August, the monsoon affects the south and west of the island, bringing rains to Colombo and the western slopes of the central mountains, but also strong winds that are a delight to kite surfers in places like Kalpitiya and Mannar in the north-west areas of the island.
I initially planned a three-day ride even though Bob said he was free for at least a week. The rains were causing landslides and flooding in parts of the island, so we decided to stick to the west coast and travel north of Colombo, leaving our itinerary flexible.
Colombo to Eluvankulam
Normally I leave the busy town of Colombo before 5am but Bob had to travel to meet me and collect his motorcycle. We left at 8.30am and got bogged in the office rush hour which meant it was a slow and tedious affair to get out of Colombo. There was traffic all the way to Negombo (near the international airport) but we kept moving without too much hassle.
We had some refreshments at a roadside restaurant in Negombo and after that, the road narrowed, the traffic was almost continuous, and it was a bother until we passed Chilaw. From there onward it was a pleasure riding on a smooth road with not much traffic with some large lagoons on the left.
We were stopped by police before Puttalam but they just wanted to check our drivers’ licences, motorcycle registration and insurance papers. This is a common occurrence and nothing to be worried about. As a foreigner they won’t hassle you, but I always recommend you have an International Driver’s Licence. Please don’t show your original drivers’ licence! We spoke to them in English (although we can speak the Sinhalese language) and they became our friends.
The Royal Enfield bikes rumbled along the road, their distinctive beat echoing around the countryside. People on the road heard this “Doof” “Doof” sound and looked at us and our bikes along the way. We passed Puttalam, where much of the salt in Sri Lanka is made, and then travelled along a wonderful motorcycling road to a small hamlet called Eluvankulam, which is 28 kilometres north of Puttalam. This is only a few kilometres south of Wilpattu, the largest and oldest national park in Sri Lanka.
We arrived at “The Backwaters” resort which is managed by Tarique Omar, a school friend and motorcycle rider. Tarique was in Colombo but we were greeted by his second-in-command, Rizvi, who also loves riding motorcycles. The resort was so pleasant that we decided to stay an extra day because I wanted to take a boat trip to visit an ancient Baobab tree planted by Arab traders in ancient times as well as visit some historic ruins within Wilpattu National Park. While on the safari we saw elephants, deer, birds, wild boar and crocodiles but not the elusive leopard and bear. To our dismay, a family that was staying at The Backwaters showed us photographs they had taken of a leopard only a few minutes after we had passed that very spot.
Eluvankulam to Mannar
There are two routes to travel from Puttalam to Mannar. The most direct is through Wilpattu National Park, which is a dirt road that is passable during the dry season. I have been on that road on a motorcycle and I was pretty scared as the jungle closes to the verges of the road in many places and there could be wildlife just next to you. I didn’t want to end up as leopard shit or trampled by an elephant.
The other road skirts Wilpattu National Park to the east and that is what we took. We travelled along some small roads through villages and joined the main road to the ancient city of Anuradhapura. A little further on is the large Thabbowa Wewa (lake) which was partially dry. I have seen this beautiful lake when it is full with water as the road passes through the southern end of it and it’s fascinating to see water on either side with lots of birds. The road then passes through jungle which is an elephant corridor and it’s not advisable to ride or drive along that section in the night. You certainly don’t want to meet a wild elephant while on a motorcycle!
We didn’t have to travel all the way to Anuradhapura, instead turning north to Tantirimale, an ancient Buddhist monastery which has beautiful old rock carvings of a reclining Buddha and other images. It’s best to visit this historic site in the morning because it is built on a large rock outcrop and can get extremely hot from around 10:30am.
The road to Tantirimale is also through small villages and is a motorcyclist’s dream. My plan was to stop and take a look at the monastery but a high-ranking politician had arrived for a function and we weren’t allowed to park our motorcycles near the temple. The policemen were extremely polite and were interested in our motorcycles but we only bought some bottles of water and proceeded north along a somewhat bumpy road until we came to the Mannar road.
