Bells Beach to Cairns Australia on Royal Enfield Himalayans
After a great weekend with the fam in Melbourne we needed a place to catch up on work and to plan the next leg of our journey. We found a cute little “beach shack” on AirBnb not far away in Bells Beach for a good price, so we rode down and setup shop for a couple of weeks.
Most of our time to this point had been spent figuring out everything that came with moto touring and life on the road, so route planning had taken a bit of a back seat. We thought it could be fun to just wing it and bounce from place to place without much of a plan, but after trying it we decided we prefer having a specific goal to aim for, so in Bells we put together the plan to see if we could ride our little Himmys from the (almost) bottom all the way to the tip of Australia – Cape York!
In this post
- The Route
- Bells Beach to Warrnambool
- Warrnambool to Halls Gap on The Great Ocean Road
- Halls Gap to Mildura via The Silo Art Trail
- Mildura to Mungo National Park Campground
- Mungo Lakes to Broken Hill
- Broken Hill to Hungerford QLD
- Hungerford to Charleville
- Charleville to Outback Wild Camp south of Hughenden
- Outback QLD to Cobbold Gorge
- Cobbold Gorge to Cairns
The motorcycle route we took on our Royal Enfield Himalayans from Bells Beach, Victoria to Cairns, Queensland.
To start the journey we rode southwest from Bells, following the coastline along one of the most iconic roads in Australia, the Great Ocean Road. We stopped at Kennett River for lunch and visited the stunning lookout at Cape Patton before riding into Cape Otway National Park. An easy dirt road led us to Blanket Bay Campground as the last daylight faded away and we hurried to get the tent setup for the night.
The next morning we woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the bay and continued along the Great Ocean Road (and the Old Ocean Road) stopping off at famous sites along the way like the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. The ride was a bit chilly in spots with Winter approaching but on the plus side we got to enjoy the stunning scenery without the crowds 🙂 We ended the day in Warrnambool where we setup camp and hit the pub for dinner.
After a few days enjoying the amazing coastal walks around Warrnambool, we hopped back on the motorbikes and rode north to Halls Gap in the Grampians Mountain Range. Arriving on a weekend to a packed campground was slightly disappointing, but it didn’t take away from the amazing mountain scenery surrounding the place.
Our first couple of days were spent exploring, we went riding through the windy mountain roads and did a pretty awesome hike up to the highest peak in the Grampians, Mount William. Not long after we received the news that Victoria was about to go into a one week state-wide lockdown because of covid, and within hours the campground was almost empty other than us and a couple of other interstate campers with “nowhere to go”. So it turned out we’d have the place pretty much to ourselves after all, and to make the lockdown a bit easier we were given a free upgrade from our tent to a cabin, so things could be worse 🙂
The unexpected lockdown also gave us time to do something we’d been putting off for a while but were out of excuses now. It was time to go through our footage, edit and post our first vlog to YouTube 😲
When our week of lockdown came to an end it was time to say goodbye to “The Gap” and hit the road again. We travelled north along the Silo Art Trail in Regional Victoria, stopping to check out the impressive (and huge!) works of art. The Winter breeze made it another chilly day on the bikes, but all worth it for the amazing views along the way.
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in Mildura, the Airbnb private room we booked turned out to be a lot more luxurious than we were expecting. It actually made us feel a bit guilty after planning an adventurous trip in the tent, so we promised ourselves we’d get back to roughing it camping right after this stint 😂
From Mildura we headed north-east to Mungo National Park to visit Lake Mungo and some of the other ancient dry lakes in the area. The lakebeds are massive and have a few dead-straight dirt roads stretching across them as far as the eye can see, riding over them we felt like we were on another planet.
Before arriving at Mungo campground we had our first real-ish bit of trouble on the road, we hit a slippery patch of mud and I (Jason) came off with a thump, it looked dramatic and scared the crap out of Tina but thankfully I was fine, just a bruised chest (and ego) from the handlebar. Poor Franco was a little worse for wear with a busted jerry can, dented fuel tank and bent crash bar (battle scars!). Luckily it was only superficial damage to both bike & rider, we managed to dust ourselves off and get to the campground safe and sound. All’s well that ends well! 🙂
Waking up to a chilly morning in the tent, we hit the snooze button a few times to postpone the inevitable bite of the cold that was waiting for us outside our sleeping bags. The campground at Mungo was barren and beautiful like the surrounding area, but we didn’t stick around long, we were keen to continue north into warmer weather.
We arrived early in Broken Hill and thought we’d have most of the afternoon free once we checked into our Airbnb, but unfortunately things didn’t work out that way. The accommodation was, to put it mildly, not as advertised. Long story short we had our first bad Airbnb experience after years of using the service, the place was so dirty from people and pets we had to leave a few minutes after getting there, and instead spent the next couple of hours searching for one of the last motel rooms available in town.
After a bumpy start we enjoyed our time in Broken Hill, it’s a unique town in the middle of nowhere dominated by an enormous slag heap – a mountain of waste 7.5km long and 1.6km deep from the original mines in the area dating back to 1886. While we were there we caught up with friends, visited the Pro Hart gallery and the quirky little town of Silverton, and had a few dinners at the BHP (Broken Hill Pub).
