West Glos & Dean Forest
Motor Cycle Club

Celebrating 71 Years of Motor Cycling 1953 - 2024

Trans Australia The Bishop's Way!

Words and Photos By Clare Bishop

Clare with Andy's bike, clearly 'Up a Depth'.

The following travelogue (i.e. written on the back of the bike!) was written by Clare Bishop, probably our clubs most experienced sidecar passenger with Road Race, Grasstrack, Trials and Enduro skills under her belt. The article was first seen in 4 instalments of the Western Centre's Gazette which was published by Editor Trevor Hunt. Nowadays the Gazette has moved on to the Web and can be found at www.acuwesterncentre.org.uk

I suppose you could say it was an offer you couldn't refuse- so we didn't!! The offer came from Andy Linford, an old motorcycle friend who emigrated to Australia ten years ago.

Andy lives in Witchcliffe which is situated south of Margaret River, 3000 km south of Perth. (down the bottom left). An old university friend who lives in America was visiting Sydney and wanted to meet up with him. The snag was he couldn't afford the time it would take to do the round trip as like us all, he has a living to make. That's when he made us the offer.

Deciding what to take required a lot of thought. We needed a complete set of motorcycling gear including boots and helmets plus maps, camera and clothes which would fit into two motorcycle panniers.

Friday 4th October. We left Heathrow on Friday October 4th late in the evening and arrived in Sydney at 6:00 Sunday - about 25 hours with a stop off in Dubai and Singapore. We travelled on Emirates and were well looked after. It was a very long flight, each seat was equipped with its own screen with a choice of films, TV programmes and music which were multi cultural. You could also select a channel which showed taking off and landing from a choice of two cameras attached to the aircraft. In flight you could see on a map the position of the plane, outside air temperatures, air speed and altitude.

We used the underground to find our way around to Ashfield, a suburb of Sydney. Most of the people we saw were Chinese or Malaysian. We asked the way and trundled our luggage along wide straight streets. In the distance we saw a figure bounding towards us. Andy came to meet us. That first day was a bit of a blur (Jet lag). Using the underground we returned to the centre and did the tower, the harbour, the bridge and the opera house. We took the ferry round the harbour to Watkins Bay and had our first Aussie beer.

The Route.

Monday 7th October. First we sorted out the packing and did some planning for the trip. Then we did the rest of Sydney, the museum, the war memorial and the botanical gardens. To finish off a busy day we ate in the open at the festival of food called "Noodles in the Park". Red wine, Thai music and a backdrop of the bridge, Harbour and opera house - who could ask for more.

Tuesday 8th October. Sydney to Katoomba 120 km. On the road, the beginning of the journey of over 7,000 kilometres. Not many K's as we only started at 13:00. It was extremely hot, 34C 8% humidity with strong west winds. We saw three fire engines and could see smoke in the distance and smell the bush fires. We later learned some homes had been destroyed.

Wednesday 9th October. Katoomba to Bateman's Bay 400km. This took us through the blue mountains a vast area of impressive sandstone. Descending to the coast we encountered steep declines with hairpins and plenty of runoffs for those who didn't negotiate them. We had our first taste of unsealed roads and wanted more. By the time we reached Bateman's Bay we were quite cold.

Thursday 10th October. Bateman's Bay to Tathra. 193km. Had lunch at a winery and bought some Australian wine. After lunch we took a break on the coast road and paddled in the Tasman sea. Saw wallaby and kookaburra in a garden centre owned by a friend of Elaine and Peter Capper - friends from Staunton.

Friday 11th October. Tathra to Albury. 495 km. When we stopped for coffee we were interested to see café "Matilda" sponsored a sidecar trials crew who had come third in the local championship. We went through the Snowy Mountains and the ski resort of Therbo, coffee break was at Murray 1 a Hydro Electric power station harnessing the power of the mountains. Later as we followed the river along unsealed roads flocks of white cockatoos flew overhead. The water was low and many leafless trees were exposed, many still in the water.

