The 2017 Australian National Scooter Rally provided the opportunity to do an extended road test of the 2016 Kymco Downtown motor scooter. I flew down to Melbourne and headed over the head office and warehouse to have a look around and meet some of the staff. The showroom has several bikes on display from the range of products, the new CF Moto six fifty which is going through the pre-launch process before it becomes available in July. There was a line-up of the Italian range of SWM motorcycles. Though the share the same 440cc engine they are configured as scrambler, tracker and café Moto to meets the needs of various niche riders. A reminder of their agriculture range of off-road motorcycles and quad bikes and then the part of the floor of most interest to me the various Kymco scooters. Apparently, some of the products that are normally in the showroom were out for a photo shoot.
After a café quality coffee in the staff room, it was time to go to the carpark and be shown through the features and instrument cluster modes and settings of the Kymco Downtown by Goetz Neugebauer it was time or me to be handed the keys to start familiarizing with the scooter.
I asked for some directions from the showroom to my destination in Eltham, which sounded easy – left and over the West Gate and Bolte bridges, right onto the highway to the airport and then take the ring road which is just before Mickalum road. Well, I missed all of that – apparently one or more of the trucks obscured my view and I did not end up on the West Gate bridge, instead I meandered on past Flemington racecourse, the Melbourne zoo, Footscray, and other inner city suburbs along racecourse road which lead me to more familiar road names and the Doncaster freeway. This was a good test of what many believe is a scooters environment. Inner city commuting, stop – start, relatively low-speed riding. My first observation was RPM when stationary and braking. It is about 2,000 RPM and sounds as though the clutch may be engaged, but I am not sure of that as under brakes the clutch stays engaged till almost stationary. Which is different to the Burgman, that disengages the clutch as you slowdown. This can give the sensation of accelerating as you are slowing, as once the clutch disengages you lose whatever engine breaking you had and it changes to coasting. Off the line, it gets going straight away and as fast as your right wrist has determined. The big, almost vertical, instrument cluster is easy to glance at while watching the road. It’s important to help ensure you do not exceed the speed limits as it effortlessly moved from traffic light to traffic light prior to entering the freeway. I exited at Bulleen road and after a bit more stop and start before I arrived in Eltham.
We had initially agreed on Urban Grooves Cafe in Greensborough, but after my navigation challenge (or fail- depends on your perspective) I found a new location for lunch: Pierross Pasticceria, Pizza and café.
The windows and counters are lined with cakes, slices, biscuits, and merengue, as well as a well stocked savoury cabinet, I saw some menus and grabbed one noting it had their selection of pizzas, which made sense as the most dominant feature of the store is their huge pizza oven, but it is not available at lunch, antipasto, lasagne, cannelloni, arranchini, flat bread – a range of lunch options were available (well most – they sold out of arranchini). After lunch I had a chance to see how the Kymco liked the twistier roads between Eltham and Warrandyte, before going back into the suburbs at Springvale road in Donvale and continuing on with the slight distraction of the Big Watermelon before my overnight destination.
I tried to give myself as big a window for travel and stops as possible, so an early start to be on the road at 06:30 and on my way. For the most part, I was traveling in the opposite direction to the traffic, so cruising along at 80km/hr on major roads between lights through to Lilydale and a curiosity stops to visit what was at one point in time my local hotel. I turned the corner and it’s familiar silhouette was there, but as I got closer I noticed the white dog had been replaced by “Dukes Saloon” and it looks like it stopped trading some time ago.
Enough nostalgia, off to see how the Kymco performs as a touring scooter. After Lilydale you leave most of the congestion behind, the sun was rising and as I went through the Yarra Valley and passed Melba House there was mist hanging in the air… though no amount of mist will ever disguise the smell of the crops of Brussels sprouts along the road. Between Coldstream and Yarra Glen were I stopped to top off the tank before going up the hill to Kinglake. From Dixon Creek to the crossroad at the top of the hill it is a near constant uphill run with some twists to make it interesting which the Kymco did at virtually the same speed and rpm as it had just done going through Yarra valley. Once I was doing more prolonged time at 100km/hr the amount of wind noise was becoming a bit of an issue. The Burgman has a tall screen which keeps more of the wind off your chest and helmet, but the Kymco’s is much shorter. But it was easily sorted with a quick rest stop in the township of Yea where I purchased some ear plugs at the hardware store. There was more unplanned rest between Yea and Molesworth as the are upgrading and widening the road, but soon enough I was back on the road to Bonnie Doon for a stop to check out the serenity and water level under the bridge.
