BMW R75 and Zündapp KS 750                                                                            Trip to  Australia 

                                                                                                                                    copyright  h-p Hommes    

                                                                                                                         In Deutsch hier klicken   

 

When we landed in summerlike Sydney after more than 24 hours  travel time we were at once fascinated  by the city with its beautiful and harmonic architecture and we felt like being at home. However we flew  half around the world to down under and then we had the impression to be in Europe.   The weather is like in Spain, the traffic and the language like in England. Everything seemed to be very European. Only as we went through a park, we met  the first real Australians. Birds, which are not to be seen in Europe in nature. At first I had the impression, that the bird enclosure had been left open and the lively exotically multicolored birds had escaped into this park. But especially the animal world  in Australia is a world of its own.

The people brought their cultures from Europe into Australia. The largest part from England and the rest from many other countries, which particularly improved the English cuisine. You will find fast food and take away everywhere in Sydney. In the country side we also found home made cooking. These were already better meals, made from fresh natural products. Then there were still some Slow Food restaurants. This meant that every meal was all freshly prepared. But we only found very few restaurants like that. Then of course the BBQ. Steaks of beef, lamb, or kangaroo. The meat is inexpensive and has very good quality.

Australia is a wine exporting country, however in its own country wine is quite expensive.  Whisky, Wodka and other high % liquors are double price than with us. Cigarettes cost approx. 8,00 Euro. Some youngsters, who still smoke, must have rich parents, who stupidly finance this hobby.

 

As they were taught by the English, the Australians drive from old tradition on the left hand side of the road. Being German they explained to us that we in Germany would drive on the wrong side . Well, it is difficult for them to state that they drive on the right side in Australia and that would be the left hand side. In the English language this is very contradictory. „We are driving on the right side and that is here the left side”.

 

The Australians are friendly and also very helpful people. You may only stop with your motorcycle at the edge of a way to take  your camera out , if there is  no vehicle to be seen. It happened several times to me that a passing car stopped immediatley and the driver asked me "can I help you?" Then the language. It should be English I was told. Our Australian friends spoke real English. But we met some who spoke highspeed Australian.

We could only  suspect that this language could probably have common roots with the English. During such discussions, I only smiled friendly. If the sentence began with a long pulled Yeeeeh, I nodded at the end and said Yeeeeh, that`s true. It always worked.

 

Greeting is another thing. G`day, or hi come, hi go or or.... I have also tried it with a "Grüss Gott" which was recognized without problems as a greeting. Everyone greets with different phrases with a friendly smile and it is always accepted as a greeting. In the country everyone greets everyone waving their hands. Also the most short-sighted cowboy on its horse greets in the most friendly way, because who drives around here must be one of his lot.

 

There are some BMWS R75 and very few Zuendapp KS 750 in Australia. However, altogether there will be no more than 12 to 15. My friend Ian lives with his wife Helen in a small town near Newcastle and has two restored BMW R75. Ian participated in our trip to the Spanish  Pyrenees in 2001. This time he let me drive one of his BMW R75. Normally Ian does not drive such small vehicles like a BMW R75. He is more the specialist for bigger vehicles. It is his occupation to drive a truck with 2.500 HP and approx. 250 tons of coal as additional load. His  BMW R75 looks quite tiny beside his truck.

Some days later we met with the other heavy military bike drivers Kent, Adrian and Linda as well as with Peter and his son in a dozy like place named Moonanflat. Our hotel was called Viktoria Hotel. It had the flair and the equipment of a hotel in the snow Eifel in the early 30's of the last century. The hotel pub was ok. They had excellent cool beer in ice cooled glasses. Every evening lots of farmers with or without their families came in. They served mostly meat dishes - plenty and of good quality. One eats beef or lamb. A real farmer does not like hobbling animals on his plate. So do I. I saw so many driven over kangaroos at the edge of the way. So that at night you do not really feel liking meeting parts of them on your dinner plate.

 

The first advice that my Australian friends gave me: if possible do not drive just before sunrise or sunset. That is the time when the kangaroos are on their way and they are a bit dumb.  They do not respect a car and even less a motorbike. They hobble directly into your  vehicle and that is not harmless. Just as a proof at the next stop Kent pulled a dead grey kangaroo onto  my boat, in order to show me, how enormous such an animal is. I was impressed. The animals are really not small. But Kent only commented with his sense of dry humour that the red ones are even larger. By then I had internalised that there are a few things over here to be aware of.

Another thing are these long thick worms. Generally they are called snakes and Australia has a lot of them. I read in my travel guide that the statements about snakes are exaggerated and that most visitors will never see a single one. The travel guide must probably not have seen the same scrubland than I did.

 

Already on our second day a snake crept our way. Ian was driving in front of me and suddenly stopped his motobike, jumped off and grabbed something in front of his bike. He straightened up again holding a violently moving snake in his hands. This one was about 2 m long, decorated with a beautiful ornament. When it bit him, he laughingly explained  that it was a harmless Diamantpython. A choking snake. You could see this from the fact that it was trying to wind around Ian. But Ian was probably somewhat too large for it, since it normally nourishes itsself on mice and rats. We took some photos and he set it back in the grass, where it quickly disappeared. I saw Diamantpythons several times. Once even in the middle of a park in a small city.

