View attachment 18673 The last couple of days have seen the beginning of some serious research into my next trip. It'll be time to go before we know it. Me and the missus will be heading around Australia starting in late July, taking 2 months to complete the anti-clockwise journey, starting from Biloela in CQ. A second hand trailer was purchased late last year and the tow bar is on the way. We've checked out tents and have 2 to choose from. The missus may be able to get a deal through where she works. Everything else I've already collected over the years so now its down to the planning. Two months isn't a long time so we have to average 250k's a day. With this in mind, and knowing we'll want to stop and smell the roses here and there, we'll give all of QLD and most of NT a nod as we pass. First layover will be Darwin. The main reason for this is that QLD is my home state and I will be covering old ground mostly.
I've covered ground from Cairns to Tassie on various bikes over the last 20 years or so. Participated in 3 Southern Cross poker runs. (lasting 5 days each). Did Motogp in 2008 with a group of mates. Holidayed in Cairns and the tablelands, and 2 years ago spent a month in Tassie. Took 3 weeks to come home from that one, taking in the Great Ocean Road, Snowy Mountains, Blue Mountains, Putty Road, Oxley Highway and the Waterfall Way. An epic trip with the benefit of crossing off some bucket list rides.
Anyway, (rambling here ) Back to the beginning. Research has lead me to Netrider. So in the next few weeks I'll be trolling the blogs and forums and starting a few threads myself trying to pick up some tips on rides, accommodation, places we can't miss and places we must miss. I look forward meeting some of you in cyber space, and who knows, maybe face to face later in the year.
13/01/13. Got a second email from the tow bar suppliers asking for the model I want. So I sent them a second email back stating my bike model and the listed bar model number. Maybe they can send emails but can't read them??? Hanging out to fit it and give it a test.
15/01/13. Just got off the phone with the tow bar suppliers. The owner has been overseas which explains the dodgy communication. All good now. It seems I was lucky that I mentioned the model of my bike as the list of bars had changed. It's still a couple of weeks away maybe, as the powder coaters have been on a Christmas break.
22/01/13. Tow bar arrived. Woke up today after finishing night shift and found the package sitting at the bottom of my stairs. I ended up heading out of town for the night so when I get back tomorrow, I have a job to do. Getting closer.
23/01/13. Tow bar don't fit. Bugger. Man I hate disassembling the arse of a Harley for no reason than to just to put it all back together again. Its not the wrong one, just not quite right in the bends and my left hand bottom shocky bolt hits. Ahh well we'll see what they say tomorrow.
24/01/13. It seems that my bar is so new, its the first one off the new jig. It seems as above, not quite right. It's gone back and a new one is on the way with some modifications thanks to the photo's I sent.
06/02/2013. The trailer is pretty well ready. In the past week or so, I've recarpeted the interior, resealed the lid, fitted a new lock and a couple of bungee loops, tidied up the wiring and fitted a new number plate light. Oh, and painted the inside of the lid as well. A couple of stickers arrived also, so I can finally hide that horrible BMW sticker on the back. Next will be fitting the esky to the drawbar.
05/03/13. The tow bar is back. Hopefully this time it fits. Got something to do tomorrow now.
25/03/13. Got a new tent. Tried second hand but it didn't work. Wasted a bit of cash there.
15/04/13. Struggled with the blog page on net rider for the last month so now I'm just doing a word doc. The trailer is now a go. New tyres and the tow bar is fitted and wired. Went to Emerald for a run with water bottles and the missus, not with the missus in the trailer of course. All went well. Some dodgy roads gave it a great test. The next thing is to mount the esky, or the esky tie down points anyway, and plan the packing. Some plastic storage containers were purchased that will fit neat, and a PVC tube and fittings to make a fishing rod holder. 5 weeks til we pack properly and do a test camp.
06/07/2013. The blog page works again! I've had the trailer out for the weekend and set up camp. Everything packs in beautifuly. All the containers fit perfectly and the esky sits nice. It seems that all I forgot was a tea spoon. Not bad. On the way home, I dropped in to a weighbridge. It seems I'm a little heavy. The trailer that is. 240kg without 5 liters of fuel and an empty esky. So I'm trimming down. Haven't quite got the final packing down yet but very close. Only 14 days til we're due to leave. The only thing thats happened to throw a spanner in the works is that I applied for a new job and if I get it, the trip is off. Well the big trip anyway. Will probably shorten it to a central trip. The Rock. Out through Longreach and Mt Isa, and back through Coober Pedy and Broken Hill. Work tomorrow. Only 4 days of work left and I'm on leave.
