A Heinkel ob­ses­sion

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Story Bob Den­nis

This is the story of an at­tempted ad­ven­tur­ous mo­tor scooter jour­ney by three young men to ride from Braun­scheig in Germany to Dar­win, Aus­tralia dur­ing the north­ern win­ter of 1964-65. There were two Ger­mans, Ralf Wolpers and Wol­fram Boehm as well as my­self, an Aus­tralian. The three of us com­menced diaries dur­ing the trip, how­ever I was the only one that man­aged to com­plete a day-to-day ac­count of our ad­ven­tures.

Af­ter reading the ar­ti­cle re­gard­ing Heinkel Mo­tor Scooters in is­sue 78 of Old Bike Aus­trala­sia mag­a­zine, I was in­spired to of­fer com­ments about my own ob­ses­sion to ride Heinkel mo­tor scooters. I was born in Dar­win in 1940, 18 months be­fore the first of 64 Ja­panese bomb­ing raids on the city. I learned to ride on a Cze­choslo­vakian Jawa CZ175 cc two stroke mo­tor­cy­cle I owned for a short time in 1960. In 1961 I up­graded to a four stroke Tri­umph 200cc Tiger Cub and rode this around Dar­win for a few years. Early 1964 I chased my girl­friend Emma to Eng­land but ended up work­ing in Germany for Siemens with friends Ralf and Wol­fram. I bought a 1959 Heinkel Tourist 103 A-1 four stroke 174 cc scooter, to ride to work and ex­cur­sions. As fool­hardy as it would be to­day, it was just as reck­less dur­ing the win­ter of 1964, when Ralf, Wol­fram and I de­cided to ride our Heinkel Scooters from Germany to Aus­tralia. Both men and ma­chines were thor­oughly tested to ex­tremes. As each calamity un­folded, the

re­la­tion­ship be­tween the trio be­came stressed at times but good friend­ship over­came de­mand­ing sit­u­a­tions. Rain, snow, icy roads in Europe and Afghanista­n, crashes, desert cross­ings with no roads and dust storms in Syria and Iraq, were challengin­g for us and our light two-wheeled ma­chines. Dif­fer­ent lan­guages cul­tures and money re­sulted in con­sid­er­able com­mu­ni­ca­tion dif­fi­cul­ties. Sev­eral near-death ex­pe­ri­ences, ar­rests by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and en­coun­ters with armed sol­diers in Iran and Afghanista­n, as well as the loss of one Heinkel and a dan­ger­ous encounter with Afghanista­n tribes­men in the Khy­ber Pass added to the trauma. It was with heavy hearts that Ralf and I de­parted La­hore, Pak­istan, leav­ing Wol­fram in hos­pi­tal with a crit­i­cal bro­ken leg. Also, Pak­istan Bor­der Cus­tom took the re­main­ing two of the dam­aged worn out Heinkel scooters - Ralf and I made our way to Dar­win by what­ever trans­port means was avail­able. 50 years later, the ad­ven­ture con­tin­ued by rid­ing and trai­ler­ing two sim­i­lar vin­tage Heinkel scooters from Townsville to Dar­win. Trav­el­ling es­pe­cially from Germany, Wol­fram joined me (now 75 years old) to com­plete our ad­ven­ture on the scooters on 24th Oc­to­ber, 2015. We met the third mem­ber of the trio, Ralf, at Batch­e­lor, NT and then we were es­corted the last 100km into Dar­win to be greeted by a small wel­com­ing com­mit­tee. Al­though 50 years late to com­plete the Heinkel ride to Dar­win, the orig­i­nal trio was re­united once more for the 4th time since 1964. Not to be cat­e­gorised in the too old bas­ket, in June 2018, aged 77 and 78, Wol­fram and I joined 21 other younger like-minded rad­i­cals in a two-week ride over the Aus­trian/Ital­ian Alps to Lake Garda. The high­light was to visit the world’s high­est mo­tor­bike mu­seum in Ober­gurgl, Aus­tria. This was af­ter an ex­cit­ing ride over the Tim­mel­sjoch Pass in Italy close to the Aus­trian Bor­der. Wol­fram, who re­sides in Germany, has also rid­den to Scot­land with the Heinkel group in 2016. He may par­tic­i­pate in a Heinkel ride through North East Germany this year. I may con­sider rid­ing on the 2020 Heinkel tour of France and/or the 2021 tour of the Czech Repub­lic. My Heinkel was the only scooter to join the 2016 and 2018 Townsville Dis­tin­guished Gen­tle­man’s Rides that raised funds for prostate can­cer and other char­i­ties.

The story of Bob’s epic jour­ney is avail­able as a hard copy book or PDF from www.blurb.com/b/6468324-ger­manyto-aus­tralia-by-heinkel-mo­tor-scooters

ABOVE Ditched! Bob’s crash in Turkey in 1964. ABOVE LEFT Some­where in Syria 1964. Bob catches up on James Bond. RIGHT Snow­bound on the Iraq-Iran bor­der in 1964. MAIN Bob and Wol­fram at the Queens­land-NT bor­der, 2015.

LEFT Ralf and Wol­fram at a Mil­i­tary Post ready to cross the desert to Baghdad. BELOW Bat­ten­ing down the hatches dur­ing a dust storm in Iraq in 1964.

Met by a news re­porter on ar­rival in Dar­win in 2015. Bob (left), Ralf and Wol­fram.

Bob on the Dis­tin­guished Gen­tle­men’s Ride at Townsville in 2016. 2018 Heinkel Tour rid­ing over Tim­mel­sjoch in the Ital­ian Alps.

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