Buy a motorcycle

Ulrike on a 1997 Honda Rebel 250 motorcycle.

Riding a motorcycle is fun. Purchasing a motorcycle in a foreign country is terrifying.

Luckily, I have had many local angels to help. Jared (my host here in South Australia) pointed me to Gumtree for used bikes. Chris (our neighbourhood letter carrier) told me about Pickles Auctions for postie bikes. Brett (an experienced Harley biker) offered gentle support and helped me find my Honda Rebel.

Another help is that I speak the local language—albeit with a Canadian accent.

Travel Tip: If you learn how to order a beer in another language, know how to ask for the toilet.

If you’re an international traveller, you know how important this is. It’s near impossible using body gestures to ask where the toilet is.

But I digress.

If you speak the local language, you understand the words on local websites. You can phone and speak with local sellers almost fluently. You can phone government call-centres and come close to deciphering their requirements.

I am now the owner of a 1997 Honda Rebel 250. It’s got a mere 45,900 kilometres on it. It came with all the riding gear I could need: a full-face helmet, DriRider jacket, Draggin pants, gloves, boots, saddlebags, a gear rack, and much more. And they all fit because the previous owner was the same height and shoe size as me.

I’ve got six weeks left in Australia.

Kangaroo Island, the South Ocean Road, the city of Melbourne, Tasmania, the Flinders Ranges, and the state’s campgrounds await. That’s the exciting part.

The scary part is waiting to hear back from the bank…where I applied for an account…so I can register the bike with the South Australian government…so I can ride it safely and legally.

It’s driving me crazy, but this is the kind of test we travellers face when we feel the fear and do it anyway.

1997 Honda Rebel 250 motorcycle in South Australia.
1997 Honda Rebel 250 motorcycle in South Australia.

Drink with a postmaster, ninja cat, Harley biker, and a snake

Ulrike in a 9-foot python skin as a boa at the Old Bush Inn in Willunga, South Australia.

It started with coffee at the Old Post Office. It ended with a python snake wrapped around my neck.

I was sipping wine with my new friend Mémé at a nearby cellar door when we got chatting with Leith and Sue at the next table. Leith is Willunga’s village postmaster. He told us and Sue moved into the historic Willunga Old Post Office and Telegraph Station earlier in the year.

They invited us to join them for a coffee and tour of their heritage home the next day.

Willunga’s Old Post Office and Telegraph Station

The Old Post Office in Willunga, South Australia.
The Old Post Office in Willunga, South Australia. A second-floor door leads nowhere, while a window next to it is blocked in.

While Leith made coffee, Sue led us through the 160-year-old building and pointed out odd features.

For example, the City council at the time taxed buildings according to how many windows they had. When it came time to build an addition for the new telegraph station, the builders added a large glass doorway, but blocked in a window space next to it.

Apparently, you didn’t get taxed for doors.

Wine, quince and a surprise

The four of us settled into the front verandah and Sue and Leith started telling hilarious stories about their days as tour guides and hosts in Adelaide.

Leith disappeared and then reappeared with tall flutes of sparkling red wine.

Sue, Ulrike and Leith at the Old Post Office in Willunga, South Australia.
Sue, Ulrike and Leith at the Old Post Office in Willunga, South Australia.

After the second or third bottle, Leith brought out a tray of local cheeses, home-baked crackers, and his very own quince chutney paste. He told us he named it “Black Ninja” after his little black cat.

Leith makes the quince in small batches, and local wineries snap it up to offer at their own cellar door tasting rooms.

Meme Thorne with Black Ninja Quince Paste at the Old Post Office in Willunga, South Australia.
Meme with Leith’s Black Ninja Quince Paste at the Old Post Office in Willunga, South Australia.

I told a few stories of my own and when Leith heard me say that I’d like to get on a motorcycle to sightsee South Australia, he made a call.

A few minutes later Brett arrived on his Harley-Davidson and asked if I wanted to go for a ride. Did I?

Ulrike on the back of Brett's Harley in Willunga, South Australia.
Ulrike on Brett’s Harley in Willunga, South Australia.

I jumped on the back and Brett roared us out of town, along the winding B34 to Myponga (map), and then north along the coastline back into Willunga.

When we landed I asked Brett what our top speed was. 160 kilometres per hour, he answered.

It was nearing 5 pm and Mémé begged off our spontaneous dinner plans, saying she needed to be  elsewhere.

Sue, Leith and I crossed the road to the Old Bush Inn, which locals call “the top pub” because there are two other pubs on the same road, on the same side of the street, further down the hill. Naturally, they are Willunga’s “middle pub” and “bottom pub.”

Leith told us it was “Rump and Red Night”—a roast beef dinner with a glass of wine for $18.

Brett whipped home and reappeared at the pub with a gift bag for me. I opened it and gingerly pulled out almost three metres (nine feet) of snake skin.

“I thought you might like it,” Brett grinned. “My Inland Python shed it.” Brett does welding, trailer repairs, and building maintenance.

It was beautiful. I gently looped the snake once, twice, three times around my neck like a boa scarf.

Brett promised to help me find a motorcycle of my own and we all settled in for a social dinner.

Biker Brett at the Old Bush Inn (the "top pub") in Willunga, South Australia.
Biker Brett at the Old Bush Inn (the “top pub”) in Willunga, South Australia.