An unstoppable BMW GS Safari
More than 160 BMW GS customers took to the back roads of the New South Wales and Victorian High Country regions for the annual Australian BMW Safari. Despite this being the first week of autumn ’Down Under’, participants were treated with weather conditions more akin to mid-summer.
A huge variety of BMW adventure sport bikes were in attendance - the majority of them current or recent models - and all of them handled the tricky conditions with ease.
The most popular BMW motorcycle in Australia was also the most populous on the Safari - an event seemingly perfectly designed for the now legendary R 1200 GS - yet riders aboard the F 650 GS and Dakar models as well as the hardier souls on their G 650 Xchallenges also enjoyed the best of the tortuous and twisty sections.
The roads ranged from flat, smooth-as-asphalt, hard-packed dirt to gravel and some rocky sections that would have had mountain goats shying away. A particularly steep hilly section provided a few riders with pause for thought, though all made it successfully to the top (the alternative of riding back down being the greater of the two evils). On day three, the McDonalds Spur descent was an option for experienced riders only, but a number of hearty soles attempted the treacherous trail.
The BMW Safari traversed some of the worst affected areas of Victoria that had been ravaged by bushfires last year. The effects of the 2007 fires were still plain to see, with hectares of blackened tree stumps dominating the hillsides for kilometres, while in other areas some clearing had been taking place, rendering a barren and desolate moonscape quite unlike that seen anywhere else in Victoria.
The BMW Safari kicked of with an animated welcome dinner in Jindabyne, bathed in late summer sunshine. The first morning’s warm-up ride was a trek along the famed and feared Barry Way with its narrow mountainous route and precipitous drop-offs - no Euro-style protective Armco barriers on this road! Stopping off at the encampment and refuelling point at Seldom Seen, the locals regaled riders with stories of how the recent bushfires claimed the sole permanent structures on this scenic mountain top location. Picturesque Buchan provided a welcome lunch stop on the first day, before the engaging sweep down to Lake’s Entrance for the overnight stop.
The following four days offered up similar levels of majestic mountain scenery, testing surfaces and narrow routes occasionally interrupted by unfriendly logging trucks. The welcome in the towns of Buchan, Licola, Jamison, Mansfield, Cheshunt, Myrtleford, Bright, Mitta Mitta and Falls Creek was warm and friendly, and the business appreciated, given the scarring imposed by the fires, and in some cases recent floods and mudslides, which had scared off tourists. After an invigorating 2,000 kilometres of adventure riding, all attendees returned home with a helmet full of happy memories of the High Country, its amazing roads and friendly inhabitants. All participants are keen to return in the future.
"The 2008 BMW GS Safari was a tremendous success," says BMW Motorrad Australia and New Zealand Marketing Manager, Miles Davis. "We rode on some awesome roads, along some testing tracks and through some beautiful countryside. Riders across the world should be incredibly jealous of the fantastic opportunities we have in Australia."
"Of course the BMW GS range was perfectly suited to the tasks set each day and all riders enjoyed the experience and learned from the event, not only how competent their bikes are but also how much more they can get out of them than from everyday riding. With the BMW GS family set to increase with two more new models - the eagerly awaited F 650 GS and F 800 GS - the next BMW GS Safari will be even bigger and better."
The next BMW Safari is the TourenSport Safari (on road) that will run from Sunday 17 August to Saturday 23 August 2008, and will be based in northern Queensland. It will cover 2,800 kilometres in five riding days.