January 04, 2005

New Years Update

Posted by DaveSmith

Alright, Happy New Year folks!

I was in Perth when the tsunamis struck. I'm not sure what time they hit, but I was swimming in the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day (Dec. 26). It's major news here, but keeping up with news while traveling is hard. I was glued in front of the teevee when I made it to Melbourne.

I'm in Melbourne right now and I'll try to catch up on the missed posts and adventures while I'm drinking VB beer and listening to The Saints (probably the best Aussie punk band after Birthday Party). I'm staying at a friend's house, Anna, who's not motorcycle minded but has a large book collection. Still, there's no way I'm going to read any of her Ayn Rand collection. She's got "And The Ass Saw the Angel" by Nick Cave (he's in Birthday Party), and since he was born in Melbourne it'd make it fitting to read it here. I think as a musician junky writer he's probably sharing a couch with Jim Carroll calling up Tommy Ramone and singing "It's the end of the Ramones" by the Mr. T Experience. Not that Tommy is a junky and a writer like those other two. Although Nick Cave has quit heroin (I think) and I don't know what happened to Jim Carroll.

I'll be in Melbourne until next week, then to Sydney and up to Phil's shop to complete my lap around Australia. Then over to Phillips Island at the end of January for the vintage bike races. My bike gets shipped to New Zealand Feb. 2 and I show up in Christchurch on Feb. 18.

I'll answer some questions from emails and posts and try to catch up on the journal. It's weird editing Darwin when I've almost circled Australia.


Why am I doing this? That brings up the antique joke, why does a dog lick his balls? Because he can.


I believe prostitution is legal in all the Australian states. I haven't visited any hookers but Anna and I drove by some street walkers a couple days ago. She said that ain't allowed but it happens anyway just like in the US. They didn't look, or dress like hookers, but one looked like Edith Massey.

Edith is in John Waters movies. The Egg Lady from Polyester. If I had balls, I would've gotten a blow job from The Egg Lady but seeing a hooker ain't for me and I had sarcastic sex once before so I don't need to try that again. Even strip bars make me feel uncomfortable and I tend to laugh when a girl tries to do some sexy lingerie thing in front of me (which doesn't help). Damn this Catholic upbringing.... Too bad the head beating didn't knock my sexual sense around. I've read about that happening to people. I could be out paying The Egg Lady, but that would interfere with Jenny No 2's warning about eating roadkill. Insert drumroll here.


The distances in Australia are long, about the size of Rhode Island between people. Americans are always referring to distances with the size of Rhode Island. I've never been to Rhode Island and I have fuck all of an idea about how big or small it is. So why I can't think of a good way of saying how remote places are, Ian in Benleigh (near Brisbane) complained about the heavy traffic when there were 8 cars on the road. Does that help?

I think the population of the entire country is as much as LA. 20 million people in OZ. Isn't that Southern California after passing the Grapevine? 85% of the Aussie population lives in the cities which is basically Sydney, Mackay/Townsville, Cairns, Darwin, Perth, and Melbourne. I might have over-estimated some of that. Should Mackay count? Adelaide is around 40,000 people and it's considered a large city here and I didn't count that.

The East Coast of Australia is wet rain forest. After going east of Cairns it got to be Mad Max. Nothing until Katherine then nothing until Darwin. You have to go back to Katherine to leave Darwin and then towns are isolated until Perth. From Perth south then east towards Adelaide towns are close. Some bits of an hour long ride between them but not days apart.


One of the main reasons why Americans aren't liked is because we don't care that we aren't liked. Can you see the pattern here? If you haven't been in the US, you don't know that the teevee news is Britney has a boob job, the war in Iraq is going great, and the death of all Americans because if you freeze-framed your teevee you can almost make out that Janet Jackson has a nipple. The newspapers tell you a bit more because stuff like 150,000 dead in tsunamis gets used as filler in the back pages over by the bit about how many dead local soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Okay, the tsunamis were major news but it's probably getting less attention then Janet Jackson's nipple.