12/07/2013. Well, I'm officially on leave. No work now until the September school holidays. Condensed my tool kit to a couple of screw drivers, allen keys, star socckets and socket wrench, a set of vice grips, pointy nose pliers, a couple of sockets and a small shifter and it's nearly 8kg! Bloody hell. I must have had 25kg to start with. I'm not game enough to go with any less. 9 days til I leave.
18/07/2013. Welded on a second safety chain yesterday. Now if the hitch is compromised in any way, the 2 crossed chains will cradle the drawbar. Today I packed the trailer and moved everything around to get the weights a little better. I down to around 24kg at the hitch with 10kg of ice and fuel on the draw bar. If I don't need to carry any food or fuel, it drops to around 18kg on the hitch. It's about as good as it's going to get. Might weight it in the morning when I leave. Yes, this is it. Tomorrow I leave home to head to Biloela to pick up the better half, have dinner with the family then Sunday, we're on the road.
So here we are after 7 days and 4500k’s of travelling. We’re camped up at Litchfield Tourist Park in Litchfield National Park. All set up for a few days. It’s time for some rest and washing. I finally removed the thermal liner from my jacket. Man it’s been cold. Especially around Camooweal. I had to put my wet weather gear on at Barkley Homestead it was that cold. We stopped at Home Hill on the first day after doing about 800k’s and checked into a small motel and went for a look up town. It was 6:20pm on Sunday the 20th of July and the first 2 pubs we came across were shut. The whole town was shut. Lucky they had a kitchen at the motel.
The next day was to Mt Garnet. Roadwork’s probably cost us 2 hours that day. I thought it would be nice to see the town Raylene talked about so much having lived there about 27 years ago. Bit of a disappointment to say the least. We booked into the pub and threw our bags and jacket in and went to the bar to find a feed and have a look around. The nice Irish backpacker kept the bar open for us after we went to the servo for dinner. We ended up there by ourselves playing a bit of pool while the Irish girl fed the juke box. Upon returning to our room, we found the bottom sheet filthy and stained. The towels were stained and the floor was filthy as well as not being able to lock the door. It was too late to do anything about it so we used our own bedding on top and got a bit of sleep.
Next was going to be Normanton. We finally started seeing some open roads with little traffic. True tractor (Harley) country. We arrived there about 3pm. No room for you! The whole place was booked out. On to Karumba and a cabin in one of the local van parks, and with us, travelled Mark on his BMW 800. We ran into him at Normanton looking for accommodation as well. Mark Donham (aka Radioman. Radiomanridestheworld.com). A bloke from America who quit work to look after his ill wife. After she passed on, he went for a ride. Two years later and here he is. Nice bloke and he had some great stories to tell. We bumped into him at Camooweal as well. We stayed at the pub and he was at the van park. We shared a couple of beers and stories and went our separate ways. He went south to Uluru and us north.
We Joined the Stuart Highway at Three Ways and headed to Banka Banka Station. Nice spot on the highway for $10 per person, no power, hot showers and a bar and campfire. From there we planned to get to Katherine but this wasn’t to be. Dare I say it? Mechanical failure was to force a change in plans. And a good change at that. We fuelled up at Elliot, about 140k’s south of Daly Waters, and after a quick bite, headed off. Sixty or so K’s later I lifted my feet off the highway pegs and placed them on the floor boards. Something just didn’t feel right. I looked down and there was no gear lever to be seen. Just the tie rod that used to connect the gear lever to the gearbox. A few things raced through my mind. STOP was one. Then WAIT. If I stop, will I be able to get going again? I’m towing a 240kg trailer. We pulled over. I managed to grab the tie rod and find neutral. After a quick discussion, we decided to head back a ways for a bit of a look. So I pull in the clutch with my left hand and with the right, I reach over and pull on the tie rod. CLUNK! Anyone who owns a Harley would know that this is normal. A quick U turn, and away we go. Match the revs and push back on the tie rod. CLUNK! And so on….. Anyway, we never saw the bits again. We get to Dunmarra. Not a service station. In fact, it seems that the only service provided by most these days is a wallet emptying service. We move on to Daly Waters Hi Way In. It had an old workshop out back. No mechanic anymore but an old guy was pottering about and was up to giving me a hand. I had the fix worked out and just needed a bolt, a couple of nuts, a bit of flat steel and a drill press. After some rummaging, the bits were sourced and the bush engineers got working. About an hour later, after practically forcing a $20 bill into Doug’s hand, I rode out with what resembled a cross between a foot change and a suicide shift. It worked a treat and we arrived at the Daly Waters Hotel and as I said before, it was a great change of plans. We had a great night with excellent food and entertainment. Met some great people and had a beer with the publican. Nice bloke and I wouldn’t have picked him for the boss.
