Old Hat


Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - JIM SCAYSBROOK Ed­i­tor

At 7pm on Oc­to­ber 16, my great mate Ian Kier­nan OA breathed his last, just four months af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with can­cer. Every Aus­tralian knew Ian as the cham­pion of the en­vi­ron­ment who had brought a new aware­ness of the de­struc­tion we are wreak­ing upon the planet, through his Clean Up cam­paigns that be­gan in Syd­ney Har­bour and spread through­out the world. An in­trepid solo around-the-world yachts­man, an­nual Syd­ney-Ho­bart race sailor, 1994 Aus­tralian of the Year, and a ra­bid mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast, ‘IBK’ was a thor­ough lar­rikin who rev­elled in be­ing known as a rat­bag and ‘a bit of a mon­grel’. Ian owned lots of bikes, mainly Hon­das, in­clud­ing an SL100, an SL175 that dis­ap­peared into a wa­tery grave when it fell off the deck of his yacht Maris, an XR350, two CB750s and a CB900F. I own the last of the CB750s – a red K2 that he bought as a heap and re­stored about 20 years ago. It wasn’t a pris­tine job, be­cause Ian was as rough as guts, prob­a­bly rougher. A builder by trade, Ian would take run­down and vir­tu­ally un­in­hab­it­able hov­els and turn them into hum­ble dwellings. At one stage he owned nearly 400 such houses in then un­fash­ion­able in­ner Syd­ney, drove a Porsche and lived in a man­sion in fash­ion­able Mos­man, but when the com­pany fi­nanc­ing the ven­tures crashed he lost the lot, which didn’t seem to par­tic­u­larly con­cern him. Chased by cred­i­tors, he loaded his yacht with mea­gre pro­vi­sions and shot through to Tahiti, an ex­is­tence to which he ad­justed to rather well. Back home in the heady ‘seven­ties, he be­came part of a rag-tag bunch of us that met once a year at a prop­erty in Tuena, near Crook­well, NSW. It was known as the Crash & Burn – a long week­end that some­times stretched to a week or more of trail rid­ing, eat­ing, drink­ing and joke telling. One year Ian ar­rived in his Dai­hatsu tip­per truck, the tray groan­ing un­der the weight of tons of sand, bricks, sheets of iron and build­ing de­tri­tus. “Where’s your bike?” he was asked as he pulled up and ripped the ring-pull out of a tin­nie. “Dunno, it was there when I started out.” Yank­ing the lever in the cab, he emp­tied the con­tents of the tip­per onto the ground and from the pile emerged his XR350, which had set­tled it­self to the bot­tom of the load dur­ing the trip. He also re­trieved his food for the week­end – a string of sausages – which he washed in a bucket and hung on the tie rails of the truck to dry out. Ian was rough all right, but a bloke with a heart of gold and a ter­rific mate for nearly half a cen­tury. RIP IBK.

The late Ian Kier­nan. “A bit of a mon­grel”.

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