This was the view from the 1965 Velocette Thruxton I borrowed from John Jennings for the Australian Velocette Owners Club Rally in Sydney, October 2005.  The winding road was somewhere in the midst of the Blue Mountains, a couple of hours outside Sydney, as the rally HQ was Richmond NSW.  The VOCA began holding their week-long ‘Good Companions’ rally in 2003, at Margaret River WA, which I was lucky to attend.  It was indeed an adventure, as Western Australia has a very low population density, with 90% of its population in Perth, and a whole lot of unpopulated bush for 1000 miles around it.  As I tend to ride alone and explore whatever catches my fancy, I went 40km ‘off piste’ to explore a row of old-growth Kerri trees that had been made into a park.  On finishing my lunch and taking some photos, I found my borrowed (from John Jennings again!) Velocette Clubman had no compression.  I had enough tools with me to determine a valve seat had dropped, which is very unusual, and not repairable by the side of the road.  Lucky for me, a bush mechanic happened along the otherwise deserted dirt road, gave me a ride to a house with a phone, and I was able to call ahead to our evening’s rally stop for some roadside assistance.  My reputation as a hotrod preceded me, and I was castigated Aussie-style for breaking the Clubman, but of course I was simply puttering along a dirt road for the prior 40km.  Turned out the valve seats had been recently installed by an expert…but one never forgets the hard looks and hard feelings of the blamers.  John, of course, understood, and we carried on loaning each other our bikes for many years on rallies in the USA and Australia.

Kangaroo and wombat crossing for 15km – imagine! I saw plenty of ‘roos, but no wombats, luckily. By all accounts, striking a wombat on a motorcycle is like hitting a large boulder. [Paul d’Oréans]
What’s it like to ride in Australia?  There are great twisties in some areas, like the Blue Mountains, and a few parts of WA, but most of it is gently rolling countryside that looks surprisingly like Marin County in California, barring the ‘roos and cockatoos!  I attended three rallies in Australia in the early 2000s, and loved the countryside and generally excellent hospitality.


Paul d’Orléans is the founder of He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.