The rebuild and preparations.
An overland adventure from England to Australia.
For some time now I’ve wanted to embark on a life-changing journey. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know when but I was determined to explore the world and learn a bit about myself in the process. A little over a year ago now my best mate Daniel Kroenert and I began discussing ideas for such a journey. What started out as a passing comment began to build momentum and now is about to become a reality.
The plan is to travel overland from England to Australia; across Europe, through Central Asia, up the sub-continent, around South East Asia and then a final lap around Australia. A ten-month adventure to see the world and create our own perception of it.
The early discussions quickly shifted from what we wanted to do, to how we were going to do it. We diligently researched our options for travel and tried to find the best motorbike for the journey, or rather any motorbike that was within our price range. Unsurprisingly, there weren’t too many options.
My dad loved motorbikes, and in the 1980s he rode around Australia on a Yamaha TT600 with his best mate Ces. My dad was tragically killed in a workplace accident in 2013, and it was probably this event that ignited my desire to embark on my own epic adventure as he had done.
Through a series of rather fitting developments, I tracked down and acquired the very same motorbike dad had used on his Australian voyage. The bike had been passed through three owners and was no longer working.
The more we investigated the mechanical workings of the TT600 we realised how perfect this bike would be for the trip. No fuel injectors, no electronics just a sturdy reliable engine that was easily serviceable. To keep things simple and spare parts to a minimum Daniel decided to purchase another non-operational TT600 via Ebay and together we started on rebuilding them both.
Fortunately, my dad used to own and run a motorcycle shop in Sydney with his best mate, Chris Dickson. Dicko, as he is more commonly known, happens to still own and run a Yamaha motorbike shop in Port Macquarie, NSW. Excited for the adventure we were about to embark on, he kindly helped us out with the rebuild. It turns out that he had rebuilt the same bike when dad blew it up halfway across Australia.
Rebuilding the motorbikes was a blessing in disguise. With very little mechanical experience between the two of us, we learnt so much valuable information about our machines during those long hours in the garage. It gave us a bit more confidence if something was to go wrong, and something will inevitably go wrong. This trip wouldn’t be possible without Dicko, so I can’t thank him enough for his help. If anyone wants a Yamaha go to www.portmacquariemotorcycles.com.au
After we got them going, we fitted panniers, upgraded them to 12v systems (so we can charge phones/cameras off them), fitted new seats, organised spare parts and started the test riding. The rebuild took close to eight months to finish giving us very little time to ride them before we shipped them off to England.
I don’t think Daniel or myself quite appreciated the administration that was involved in organising a trip like this.
To transport vehicles between countries you need a Carnet De Passage (like a passport for your bike). It’s a guarantee you wont take it there and sell it. It’s run through the NRMA (Dependant on your state/country) although your best bet is to find the form online and call the number, as most branches have never heard of it. It ended up costing a little under $1000, with around $200 of that refundable when we get back into Aus. It works off a scaling system so the more expensive the bike/tools/spares the more expensive the Carnet. All in all though it wasn’t too difficult, just a lot of paperwork and information required.
Acquiring visas hasn’t been too hard either really. Countries like Pakistan and Iran require an invitation to travel there so it’s just a matter of paying a company to send you one. Myanmar so far is proving to be the most difficult with quite a strict regime on importing vehicles. You need letters of invite from the Myanmar Government, Travel and Tourism Boards etc before you can be granted entry. Then apparently we need guides with us 24/7 during our stay. Still in the process of sorting this one so hopefully I’ll be able to update soon with good news.
It’s been a long road, and I know it’s only going to get longer. We’ve learnt the importance of being able to adapt; nothing goes to plan but everything seems to work out. It’s really quite hard to fathom that we are off for 10months on a trip like this, I feel incredibly unprepared but somehow still ready. I think ‘blissfully unprepared and unaware’ would best describe us at the moment actually.
Both Dan and I have our different reasons for wanting to do this, but together we know we want a life-changing adventure. A chance to see the world, to meet new people and to have fun.