Tag Archives: Members

2022 Rally – A Club Member’s Report

Drew Jackson and Rick Carbis rode all the way from Warwick (QLD) to attend the 2022 Rally in Bethanga.

Here’s Drew’s account of the long ride down and back.

The Year of the Floods 2022

La Niña tried its hardest to stop us getting to Bethanga for the rally this year. With the pandemic intervening in previous years, and advancing age, it was worth the risk to head south and hope for the best. There had been heavy rain and storms in Central Queensland leading up to our departure, so we changed plans and rather than ride all the way from Townsville, we decided to take the bikes in the ute as far as Warwick and then ride the 1,510 km to Bethanga. Rick’s SR500E was a recent rebuild and it had only been on the road for a few weeks, and it was using a lot more fuel than normal, so it wasn’t fully sorted. With just days to go before departure, Rick was still building racks so he could mount his BMW’s Krauser panniers to the bike. While re-jetting his carburettor to fix the economy problem, he created a starting problem. He sorted that out after some advice from a friend. My bike had done the trip twice before, so I used the same old throw-overs and gear. The bikes were loaded into the ute with some modifications so that they’d fit with the tailgate partly closed, and a replica number plate attached. It was fully loaded.

The first overnight stop was in Eidsvold. We stayed at the Star Hotel that is currently undergoing extensive renovations. Our club [Townsville Restored Motorcycle Club] uses the Star regularly. The owner is friendly, and the prices are fair. We arrived in Warwick the following afternoon, unloaded the bikes, and set them up. Rick’s SR was very heavily loaded, and the side stand was struggling to cope. Eventually he shifted the tools to the opposite pannier to prevent it toppling over.

We did a side trip to Brisbane in the ute on Tuesday before arriving back in Warwick on Wednesday and getting on the way, south, at midday. We headed off on the New England Highway and stopped in Stanthorpe to check our fuel economy. Rick’s economy problem seemed to be solved. The hot start button was doing its job, almost. It wasn’t shutting off so the idle was staying high. We turned off the New England at Uralla and headed for Walcha down Thunderbolt’s Way. A very enjoyable ride. We stayed in the Commercial Hotel in Walcha where we were able to keep the bikes in a locked shed for the night.

The following morning, we repaired Rick’s cruise control and headed further south, towards Bathurst. This took us to Gloucester, Dungog and Singleton and then onto Denman, where we stopped for lunch and asked about a shortcut to the Bylong Valley Road and whether the road was open. We were told by a council worker that it was open to light vehicles. This is where we further practised the art of pothole dodging. This used to be a great ride, but the state of the road has deteriorated to the stage where it is only a good ride now. The tight, windy bits are still good. 30 kph posted corners are fun on an SR500. We stopped briefly in Sofala before arriving in Bathurst, and naturally we did a couple of laps of the track before finding our accommodation for the night in an Irish Pub that is under new management. We locked our bikes in the beer garden overnight. The Guinness was great and so was the food.

Friday morning, we headed off on the last leg. We turned off the main western highway and headed towards Crookwell via Trunkey Creek. The first time I rode this way there was still a section of dirt. Now it’s all bitumen with lots of corners and very little traffic. The posted advisory signs range from 15 kph to 55 kph. This road is a great way to travel south. We refuelled in Crookwell and headed for Gunning. We needed to get to Bethanga before dark, so we did the unthinkable and took the Hume Highway to Albury. We stopped in Gundagai for lunch. The Hume was boring, but it saved a bit of time. I told Rick that we’d do the more interesting route on the way home – Jingellic, Tumbarumba, Batlow and Tumut.

We arrived at the sports grounds to be met by Marcos who had kindly packed a couple of chairs for us. My odometer showed 1,510 km.

The rally was great, and it was good to catch up with people after all the lockdowns and restrictions. We’ve all aged that bit more.

On Saturday we rode to Dartmouth dam, and that was spectacular. We had lunch at Eskdale before returning to the rally through some light rain. Saturday night was good, with plenty of red grape juice and Rick taking home the Long Distance Award. I’m glad the trophy was easy to pack, as I don’t think his bike had room for much else.
The rain on Saturday night had managed to soak everything in my tent – sleeping bag, clothes, everything. I woke once the grape juice wore off and shivered and shook until morning.

