Touring to the AGM, 1970s Style


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Ride reports of the various journeys to the AGM are just emerging, and we like this one. Steve Dwight’s motorcycle looks perfect for the task, and his description of his touring equipment reminded us of our own weekends away in the decade he’s talking about…

Back in the early 1970s there was no speed limit on the open road, no radar, no blood alcohol limit, and semis were covered with green tarps tied down with the truckies hitch.

Motorcycles were less complicated with no ABS, blue tooth or traction control. Full face helmets were being accepted although helmet exemptions were common, with a note from your doctor or objections on religious grounds! Meanwhile, the multi-cylinder bikes were starting to take the world by storm.

What is 1970s style touring? Throw-over saddle bags, a World War Two army disposals kit bag on the back and a bike with some chrome is all that is required.

After being made most welcome as a new member of Eurobodalla Ulysses Club Branch, I couldn’t resist the temptation of heading off to the Riverland AGM 2018. Back in the early 1970s a bike of 650 – 850cc was considered a big bike. So off we go across the Hay Plains and via the Barossa to the AGM event on the 676cc bike. (Editor’s note: If you need to know, it’s a Kawasaki W650, with bevel-driven valves ala Ducati.)

Being at a Ulysses Club rally event is motorbike paradise with so many people to talk bikes with. It is also quite an experience to enjoy the camaraderie with other members travelling to and from the event. While there I tried on a Ural sidecar and found that it fitted very well. This makes the Ural a contender as the bike for future AGMs, and potentially exploring the Northern Territory.

It was highly enjoyable to meet other Ulysses members at the event and in local cafes. The Grand Parade was quite a spectacle with so many bikes travelling the 36km from Barmera (on Lake Bonney) through Berri to Renmark. The Saturday dinner food and band were excellent and the people we met were so friendly and interesting. People had arrived from so many places on so many varied forms of motorbikes.

Part of the AGM experience was exploring the Riverland area. It is such a contrast coming out of the semi-arid plains into the beauty of the riverine environment. The rivers are a life blood for the western areas. The area abounds with a veritable fruit basket of produce such as lush oranges, lemons, limes, grapes, succulent peaches, apricots and almonds. What a welcome the local people gave us. There were so many signs on the front doors of businesses saying ‘Welcome Ulysses Club”.

Our Riverland experience included taking evasive action for an emu running across the road while we were heading north from the Loxton Road past the large almond plantations. The day we spent wine tasting by horse drawn wagon in the Barossa was exceptional. We also had a great experience with the ride on the historic wood fired paddle boat PS Industry along the mighty Murray River. The restored riverboats have become such a feature of the inland river towns.

Some things have changed since the 70s, but it is still about the ride and the people you meet at the destination.

Well done to the organisers, volunteers, traders and motorcycle distributors for their massive effort in running such a wonderful event. Thanks to the Ulysses Club for keeping us “Riding On” the open road. The experience was so enjoyable that we already have our bags packed for the 2019 Mornington and 2020 Lismore Ulysses events.

Steve Dwight   #67802

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