IT IS LATE afternoon. The town is sleepy except for the flies who buzz incessantly. The place appears to be suspended in hibernation. Even the town’s only pub is empty. But somewhere far away a storm is brewing. One can hear the rumbling despite the cloudless sky. Sleepy men on verandas suddenly open their eyes and look around; even their wives emerge from inside the houses. The air is thick with anticipation. Suddenly a silver mass appears on the road moving toward the town. A large group of bikers slowly ride through the empty streets. The town has been invaded.
I learnt about the Scooteroos back in Sydney, and being intrigued by their website, I decided to pay a visit to learn more about the business that was voted one of five The Most Eccentric Tour Guides in Australia. And believe me, I wasn’t disappointed.
The brain behind the successful operation belongs to Rod who settled in 1770 six years ago.
Not, I’m not chemically intoxicated. 1770 is the year Captain James Cook first set foot on Queensland soil, and due to their lack of inspiration, the residents have called their town 1770 ever since. 1770 is located somewhere in the triangle between Bundy, Rockhampton and Gladstone.
Initially Rod had a car hiring and Harley ride business on Gold Coast but got bored and started looking for a new challenge. He found it at 1770.
He noticed that most of the tourists in 1770 were backpackers looking for a thrill or two; he got the idea of hiring out bikes and providing guided tours of the area. He called it Scooteroos and the business took off instantly.
Initially, the council wasn’t happy to have a biker on their doorstep and did everything to close him down. Today, they are glad he was stubborn because Scooteroos is the main attraction in town.
Rod has more than 40 choppers touring seven-days-a-week, all-year round. Scooteroos averages around 15,000 km a year with riders completing 50 km during three hours on every tour. The Pagsta and Regal Raptor bikes are made in China with 50 cc engines. They have compliance and are therefore fully roadworthy.
Seventy percent of the Scooteroos are females coming from Germany, England, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, and other North European countries. The tour usually consists of 20—40 Easy and not-so-Easy Riders; some are first-time riders.
Riding small choppers is a fun. I was lucky to try ape-hangers, pullbacks and even stock handlebars; all are comfortable and the minibikes handle very well even when reaching their top speed of 80 km/h. Rod is very safety conscious and pays attention to the smallest detail. In six years he had accounted for just six small accidents.
The colourful procession of bikes slowly moves through the streets heading for the sunset on the beach at 1770. Some of the riders are struggling with the untamed beasts, but watching their faces, it’s obvious everyone is having great fun. Their merry mood is infectious as they pass the onlookers.
When the last rider is gone, the crowd disperses. Only the smiles remain…
Scooteroo — for the ride of your life.