American Girl Down Under - Travelbugblues on frugal traveling

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Travelbugblues, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    The screen door swung open as Kath and Rob stepped out onto their driveway in Wodonga, in the state of Victoria. It had been 14 months since we'd last seen each other at the welcome home party in Seattle after the Americas motorcycle trip, and I couldn't wait to give them a big American hug.

    Often, people have a misconception that traveling is all fun and pleasure. And although much of it is, it's like anything else: ups and downs will always be present, bad times followed by good. Recent months had been trying, with big life changes and new paths to follow, and these two friends were a welcome sight and a reminder that there are so many people in the world I love and consider good friends.

    The 300km ride down from Canberra was a monotonous and windy 4 hours on the Hume Highway. With such anticipation of seeing good friends, I didn't bother with the longer, more scenic, route. I needed a day with good friends, and I needed it fast. One day turned into three, and the rest, good food, laughter and conversation were my much needed fuel for the continuation of this current journey across Australia.

    It was also a real pleasure to get to know their friends, and pick up a few more strange Aussie colloquialisms. Thank you, Kath and Rob!

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  2. just jeff

    just jeff Long timer

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    :clap
    JJ
  3. rjmorel

    rjmorel Dual Sporticus

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    Nice documentary style vid Elisa. It's good to hear the locals point of view and knowledge of the land they live in for those of us who never been there. Keep these vids saved Bug and at end of trip make up some DVDs containing all of them available to sell online or at presentations you give. Gas money for your next venture in life, rj
  4. bbanker

    bbanker Been here awhile Supporter

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    Awesome


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  5. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    Well gang, here I am in Western Oz!! It's been a hell of a long few days, riding hard across the Nullarbor.

    Where to start... First internet/phone reception in many days!

    Melbourne was dull, the driving sucked, but the Great Ocean Road was lovely. Stayed with a couple Couchsurfers, including some drunk hillbilly farmers. An interesting experience, made far more pleasant by the company of three (gorgeous inside and out) German girl Couchsurfers. Lovely 18 year old girls I hiked with the following day.

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    As soon as I jumped into the surf, an Ozzie dragged me out and sent me into the waves on his surfboard until I had enough. An impromptu surf lesson!


    After a rest in Adelaide with friends (a long rest due to pain in my right elbow and wrist that's been getting worse)....

    Plus some wine touring of McLaren Vale...

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    I rode something like 550kms to Kyancutta, free camping in a rest stop near a father and teen son on a roadtrip. No axe murderers present, as was my fear.

    The next day I rode a whopping 750kms to Eucla via Streaky Bay, crossing into Western Oz.

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    After Eucla, I rode about 400kms to Fraser Range, having a peaceful evening on a sheep farm (station?), and enjoying a hot shower, communal kitchen and washing clothes.

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    Wrapped a rubber ring between my throttle and bar-end, giving me glorious CRUISE CONTROL!!!! Best thing ever.

    Seeing how long I could ride without hands was highly entertaining. I got to 10kms (hands free) during the 90 mile stretch of straight road.

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    From Fraser Range I rode 370kms to Esperance and then to Le Grand National Park. Beautiful!!

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    The small campground was full and the big campground under construction, but two Japanese girls let me share their site.

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    Woke up at 6:30am, rode down the beach and went for a swim!


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    There have been some rough moments, but riding the desolate Nullarbor was without a doubt a great idea, and just what I needed. Although I'm now back in civilization, those quiet moments alone in the desert definitely left a lasting impression. I loved it. I'll recap a few other moments when I'm not typing on my phone.

    Videos coming soon!!




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  6. * SHAG *

    * SHAG * Unstable

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    Awesome update :super
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  7. just jeff

    just jeff Long timer

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    Looking forward to the next one!!:clap
    JJ
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  8. gasandasphalt

    gasandasphalt Been here awhile

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    Most amazing ride and trip, I am totally impressed with your writing and courage..Keep safe and enjoy.......
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  9. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    Quick update from a funny day:

    I was exhausted today after so many days of hard riding, and the 500kms from Le Grand national park to Albany seemed impossible. I pulled over and napped on top of a picnic table for an hour, waking up to the scuffing of feet in a semi circle around me. Finally cracked an eye open to find an old lady dressed in a pink tracksuit and sneakers walking around me, starring, eating an ice cream.

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    Groggily got back on bike for a couple hundred more kilometers, stopping for gas at a roadhouse in Boxwood Hill at 6pm. The Roos were out in full force, and I was hungry. A "petrol" station meal (not "gas", the gas station lady made sure to inform me!) isn't ideal, but this lady whipped out a mean homemade veggie burger.

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    She also seemed to be squeaking, and when I asked about it, she reached into her apron and pulled out her baby.

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    Some Roos taking a nap:

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    I didn't make it to Albany. Ended up camping a few kilometers past Boxwood Hill at a rest stop (with free camping), suggested by the duck lady as a safe place to stay. A couple also camping here lent me a spare mattress they had in their car, which was very exciting after many nights on my shitty backpacking mat. I write this missive from said spare mattress.

