Brisbane to Cape Hillsborough


Life is complicated. 
And I am easily overwhelmed by how many things call for my attention during just a normal day at home. I think that’s one of the greatest gifts traveling by motorbike provides. 
The chance to have a singular focus between me and Kristen. I love knowing that there are a certain number of miles between us and our destination, I love the ceremony associated with packing and unpacking the bike every day and I love putting our heads down and completing a goal.  Life is simple on the bike and we like it that way.
After a few days off the bike, it felt good to get back into the routine. We headed out from Brisbane and into several rainy days of riding as we made our way up the coast.

Our gear quickly began to seep, but Kristen didn’t seem to mind.
The tunnels out of Brisbane were a welcome reprieve from the downpour.

Thankfully, we were given a few hours of sunshine before we rolled into the hometown of P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins. 

I like that I am still learning things about Kristen. Who knew that she loves Mary Poppins enough to make a detour to Maryborough?

After a quick cup of coffee and a pastry, we made our way to Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay is a perfect example of why traveling on a schedule is so difficult. Allegedly, the bay serves as a stopping point for the whales that travel along the Australian coast every year. Our repair had put us several days behind schedule and we had miles to make up, so after spending the night in a haunted apartment (the lights kept turning off and on) we opted to move on. Plus, Tonga has ruined all future whale related activities.

The day started out deceivingly lovely. After about 45 minutes of riding we entered a downpour that refused to stop all the way to our destination of Seventeen Seventy. 

The rain was unrelenting and made what would have been a beautiful ride a bit of a blur. When we arrived in Seventeen Seventy, the sidecar had several inches of water in it. Every bit of our riding gear was completely water-logged. We need to re-treat our rain gear so badly!

As per usual with these types of trips, if you can battle through some of the tough spots, the good days will seem even better. The weather and riding from Seventeen Seventy up to Mackay was beautiful. Flat but beautiful.

We spent some time on the highway and some time carving through smaller roads that wound up along the ocean. 

Kris danced a bit. 

My killer boots even got a glamour shot. 

We skirted a few storms.

And found a few treasures along the way.

We eventually made our way to the industrial town of Mackay that surprisingly grew on us because of three factors: 
1. We stayed at a super friendly motel at the edge of town.
2. Free bicycle rides by the beach are a win.
3. Maria’s Donkey. 

Cape Hillsborough is a short jaunt from Mackay and it is one of the few places on our entire trip to Australia that we will both truly regret not spending more time.

A young kangaroo greeted us on our way in.

The beach at Cape Hillsborough is known for the kangaroos that frequently enjoy themselves on the sand. What captured our attention was the wild nature of the entire area. It would have been a fantastic spot to spend a few days camping.

The park and roads in the area are just fantastic. It really reminded the both of us of Kawaii.

Is it weird that I feel very happy when I can freely take a leak right off of the side of the road?

Next up: The Great Barrier Reef.

Spa Day


On a high from the Australia Zoo, we hopped on the bike and headed 50 miles north to Noosa Heads. One of our favorite parts of traveling in places that we don’t know is the uncertainty of it all. For the most part, we do as little research as we can get away with because we like to be surprised. In Australia, however, you’re most likely going to see this on the East coast:

This is not a disappointment. Coming from Texas, the number of phenomenal beaches is just incredible. Anyway, we rolled in just before sunset and strolled around what may be the most affluent beach town that we’ve visited. 
We woke to this:

Yet another surfing contest. 
From what we can tell, to be an Australian you have to at least know how to mount a surf board. I have to say that with every moment I watch someone else surfing, a fire is further stoked inside. I have an image in my head that I desperately want to be realized: Kristen has completely white, long hair. I’m bald with a huge white beard. We’re long boarding on some deserted beach. I need to make this happen somehow...

After being spectators at the beach and seeing Kristen eat, yet again, another order of salmon benedict (she is currently on an impressive streak) we hopped on the bike to head back down to Brisbane so that the bike could be serviced. Of course, the sun that had been blazing was instantly covered up by sheets of rain. Doesn’t Kris look excited?

It was as we were rolling into Brisbane in the rain that I really appreciated my lady. As per her instructions, we went straight downtown and parked in front of a huge, high-end apartment building. We pulled over, Kris ran inside, and came out a few minutes later to guide me into an underground parking garage. It turns out that there is a high demand for apartments for traveling businessmen and women. During the week they’re quite pricey, but during the weekend they’re apparently empty and cheap. I have no idea how she found this place but it was incredible: 

Living room, kitchen, separate bedroom and most importantly, a washing machine. Everyone that had been around us recently was so grateful for that washing machine, considering I had run out of clean socks days ago.
We took the opportunity to explore Brisbane, which turns out to be a really great place.

