Kiama South Coast NSW
Strangers Become Friends
The combination of motorcycles and the beautiful seaside town of Kiama proved to be the perfect icebreaker for a group of Japanese visitors keen to spend time with their Aussie counterparts.
When Horie Noato, Miuki Sashide, and Rei Fukuchi announced that they were headed Down Under for a week-long filming project, two days of their travel calendar was set aside for riding. Tasked with the role of tour guides were two Yamaha Motor Australia staff members, Ben Cade and Chris Dobie, along with Yamaha's own queen of offroad racing, Jess Gardiner.
"We were not sure what to expect from the visitors regarding riding experience," explained Chris Dobie. "And there was also the language barrier," he added. "Between the three Aussies on the ride, we probably have four Japanese words between us."
The hosts quickly decided the best team bonding experience would be a ride from Sydney to Kiama, with ample stops along the way to admire the views. The planned route consisted of the twists and turns of the Royal National Park, the stunning views from Bald Hill and Seacliff Bridge, as well as the scenic coast road to Kiama. The icing on the cake was to be a return trip to the Robertson Pie Shop via Macquarie Pass and Jamabroo Pass. Dinner and an overnight stay at Kiama would act as the perfect group bonding session for the six riders.
"Regardless of riding ability, the south coast run is a perfect example of the awesome riding roads we have in Australia," explained Chris Dobie. "High-fives, thumbs-ups, and smiles are the universal language of motorcycle riding, so I knew that as soon as the six of us hit the road, communication was going to be easy."
Australia turned on stunning early summer weather for the visitors, and it took little more than a pre-ride coffee and the opening stage of riding to take in the views at Bald Hill - via the Royal National Park - for the multinational sextet to build the beginnings of a friendship.
Jess Gardiner's super-friendly personality and natural ability as a top-level riding coach provided endless discussion points as she parted with expert tips and tricks learned over a lifetime of racing. Despite being an offroad riding coach, the group found Jess' words of wisdom applicable to road riding. "I'm a 40-year-old experienced rider," explained Fukuchi san. "Even with my experience, I benefited from the tips that Jess provided; I was surprised at what I learned."
Despite being a local, Ben Cade revealed the ride was also his first time experiencing the south coast roads. "It's such an amazing ride; I can't believe I have been depriving myself and my YZF-R7 of these amazing roads," he said. Jess also revealed she was a South Coast debutant, leaving Chris to lead the way.
Following numerous laps of the Seacliff Bridge for the obligatory photos, the group cruised the coast road to Thirroul, before hitting the freeway towards Macquarie Pass. The 110km/h freeway speeds proved to be another highlight for the visitors, especially Horie-san, who had chosen an MT-10SP as his ride for the event, "In Japan, we do not have such long roads where we can legally ride so fast," he explained. "To be able to twist the throttle of the MT-10, is fantastic!, what an amazing machine."
While the run to the top of Macquarie Pass - with a delicious pie from the Robertson Pie Shop at the turnaround point - and the trip to Kiama via Jambaroo had the expected effect on the visitors, it was the views from the Kiama Blowhole lookout that really took their breath away. "This is even more amazing than any of the photographs we looked at before coming here," explained Mizuki-san. "I'm already in love with Australia, and it's only my first day."
With a full day of riding under their belt and another ahead the following day, the group sat together on the grass adjacent to the towering Kiama lighthouse and enjoyed their new-found friendship as they reflected on a brilliant day.