Getting ready to leave meant putting on the least wet clothing we had and putting on our wet weather gear over the top to stop the wind chill. After breakfast we headed off home. It was raining and it was cold, especially around Batlow. Rick had gone numb. Once we came down off the high country to Gundagai, things improved. We headed to Jugiong for coffee, and then Harden and Bathurst and Rylstone. We stayed at the Globe Hotel in Rylstone. Highly recommended. The following morning it was off to Mudgee, Gunnedah, and eventually to Tamworth. Once we were back on the New England, it was an easy ride back to Warwick. I caught up with family over a Chinese takeaway meal after reloading the bikes into the ute for the trip back to Townsville.

The drive back north was uneventful. We stopped overnight in Dingo at the Motel before heading home via Emerald, Belyando Crossing and Charters Towers. The Holden returned 8.8 L/100 km for the 3000+ km trip, which is pretty good considering the load it was carrying.

Next year, Rick is determined to ride all the way – a 6,300 km round trip, depending on how many windy roads he takes.

2017 Rally – A Club Member’s Report

Drew Jackson and John Davies rode all the way from Warwick (QLD) to attend the 2017 Rally in Bethanga.

Here’s Drew’s account of the long ride down and back!

The ride to the Rally began in Warwick on Wednesday [Nov 22] and it was raining. We usually ride down to the Bruxner Hwy via Killarney, Legume and the Tooloom Scrub to Urbenville and eventually to the Bruxner; however, with the rain, we decided to go directly down to Tenterfield on the New England Hwy.


Our bikes are good back-road tourers, but constant highway speeds seem a little cruel. The KL250 Kwaka is happy at 95 kph, and so is the SR, especially as the round trip will be about 3000 km.

The Bruxner Hwy from Tenterfield to Drake is a great ride with a good variety of corners, but take care, as there are a couple of corners posted at 30 kph that tighten up pretty quickly and have caught out a few riders. Just before Tabulam, we turned south and headed for Grafton. Because of the small tanks on our bikes, it was necessary to fill up whenever we needed to cover more than 150 km. Both bikes were getting over 25 km/L, but running out of fuel is not much fun, so we were being careful.

After a quick lunch in Grafton we headed towards Ebor and Armidale. This is one of my favourite roads, with plenty of corners and only light traffic – it was a pity it was still raining lightly. The new Metzeler on the back of the SR was performing well on the damp roads. From Armidale, we headed to Uralla, and then Walcha, where we spent a very comfortable night at the Apsley Arms Hotel.

An early start the next morning saw us in Gloucester for a coffee after an interesting ride over some pretty rough sections of road. From Gloucester, we headed to Dungog, and then Singleton and Denman. The next section was the Bylong Valley Way to Rylstone; this is great ride with great sandstone formations and plenty of tight corners in a couple of places. I hope the protesters manage to keep the coal miners out of the area. From Rylstone, we headed to Kandos, Ilford, Sofala, and Bathurst – there are plenty of good corners on this section. Our destination for the day was Blayney where we were booked into the Royal Hotel. It was steak night at the Royal and it was booked out – every table in the pub was taken, but the barmaid found us a spot, and for $12 we had a steak with a great selection of sides. We had done about 650 km and we only had about 500 km to go to get to Bethanga for the Rally.


From Blayney, we headed to Cowra and then Boorowa and Jugiong where we joined the dreaded Hume for a few kilometres on the way to Gundagai. It was good to get off the Hume and head to Tumut, Batlow, and Tumbarumba for lunch. We were getting pretty close to our destination, so after a pie and a coffee, we refuelled and headed off to the border at Jingellic. The ride down to Jingellic from Tumbarumba is another good ride, with plenty of good sweepers, and with the aid of gravity, the bikes performed well.

After crossing the Murray River, we turned along the Murray Valley Hwy and headed towards Granya where we turned off to Bethanga. We arrived mid-afternoon and set up our camp before going to the hotel to meet a few of the regular Rally-goers. All up, we did 1615 km getting to the Rally.

The Rally is fully catered and the food is very good and the prices charged are fair. Hot showers are available and there was a cricket match to watch on the Saturday. Saturday night was the official part of the Rally, with awards given out for the Show ‘n’ Shine – Best Original SR, SRX, and so on. There were some very interesting bikes on display.