After this distraction (if you have not already I suggest you hire the DVD or watch “The Castle” on Netflix) it was a straight run through to Benalla. The seating position, padding, and suspension on the Downtown were proving themselves as I was not feeling uncomfortable or needing to move my weight on seat or leg position when riding at 100km/hr for extended periods. It was all calm cruising except for the occasional flick of rock or kamikaze locust to the shin keeping me focussed on the road disappearing beneath me. The temperature gauge is a wedge-shaped display, which had been sitting at a constant level, but it is not obvious if that is half the span of the gauge (the analog gauge on the Burgman typically sits at about half) but the fact it was staying the same was a good thing. The fuel gauge was moving, but for the same reason as the temperature gauge was a mystery, I assumed I knew what the fuel level remaining was.
There is some great wall art in Benalla, the one pictured below I thought was the most striking of all.
There was another Ned Kelly themed one on a portion of a brick wall in a street behind the main street that also looked great, after a quick picture with it I was back on the road to Ned Kelly country and the site of the last stand, and big Ned Kelly statue. Another rest for me and the Kymco while I had a coffee and treat from the Glenrowan bakery before leaving town and going around the back of the Winton wetland to Yarrawonga to cross over into New South Wales.
It was on this section of road that I found out what I thought I knew about the fuel gauge was false… at some stage, the low fuel light came on, which was a bit of a surprise and cause for concern when I looked at the distance under the Y on the road posts. But almost immediately the scooter amps up the anxiety by making the illuminated portion of the fuel gauge flash to accentuate that you may be pushing it or seeing how you long it takes to get roadside assistance. This is when the lesson on the instrument cluster came in very handy. I was able to change the display to show the distance per litre and rather than watch the speed, I adjusted the throttle to keep as high a number as possible to make sure if I was pushing the scooter along the side of the road, that I was not pushing it far. It came as a surprise that I really did not have to adjust road speed below the road’s designated speed limit as I was getting a better distance per litre at around 100 compared to 90km/hr or lower.
I made it to Yarrawonga and fuelled up at the first opportunity. It took 11.25 litres to refill the tank.
I had looked up some things I wanted to see/take a picture of in Mulwala – so took the Yarrawonga city center bypass over the Murray river and into NSW. First stop was the Mulwala club for a photo opportunity with the airplane they have out the front of the club then the water ski club for its sign.
I tried to mount my GPS on the scooter, but found that the lens on the gauges is domed, the screen does not have any spots that are flat enough for the suction cup to hold and the handlebar and other possible locations were smaller than the GPS suction cup. I tried in one of the compartments on the leg shield but these were also too small, so I had to settle for putting it in my luggage bag strapped to the seat. When I put it in the bag it knew I wanted to go to Urana to see the big spider sculpture… however in the goldilocks attempt to find the GPS a home – that is where it decided I wanted to go INTO QUEENSLAND! I did not realize immediately that the nagging voice in my helmet had an ulterior motive, as generally when touring if I am using the GPS I set it to avoid highways as you see more when you go on secondary roads and obviously there is less traffic… But also less signage that would indicate you are not going where you thought. Anyway, when I got to the Walbundrie hotel I knew that things were not going to plan. Thankfully there were street signs indicating the direction to Urana, so I followed them with the GPS protesting the whole way and suggesting I was lost and maybe I should turn around. The next town was Rand, on the way in I stopped for a photo with a renovators special, in the city centre there was a shop with the glass missing from the front windows and others looking beyond their prime. Good photo backdrops – but a bit sad to see.
I found Urana and the spider sculpture, (a pretty comprehensive list of Australian big things can be found at www.postienotes.com). Followed by a hotel that had the most impressive street front “Thirst Aid” for another photo stop before heading back to the main highway to complete the trip to Griffith.