Saturday 12th October. Albury to Warragul. 460 km. This must have been one of the best days for riding on unsealed roads and for Julian the most frustrating, two up and luggage laden. We emerged from the bush at Woods Point to encounter about eight dirty dusty trail riders on KTMs. Unfortunately for Julian none of them were interested in wife swapping for their bike. So we had a coke and a chat and continued the rest of the trail which was equally awesome. It rained that night and we remembered we had left the waterproofs on the back -

Sunday 13th October. Warragul to Aires Inlet. 335km. Breakfast was late but worth waiting for. It was "A Champions" at Philip Island Visitor Centre. It was a shame we were not there a week later to see the Moto GP.

We saved a few miles by using the ferry from Sorento to Queenscliff and stayed the night in a real Australian home. They left for work in the morning, leaving breakfast for us, we didn't need to lock up and hide the key - it had broken in the lock two years previously.

Monday 14th October. Aires Inlet to Portland. 343 km. After Aires Inlet we followed the great ocean road, the long sweeping beaches went on for miles, the sea was a picture card blue green.

We stopped off at a visitors view point to see the eroded limestone cliffs and layered blocks just off the coast line called London Bridge and the Twelve Apostles, it was very windy.

Back on the road, we travelled through rain forest - it was damp, cold and eerie. For lunch as a change from the usual sausage roll and flat white, it was kangaroo pie - we were not too impressed. Jane, who was our host in Aires Inlet , suggested that en-suite cabins on caravan parks were a good place so we booked in at one at Portland. We stayed here for a rest day, gave the bike a rest and caught up with the laundry.

Wednesday 16th October. Portland to Strathalbyn. 520 km. On the road again we passed through extensive forests of Radiata trees and wood processing plants. At Kingston Julian made some phone calls to a M/C dealer in Adelaide to locate a new tyre, then used some more unsealed roads which we enjoyed most. This time it was through the salt marshes. We saw Emus with their young. The lake which is protected from the southern ocean by Young Husbands peninsula was coloured pink - this is carotin which plankton produces to protect itself from the ultra-violet rays.

After that it was rows and rows of neat well tended vines. Coffee stop was at the craft centre - lucky me, I was allowed half an hour to look around. Later the road stopped on the banks of the river Murray, we thought we had taken the wrong way but no. the 24 hour ferry arrived to take us across. It was part of the highway.

The caravan park at Strathalbyn had no cabins but we were directed to the Robin Hood Hotel. After booking in we had a few beers in the bar of the hotel, it was about 6:00 and spent some time talking to the locals. It was quite busy. I don't think I have seen so many antique/junk shops in one place. We had an Asian meal in the restaurant next to the pub and enjoyed a nightcap with a well oiled landlord who insisted that we sampled some crab he had caught earlier that day.

Thursday 17th October. Strathalbyn to Morgan. 281 km. Next morning we made our own breakfast in the hotel dining room - we saw nobody.

The road to Adelaide took us through Macclesfield, which was due to be closed the following Sunday for the Adelaide Classic Car Rally (according to the locals, 365 bends, one for each day of the year).

Into Adelaide and we found a tyre for the bike much cheaper than the price we had been quoted at the other BMW dealer and fitted free. Also the shop had KTMs for Julian to ogle over. Finding our way out of Adelaide was a nightmare but the unsurfaced motoring soon made us forget.

It was very arid you wonder how the sheep manage to survive. As it got hotter and hotter the heat haze made the horizon appear curved. Filling up with petrol and enjoying an ice cream we picked up a leaflet for Morgan Caravan Park on the banks of the Murray river and decided on an earlier stop than planned (what only 281 km!) but it was a lucky break as it was one of the nicest places we stayed at. The weather forecast was hot and windy so we stayed another day and did the historical walk.

In the pub much wry humour was gained from how much land had changed owners due to the gales.

