When they finally let us into Camp Marysville, everything was delayed from the start. Grant and Susan were frantically setting up reception and some volunteers were sorting out meal tokens. We, too, were supposed to help. But they weren’t ready for us yet so we manged to quickly pitch the tent.
Everyone worked real hard so by 5pm, the official opening time, we were ready a sexy Horizons T-shirt included 🙂
As volunteers we helped with reception duties. It was a real buzz meeting and greeting people and sorting them out with T-shirts, meal tickets, stickers and everything they needed.
Before we knew it, it was dinner time and Aidan snuck off to cook a feast. When I joined him nothing was ready. Our pressurized fuel bottle lid had decided to pack in that evening so the stove wouldn’t work. We had bought meat that needed cooking since we didn’t have a fridge and we were supposed to be presenting in a short while! Our tent neighbours came to our rescue and lent us their stove. Awesome!
After our rushed feast (with which master-chef Aidan wasn’t happy at all even though it was pretty yummy of course) we managed to catch the end of Grant and Susan’s “How it all began” presentation. After all it is they who started the Horizons Unlimited website and inspired and helped hundreds of travelers with the support network on the HUBB forum. Of course they also organised this HU Meeting. It was nice to finally hear more about how it all started.
Then it was our turn to tell tales of our India trip and suddenly I was nervous as we were being wired up to the microphones.
We gave Taryn and Sam our camera to take some pictures for us so this is what happened:
The damned age of selfies! (They said it was so we’d have a picture of them and they were right, we had so much fun we totally forgot to take any more pictures of them with us the entire weekend.)
I needn’t have been nervous. The crowd was awesome and the presentation went down a storm. Aidan and I were yapping away and before we knew it, time was up. I believe most people stayed awake through it given that many approached us later to say they’d loved it…. or maybe they were just being nice.
Then it was Tim’s turn. He’d traveled from Melbourne all the way to London on a DRZ and had some crazy stories to tell of being jailed in India, having his bike stolen in Hungary and contracting rabies from a cat. He had a great little video of it all too. When we finally left the presentation hall late that night it was freezing cold and we slept with all our woollies on that night. It really was just early spring up in the mountains.
The next morning I got up early. I was supposed to co-lead the women’s breakfast. No men allowed. It’s a chance for all the girls to talk about girly subjects like best women’s bike boots that make us tall enough to ride big bikes or how to deal with the period when you’re far away from any shower for days.
To be honest I didn’t do much leading. I would have liked to talk a little more about how you just need to set off and do it, regardless of money or worries, since most things just change and sort themselves out on the road anyways. There seemed to be quite a few women who were a little overwhelmed by the whole motorcycle travel idea and I wanted to tell them that it’s quite ok once you get stuck in.
But Sherri Jo is an inspiration herself with all the adventures she’s had and the experiences she’s mastered. She did a great job leading and the conversation was flowing. Subjects like how to stop bears from attacking you for your hand cream and how to handle what is essentially a man’s biker world were being discussed. It was nice to finally chat in person (not just on a forum) about these things and support and inspire each other.
Afterwards I had a chance to go through our other presentation one more time. It was about breakdowns and last time I checked it was far too long. I got distracted by a couple of tent neighbours though so in the end I just decided to wing it and hope for the best. After all the HU meeting is all about getting to know other travelers and swapping experiences and opinions!
Aidan took the opportunity to see if Touratech had a new fuel bottle for our stove. The HU meetings usually have exhibitors of the latest adventure gear and bikes and of course Touratech are top of the list. You probably know that we often bitch about the concept of kitting your bike out with all the latest expensively overpriced Touratech gear only to find yo have no money left to travel.
But this Touratech guy was a legend (so I’ll mention them here). He didn’t have the fuel bottle we needed on site but he let us borrow a gas stove for the duration of the meeting. Sweet! Him and Aidan got chatting about traveling for ages and the guy turned out to be a really sound bloke.
We went to meet Sam and Taryn (the guys who’d lent us their stove the first night) to watch a presentation by a couple traveling on the cheap on 200cc bikes. We were all really exited about this presentation and wanted to know more. But sadly the couple didn’t show up. They hadn’t even made it to meeting yet and no one had heard from them. Shame!
So most people went off to see Grant’s tire changing workshop. It hadn’t finished by the time we were due to give our Breakdowns = Adventure presentation, there was almost no one there. We went ahead with it anyways and those who were there loved it.
One guy came running up to us straight afterwards to say how much it had inspired his wife. He frantically waved her over and we got chatting. He was trying to convince her to go traveling by motorcycle with him but she was ever so worried about what would happen if they break down in the middle of nowhere. Hearing of our adventures and all the amazingly helpful people we’d met had allayed her fears somewhat and made her all keen to go. That is so awesome! I don’t mind how big the audience was just so long as it was inspiring to at least one person!
Now we could finally relax as there were no more presentations to prepare. We went for a bumble round camp and chatted to he other travelers.
There was David and Pamela traveling the Americas on two awesome looking Triumphs.
And another guy rode this awesome retro Yamaha that I really wanted to steal.
There were some innovative luggage solutions….
In the evening there were some more great talks to go to. Then Susan did a little thank-you talk and a summary of things still to come. When I raised my hand to ask if we were having one, she announced “Maria just volunteered to organise a bonfire!” That was agreed then. Chatting to the others around camp in the day it had seemed like they wanted something to bring them all together and hang out.
So regrettably we ended up missing a couple of presentations to collect the fire wood, lug it to the fire pit and get an impressive bonfire blazing. People soon turned up bringing beer and wine and there were some great conversations going. We had a chance to get to know some people we hadn’t managed to speak to yet and everyone had a great time 🙂
Being responsible for the fire I wanted to be sure it was out at the end. Marysville has a horrid history of having burned down in a forest fire a few years ago. In fact the camp was what used to be the emergency accommodation for the survivors.
I couldn’t find a bucket or a hose pipe so we did dozens of trips to the bathroom with our empty wine bottles. And Kate, a real nice lady that shared her most excellent wine with us that evening, helped us make sure it really was out.
The morning was spent slightly hung over, sitting in the presentation hall hugging a mug of coffee and sharing travel tips and tricks. Sam and Taryn are about to go to Canada to work a bit and then travel the Americas by bike. I’m really exited for them!
Straight after breakfast at 9am we did a repeat presentation of the India stories for all those people who hadn’t arrived on Friday evening yet. The audience was small but very interested. They also loved Tim’s presentation afterwards (he repeated his too).
People hung around for a bit to chat but slowly the crowds thinned. Before we knew it, it was time to pack up the Horizons Unlimited stall. We were really disorganised and ended up having to pack up our own stuff instead of helping Grant and Susan as intended.
A tent-peg refused to come out of the tree root I had so easily pushed it into. We hacked away at the root and broke the hammer trying to get it out. So in the end I bent it over and buried it in situ. By the time we were finally packed and loaded up, Grant and Susan were all done. Whoops!
We found them by their hired camper van and finally had a chance to chat to them properly. It’s amazing how much hard work it takes to organise such a meeting! I have learned so much and I can’t wait for a chance to be involved in one of these meetings again!
Before we finally parted ways Grant recommended an awesome road through the Australian Alps to take on the way back to Sydney. We had about a week to get back to Sydney so a road trip was on the cards 🙂