The Rally was very good and the SR Club did a great job. The venue is a cracker, with a fair amount of shade and green grass to camp on.

The ride home was a lot faster, as we took a more direct route – back to Tumbarumba, then up to Cowra, Wellington and Gulgong. The next day, we headed north to Coolah, Manilla, Bingara, Warialda, Yetman, Texas, and finally to Warwick via Greenup. It was a long day and we did have a break at Yetman at the Codfish Hotel.


We refuelled in Texas – still the cheapest fuel in Queensland.

Over the six days, we averaged 500 km per day, even given the rest day on Saturday.


The ‘Nam Files

Usually, what goes on tour stays on tour – until now! Groff spills the beans on an adventure in Aug/Sep 2016 by a group of SR500 Club members.

Five Honda XR125s, five SR500 Club members and a map of Vietnam – what could possibly go wrong? President Gillman, Paul Newbold, Peter Hickey and Dave Moss joined me in Vietnam recently to ride from Ho Chi Minh City up to Sa Pa and then back to Ha Noi – a distance of around 3500 km. The bikes were hired from OffRoad Vietnam in Ha Noi and sent by train down to Ho Chi Minh City where we picked them up. In Vietnam, a 125 is considered a ‘big’ bike and they were, in fact, just the right size for the trip. Dodging water buffalos, kids, dogs and other road users means anything more than 80 km/h is reckless.

The plan was to follow the little-used Ho Chi Minh Road up the west of the country, rather than the busy and dull Highway One route made famous by the Top Gear trio in 2008. The Ho Chi Minh Road follows large sections of what used to the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail – the route used during the war with America to take supplies from the north to the south. The Vietnamese made the road using the shelter of jungle canopy to hide its presence, which led to the Americans defoliating large sections of the country searching for the ‘enemy’. One story we heard on the trip was that when the Vietnamese road builders came to sections of the rocky mountains too difficult to pass, they’d light flares there at night and the Americans would bomb the area, breaking up the rocks and allowing the road to continue.

We visited Dalat (home of Vietnam’s only vineyards, and producer of the legendary Dalat Red) and the resort town of Nha Trang, before joining Ho Chi Minh Road proper, where it twists and turns for hundreds of kilometres through mountains and jungles. The roads and scenery were spectacular. Highlights of the trip included a night in Khe Sanh, which was also a lowlight, in that it took a couple of days for all of us to stop singing the Cold Chisel song inside our helmets. Gillman, in particular, suffered terribly.

We left the Ho Chi Minh Road when we got into the deep north and headed to Sa Pa, a village in the mountain range that separates Vietnam from China. While it’s hard to pick the best riding in Vietnam, the climb here was memorable, taxing even the reserve power of the 125s. From Sa Pa, the road winds back to the nation’s capital, Ha Noi, where the Australian crew enjoyed some ‘rest and recreation’ before heading home.

There were two crashes (Hickey, twice), the first of which snapped the end off the gearchange shaft. It was welded back together by a local bike shop which refused to charge for the service. Newbold broke a chain when he was attempting to cheat during an engine-off race down a mountain, but apart from this, the trip was incident-free. Oh, Hickey ran over a puppy which had gone to extraordinary lengths to manoeuver itself under his bike’s wheels. The coroner’s report suggested suicide.

What did it cost? Airfares excluded (tip: AirAsia is currently selling flights from Australia to Vietnam for May 2017 for $180!), a holiday like this is pretty cheap. The total cost for each bike rental for three weeks was $350 and that included training them down to Ho Chi Minh City. With three meals a day, drinks (beer is between 70 cents and one buck a can), fuel and accommodation in hotels each night, we were lucky to spend $50 a day, and some days were considerably cheaper than that. Admittedly, we got the bikes at ‘mates rates’, but full price isn’t that much more expensive.

Did we get lost? Yes, mostly due to Newbold’s slavish devotion to SatNav which regularly took us in completely the wrong direction or detoured us through major city industrial estates. My map-reading also occasionally got us into trouble as the writing on the goddamn maps is so small. It seemed to be bigger when I was younger. Did we fight? Of course, but fortunately, having the Club President on the trip helped. He regularly used his supreme diplomacy skills to separate the combatants. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat…!


