So we had this crazy idea over several glasses of wine. Why not ride through 6 Australian States and Territories and a couple of deserts for the hell of it? That’s about 7,500km in three weeks.
The Big Loop trip was born.
Planning for such a trip is a big deal,especially prepping the bikes, working out where to stay on route (we’ll be camping mostly), fuel availability (300km between some road houses), weather conditions and how to fit my toiletries bag in!!!
I have travelled a lot. Mostly in cars and planes. And mostly with a large suitcase or backpack. So the idea of packing enough clothes, shoes, toiletries and other incidentals for three weeks into two small panniers really got my head spinning.
Where to start? Richard’s advice was to take one set of riding gear, two sets of camp clothes and an outfit in case we go out somewhere at night. And wet weather gear of course.
In my mind, that meant:
- at least 2 – 3 outfits for going out,
- 2 – 3 pairs of shoes,
- yoga gear (the plan is to do at least 20 minutes of yoga before we head off each day),
- a selection of clothes for around the campsites (the temperature on this trip will range from 13 degrees Celsius to 34 degrees Celsius),
- toiletries (!)
- and those other little incidentals like scarves, handbags and hats that you just might need.
Reality hit hard when I started packing what I thought I’d like to take into two 20 litre panniers.
Hmmm, now for Plan B. Keep it simple and follow Richard’s advice. So here’s what I ended up with (picture to the right and packed in my little panniers.
Plus a limited supply of clothes and shoes (and the tiniest toiletries bag you have ever seen!).
Richard will carry the camping gear, tools, food and water on his BMW GS1150 - plus all his own stuff. And everything else.
Sounds reasonable to me.
So began the exciting start to our Big Loop adventure. I had planned to leave Newcastle at 12 noon for the 380 km ride to Dubbo, but Mother Nature had other ideas. I wouldn’t say I’m a fair weather rider, but with rumbling thunder, grey/green clouds, and the feeling of hailstorms in the air, I decided to sit back with a coffee and wait for the worst of it to pass.
The rain had settled into a steady drizzle by 1.30pm so I headed off via Graeme Boyd Motorcycles to share my excitement with Graeme and the boys. I’m sure they think I’m just a little mad doing this trip, having seen me graduate from my L plates to P plates and from a Vespa to my MT07 in just a few months.
I set out for Dubbo with mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation as I kept a close eye on the storm clouds all around me. I felt like I was running away from the storm for the first 200km, but once I hit Merriwa the skies ckeared and the late afternoon sunshine brought a smile to my face.
At 6pm I stopped for fuel in Dunedoo and was conscious that I was rapidly running out of daylight. I had been warned about kangaroos in these parts particularly around dusk and the amount of roadkill I’d passed was certainly testament to that!
As I was filling up my bike I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely local woman, Virginia who was also quick to warn me about the Roos. She gave me her number insisting I call her if anything happened along the road to Dubbo or if I decided to stop off in Dunedoo after all. A text message to tell her I arrived safely in Dubbo was followed by an invitation to stay with her when next I’m passing through Dunedoo. Such is Australian country hospitality!
I arrived safely in Dubbo just after 7pm and loved that last hour of riding in the dark. Such an overwhelming feeling of peace riding through the darkened countryside in the cool night air…even with the constant splat of bugs on my visor!
A hugely rewarding first day on the road and my first big solo ride.