October 21, 2018

Riding an Indian Roadmaster from Alice Springs to Darwin

On ya bike!

With a little pre-planning, some careful packing, and a reliable bike with all the latest gadgets it's easier than ever to take off on a week-long motorcycle ride, says Brad Foster.

If you pick your destination and time of year you're travelling in and have a good quality bike with plenty of storage, motorcycle riding is one of the greatest, most liberating travel experiences you can have. You see, smell and taste so much more than you do sitting in an air-conditioned car and, if it's hot, you certainly enjoy that break at the end of the day.

I recently returned from a 10-day bike ride with a friend travelling almost 2000km from Alice Springs to Darwin and was able to fit everything I needed into the two side panniers of my Indian Chieftain and the rest in a backpack.

My friend Nigel was on an Indian Roadmaster which also had a couple of lockable panniers as well as a pannier behind the pillion passenger seat.

We were filming a new series for Nigel's Ingenious Oz Project – interviewing small business people and community leaders on the "ingenious" things they were doing. This meant that as well as our clothes and toiletries we also had a fair amount of camera equipment.

On top of Nigel's Indian Roadmaster back pannier was a small chrome roof rack which allowed us to strap on the camera tripod.

In early October it was warm but comfortable. For the most part we stuck to the speed limit – 130kph on the open road – and never travelled before dawn or after dusk which is when the majority of the desert creatures are most active.

Only once did I get a scare when I flew past a cow that was grazing on the side of the road.

We wore open face helmets which provide plenty more air flow than full faced ones, and gloves became a must after three days. Any longer and our hands would've been burnt to a crisp despite applying plenty of sunscreen at regular intervals.

Any motorcyclist will tell you that good quality sunglasses are also imperative, as is taking a break every couple of hours. The scenery can start to play tricks on you after any longer.

Thankfully, there is so much to see and do, and roadhouses and pubs at regular intervals which means you don't have to think about packing any extra fuel.

The Roadmaster and Chieftain have a range of about 250km which is more than enough to allow you to see the sights, stop for a break and refuel. And, with the inbuilt GPS, you can simply key in the next town or tourism site on your trip and be satisfied that you won't be getting stuck anywhere.

Another great feature of the bikes we had was that you can sync your phone to the bike, meaning you can play your music along the way. With the wide open spaces nobody seems to mind how loud you play it either.

Stops for us included Ti Tree, Barrow Creek, Tennant Creek, the self-proclaimed UFO capital of the world Wycliffe Well, Tennant Creek, the quintessential Aussie outback pub of Daly Waters, Katherine, and finally Darwin.

We couldn't resist stopping off at the Devil's Marbles, Katherine Gorge, Litchfield National Park and the Humpty Doo Hotel where Slim Dusty was reportedly inspired to write Humpty Doo Waltz.

It was an incredible trip, with the people we met as interesting as the landscape we passed over.

So what are you waiting for? Time to get on your bike!

And a special thanks for making this trip possible to the NT Department of Trade, Business & Innovation, Virgin Australia, Accor Hotels, and Indian Motorcycles Australia.


Words: Brad Foster

Images: Brad Foster and supplied

Feature supplied by: www.wtfmedia.com.au


1. Clean and ready to leave Alice Springs

2. Wycliffe Well, Tenant Creek

3. Daly Waters Pub

4. Katherine Gorge

5. Devil's Marbles

6. A very welcome sunset drink in Darwin

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