The GPS was programmed to the new destination – but a lot more care was taken to make sure it knew where to go and confirmed the first few instructions on the screen, so that once it started talking to me through the helmet intercom that I could confirm it was correct. When I did get to the highway and saw the distance boards to the next towns and fuel, a new problem became apparent as the extra distance and cross/head winds had used more fuel and I had no confidence I would make it to the next service station. Thankfully the nagging voice in the helmet told me to turn into Kidman way and there were new distances and towns – and a chance I could make it. Back to riding to the km per litre display to improve my chances and successfully arrived in Coleambally and the feeling of relief to see the BP service station and that it was open. I went back to the park that had a old drag line shovel in it, I was surprised to read that if someone wanted to fire it up it is still functional.
A relatively short trip from there into Griffith, with a quick stop at the visitor information center for a picture with Retired Firefly TT.6 WB518 “NW 903”, which was issued to the Returned Services League at Griffith NSW in February 1967, to be mounted on a pole as a memorial.
The Kymco proved to be more than up to the distance, speeds and prolonged periods of operation with no noticeable change in engine temperature, as much as I love my Burgman I would struggle to ride it an equivalent length of time without fatigue and having to shift around to adjust weight on my legs and seat. The Kymco riding position is a lot more vertical comparatively when riding with feet forward and the narrower seat is definitely more comfortable when I was expecting the opposite to be true.
The rally schedule was to meet at the visitor information center at 10:00 am. After a lazy start, I headed off a bit early so that I could find a decent coffee. Parked the scooter and a short walk away was Bertoldos Paticceria, which even better had a “Jumbo size” take away cup. A quick scan of their display cases revealed I would have no trouble finding one or more things I like. Back to the carpark and the arriving scooters, and some familiar faces from around the country. Cameron gave the pre-ride briefing and the group set off through the main street of town to go to the “Black Stump Hotel” in Merriwagga. Home of the tallest bar in the Southern Hemisphere, where stockmen used to ride their horses up to the bar on the way home for a relaxing ale.
The initial pace through town made me wonder if the lead rider was tailgating a hearse, but it did keep the group together and let any that had to give way a roundabout an opportunity to regroup before we got to the city limits and the speed increase and the capacity and level of engine tuning decided the riding groups along the road.
The scenery changed from grapevines to citrus to grapevines as we rode along, then the sales yards and eventually back into open paddocks or crops with some native trees providing some wind protection for some of the way to the fuel stop in Goolgowie. The rally organizer had phoned ahead to confirm fuel availability prior the rally, but unfortunately, when we arrived we were told there was no fuel.
The Kymco in spite of my fuel challenges and most of the modern scooter had more than enough range for the planned ride and even the optional ride, but the classic scooters, in general, would be challenged without topping up. As with any communication, it is easy to misunderstand, and it turned out if 24 riders wanted to fill up he would have had a problem, but was happy for anyone with a smaller tank to put in 2 litres which would give them enough range to complete the ride. Fuel crisis solved and everyone left happy. Back on the road which appeared to get straighter the further, we rode away from Griffith. Toward the Merriwagga turn off to the township and our lunch destination. There is an Australian expression that is used if you want to tell someone that the destination is a long way away “That it is beyond the black stump” At least three towns in regional Australia claim to be home to the ‘black stump’: Coolah, NSW; Blackall in Queensland; and Merriwagga / Gunbar in NSW. About 20km from Merriwagga which we had the option of riding to is “Gunbar Station” the location where the local term black stump was used.
Barbara Blain’s husband, James, was a carrier or teamster, based at Hay. In March 1886 James and Barbara Blain, in company with other carriers, stopped to camp at a pine ridge on “Gunbar” station. James and the other men left to load posts onto their drays and Barbara began preparations for the evening meal. When they returned, the men found Mrs. Blain had been fatally burnt, probably after her dress had caught alight from the flames of the camp-fire. Barbara Blain was buried at nearby Gunbar cemetery and an inquest into her death was subsequently held. James Blain apparently stated that when he found his wife she “looked like a black stump” (possibly as part of his evidence at the inquest). A watering place near where the tragedy occurred – roughly halfway between Gunbar and the village of Merriwagga – became known as Black Stump Tank.
The Black Stump Picnic area at Merriwagga has a wagon and memorial stone, with an inscription which explains the details of these events.
The hotel as noted above has a unique bar – and now that the homeward bound drovers are long gone the hotel has not changed height but instead has some tall and very heavy bar stools where horses may once have stood. The publican could not have been more hospitable, offering each of us a sticker drink cooler as a memento and offering a full menu on the day (initially they thought they would only be able to offer a limited menu).
