We were reverse helter-skeltering a multi-story car park like a pack of frothing adventure wolves. Chasing sunrise, we’d almost reached the roof-top plateau when we hit our first stumbling block of the day: a locked gate on the final spiral.
Words and Production by Henry Brydon & Adventure Machine
It was stage two of our urban adventure series around Australia on Harley-Davidson Street 500 motorcycles. Once again, we had 24 hours to spend $500 in the most ludicrously exciting way possible. After uncovering Sydney’s hidden gems, it was now time to see what Melbourne was hiding up her sleeves. The locked gate wasn’t the ideal start!
After unsuccessfully wrestling a steel gate, we sniffed out the elevators and somehow managed to squeeze the bikes inside. We soon found ourselves on the concrete plateau just in time to enjoy an iconic Melbourne sunrise: an overcast sky with not a sunray in sight. Standing beneath the Observation Wheel in heart of the Docklands, the towering urban sprawl ahead of us kicked up an alluring aroma; the familiar, soul-warming odour of adventure.
The relatively empty roads invited our Street 500s for some Grade A urban exploring. It really felt like the city was ours as we cruised through highways, along rivers, under and over bridges. We weaved back-roads with enormous grins across our faces; the envy from passing motorists painfully visible from the open top glory of our motorbikes.
Coming back into the CBD, it suddenly felt very New York-esque: honking yellow cabs, flashing traffic lights, scurrying pedestrians. Organised urban chaos.
Half-Past Breaky o’Clock
Struck with the hunger of a hostage, it was time for an iconic Melbourne feast. As we searched for a suitable eatery we noticed the first of many obscenely long queues – at least one hundred people lining up for a croissant at one place! I can only hope the heavenly pastries came with a side order of diamonds.
Grub Food Van is about as eclectic as breakfast places go – it’s a 1965 Airstream van plonked in the middle of Fitzroy alongside a graffiti emblazoned wall. We filled our bellies with some of the finest food and coffee known to humanity and felt our energy levels restore. Our adventure continued..
Rockin’ and Rollin’
Next stop was the Kustom Kommune, Australia’s first communal motorcycle workshop. Anyone with grease in their veins or an oil stain on the brain would literally lose their shit in there. Tucked away in a discrete warehouse in Collingwood, it’s a playground for the rebellious. The vibe inside is extraordinary; tinkerers of all ages and sizes delicately rework their beloved motorcycles to a blaring rock n roll soundtrack, all unified by their shared passion for two wheeled piston engines.
We were there however, for more egotistical purposes – a date with the aptly named ‘Harley the Barber’. Morphing a section of the workshop into a pop-up barbershop, our riders for the day Jimmy & Jacinta (aka @Moto_Doll) were scrubbing up. You can’t embark on an urban adventure not looking your best right?
Ink & Clowns
Back on the Street 500s, we swung by Centre Place for a pick-me-up coffee and then tore through the city to St Kilda on the southern fringe. Our destination? Man’s Ruin Tattoo. Yep, they were getting ink done. Jimmy opted for a flying wheel with a Harley-style slogan ‘Ride Free’ on his inner right arm, although this was literally the only real estate he had available on his arms! Jacinta boldly opted for a funky unicorn on the left side of her ribcage. Legends.
After a tasty carb injection at ‘Pizza e Birra’ we cruised the Esplanade in moody twilight searching for the next stop on our magical mystery tour. In the distance a giant clown invited us into his mouth. As if under hypnosis we soon found ourselves entering the gob of a terrifying looking clown and into the dizzying circus that lay behind his throat. What we found was utter pandemonium!
We came away with some furry toys and a serious case of coulrophobia.
Back on the trusty steeds, we shot off into the night. No adventure in Melbourne would be complete without exploring the network of hidden laneways that worm through the CBD. They’re the veins of the cities nightlife and they’re what make Melbourne so damn Melbourne. Cocktail bars and eateries lurk surreptitiously down graffiti laden alleyways, the roar of our engines turning heads as we weaved through AC/DC lane and onto the street art shrine of Hosier.
It was as if Led Zeppelin were playing a never-ending soundtrack in my ears throughout our urban adventure in Melbourne. This rock n roll city is a maze of colour, dripping in culture and shrouded in a cool mist; a befitting location to zip through its underbelly on a Street 500.
You’ve just got to open your mind (and your throttle) to unlock it.