Well, that brings us to here. Tomorrow we head to Darwin to get the bike serviced and to talk about the rest of the bits that are flying out of Melbourne and when they’re likely to arrive. We’ll spend a fair bit of the day looking around and trying to stay out of the sun because , man it’s hot up here.
Monday the 29th of July. We visited Darwin today. Took what would have been the only wrong turn and missed the bike shop. Eventually we got there and booked in, changed into more Darwin appropriate clothing, and called a cab. $35 ride into the city. Nice place. We had coffee and breakfast on the Mall and then slowly wandered down to the waterfront. They’ve done an excellent job. Nice and green. We did a bit of shopping and had to chase down a chemist that stocked my diabetes medication. The first two on the mall didn’t stock it. Had lunch at “The Tap”, a nice open bar/bistro built around a huge tree in Mitchell street. Local caught Barra. Very nice. Got a text from the dealer just as we finished eating, saying the bike was ready. So we hailed a cab and set off to a Bunnings to get a bungy loop for the trailer lid, It was the only thing they didn’t stock, then on to the bike shop. $55! I wish the shop was a little closer to the city. So they fitted the screws that rattled out of the pannier. Did the 24k service fitted a new front tyre and even washed it. It was filthy after 4500k’s with a bit of rain and road works. The tractor is shiny again. Tomorrow, we bush walk to see some waterfalls and swimming holes. Better make sure the camera is charged up.
Tuesday the 30th of July. We headed into the national park today. Stopped at Florence, Tolner and Wangi falls. Nice scenery and very rain forest like around the water. We walked a few K’s and took plenty of pics. Very busy, even during the week. Heaps of busses and campers. Wangi was nice. We walked through a rain forest to a tree top lookout and half way along, I heard this noise. I could swear it sounded like a grunting pig. We looked around and there was two black pigs only 2 meters from us, rummaging through the undergrowth. They weren’t concerned about us at all. The road was a great ride, signed at 80k but it was twisty enough to be fun two up on the Roadking. Nice and smooth as well. Just the odd splattering of gravel on some corners thrown up buy the vans and busses. Tomorrow we’re heading back to Darwin for the new gear lever. It arrived from Melbourne today. So just one more beer here at the Rum Jungle Tavern and back to the camp.
Saturday the 3rd of August. We arrived at Kununurra yesterday arve after a 500k ride from Katherine. We rode through some beautiful scenery around Victoria River and Timber Creek, although most of the rest of the ride was just standard bush. We have an unpowered site right on the banks of the Ord River at the Kimberly Land Caravan Park. Raylene’s washing and I’m supervising the charging of the batteries and such in the camp kitchen. Yesterday arve, we pulled up at a rest stop about 110k’s east of here for a quick break and to top up the tank from the jerry can. This greasy looking bloke came over and said “Nice bike mate, you heading to Kununurra? It turn out that he pulled up because he had a noise in the front of his cruiser. When he checked his front wheel bearings, one of them collapsed. After a quick discussion, he handed over $100 and we headed off. We quickly found the van park and dropped of the trailer and went looking for a parts dealer. We found an Auto Pro shop just around the corner and picked up two bearing kits for him, all the while, trying to think of finding a way to get them back to him. As it turns out, there is a large Caltex servo next to the parts shop, and a road train fuel tanker was at the bowser. I went and asked and it turned out that he was heading the right way and was only too happy to drop the bits off to him. I thought we’d be running all over trying to find someone. When researching for this trip. Stu, another rider who recently biked around Australia, said that he found that people we’re generally good where ever he went. I suppose that’s true. Today we look around and see what sort of tour we want to take. Air or water? The way the wind is blowing, both will surely be rough.
