Had we suddenly been teleported to the movie set of “Last of the Mohicans 2”?
Two newbies menacingly clutched double-handed axes; intermittently hurtling the lethal hatchets at distant targets on the other side of an inner-west warehouse. It wasn’t your average Saturday morning.
Welcome to axe-throwing, the activity that’s single (or double handedly) sticking two fingers up to Sydney’s ‘nanny state’.
Words by Henry Brydon, Photography and Videography by Daniel Bolt
The day had certainly begun more innocently.
Our mission was intensely exciting, and unfortunately for Tom Cruise fans very much possible: saddled up on two Harley-Davidson Street 500s, riders Ruari and Ramsey were handed a wad of 50’s totalling $500 and asked to spend it all in one day. Simples! Why? Well, everyone who buys a Street 500 will receive a $500 discount to go towards whatever they want, so we thought we’d see just what experiences you can pack into an urban adventure around Sydney on $500 without even leaving the city ‘walls’.
“Thankfully neither men had a fetish for wallet-melting designer clothes, otherwise it would have been quite a short day.”
How would the perfect urban microadventure in Sydney start? If you had to distill this beautiful metropolis into one defining moment what would it be? Well, I think it would be nothing short of barbaric not to visit the beach for a soul-warming sunrise.
As we rolled into the northern head of Bondi Beach in pre-dawn darkness, the horizon stirred. As if on cue, the distant sounds of trainers on tarmac echoed through the stillness, piercing the cool air as the sky began her chameleonic transformation. She certainly put a show on for us.
Our adventure had begun.
No adventure has ever begun on an empty stomach though, everyone knows that! Not wanting to break the traditions laid forth by Che Guevara and the like, we fuelled up on coffee and bacon sandwiches whilst watching the protein-shake pandemonium kick into gear from Bondi Pavillion. Eager surfers, boot camps, lycra-clad cyclists and chiseled joggers… there was even a movie being filmed on the promenade.
Sitting somewhere between Venice Beach and The Truman Show, there really is no other place on Earth to watch the world come to life quite like Bondi Beach.
“We tore off from the coast and carved through the heat and chaos of Sydney’s Saturday traffic with ease.”
With a moustache that a French pastry chef would trade his croissants for, Ramsey belongs on a cafe-racer like the Street 500. He also belongs somewhere he can unleash his inner urban lumberjack without people staring at his furry lip slug. That place is called Maniax in St Peter’s; a place where you can throw axes at targets and restore testosterone levels should you feel they need a turbo boost.
After unleashing surprising levels of fury with medieval weaponry, it was time for a pit stop. The Grounds of Alexandria has fast become the city’s coffee emporium; once a Four n’Twenty pie factory, this heritage listed warehouse has morphed into a melting pot of food, coffee and colour. We stocked up on Grade A cakey wakey and watched as passersby quite literally drooled over our bikes.
As wonderful as the Grounds is though, it’s busier than a Trump rally in Redneckville. It was time to open up the Street 500s.
Being the first learner-legal bike Harley-Davidson have ever offered the market in Australia, anyone old enough to have a motorbike license in their wallet can ride a Street 500. That’s pretty damn game-changing. Easy to balance and impressively maneuverable; it’s a bike that’s a significant step away from the hairy-tattooed-bikie stereotype many people have of this iconic brand.
It’s surprising what you can find when you scratch at the surface a little. Places that may normally seem so familiar can take on such a different appearance on closer inspection. Being the transient transport hubs they are, airports have always felt a little creepy with no real soul to speak of. We swept through inner ring roads that incase the airport as the mercury tickled 30 degrees, stumbling across numerous plane-spotting zones and their binocular clad enthusiasts. Each to their own!
“We found an eerie back road that led to an enormous container yard; steel saunas towering 50ft into the sky . We were soaking up an entirely different perspective of the city by letting our curiosity lead the way.”
Our urban adventure led us back into the city via May Lane, a graffiti laden-laneway tucked away in the city’s inner-west. For anyone looking for a free art gallery, this is your badger. Ruari showed that he’s most certainly a descendent of his ape forefathers – I’ve never seen a man scale a wall with such speed and confidence before. He’d make a brilliantly convincing Spiderman.
Markets spring to life on Saturdays, traders selling everything from scented candles and tropical fruit to mobile phone covers and random bric a brac. Glebe market is one of Sydney’s most renowned, and we stumbled across a vintage t-shirt stall filled with original Harley-Davidson clobber from the glorious 80s. It would be rude not to! The Record Crate Store is a wicked bar further down Glebe Point Road and we popped in for a coffee, miscellaneous baked good and a riffle through the vinyl.
The day was finally cooling down again as we beat our way East through the CBD. Sydney is such a gloriously green city, and nowhere embodies this as well as Centennial Park. As the aptly named Sir Henry Parkes chirped in 1888, “It is emphatically the People’s Park… one of the grandest adornments of this beautiful country”. Well, it might be the people’s park, but as the sun returned to the horizon and filled the pine forest with golden light, it felts like it was only ours.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair in the Botanic Gardens provides the million-dollar sunset show that people flock to every day, and in my opinion there are few more spectacular places in the world to watch a city morph into the naughtier side of it’s personality.
As darkness took hold, we zipped through the sticky air of our urban jungle to Chinatown – a part of Sydney that genuinely feels like all of a sucking fudden you’re very far from home indeed. As the name suggests I suppose. Dixon Street is alive with blue neon, winding grapevines, steaming dumplings and barking Asian dialects. We ducked into the food court to get the last of the grub before they switched off the fryers, and found an alleyway to gorge on our offerings from the Chinese gods.
The city was ours for the taking, and we took it.
At the core of all Harley-Davidson Motorcycle is an invisible Hadron Collider forcing power and freedom to react wildly together. The Street 500 is no different.
Our day was unfortunately coming to end though. We were looking for that last injection of misadventure and decided we’d go underground to get the hit. Where better to find that true sense of freedom in your city than an empty tunnel beneath the chaos above?
Consumed by speed, driven by misadventure and suffocated by the magnified roar of the 500s, it was a truly epic way to finish our adventure.