Monkey Mia is a place I went to because the name has "monkey" in it. It's also a place where dolphins swim up to the beach to mooch food from people. Those damned dolphins should get a job instead of acting like a public idiot waiting for donations. Thanks, by the way, for the Xmas donations. That was enough to pay my plane ticket to New Zealand. $99 for the ticket and with fees $191. I haven't gotten my entry visa yet, so it'll be going up.


A roadtrain is like a giant semi. Instead of 18 wheelers, they're 20 wheelers -- shit, maybe they're 22 wheels. I think the cut-off size is 53.5 meters long so 175.5 feet (58.5 yards) although they seem to cheat. Usually 3 large trailers behind them, although I saw several with 1 short trailer and 3 large trailers. Pretty fuckin' big and when you're out in the Outback on one lane roads you need to pull off to let them pass. If they have to swerve and hit the gravel on one side, it'd bring up a wall of rocks.

That's one lane as in literally one lane, not a lane on each size. That's on the only paved road that circles Australia. I don't think there's any roads that cross east-west and there's one that goes north-south. So if the USA had a population of 20 million, I-80 would be one lane through Nevada until Nebraska. It'd widen up to two lanes at Salt Lake City but would be back to one lane on the edge of town.


Back to the stuff I'd written on the road.

After the possible sleeping seizure I make it to Fitzroy Crossing. I check a post on Adventure Rider and Frank Warner says to check out Geikei Gorge. My map is on the bike so I ask a waitress. The answer, "Hang a right at the Shell servo and it's 18K down bitumen road". Can't get much easier than that. I thought it would be days away.

It's a nice spot so I camped. Probably illegally but I don't think I was in the National Park. I sat and watched wallabys, kangaroos, wild sow with some young'uns, cattle and heard the howling of dingos.

A guy pulled up to let his dogs run around the river. River, they call it, but it's mostly sandbanks before The Wet. After the rain starts it'll flood all over the place. He told me how his dog caught a 4 foot goanna (monitor lizard) yesterday.

So, I'll pretend you just asked, what do you do at night when you're
camping in the outback? Well today is December 5 and I left Darwin
today. I have a horrible itchy rash. It's not as bad as having
scabies though. I've been living off my Trip Diet of beers, bread,
pepperoni, cheese and chicken. But I tried somehing different "Majans
CrackerMix". I think there's something in there that doesn't like me.
That sucks as I still have some left and the only other food I
have is white bread. Dinner tonight shall be mooshed Wonder White
bread and a One A Day vitamin. It's not as bad as the American Wonder
bread. I can't squish the entire package to be smaller than my
fist like you can in the states.

When I got to Darwin on a Thursday and had to figure out how to fix my
newest bike problem. The exhaust flange introduced himself to me as
Mr. Stripped. Frank says he knows him well but don't offer him a beer or he'll never leave.

It's about 95F/40C while raining for a bit. It doesn't cool down, just makes it even more humid. I get three recommendations for John Ottley Engineering. With 2 people, including a motorcycle mechanic as the Yamaha, Harley, Ducati dealer saying, "he's expensive, he's slow but he's the best". John's a machinist who works out of his home. I swing by and he says the head would have to come out, and he's not sure he has the tool for something that size. He says he can do some bushwork to it that should last forever. Either way, come back first thing on Friday.

He's got a '63 Ford F350 with a 460 that looks pretty nice. He's building a 5th wheeler for it. He's also got a Goldwing with a trailer that he and his wife take off on leaving for 6 to 8 weeks at a time. Luckily I caught him at home. He has some framed pictures of a Holden hotrod he built that was voted best in state twice in a row. It looked pretty nice but he sold it so I couldn't see it.

John tells me a good spot to camp at Lees Point. It's a "no camping" place at the beach. but small motorcycles hide easily. I think I have "cheapskate" tattoed on my forehead because that's how I like camping. I figure if I skip out of the paid campgrounds then I can buy an occasional beer. Every few days though, I need to ge one just for the shower and a shave.