2016 Rally – A Club member’s report

Drew Jackson from Townsville (QLD) attended the 2016 Rally in Bethanga in November 2016.

Here’s his account of the long ride down!


The annual SR500 Club Rally was the destination for a week-long ride. The ride began in Warwick on the Darling Downs after travelling from Townsville in the ute. My riding companion was already with his Kawasaki KL250 Super Sherpa packed and we set off south on Tuesday morning [15/11] with the intention of covering about 400 km per day and arriving at the rally on Friday [18/11]. We had decided to travel the back roads to avoid traffic and find as many windy roads as possible while still heading south. So we headed to Killarney and from there we headed for Urbenville through the Tooloom Scrub. These roads are narrow, but good fun. From Urbenville, it was then off to Tabulam for our first fuel stop.

First fuel stop, Tabulam (NSW).

The service station was out of 95 octane, so I filled the SR with 91 and it ran just fine at the speeds we were doing. The KL used about 10c less on this section and a quick calculation on the phone returned a consumption figure of 66 mpg (imperial). I don’t like L/100km. From Tabulam we headed down the Clarence Way towards Grafton where we stopped for a pie and cold drink and to fill the tanks again. The SR only holds 12 ltrs and the KL250 only 9 ltrs, so keeping them topped up was essential. From here we headed to Armidale on the Waterfall Way, one of the best roads in NSW, especially the first section to Tyringham – really good fun on the SR as you can ring its neck and enjoy the handling. John was having a ball on the KL as well. We refuelled just before Armidale and again our consumption figures were within a few cents of each other. Our next stop was Uralla before heading to Walcha. This is where the first signs of trouble emerged. I was following the KL when I noticed a couple of puffs of white smoke from the exhaust. We pulled over and checked the oil, but all seemed OK and we spent the night in Walcha at the pub. They provided a shed for the bikes.

Walcha (NSW).

The next morning, after loading all the gear, we were about to head down Thunderbolt’s Way when the KL refused to play ball. It wouldn’t fire. John is a skilled mechanic, so we set to work to diagnose the problem. We had spark, compression and fuel, but nothing could coax the KL into life. So after an hour it was decided that I should push on and John would catch up at our next overnight stop. I headed off towards Gloucester on my own. There was a lot of roadworks and some of the hills required a bit of a run up and even the occasional downshift to maintain a good speed.

Summit, Thunderbolt’s Way (NSW).

I stopped in Gloucester for coffee and rang John to see if he’d managed to revive the KL, but he was stumped. He eventually rang a mate who came and took him to Newcastle where repairs took a couple of days. As a result, he didn’t get to the Rally, which was a real shame as we were going to catch up with some of the SR Club members who we rode around Tassie with earlier in the year. I eventually rejoined him in Canberra after the Rally for the ride back to Warwick.

From Gloucester, I rode to Dungog, Singleton, and then onto Denman for lunch – a schooner of Toohey’s Old. It was pretty hot and the Bylong Valley Way was waiting. This is a beautiful part of Australia and the protest signs along the way made me wonder for how much longer will it remain beautiful. The coal miners want to stuff it up like they have the Hunter Valley. The road itself is great with a variety of sweepers and tight sections.

Phipps Cutting is a rest area on the Bylong Valley Way (NSW).
Bylong Valley Way (NSW).
Bylong Valley Way (NSW).

By the time I arrived in Rylstone, I’d had enough for the day, so I took a room at the Globe for the night and was seated in the bar in time for the Happy Hour. They also provided a lock-up garage for the SR. I am an early riser, and after a quick breakfast, I was on my way south to Kandos, Ilford, Sofala and Bathurst. I did of course do a couple of laps on Mt. Panorama. It still staggers me how the likes of Crosby and Hansford could do the speeds they did around the mountain.

Mount Panorama, Bathurst (NSW).

From Bathurst, it was once again on to the back roads after a short ride on the highway to Woodstock, where I turned south to Wyangala, Boorowa and Harden.

Wyangala (NSW).

