July 9 – July 25 Sidney/near Sidney.
I got into Australia fairly easy even though the security checks wanted to look at my passport and visa multiple times. In the line for quarantine/bag check the guy called me forward to ask me a few questions. An Asian guy followed right on my butt. The security guy was pissed. "Give this guy some space and privacy. Move back behind the line mate". I had gotten so used to having no conversation space or personal space in Asia, it didn't even occur to me that this guy was basically humping my leg in line. Trying to make it move faster I guess. The guy said "sorry about that." move ahead. They didn't check any of my stuff. I was worried about my moto pants and boots being to dirty because I actually forgot to wash them. Because in Bali I was so preoccupied with my bike. An excuse that would probably not worked very well with the quarantine inspection officials. I picked up a local prepaid sim card and took a taxi to the office for the import company of my bike because they needed my carnet as soon as possible. The taxi ride took about 12 minutes and cost $32. 2nd indication I was not in Asia anymore. The taxi driver had a heavy Russian accent. When I asked him where he was from, he said "I am from Australia!". Ok. Never mind. I guess we can't make small talk about your home country.. which I've probably been to. With my bags in hand, I said "Dasvidanya" to him as I walked away. He smiled and didn't say anything back.
The next 2 nights I stayed at a friend of a friend's house who was also into bikes. He was in the process of making an old airhead BMW into a cafe racer. Apparently getting sign off on inspection is a tough process in Australia. Any modification to a bike, car or truck must be "engineered" and have paperwork. This worried me because of all the custom "un-engineered" work I have done on my bike. Cops regularly ask for engineering paper work if they pull you over. And I had heard horror stories about the cops in New South Wales.
A nice girl named Anna from Ukraine has been riding around the world on a 1190 ADV. We originally had planned to meet up with each other in Thailand. We were in Bangkok at the exact same time. But she was leaving on the bike, and I was just arriving on an airplane. She said it best, "Its funny to agree upon catching up with fellow travelers. Normally when you want to catch up with friends, you choose some coffee-house in a convenient part of a city for all the parties. With fellow travelers, you choose a convenient part of the world. Hey mate, were are you planning to be in September? Thailand? Mmmm I'm afraid I'll be in Malaysia already. Let's try to meet up in Argentina or Brazil in a few Months". We ate some sushi by the Sidney opera house, had a beer, and discussed traveling. It was nice to chat with another solo traveler. She had gone through the same highs and lows. Love and heartbreak. Sunshine and rain. You can see Anna's website here.
After a day or 2 my bike had gone through inspection and customs work was complete. Since my bike came in on a crate, I paid to have a truck bring it to the place where Craig was living, about 2 hours west of Sydney. I was lucky enough to tag along with the truck driver who delivered the crate. That night Craig and I were up till midnight getting the bike ready. We would go on a 2 day shake down ride the next day with 3 other bikers. 2 big BMWs, a DR650 and Craig's Tiger 800 xc. It was a cold day on the ride out. Shortly before lunch my low voltage lead came disconnected. While I had the tank off, we found a leak in my radiator. We cleaned it and used some steel putty to fix the leak. This would last through the weekend. We did a bit of off road riding, a few river crossings and camped at a place called Broken Hill. It was here I saw my first Kangaroo. It was a cold night but the wine was flowing like water at the local pub. I slept well with all my thermals but others were cold the whole night. In the morning there was frost on the grass and seats. By the afternoon, the sun had warmed us up.
|I was un-crating when Craig and Patty arrived home.|
|We fired the bike before midnight.|
|Found a radiator leak|
|Craig knows some good adv roads... even if you have to go through a gate with a "no trespassing" sign.|
|I was toasty warm all night. The bikes? Not so much.|
Over the next few weeks, I got my radiator welded, frame welded, new tires and other small tasks on the bike while I waited for Craig to get off work. DirtTricks said they would give me a free front and rear Ironman sprocket for the 690 since my rear sprocket lasted to 65,000km. GHR Honda is the DirtTricks supplier in Oz. They threw in a new x-ring chain. At the GHR honda shop, I got to see some amazing toys. There was a few Honda CRF450 rally bikes that had competed in the last Dakar, a Honda quad Dakar bike, and a Turbo 800cc buggy that had won an offroad championship last year. Glen said the CRF450s were getting 30,000 km between rebuilds and extended oil life because of a 3 ring piston and stainless valve. Better than stock but not quite up to par with a 690. Of corse it goes without saying, I'd love one of those CRF450s in my garage.
|Good time to check wiring when the radiator is out.|
|Good as new? We will find out in the desert. Better than I could do at least.|
|Bracket made to keep the lv coil lead from vibrating. This was a final fix until the coil failed a few weeks later.|
|Getting up there in my kms.|
|The man himself. Glen|
|Glen's sweet 800cc turbo buggy. He won the championship his rookie year in this.|
|Dakar and rally bikes.|
|A rebuilt dakar bike. This one raced in the 2013 dakar.|
|A brand new Dirttricks sprocket and one with 60,000 km on her.|
I spent way way to much time trying to find insurance for the moto. 3rd party injury insurance is required in Australia. 3rd party property is not required. In Oz, the 3rd party injury insurance is tied into the price of the registration. So what do you do if you can't legally register your moto because its on a carnet? Well, you are actually fooked. In NSW, you are insured by the government under a sort of umbrella policy. The other states don't do this. Northern Territory said they would insure my bike if I got it inspected. I could not get a straight answer if other states would honor the NT insurance. I called all the insurance companies who others had been insured by, they said they wouldn't insure me. So I made the plan to get my bike inspected when we got to Alice Springs and buy insurance. But what happens if the inspector asks for my engineering documents? My bike is so custom its is barely recognizable as a KTM 690 anymore. So.. Do you risk riding with out insurance? Or risk getting "black listed" because your bike doesn't comply to a countries stupid rules?
The night before we were supposed to leave, we installed a new battery in the Tiger. We thought this would fix the starting problem Craig was having with it. Unfortunately it didn't. We added grounds, tested solenoids, tested contacts. Finally we pulled the starter motor. The 4 brushes were all but spent. We searched and searched and finally found a used one locally in Sydney. When we picked it up, we pulled the back. The brushes looked good. We got back home and installed it. Same problem. Bike would start with 2 batteries in parallel, but not with only one. Finally we pulled the starter again and I pulled the back off it. One oft he brushes had stuck and wasn't contacting the rotor. So the starter motor was only able to output 1/2 the torque because it was only using 1/2 the windings. We put it back together and the bike fired up. Finally we would leave in the morning. Well afternoon. 2 days later than planned.
|All packed up.|
|Craig is ready.|
|The Liger is ready (Tiger + lada... see here)|