celebrating 40+ years of motorcycling

Chapter 2 – Is there a Jawa in your future?

Second Contact:

Fast-forward a year or so and we had moved to South Australia where dad had been appointed as director of the Christian organisation for which he worked. We lived in a rented house that was over 100 years old and seemed to be much older. Part of the ceiling had fallen in and had been replaced by hessian and the possums used it as a trampoline during the night.

One of the young voluntary workers in the organisation had a motorcycle. Not a big, black one that looked like it would tip over any moment, but a noisy, smelly two stroke, pre-war Jawa, complete with sidecar. Ron worked on the wharves in Adelaide harbour and it was, as for many of his era, his sole means of transportation. It was a 2 cylinder and was, as I remember, a 350cc. Ron went everywhere in the thing, even taking his new wife all the way to Port Augusta, a round trip of around 1600kms, on their honeymoon.

I remember him standing in our kitchen on the day they returned. He rolled up his trouser leg and pointed to a very sunburnt calf and proudly exclaimed, “Wind burn!” I’m guessing now, but I reckon that thing was only capable of around 80km/h flat out! Mind you, the roads were very much poorer and the traffic a lot less, so it still seemed very fast at the time. Nobody wore a helmet in those days, either, although as a concession to safety, Ron always wore an ex-Army greatcoat and a huge pair of ex-police white leather gloves.

And you could have heard my mother scream from the next state when she returned home one day after leaving Ron and his wife, Burnie, to baby sit us, only to find that Ron had taken Paul and I for a long ride in the sidecar! It took a long time for him to live that down.

Up until quite recently, motorists in South Australia have been able to manufacture their own number plates for trailers, and, back then, you could do it for motorcycles as well. In fact, on reflection, you might not have had to register a motorcycle at all. The reason I say this is that Ron’s Jawa had a home made number plate which read:


I kid you not! And it did too.

Despite all of this, Ron’s ageing and noisy Czech import went a long way towards erasing the scars of the AJS a few years before.

One of the other voluntary workers owned a BSA Bantam, and it was also loud, noisy, smelly and constantly unreliable. I think it was both of these machines that determined my inclination towards cars rather than motorcycles


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