We turned west and rumbled along the flat and parched countryside which hadn’t seen rain for many months. Bob was setting a hectic pace, well over the maximum speed limit in Sri Lanka, which is just 70 km/h. One of my reasons for travelling along this road was to see an ancient reservoir called Yodha Wewa (Giant’s Tank). Nobody yet knows when this engineering marvel was constructed and the British engineers considered it a failed construction works because they couldn’t understand how the whole system worked. There is absolutely no signage or information about this reservoir along the road, except for a huge bund that accompanies you on the right when travelling towards Mannar. I stopped the motorcycle, climbed the bund and was amazed at the expanse that I could see. There wasn’t much water but I couldn’t even imagine what it would look like when the rains came.
Apparently, this reservoir gets its water from a river far away and the gradient of the slope is so small that it’s almost impossible to recreate in modern times. And the reservoir feeds a number of lakes (called “tanks”) that have been silted up over the 2000 plus years when these civil engineering works were first constructed. Even today, the full extent of the irrigation scheme is yet to be understood which shows how advanced that ancient civilisation was when Europeans at that time were living a subsistence life.
About 25km later we reached the causeway that connects the island of Mannar to the mainland. It’s an amazing feeling riding along a road about a metre above the waters of the Gulf of Mannar on one side and the waters of the Palk Strait on the other. In ancient times, this was the main passage for vessels sailing from the Indian Ocean to the Bay of Bengal but over the years the waters have got very shallow due to silting and now only small fishing boats can use the passageway.
A bridge takes you over the last part of the causeway and you will see the Mannar Fort, first built by the Portuguese, expanded by the Dutch and then taken over by the British. The purpose of the fort was to control and levy taxes on shipping though the passage but sadly the fort is now abandoned and not maintained. If you are interested in history, the fort has the remains of an old Dutch church and a number of engraved tombstones on the floor.
The next thing you will notice in Mannar are the donkeys roaming all over. They were brought by Arab traders in ancient times and used to transport goods inland and bring back items that they took overseas. When modern transportation was introduced, the donkeys were let loose and now roam wild.
Our journey continued along a bumpy and narrow road to the Palmyrah House which is located in the middle of the island. It’s a hotel that is environmentally friendly and has ponds that attract birds and wildlife, especially during the drought that had been experienced for many months. The General Manager, Udaya Karunaratne, is a school friend and has ridden his Honda Africa Twin to all parts of the island. He is more than happy to welcome motorcyclists and offer advice and suggestions.
We consumed chilled beers and relaxed in the quiet and peaceful hotel. The weather was warm and humid, but we had been buffeted for many kilometres by the “trade winds” that blow inland at this time of the year. It was so relaxing that I didn’t want to travel the 28 kilometres to the end of the island to see “Adam’s Bridge” (also called “Rama’s Bridge”) which is a row of islands and sand bars that partially connect Sri Lanka to India. The owners of the Palmyrah House have a property adjoining the first of these islands called “Vayu Resorts” which is a popular kitesurfing place at this time of the year.
There are a couple of stories as to how these names came about. The ancient “Ramayana” epic states that a king in India called Rama, enlisted the help of ape people (“Hanuman”) to build the bridge so he could cross with his army to Lanka to free his wife who had been kidnapped by a king called Ravana. The second story is that Adam and Eve used this bridge to cross from India to Sri Lanka after they were driven out of the Garden of Eden. In fact, at the tip of Mannar island are two extremely long graves, measuring 40 feet and 38 feet, that are supposed to be the tombs of Adam and Eve respectively. I haven’t seen them, but I definitely will on my next visit.
Mannar to Jaffnar and back
My plan was to ride to Jaffna and stay the night there which would have given us time to visit some of the historic sites as well as ride to some of the nearby islands. Bob, however, was very happy staying at the Palmyrah House in Mannar and wanted to ride to Jaffna and back the same day. The distance to Jaffna was just 130 kilometres so that wasn’t be a problem as there isn’t much traffic on that road.
We set off at 8:30am and once again Bob set a cracking pace as we zoomed along the smooth road at around 100 km/h, well over the speed limit. Fortunately we weren’t stopped by the police and we reached Pooneryn in about an hour and stopped to buy some iced drinks and get the circulation going again in our bums. The landscape is flat, the road is generally straight and there isn’t anything interesting to see, but it’s a good ride.