Sunday the 4th of August. 7am and I’ve been in the camp kitchen with everything plugged in to charge for over 30 minutes now. We get up with the water birds here. We booked a river cruise today that will take us from the dam wall back to town. It’s a sunset cruise of about 55k’s. It will take half a day, starting at lunch and finishing around 6:30 to 7pm. So, today, the bike won’t move. Yesterday we rode around town and the nearby farming area. We stopped at The Hoochery for coffee, the oldest working legal still in Australia, and at the Sandalwood Factory for a bit of a look. We found the golf club and, right next door, the Pump House Restaurant. The restaurant is built in the old pump house on the banks of the lake. All the old gear is still there including the three main pumps and allot of the controls. All cleaned up and looking good with tables in amongst them. We came back to camp to sit and enjoy the sunset when a couple of youngsters walked past asking if we’ve seen “Rodney” yet. Apparently there’s a fresh water croc that hangs around here and he’s about 2m long. An hour or so later, there he was. We got a couple of photos and went back to our camp to cook up a feed of Barramundi. Just as we finished eating and joking about whether Rodney could smell the fish cooking, there was a splash on the edge of the water behind our tent. On closer inspection, there was Rodney on the edge within 5m of our tent. We made sure everything was cleaned up properly and carted off to the bin after that. J
Tuesday the 6th of August. We arrived in Broome today at around 3pm. We checked out a couple of caravan parks and settled on the Palm Grove caravan resort down at Cable beach. There’s a tavern next door and a corner store as well. Ground is very hard and the site is small but we’re set up now and it’s ok. We’ll see how the Asians go later. They’re very loud. They seem to yell as the talk to each other. It’s now 8:45pm and the camp kitchen has been busy for 3 hours. Hopefully it quietens down soon. We walked to the beach this arve, which takes about 10 minutes, and watched the sun set. There were people everywhere. It was a nice scene. Last night we stopped at Fitzroy Crossing after a 670k day. It was a very tiring day. Lots of long, straight road. We stopped at Warmun to top up the jerry can. It was $2.09/liter so we just needed enough to get to Halls Creek. Halls Creek. Not much to say about it apart from, the servo being out of diesel and it’s a dirty looking place. Sort of couldn’t wait to move on. Fitzroy Crossing Lodge is a good looking van park and resort complex. We went to the bar and had pizza for dinner instead of unpacking the cooking gear. I asked at the counter if there was a roadhouse in town that would serve food and fuel and the girl said that, really, they were the only one. The next morning we went into town and there were 2 roadhouses that were well stocked. Maybe she hadn’t been to town yet. We’re really starting to notice a theme of major bars and shutters around all the businesses in these towns. Some are like fortresses. We had a short 400k day to get to Broome. Same again, long and straight. We stopped at Willare Bridge Roadhouse for lunch. It looked like a nice spot. Grass in the camp ground and a nice pool. It’s definitely a place full of character. It looks like a nice place to stop, especially when the river had a bit more water. There’s lots of fishing photo’s on the wall, and some of the fish are huge. The bike is going great but the trailer is starting to shake a few things loose. The lid chain bolt came loose and when I open it, the lid flipped right over and hit the mudguard a left a small dent in the lid. I’ve broken a couple of rivets out of the checker plate tray on the draw bar as well. This bloke camped next to us had a battery drill and I buzzed in a couple of screws this arve, so that should be good now. Tomorrow we’re going into Broome for a look. This place is like a cluster of small towns in the bush. We haven’t seen anything yet but the beach.
Sunday the 11th of August. Anyway, getting back to Broome. We toured the town on the bike and found it to be a lot bigger than you first think. The old town area is nice and we picked up some souvenirs to send home. All quite reasonably priced as well. While looking in a small hardware store for a new bungy loop for the trailer lid, the owner told me to go to a shop near Woolies. “Where’s that?” I asked. You came past it on your way in from Cable beach. Raylene and I looked at each other dumb. Apparently we came in on the wrong road. Anyway, they didn’t have one and I found one at an upholstery shop. We rode out to the port and had a look at the harbour. The water was a very bright blue. We also had a look at the sunset over the water, along with hundreds of others. It was very nice.