This is a very pleasant ride and again plenty of corners and bugger-all traffic. Because of the early start, I had plenty of time to cruise along at a relaxed pace, and the SR was running really well. The Airhawk on the seat made it even better. Eventually I arrived at Jugiong where I had to take the Hume Highway for a few kilometres to Gundagai. Sitting on 110 kph was OK, but the SR prefers a gentler pace.

Gundagai (NSW).

From here it was off to Tumut and Jingellic. The road along the Murray was interesting as recent rains had filled the Hume Weir and the water was backed up all the way.

Kennedy’s Reserve, Thologolong (VIC).

A huge contrast to the drought conditions at home in Townsville. Eventually I made it to Bethanga and proceeded to set up camp for the weekend. I had arrived early, but a few other members had as well. In total, I had ridden 1680 km to the Rally and my fuel consumption varied from 62 mpg to 75 mpg. I did lose one bolt from my side cover, but I had a spare. The oil consumption was nil.

Made it! Bethanga (VIC).

The ride home is another story!

SR500 Restoration

By Mike Wischusen

In 2004 I bought my 1981 model SR500 with 56,000 km from a Melbourne dealer for $2500 with the intention of getting familiar with a larger capacity bike before I bought something more interesting.

My previous machine was a neat little Kawasaki ZZR250 to learn on, which was a great bike, but you had to ring it’s poor little neck to get it going. The SR was a fairly tired old girl, but looked OK from a distance. I discovered later, after I bought it, that parts of the frame had a nice coat of rust that had been over-sprayed with black paint, presumably just to get through a roadworthy. Nice! It had an SR500 Club sticker on the fender, so I presume the previous owner was a member.

I grew to like the SR so much, even though it was temperamental, rusty and grumpy on occasion (much like myself), that I decided to keep and restore the old girl. The attached photos show before, during and after. I have kept it basically stock standard, with the exception of swapping the carb for an TT one (simpler), and the mirrors. I also replaced the dipstick with a Japanese designed-for-SR’s thermometer, which has been superb. The exhaust is a stainless steel set from Overlander Equipment in Warrnambool and has been great; much lighter than the standard pipes (and a bit louder, but not objectionable).

The companies I am happy to recommend for their work on my bike are:

Bike Magic, 11 Roberna St,  Moorabbin, VIC. Ph 03 9532 0626. Contact : Graydon. Not the cheapest, nor fastest, but excellent quality workmanship.

Hydroblast, 12/20 George St, Sandringham, VIC. Ph 03 9597 0387. Contact  Greg and Louise . Friendly and helpful.

Huntingdale Electroplating, 23 Shafton St, Huntingdale, VIC. Ph 03 9544 6079. These blokes do a lot of Harley work, so are familiar with plating bike parts, and I have never had any complaints with their work.

Yamaha City Spares, Level 1/329 Elizabeth St, Melbourne, VIC. Ph 03 9672 2500. Was a great help in tracking down rare spares.

And Mike Cowie (SR500 Club Member) for helping when I got a bit stuck with something.

Being my first resto, I read and re-read any manual I could find five times over to make sure I was doing the right thing.

It took 12 months from start to finish, and has certainly been an education. I was fortunate with the availability of new spares through Yamaha and ebay.

Regarding the engine , I was deliberately slow and methodical due to being my first engine strip down/rebuild, but generally all went well, with the only major problems being splitting the engine cases  and removing the flywheel, which was a right bastard to get off. It finally came off with an almighty BANG which scared the cr@p out of me.

I found taking digital photos of every aspect of the bike’s strip down helped enormously during the rebuild. Thank God for digital cameras. I would recommend this to everyone considering a restoration. Take detailed photos of everything, before and during the strip down. I guarantee you will be grateful for having them as a reference when it comes time to rebuild. Also having labelled re-sealable bags and plastic containers for the copious fittings, bolts, etc. was a Godsend, along with those large cheap plastic storage bins to store all the bits and pieces safely. I bagged and labelled everything religiously.

Once I had it all back together, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and try and start her. After about four kicks, she fired!… then immediately began revving it’s guts out. I almost shat myself! Being aware that you are supposed to be gentle with rebuilt engines full of new parts, I switched off immediately. After many hours trying to figure out where on Earth went wrong (was the cam chain mis-aligned? was the carb faulty? did I forget to take my medication? etc., etc.), I discovered the pull throttle cable was misadjusted and misdirected through the frame and this was holding the carb permanently open.  After fixing that, the sun came out. All was well with the world, and I had a shiny new/old SR500 to play with.