Continuing our journey north with dreams of warmer weather, we rode through a beautiful stretch of outback NSW to White Cliffs, a historic opal mining town, and stayed in an underground hotel for the night. The next day we aimed to ride 308km to Hungerford but had drastically overestimated how fast we’d be moving on the gravelly dirt roads, by sunset we’d covered 199km to reach Wanaaring and setup camp.
When we filled up at the Wanaaring general store the owner told us not to follow the GPS to Hungerford because the main road north was closed due to rain, instead he said go 8km east and turn left, so we started riding east but when we reached 8km there was no turn in sight. We checked the GPS for the next left turn from this road to Hungerford, it said it was another 50km away! Meaning the total distance to Hungerford had just increased from around 100km to 250km!! 😭
After some discussion, thinking this was our only option we decided to push on with the new route and hoped we’d make it before nightfall. A few minutes later we were riding and still coming to terms with the bad news, and not paying much attention to our surroundings when Tina noticed something in the corner of her eye as it passed by, “did that say Hungerford!?”. We doubled back and came upon the most gorgeous green sign we’ve ever seen – Hungerford 85 => – and just like that our distance was chopped by two thirds!! 😁🎉
Hungerford is a tiny town just over the QLD border with a population of just 6 people! After opening the gate to QLD we rode into town, setup camp and had a wander around.
Travelling by motorcycle through these remote parts of Australia with nobody around for miles made us feel like we’d really arrived in the outback, and while the weather finally started to warm up it wasn’t quite warm enough yet for us to lose the Winter jackets for very long 🥶
Leaving Hungerford we rode to a beautiful destination in outback Queensland called Charlotte Plains Station where we camped for the night and enjoyed a soak outside in the natural hot artesian bore baths 🛀
We woke up to an amazing morning at the station, it was cold so the warm (42°C) artesian water created a cloud of steam above the creek that made it feel like we were in another world. After another soak in the outdoor baths we packed up camp and rode the motorbikes north to Charleville, one of the friendliest country towns we’ve had the pleasure of passing through yet. We spent a few days working out of the Charleville library and it seemed like every person we crossed paths with was super friendly and helpful, it left us with good vibes about the place 👍😊
From Charleville we followed the road north to Tambo and continued our camping streak, or as we liked to call it – “sleepin’ rough on the road!” – despite the fact there was a cheap room available at the pub so we were pretty proud of ourselves. In Tambo we visited the site of the first ever Qantas plane crash that happened in March 1927, and went to the local pub (The Royal Carrangarra Hotel) to watch an event that the little town is becoming famous for – the Tambo Chicken Race! – which is exactly what it sounds like! 🐓🐓😂
The next day we travelled north to Longreach where we camped for a few days, while there we got the tyres changed on Arnie and Franco (our Royal Enfield Himalayans) to some more aggressive “Mitas E07 Dakar” 50/50s for the dirt roads ahead. We went on a fun old time Cobb & Co stagecoach ride and outback tent show, and did an interesting tour of the Qantas Founders Museum, we found out the vacuum truck that services aircraft lavatories is called the honey cart or honey wagon by ground crew.
After Longreach we continued our adventure motorcycle ride up to Hughenden, the scenery and colour of the sky was absolutely beautiful, but travelling on the dirt roads was slow going and we were still in the middle of nowhere in the outback when it got dark (somewhere near Tangorin), so we decided to pull up and do our first real wild camp of the trip by the side of the road.
The best part about wild camping in the middle of nowhere was waking up and not having another soul in sight, we got to enjoy a stunning outback aussie sunrise all to ourselves, well worth the price of not showering and having peanut butter sandwiches for dinner the night before.
We packed up our wild camp and continued our motorcycle adventure north, travelling first to Hughenden to pick up some food and stop for a couple of hours for a quick bit of work on the laptops in a local park, which seemed like a simple enough plan until the wind decided to blow us out of there. We continued riding the motorbikes north with a quick stop at the Porcupine Gorge Lookout before travelling to The Lynd Oasis Roadhouse to camp for the night.
The next morning we travelled west to Cobbold Gorge Village, stopping briefly about halfway at Einasleigh to check out Copperfield Gorge. We were buggered after riding 45kms of corrugated road from Forsayth into Cobbold Gorge Village so we set up camp and had an early night to recharge ahead of a tour of the Gorge we had booked for the next day 🙂
Continuing our camping streak at Cobbold Gorge Village, we started the morning with “eggs teenie” and a cuppa for brekky at the campsite before taking a boat tour through the picturesque Cobbold Gorge in Outback Queensland.
The following day we hopped back on the motorbikes and travelled to Undara Volcanic National Park to visit the impressive Undara Lava Tubes, a network of huge tunnels burned into the earth hundreds of thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption. While camping in Undara we also enjoyed a bush brekky and did a 13km hike up to Rosella Plains Lookout for an amazing view of the National Park.
We woke up really excited on our last morning in Undara, we were about to ride to Cairns! We loved the adventure of moto touring through the Australian Outback but were also looking forward to the modern convenience of being back in a city. On the way we stopped for lunch at the stunning Little Millstream Falls, then when we arrived in Cairns we felt a sense of excitement, happiness and relief all rolled into one. We had just ridden our little motorbikes from Bells Beach on the south coast all the way up to Cairns! It felt like the first really significant milestone of the trip, now we just need to see if we can make it another 1000km north to the very Tip of Australia in Cape York! 😲
Aug 20, 2021