Terra Nullius Part 1.

So I’ve actually done it. I stood at the edge of the cliff looked down into the uncertainty that lay before me, took my final breath and leaped off the edge.

What had I done? Well, the premise was simple: take my small little postie and ride it around the world. I mean you can sum in up into a 7-word sentence ‘Around The World On Seven Horse Power”. So the premise was simple but the application so far has had it’s hoops to jump through. But there I was actually committing to one of my cavalier ideas; which rarely become reality. But this time I worked to will my audacious scheme into reality.

Oh my goodness, what a reality it has been. I made a slightly late start from home on the Monday at some time around 11:00 am after having to run out and get a rubbish bicycle pump as my current one wouldn’t fit. I can’t say with much certainty as to what I felt upon my leaving, the restlessness I had experienced seemed as though it had subsided and my emotions felt rather muted during the lead-up. Maybe it was all just too surreal to cope with initially, but who knows the mind is a mystery.

Taking the coast road north of the city I was soon on my way when I stopped at a local supermarket to grab some last things I felt I needed. It was the last supermarket I would see for almost 1500kms to pick up some lip balm (which I used then and still haven’t used again since leaving.) and another 5-litre bladder of water (which I also haven’t used since.). The first person approached me outside the shopping center where I had illegally parked on the footpath to begin the first of what became a well routine encounter.

“Hey Mate, Is that a Postie Bike?”

“Sure is mate, ex-Australia Post.”

“She looks like she’s pretty loaded down mate, where ya’ going?”

“Around the world mate.”

“Schhhh.”
“No, seriously. I’m riding to Darwin, shipping it to Timor and then it’s westward into the sunset”

“Well good luck, can I have a photo? My brother’s cats second uncle twice removed sister in law is a postie and he’d be right into it.”

“No worries mate, have a good one”

The script would soon become tired being played out on average two to three times a day with only some minor deviations. It became quickly became apparent that everyone was into the idea, thumbs up and horns from overtaking cars.

So I was out of the city onto the main conduit that would take me the point I would take my leave from Australia, The Great Northern Highway, slowly I watched the trees and hills turn into field of wheat and before I knew it red dirt and green bushes encircled me all the way until it melted into the horizon. I made to Wubin on the first day, or just out of. But filling up the fuel tank I had my side stand collapse breaking both of my mirrors, not good when my itinerary for the next few days primarily consisted of being overtaken by road trains. Leaving Wubin I made a small little camp out the back of a rest stop and quickly found myself dreaming after setting up camp.

Camp Day 1
I awoke early on the second day a good hour before sunrise to the lively chatter of the native birds; this was an alarm clock that was set to become the status quo. It didn’t take much deliberation to come to a conclusion that I would have no luck getting any more sleep so I decided to make an early start and began to pack up camp. Packing and unpacking soon became my most despised routine. What felt like an excruciating amount of time, I would endeavor to avoid at whatever costs necessary.

I still felt slightly disgruntled about the mirrors but I reminded myself that the damage was little and would be easily fixed when I could find the parts. I watched the scenery change rapidly and give way to the most striking array of contrasting colours. I soon passed a series of salt lakes with a bright pink hue to them. I was ever tempted to ride out onto. It took so willpower talking myself out of sinking into a selenic pink mush, assuring with a groundless certainty that one day I would reach Bonneville.

I made it to Payne’s Find before lunchtime and ran into a German gentleman who wished to take a photo of me after the second repeat of the aforementioned routine (This being said his postie relation was only his neighbour.) after paying an extortionate litre price for petrol I made tracks hoping to reach Meekatharra before nightfall. Along the road, I saw an odd looking shimmer at the end of what was yet another ferociously straight stretch of road as I enclosed the image eventually began to form the shape of a man on a bicycle going at a pace which would have been only slightly quicker than a brisk walk at best. Without any hesitation, I was pulled up on the side of the road eagerly awaiting him to catch up with me.