Typical Unsurfaced Road.

Saturday 19th October. Morgan to Hawker. 540 km. This was magnificent and scary on an unsealed road, which had been covered with fine red sand from the previous days gale. As you hit the deeper sand it made the bike twitch, you recognised where it could happen by the darker shade of sand - we travelled on this for 300 km. We saw plenty of kangaroos and emus but only 3 people.

The place names on the map were homesteads, it's a good job we didn't fall off (skill of a competent rider) and we had enough petrol and plenty of water. It was quite a relief to see the Flinders Ranges in the distance and when we eventually hit the tarmac we decided to stay on it. What a contrast - well made fast roads all the way to Hawker.

We thought we were really in the heart of Australia until we saw a map and realised we were still only at the bottom of this vast continent. We stayed two nights in Flinders, walked into the bush to Arkaroo Rock, another ancient site, we saw a kangaroo sheltering in the shade with her joey and an emu with two chicks who raced alongside us - that's fine as long as they don't choose to veer in front of you.

Sunday 21th October. Hawker to Ceduna. 600 km. The start of the long trek across the Nullabor - so we departed early with plenty of layers of clothing as it was quite cold. We left Flinders Ranges passed through Quoin, Port Augusta and Iron Knob into barren landscape with dry creeks and in the company of the road trains.

We booked into a cabin in Ceduna, which was almost on the beach. It was hot so we paddled in the Murat Bay, which opens into the Great Australian Bight, then an early beer followed by a trip to the supermarket where we bought an Aussie hat each (no corks). This was the first place we saw a lot of aborigines sitting on the pavements in groups just talking. We had seen notices in bars stating that it was illegal to serve beer to anybody who appeared intoxicated, apparently Aborigines cannot tolerate alcohol.

Tuesday 22nd October. Ceduna to Cocklebiddy. 822 km. Another early start and a visit to the head of the great Australian Bight to view the whales. Way back in the summer when we had been planning this trip various people has said "you must see the whales on the bight". On our travels we met so many people who had told us about the whales, so it was something we were looking forward to seeing, especially Julian. We made a detour from the Eyre highway to the Bunda Cliffs, which are 50 million years of geology. It was very windy and not much to see except for pure white sand and beautiful blue sea and an even bluer sky, it seemed we were too late in the season. Just us and four other tourists hoping to be lucky - and we were! We saw the last mother whale with her calf, they came up and displayed themselves turning in the blue sea; a truly wonderful sight as they swam across the bay and then off on their journey to the colder waters of Antarctica. Just half an hour later and we would have missed them, we were so glad we had made an early start.

Back on the road, we stopped for lunch at Eucla (usual flat white and sausage roll). Here we met an elderly couple on their way home to Perth. We didn't actually meet the couple again but passed them all the way across the Nullabor giving them a wave each time.

Onward, ever onward we followed the kangaroo graveyard. Carcasses of kangaroos lie every few metres, run down by the road trains as they search for water and warmth on the tarmac roads during the night. The smell was 'interesting'.

We booked in at Cocklebiddy Wedge Tail Inn motel and Caravan Park. Twelve people live here - nine are staff at the motel. We were now in the heart of Nullabor plain - an ancient seabed, exposed as the land rose and the oceans fell. The annual rainfall is six inches and temperatures ranges from -6C to 50 C. Water is precious. It comes from boreholes and is desalinated - the minerals and salt are removed by reverse osmosis, so water is never wasted. The name Nullabor incidentally is not Aborigine, but was given by early explorers: it is (roughly)Latin for 'no trees' - very apt.

Wednesday 23rd October. Cocklebiddy to Esperance. 665 km. There are two time changes across the Nullabor, one crossing from South Australia to Western Australia another at Caiguna. It was therefore easy to make another early start at about 7:15 local time. We saw two feral camels and later two dead camels, victims of the road trains.