One thing we didn’t know about Australia going in is the strong influence from several Asian countries, especially China. It makes sense, considering its close proximity and it showed in a lot of the cuisine available in Brisbane. I realize that Burger King (which is called Hunger Jack’s in Oz for some reason) is shown in the shot below, but this outdoor mall area was full of great food.  

We walked into the church above just because we were passing by and were treated to a jazz concert. A strange and welcomed surprise.

We also got around to dropping the bike off to the guys at BJ’s. Another little plug for the Ural dealer network in Australia: Jon, the distributor, already had a new seal shipped up and the guys were able to get the bike stripped down and repaired in a day. 

It wasn’t the easiest fix, seeing as the tank had to come off to get to the bad seal. 

After realizing that the fuel lines had a bit of air in them, the bike fired right up and ran like a champ. Crisis averted.

After a long day at the spa, we tucked her in to her new best friend...

Next up: waterlogged.

The Australia Zoo


I can admit that I spend a great portion of my time trying to figure out what is worthy of my time. It’s a ridiculous notion, but I think it stems from my fascination with the idea of legacy and why OR IF it matters. What a fragile and dangerous thing to ponder, legacy.  How it can instill the goodness of bravery while developing a habit of self-centeredness. How it can excite our imagination while distracting from the eternal. It’s a loaded idea that I’m still trying to figure out.
What I know for sure is that creating a legacy that encourages others is a worthy pursuit.
Kristen and I were both the perfect age and personality to be massively impacted by Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter. I didn’t realize just how much, however, until we actually showed up to the Australia Zoo, the facility that Steve’s parents started and that the Irwin family still runs today. I am not an expert on zoos or the treatment of animals in captivity or on conservation but I do know that the zoo is heavy with the joyful and passionate legacy of Steve Irwin.
  And THAT is a very encouraging thing. 

Normally, zoos are fairly hard to photograph because of intrusive enclosures. Plus, most of time we haven’t even wanted to shoot photos because it seems kind of depressing. The Australia Zoo is different and this entry proves it. Explanation: this is going to be a photo heavy post.



Creepy bird that stared into our souls:

Burmese python:

Let’s be honest though, the animals that Kris and I really wanted to see were the kangaroos and the koalas. I know, I know, stereotypical. But dude. Kangaroos...that wanted us to pet them...

We hung out for so long that they accepted us as one of their own. 

I totally get that there are kangaroos everywhere in Australia and that they are considered a nuisance by many, but it was honestly a pretty incredible moment to see Kristen lounging with napping roos. If she wouldn’t have tried to crawl in one of their pouches like a sleeping bag we probably could have stayed there all day...

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we stumbled upon this:

We were walking away literally saying, “Well, we’re never going to get better shots of koalas than that” when we looked back to see this:

I just can’t even...

Like I said before, Kristen and I have a special affinity for Steve Irwin. The legacy that he left for the two of us personally was one that not only encouraged a love for animals but also that challenged us to live passionately for the things we care about. We were both reminded of that as we walked into The Crocoseum and I can admit a few tears were choked back as they talked about Steve’s life. Plus there were crocs. 

And this random Spurs fan:

All in all, the Australia Zoo was a surprisingly amazing experience. 
I mean, Kristen got to pet a koala:

I got to wrestle these beauts:

We learned how Aussies teach their kids about the birds and the bees..., the roos and the roos: 

We got to watch this koala eat a eucalyptus leaf for 10 minutes:

And we learned that the coolest part of the zoo is its attached animal hospital, which cares for around 10,000 injured and sick animals a year:

Next up: We head up to Noosa and the Ural gets a spa day.

The Hinterlands to Brisbane


I have a strange affinity towards riding a motorcycle in the rain. There’s something kind of primal about speeding through raindrops as theypelt your helmet. That being said...
...after multiple days of riding in a constant downpour, it’s clear that our rain gear is officially dying. Both of our jackets are seeping at every seam and the stitching has completely come undone in several places. Also, my very specialized moto gloves (aka leather gardening gloves) have shown their true colors...and by colors I mean they have dyed my hands completely yellow. We’re water-logged, it’s been a constant 50 degrees, and we’re loving it.

