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“Wanderer” – A Small Adventure Story

“Wanderer” – A Small Adventure Story

Words from We Are Explorers.

 

Peeling away from the busy Sydney traffic travelling south you’ll find a region dotted with country towns, winding roads, and jaw dropping national parks. What better way to experience them, than on the back of a Royal Enfield motorbike with the wind in your hair and the allure of uncharted adventure on the horizon.

Royal Enfield recently offered me the opportunity to test out the new Scram 411 motorcycle. After a long, hectic, block of filming I was desperate to get out of the city for a while and explore Shoalhaven, specifically Braidwood, an area about 3 hours south of Sydney. Not wanting to waste a good chance to hone my skills, I suggested the idea of filming a little road trip with a frequent collaborator of mine, Hayden Griffith. Riding with only the essentials, Hayden would be free to take in the scenery, and enjoy the freedom that comes with riding. My job? To film the trip and extract a few of his thoughts along the way – hard life I know.

I’ve worked with Hayden for over 5 years on many, many video shoots all around the world and over the years we’ve found ourselves to be great travelling companions.

With an eye and curiosity for adventure he’s certainly proved himself a very capable crew member, whether it be filming out on location or venturing up the side of a mountain.

Having previously owned a Royal Enfield Himalayan, it didn’t take much convincing to get Hayden onboard and so, we set off while the weather was good and rain seemed to be holding off.

The Scram 411 is an updated variant of the Himalayan that Hayden knew (and loved). While the original had successfully dipped into the near untouched niche of lightweight adventure riding, the new Scram 411 was positioned as a slightly more urban update with fuel injection, better fuel economy, ABS and Tripper Navigation.

As we started our journey south, it didn’t take long to tell Hayden was enjoying the updated urban features of the Scram. We thought it would only make sense to get a few shots from McMahons Point, with the early morning sun lighting up the epic Sydney skyline.

Unfortunately, it was too early in the year to get the sun rising from underneath the bridge itself, but with the chill of darkness still lingering, it was magic all the same and a perfect way to start our South Coast adventure.

The Iconic Sea Cliff Bridge

With the city fading in the distance and winding stretches of highway in front of us, we headed south toward the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge in Coalcliff. Hayden suggested a hidden vantage point that might make for a good shot and some sketches he was working on, and so, our first detour was set. We pulled over near the viewing area just south of the bridge, and climbed a little hidden path about 100 metres long.

While many of us know the beauty of riding or driving along the Sea Cliff Bridge, this lesser-known view is well worth the trek. As we reached the pinnacle, the view of the bridge itself and the light through the blue waters below trounced the views we’d had on the road.

The sheer scale and scope of the cliffs that run along the coastline through the Royal National Park are even more impressive.

Next Stop, Braidwood

We rode on, making our way to Braidwood through Shoalhaven and then on toward Sassafras, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it township surrounded by orchards and national park lands. As we rode, the scenery change from the dense coastal bushland of Yerriyong to the sparse open plains near Morton National Park was astounding.

I wanted to take a little time to explore the otherworldly rock formations that surround Sassafras but with some serious winds whipping up and the threat of rain imminent, as beautiful as the sunset was, we made the call to move on.

And so we pushed on to our first stay for the night; a Tiny House at the Braidwood Farm Stay & Cafe, located at Bombay, ten minutes west of Braidwood town.

Our Tiny House, as one would expect, looked quaint and cosy and better still, had a cafe onsite. I couldn’t help but feel like a kid about to sleep in his cubby-house, but without the anxiety of discomfort or threat of intruders in the night!’

 

As Hayden and I unpacked and settled in with a nice cup of tea, the sun began to set behind the surrounding trees and right on cue a group of big grey ‘roos bounced out to say hello.

After a restful sleep, we woke up to find the bike and the surrounding grass covered in a light layer of morning frost. After a breakfast of eggs benedict and coffee (made by our host Helen) we toured the farm, fed horses and goats, and heard all about Helen’s passion for sustainable farming and land regeneration.

Following devastating flooding earlier this year, the area showed amazing recovery and regrowth thanks to a whole lot of Helen’s hard work.

With another day of riding and filming ahead of us, Helen suggested a route that ran from Bombay south toward Farringdon, then crossed the Shoalhaven river to loop us back toward Braidwood. After a spirited farewell, we did exactly as Helen said and it wasn’t long before we saw exactly why the route was at the top of Helen’s favourites.

The winding road was straddled by stunning the landscapes of Lowden Forest, the perfect setting for some seriously good riding. We could see another storm coming in from the south, its dark clouds scattering shards of sunlight across the countryside.