After a coffee at Baladonia it was 182 km of straight road - the longest stretch with no bends in the world.

When we came to the end of our long trek across Nullabor at Norseman we were stopped by the police, immigration and customs - a routine check. They were very thorough and though it was still quite early in the morning Julian was breathalysed (first time ever).

After that there was more to see, huge storage bins and aggregates, sand dunes, lagoons, salt lakes (with a white crust of salt on the surface) all the way to Esperance. After three long days on the road, 2087 km, we decided to have a rest here.

It really does serve Petrol!

Thursday 24th October. Esperance. 50 km. Having got into the Australian time mode, early to be dearly to rise, we were up and about by 8:45 to catch the boat (Sea Breeze) with McKenzie Tours to Woody Island. It was quite cold and windy but we still sat out in the open in the front of the boat. We could see from the grain, iron an nickel loading bays that Esperance is a thriving port.

We had a close up view of seals, sea lions, sea eagles and grey geese as they sunned themselves on the rock outcrops. The captain stopped the engines so that we could see the water blows of the hump back whales but we couldn't get very close as they are sensitive to noise.

We landed and having had coffee and cake in the visitors centre we went to explore the island. Time was short so we went on a short walk to Twiggy's landing. Here we saw crabs and sea birds. The flora included flowers and shrubs of vivid colours and on the way back we saw some lizards. Back on board the weather deteriorated - the sea was rough but exhilarating.

Afternoon was a scenic ride. We walked down to the beach called Blue Haven which we had viewed from the boat in the morning, white sand, turquoise sea and staircase down through the sand dunes made from massive lorry tyres embedded in the cliff.

The latter part of the ride was a little disappointing as the pink lake, which is coloured by carotin, wasn't pink. Later during our shopping trip for the evening meal I found a patchwork fabric shop. I enjoyed a little retail therapy while Julian sat on a bench soaking in the sun. despite the early start we managed to stay awake to see a late programme on the problem of feral cats in Aus.

Friday 25th October. Esperance to Denmark. 660 km. Another early start, I was expert now at packing up the panniers, the biggest problems were shoes and maps and we had collected plenty of those along the way. We stopped for fuel at Ravensthorpe and coffee at Jerramungup.

As you sit on the back as pillion doing nothing much you absorb the scenery on this section. I remember masses of white butterflies, large cabbage like plants and open cast nickel mines.

It was hot so we stopped for petrol again at Amulup where the usual sign of 'Caution Kangaroos crossing' was replaced by 'Caution Nudists crossing' - but there was no one around to ask when they were due.

The next part was 'awesome'. 70 km of unsealed roads through the Stirling Range, masses of Echinida plants and various other shrubs.

Next stop was Kendenup, (lots of places finish with up - a local term). Then through the Poronurup National Park where we stopped to find a tree which grows on top of a rock and I was amazed at the vivid colours (yellow, pink, purple) of the wild flowers.

Albany seemed rather large so we continued on to Denmark. We stayed in a caravan park. They had no en suite cabins left so we stayed in a caravan, no toilet, no TV and it smelt of cooking, but was cheap. The caravan park was quite a way from the town centre, a lovely walk along a river in the daylight, but later after a few beers we had to walk back in the pitch black.

Saturday 26th October. Denmark to Whitecliff. 365 km. The last leg of the journey took us through the Valley of the Giants, an area of Tingle and Kari trees. You may have seen pictures of these trees with a car parked in the bottom. The trouble with this intensive impacting at the base of the trees is that it has caused the trees to die. The problem has been resolved by building a giant walkway above the trees, it is magnificent experience for some (not others - ask Julian). At the base and inside the trees a boardwalk has been constructed to spread the impact of the feet of millions of visitors.

We saw a Tiger Snake; luckily from the safety of the walkway as it is the most poisonous in Australia.

We had been on the road for eighteen days and covered over 6000 km, then just a few kilometres from our destination, two kangaroos ran out from nowhere across out path. We didn't like to dwell on what might have happened as they are big animals.