    Surprisingly, there's internet here in the boonies. Off to Denmark tomorrow to see some big trees.

    Possums are making a hellish racket in the trees as the sun has just set. Sounds incredibly diabolical and scary. Reminds me of the time in Tasmania when something was trying to get into my tent. Turned my flashlight on to see a huge and beautiful pair of possum eyes starring at me between the fly screen and rain cover. He seemed as startled as I was. They're adorable, but that sound is demonic.

    Shiiit, they're getting closer and closer!!!!!


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  10. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    Wow those huge distances seem unreal to me now, having been riding here in Peru - average 8h day is like 160k! But there's a lot to be said about that space you are forced into by 8h slogs on straight highways - I think they're like vipassinas! Sometimes I almost think my minds just going to turn inside out or eat itself! How's the little Suzuki going? Lovely looking bikes!
  11. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    I remember those days well! So different from the riding I've been doing now. Your minds going to turn inside out or eat itself?! That's a very accurate description!



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  12. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    Woke up at 6:30am with the sun shining high in the western Oz sky. Even with the gifted sleeping mat, I didn't sleep so well.

    Meet the Fuckers:

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    So named for two reasons.

    1) I went on a stroll down to the nearby river. It was lovely, and even had moving water in it. Unfortunately, some jackass had shit all over and left TP and baby wipes strewn, STREWN I SAY!!! a meter from the little beach!! Pissed at how insensitive to nature and others some people are, I walked back to camp. I passed the two (who I'd already spoken with), and said something along the lines of, "People are such fuckers!!! Someone left toilet paper and garbage all over the river!!" The blond girl looked up and said, "Oh, sorry! That was me. I needed to take a bush shit".

    There were about five garbage cans within a one minute walk.

    2) 8:30pm rolled around and seemed to be magic hour. The young couple sidled on into their massive family size tent and proceeded to have the loudest 5 minutes of sex I've ever had the displeasure to hear. Flesh slapping sweaty flesh for fiiiiive minutes, and me with no earplugs. Less than two minutes later they were both back outside making a racket.

    I'm sorry I felt inclined to share.

    Those things said, they were both quite nice... And to be fair, I had been reading quietly in my tent for some time, so they probably thought I was asleep. The lady in the van to their other side though...

    I packed up this morning, said goodbye to the Fuckers, and rode the 150 or so kms to Denmark. I had a Couchsurfer lined up, and immediately upon arrival, flooded his bathroom. Not my fault. The drain in the floor decided to spew water everywhere. It was not a longer shower, but the first of several days.

    Shortly thereafter, I had a near meltdown. The Indian Ocean is a mere 300kms away, which means this journey is coming to a close. The gloom of a Seattle winter lays before me, and the idea of "what now" seems both daunting and unavoidable.

    (I laughed at this sign this morning, and people's ideas of what will bring them true happiness. If someone really can be made truly content with the purchase of a new house, maybe I should envy them!)

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    Till then, I'll enjoy my soy cappuccino and chocolate in this beautiful sunshine.

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  13. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    They sound like bad campers - why I avoid campsites!

    - TP is bad enough but baby wipes? Unforgivable. Would have been tempted to have picked them all up and thrown them in their vestibule early morning before I left!

    The established campsites in Patagonia were awful for this. Not hard just to put them in plastic bag with other waste.

    Seattle won't be as bad as you imagine it. Try to disattach from your expectations. That's harder done than said I know! I try to see the 'downtime' I between big trips as necessary and useful.

    Enjoy the last 300k!
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  14. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    A brief video of my time in Melbourne. Had a chance to catch up with a friend, but it was otherwise fairly boring and uneventful, and I was happy to leave the city. I did make off with a new coffee maker, which has been put to regular use!

  15. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    Much appreciated thoughts!! And yes, camping in Argentina suuuucks!

  16. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    Awesome stretches of road! I would have stopped to ask someone for directions just for the heck of it.
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  17. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    Someone recently asked me what he'd need to bring on a trip like the one I'm on now, and the cost. I told him the only real requirement of a motorcycle trip is a motorcycle! That said, here's a list of the things I've taken along on this current journey across Australia.

