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Old 09-02-2012, 07:17 PM   #1
DrunkWombat OP
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Scooting around Fiji

Greetings citizens,

By occasion of my little brother getting married I had cause to go the tropical island of Fiji (well its main island Viti Levu technically)


A quick bit of geography. South Pacific. About 3200km from Sydney, and about same latitude as Cairns.

I started out from my home on the train and arrived in the big smoke of Sydney, and wrangled my way through the airport. While waiting for the plane I confirmed my bike from local (and as far as I know, only bike hire mob in Fiji, KOOL SCOOTS

I bought a book to read. I started reading it as we took off and laughed myself silly, enough to cause concern to my fellow passengers until I finished it 3 1/2 hours later.

Bloody funny book.

The flight being over soon enough, one had to do the customs paper work.

I'm pretty sure I did not have any corpses in my bag, and did Fiji have a vampire problem? I didn't have any holy water anyway.

Nadi Airport, on the western side of Viti Levu. Mountains look inviting. The smoke is not from a plane crash. Will explain shortly.

Cleared customs and grabbed my bag. My bike man was waiting for me in the arrival hall. Sweet.

Suffice to say, the were all out of GSs and KTMs. They didn't even have KLRs. Most smaller countries have smaller bikes, so I beheld my 250cc CFMOTO Jetmax 250. All mine for about FJ$150 per day. Smaller bikes had served my well in East Timor, so I figured it could be just as fun, and no worse than a stinky bus or car.

Under the seat is a cavern. It swallowed my bag whole. Bloody handy!

I was underway very shortly thanks to the rental bloke. Top stuff.

Cruising through suburban Nadi.

Nadi to Sigatoka, where the resort my family were staying, was about 65km down the coast. I took my time as it was sunset. That first universal constant of South East Asian and Pacific road touring, the mangy, stray dog, almost brought me undone. But a bit of highway riding got allowed me to come to terms with the tiny wheels (bit quicker steering than the 19 inch on the front of a GS) and the complete lack of anything I could recognise as suspension. The bum down/cruiser seating position was transmitting everything straight to my spine.

By the time I reached Sigatoka, the nearest town to the resort, I was a little thirsty. I acquired vital supplies, drinking one of the long necks then and there. No Random Breath Testing in Fiji!

Fiji Gold and Fiji Bitter. FJ$11 for 3 big beers. Sweet.

I checked into the lovely resort. The Outrigger on the Lagoon. Here it is, right in the lobby.

Caught up with my folks and my little bro, who was getting married the next day for a few beers. I staggered to my room and passed out a few hours later. Damn you, Fiji Gold!

I woke up in a King Size bed. I had been in a coma for nearly 10 hours. I also didn't have my kids crawling into bed and kicking me constantly as they do when I am home. Fookin heaven.

The resort. Very resorty. It did amaze me that so many

people were by the pool and everywhere else, tapping away on smart phones and iPads. Surely you could survive for a week without it?

A bit windy.

The wedding was wonderful. Little bro has done well with a great woman. She looked great, and we had a lovely afternoon.

Sorry, no pics, but you lot would just get distracted by bridesmaids and stuff. Go and use your imagination.

Spiky bastard plant.

Scenery: That blurry stuff on the side of the road.

DrunkWombat screwed with this post 09-09-2012 at 10:49 PM
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Old 09-09-2012, 06:48 PM   #2
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The next bit.

The following morning I scraped together my kit, said my goodbyes and buggered off. No more of this resort caper.

Grabbed some fuel and snacks in Sigatoka, the nearest big town to the resort and where most of the resort workers live.

This bridge got taken out by a big flood at the start of the year.

The local funeral directors advertising their wares.

It wasn't long before I was out of town. Despite being the middle of the 'dry' season everything was quite green. The little scooter was enjoying the smooth roads so far.

But it didn't last. The smooth bitumen gave way to deep pebbly gravel. This would have been fine if I was on my GS. But I was on a scooter with little wheel barrow wheels and no suspension. And so the silliness began.

The Sigatoka River valley is a very fertile alluvial plain that is known as the "Food bowl of Fiji". Seeing the many fields planted on the way, its not hard to see way. Good volcanic soil.

Road works, Fiji style.

The power lines run the full length of the road, and each village has electricity. A majority of Fiji's electricity comes from hydro electricity. Pretty green eh?

The horse is still more common than cars in the interior of Fiji. Makes for a very quiet place.

*Judder judder judder THUNK judder judder THUNK judder judder....*

The first intersection near Saweni. Hadn't seen any body for a while. The little scoot and I were getting along OK. My whole bag was under the seat, which was bloody handy.

Your humble narrator and Chief Boofhead. Apparently this is how the Facebook kids do it.

The village of Nasautoko. You don't actually drive through a lot of villages, they are all off where the road was built. Guessing that the villages pre date the road, it seems a bit odd? I dunno. Makes for a nice and quiet village I guess!

