1997 Sydney to Perth

I also wrote a story about it which was published in Scootering, April, 1997, Issue No: 136

The Scooterist’s Guide to Driving Across Australia

by Paul McIntosh 1997 (note some content will be out dated)

One of the things I hate about reading those scooter touring articles in Scootering is that I can’t! After the first paragraph I’m off daydreaming about doing it myself, having to force myself back into reality to be able to continue onto the next paragraph. By the time I’ve finished reading I just feel frustrated, with something that I own needing a good hard thrashing (my scooter that is).

I thought I’d write about my trip from a different angle. If you’re frustrated after this article, you should have enough info to whip out you’re credit card, raid the moneybox or pawn Granny’s jewelry, and scoot off on your own Australian adventure…

Why Do It?

Australia is BIG, really BIG, 7.5 million sq km’s in area and 20,000 km’s of coastline. The route that I will be referring to, Sydney to Perth via the coast is over 5,500 km one-way.

Why do it? It’s fun, Australia isn’t just one big desert. You’ll experience miles of winding ocean roads, awesome cliff views, really weird wildlife running out in front of you and grand forests with the most amazing undulating scooter friendly roads cutting through them.

What’s more, in between all that riding you get to see some of the best cities in the world Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Each have their own charm and are well worth a look, also each have their own scooter scene which should be easy to track down through the local scooter shops.

Well enough with the advert, I intend to cram as much info in as possible, so here goes…

The Route

Read this backwards if you intend driving from Perth to Sydney. Also while you’re reading this you might want to calculate out the number of days you think you’d take (I took 12)

Sydney to Melbourne

Melbourne to Adelaide

Adelaide to Perth


Heat will make all the difference to your trip. I did it in November which turned out pretty good. Melbourne was cold but not too cold and the Nullarbor only got too hot one day. The day time extremes would have been from 15 to 45 degrees (20 to 30 being the norm). March should also provide similar conditions. Also at these times you’ll have lots of daylight which is very important (explained later).

Money ($1 Australian is about 50p UK)

So you’ve read this far, daydreaming yet, get out you calculator and work out how much dosh you need to come up with.


Fuel (based on 5,500 km)





So You’re Still Reading..

OK. So now you’re all clued up on which way to drive, what time to go and how much money you’ll need. You’re still reading, I will assume that you are now seriously thinking about it…


Australian roads (outside New South Wales) are pretty good, in fact they are pretty excellent. Most road hazards are clearly marked and they seem to have taken into account bikes when deciding what is hazardous. As far as scooter driving goes the main disadvantage is that everyone else is traveling at 130Km/hr (110 is the limit).

Here is a list of some of the most important hazards and how to deal with them…



West Australian Drivers


Basically don't drive at night, the vampire kangaroo's will get you. You don't need to make a note of this as you'll get sick of every local giving their own personal horror story of someone they knew who had "traveled by night in these parts".

If you do get stuck at night riding, the best you can do is sit in the middle of the road and don't do more than 70Km/hr. Also beware that the odd kangaroo may come out during the day - I saw one (the only one on the whole trip)

Road Trains




There are scooter shops in all the major cities (I'll supply a list) and it should be no problem to get something sent to you. If the scooter is completely no go, you can still shift it by truck fairly cheaply. I got mine from Perth to Sydney for $150 with a bit of ringing about.


Other Stuff

And Finally

Here a few last things that didn't fit into the above…

Dealing with the locals

On the whole you should get a pretty good reception. I was pleasantly surprised, considering my previous statement, people in the middle of no where seemed to know more about scooters than the average city dweller.

They may, at the most, be a bit cynical about someone driving a scooter. However this is because in the middle of no where they are the ones that call the flying doctor after scrapping some stupid tourist off the road. If you don't act like a stupid tourist then they'll get over the fact that you're on a scooter.

Nasty Animals

More Info

For more info on the actual ride I would check the maps provided by the NRMA here. They produce a little map for the Nullabor part indicating water, petrol stops etc. For $7 it's worth it. Their other maps should be fairly good as well.

Each state has its own tourist board and offices in every major city. They are excellent, if you pull into a city that is the first place you should head to find out where to stay and what to do.

The following is a list of scooter shops, one phone number for each city will be enough to locate what you need or to get pointed in the right direction.

Sydney - Scootique (2)95190443 or

411 242 129

Melbourne - Vespa House ( 3) 9417 0342

Adelaide - EuroCycle (8) 346 5621

Perth - Pro-Italia (9) 470 2977

The scooter scene in Australia is not as big as the UK. 150 people at a run is a big event. However you still should be able to find a few willing Aussie scooterists where ever you go that will share a few beers and make you feel welcome.

Bon Voyage!

Well that's about all I can think of. Hope to see you soon buzzing along our highways.



- We Can't Decide On A Name SC

- The Internet Scooter Club

- Terra Australus Scooter Club