Jungle Bums Biker Bunker

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From left to right: James (me) Dave, Mia, Axel. Also from left to right: Honda xr650L xr650R, xr650R        

 

I’d had my face glued to the window. Coming down in a broad arc the Timor Sea spread out in front of us and to the west. Darwin from the air looked as rural as Wyoming. The think dense patches of tropical forest were broken only by rich brown soil and the metal roofs of buildings. I’d been warned about the heat, told to brace for it, but sitting on the air conditioned plane I couldn’t prepare mentally for the humidity. Darwin is the kind of place that even on a cooler day still racks up to nearly 100% humidity.

Collecting my bags and heading outside I was met by a blast of sticky warm air and sights and sounds that were altogether foreign. The thing about the Northern Territory is that everything is so remote, even the biggest city, Darwin, is considered remote. Because of this people have to be self sufficient. And thus if there are cars in Darwin they look more like Americas pimped out off-road rigs. Bull bars, snorkels, and beefy tires were not just commonplace, I’m fairly certain they were on almost every vehicle. Paired with two 20L jerry cans for extra fuel and one 20L container for water the message was clear. Be self sufficient, and don’t get caught with your pants down. But by what remained the question.

Dave caught me with my pants down thats for sure. After being over whelmed by all the off road get ups around me a Toyota Carola roles up and out jump Axel and Mia Anderson. Separated by 10 years and two other siblings, these two might as well be my family. But the man who stepped out of the right side drivers door and slapped me on the shoulder exclaiming loudly, “Nice to meet you ya good cunt!” was not quite yet like family.

Dave is loud, boisterous and smokes like a god damn chimney. He is an engineer and is very mechanically oriented. But more than that, Dave like many in the motorcycle community, is a genuinely great person. With no knowledge of who we were, before any of us had arrived in Darwin; Dave had rushed around the Northern Territory finding three Honda XR 650’s for Axel, Mia, and me. Not only did he manage to find three, two 650Rs and one 650L, but he also used his own money to place deposit on them so we could pick them up when we arrived a week later. Dave housed us, drank with us, ate with us, and even came out for our first lap down to Litchefield National Park which lies just south of Darwin.

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More than that though Dave didn’t just do this for us, he does it for every wayward motorcyclist who might think the Northern Territory is for them. While we were there a young woman named Agnes, who was traveling alone across the country was also calling Dave’s Biker Bunker home. At 22 years old Agnes had just ridden up from southern Western Australia and on her way up had run into some tough luck! Yet Agnes was in high spirits and treating her time at Dave’s more like a retreat and time to heal than being sidelined from her trek. As it turns out, she is also a very accomplished group chef.

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Time at Dave’s was primarily spent working on the bikes and getting them ready to hit the road. Oil changes, new chains and sprockets, fresh rubber, rack building, tank adjustments, and new jets in the carburetor in my bike. This dominated our first week but during all of this I kind of stood by with an all to confused look on my face. You see, I’d come to ride 7,000km across Australia with about 10 hours of previous riding experience. I’ll reiterate, I’d been on a bike long enough to know how to shift and not stall every other time. And so this week also meant learning as much about motorcycles in as short-amount of time as possible. A week was not long enough.

 

 

Update: Alive and I made it across Australia

The last time I got on here I was wallowing in worry over taking a nationally registered exam for my EMT cert. I passed. No big deal. However, two days after that test I got on a plane and flew 23 hours to Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. I’d been invited by my two good friends Axel and Mia a few months previous to our departure and seeing as I’d wanted to take a motorcycle trip with them for some time I readily agreed to go along. Over the next few weeks I will attempt to chronicle some of the adventures we had whilst traveling down under! I will attempt to do so in chronological order so as to give a more authentic feel to the trip cause like anything, the good stuff doesn’t just happen all at once.

I will happily end this post by suggesting that this trip was one of the hardest things I have done in a while and also one of the most rewarding. This is really the story of how I learned to ride a motorcycle in a different country, off road, with one eye. Kinda a recipe for some great stories. I also have to commend my friends Axel and Mia Anderson for being two of the most outstanding and hard working people I have ever meet. The world would be a better place with more like you. With that I’ll jump off for now.

Until next time when the journey begins!

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Mia, Axel, and I stand road side after finding ourselves in a little bit of sticky situation.