If you are thinking about restoring an SR, dive in the deep end and swim like hell and you will get to the other side eventually. Just be methodical and determined. Before you start, decide what kind of restoration you want to do. From a general daily rider, all the way up to a concourse rebuild, it all depends on what you want to achieve, your passion for the bike, and how deep your pockets are.

Accept the fact that NOS parts won’t come cheap, read every manual you can find, and be nice to the parts person behind the counter and he/she might try harder to get some of those Unobtainium parts you are desperately seeking. Fortunately, most, if not all, SR500 parts are still readily available through Yamaha or ebay. Track down a parts book for your particular model. That little book will be worth more than it’s weigh in Unobtainium.

With the recent official release of the FI SR400 by Yamaha into the country, I’m not sure what, if any, parts are interchangeable. That would be a good question for the lads in the Club to answer. However, there are quite a number of international companies that offer parts support to SR owners – Yambits, Wemoto, Vanem, Deus,  and KEDO, to name a few.

If you find yourself getting to the point where you think it is all too hard, don’t fall into the trap of selling it in bits. I hate seeing incomplete restorations for sale on fleabay. Dont give up. Tuck what you have done away somewhere in the garage and have a break from it. Get back into it when you are ready. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from the SR500 Club lads. It might cost you a couple of beers, but the knowledge, support and enthusiasm within the Club is incredible and will inspire you to keep going.

I had to sell my SR, sadly. However, I sold it to another passionate SR enthusiast and I feel content  knowing it has gone to a good home. I will always miss the old girl.

Good luck and be safe on the roads.

Mike W

Congratulations Matt!

Club member, Matt Cuthbert, has won GOLD at the CBIA Craft Beer Awards, that were held in Brisbane on July 21, 2016!

Matt is a master brewer at Rocks Brewing in Sydney, and his Russian Imperial Stout came out on top out a field of 69 entries in the ‘Porter and Stout’ category.

The stout comes in a big 640 mL bottle, and is a hearty 10.8% alc/vol! It’ll put hair on your chest (and your chin)!

Well done, Matt!




Tasmania – a club member’s report

Drew Jackson from Townsville, QLD, attended the SR500 Club Ride ’round Tasmania, 11-20 March, 2016.

Here’s his account of the trip:


The opportunity to ride around Tasmania once more was too good to miss out on, especially as the ride was going to be chance to use my SR500 on some this country’s best motorcycling roads. When the SR500 Club first floated the idea, I signed up straight away – this was at least 6 mths prior so I had plenty of time to sort out the logistics (and earn the brownie points needed). There was no way I was going to ride the SR500 6000 km on the mainland just getting to and from Tasmania. The thought of having a 38 year old bike break on the wrong side of Bass Strait and then having to get it back home meant that the ute was going to do the big kilometres on this trip. I booked the Mazda on the ferry, and once a rough itinerary was available, hotels and motels were booked online. I then contacted a friend, John, in Warwick and asked him if he wanted to come along for another crack at Tasmania. He had recently downsized his bike as, like all of us, he’s not as young as he used to be. His Kawasaki KL250 was set up for touring, with pannier racks, heated grips and 12V outlet. Given that the bike only had to keep pace with SR500s, then it was thought that the Kawka would do the job.

It is cheaper to take a fully loaded ute across the Strait than two motorcycles.

The drive to Melbourne took a couple of days and with diesel prices as low as $0.99 per ltr, the cost wasn’t too bad. I stopped in Mackay the first night after leaving on Thursday afternoon and driving through torrential rain. It was really pissing down and I had visions of road closures and lengthy detours. So I was up at 4:30am and off to Warwick. More rain! It did stop before Rockhampton, and the rest of the drive was uneventful. We loaded the bikes and camping gear into the ute after doing a final tappet adjustment on the SR, and planned for an early start, with Canberra being our goal for the day. We left Canberra mid-morning and headed for Lakes Entrance where we set up camp in the recreation grounds ($20 for a tent site). They have a big problem with rabbits – the bloody things were everywhere! We arrived in Melbourne in the middle of a heat wave – 37°C! We spent the night with my brother in his fur shop in the suburb of McKinnon. The following day we planned to check out the bike shops in Elizabeth St. We left the ute in a side street near the port with our gear stuffed into the cab and our bikes chained to the ute’s tray. Then disaster struck!

