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Riding Across Australia on a Yamaha XV1000

Neale Bayly tells the tale of riding across Australia in 1987 aboard a 1982 Yamaha XV1000.

| May/June 2017

  • Time for gas: Karen McIntyre standing with a lonely-looking sign on the way to Kununurra in northeast Western Australia.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • Road Warrior: Neale Bayly on the Yamaha XV1000, somewhere in the Australian outback.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • Checking out Stokers Siding Pottery during the ride north. The shop is still there.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • Looking south down the coastline in Queensland.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • A very lonely road in the red center of Australia.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • Ayers Rock in Uluru, south of Alice Springs.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • The 1982 Yamaha XV1000 loaded with camping gear.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • Neale makes a new friend along the way.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • The roads were often narrow, just 18 feet or so, with gravel shoulders.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • A huge three-trailer “road train” fuel truck.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • The town of Broome, on the western coast of Australia’s Kimberley region.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre
  • The open sky at sunset, just one of the beautiful sights seen while camping in the bush many a night throughout the trip.
    Photos by Neale Bayly and Karen McIntyre

It was a sunny May day in Sydney, Australia, when my fingers stopped on an advert in the local newspaper I was reading: “1982 Yamaha XV1000. Racks, bag, stainless pipes, new tires, $1,750 OBO.” That’s the one for us I told Karen, and a few hours later our friend Dave Peach was driving us out of the city to see the bike and take a test ride.

As soon as I saw it I knew it was the right bike, and after parting with $1,550 cash we were heading back to Sydney on the motorcycle that would end up taking us around Australia. Having landed six months earlier in Darwin on one-way tickets from Indonesia with just $22 to our names, it was hard to contain our excitement knowing the next adventure was about to begin.

Gearing up

With a total investment of $50 in plastic bags, bungee cords and waterproof gear, we headed off, rumbling out of Sydney on Australia’s southeast coast bound for North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. The road out of Sydney is motorcycling perfection — or at least it was then — weaving and winding through the hilly countryside, passing the Blue Mountains and on to the rolling hills of northern New South Wales as we headed north. Goodbye, Sydney Opera House, Curl Curl Beach, the Peach family and our other good friends we had made over the six months we lived in this great city. Hello, Australia, here we come.

The first few days we sort of meandered along, with no great distances being covered as we acclimated to the feeling of the freedom of the open road after months working double shifts to raise the travel coupons (money) we needed to make this journey. It was just the two of us, our trusty Yamaha, and the road ahead.

Heading north up the coast into Queensland, we passed through Surfers Paradise, the beautiful white beaches stretching forever, crashing waves rolling endlessly up the shore and the cliffs above crowned in soft green grass. Surfers Paradise is aptly named.

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