A short time later we were crossing the long causeway which connects the Jaffna peninsula to the mainland. This was built only after the civil war ended in 2009 and is a lovely stretch to ride with water on either side. However, a blustery crosswind was moving my bike around although Bob’s weight had his bike planted firmly on the tarmac. We were soon in Jaffna town where the traffic was chaotic and we stopped in front of the massive Jaffna Fort. This huge and ancient structure was damaged during the civil war, with the beautiful Dutch Church completely destroyed by the terrorists.
We didn’t go inside the fort, but instead I wanted to look at a couple of historic ruins. Our bikes rumbled to life and soon we were completely lost in the maze of streets that meander throughout Jaffna town and the surrounding area. I eventually gave up in disgust and we found our way back to the main road. I asked Bob whether he wanted anything to eat, but he said we should travel back to Mannar and have lunch at the Palmyrah House.
The time was around 11:45am when we left Jaffna and we were soon travelling fast in a southerly direction with the crosswind knocking my bike about. All good things have to end as a policeman jumped onto the road and signalled for Bob to stop. He had a radar gun and it showed that Bob was travelling around 80 km/h in a 50 km/h zone! The policemen were very polite and decent when they saw our white faces and we spoke to them in English. To add to the drama, Bob only had a photocopy of his Australian drivers’ licence which wasn’t adequate.
However, the policemen soon became our friends and after a surreptitious exchange of a small amount of money, we got back on our bikes and travelled the remaining 20 kilometres to Mannar and were back at the Palmyrah House where Udaya Karunaratne was so surprised to see us back that early that he asked us whether we had actually travelled to Jaffna.
My bum was aching and I walked around for some time, downing chilled beers while the kitchen rustled up some sandwiches and French fries for us. The time was around 1.15pm and Bob decided to relax in the swimming pool after lunch.
The dinner was delicious, especially the fried crab and we went to bed fairly early. It had been a great day riding and then relaxing in the hotel.
Mannar to Eluvankulam
Bob and I were sad to leave Palmyrah House because we had really enjoyed our stay and especially the friendly and helpful staff who had looked after us so well. They were almost all from the island of Mannar who have had the chance to learn new skills and the opportunity of having a career in hospitality. This was our reason for “Riding for Sri Lanka.”
Udaya wished us goodbye as the Royal Enfield bikes rumbled away and Bob stuck to the speed limit. It was frustrating travelling along those empty roads at 70 km/h but I did get a chance to survey the countryside much better. We were soon back at Tantirimale where we parked our motorcycles in front of the historic monastery and drank some chilled drinks.
A local lady had brought some of the most beautiful Lotus flowers to sell to visitors to the temple and the deep purple hues of those flowers was really astounding. Sri Lankan people in the villages and small towns are the friendliest on this earth and will go out of their way to help you if needed. They are generally shy and reserved, but all you need is to strike up a conversation, even if they don’t know English, and they will become your friends. And it is very rare that they will try to extract money from you.
Our bikes rumbled back to life and we enjoyed our ride back to the main road to Puttalam. From there we maintained the speed limit because there were many police, but nobody bothered us.
We then turned off to Thabbowa and enjoyed a peaceful ride through remote villages until we arrived at the road to Eluvankulam. The time was 11:00am and I called Tarique Omar to have the beers chilled and lunch prepared as we would be at The Backwaters in a few minutes. The staff at the resort are lovely people from the local village and go out of their way to make your stay something to remember. And the food they cook is really great.
Tarique Omar was at The Backwaters when we arrived and we were greeted by Rizvi with chilled cans of beer which lubricated our parched throats. Tarique joined us with some beers, even though he hadn’t ridden with us. He was supposed to have joined us for the ride to Mannar on his Honda CB400 but had to go to Colombo for a family function and was jealous of our escapades.
The Backwaters is a place where you can chill out and that’s exactly what we did. In the evening we walked down to the placid waters of the Uppu Aru and watched the sunset. The property has a resident wild elephant who roams around when everyone is asleep but hasn’t harmed anyone or damaged any property. It’s unbelievable how such a large animal can walk around so silently.
Eluvankulam to Colombo
The ride back to Colombo meant battling with traffic and I planned to reach the city after the morning rush hour but before the schools closed. That meant getting home between 11:00am and noon. The journey is approximately 3.5 hours by car, but motorcyclists aren’t permitted on the motorway that runs from the airport to the outskirts of the city.