Wearing a flyscreen and a wide brim hat I could make out that he had seen many years, he looked like he would have been over 70. We had a brief discussion about each other about our respective journeys. His bicycle looked like something you might pull over from a dusty shed out the back of the deceased estate. It was an old Malvin Star from back in the 90s from what I could ascertain which was currently propelling him on a Lap around West Australia which he cheerfully stated he was doing for to quote “a bit of fun”. He told me that he was collecting the remaining water and fluid in the water bottles abandoned along the highway to keep himself going and spending 6 hours riding at night to avoid the heat. I have a large degree of respect for his resourcefulness a truly inspiring site.

I made camp a little out of Meekatharra and managed to make a small fire to warm up what was starting to become the all-familiar canned evening meal.

Made it to Newman by 2:30 after a solid 7 hours of riding, where I managed to get my hands onto a replacement for one of my mirrors, I then quickly made my way out of town towards Karinjini. I stopped at the foot of a mountain to set up camp for the night where I ran into my first instance of true kindness on the road.

Bill and Gale had also stopped for the night at the base of the mountain. A couple that is perpetually traveling around Australia. After I was returning from the mountain I had climbed behind the campsite approached me. Bill had been driving around Australia in his Ute for 5 years and Gail for an astonishing 11 years in her 30-year-old RV. They invited me for dinner where I had my first meal that wasn’t out of a can in 3 days and also shared with me some moonshine which Bill was making out of a still in the back of his ute and mixing with golden syrup. After dinner, I went to make a camp of luxury for my first sleep on a picnic table a trick I had picked up from the ZMM*.

Camp day 3

I soon found myself inside Karaijini National park, only a short trip from my picnic table abode. After a very short glance at a map, I found myself hit a road with a sign that clearly stated in plain writing “4WD VEHICLES ONLY” after about 6 seconds of consideration I came to the conclusion that Atty would be fit for the task. Also, I came to see Gorges and Gorges I would see, 4wd track or not.

I am unsure if I can safely claim that my initial assumption that Atty would be fit for the task was correct. I was running road tires at this point at about 40 PSI and after the first couple of kilometers, the tracks intensity was dialed up to 100. Soon the dirt track gave way to unforgiving corrugations and loose rocks, which made my arms into an extension the bikes suspension and my rear end, have as much stability as a four-year-old on a WD40 covered slip and slide.

None the less I persevered with a voice in the back of my head that was growing louder and louder saying, “something’s going to break” to which I would softly reply “Just a little bit father”. Thankfully nothing broke and I didn’t come off, which may have been a small miracle that my cumulative experience on dirt was equivalent to one day, which I crashed 11 times, and a few unsealed roads.

4WD only cheer

I reached the final Gorge after about 40kms of the washboard anguish after biting off just about as much as I think I could chew. I was rewarded by running into a charming pair had been sailing their yacht around the world from New York for the past 11 years and had stopped in Australia to do an overland lap. They took this fantastic photograph of me (you can find their website here if you are interested in their amazing travels http://www.zeroxte.com/). easy_rider.jpg

I made a quick run out to Tom Price for some supplies through a spectacular road, which weaved through rolling hills. I made it back to Karinjini before nightfall to once again sleep on a park bench.

I spent the next day seeing the remaining gorges, which were gorgeous (harr harr harr). I then made my way north towards Port Headland on which has been called the Highway from Hell. This stretch of road was a straight line that melted into the horizon and never seemed to end. This was made worse by the searing heat and lack of scenery. More so I was inundated with continuous 50-meter long road trains overtaking me spraying me with the loosely packed raw material they were hauling. The road trains were so massive I would get caught in their slipstream and have no choice but hit the brakes to get behind them, sketchy shit!

Day 5

I can’t say I spent more than 15 minutes in Headland, it came across to me as a utilitarian place with the soul function of serving the behemoth West Australian mining industry. I made tracks towards Broome and ended up making a rough camp in a ditch next to the road.

That’s all I’ve got time, for now. Look out for the rest in part 2!

