90+ days for Australia and (maybe) New Zealand - the planning begins

Discussion in 'Asia Pacific' started by MapMaster, Jun 30, 2018.

  1. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    G'day Mates!

    Please forgive the following long introduction, but in hopes of eliciting more productive guidance, I have to give a bit of background info.

    Friday was my last day of being a wage slave*, so this is the official start of planning the means to scratch an itch that started 35 years ago when I was a sub-sailor in the US Navy. A planned West-Pac with OZ on the itinerary was part of the collateral damage when the starboard steam condenser stopped condensing and blew out the turbine/condenser seal one day into a shorter pre-WestPac run. Major steam leak casualties 300 feet below sea-level are quite an adventure, but not a suitable substitute to the Down Under one I was looking forward to.

    * At least until after I check-off this bucket-list box and see how much of a hit it is to the financials. :D

    If I'm going to inve$t the time and money to get there, I'm going to make sure I maximize the return on the investment, so I'm budgeting at least 3 months to see what I can from a motorcycle seat.
    I've been riding for 40 years - all road, but that includes lots of gravel - with two separate 2-1/2 month trips to Alaska as well as 8 round trip U.S. cross-country rides (average 8K miles and month on the road for each of them). So I've got the basics of m/c travel covered.

    So now I can start with the questions, some general, some specific:

    The biggest input request is for thoughts/recommendations on the best time(s) of the year to spread this adventure across. I have ridden across Death Valley in May and have no desire to repeat the experience, so I can probably rule out a run to Darwin in January.

    The other major decision is in regards to how to obtain a motorcycle for this little soiree.
    With that time budget in mind, I'm thinking that buying a used motorcycle when I get there, and selling it at the end of the trip would be the way to go (lighter ADV style - Triumph 800XC, BMW 800GS or other of that ilk - comfortable road bike and competent for rougher/gravel bits). The basis being that I don't particularly want to jump through all the hoops involved with shipping my bike there.
    Thoughts?

    I had thought that shipping from OZ to NZ would be an option, but initial poking around suggests that that's not the case (it seems to be just as much hassle to bring in a bike from Australia as from the U.S.). While NZ could easily keep me occupied for 3 months on its own, I may have to limit that run to a couple of weeks, and a rental may work out okay for that (or just skip it for now and devote a separate, properly time alloted trip to it later).

    What to see? Everything of course, but it's equally evident that that won't happen. So to give myself some constraints to base travel plans on, I will want to check out whatever historical museums, exhibits, old bases and whatever related to WWII submarine activity.
    I haven't done any on-line poking around yet, but that would include visits to the Perth (Fremantle, Brisbane, and Darwin areas. Any specifics for those and any other areas that touch on the subject would be appreciated.
    I'm a major history buff, and read "The Fatal Shore" a couple years ago. So I'm sure I'll poke my head into Sydney for a look see and probably do a barrier reef excursion, but the main goal is to ride around the county, meet the people, check out the sub stuff, and NOT hit a 'roo or be poisoned by any of the various venomous inhabitants. :deal
    #1
  2. clintnz

    clintnz Trans-Global Chook Chaser

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    NZ is ok most of the year, good anytime November to April, great Jan-March. As you've worked out, don't want to be in the Oz desert too early in the year, far northern Oz is best left until May to avoid the wet. So I'd work out an Oz itinerary around the climate there, then hit NZ before that.

    A good bike pick for Oz will depend on how adventurous you want to get. Riding something you can handle a little sand on opens up a lot of interesting possibilities.
    For NZ don't be too fussy, distances aren't big but the roads are twisty, speed enforcement is very over the top which limits the usefulness of a faster machine. Something like a DR650 is cheap & common. Check out trademe.co.nz to see what's around on the used market. You are right that NZ-Oz bike shipping is an expensive hassle, you can relatively easily sell an Oz bike after importing it to NZ, but you can't do the reverse.

    If Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin & Perth are all on your list you'll fill 3 months in Oz no problem at all, that's a lot of miles. leaving NZ for another trip could be a good plan. You can have a lot of fun in a week with a hire bike ex Christchurch or Auckland, but you'll only scratch the surface.

    Cheers
    Clint
    #2
  3. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    @clintnz Thanks muchly for the input.