From Broome we went to Port headland. It was very expensive, dirty and noisy. It’s definitely not a tourist town. When you phone the Info centre, you actually get the chamber of commerce. I’d say that there isn’t enough business for a proper info centre. Every tourist we have talked to pass right on through. We got stuck at the end of a big day and had to pay $176 for half a caravan with ensuite and TV. Couldn’t get a drink or make a coffee as there was no jug or cups. It wasn’t very clean either. Ahh well, lesson learned. We travelled to Karratha for lunch. It looked like a nice town but still in the mining area. After lunch we went on to Dampier to check out the Red Dog statue and have a look at town. I wish we could have made it here last night. For a port town, it looked very nice. It was clean with some nice grassed foreshores to relax on. We were a little surprised, to say the least. We arrived at Nanutarra Roadhouse. We heard it was a nice little place with grass to camp on, and again we had little choice as we arrived at about 4:30pm. $10 per person was a great price, but made up for it with everything else. We have since heard that the locals only stop for fuel if they need it. $8 for a small bag of ice, $8 for a pie, $8 for a light beer, $2.05 for standard unleaded and if you sit still too long, one of the attendants will start the blower and blow the dust off the concrete floored outdoor seating area while you’re having your breakfast. We met a bloke called ‘Pom’, who was riding his Buell Firebolt home after buying it in Darwin. He had a bit packed on including a swag, bag and 5L jerry can. We had a great chat and we’re invited for coffee when we pass by on our way out of Carnarvon if the gate is open. We might just take him up on the offer.
Today, we’re at Exmouth. We decided to drop in for a look instead of going straight to Carnarvon. It’s a nice little coastal community that seems very popular with the Grey Nomads. Some are here for 3 months. Apparently the weather is perfect. It is nice and warm during the day but it seems that the wind has followed us. I’m worried the constant flapping damaging our tent. Raylene’s is catching up on the washing while I update this thing and then we’re off to the Info centre to see what’s about. It looks like all the water activities will be a little uncomfortable while it’s blowing 30 knots so that mightn’t leave much else. We’ll see.
Wednesday the 14th of August. We spent a great day in Exmouth having a look and a ride around. There’s an Airforce base and a federal government communications facility here which is really why the town was here in the first place. There are a lot of WW2 connections here and memorials for them. Lots of stories are connected with this bay. We went to have a look at the national park but it was that windy, we needed goggles to go any further than we did. We had a look and a wreck just off the northern tip of the peninsular and then went for a look at the lighthouse that was put there because of that wreck. The lookout was great and also had connections with the war. Even some original sandbags, cloth long gone, stacked around and old tower. We saw whales playing just off the coast. That was a first for us. That night we had a great feed at Whales Restaurant. A seafood extravaganza, it was called. An awesome feed of hot and cold seafood that included my first go at soft shell crab. Poor little things looked like they should still be rolling sand balls down the beach. We still ate them though. Yesterday we arrived at Carnarvon after stopping the Coral Bay for lunch. What a spectacular place it is. It has coral snorkelling just off the beach and boat trips to the outer reef for less than $75 each. You need to book well in advance though as it is very popular. Today we walked around Carnarvon and went out to the One Mile Jetty. It was a 4 kilometre walk to get there and they didn’t take eftpos. We didn’t have cash as I was waiting for my pay to go in. The lovely lady gave us a ride out the jetty in the tram and allowed us to return later to pay. Tomorrow we’re off to Geraldton. We’re staying at a backpackers hostel between the beach and the town centre. We’re expecting it to rain so we’re not that keen to set up the tent. Hopefully we’re wrong.
Friday the 16th of August. Well, it rained. We were fairly lucky though. Most of the rain had passed by before we got there. We still got wet though, and the bike is filthy. Most of the day was windy but fine. The country side is flat with waist high scrub. If a roo stood up 5k’s away, you’d see him. There’s no roo’s though, just heaps of goats. We saw hundreds of them of all colours. They all stayed off the road though and there really wasn’t much road kill. I guess they’ve learned. We picked a pretty good place to stay as its central to the town area and there’s a heap of cafés and restaurants around. We had an awesome feed of Spaghetti Marinara and a Rack of Lamb. Tonight we’re having a gourmet pizza at an award winning wine bar just across the road. We gave the bike a bath today and walked the town. Geraldton seems like a nice town. The beach is just across the road behind us and the water is bright blue. We haven’t had any rain today but it’s been overcast all day with a cold wind blowing. We leave tomorrow to go to Perth. We found another Backpacker hostel very close to the centre of town due to the wet weather that’s hanging around.
