Growing up in a family of boys separated by less than a decade, made Yamaha Motor Australia’s Dealership Development Manager Franchising, Russell Jansz, a member of the Jansz Four Musketeers that are as thick as thieves. As the third member of the Jansz clan - arriving after Geoff and Tony, but before younger-brother Paul - Russell has been in the thick of the action since day one.
“We all get on so well,” explained Russell, revealing how a close family unit is an enjoyable one. “We all contribute to each other’s lives, we seek each other out as companions, our kids are all great friends – even though they are all different - and we enjoy nothing more than embarking on a new Jansz adventure together. Sometimes it will be all four brothers, sometimes just one or two.”
The Jansz boys’ love of all things outdoors led to a memorable adventure in 2006 that included a multi-day Daintree off-road ride from Cairns and back again. This was followed a few years later by an adventure that combined their love of outdoor adventure and game fishing. “That second trip was a big one,” Russell explained. “We rented Albany Island for a week – not just part of the island, the entire thing - and we also chartered two big game fishing boats - we had a ball. Then the morning after I got home, I headed off on a multi-day 3000-kilometre motorcycle ride to Phillip Island for the Australian MotoGP with 11 mates. It was a mega two weeks.”
With 18 years passing since their first Daintree Jansz trip, it was the youngest brother Paul who suggested the idea of a father and son adventure.
“This time around it was only going to be Paul and I taking part,” Russell revealed, “But Paul wanted it to be a father and son trip with his son Nick (23) and my son Luke (22). I thought it was a brilliant idea, so we started to invite a few close friends, and the ultimate two-wheeled adventure to Cape York was born.”
Even before the seed was planted with Russell, brother Paul had everything mapped out in his head. “It was his brainchild,” said Russell. “A six-day ride to tackle some of the classic tracks around the Cape region in the top-end of Queensland, including the legendary CREB Track, Old Telegraph Track, Drug Runners, Wakooka Track and any others we could find before we arrived at the northern tip of Queensland.” From there, the group would fly to Horn Island by helicopter before heading back to Cairns by plane. “So, where our previous trip was a loop, this one was six days of riding north to the Cape.”
Organisation and logistics were looked after by Great Northern Motorbike Adventures. “They were absolutely brilliant, everything about the organisation of the trip was spot on,” Russell exclaimed. “They even put us on Yamaha WR250R motorcycles fitted with safari tanks for longer fuel range. Our lead rider, Geoff Chambers, is an ex-pro motocross rider and a great bloke who knows how to ride and how to lead a great adventure.”
The six days of awesomeness that followed, consisted of 250-kilometre days providing plenty of opportunities to take in the picturesque scenery and wildlife.
“There were days when we were tackling tracks that could easily be bypassed using main arterial roads, but what would be the point of that?” asked Russell. “This ride was all about how we were going to get there. There were times between special stages when we had to join main arterial roads, but even they had their challenges. Overtaking road trains and caravaners kicking up clouds of red bulldust took a bit of getting used to, especially on a small capacity adventure bike designed for off-road use. However, the reward for each transport stage was another special stage full of technical and enjoyable tracks that you can only access via motorcycle, or in some cases motorcycle or 4WD.”
The group was served a brilliant day of riding straight off the bat, with CREB Track kicking off day one.Originally used as a service track for the powerline to Cooktown, CREB – an acronym for Cairns Regional Electricity Board - is now the starting point for many adventurers entering the Daintree. “We got it at its best,” revealed Russell. “It was tacky and awesome to ride, and there were only a few 4WDs around. Even one of the tour riders said that day was as good as it gets. It was the perfect opening day for a ride.”
While Russell described day one as awesome, he christened day two on the Wakooka Track as hell. “Don’t get me wrong, it was a great experience,” he said. “But looking back on decades of riding and motocross competition, I can’t remember a tougher day. The combination of soft sand and basalt made it physically and mentally demanding. I’d say it was the hottest and most physical day of riding I have ever done.” Russell said the main goal that day was to preserve energy where possible so it could be called on in tough places. “In the back of your mind you were always thinking that the only way out of there was by the motorcycle you were riding, or by emergency helicopter,” he explained. “Having said that, once it was done there was a real sense of accomplishment within the group."
Something else each rider kept in the back of their mind was the knowledge that Great Northern Motorcycle Tours would be on point with the accommodation each evening. “We certainly looked forward to our overnight stay location each evening,” said Russell. “Other than the riding, it was one of the great things about the trip. Everything was organised brilliantly. We would arrive at a new campground each evening and the team would already be preparing the food, there was an esky full of cold drinks and plenty of snacks. And if you didn’t have the energy to do it yourself, someone would set your swag up for you. It was almost glamping.”
The tough conditions for day two also revealed why the organisers had encouraged all participants to undergo a program of physical training leading up to the ride. Russell said the tour company had been totally honest when explaining the riding would be demanding in places, and there would be times when participants would be required to carry their bikes across logs and through river crossings. “You need a certain level of off-road riding ability, otherwise it won’t be enjoyable,” revealed Russell. “You also need to have some fitness to call on. The younger guys were okay, but at my age, I needed to work on my fitness in preparation for the event. Unfortunately, I tore the meniscus in my knee just seven weeks before the trip. Once back on my feet, I set myself a goal of exercising for at least one hour a day leading up to the ride, and that got me across the line.”
Another highlight of the ride came when the group approached the famous Drug Runners track. “Upon arrival, we discovered that we were going to be one of the last, if not the last, group to ride the track in its present form,” Russell explained. “There were bulldozers and excavators waiting at the entrance point to the track, and one of the workers said they were about to close the track to begin widening it to make it more accessible for 4WDs.” Russell said the 50-kilometre run - made up of mostly single-tracks - was another great ride. “Later that day we came across another riding group which had bypassed Drug Runners because they thought it was already closed, they were pretty dirty that they had missed the opportunity.”
Looking back on the epic adventure, Russell revealed the highlight had been doing it with his son Luke, as well as the sense of achievement that went with it. “Six days of tough riding and having my brother Paul and his son Nick with us was fantastic. Having a good group of friends along for the ride also made it a brilliant trip,” he said. “Being granted access to Aboriginal lands that not many get to see, exploring parts of Australia that so few Australians experience, and standing at the tip of Cape York for a photo with the guys was an amazing and memorable highlight.”
Never one to sit still, Russell is already looking towards the next great Jansz adventure. “It would be good to get all the brothers back together for a trip,” he said. “Geoff isn’t as big on riding as the rest of us, so we are going to book another trip through Great Northern Motorbike Adventures that will include some riding, but also a lot of game fishing because we all love fishing.”
“Whatever we decide to do, it’s sure to be another amazing Jansz adventure,” Russell laughed.