Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS -

The re­mark­able story sub­mit­ted by Peter North (see Out & About, page 80) con­cern­ing the in­trepid ex­ploits of his father Percy in scal­ing Bar­ring­ton Tops on a 350 AJS in 1925 rekin­dled some less an­cient mem­o­ries for me; of a slightly sim­i­lar per­sonal or­deal in 1970. I was work­ing at the time for John Har­ris, the ir­re­press­ible Honda and later Husq­varna dealer in Bel­mont, south of New­cas­tle. One week­end we de­cided on a spot of R&R in the form of an ex­pe­di­tion to Bar­ring­ton Tops on var­i­ous trail bikes. From mem­ory there were five or six of us in­clud­ing John him­self, my brother Peter, lo­cal panel beater ‘Dig­ger’ Mount­ford and one or two oth­ers. As we slith­ered our way up the icy slopes in con­stant driz­zle and clouds lay­ing so low you could al­most chew them, we be­came sep­a­rated and when some hours later most of us re-dis­cov­ered each other, there was no sign of Dig­ger. With dark­ness fast ap­proach­ing we had no choice but to head for Dun­gog to seek a ho­tel for the night, where­upon the Search & Res­cue peo­ple were scram­bled. This was dan­ger­ous stuff; peo­ple per­ish up there in a re­gion where win­ter tem­per­a­tures of mi­nus 10ºC are far from un­com­mon.

It was too late to do any­thing but wait un­til first light, but un­be­known to us Dig­ger had rid­den right over the range to emerge on the Scone (western) side, where he had run out of petrol. Af­ter hoof­ing it for some dis­tance he spot­ted a shed, which he soon dis­cov­ered was oc­cu­pied by a large num­ber of ex­tremely fierce dogs, each se­cured to the walls of the shed by a length of chain. And at the very end of the shed stood the prize; a can of petrol. Very care­fully Dig­ger crept down the ex­act cen­tre of the shed, with slather­ing fangs gnash­ing within inches of his flanks, ac­com­pa­nied by a ca­coph­ony of yelp­ing and bark­ing. Gin­gerly grasp­ing the pre­cious can, he hoisted it onto his shoul­der, pre­cisely piv­oted, and crept down the same per­ilous cen­tre line and out­side to free­dom. By morn­ing, res­cue air­craft were buzzing about, searchers were swarm­ing the peaks and trails, and Dig­ger was in Scone – dry and hun­gry. His safe pres­ence was quickly re­layed to the au­thor­i­ties on the other side of the moun­tains and the search called off. It was not your av­er­age day of trail rid­ing and it was 48 hours be­fore we were once again all to­gether.

Ad­ven­tur­ous yes, fraught with dan­ger, also yes. Fool­hardy? No ques­tion, but a mere ba­gatelle com­pared to the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the pi­o­neers of yore. Now turn to Page 80 and you’ll have even more ad­mi­ra­tion for what Percy North achieved 91 years ago with a now-vet­eran mo­tor­cy­cle, a gal­lon or so of petrol and a few span­ners. No won­der the news­pa­per re­port sug­gested “there was a large streak of in­san­ity within the fam­ily.”


An­dre Deubel’s 1972 Moto Guzzi El­do­rado 850.See fea­ture story on P58.OUR COVER

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