Like so many businesses, 2020 has come with its fair share of setbacks for Shane Bullock and Mandy Buxton, who started their Eden-based business, Great Southern Trike Tours, just weeks before bushfires broke out along the NSW South Coast.
Shane, a Fire and Rescue NSW firefighter, says he spent the next few months “putting wet stuff on hot stuff.”
Now, after an overhaul to become COVID-19 safe, including figuring out how to sanitise the jackets and helmets they provide clients, Shane and Mandy have reopened their business and hope that in the absence of cruise ships and interstate tourism, they can give local tourists a bit of fun during hard times.
“We get a lot of bucket-list requests,” says Shane. “People who want to experience being on a motorbike.”
Their oldest client so far was 82 and she reportedly loved the experience!
The trike – a Boom Mustang 2020 model, imported from Germany – is a great option for people who are as nervous about bikes as they are curious.
“It’s as safe as a car and as fun as a motorbike,” says Shane with a grin.
It’s also surprisingly quiet and when travelling at low speeds, passengers can speak to each other and to Shane at a normal volume.
Mandy says their customers love to feel like royalty as they are chauffeured on the trike, and they can’t help attracting attention in such a magnificent machine.
For those who are keen to try an actual motorbike, Great Southern Trike Tours has an American V-Twin that one passenger can ride on.
“The trike has a fuel-injected Peugeot engine that is very quiet, but you can’t talk much on the bike – it sounds like a Harley,” laughs Shane.
Before he and Mandy decided to semi-retire and open Great Southern Trike Tours in December 2019, they spent weeks researching the best routes within a few hours’ drive from their home in Eden, including smaller tours within towns.
“We want to showcase what the trike can do so in the shortest tour we do – half an hour – I’ll make sure we get up to 100km/h and feel that exhilaration, and also do some cornering so you can feel how smooth it is,” says Shane.
Part of the business plan for Great Southern Trikes Tours was always to cater to cruise ship passengers while they were docked in Eden. Mandy says they did have a hugely successful three weeks between the bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We did 12 half-hour tours of Eden in one day,” she laughs. “But we also took people up to Bermagui and around to all the pubs and restaurants in Merimbula and Pambula.”
The trike is also available to hire for weddings and events.
Shane and Mandy are so hospitable that they insist on taking me for a spin on the trike after we have a chat. I’m not a speed demon and was a little nervous about going 100km/h on the highway, but it’s way smoother than I would have thought.
My lips wobble in the wind, even under the screen of my helmet, and the weight of the helmet and pressure of the wind pushes my head against the leather backrest.
It’s definitely exhilarating!
I can smell blooming wattle and the cows in their paddocks as we pass them by. I’m so glad I got to tick this one off my bucket list.