Horizons Unlimited Overland Travelers Meeting – Queensland 2013

Filed in Australia, Riding, Travel by on January 8, 2014 0 Comments

Shortly after returning from my 2 week bike journey through the Himalayas (From Brazil to the Himalayas (Part 1)) I attended an overland travelers gathering run by ‘Horizons Unlimited’; another way for me to find out if the life of a motorcycle traveler was for me.

Below is an article published in the latest copy of Freewheeling Magazine (Feb 2014) of my coverage of the event. Hopefully the first of my foray into writing within the adventure riding/overland touring community. (Photo credit to Shane Kuhl)

Horizons Unlimited (HU) have been hosting events around the world for overland travellers to not only connect but also learn from the wider community regardless of if they were novices who had ridden up from the next town or were stopping in on the event whilst on a round-the-world trip. The recent meeting in Dayboro, Queensland was no exception and a highlight with the largest turnout yet at this event; notably so, the 10th anniversary of HU

The event began on the Thursday as riders from all parts of Australia arrived at the showgrounds and set up camp next to an equally diverse range of bikes ranging from the staple GS’s and KLR’s to the alternate Urals and Harleys right through to a GPZ-R and GSXR.

Starting the first evening with a bang was possibly the most anticipated presentation of the event, with the heavily stickered Harley Davidson Electraglide parked at the front of the hall indicating even to the uninformed of who was speaking. Peter and Kay Forwood hold esteem amongst not only the HU community but also worldwide as being the owners (and riders) of the worlds most travelled motorcycle. During the presentation of the couples visit to 193 countries, they highlighted that whilst there were tough times such as crossing mud holes on the African continent as deep as the bike itself the ‘adventure threshold’ was reached when they joined the bike along with other cargo on a small boat. Unlike other crossings though, this cargo on this boat had the unique quality of sliding side to side with each wave that crashed over the edges. Undoubtedly, fear of losing your bike (and possibly your life depending which you value greater!) would make even the hardiest think twice.

The following day kicked off with the hugely popular bumbag mechanics and tyre changing demonstration by Grant Johnson as seen at HU meetings around the world. In addition to easing the minds of those who cringe at even the thought of a puncture, it also served as practical advice to a lot of people that a toolkit can be kept compact and simple with tips such as using small tyre levers with the right shape and stripping a large air compressor of its housing to retain just the essentials.

Keeping the audience attention next was Linda Bick. Whilst Lindas stature and age does immediately lend itself to the typical adventure rider stereotype, once she started her presentation, all stereotypes were blown away by her amazing achievements riding from Spain to Australia with a bike confiscation and 60th birthday all part of the journey. Her amazingly upbeat persona shone through once she had the whole hall of riders all stand up and join her for a song ‘Oops, I’ve Fallen Again’; an dilemma many adventure riders would surely find themselves in too.

A perfect segue, paramedic Sarah Taylor had both a theoretical and practical demonstration on what the immediate dangers are in case of a road incident, proper removal of a helmet and also how to deal with possible trauma as a first responder. Whilst not a replacement for a first-aid course, it was highly valuable information to all along with some tips on medical equipment to carry such as rollable splints.

In addition to the talks, there were also numerous panels session, grouped by region, held throughout the weekend conducted by travellers who had already been through the areas and were happy to pass on wisdom from their trips. This included not only the formalities of paper work and shipping but also discussing the inevitable nuances such as unwanted ‘helpers’ at borders (for a fee of course) and crooked cops looking for an easy target. Lessons well learnt!

Paul & Jan Dwyer presented a brilliant video on their expedition through Africa. Those that were blown away by this production were able to then pick up tips and hints of their own from a presentation by Jackson Allen on filming your own adventure. This went to show that it’s not just about the equipment you have with you, but more so, how much thought you put into the use; not dissimilar to the general adventure rider philosophy.

A hearty dinner at the local pub allowed everyone to get settled in and hear Grant and Susan detail their journey with Horizons Unlimited. This was not only about the inception of a great community but also their own journey on a bike and how it led them to now foster this ever growing community of like-minded enthusiasts.

The final full day was off to a wet start with the skies having opened up overnight but this didn’t dampen anyones spirits and a veritable crowd was gathered in the showgrounds for an off road riding clinic and bike ergonomics presentation by Derek Swales. Whilst a lighter bike was initially chosen to demonstrate the dynamics of lifting a downed machine, it didn’t take long for a challenge to be put out which resulted in the Forwoods Harley and also a GS from Germany both being tossed down a hill; and lifted with just as much ease by their owners.

With other riders now in the spirit to show what they could do with the own machine, it was time for a race. But in this case, the acclaim went to whoever could ride the slowest across the showground without putting down a foot…or the entire bike.

Once the group was gathered indoors again, it was time to buckle down for some more engaging presentations of travels from around the world. Highlights included a tricks of the trade talk by Mike Ferris with pointers including carrying press or journalism identification, even if they weren’t necessarily legitimate!

As the event was drawing to a close, attendees enjoyed an amazing roast dinner whilst sharing in the wealth of knowledge at the tables with people who had seen and done what was to some others, still just a dream.

However the night still had more to deliver with an enthralling presentation from Fillipo and Heike of the aptly named journey; 2livethedream. The Germans had begun living their dream 2 years prior and had made a significant detour to be present at the Queensland HU Meeting in order to regale not only with their travel stories but also some ingenious modifications on their steeds. They also shed light on riding in Myanmar which has only recently opened up to foreign bikes.

As the sun rose, tents were being rolled up and riders parted ways to head home or onwards on their journeys. One thing was for sure though, between the presentations and the knowledge that was shared in casual conversations; everyone was left thinking not if they would do an overland journey, rather, when they would begin.

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I take GSXRs to inappropriate places