While we expected water from the skies to dampen our fun, it was a deep river crossing that had Hayden emptying his boots and wringing his socks shortly after. Damp, and not keen to get damper, we made for shelter.

Monga State Forest

Our next, and final, night stay was in Reidsdale, a town with a population of just 125 on the edge of the Monga State Forest. By this stage the heavens had opened, so we slowly manoeuvred our way toward Monga Mountain Retreat, the trail leading us into a dense temperate rainforest filled with Giant ferns and Plumwood trees.

We could see remnants of the old timber industry scattered throughout along the way before arriving at our forest cabin.

Our friendly host, Elke, described the cabin as a mountain retreat and, upon entering the beautifully decorated open space, we could see why.

The rooms were dotted with a great selection of novels, biographies and photography books, and once we’d settled in we agreed that the cabin definitely lived up to its ‘retreat’ moniker. Surrounded by dense eucalypt bushland, the wooden cabin exuded rustic charm.

Having spent the day putting the Scram 411 to the test through muddy trails and gravelly streams, Hayden was wet, sore, and desperate to get warm. After a long hot shower and a cup of tea, we settled in to soak up the retreat vibes of our well-deserved off-grid hideaway.

The next morning, with dry clothes and the sun beaming in the sky, we decided to do some exploring in and around Braidwood. Halfway between Canberra and Sydney, Braidwood makes for a great lunch pitstop – or in our case, brekky.

Colonial streetscapes, antique stores, and a host of quirky galleries and boutiques are set against rural farmland and bushlands, creating a welcoming small town atmosphere that hankered up a craving only the local bakery could satiate.

We wound our way through the small streets and back alleys, the lightweight Scram 411 manoeuvred easily in and out of tight spaces, before stumbling upon a hidden little bakery called Dojo. Hayden parked the Scram 411 out the front and we ordered ourselves coffee and sausage rolls – the perfect country-town breakfast.

Lake George

We then headed out toward Lake George via Bungendore and Mt Fairy. From the numerous times I’d driven to Canberra and gone past Lake George, I’d always wondered what was on the other side of it, beside the stoic gathering of wind turbines.

Home to helpful chatty local and beautiful historic streets, Bungendore is a lovely little town worthy of a quick stop if you have the time. As we headed toward the lake we were on the hunt for vantage points where we could look down on it from the eastern side.

After years of bypassing via the Federal Highway to Canberra we were keen to finally explore what lay behind the lake.

The Scram 411 navigated the dirt roads and blocky water crossings with ease – with me and my station wagon struggling to keep up. We ended up stumbling our way into, what we were told by a passing local in a 4WD, private property.

But, luckily for us, not before we could admire a different aspect of the lake and the towering wind turbines above it. The peacefully quiet countryside of rolling green hills and barren red plains were dotted with winding dirt tracks – countryside that I was glad to finally be seeing.

I could tell that Hayden was enjoying his time on the bike, and the dirt tracks. It’d been a long while since he’d been on a bike and he was relishing every sweeping corner on the Scram 411.

 

While we were reluctant to end the trip, or give back the Scram 411, the sun was getting low and I needed to get back home to prepare for an upcoming shoot.

After a quick fuel stop in Tarago (not pronounced like the classic Toyota mini-van, apparently), Hayden was surprised by how far he could get from tank to tank. Filled to the brim I could tell Hayden was keen to continue on to somewhere off in the distance, maintaining the sense of exploration he’d found on the bike.

Whether you’re a rider or a passenger, motorcycling is one of the best ways to explore the country. With the wind on your skin and the smells of the countryside around you, it accesses senses that being in a car just can’t even match.

Granted, riding can expose you to the elements (which we certainly experienced enough of on this trip) but it’s only temporary, and if you have a warm place to retreat to at the end of the day, it’s a small price to pay for new places to explore.

Hayden and I parted ways and I knew I’d be back to explore the area again on my own bike.

Leave No Trace

At Royal Enfield and We Are Explorers, we reckon it’s a good idea to keep our natural sites as untouched and unaffected by humans as possible, so make sure to take all of your rubbish with you, minimise your plastic use as much as possible, stick to the paths and try not to disturb the area or animals. Mother Nature will thank you for it!

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Royal Enfield’s high altitude adventurer DNA has evolved from decades of expeditions and thousands of kilometers of rides across the most challenging terrains in the world. The scram 411 is derived from this very DNA. It is a multi purpose tool optimised for agility; an ally that’s always ready for whatever life has in store. This is no cosmetic crossover or pumped up street bike this is a brand new subspecies.