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From Travels with Guido, book 1

Goldwing Kangaroo sign

The Big Trip

Ditch the timetable

Up until I had the dubious fortune of travelling with Grant, the Guido touring method resembled a bus timetable...gotta be at Lower Freckle Heights by nine on Tuesday, must be at Upper Flogdock by Wednesday – you get the picture. Fast, but no fun. Why not catch a bleedin' bus?

Grant is famous for rooting about, in the figurative sense. None of that fuel-up-can't-stop-now-must-get-to-the-next-town crap. See an attractive-looking pub? Stop for a quiet one, and let the mind relax. Which isn't a recommendation for getting fried along the way – have a light and chat with the locals. Or a coffee out on the jetty of whatever town it is. Anything that breaks the white-line fever.

These days I avoid forward-booking accommodation unless it's absolutely essential. If you're booked, you have to get there – which means you miss out on taking that interesting-looking detour off the highway. Forget it, there's always somewhere to sleep.

My favourite proof of the latter theory happened in Moree – a cotton growing settlement in country NSW. It was absolutely bucketing down, and had been for the last 600 kay. Ms M and I had already squelched our way into a few pubs and motels looking for a bed, but there was a cotton gin fanciers conference on and all the beds were booked.

Then a scruffy-looking local saw the bikes and suggested we might like to mosey along to the local bikie share house.
Don't remember his name, but spending the accommodation money on stocking his fridge with beer seemed like a mutually advantageous arrangement.
(We did end up having an entertaining late-night ride out into the boondocks, full of bravado and beer, but let’s not go into that right now…)

That's shelter taken care of, but what about food? Having once interviewed a chap who held a round-Australia motorcycle record, there's one bit of advice that sticks in the mind. A full stomach makes you sleepy and wrecks your concentration. Caffeine and sugar work a treat when it comes to maintaining alertness.
One of my favourites is chocolate-coated coffee beans.

The proviso is that whatever passes for a body in your case still needs decent fuel. The classic Digger's breakfast – a scratch, a shit and a good look around – doesn't quite fill the bill. Something light, including fruit/cereal for breakfast and fish/salad for lunch is the go for long distances. Reward yourself that night with the other two food groups – tender steak and claret.

We should have a quick squiz at liquids. With Spring upon us and Summer just around the corner, it's easy to end up a little hysterical without even knowing it. You're in suitably protective and stifling gear, work up a sweat on the more interesting bits of the road, and are perhaps battling the dehydrating effects of last night's claret, or today's ale.
Make space in your luggage for a dirty great bottle of water. One of those one-litre Mountain of Happiness Real Spring Water jobbies will do. The servo at the first fuel stop will flog you one for a few bucks. You can refill it along the way, and toss it out at the end of the trip.

When you get the irrits with how far everything is from everywhere else, it's invaluable to be able to pull up, have a smoke if you're that way inclined, a scratch and a big swill of the H2O. Maybe even a half-hour snooze on the nearest park bench.

After shelter, food and water, I reckon the most important thing to have is a camera. One of those dinky digital items will do. My best advice is to blaze away, and try to learn from the results. Time and disk space are cheap and good images are priceless. If you've got access to the internet, use this Kodak link for 10 hints for taking a good pic. It actually predates digital photography and has been updated over the years - terrific.

Carrying a favourite person? Looking at the back of a helmet for hours is not a recipe for fun. Every country town has a park for the kids to play in (necessary every hour-and-a-half) and the exercise will do you both good. If the pillion is an adult, keep an eye open for lookouts and tourist traps. In any case, buy yourself and the passenger an ice-cream. A comfort-food hit does wonders for the rider-pillion relationship – particularly when the mid-afternoon blues hit.

You may have noticed I've avoided the usual bike set-up/having good riding gear advice. That's because I reckon feeling good is 90 per cent of the success formula. As for the rest, geez, you’re over 18, work it out for yourself!

(Travels with Guido book1, column 4, circa 1998 with updates. Republished May 19, 2019)


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