    - Fuel efficient Motorcycle
    - Jerry can half full of gas and two bungie cords (haven't had to use it once even though I only get 200kms before my gas light comes on)
    -SPOT tracker (makes mom feel better and dad gets a real kick at looking on Google maps to see the actual roads I'm traveling on)
    -Motonaut strap system (Motonaut Rack, 4th gen) an updated one from the Americas trip. Works very well! I'm a big fan. So easy to take things on/off bike.
    -Large Ortlieb dry bag
    -Large Guide Gear dry bag backpack, $30 bucks from Amazon and great
    -REI half done tent
    -Backpacking style cooking pot and MSR stove (tiny one), one large can fuel, Turkish coffee maker
    -Cascade Design sleeping mat, which I hate, but is very lightweight and small. Sorry to the friend of mine who designed this one, but it is so freaking uncomfortable. I often find myself sleeping half on the ground.
    -$10 battery pack. Can charge iPhone 4 times. So worth it!
    -MacBook Air, GoPro, iPhone and cords (it cost a lot to buy a new-refurbished Macbook, but my old one wasn't up to making videos). I plan on selling the GoPro because the iPhone does a great job.
    -1.5 liter hydration pack (to small, should be double)
    -Down jacket (thank god I brought this- almost didn't and it's quite cold at times)
    -Minimal tools. Chain lube, one spare tube, tire irons, front and back light spares, patch kit, tire pressure gauge (but no bicycle pump this time- forgot it, so what's the point of carrying tire irons?)
    -2 ratchet straps in case bike breaks down and I get a lift on a truck (heavy, but these have come in handy in the past)

    Besides clothes and toiletries, and a few odds and ends, that's about it.


    As for budgeting, I took out $1,000AUD ($720USD) at the beginning of this journey. I now have $250AUD left, and have been on the road for 22 days, so that's $34AUD a day. That's $24USD for the three weeks I've been on the road, not including cost of motorcycle and insurance. Damn, that's a lot better than I expected!

    I bought the bike for $4,500AUD. If I sell it for $2,500AUD and lose out on a $2,000AUD, the trip will have cost $75USD/day. Hopefully I can get more for the bike, though, bringing the true daily cost way down. Of course, since I've owned this bike for a lot longer than the 4 weeks I'll be on this journey, it's hard to estimate the real daily cost of owning this bike.

    Gas has been an average of probably $1.50/liter (it's expensive across the Nullarbor, otherwise it's usually about $1.35). I've free camped most nights, or stayed with Couchsurfers. Paid two nights camping ($10 and $20, respectively), so I could shower. I've bought inexpensive food along the way (couscous, some fruit and veggies, granola bars, etc), and have my own coffee. That said, I've been buying a lot of cappuccinos and treats, which is where the majority of my money has gone, outside of fuel. The rest of the money has gone to the occasional bottle of wine or food to make dinner for my Couchsurfing hosts (so sometimes camping is actually cheaper, but it's nice to have company) and a few things like $30 dollar lithium batteries for my spot device, $55 for chain lube, tube, lights, hydration pack and stove fuel, etc.

    Fuel economy: I'm estimating my bike gets 68 miles to the gallon, or 30kms to the liter. Thanks, Fuelly, for those numbers. I've ridden (so far) 3,000 miles, with a few hundred more to go. That's 4,800kms. So 160 liters to get me this far means $240AUD in fuel (Would have cost me $380AUD on my KLR650, for comparison's sake).

    Subtracting fuel, batteries, two paid camp spots and the $55 mentioned above, I've spent $395 in three weeks on food, wine, chocolate and coffee (I've spent at least $100 on coffee alone in three weeks- yikes! About $5 a cup using soy milk, here. No option for cheap drip coffee like in the States, and since an Americano- a 'long-black' here, costs as much as a fancy drink, I've been going with the fancy stuff).

    Hmmm... I think I can afford a cappuccino and a treat RIGHT NOW!
  18. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    If there had been anyone to ask besides a couple mushed kangaroos!

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  19. Travelbugblues

    Travelbugblues Teacher on the road

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    I'm starting to get a little nervous about selling my bike in Perth. I think it may be more difficult than I'd hoped, and the dealerships will give me very little for it. I'd rather give it to someone than sell it for half of what it's worth, or ship it back to Tom and have him sell it for me (or give it to him).

    Anyone out there with suggestions or people who might be able to help me sell it in Perth, after I leave? I've just posted to the Perth "Any Perth Rides" page.

    Thank you!
  20. Koos

    Koos Wheeled Wanderer

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    Elisa, just seen your post on the Perth site "Any Perth Rides this weekend". I read your early travels in Oz & South America and forwarded the link to my daughters as it was so inspiring and they love to travel. I am tempted to take the bike off you, but I just got back yesterday from a solo 4 day ride around Southwest WA - Perth, York, Walpole, Pemberton, Nannup, Augusta, Margaret River, Bunbury, Waroona, Dwellingup. this was on my 19 yr old BMW K75 road bike that I did a lot of unsuitable roads on and decided to buy another one......

    My youngest daughter just spent 5 months in India and Sri Lanka and rode scooters and small bikes and seems dead keen. My oldest travelled widely last year and has one year to go of medicine, doing a month on Mauritius in a hospital in January.

    But who knows. If it is unsold in January when I get back from my South African holiday it may be different. I fly out on Friday evening, the family is already there.

    Keep travelling, you are a true inspiration. Travel safe!

    Let me know if I can buy you a coffee somewhere and maybe help you in Perth.
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