It was a beautiful day in Esperance Western Australia. I was so excited to have my own motorbike. I grew up riding horses and motorbikes around the farm. I am the proud owner of a black 2009 Yamaha Cruiser 250cc, with 3200km on the speedo. As I swung my leg over and slid on to the low comfortable seat, it felt amazing. I was a little nervous and felt a bit uneasy but I knew this was going to be something very special.

I spent the next month riding around Esperance with my L plates on. I wished at times I had training wheels on too, I dropped the bike once during a riding lesson. My friend had just bought a Harley Davidson so we spent every spare day together riding around the Esperance coast, which was truly breathtaking. We rode the coastal hills then called into my favourite pub, The Esplanade Hotel. on the waterfront for lunch. It was not long before I was loving the wind in my face, the freedom and sense of contentment. I was hooked.

Let the Challenge Begin       

Our first big adventure took 7 days and 2500km. My friend rode his Harley and me on my 250cc Yamaha. I prepared for the ride by wearing a Harley Davidson jacket which had a double lining. Kevlar-reinforced Draggin pants and an Orirder neck scarf, Rossi boots and Harley Davidson gloves. I was set. I packed an Ox Trail canvas biker swag, a few clothes, and extra fuel and off we went. The roads between Esperance and Ravensthorpe are hilly and windy with a lot of heavy vehicles travelling on them.  The Great Southern is the home of grain crops, sheep and cattle farming so we shared the road with all the trucks, most of the drivers we knew because we both were truck drivers at the time. We also encountered a lot of caravans on the road during the springtime which was great for the local communities but very challenging for other road users. I have lived in my caravan now for 9 years and having been a professional truck driver, I have many stories to tell. Another time. It was such a beautiful ride following the patterns of different crops, watching the colours of each paddock constantly change. We managed to make the 187km to Raventhorpe before I completely ran out of fuel. So, the benchmark for fuel was set.  I have a small tank! I realized this ride was going to make me or break me.

Once we rode into Mandurah, I had a sore backside and it felt like I was glued to the seat. After a good night’s rest, we headed off to Bunbury. The ride from Mandurah to Bunbury was great, the roads were straight and flat. When I first bought my bike, it had not been used for some time, so the further we rode, the better the bike ran. We wandered through Busselton and along the coastline to Dunsborough where we camped for two nights which was fun. It was a change to sleep next to my motorbike because I would usually be sleeping next to a horse or sheep and cattle, and listening to the shuffling them around and eating all night.

Ngilgi Caves Yallingup

We stayed at Yallingup Beach Holiday Park and while sleeping in my sway, I woke up to the sound of birds talking to each other as the sun’s rays crept through the trees. It was magic. We visited the Ngilgi Caves, discovered in 1899, Ngilgi Cave, (formerly Yallingup Cave), remains one of the Margaret River region’s most visited attractions. I spent the whole day walking through the caves in my very comfortable riding boots up and down all the stairs and not one blister. I was so happy. The ride from Dunsborough to Margaret River was breathtaking. I was in awe of the scenery. Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park was most enjoyable as we rode through taking random roads and losing ourselves, exploring and having fun. We spent time riding around Augusta and Bridgetown, then on down to Manjimup, which I loved. The scenery was wonderful, so relaxing, which I needed mentally because by this time I had saddle sores and was feeling every muscle in my body. It was hard work riding all day every day.



Denmark and Walpole

As we ventured on, my riding skills and confidence grew and I relaxed and was feeling more at one with my bike. It was a whole new riding experience. Pemberton pulled on my heart. I loved it and wanted to stay for a few weeks. The people were friendly and the food was great but we were on a tight schedule, so on we went. A must stop and explore are the Denmark and Walpole areas. This is a little slice of paradise, beautiful forests that rollover to lush green pastures feeding quality sheep and cattle. I really relaxed here, another place I would have loved to stay for a few weeks. We took some time off our bikes to walked the Valley of the Giants and Tree Top Walk. It was awesome. I always wanted to hug a tree so I did. I am so happy that we got to see all the beautiful forests from Busselton to Albany before the fires took them out the following year. Mother nature at its best, beautiful, strong and lush forest then the next moment gone, burnt down.


Albany Beautiful and Romantic

We wandered down to Albany, a lovely seaside town right at the bottom of Western Australia. Windy and hilly but beautiful and a little romantic. Interesting shops and cafes line the main street. The local wineries offer a yummy selection of quality wines. I felt right at home there. Albany has plenty to see with museums, sights and landmarks plus many great beaches. I really enjoyed Albany’s historic whaling station where there is so much history and great displays to see. My passion for the arts and history found me wandering around the National ANZAC Centre which gave me a real understanding of the sacrifices made by Australian and New Zealand Soldiers. Truly moving.

I know at this point in my journey the hardest ride lay ahead of me. Albany to Jerramungup to Ravensthorpe and down to Esperance. At this stage, I was riding with more composure and enjoying myself, but as well as I was sore and tired. The roads ahead were hilly and windy and have a lot of heavy vehicles travelling along them. The wind that comes off the coast is strong and it really made me work hard to keep my little bike upright and on my side of the road.

It was a relief to finally roll over the last hill heading down into Esperance. We had made it. What a wonderful feeling. We had done it. This is a ride I will never forget and even today I enjoy looking back and remembering the trip. I am going to go back one day and spend more time wandering around the Great Southern in Western Australia.

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To your success

Mandy Hawkins

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