We left The Backwaters at 8.30am and had a peaceful ride until we approached Chilaw when the traffic increased considerably. Like a pair of gladiators, we battled the tintops. The road only has one lane in each direction which makes overtaking difficult.
We didn’t stop until we reached Negombo where the road widens into dual-lanes in each direction. The traffic now moved more smoothly but as we approached Colombo we ran into heavy traffic and ultimately a traffic jam. However, after some horrible minutes, we turned off onto backroads and arrived at my friend’s house around 12:15pm which wasn’t a bad run. We pulled off our riding gear and immediately attacked the beers.
Bob has sunburn on his face as he was wearing an open-face helmet without a visor
It had been a wonderful ride up the west coast of the island over six days and the weather gods had been kind to us as we only had about two minutes of rain. While we were enjoying ourselves, Colombo had been experiencing a lot of rain. Such is the nature of a tropical island that experiences monsoonal conditions and it’s always good to carry wet weather gear regardless of what time of the year you travel around the island.
We were determined to prove that it’s safe to travel in Sri Lanka and both Bob and I never felt unsafe at any time during our trip. And there’s no better way to explore the island than on a Royal Enfield motorbike which has a remarkable presence on the roads of Sri Lanka as it’s not a common bike and its distinctive sound always attracts attention. You certainly make friends on a Royal Enfield.
If you are interested in riding a motorcycle in Sri Lanka, please contact Rohan by email at [email protected] or on 0438264632.
If you want to see photos of this ride, and other previous rides, please visit his Facebook page.
More than 90 riders ushered the Women Riders World Relay (WRWR) into Queensland today, including the only woman who plans to ride the whole journey around the globe.
Brisbane grandmother Collette Tindal Edeling, 55, says she mortgaged her house to fund the “trip of a lifetime”.
She was there when the world-first all-female motorbike relay started at the northern-most tip of Scotland on 27 February 2019 and has now ridden 45,000km through 43 countries.
“I thought I could wait until I retire to ride around the world, or I could bite the bullet and just do it now,” she says.
“I like riding, so here I am.”
The Australian leg of the relay began on Sunday 25 August 2019 in Perth and has now crossed the Nullarbor to Adelaide, Melbourne and up through NSW to Noosa over night.
Tomorrow the women head south and will finish the Aussie leg on Friday in Sydney.
The global relay is the idea of UK office manager Hayley Bell, 27, to alert the motorcycle industry to the growing number of female riders.
But even Hayley hasn’t ridden as far as Collette who intends passing the special WRWR baton across 80 countries over 343 days and an estimated 90,000km.
“I sold my Kombi van and mortgaged my house to pay for this trip,” she says.
Collette bought a Yamaha MT-07 in Europe, had sponsored bikes in Asia and has bought a BMW F 700 GS for the coming North and South American legs.
However, she shipped her Harley-Davidson 48 from Brisbane to Perth to ride across Australia.
“It’s only got a 7.9-litre tank, so I had to refuel six times across the Nullarbor,” she says.
“My favourite country so far was beautiful Bosnia where you can still see and smell the war.”
Probably her least favourite country has been Nepal where she had three low-speed crashes.
“The roads are bad and the drivers are worse,” she says.
In one crash, she hit her head and has temporarily lost her sense of smell and some hearing.
“The biggest riding contingent we’ve had so far was 192 women in Denmark,” she says.
She takes the baton to New Zealand next, then on to Canada, USA, South America, South Africa, the Mid-East and back to the UK.
WRWR Australian leg spokesperson Peta Pitcher of Brisbane says the Aussie leg has thankfully been “uneventful”.
“We’ve only had three small drops while stationary and the women have stayed together as a pack.”
One of the epic riders in Australia is Deb Smith who rode her Yamaha V-Star 1200 from Alice Springs to Perth for the start.
“We’ve riding too hard and fast to see much and we’ve gone through the rain and the fog and now the heat,” she says.
The women started today’s ride in zero temperatures but hit the high 20s in Queensland where Peta says they did an impromptu roadside strip to cool off.
Some 612 women have registered to ride in Australia as well as 68 men who are not counted in the official relay numbers.
