|My first home in Adelaide in 1978 (that’s me on the left).|
With a roof over my head, a steady supply of food and a steady income from a journalist job with SA National Parks and Wildlife Service, the only other thing I needed (apart from a woman, but read on) was a set of wheels. I found a fairly youthful Yamaha XT500 advertised for $1200 so I took $1000 in cash and wafted it seductively in front of the vendor’s face. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
|On the XT500 wearing state-of-the-art safety gear from the 1970s.|
In July the money ran out for my NPWS job so I went back onto the dole and decided, with my new-found freedom, to visit my parents in Sydney. And, seeing as I was going that far, I might as well pick up my skis, which were stored at Mum and Dad’s along with lots of my other stuff, and head up to the snow for a few days’ skiing.
|The XT500 packed for the ski trip.|
It was a simple matter to tie the skis and poles onto the bike – in fact, the skis sticking out backwards at a 45 degree angle gave the XT a rather dashing look. Back in those days there was no freeway and the ride from Sydney to Sawpit Creek campground, on the road to Perisher Valley, took most of the day. I set up camp, put the billy on and kicked back with a good book till it was time for bed.
|Camp at Sawpit Creek.|
But eventually my body clock told me it was time to leave the mountains and get back to responsible living on the dole, including maybe even looking for a job. I packed the bike again and headed for Sydney in one of the worst storms I have ever ridden in. At one point during torrential rain on the Federal Highway (highway in name only in those days) the car in front of me braked suddenly on a right-hand bend and, knowing I would be unable to stop without laying the bike on its side, I veered past him on the left and rode straight into a flooded creek. The water was near the tops of my wheels and there were waves from oncoming vehicles but I kept the power on and somehow made it through.
I left the skis at Mum and Dad’s and, after a detour to go rock climbing for a few days in the Blue Mountains, I headed back to Adelaide. The XT had performed flawlessly for the whole trip and, while it was definitely no Goldwing, it made the 4000km trip seem easy (of course, I was a lot younger back then).
While I had been on the road a new tenant had moved into the house in St Peters, a Kiwi named Meatloaf. We became good friends and, even better, his ex-wife started visiting. This eventually solved my only other problem, and at the end of the year she and I moved to Hobart. (Note for history buffs: this was Jan Number Two; Sally came later).
Ian Paterson Yamaha XT500