After I had eaten, I went for a walk around town, to see what was around. Grain seems to be the primary business and retail has gone with the two shops in the same street as the hotel having stopped trading some time ago. There was a church, and some recognition of it as a tidy town and a sculpture honoring the pioneering women.
The ride back to Griffith was in smaller groups, as I had seen a few things along the road on the way up to the lunch stop that now that the ride was less formal I took the opportunity to explore.
One of my stops was a J & P motorcycles which supported the rally by offering 15% discount if you mention you’re there for the scooter rally, awesome!. So I went in to see what they had in a very large store. Mostly ag bikes and quad bikes as you would expect in the region, a good range of rider wear, helmets, and other accessories, plenty of 2-stroke oil and other oils, riding gear, etc.
– but when I looked up to the mezzanine floor I could see a collection of Kawasaki z series motorcycles and some other classic bikes. After asking permission to go up there I had a closer look.
After a bit more scouting around town and refilling the Kymco I went back to the park for some downtime. I do not know where the day had gone as before I realized it people were heading off to Southside Griffith Leagues club Banquet room for the evening.
The Hobart contingent had done some scooting and found Café Yoogali which was a lot closer to rally HQ that Griffiths abundance of choices, so I headed over there for breakfast. I intentionally did not order the Big Breakfast, but when my plate arrived it was piled high with bacon, grilled tomato, mushrooms, spinach, thick cut toast, and eggs. A true breakfast feast.
Then it was off to the meeting point for the day’s ride out. While we were waiting, Margaret Taylor, a local resident that works at Scalabrini Village, said she had a scooter and was keen to do something out of the ordinary. We let her know where our first stop would be as she did not think she would get back to where we were parked in time. After a delayed start waiting for someone who had some electrical issues, we headed off up Banana Ave. Not as easy on a Saturday as there was some traffic congestion ahead of our group making it a stop and start ride through town. On the positive side though it gave people in the street a better chance to see the various scooters in the group and maybe take a picture or video as we passed. The ride’s first stop was Lake Wyangan which is about 14km from Griffith. Once clear of the congestion our group of scooters was up to the posted speed limit when someone towing a trailer came past, endangering the riders with the passenger hanging out the window being abusive, and I was told later had been swerving toward some riders – stupid when you are driving a car – insane when you are towing a trailer. If he had only waited a little longer we would have turned off and he could have had the road to himself. Our arrival at the lake disturbed the occupants of a car that had parked under a tree near the lake that was initially oblivious to the arriving hoard of scooters. By the time we had lined up for a photo next to the lake they had realized their private moment together would need rescheduling. The lady we had been speaking to rode in on her Bolwell scooter (Genuine Buddy in the US) and joined in for the group photo.
After this, we rode to the Hermits cave and Dudley De Chair Lookout Great views across the Griffith region. I took a bit long exploring the Hermits cave and chapel below the lookout.
“Valerio Ricetti (4 October 1898—1952) was an Italian-Australian hermit who lived mainly in a cave in the Griffith area for a period of 23 years. Working only at night and in the early morning hours so that he would not be seen, he turned the cave into his own private “utopia” complete with kitchen, chapel, landscaping, pathways, stone walls, stone stairs, paths, terraced gardens and cisterns for water supply.”
It was interesting to wonder around and image how it was when Valerio lived there.
When I returned found only the Kymco and one other scooter in the carpark. Along the way back to town I saw an ornate looking platform viewing deck, so stopped to see why it had been built. It gave a view of another angle of the city and on the other side of the valley in line with the platform which seems to line up with the Gurdwara Singh Sabha Sikh temple.
There were a few choices for lunch in town, ranging from an Italian restaurant that had a table booking through to the various hotel’s patisseries and café. I went back to Bertoldo’s Pasticceria/Panetteria along with some rally riders before going back to the caravan park to give the Kymco a bit of a tidy up for the show and shine later in the afternoon. It also proved an opportunity to give the scooter a closer look at some of the details.
One feature that I may have overlooked otherwise and seemed to have performed a great job was the mesh protecting the radiator. I had a few hits on the windscreen, but it appeared lower down on the scooter had much more strikes of flying insects on the forks and over a good portion of the radiator. The mesh made it quite easy to wash away the road kill. Other than some dirt build up on the rims (there was a dirt track into the lake) the rest of the scooter has stayed pretty clean and not really in need of more than a dust than a wash.