We decided to get a tram into the city, but as John stepped into the tram, his knee went bung. Really BUNG. We got off the tram and he went to a pharmacy to get some painkillers and a walking stick, but he couldn’t walk, even with the stick. We were in deep poo. We managed to catch a taxi to the Royal Alfred Hospital and I wheeled him into emergency in a wheel chair. After waiting a couple of hours, the doctor took him into a cubicle and prodded and poked his knee and didn’t really think he should leave. John explained that he was going to ride a motorbike around Tasmania for ten days. The doctor was probably going to send him to the psych ward at that stage! So she drained a bucket of fluid from his knee, X-rayed his knee and released him with a pile of pills and warnings. We took a taxi back to the ute and eventually found ourselves on board the ferry. John hobbled into the bar and after several cool drinks and a good meal, he went to sleep. The knee was going to play up for the next three weeks, going from feeling pretty good, to feeling pretty awful. Once underway on the bike he was fine – it was getting on and off that had its challenges. Luckily it had electric start.

Once off the ferry, we headed for St. Helens where an old friend was going to let us leave the ute while we were on the ride. He also told us he’d come and pick us up if we broke down anywhere in Tasmania – another retiree looking for something to do! We were asked to leave our laundry behind as well. Great! Clean clothes would be great. That night the rain started and even though we looked at the computer radar images, the clouds weren’t going away. So we set off in the rain and hoped it wasn’t going to ruin a good ride. The rain cleared after 50 km, and the ride to Devonport went well, with the SR and KL making good time. We were to meet the rest of the group on Saturday morning as they got off the ferry. We found a room at Molly Malones Irish Hotel, with a lock-up shed for the bikes. The following morning at 6am, we repacked the bikes and prepared to leave. It was still dark at this time and I flooded the SR. I did the usual thing to clear the combustion chamber and turned the ignition back on. The backfire that resulted shattered the morning peace and would have woken the dead! Luckily the bike started next kick and we melted into the darkness before anyone called the police looking for a fool with a shotgun!

Now this is where the title comes into play. We found a lone SR500 parked near the ferry terminal surrounded by BMW GS1200s and other motorcycles of various sizes and capacities. In the end, only three SR500s and one XT600 Ténéré were in the group. Oh well! As they explained, it’s an owners’ club, not a riders’ club! After introductions, it was off to Stanley, but not directly. We went to Sheffield first for breakfast, then on to Wilmot via some tight windy roads that skirted Cradle Mountain. Our first fuel stop was at Waratah. The SR was running well, apart from a small oil leak, and the economy was looking promising (65 mpg). The main group then headed up to Burnie via the main highway. However, the road we chose was the Hellyer Gorge Rd (Murchison Hwy) which I found to be a great ride last time I was there, and as the weather was fine, we figured that we shouldn’t miss the chance to ride it while it was dry. So after some spirited riding, we arrived in Stanley and found the hotel we’d booked months earlier online. The booking was there, the room was good, and the beer was cold. We then climbed up ‘The Nut’.

The following day, we headed off to refuel and found that the service station at Stanley was out of business. John’s KL was on reserve and we weren’t sure where the next fuel was going to be. His KL only holds 9 ltrs and it had been on reserve for a while. We rode slowly towards Burnie and found fuel at Detention River. They also did a very good bacon and egg burger! The others caught up with us and we headed to Wynyard to top up, just in case. Our destination for the day was Queenstown, but there is more than one way to get there. Some of us wanted to go via the Reece Dam, but this was after riding though Hellyer Gorge again. This is where the first mechanical problem occurred when the Triumph Speed Triple picked up a puncture in the rear tyre. Now this was interesting, as finding the hole wasn’t something these possums had done before! So with some sage advice, soapy water was found, and the leak detected. The hole was plugged with one of those screw in repair kits and the 12V socket on the KL provided the power for an air compressor, and we were on our way again.