Amputee rider Jane Campbell is the first in Australia to carry the baton on her Harley-Davidson trike.
The “prized” baton has a tracker attached and the route is shown on the WRWR website.
The WRWR baton was hand crafted by Eugene Sanderson of the USA, who spent hours turning and carving it from a solid block of aged mahogany. It also has glow-in-the-dark paint and comes in a custom-moulded case.
The Baton has traveled tens of thousands of kilometres and was held by countless women before being returned to the USA for repairs.
A second, improved baton joined the WRWR in Myanmar last month.
Both Batons will be reunited at the end to create a double-sided scroll containing the signatures of all riders.
It will be displayed at the final event in the UK in February 2020.
Australian relay itinerary
Day 1: 25 August 2019, Perth to Norseman 772km;
Day 2: 26 August, Norseman – Nullarbor RH, 905km;
Day 3: 27 August, Nullarbor RH – Port Augusta,764km;
Day 4: 28 August, Port Augusta – Adelaide – Mildura, 702km;
Day 5: 29 August, Mildura – Bendigo – Melbourne, 553km;
Extreme Bike Tours is offering a 10% discount on its first tours of Tibet and Nepal, the Mt Everest base camp and the Forbidden City of Lhasa in 2020.
Riders will be aboard Royal Enfield Himalayan adventure motorcycles which were tested in the Himalayas.
We toured Sri Lanka last year with Extreme Bike Tours and found them to be top value, professional and honest.
Company part-owner Ben Lloyd says there is already so much interest in their 15-day, 2277km tour that they have scheduled two tours next year from 5-20 September and 22 September to 6 October.
Their tours have a cap of 10 riders to keep them intimateand safe.
Prices are $US5895 (about $A8800) for riders, $US4950 ($A7350) for a pillion and $US695 ($A1000) for a single room.
If you book before the end of October 2019, they will take 10% off.
That’s good value as they stay in good quality hotels and all meals are included. In fact, everything but your flights, health insurance, alcohol and tips is included.
The tour starts in Kathmandu, Nepal, and climbs to 5220m to Mt Everest base camp and on to the spectacular Tibetan Plateau.
They even include free oxygen cylinders for those find the altitude hard going.
Despite the adventure, it’s still only rated at “intermediate” skill level, so there will be some rough riding involved.
Highlights of the tour include stunning mountain scenery, challenging roads, spectacular waterfalls, sacred caves, ancient monasteries and temples, and jaw-dropping views of Mt Everest from old Tingri if the weather is kind.
Scandinavia has a lot of beautiful landscapes that just beg to be discovered. There are hundreds of ways to experience all that Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland have to offer, and one of those ways is by taking your motorcycle and exploring. Here are 10 cool motorcycle routes you should take on your next visit the Europian north.
Inkoo to Karjaa in Finland
A modern road that connects to a medieval road that runs through south Finland from west to east. Although a section of the road is straight, the vast majority of it is curvy with a lot of twists and bends. There are multiple cafes along the Inkoo boat harbour, as well as the historical village of Fagervik and an old ancient iron factory. As you get closer to Snappertuna you would see the castle Rasenborg.
Bergen to Geiranger in Norway
A long road that may take you a couple of days, this path features multiple floating bridges that help you cross the myriad fjords. Beautiful landscapes such as glacial valleys, 1,000m cliffs and Sognefjorden, Norway’s longest fjord. At the end of the path at Geirangerfjord, there are magnificent foaming slashes of the Seven Sisters and Bridal Veil waterfalls.There’s ample time to stop and view the landscape. Alternatively, Casumo has a fantastic online casino in Norway that can be played while you’re taking a rest.
Route 62 in Finland
This route is long and gorgeous, featuring scenery from forests to bridges over waters and historic towns and villages. The best section is where the winding road meets the blue waters of Puumalan lake, where you can stop and enjoy the scenery. Approximately 112km long, you may want to take your time to stop and look at the view.
The E4 Highway, High Coast Route in Sweden
A famous route that stretches from Härnösand to Örnsköldsvik in north-eastern Sweden. This route takes you over the High Coast Bridge, a large suspension bridge that travels over Ångerman River. There are some really fascinating hiking trails if you want to stop. This ride won’t take you long, lasting about an hour and a half.
Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway
There are multiple bridges along this route (8 in counting!) with a generous amount of twists and dips through Norway’s most spectacular views. Keep in mind that this road can be hazardous in the rain, as the high altitude twists could make the leisurely ride fatal. Waves are known for crashing into the overarching bridges – so beware.
Route One in Iceland
Do this one in the summer to avoid the crippling winter cold. Iceland becomes a lush country of green with multiple panoramic views around May-June. You’ll see beaches with icebergs in the distance, enormous waterfalls, black sand, and fascinating wildlife. The full route is quite long at 1319km, so if you want to do this in one stretch, you better pack a snack.
Trollstigen in Norway
Also known as “The Trolls Ladder,” Trollstigen is a part of the Norwegian National Road 63 which is a high road on the side of a mountain. This 57km route has breathtaking views and sharp corners. Within the twist and turns is a waterfall that cascades towards the bottom of the hill. Getting to the top and looking down is the best part – check out that view!
West Coast and the Atlantic Wall in Denmark
A ride along the North Sea Coast that shows off the Bork Viking Harbour and the small town of Hvide Sande. Up the coast is the WWII Atlantic Wall fortification at Houvig and eventually the BunkerMuseum Hanstholm. This route is perfect for any war buff but is quite long at 228km. Still, it’s a great way to see various city sites in Denmark.
The Highlands in Denmark
The Lake Highlands have long winding roads from Silkeborg to Skanderborg, through a forest, idyllic villages and fields. This road features the best of nature and culture all in one sitting. The historical town of Himmelbjerget looks out on a river that winds around it. Great motorcycle route for those wanting the best of both worlds.
Fjordland in Norway
The fjords in western Norway are a quiet little pocket of beauty near Oslo. As you drive, you’ll be surrounded by endless mountains, forests and winding valleys as you approach Telemark. Hardangervidda National Park along the way shows off the west coastline, and the Laerdal Tunnel burrows through the mountainous landscape.
(Moroccan Magic in Dades Gorge. Image: World on Wheels (Sponsored post)
There are no methods to this crazy life we lead
No secret paths to walk upon
Just hang Love’s portrait in the cathedral of your heart
And warm the landscapes of your soul
– Billy Thorpe
Aussie rock legend Billy Thorpe’s passion for Morocco was well known and well documented. When he passed away in 2007 he was working on his final compilation, entitled Tangier. With subsequent help from another famous Oz guitarist Ian Moss, Thorpey’s album was released posthumously to great acclaim. Berber string arrangements can be heard prominently in ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, from which the lyric above is borrowed.
Music has long been the thread holding together the fabric of Moroccan society. Minstrels in blue robes, still to this day wander the deserts with simple instruments like the gimbri, a three-stringed lute, and the darbouka, a single-headed drum played between the knees.
Jimi Hendrix was fond of visiting Morocco. Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Cat ‘Yusuf’ Stevens and Sting have all recorded there. Crosby Stills and Nash first rose to prominence on the back of their 1969 smash hit, Marrakech Express. Countless feature films have also been filmed in Morocco’s harsh and barren landscapes.
And World On Wheels have been conducting their popular motorcycle tours here now for more than a decade. One of the oldest international tour operators in the world, Australia’s WOW started way back in 1995 when it was considered by many to be simply too dangerous to contemplate riding a motorbike in foreign lands. Times have changed since those days and motorcycling is now more widely accepted as a bona fide transport option for global roaming, and WOW are still leading the way.
Their 20-day Moroccan Magic tour takes in the varied geographical regions of this diverse country, from the Mediterranean coastline to the forested Atlas Mountains, to the windswept Atlantic, to the deserts of the Sahara. Riding the latest GS range of BMW dual-purpose tourers, you’ll be staying in traditional riads and auberges and dining on authentic fare of cous cous, tagine, kefta, harira. There’s a camel ride into the desert for a night’s bivouac under a million Sahara stars, listening beside a campfire to the Berber minstrels mentioned above.
This September departure is a fully supported tour, with a luggage van bringing up the rear and an Aussie tour guide leading the way up front. All meals are included except on rest days, all fuel also included, all hotels are booked in advance with your name on the reservation sheet. World On Wheels can also help you get your Travel Insurance and airfares sorted.