IT’S been a bit of a British invasion of celebrities on the Far South Coast.
First it was announced this week that celebrity chef and sustainability proponent Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be arriving in the Narooma district later this month to begin shooting the television series River Cottage Australia at Central Tilba.
Then on Tuesday, motorbike adventurer and all-round good guy Charlie Boorman showed up with some rider friends enjoying the scenic Tathra Bermagui Road and having a fish and chip lunch at Bermagui.
Charlie rose to fame after appearing with Ewan McGregor in their shows “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” and has gone to film numerous adventure shows usually focussing on motorbike riding around the world.
Charlie caught up with a group of riders from the Bermagui chapter of the Cancer Research Advocate Bikers (CRABs) and heard about their upcoming Bermagui bike show that has now becoming an annual celebration of all things motorbike.
The CRABS Bermagui bike show this year is on April 6 and promises to be even bigger and better than last year’s inaugural event that saw bikers from around the state and region come to show off their machines and raise money to fight cancer.
The Bermagui CRABS in their short existence have raised an astounding $120,000 and Charlie was apparently suitable impressed.
He was on a relaxing cruise around Australia, travelling down to Tasmania from Melbourne and then up to the Snowy Mountains before arriving on the Far South Coast.
He was then heading to the Dues motorbike complex in Sydney before heading off to the Philippines to shoot another motorbike show, this time for an American sports network.
Charley and his group of 16 riders told the Batemans Bay Post said they were “delighted” by their first visit to the South Coast.
“I’ve never been south of Wollongong, it’s really beautiful,” he said.
The group of motorcyclists, led by Charley, were on the final leg of a 10-day scenic tour which took in Tasmania, Victoria’s high country and the South Coast to Sydney.
Charley hopes the tour, hosted by Compass Expeditions, will be the first of many annual rides to feature the South Coast.
“I definitely hope to be back,” he said.
“This is a beautiful part of the world. It’s been a fantastic ride, it really has.”
Charley and his group made the most of perfect weather, exploring Freycinet National Park, Coles Bay, Port Arthur and Hobart before continuing through the forests of the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.
They crossed the Tasman and headed into the Victorian high country and Kosciusko National Park before riding down the Brown Mountain to Bega and on to Sydney.
Charley was impressed with the scenery and the people he met along the way, including South Coast residents who stopped for a chat, a photo and an autograph when the group rolled into towns.
“Everybody’s been really friendly,” he said, “and the towns are beautiful.”
“The winding roads in Tasmania were amazing – it’s biker heaven,” he told the owner of Café Overboard Steve Crisp.
The TV star said he took part in the tour after completing the filming of his South African adventure series, which will air this year, and before starting his next program based in South-East Asia.
Following the success of his African motorcycle tours and the latest trip, London-based Charley is also planning an Australian outback tour later this year.
He said riders of all levels were welcome to join in, with their own bike or hired wheels.
“All you need is a motorbike licence,” he said.
The tours are a way for Australian and international visitors to explore Tassie and the south-east of Australia.
“We’ve had people from the United States, South America, Canada and Japan on our tours,” he explained.
In 2006 Charley competed in the famous Dakar rally which was filmed and became the Race to Dakar television series, then in 2008 went on a solo adventure titled “By Any Means”, which took him all around the world using any local transport available from boats to elephants.
In 2009 the second part of “By Any Means” led Charley from Sydney to Tokyo by the Pacific Rim.
An open invitation was issued to any biker who wanted to join him for the first leg up the coast of NSW and more than 1500 riders took part.
Keen motorcyclists can join one of his tours by contacting Compass Expeditions or website: www.charleyboorman.com