I was invited to be one of the judges of the show and shine, with a number of categories to judge thanks to the award sponsors. It is never easy as there is a lot to take into consideration when looking around with a critical eye.
The other two judges, Goetz and Mike, are restorers and builders of scooters, so were opening and looking in compartments and taking into consideration other things that I do not pretend to be knowledgeable about. But they were able to explain some of the things they were checking, which will help me if asked to help judge again. On completion of judging it was good Cameron had decided to make the presentations in the carpark at the show and shine rather than waiting till the evening.
The winners were,
Best Auto – Keith Bingham
Best Geared – Martin Lindley
Best Vintage – John Hodkin
Best Maxi – Wayne Talbot
Best Unrestored/Rat – Nico Wright
Best Vespa – Matt McWinnie owner, built by Mikey Erdelyi
Best Custom – Paul Stafford
Best in Show – Bob Reid
Best effort getting here – Callum Robinson
A massive thanks to all the sponsors for the fantastic awards – KYMCO Australia, GN Classics, SS Scooter Engineering, Vespa Club of Melbourne, Los Wankas Scooter Club, Lambretta Club of Australia and Scooter Style!!
During judging, you are more focused, but it was pleasing to see that when all the winning scooters were lined up that there was quite a variety of times and sizes and winners from different clubs and groups that had traveled to the rally.
A bit of downtime before returning to the Southside Griffiths leagues club for some more fantastic food and the final presentations including furthest ridden –sponsored by Scooter Style was won by Sharon Heritage and the Hobart Motor Scooter Club.
They traveled a distance of 1176km to the rally as a group, a fantastic effort!. The Hobart contingent joined Cameron for a group photo, some of them also traveled from Hobart – but took a less direct route over more days than Sharon Heritage.
Nico Wilson from the Canberra Swarm grabbed the mic to thank Cameron and Kim for having put their hand up to organize the rally and what a great job they had done introducing us to the Griffith and making the rally and making it the success it has been.
This was followed by Goetz Neugebauer announcing that he and Mandy Neugebauer with support from Southsiders S.C. have volunteered to arrange the 2018 rally in the Grampians. Details to be confirmed during the year and lead up to the rally. The Melbourne Crusaders and Southsiders held a classic rally there in Oct 2016 = so they have already performed a lot of the scouting in the area and Mandy Neugebauer has family in the region to add some of the lesser known attractions to the rally itinerary. Before I left the function, Nico Wilson was trying to grab Goetz’s attention, and I found out later that he and the Canberra Swarm had a made a counter offer for the 2018 National rally to coincide with his Scooter shops 20th anniversary. Only Sharon will know if any financial incentives were provided to change the rally location…. But we will be going hosted by the Canberra Swarm once again in 2018. I look forward to finding out the rally details, as unfortunately for a variety of reasons I missed the last one they hosted in Jindabyne.
As with many scooter rallies the agenda for the last day is a bit flexible – however the Griffith Classic Motorcycle club invited the scooters to join them for a ride, a great opportunity to see some of the classic motorcycles and demonstrate that their corner markers will not be on their third cigarette waiting for the tail end rider to arrive to let them rejoin the ride. Daylight savings ended overnight so the meeting time was 09:00 (same as the other days, just not daylight saving adjusted to 10:00 am). A bit more time was allowed for anyone who did not reset their clock overnight, which allowed more time to walk around and admire the variety of vintage to newer classic motorcycles blended in with the now more familiar scooters.
Some of the scooterists had ticked all their boxes for the weekend and departed from the meeting place at the tourist center.
The ride grouped up with the Classic motorcycles at the front, as they would also be corner marking the route and with the more familiar tail end riders bike to make sure the corners were marked as long as required. We wove our way through farms and vineyards, in a bit of a loop from the tourist center to more familiar landmarks in Yoogali then another loop before arriving at the Bengarra general store for morning tea.
The rally organizers and Classic motorcycle club had called ahead to give an estimate of how many may be arriving, so they had plenty of staff and a full display case to cater to our needs and wants while socializing a bit more with the classic club.
More scooterists were planning their ride home, the Hobart contingent was in a huddle over a map finalizing their route and stops on the way back home.