Love and Mercy,
Liam

Postie Bikes and the Intrepid People Who Ride Them.

This past Sunday I was lucky enough to go out riding with a party of bashful fellows on postie bikes and cause a general ruckus! Perth Posties made a show of force with 8 brave riders and some truly unique bikes, including a mean bored out caf’ postie which had been extended.

The ride began pleasantly from Fremantle where I had made a very poor attempt at a mono at the first set of traffic lights (was a close shave and a ‘woo!’ of relief). We continued up the coast where we struck intimidation into a group of hog riders whom were parked on the side of the road.

We continued up the coast on a pleasant cruise by the ocean, I feel we all came to the conclusion that postie bike riders are a unique bunch drawn to such an iconic bike. The ride was an extremely enjoyable experience and was such an amazing opportunity to meet so many likeminded riders. I hope that when I return from my trip there will still be the community will be thriving for more brilliant rides!

How to make a $1500* adventure bike

Disclaimer: before attempting this one should consider having a basic knowledge of tools and their operation, the operation of and components of a motorcycle and a regard for their own personal safety and the safety of those around them.  

Many would like to make you believe that for one to go on an adventure on a motorcycle one must first donate a small part of their anatomy (I think a kidney) to a big European motorcycle manufacturer to acquire a complex machine with more cubic centimetres than you could point a stick at. Once you have donated tpostieworkin'he agreed upon kidney you simply have to buy some luggage systems (this won’t cost you a kidney but maybe a slither of ya’ liver) before you can even consider having a motorcycle that is adequate to ride around the world.

I happen to not share these beliefs; I mean hell I don’t even seem to understand this belief. I mean just because a couple of guys from the UK did it doesn’t mean it’s the only way it can be done even if one of them was a Jedi master.  So here it is the guide (if we can call it that) as to how I constructed myself an adventure motorcycle for 1500* Australian dollars (dollarydoos).

Firstly you’re going to need a motorcycle, to save pennies I recommend getting something small, common and affordable. For this you may need to forgo some luxuries such as speed, acceleration and a clutch that wasn’t integrated into the gear shifter. Good bikes to go for probably change where you are in the world but remember  150cc is 25cc too many, just think Honda Cubs, Honda Waves, GN125s, Groms (I would love to see that done) hell even get a 50cc scooter if you’re game enough.  Just be sure to spend no more than $1000 on a vehicle. You can’t go blowing out your entire budget on something fancy here, as long as it starts most of the time and stops all of the time.   

Okay so now we have covered this whole motorcycle bit you are going to need to start thinking about how you are going to get things around on it. I mean it’s all fine and good being able to get around, but where are you going to put the malt beverages and muesli bars you will require to sustain life on your two wheeled life raft? For me I was fortunate enough to buy a vehicle with a luggage rack which served as a base to build a nice little system out of some aluminium flat bars and an undertray ute toolbox. I then coerced a friend to make me a couple of pannier bags up for some bottles of distilled liquid. But hey if this option isn’t available to you I’m sure you can find some bags to strap onto somewhere, get creative 2 backpacks from the op-shop or some unsuspecting school children** could surely do the trick with a bit of backyard engineering.  

You think is ready yet? Slow down buddy we still need to talk about the fine details, what’s the fuel range on this vehicle’s gas tank? For me unfortunately Honda lacked to foresight that some folks might want to ride further than their local corner store for a bottle of milk. But not to worry, if you think you have the room you can fit a auxiliary fuel tank or maybe a bigger new fuel tank. This is the route I took and it’s worked out pretty well and affords me not having to pull over to fill up every handful few hours. If you can’t fit another fuel tank don’t worry hope isn’t entirely lost you could always just go with a jerry can, but remember this could encroach valuable storage space for your muesli bars. Other things you might want to consider would be cruise control. Now I know what you are about to say “but those cruise control systems would cost my entire budget and I will have to forgo a lot of malt beverages” well fear not I found a piece of aluminium on the internet called an ‘omni-cruise’ that locks the throttle into position for $60 which does remarkably well providing I don’t forget it’s on and grab the front brake. Power is also a lovely indulgence if you are a social media crazed millennial such as myself, this only cost me about 10 dollarydoos for a 12v charger and fuse which I installed straight onto the battery. Remarkably the charger works rather well and I still haven’t managed to electrocute myself with it.