Just as we were headed out of the lovely Byron Bay, the temperatures plummeted and sky opened up. Even though we knew it would be even colder at higher elevations, we opted to ride away from the Gold Coast and up into the hinterlands.  

Nothing like it...

After navigating some curvy roads that would have been a lot more fun had the sun been shining, we rolled into the small town of Tambourine with about a half-inch of water pooled in the sidecar. 
Luckily we had this castle to look forward to for the night (complete with multiple sets of full armor on display, mind you):

Tambourine is a kitschy kind of place full of small shops catering to folks who are into kitschy kinds of things. We were drawn there, however, by four things that are not so kitschy: 
1. Great views of the coast from a high elevation.
2. A polish restaurant (seriously).
3. A glow worm cave.
4. A skywalk through the rain forest.
We were immediately 0-2 based on Tambourine being completely encased in a cloud and the disappointing fact that the polish place was closed for the season (is it too much to ask for some bratwurst?). Intent on finding victory somewhere on the mountain, we donned our soaking rain gear and headed over to a glow worm cave we had heard about in Byron Bay.

Kristen recently watched a documentary about a natural cave in New Zealand that houses literally millions of glow worms. The footage was fantastic. Magical even. Pictured above is the artificial habitat in Tambourine that houses about 1000 glow worms. We weren’t allowed to take any photos inside, which was pretty disapointing, but we did get a private tour because of the terrible weather and it was actually very interesting. Interesting enough that I know when we finally get to spend some time in New Zealand, we’re headed for that glow worm cave. 
Quote of the tour:
Kristen: “Well, if you have to be a worm, might as well glow.”
We woke the next morning to more rain and decided that we had to at least check out the sky walk. We were finally given some grace as the sun came out for a few moments:

I’d say this was a victory.

After a surprisingly amazing coffee and croissant at the sky walk cafe, the rain came again and we made our way down to Brisbane. 
The only problem with the Ural up until this point was a drool coming from between the alternator and engine. We headed over to BJ’s Bikes and Bits, who not only knew we were coming but knew of our problem thanks to Roland from Better Bikes in Sydney. Have I said how impressed we are with the Ural dealers in Australia?

Unfortunately, our timing was pretty bad. The guys at BJ’s ruled that a bad seal was the culprit and putting a new one in would require taking off the gas tank. Seeing as they only work half days on Saturdays and take Sundays off, we were stuck until Monday. Or at least until the new seal came in the post. After realizing that Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo was in the area, however, waiting around didn’t seem so bad. We immediately headed out of town and North towards the zoo...but not before sitting in downtown Brisbane traffic:

Plus, hanging out with this girl never seems like wasted time.

Next Up: Steve Irwin makes us cry.

Byron Bay Part 2


Byron Bay is a bit of an anomaly in that it takes so many things that Australia’s east coast can give and puts them all together in one town.Like we said in the last post, it is a bit touristy and a bit expensive. But if you can get away from the central strip in town that houses a ton of bars and restaurants and shops, it really is a special place. 
We stayed at a spectacular place just out of town that was smack in the middle of the first bit of rain forest we’ve seen in Oz.

One of the stranger discoveries has been the large number of wild turkeys that live close to so many of the beaches we’ve visited. I had a bad experience with a turkey once and I’m now a little wary. 
I’ve got my eye on you...

Speaking of beaches, Byron has miles and miles...

The surfing culture is alive and well, even in the middle of winter. Sidenote: How is it that we can’t surf?? Kristen is a world-class boogie boarder (I’m serious, she’s so good that it’s actually kind of weird) but we have only tried actual surfing once. It’s a shame and it will be rectified. It’s a life goal of mine to be an old, white haired dude longboarding in Hawaii.

Speaking of white-haired surfers, this guy was hilarious. He watched me climb up some rocks to shoot these photos and proceeded to walk straight into the water in front of me and shred. He definitely had a flair for the dramatic - at one point he wiped out, came out of the water by whipping his long hair back and spewing ocean water into the air. 

It’s pretty obvious that the main Byron Bay beach gets completely over-populated in the summer. Even now, there were quite a few people hanging out. But a quick drive away took us to an almost empty beach that was literally miles long.

So now that I feel like the Byron Bay tourism board owes us some money for our glowing recommendation, my final thought is this: just go to this place. You’ll have fun, especially if you have a sidecar and a smoking hot wife!

Next up: Oh, so it’s called a rain forest because it rains a lot...