With a big day of riding planned for the next day, I took the opportunity to have some down time, catch up on a few things and watch the world go by. Unlike many places Griffith does not have many wifi locations, but I was let in some handy local knowledge – the library steps are in range of the library wifi, so I made myself comfortable and uploaded some pictures of the show and shine presentations while watching the various hot rods, street machines, motorcycles and other toys come out of the shed for a bit of sun and a lap of the town.
A little more exploring, but then back to relaxing before the gathering around the BBQ in the centre of the park for a stragglers BBQ. Earlier in the afternoon a diagnosis on Bill Pearson’s “soft seize” was conducted, with the conclusion it was “Forked”. About 10 in total cooked a bit of a mixed grill with mixed salads and trimmings until the mosquitos got a bit more determined, so some farewells as I suspect most will be up with the sun in the morning.
Asking around the table it seemed there will be a bit of a wagon wheel of travelers with different routes being selected to get home. The lack of wifi in the park had stalled my final route plan for the ride home. I have to admit that when I left for this trip I had not put as much effort into working out the way home as making sure I got to certain things on the way up, and I assumed that the caravan park would have wi-fi and that I would be able to Google Maps my way home during the rally. However that was not the case and my mobile plan was not up to using it as a hot spot for the laptop, so looked like I would have to wing it. Thankfully at the stragglers BBQ, Michael had some old school street maps of NSW and Victoria. A route was plotted and suitable waypoints entered into my phone for helping keep the GPS in check so I was able to select a list of towns to get myself back to Melbourne without spending too much time on the major highways.
Lesson learned, in the future I will ensure I have suitable scale street maps for any planned travel and not rely on technology or the internet again. When you are at a crossroad with no signal bars on your phone and a rebellious GPS it would be some comfort to layout a map and work out where you are and where to go.
Day 5 – the return trip
There was not much choice out of Griffith, rode past the information center for the last time and headed back down Kidman way to the Newell highway and first stop in Jeralderie. I went past the Urana turn off from the way up and with hindsight, I should have turned left and gone to and fuelled up before continuing to Griffith on Thursday… I made sure I did top up at the first opportunity on the way home.
Other than the usual confectionary the service station had some potions to pick you up and others to help sleep…
Back on the road and a little further through town the men’s shed caught my eye with a lineup of Ford Trucks behind a wire mesh gate. I circled back to take a better look and over in the corner under a building pile of dust was an old school gasser.
I continued on into the next road works and ended up stopped next to a Findlay bakery sign with a pretty delicious looking vanilla slice looking back at me, so a decision was made to stop and have a coffee once through the flag men and back up to speed.
From here it was a pretty short run to Tocumwal to find the big Murray Cod for a photo opportunity with the Kymco before crossing the border back into the state of Victoria.
Another photo opportunity at the Big Strawberry, before turning at Strathmerton and heading South toward Shepparton via Numurkah, Tallygaroopna, Congupna.
In Shepparton, the painted cows were hard to miss – mounted on poles and positioned all through the park. One that did not look that special from the road make me laugh when I saw it from a different angle it was a hot dog cow.
From here it was off to Mooroopna a few more painted cows and the Jack Findlay statue.
Cyril John “Jack” Findlay (1935-2007) survived a 20-year career as a motorcycle grand Prix rider, which was even more of an achievement in the 1960s and ’70s, when circuit safety was not a consideration, riding apparel little changed from the 1920s, and machine reliability often questionable.
“Jack” Findlay amassed a record tally of grand Prix starts in every capacity class from 50cc to 750cc. He finished third in the 1966 500cc world championship, and second in 1968 behind the Italian superstar Giacomo Agostini. riding his self-prepared Matchless, a design that dated to 1958.
In total, he had three 500cc GP victories, including the 1973 Isle of Man TT on a factory-supplied Suzuki, but rode as a self-funded privateer for most of his long career. The story of Findlay’s disastrous 1969 season, in which 11 top riders lost their lives, was documented by the director Jerome Laperrousaz in his film Continental Circus.
