0MWYAx7G Roaming Rhodes in an off road buggy
Roaming Rhodes in an off road buggy
Roaming Rhodes in an off-road buggy.

All Rhodes Lead to Roam

Wheels: Joyner Python 800/Sym SR 150  

Drive: Islands of Rhodes and Symi, Greece (150km)

Photos: Dawn Green


Like most tourist hotspots, the Greek island of Rhodes has no shortage of car and scooter hire.

It’s 120km by road around the island and with plenty to see and do outside the World Heritage-listed old town, having your own transport is a smart move.

We could have gone for a Toyota Yaris or the like, but instead opted to park our butts in something different, something that could never be driven on the road back in Australia – an off-road buggy.

The Joyner Python 800 is what you might call minimalist, devoid of windscreen, little by way of body work, engine right behind your back.. 

It’s a blue-sky day, about 23 degrees Celsius, so being exposed to the elements is no problem at urban speeds. But once up around 80-90km/h on the open road, wind rush and tyre roar challenge the senses.

The Joyner’s 800cc Chinese-built, Chery water-cooled triple-cylinder engine can handle the pace, but another cog to the four-speed manual box would be handy in cruise mode.

With generous suspension travel, ride quality is pretty decent. 

Not so reassuring, the road holding. Although the Joyner is wearing 12-inch road rubber instead of its usual chunky off-road tyres, it wanders a touch at speed, with constant steering correction needed to keep it tracking true. 

Lindos is our destination, about 50km or a little over halfway down the eastern coast of Rhodes.

We see it from the distance, and what presence this ancient acropolis has; atop a rugged cliff, picked out against the sky overlooking the azure waters of the Aegean Sea, below it a village of white-washed buildings snuggled around the hillside and cascading down to the base. 

We will spend five or six hours here, stepping back in time as far as 300BC to when the Doric Temple of Athena Lindia was built; advancing to the 1300s when the Knights of St John fortified Lindos into a formidable stronghold.

We return to the present and lunch on local cuisine of the best kind at one of the many rooftop restaurants offering proverbial views to die for.

What a cracking day, made all the more memorable by not just turning up aboard a tourist coach or in a Yaris with plastic wheel trims (sorry Toyota), but arriving in something as left-field as an American-built, off-road buggy.



Symi by Sym

It has got to be an insurance company’s worst worry – travellers who would never normally ride a scooter back home hiring one on an overseas holiday; fizzing around sans helmet and wearing only shorts and thongs (flip-flops), often with predictable consequences. 

I’m mindful of the old saying, ‘There’s no fool like an old fool’, so for years I’ve resisted following suit, but with a warm, sunny day and quiet, scenic road beckoning, I weakened.

We’re on a little slice of heaven (no, not New Zealand), the tiny island of Symi, 45 minutes by ferry from Rhodes. 

Coincidentally, I’ve just hired a scooter branded Sym, more specifically a Symphony SR 150, down on the delightful waterfront.

Time, machinery and location-wise, it’s a long way from the days when my girlfriend (now wife) rode pillion with me on a hyperactive Kawasaki Mach IV motorcycle.

With just 7.7kW, the little Chinese-built Sym has about an eighth of the Kwaka’s power, but regardless it’s with an embarrassing wobble that we take off, me fumbling for the non-existent foot pegs. Doh.

It turns out I don’t really need trainer wheels and in surprisingly no time at all, we’re high up on the steep mountainside overlooking Symi town.

It might lack endowment, but the Symphony’s CVT works well in extracting all 10.6Nm of torque and the Sym pulls out of the uphill corners two-up without complaint.

Then, we come to the proverbial fork in the road. Which way to go – we’ve got a 50 per cent chance of getting it correct (ha!) and take the right, signposted ‘something’ beach. 

Big mistake. The bitumen road becomes dirt, downhill and steep. With all the weight transfer to the front 16-inch wheel, it’s a tough test of rider and machine. 

Soon, we’re no longer even on a formed road. Eventually, we make it to the beach, which doesn’t really appeal as a place to swim. 

But, the tiny waterfront locality of Pedi does. There we have it all – atmospheric restaurant built over the water, private beach with lazy lounges, hardly a soul around, quiet and tranquillity personified. 

Time to relax, chilled bottle of Mythos in hand, and kick back. Sometimes it’s nice to be a human being, not a human doing. 


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