I get bread, beers, Dutch Pepporoni and Dutch Blue Cheese which I eat on the beach as the sun sets. And Guy, I have a picture for you which will be posted soon. Check out Guy's Meathenge site.

I show up at 8:30 and John starts to work. He hands me a sheet of copper, a tap and puts me to work making a new exhaust gasket. He cuts a little of the exhaust flange to so it'd reach a couple of threads that weren't stripped, and he makes a holder that keeps the header pipe shoved in. Then he takes away the gasket I'm fumbling with and finishes it off in a sander. A bit of work and everything is fine. There's no charge and he invites me over the next afternoon to go on the 2004 Darwin Toy & Tucker Run. And he points me off for a motorcycle wrecker so I can replace my mirror. I think I'll do a post about what's broken so far.

I got a mirror and went to the Aviation Heritage Center. The area between Katherine and Darwin was the site of the biggest base in the Southern Hemisphere during WWII. I've been stoping by abandoned bases the entire ride up.

Darwin and Katherine were bombed by the Japanese 64 times in 1942 & 43. During the first bomb attack Feb 19, 188 Japanese planes came in. One of the quotes at the Center was from a Japanese pilot. He said something like, "we felt bad attacking Darwin because there were so many civilians around -- it wasn't a purely military target like Pearl Harbor was".

There were a few USAAF planes around when this happened. Not to dumb this down but that's United States Army Air Force before the Air Force became its own service. So Kittyhawk planes in the area which went on the defense and were shot to pieces. It was American pilots with no combat experience going into a fight with combat forces. Plus they
were flying out of date planes rejected by England. The first American pilot to be shot down (Lt Col Peres, I think) died and crashed at the closest intersection to where John Ottley lives.

The next day I wander around some more and park myself in front of a computer checking email. My dad might have had a small stroke. Or maybe he just pinched a nerve. Tests are needed. I try to find out how much it'll cost to get my bike to New Zealand. I spend the day sending emails to places asking. I've done this before in Brisbane and didn't get any responses.

I show up and go to the toy run without a toy. Man, that's slimey, I
meant to get something but ran out of time (out sending emails), so I
kicked in $10 for a charity badge. I figure since John didn't charge
me, I should pay something even though I'm on a tight budget. Still
feel like a deadbeat though.

John likes to ride up at the front which isn't where I'd like be especially as I'm just visiting. I had a tv camera crew on me because of the old bike, and since it was organized by the Ulysses Club, they're the ones who should be filmed. Not some visiting kook with a hole in his head. The cap from my air filter falls off on the ride and gets run over by another motorcyclist. Hopefully that's on film.

I was wearing the shirt with the girl's face on it. It's a good shirt that came with my apartment. Left behind by the old tenants Cary and Mary. It's a face from a friend of Mary's so now she's internationally famous. Everyone thinks she's someone famous anyway but they just can't place the face. People have asked about it in the US and in Australia and insist they've seen it before.

(this entry is closed for commenting)

Posted by DaveSmith at January 4, 2005 04:56 PM

Dave, Truely a wonderful post. I have to admit something; I check the site about every other day, hoping for new post and wondering if everything is okay. I am glad you missed the wave. I feel I can send you some more dough an know it will go towards passage or food. Keep rolling strong. And Jim Carroll is still around, mostly writing esoteric stuff for "arty" rags. Don't know if he was ever a junkie, though. Can't remember myself.

Posted by: samueljohn at January 4, 2005 05:45 PM

Hey Dave,

Great posts! Glad you're safely in Melbourne and missed the wet in the north. The rest of the trip around Australia should be a breeze.

If you're still in Melbourne, you might want to swing through St. Kilda. It's a cool part of Melbourne right on the ocean. Sort of reminded me of Midtown if it was near the ocean. Also check out the casino with the big gas flames in front of it. It was fun! I think its on the river somewhere near downtown.

