When I'm zooming down the road on my Harley-Davidson, I think Life doesn't get much better than this.
Motorbikes were my first love. Growing up on a farm, I’d started riding them aged eight, and had never stopped.
It was September 2019, and I’d taken time off from working in the mines to travel from WA to Tasmania to help a friend relocate. While I led the way, she followed in her car, and each night we’d stop for beer and a yarn.
Once in Tassie, I helped her sort out her new place and soon after, it was time to hit the road. But I faced a long lonely journey back.
Figuring a bit of canine company would be good, I went to a rescue centre, Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania, in search of a small pup with a big sense of adventure.
There, I fell for a six-month-old caramel-coloured Jack Russell cross with a white stripe down her nose. She'd been found wandering alone in the bush.
‘Fancy a road trip?’ I asked her, and she wagged her tail.
Naming her Tassie, I fixed up my Harley with a sturdy dog carrier, strapped her safely inside it, and started up the engine.
Her face quickly changed from ‘What the hell is this?’ to ‘Let’s go!’
I’d got me a pillion pup!
Fitting Tassie with dog goggles and a helmet, and with my trailer in tow to carry gear, we set off.
Looking in the mirror at her face sticking out of the dog carrier as we picked up speed, I could see she was all smiles.
Incredulous passers-by would whip out their phones to take photos.
‘Looks like we’ve got the pup-arazzi after us!’ I laughed to Tassie.
You’d never seen a happier dog
After a ferry ride across Bass Strait, we visited mates in Melbourne, Vic, followed by Canberra, ACT, and then Newcastle, NSW.
Tassie lapped up all the fuss they made of her.
Back on the road, I’d pull up to a scenic spot or caravan park at night, and roll out my swag.
‘Does she like it on the bike?’ travellers would ask, amazed.
‘Well, look at her,’ I’d say.
You’d never seen a happier dog.
In the evenings I’d pull out meat for Tassie and a coldie for myself, from the fridge I kept in the trailer. Then I’d lie back and gaze at the stars in the night sky.
‘This is the life, eh, Tassie?’ I’d say, and she couldn’t have agreed more.
Every day, we’d get up with the sunrise and head off after breakfast, doing 500 or 600 kilometres a day.
I’d stop for breaks to give her water and a run around, but she was always keen to get back onto the bike. The only time she made a fuss was when I’d leave her to nip into a shop to buy food.
Clearly she was worried she’d be abandoned again.
‘I’ll be back soon,’ I’d reassure her.
We’d clocked up over 4000km and covered every state and territory except Queensland
Sometimes we’d check out the sights. She really liked the ‘Dog on the Tuckerbox’ monument in Gundagai, NSW.
She also enjoyed our overnight stay in a dog-friendly underground hotel in Coober Pedy, SA.
We were both mutts about escaping the 45 degree heat down there!
Next we headed up to the Northern Territory to see Uluru. Tassie loved looking at all the wild goats, emus and kangaroos we passed.
Afterwards we stopped for the night on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.
Woken by the sound of a creaky car driving through the bush, I immediately thought of Mick, the psychopath in the horror movie Wolf Creek, who attacked tourists in the bush.
I was terrified Tassie would bark and draw attention to us. But picking up on what was going on, she didn’t make a sound.
When I saw it was just a couple in a decrepit Toyota bus, I’d never been more relieved.
‘Well done, Tassie,’ I said, giving her a pat.
Heading down to Port Augusta and west to Ceduna, SA, we then crossed the famous Nullarbor Plain. Riding at the speed limit of 110 kph, we did the whole 1200km in one long day. Tassie had a ball.
Arriving back home in Mandurah, WA, Tassie met Max, my English Staffy. They bonded like old mates.
The trip had taken three weeks. We’d clocked up over 4000km and covered every state and territory except Queensland.
‘You’re more well travelled than most humans I know,’ I laughed to Tassie, as she tucked into chicken and rice – her favourite.
Since then, we’ve done heaps more trips, including 5000km to Broome and back.
And we visit my kids, Hayden, 31, Jessie, 29, and Teagan, 25, and grandchildren Tyson and Athena, both one, and Addie, three months.
All up, we’ve racked up over 20,000 kilometres together, and counting.
Sometimes my partner Kerry, 42, wants to ride with me. But the minute I open the front door, Tassie races to the bike first.
When it comes to pillion passengers, Tassie’s definitely the top dog! ●
Andrew is donating his story fee to Dogs’ Home of Tasmania