A little further west and I reached the Tatura turn off. This next section was the highlight of the trip. From Tatura to Rushworth was a great road for riding and met next to no traffic. A quick look around town and a coffee and pastry stop at the bakery and had a chat with some locals at the next table who confirmed the next part of the route. “Go to Murchinson and you will go past the school and Police Station and when you get to the lawn bowls club turn right at the roundabout and that will follow the irrigation channel to Nagambie… There are a couple of one-lane bridges”
When I got to the described intersection there was no road signage to indicate it was the correct road, so I was grateful they had shared this knowledge. The road was everything it promised to be and brought me out almost equal with the Nagambie welcome sign.
The day was running away from me, so decided to abandon the route I had planned and hit the highway after refueling to get back and off the road before sunset and reduce the chance of any wildlife interactions with me and the Kymco. Obviously not has much fun – but much safer on the divided carriageway with the Kymco more than capable of maintaining the posted speed limit, or if required a little more to get around any traffic that was driving erratically, for a good portion of the trip I had the protection of a double horse float which reduced some of the wind noise in my helmet, after this a bit of too and fro with some trucks, but there was plenty of speed monitoring to keep everyone at or close to the marked speed limits. My phone battery had given out at the stop at Rushworth… so when I saw the sign for the exit to Seymour I took it and the opportunity to plug the phone into the laptop to have enough charge to check and send some messages about my location and confirm expected arrival time.
There is not much to describe in the next section – riding along one of the National roads with trucks and B-doubles through until the airport freeway and the drop off location for the scooter. A bit of a recap of the weekend over pizza before being dropped at my hotel for the night. A fantastic journey of about 1600 kms (994 miles), more than proving the scooter’s worth as a commuter or tourer.
The next day I had a short stroll to West Meadows for some breakfast at Madison’s Wood Fired Café and a bit of window shopping in the Cup Cake shop and bakery before returning to the hotel to finalize my packing and take the shuttle to the airport to return to Brisbane.
A huge thank you to Cameron Green and Kim Staples for volunteering to take on organizing the 2017 National Scooter rally and showing us Griffith and the surrounds. Like most Australians, a trip around Australia is on the retirement bucket list and I have to admit I probably would not have deviated to Griffith, but now that I have visited I would recommend it to anyone as a suitable designation. Check out the Griffith Tourism to find the dates for their annual Citrus or Sausage festivals. It would be great to visit when either one of those events is on. Even if it just for the abundance of Italian food or other restaurants consider it when planning your next holiday destination.
PLAN AHEAD for the scooting experience of a lifetime!
Australia 2019 Joint UK/Aussie Rally
South West Scooter Clubs is an organization made up of the various scooter clubs in the South West Of England. They came together in 1997 to fill a gap when the NSRA folded and to take over the running of Finlake national rally.
Their mission now is to provide national quality events and generally promote scootering throughout the South West. They will be running something very special for 2019 and it is here in Australia! The event is scheduled for Australia Day 2019 in association with scooterists from all over Australia.
British rules apply – All inclusive, open all geared and auto scooters. The plan is to only ever run this event once so if you want to attend the experience of a lifetime this is the only chance to do it.
SWSC are obviously still clarifying details and more will follow but the basic plan will be along the lines of their Vegas event – with a rally hotel and a series of events around the area with night dos in the city.
You will probably find some hire scooters available for the weekend which generally are autos. Due to the nature of the event and the traveling involved, the majority of British/United States guys and other travelers will not have scooters.
SWSC are planning some of the daytime events at the local beaches and areas outside the city where both attendees on scooters and those traveling without them can meet up, and evening entertainment at the German club. As Adelaide has such good public transport system those attending without scooters will still be able to get to all events.
24th January 2019
Thursday Evening – Smaller welcome do in one of Adelaide’s fine pubs
25th January 2019
Friday Daytime – Rideouts & Meet and Greet at one of the amazing city beaches.
Friday Evening – Large night do at Adelaide’s German Club a great venue
26th January 2019
Saturday Daytime – Rideouts & Custom Show/ Traders market at Port Adelaide
Saturday Evening – Back to the German Club for the main event
27th January 2019
Sunday Daytime – Rideouts and Meetup in the scenic Adelaide Hills
Sunday Evening – Another pub night to say your goodbyes to friends old and new.
As its such a big commitment they are combining with the Melbourne guys to put something together for the week after the rally with a pub night in Melbourne on Wednesday 30th January 2019 followed by hopefully something in Sydney on the Saturday 02nd February 2019 after rally so people can see a fair bit of Australia whilst partying with scooter folk. Plan now, it will be here before you know it!