Riding from Melbourne to Broken Hill

During April, I went on a journey that was not long in time nor distance but was monumental on the adventure scale. Some of the best journeys that I have done have been short and shattering; it is a rare feeling, fleeting, reflective, a synthesis of rival life narratives.

Broken Hill is not that far from Melbourne in terms of distance, about 1000 kms as the cockatoo flies. However, in terms of head-space distance, you might as well be riding the fucking moon! The first day of my adventure, I felt chock-full of ennui, so I pushed my trip back a day, which wasn’t a good idea because I was compelled to ride to Broken Hill in one day.

Salt Lake in the Mallee in Victoria

The ride there was hellish, I was so damn tired. I stopped to nap at half a dozen towns, sprawled out in the local park in leathers trying to get a 20-minute power nap between the uptight rose gardens.  At Mildura, on the Murry River, the last stop of Victorian civilisation, I filled up with petrol and coffee and crossed the state border.

Looking for a place to have a mico-nap in the Mallee

After Mildura, you enter the outback and the 300 kms road to Broken Hill. Before the trip, I talked to my friend Stuart, and he advised me to ride fast (apart from the other things he recommended, this is all I remembered). The outback is like an Australian autobahn (fun fun) with Kangaroos, meaning (in theory) that you can ride as fast as you want. As it was getting dark and Broken Hill was still more than a three-hour ride away, I thought this was sound advice.

 I opened the throttle and rode on the magnificent stead on my sovereign road into the dusk. After about an hour and a half, anxious of the outback at night and concerned its great void may form a friendship with my own, I plucked my eyes off the horizon and glanced down as the fuel gauge in existential horror.  It was almost empty WTF!

I had forgotten (or perhaps had never known) that bikes have crap fuel economy at high speed. The fuel was nearly drunk, and there was still more than 150 Kms to Broken Hill. I thought about all those shit British backpackers that run out of petrol in the outback and decide to walk to the next town, 200 kms away, in the summer heat and get burned-up about half an hour later. I did not want to spend the night sleeping in the void, cooked like a Wolf Creek backpacker in the morning.

I slowed right down, like seriously slow, I did not know I could ride so slow. Then it started to get cold, Tasmania cold, and the outback put on a vast and eternal extraterrestrial display that, for a moment, distracted me from my temporal predicament.  I rode like this for an hour, then another hour, then another with the nagging fuel gauge threatening only a few kilometres more of modern life.

I arrived at Broken Hill at 1130PM, at the Palace Hotel, where Priscilla Queen of the Desert had cut a path into the jungle a generation ago. I spend a few days in Broken Hill, having a bit of a look around this great outback city, micro-dosing its many delights.

Hackneyed I know, but like all great adventures, regardless of their scope or cost, it is the journey that counts.

Happy to arrive at the Palace Hotel, Broken Hill.
Beers at the Silverton Hotel near Broken Hill
Silverton, near Broken Hill

Riding from Melbourne to the high-county

One of the few fun things permitted during the virus-restrictions in Australia was fat-motorcycling for exercise. Sure, you could not go far at first, but after a while, you could ride a lot further than your local supermarket or bottle shop.

This is a long, day-ride I did from Melbourne to the high-country, past Lake Mountain and Woods Point. It was a terrific ride; twelve hours of slow reflective, staccato riding, as no overnight rest-stays were permitted.  During lock-down I am sure that my brain shrunk due to lack of stimulation, so getting out into the spacious mountains with tight-cornered, dirt roads lined with huge shedding eucalyptus trees, and lakes and rivers, and devoid of tin-cars was expansive (to say the least). It was freezing cold and the moody dirt road was all-consuming, but I developed a fresh perspective on this fabulous state beyond the deep, reductive ruts of the inner-city.

Melbourne > Marysville > Woods Point > Jamieson > Eildon > Fitzroy!

Riding up the Black Spur

This is one of the most popular motorcycle routes in Victoria; from Melbourne to Marysville through the Black Spur. There are usually lots of tin-cars, but today there were few.

Marysville to Woods Point Road

This road is pretty special, remote, mountainous, and again no cars. After the turnoff to Lake Mountain is gets pretty wild, and it is only sealed until the Warburton turn off

Marysville to Woods Point Road (dirt!)

This part of the journey was the most difficult, up over the top of a mountain on a narrow dirt road, through a dense forest. And I didn’t see anyone, apart from a couple of 4WDs from the hunters and fishers crew.

Woods Point is a pretty amazing place; remote, only accessible by dirt roads, and with a large pub called the Commercial Hotel.

Woods Point (no fuel)

The road to Jamieson passes next to the river and goes past the salubrious Kevington Hotel

Kevington Hotel


Jamieson to Eildon road

The road from Jameson to Eildon traverses the Eildon national park; about one hundred kms of windy, meditational road free of the heady-clutter of Modern life (except for the moto, I like its clutter). This road was sealed all the way with slow, meandering, but disciplined corners. A very big day in a very big world where people are getting smaller and smaller.


xx