    NZ is ok most of the year, good anytime November to April, great Jan-March. As you've worked out, don't want to be in the Oz desert too early in the year, far northern Oz is best left until May to avoid the wet. So I'd work out an Oz itinerary around the climate there, then hit NZ before that.
    What's the other end of 'the wet' season, and does that apply to only portions of AUS, or all of it?
    And in general, does it ever get too cold to ride the southern parts of Oz?


    A good bike pick for Oz will depend on how adventurous you want to get. Riding something you can handle a little sand on opens up a lot of interesting possibilities.
    As far as bike choice - I agree that a DR650, or KLR would be more than adequate as far as power and what I would demand of it goes, however I have learned that the vibes from a big single kills my right wrist. So a twin at least will be a base requirement.

    Sadly I started riding relatively late and on road bikes only for the longest time. While I have dabbled more extensively on the rough road side of life of late, more technically challenging dirt/sand are not in the skill set. And I don't bounce well anymore. (A man's got to know his limitations :deal)

    For NZ don't be too fussy, distances aren't big but the roads are twisty, speed enforcement is very over the top which limits the usefulness of a faster machine. Something like a DR650 is cheap & common. Check out trademe.co.nz to see what's around on the used market. You are right that NZ-Oz bike shipping is an expensive hassle, you can relatively easily sell an Oz bike after importing it to NZ, but you can't do the reverse.
    So buying in AUS and selling in NZ is viable if the ride shapes up in that sequence - good to know, but your comment about doing NZ first seems to be more inline with what I was thinking to be most likely. The other thought that came to mind is that if I do the major part of the ride in AUS first, I might be reaching a point of wanting to get back home and wouldn't enjoy NZ as much otherwise. So starting with a week of scratching there on a rental seems prudent. (There are times when leaving with strong regrets over things not seen can be a good thing. It improves the odds of a return visit :D).


    If Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin & Perth are all on your list you'll fill 3 months in Oz no problem at all, that's a lot of miles. leaving NZ for another trip could be a good plan. You can have a lot of fun in a week with a hire bike ex Christchurch or Auckland, but you'll only scratch the surface.


    The following is a quick and dirty initial plot of what my route may be, though given what you've said, it will probably be counterclockwise as opposed to how I laid it out just now for a mileage estimate:

    https://goo.gl/maps/o2cA3sTx5652

    At just over 11,000 miles, it equates to a very comfortable and relaxed pace for me. (My last Alaska trip in 2015 covered 21,000 miles in 77 days)
    So lots of additional spurs to/through national parks and mountainous areas will be added.
    I don't know yet what the conditions of the roads google has defaulted to are, that will be more in-depth study for later. I've seen pictures of the dust clouds raised by road trains in the Outback, and personal exposure to that experience is not high on the list, but I won't rule it out if will lead to good places to check out.

    The above did prompt some follow-on questions.
    I've spent a good amount of time in England for work, but won't assume that y'all follow all of the same conventions. Do Oz and NZ measure distances in miles or km as far as sign postings and speed limits go?
    Gas/petrol pumped by the litre?

    Thanks again,
    Greg
    #3
  4. clintnz

    clintnz Trans-Global Chook Chaser

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    'The Wet' applies to northern Oz, roughly from November to April, Things dry out quickly as you head inland from the coast though. Some googling should find you plenty of climate data, it varies hugely with location. In southern parts of Oz, like NZ, some of the higher roads will get closed for snow intermittently over winter, & you'll get some icy mornings too, but mostly there's nothing stopping us riding right through winter as long as you have the right gear & don't mind some rain.

    Ask in the Oz forum about the roads you plan to use, they'll have up to date info. Definitely plan on plenty of side trips to national parks & suchlike, there's lots to see. Based on our travels in the south eastern corner of Oz, some things I'd recommend are: Make a few diversions into the hills in between Sydney & Melbourne - The Blue Mountains, Snowy Mountains & Victorian High Country have some great roads, both paved & gravel. Lots of wildlife, scenery etc. Also divert up through the Flinders ranges on your way north of Adelaide, it's a cool place with lots of little backroads to explore. If you enjoy camping even a little, plan to do plenty, Oz has some great basic campsites liberally scattered through their national parks.

    NZ & Oz are both metric since the 60s/70s so it's km & litres. Miles & gallons etc still get mentioned plenty but usually in the abstract rather than as a precise measure.

    Cheers
    Clint
    #4