Adrian told me that the multicolored were quite harmless but I should be careful with the black and brown ones. They would be very poisonous and could be quite unfriendly. I followed his advice and kept out of their way. The next snake I met was of course a dark black one, only 1 m long however compared to the poisonous the length does not play a role at all. It slowly trailed across the road. I gave it space and we ignored each other in continuing our way.

 

As in large areas around the Austrialian houses the lawn is cut very short I got the impression, that the Australian's dearest hobby is cutting the lawn. But it is probably more for the reason to recognize the dear snakes and keep them better away. Another reason is that a short lawn does not burn so well, because fire is a constant danger.  We saw some shrub fires in the highlands and drove around them.

 

 Adrian from Sydney has been a BMW freak since his 18th birthday and assembles the transmissions and engines for the Aussis BMW R75. I supply the spare parts and the result is excellent. During our trip there was no engine or gearbox damage to the BMWS.

 

On the first day Ian had some difficulties with his old Noris parts. He built in a spare magneto and had no more problems. We drove through state forests and wild rainforests climbing up more than 2000 m to the top of the Barrington Tops National Park on steep graveled roads. Peter Kunze began to fight with the ascent with his Zuendapp KS 750. Kunze sounds quite German. However Peter is a Czech, who has been living in Australia for 20 years. His engine  overheated and stopped. He could not drive more than 40 km/h, otherwise the piston became jammed.

 Peter had not restored his Zuendapp himself, but bought it "fully restored " in the Czech Republic. But the supposed Tatra pistons and cylinders did not want to get involved and did not accept a higher number of revolutions without jamming. Peter climbed the mountains more slowly and we had a break waiting for him. Downhill the pistons ran genuinly well again without any problems. But unfortunately we had to go uphill on and off!

 

As forecasted different animals crossed our way at sunset: dingos, foxes and naturally the kangaroos.  Oh yes and the sun. It rises - just like with us - in the east, but then it is heading north for midday and goes down in the west - again just like in the Northern hemisphere, but it is dark already at 6 o'clock at night, because it is autumn in April in Australia. Although it is autumn in Australia the weather is as warm as in our summer.  Sunset is finished within 15 minutes and then immediately the night is jetblack. Most of the time we were fast asleep already at 9 o'clock p.m. But in the morning life started at 6.00 a.m.

 

In the highlands the landscape was very dry after a summer with very little rain. On the dusty, graveld roads our bikes whirled up great quantities of dust.  Therefore it was best to keep a good distance from the bike in front of you. I simply followed the huge dust cloud in front of me. When a dust cloud came towards us, we had to be careful. This meant oncoming traffic. When meeting a jeep, we had to take a deep breath and could only breathe normally again when we had passed  the dust  cloud. In the evening we looked accordingly - covered with dust. When I took off my dust shield eyeglasses I looked more like miner than a motorcyclist!

 

 After 2 days in the side car the accompanying girls had experienced enough adventures with us. They organized themselves a comfortable air-conditioned car and investigated the "shopping malls" along our way. We had again our peace, which we enjoyed with male serenity being in line with nature, beer cans and motorcycles. This country is infinitely large and we refuelled our bikes where ever there was a possibility for refuelling. We had driven quite a long distance in the mountains and then just 2 km before a patrol station I ran out of patrol.

Fortunately Kent had still a few litres in his jerry can, so that I did not have to push my bike. In Australia everything is a bit further away than we imagine.  Reorientation is necessary. Superficially regarded on the map it looks as if Sydney is as far away from Brisbane as Hamburg from Hanover. But actually it is more than 1000 km.

 

On the last day Peter Kunze's Zuendapp got an other a problem. Its rear-wheel drive lost oil. A short examination revealed that the intermediate housing had been smashed from the inside.  As it turned out later after dismantling, three teeth of the pinion were torn off and the housing had been destroyed. Total failure. Peter could not believe it. He thought everything on his bike was new. New ok, but from a production from his motherland, where the gear wheels were wrongly hardened. Since they were brittle, they simply broke away due to the stronger strain. 

The BMW's were technically outstanding except for the function of the front fork.  Our Australian friends had not yet  worked thoroughly on the front forks. With three of the bikes there was no spring action present. But we have the same problem in Germany. The front fork does not get a lot of attention. A BMW with a really well working front fork drives itself completely differently than one with a jamming fork.

 

Our journey in Australia was only 3 short weeks. In that I only saw a small part of this enormous country. I think I will have to travel to down under once more, because it is a friendly and interesting country, where one could escape our winter and enjoy their summer.

 

I would like to thank Ian and Helen, Darcy and Susan, Adrian and Linda, Kent and Peter for their help and hospitality.

 

 

 

Hans-Peter Hommes 
hphommes@aol.com   

 

  back to the homepage