The road around Reece Dam is another gem, with a combination of fast sweepers and tighter corners – really worth it. It’s great when you are already enjoying one of these roads with endless corners when you come across a sign telling you that ahead is another 11 km of windy roads! We had lunch at Tullah. The road into Queenstown from Zeehan was a great way to finish the day.

That night we had a really good steak at one of the motels, and retired for the night. The next day the weather was beautiful, so we rode to Strahan. This is another twisty ribbon of bitumen, and very enjoyable. The pub sold cold ale, so we supported it before heading to Zeehan. This is not an exciting ride and was disappointing after what we’d ridden previously. We had lunch in Zeehan before riding back to Queenstown for the night. We cooked for ourselves on the motel BBQ – a pretty good steak with tomato and jacket potatoes. We were doing it tough!

The following morning it was time to head south east to Hobart via Derwent Bridge (breakfast) and we stopped at The Wall. I didn’t think a lot had changed there since our last visit, but it is a ‘must see’ in Tasmania. The Lyell Hwy is another good ride, and after going through New Norfolk and getting fuel, it was off to Hobart. The GPS came in handy, finding our motel, which had views over Hobart. A few of the others were staying here as well. We took the bus into the city as we expected to find a pub at some time in the afternoon. We met up with one of my old friends from way back and he took us for a tour of the University Campus near Constitution Dock. He’s doing a PhD on the environmental impact of the dams, etc. We arranged with him to go for a ride out to Strathgordon the next day. Again, the weather was perfect, but there was question mark about the availability of petrol on this road. We rang the Wilderness Lodge, which had just re-opened the previous day, and fuel was available – at $1.73 a ltr! I’m glad the bike had cured its drinking problem! The scenery was stunning and the effects of the bushfires and drought were obvious. A great day on great roads.

The following day, it was off to Swansea on the East coast. Nowhere is very far in Tasmania, so there was no rush to get there. We stopped at Richmond, where the British Motorcycle Owners Club had a display going in the town hall. After looking at some very good bikes, it was off to the bakery for breakfast, then off to Swansea. Again, my online booking had been successful and a cabin was ready. We unloaded the bikes and headed north for a look at Freycinet Peninsula. This is a very picturesque spot, but the cost of getting into Wineglass Bay was just too much, so we contented ourselves with views from the Coles Bay public bar! The wind had picked up and was blowing very strongly. The following morning it started to rain and showed no sign of clearing, so it was on with the wets and off to breakfast at the bakery on the Northern side of town. The ride to St Helens was pretty uneventful and the rain stopped for us before we got to Bicheno. We had a look at the bike museum there, but I didn’t take any photos. We decided to take a detour on the way and found the turnoff to Elephant Pass. Another set of winding corners took us to a pancake café where we had lunch before going to St Helens via St Marys Pass. We were reunited with the ute and used it to get supplies from the bottle shop. We stayed with friends and played cards into the night.

Launceston was our next stop, and the road to Scottsdale, and then Launceston, is a ripper. We stopped at Derby for coffee and caught up with a couple of fellow SR members on BMWs. After a couple of photos, it was off again on some really good roads. Our motel was across the park from the Automobile Museum, and so we headed over there to check it out. Launceston wasn’t very busy, and finding a café took a fair bit of searching. By this time, John’s knee was playing up, so armed with a bottle of red and a six pack, we headed back to our motel.

It was time to bid farewell to other members of the SR fraternity and head back to St. Helens again to pack the bikes and say farewell to our friends, who once again had done all our laundry! We had one more night in Tasmania, so we drove up to the North East and went to Mt William National Park. This was a dirt road and the graders were ripping it up, so progress was slow. We then visited Tomahawk Point and Bridport before calling it a day and spending the night in a cabin at Low Head.

Great Lake (central, northern Tasmania).

We were due to sail out in the afternoon, so we headed for Great Lake (above), which was really only a little lake, due to the drought. But what a road! I was tempted to unload the SR for one final assault on Tasmania’s highway system, but I didn’t. I’ll leave it until next time! We had lunch in Deloraine before heading up to Devonport to catch the ferry.

Our next adventure involved trams again, and getting out of Melbourne. Next, Broadford [Bike Bonanza]!

PS: John is still waiting for an MRI on his knee.