I’ve been on the plane to Melbourne for several hours now and my head is full of thoughts, memories and projects. I’ve just left Asia, a mysterious and fascinating continent, where I discovered and savoured some unique emotions that are hard to describe. Now Australia awaits me with the world’s largest barrier reef and the famous Hyams Beach which boasts the whitest sand on the planet. I can’t wait to get there, pick up my motorcycle and roam far and wide across the famous “Land of the kangaroos”. At last we land and after a good rest at the hotel I head back to the airport, like the shipper told me, to pick up my bike; my inseparable and faithful travelling companion. Of course, I must put her back together again, replacing each single piece in a ritual that I have become used to by now.
So many kilometres covered together, so many adventures, and now… off we go again! But it is not to be. I try to start her but there is no sound from the engine, just a brief croak that immediately dies out, I try again, but nothing happens. Many times the unconscious fear of what was happening now actually raised its ugly head, offering up apocalyptic scenarios of a man alone in the middle of nowhere, with no way of continuing. But come on! Luckily, I’m in Melbourne, not in the middle of the desert or stuck at 4000 metres above sea level, I am in the major economic centre of the new continent, so a quick phone call and the problem will be solved in no time at all. I call the manufacturer and an operator tells me to call a tow truck, so without having to wait for ages, I find myself at the dealers. At first it seems that the battery is dead but then the mechanic realises that a wire hasn’t been connected properly. Once the bike has been fixed, I can hear the familiar rumble of the engine which signals our departure. I would like to explore this city, famous for being the capital of culture as well as the powerhouse of industry and commerce, not only for the state of Victoria but for the entire continent.
Melbourne, second city by number of inhabitants after Sydney, looks quite anonymous, like all the large industrial cities, although it has been classified as the most liveable metropolis in the world for five years running. I decide to set out for Sydney the next day, as I don’t feel any attraction for this city, albeit lively and industrious. In the evening I reach the famous bay, dominated by the Opera House, which is even more spectacular than it looks in the various images that portray it. This structure, made up of several shells, was designed without a main facade so that it could be admired from every angle. Inside there are a thousand concert halls and every year more than 2000 events are organised there. Not bad at all! I am not the only one to be amazed by the sheer proportions, it seems almost impossible that there can be so many huge things in the world, almost unconceivable for the creativity and intelligence of man. I decide to come back the next day to take some photos in the daylight, and to visit the city. So, I get up early the next morning and go back to the Opera House, I ask security if I can position the bike so it immortalises it against the backdrop of this symbolic monument. I have no problems taking quite a lot of photos, after which I set off to explore the streets and alleyways, taking in the sights, smells and colours of this wonderful city, before heading north.
I go back to the hotel and check my itinerary once more: tomorrow I will be visiting Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. I am curious about this, it will certainly be another great challenge: these kinds of terrain are always deadly for a heavy bike like mine, this is no news to me, considering my previous journeys in hostile environments, but then again we “Adventure Seekers” only take a step back to get a better run-up to the problem and never to back away… So, the next day, I head north.
After just a short stretch I start to sink, and it doesn’t take long for me to realise that I’ll have to turn back! I struggle to turn the bike around and eventually manage to set off again. I realise that I have made the right call and, accompanied by a pleasant breeze, I make my way through the small towns along the coast to reach Cairns, where I meet Thomas, a fellow countryman who works in a pizzeria here. I spend a pleasant evening with him, talking about my journey and sipping on a cold beer, then after a refreshing shower I settle down for a good sleep. The following morning, in a small bar, I see the Italian licence plate of a car. It belongs to the owner who chats with me for a few hours. I really enjoy myself: it is always great to find fellow countrymen when travelling abroad, it makes you feel more at home. Being able to speak Italian, we share an understanding wink, or a pat on the back, before setting off again. These are the signs of an identity that we share.
I set off for Darwin and, after 2000 kilometres, I get to admire Ayers Rock, the biggest monolith in the world, but the journey becomes more difficult. I am forced to travel during the day as there are many wild animals crossing the roads and travelling around after dusk becomes quite dangerous. I think this was the most punishing stretch compared to those that had come before: on the road I see countless carcasses of dead kangaroos, the roads are silent, monotonous, the feeling of solitude is overwhelming and all you have to focus on is your goal: to reach your destination as quickly as possible. As I am travelling along a straight stretch, I see a crocodile crossing the road in front of me. Who would have thought that I would have had this kind of close encounter! I can’t let such an opportunity slip by. I stop at a safe distance of about 50 metres, take out my camera and try to focus on him, but by now he has disappeared into the ravines.
I reach Ayers Rock in the evening, it’s raining and this giant, the largest part of which is underground (7 kilometres compared to the 380 metres that can be seen on the surface!) leaves the spectator wondering what it would be like if it was fully visible. I take a few photos, hoping to be able to take more the next day, maybe with some sunshine, but the rain keeps on falling so I decide to head to Adelaide, from there I will go back to Melbourne to send the bike on to San Francisco…