So that’s about the extent of it I managed to slap together my little adventure postie for a measly $1500* by my closest estimate, which I’m rather happy about because in my hometown of Perth that’s about the average cost of a dinner and movie date or 3 avocados.

Love and Mercy,

Liam. 

*The $1500 dollars is an estimate and doesn’t account for beer consumed during the process.

**The stealing of school children’s backpacks was made in jest; gone-postal.com does not recommend the theft of any child’s possessions.

The Route

One of the most common questions I often get asked about my trip is the route which I intend to take. Whilst this route is subject to heavy changes this is my rough estimate of where I will be heading.

It is best and most easiest way to digest this is to break the trip down into two legs.

Leg 1 shall begin in my home town of Perth on the west coast of Australia and will terminate somewhere on the European continent.

route-1

Leg 1 (a quality paint illustration)

Leg 2 will see me jump the North Atlantic and hopefully traverse the United States before heading south through the Americas and ideally reaching Patagonia.

route-2

Leg 2 (another quality paint illustration)

 

On Planning, Plans and Wingin’ it

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

I currently find myself weary eyed from staring at a computer screen for several hours as I read through countless pages regarding visas, carnets, border crossings, insurance, helmets, equipment, tools, freighting, forums and ceaseless other topics as I try to navigate the quandary which is planning for this journey. It quite honestly is becoming rather exhausting trying to acquire an exhaustive amount of knowledge available on all of the logistical hurdles that could happen along the way.

All the while there is a the voice of a tearaway in the back of my head that says to just “Screw it” and just cast off with an optimistic attitude that everything will sort it’s self out along the way. I have to admit the romantic idea of just throwing planning to the wind and leaving it in the hands of chance is most alluring. I have never been particularly fond of plans; I find that the more rigid people are with a plan the more likely it is that it will all fall apart as soon the excrement hits the fan. This doesn’t even take all the prospective opportunities you could let pass you by because they weren’t accounted for in the plan.

Still in all of my planning I have come to a distinction that planning and plans are actually rather dissimilar than my initial perceptions of such. It happens to me that planning is more research and preparation rather than a ridged agenda of how something should unfold. In fact planning is indispensable in having the ability to deal with obstacles, be malleable to set backs and be confident enough to embrace changes and uncertainties that will surely present themselves on the way.

So I have decided that I will compromise and continue with my planning for all of the practicalities and possibilities I can think of. But nevertheless I will set off on this adventure with the loosest of plans possible and allow experiences and routes to occur organically along the way

Love and Mercy,

Liam.

Who, What, When, Where and Why?

I guess I should start this blog by setting some of the detail straight right? As you may have gathered from the title of this post I’m going to use that old school tool of the 5 W’s. So here goes

Who?
well I hope this one is the most obvious. the who would be me and me alone and of course the people I will happen to collide with a long the way. As for myself ordinary person chasing an ambitious dream.

What?
To overland the world on the back of a motorcycle, but not any motorcycle. The bike in question shall be a exAustralia post Honda CT110 or more colloquially know in Australia as a postie bike.

When?
Current projections indicate that cast off in early April of 2017.

Where?
The plan is to initially head from my home town of Perth Western Australia towards Darwin, cross into East Timor and keep moving towards Europe at a steady 60km/h and then hopefully cross the North Atlantic and head South from the USA towards Patagonia.

Why?
Braggin’ rights? In all seriousness it is to challenge social paradigms, overcome my own trepidations, see the world, push my limits. Also to prove that anyone can motorcycle around the world and you don’t need a hulking BMW cycle to do it.

Love and Mercy,
Liam.