Quite a nice spot by the river.

The kids were having a swim in the river with their dad. It was school holidays and it was a good laugh seeing kids running about, 500 light years from the nearest Playstation.

Bukuya marked a rough half way mark across Fiji and is a bit of a cross road. I tossed up heading west to Nadi, but thought I might as well keep going north.

The northern side of the island seemed a little drier. Not as dry as northern Australia in the dry season though.

I think these are the ranges you can see from Nadi

The upper reaches of the Ba River.

Proper Fijian adventure bikes.

The little scoot was still scooting along, well outside its design brief. I could feel my spine being pounded into chalk.

I finally reached the village of Navala. I stopped and talked to a bunch of men (wisely) taking shelter from the hot sun. They had these huge cane cutting knives. They were most interested and surprised that I had ridden from Sigatoka. Cane harvest is a busy time for them.

Further down the Ba River.

The men told me that the truck was parked in the river for the local church. They do a lot of baptising in the river, so the Pastor parks his truck in the river and conducts proceedings from there!

A postcard South Pacific Village?

Upon leaving Navala, the cane fields started to surround me.

I had past some stands of pine tree earlier, of a species I didn't recognise. Judging by what I saw later, they all end up as wood chips anyway.

More canefields and mountains.

Nearing the coast and big towns, the roads inevitably improved. The shared sugar train and road bridges were entertaining for scooters though!

The first big shop since the south coast. Too early in the day for a Fiji Bitter though...

Don't think this old Ford panel van gonna pass rego this year...

Soon I was on the outskirts of the town of Ba. Ba is a sugar town and quite a busy place. It was the middle of the sugar cane harvest (hence all the fires ) and the sugar mill was going at full speed. The air thick with the sticky, sweet smell of sugar and molasses.

One of the old steam sugar trains.

Loaded sugar trucks waiting to be weighed and unloaded.

Each truck has about 5 metric tonnes of burnt cane on it, of which about 500kg of sugar can be produced.

This is Mr Singh, he's a cane truck driver. He told me all kinds of things about the cane harvest and was on his second load for the day. He was happy for me to take his picture if I put his picture on Facebook. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I'm not on Facebook. He'll have to settle for ADVRIDER.

Downtown Ba at lunch time. I had a bit of a wander about. The tidiness and civic pride that the Fijians have compared to other South Pacific countries is quite remarkable. The standard of living (in relative terms ) seems to be quite high. Lots of schools, public health and lots of open shops. There seems to be a lot less bars on windows and barbed wire on fences than other countries too.

By this stage I was hot and hungry, and I wanted something different from the chicken and chips shops and pizza places that seemed to be everywhere. I found a place that was almost full of locals. I figure if the locals like it, its probably pretty good. So I got a feed of lamb curry and a can of Pineapple Fanta (which is good stuff!) for about FJ$8, or about AUD$5.50.

Workers were brought to Fiji from India in the 1880s to work the cane fields in Fiji, and have become about 30 odd percent of the population. Hence the availability of good curry.

Belly full, I looked around some more. An old cast iron post box (made in Australia!)

Islam is one of the many religions in Fiji (Catholic, many brands of Protestants, Hindus, Sikhs, Islam, Krishnas. You name it they got it.) By all accounts they seem to get along fine. Malaysia is like this too.

Gassed up the scoot, and pointed it east. More cane fires and harvesting.

My bum and spine were grateful for paved roads by now.

I kept riding east until I got to Rakiraki, at the north east of the corner of Viti Levu. I was thinking where I would stop the night, and this electrical warning light kept coming up on the panel of the scooter. Not wanting to get stranded light years from the airport the day before flying home, I decided to defer my plan to lap the island and return to Nadi and the bike drop off.

I wasn't really impressed with doubling back, but I'd had a great ride so far.

Apart from the endless roadworks, the journey along the north coast was pleasant enough. From Ba across to Lautoka, I was surprised by the number of factories and other big business industry. Fiji is definitely more than coconuts and beaches!

Soon Lautoka was in the distance.

Well Fiji obviously has hoons too. Hopefully that is a radar gun, not a real one!

I had a little look around Lautoka, the major port for the western side of Viti Levu and home to a huge sugar mill. My main camera had gone flat at this point, so apologies for crappy iphone pictures.

I passed a big stadium and this big jolly Fijian man invited me in.

A pretty big crowd was enjoying the second half of a regional Rugby Union Grand final.

If there was any further evidence that Fiji was indeed a civilised, bloody beaut nation, a passion for Rugby Union would be it. Their love of the game would only be surpassed by the New Zealanders.

Namosi, in blue, ran away with the game, beating Malolo, 46-22.

The Lautoka sugar mill. Bloody huge!

And what is the best thing to do with sugar?


This is the South Pacific Distillery. Bounty Rum put hairs on yer chest! Also doubles as rocket fuel.

As I went up a side road, with the electrical fault light flickering on and off. I stopped and saw this...

