A Heinkel obsession
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.