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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

50 Years of Living, 50 Days of Riding, 15,000kms to raise $15,000

Three motorcycle riders will attempt to circumnavigate Australia on National Highway 1 this year to both celebrate one rider’s 50th birthday and raise money for The Smith Family charity.

For the past 13 years, 50 year old Robert Barnes has been talking about this ride he wanted to do for his 40th. With a renewed enthusiasm for riding motorcycles and a supportive family, Barnes decided 15,000kms over 50 days was realistic and achievable in 2021 - of course well before the full extent of COVID19 shut that down.

The Long Way Around Down Under departs Tuross Head on April 17th and returns to Sydney June 6. Website -

This has been a goal of mine for so long now, I can’t let the chance of completing it for my 50th birthday get away from me”, said Barnes now that restrictions and borders are no longer a barrier. .

“Both my parents passed away in their early 50s and now that I have just had my 50th I could not be more excited to not be talking about it and be ready to go.”

Three motorcycle riders - David Drury, Joseph Ryan and Robert Barnes - will be supported by Barnes’ 20 year old son Lockyer Barnes on the 50 day tour of the country. It took less than a minute for Barnes’ childhood friend from Darwin, Joseph Ryan; and, his current training partner and fellow bike rider David Drury to answer the call to action.

The tour is named in honour of the inspiration from Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor’s The Long Way Down series. Barnes’ wife was watching it in 2020 and reminded him he still had not done anything to make the trip happen. That was all it took to get started.

“Robert planned the tour with stops at places meaningful to us all in our lives and so it was natural to stop in Port Macquarie to see my Mum and Dad, my sister’s family and Robert’s aunt Rebecca,” said Drury.

“Robert has been volunteering with The Smith Family for a few years plus my work with the homeless in Sydney continues to drive our passion for using opportunities like this to make a difference in the lives of young Australians.”

Barnes mapped out the schedule for the 15,000kms meaning an average of 300 kms a day on the road. There will be some much longer days up north and there are some days set aside to account for weather, breakdowns or being distracted by some of the epic places they will visit.

All three riders will ride Husqvarna Svartpilen 401s - a 400cc hybrid road bike with some off-road capability followed by Barnes’ trusty 2010 Toyota Hilux. The clockwise route around Australia gets the crew through the south before it gets too cold and will make the most of the Dry Season when they get into the Kimberley, Northern Territory and northern QLD regions.

“It will be an amazing experience to look back on and particularly to reflect on the value of doing it with my son,” says Barnes.

The entire tour will be captured on film thanks to rider Joseph Ryan who is an award winning filmmaker and professional photographer on top of being one of Barnes’ childhood friends from their hometown of Darwin.

The Long Way Around Down Under is dedicated to helping break the cycle of disadvantage for young Australians. At the time of writing the intrepid travelers have raised $11,500 towards their goal of $15,000 for The Smith Family. The target is equivalent to the distance the crew will ride over the 50 days. $35 will provide access to The Smith Family’s online mentoring program which Barnes has been volunteering with for the last four years. $210 provides a child with a Learning Essentials Pack so they have everything they need to participate fully in their school life.

The Long Way Around Down Under is sponsored by:

Alaska Leather -

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