I don't think the battery is supposed to be hanging out like that... And the bike wouldn't start. Fuck.

I pushed the scooter to the lodge and called the bike rental place. Thankfully I was only 20 mins away. He brought out a new battery and I all sorted. Pretty bloody good service!!!!

I was tired, I stank, I was sun burnt. I got a room at the lodge and zonked out under the fan.

The final morning was steamy.

Wasn't really worried about getting wet. I didn't have any wet weather gear anyway.

I spent the morning having a look around Nadi. The local municipal markets are always good for a look.

There was this impressive Hindu temple in the middle of town. Gotta give it to the Hindus, their religious artwork is heaps more colourful than everybody elses!

Next time I'll remember to pack sunscreen. I got burnt to a crisp, and my skin is still peeling.

This is a Datsun 120Y. A car that lots of people my age had as first cars, and widely believed to be extinct. But they thrive smokily in Fiji!

It did start to rain, so I thought I'd go take a look at the resort area of Port Denarau. I didn't quite know the way and I pulled over to ask a bloke on the side of the road. Paul (pictured) said he'd guide me.

Paul: "I'll show you!"
Me: "Err, you don't have a helmet."
Paul: (waves hand) "Ahhh, this is Fiji!"
Me : (shrugs) "Hop on then"

We set of at his guidance, in the rain, with Paul on the back. He is moving around and hollering and yelling for joy.

Me: "Are you OK back there?"

I pissed myself laughing. Fiji indeed.

Soon enough we were at the turn off. Paul was grinning like a loon and shook my hand. Best thing ever. What a great bloke!

The resort area was like any other, lots of golf courses and stuff, which I guess people like doing. Not really for me though. At least I found a decent coffee.

The photos of the marina area don't really do it justice, but it was raining steadily by now. Some pretty cool bars and restaurants and stuff. But avoid the Kebab shop. They are utterly shit.

I dropped the bike off at the rental place, they were pretty cool. They are planning to get some more dual sport type bikes that don't get knocked around on the Fiji roads so much, but Fiji has very high import duties on vehicles, so they can't rush.

They even dropped me at the airport!

We had to wait at the entry to the airport for a sugar cane train to pass. That don't happen in Sydney!

Soon enough, Fiji was below me as I took off. I was on my last clean shirt too.

About halfway through the flight home we flew over a thunder storm. I got this lucky photo.

So there my tale ends. Congratulations to Matt and Kyra on their wedding, and thank you Fiji for an awesome ride.



Scenery: That blurry stuff on the side of the road.

DrunkWombat screwed with this post 09-09-2012 at 08:52 PM
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Old 09-10-2012, 04:25 AM   #3
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great story

Thanks for sharing your ride in a location I've never seen a ride report from before. It looks like a terrific place to spend a week touring
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Old 09-10-2012, 06:44 AM   #4
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Great read man. Thanks for posting this.
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Old 09-10-2012, 06:59 AM   #5
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Cool trip, nice photos thanks!
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:58 PM   #6
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I see they're doing a pretty good job on their own with the old holy water

Nice little adventure there Timbo. Thanks for sharing
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:00 PM   #7
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Excellent report, thanks. Those trees may have been Monkey Puzzle Pines native to south America....not true pines but from the same genus (Araucaria) as the Bunya, Hoop and Wollemii "pines"
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Old 09-11-2012, 02:04 AM   #8
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Nice photos. Loved the scoot on gravel.
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:30 PM   #9
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Thanks for sharing your ride!!!
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Old 09-14-2012, 02:14 AM   #10
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What dates were you there? We recently did a similar trip there....we may have even used the same Jetmax! Ours had a broken fuel gauge, and we were there early August.

I'll have to do an RR too.....
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Old 09-14-2012, 04:10 AM   #11
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Great report of a different ride destination.

I can vouch for the Bonefish restaurant at Port Denerau.

Current rides - Husqvarna TE610IE and Suzuki RMX250.
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Old 09-14-2012, 09:57 AM   #12
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My dad was there in WW2 I have pictures from back then. He was there about 2 months before he was capture by the Japs
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Old 09-14-2012, 06:02 PM   #13
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Great ride report. I had no idea Fiji was so big, with all that interior. I figured it was some kind of large atoll, so I feel much less stupid now. I wish you had circumnavigated but there was so much in where you did go I will have to read it a second time

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Old 09-15-2012, 05:16 AM   #14
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The pictures are great, thank you. Haven't been there since mid 70's a few good members.
Cheers, Ed
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Old 09-15-2012, 02:54 PM   #15
DrunkWombat OP
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Originally Posted by Turborob View Post
What dates were you there? We recently did a similar trip there....we may have even used the same Jetmax! Ours had a broken fuel gauge, and we were there early August.

I'll have to do an RR too.....
I was there 27th August onwards. Was bloody good fun.

Interested to see where you ended up.

Next time I'll pack my GS.
Scenery: That blurry stuff on the side of the road.

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