I have more stuff I want to send including some info. about China when you get to that part of your trip.

Thanks for saying you liked your co-workers better than the monkeys in one of your earlier posts. You have to admit I never tried to pee on you! This is the first week that Robert and DeeAnn have been gone and it sucks!! There gone, you're gone, and I'm still here. :( At least I get to watch the building flood everytime it rains which it's been doing a lot of lately (ummm...raining and flooding).

Keep the posts coming!! Glad you missed the tsunami and hope you had a great holiday season in the land of OZ.

Posted by: Farmdog at January 4, 2005 06:31 PM

I would've written that I'm staying in East St. Kilda, but I figured that would be like writing Midtown Sacramento. Most people aren't going to know. I'll look for the casino and thanks for not peeing on me.

China and Burma have opened up to motorcyclists riding through which is good. Now I should be able to ride through instead of shipping my bike from Singapore to India. I've heard tales of cheap Vincents hidden out in Burma and India, so I'll keep my eyes open.

I saw a couple of Vincents for sale at Euro Bikes. The Comet was $14,000 Aussie dollars. I paid $9,000 for the Ducati and will sink close to another $1,000 into it putting on Italian parts it should've had (light, tach). Not much cheaper than the Comet but I don't know what problems the Comet has. Just something to think about on long rides, but I'll be getting a Comet some day.

In Jim Carroll's book, The Basketball Diaries, it seems like his heroin abuse kept him from playing pro-basketball. I've been planning on a People Who Died post but it's hard. It's sort of the whole theme behind this trip. I'm just glad to be alive and able to celebrate life.

Posted by: Dave at January 4, 2005 07:40 PM

Dave - Happy New Year to you! Thank you for posting the photos and stories of your trip!

Posted by: Suzy at January 4, 2005 08:57 PM

dave, how about putting up a rudimentary map on your web site with a dotted line indicating your route so far? either way, i'm enjoying the heck out of your journal. Bob B

Posted by: bob b at January 5, 2005 04:27 AM

Hmm. Dennis, when you peed on me, you said you just did that to everyone... now I am starting to wonder...

Posted by: Lurch at January 5, 2005 11:54 AM

"I'm just glad to be alive and to celebrate life."

Good god i never thought that the dave smith would utter a phrase like that. I guess there's hope for us all.

Posted by: ol' man foster at January 5, 2005 11:55 AM

I like the map idea! In fact, you could post one for each country and then a global map showing overall progress.

Robert, I thought we agreed not to bring up the pee'ing incident?

Dave, I halfway suspected you were staying in St. Kilda. You'd be surprised at how many people have heard of it. I can't say the same is true about Midtown though.

Good news about being able to ride through China. The cities there are pretty western. The roads are very good in the cities. I didn't go to any of the rural areas so I don't know what the roads are like out there. Be careful riding in the cities though. There is an odd mix of trucks, cars, motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians all trying to fit into the same space. Damn scary. Traffic signals are more of a courtesy than anything else and everybody drives like they're on Meth. However, the people are very friendly, and for the most part, actually like Americans unlike, as you pointed, out most of the rest of the world. You're going to probably hit China after being in Japan for a bit so don't mention Japan too much in China. They're still pissed off about WWII and don't really like the Japanese although they're too polite to say that. Be prepared to be a bit of a freak show especially if you are in the rural areas. They don't see many long noses out there so they like to have their pictures taken with them. Also let me know when you think you might be in China. I'll likely be going back in the next year and a half to two years so maybe we can meet at McDonalds or KFC.

Keep riding, writing, and having fun!!

Posted by: Farmdog at January 5, 2005 06:34 PM

Dave, will you do us all a favor and eat a salad at least once a week? Also, so sorry about your dad, hope he gets well soon. Take care, amigo!

Posted by: Amy at January 9, 2005 06:29 PM