Holiday memories of Western Australia

Having borrowed Andy's bike and travelled over 5000 miles we decided to try some of his other vehicles. We borrowed the ATC and went to the nearest beach, this was definitely off road and I was amazed at its performance over the rocks and sand (so that's why it is called All Terrain!). We eventually found the sea and a rocky cove, which was infested with purple and red crabs.

After lunch in Augusta we visited the Lee lighthouse. I was all ready to climb to the top but the next trip available was booked to a school group so I had to settle for a paddle on the rocky outcrop. Here I dipped one foot in the Southern Ocean and the other in the Indian Ocean.

Later on in the day we met Kristie and her two children and partner who live in a mud house, they have no power or toilet, but on their roof they grow strawberries and their bathroom is outdoors, heated by a fire underneath and shared by the whole family.

To finish off a busy day we ventured into the forest to feed the possums. Pieces of apple lured them down the trees. We were ably helped by a group of school children camping underneath the trees. (equivalent of D of E scheme). Back home through the bush was a bumpy ride and in the headlights we picked out kangaroos.

Being interested in caves I had to go underground. This was organised by Carolyn, Andy's ex-wife as I had taken her and Alice and Gabriella their two daughters down Clearwell Caves on a trip to the UK. It was the same in Australia as Wigpool Common - "Can't find the entrance" but it was interesting stumbling through the bush and being shown the exotic orchids. Eventually the entrance to Milligan cave was located. It had a disused staircase as it had been a show cave in the early 1900's. we didn't trust this and laddered in - to a well decorated cave with a moon milk (a kind of calcite), stalactites and even rarer helectites on false floors. As we exited we took a photo of a green frog trying to climb up the rope we were using as a lifeline.

We were invited to lunch with Carolyn's friend who came caving with us. I was shown around their house constructed from home made bricks and the homestead with Seville and navel orange trees and a small orchard of lemon and lime trees. Then over lunch an amazing discovery, Dawn came from Chippenham and remembered going out with a guy with black hair who went 'scrambling'. Yes it is a small world - his name was Julian.

Next morning having picked a few bags of lemons we left for Bussellton to visits Andy's mum. Meanwhile back in England some of our friends had received a letter from her telling how two of Andy's friends were borrowing his bike to travel from Sydney to M R. That's strange they thought "Clare's doing that". I told you it's a small world. Having arrived at Bussellton we were given bikes (push) and helmets and did the historic tour. We had taken our bathing costumes with us, and as this was nearing the end of our trip I was determined to use them. We changed in Barbara's front room, walked across the road and went swimming - even Julian enjoyed it.

Last evening was Andy's annual party, we helped him prepare the fire and clean the barbeque. We were told, as we were travelling to the UK the next day that if asked (by the law) they would say we were responsible for letting of the fireworks which are illegal in WA.

On Sunday morning I visited the casualty department and then the local doctor as my left arm had mysteriously swollen. I was given the OK to fly home and a sling for effect. Then it was goodbye to Andy and Margaret River and off to Perth via Freemantle in Kristie's Volkswagen.

The flight back was one stop at Dubai. Having re-boarded I had a window seat, the visibility was superb and I saw, mountains, desert, lakes and dams. Then the captain who usually only spoke to passengers on take-off and landing, told us that the mountain to the right was Mount Ararat.

Visibility remained good until the Black Sea then there was nothing until London. Here we were able to pick out the 'Eye', the Millennium Dome and the Houses of Parliament. The landing was a 10/10 and despite picking up our luggage quite quickly we missed our bus. The National Express to Chepstow was on time, not twenty minutes late as usual. We waited for the next one and were picked up by Joe. We had left Margaret River at 9:00 on Saturday and were back at Fairview at 4:45 on Sunday. An eventful holiday, a long trip and glad to be back home. Thanks to Andy for a holiday of a lifetime.