Monday the 19th of August. We’ve had 2 nights in Perth so far. This place we’re staying at is a rundown old boarding house by the looks of it. There are as many locals as there is backpackers staying here, and there’s some characters in amongst them. We have our own toilet, shower and jug so we’re able to isolate ourselves a bit. They seem ok now that they’re warming to us. The bike has started most of the conversations. It does stand out a little. Especially here. We went to see an old friend yesterday, who lives in the northern suburbs. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m on the other side, but I got my north and south mixed up. We were going to have a look at a huge shopping centre at Joondalup that we passed on the way in, and have some lunch and a look around. Well, one wrong turn later and we were in a tunnel and heading south. Eventually I got the north and south figured out again and we were back on track. We were now running a little late so after a quick bite, we decided to make track for Teressa’s place. We pulled the GPS from the pannier and realised that I didn’t bring the mount. So all the way out, Raylene was holding the GPS and showing me and shouting instructions, much to the amusement of the driver around us. All part of the adventure. Today we’re heading into the city for a look around and more than likely, dinner and a look at the city at night. Tomorrow we’re booked on a cruise up the Swan River and then a bus to a couple of vineyards’ and a brewery. It should be a great couple of days.
Sunday the 25th of August. We’re at Norseman preparing to cross the Nullarbor. We got a room at the local hotel. It’s a pretty quiet town. We had a great wine tour in Perth that ended with everyone being a little tipsy and the guide struggling to keep us moving and on time. Perth is a great city for shopping. The Malls and arcades seemed to go on forever. We finished our day in the city with dinner at Durty Nelly’s Irish pub, with Teresse. It was a great night and a perfect end to a great day. We left Perth heading south for Margret River. We stopped at Bunbury for a bit of lunch when a couple saw us in our gear and wanted to know if we were the ones riding the Harley in the car park. They were old Gladstone people and I had seen him before when we both worked at the Smelter at the same time in the 90’s. She is Brad Busteed’s sister. Talk about a small world. He mentioned The Caves Road being a good ride. Shortly after leaving Bunbury we stumbled on the turn off and took it. What an awesome road to ride. I’ve never seen a country side any greener. Cattle, sheep and deer all so fat they could hardly walk. It wasn’t long and we found the turn off for Margret River in amongst the vineyard driveways and made our way to the info centre and booked our motel and winery tour for the next day. The motel was very nice and fairly cheap and shortly after checking in we hit the streets to find dinner. The Settlers hotel had just won an award for having the best pub restaurant in W.A. so we checked it out. The kitchen was closed for that night only. So after checking out the rest of the main street we settled on the other hotel. It was a popular choice judging by the amount of people there. The next morning around 9am, the phone rang. It was the tour group letting me know that all their drivers were crook and they couldn’t take us today. A quick call to the info centre and another was made and we headed off to walk the town til the lunch time pick up. We also did a mailing. Every now and then we have to mail home the souvenirs we’ve acquired. I cut loose with the credit card that arve and collected a mixed dozen and got them mailed home as well. We left Margret River the next day and went back to The Caves Road to continue south. Again this proved to be an excellent road to ride and we soon found ourselves in our first Kauri forest. Man those trees are huge, straight and tall. Monsters, and to see them all together was awesome. After a small detour into Hamelin Bay, we arrived in Augusta and proceeded through town to the Cape Leeuwin light house. The Indian Ocean and the Southern ocean meet there and it’s the most south westerly point in Australia. While we were looking around, Mark (Radioman) the American riding the world, appeared. We’d parted ways at the 3 ways in the Territory after sharing a beer and a story at Camooweal. He’d been down through the centre and us over the top, and here we were again. We both stayed at Denmark that night and I was able to pay back the beer he bought me at Camooweal. While at Augusta I decided to check the tyre pressures and found the back tyre was bald. I’d been meaning to check and the back tyre is very hard to see unless you get on your knees. Friday arve and I’m on the phone trying to organise a tyre for a Saturday fitting at Albany. Morgan from Morgan’s Motorcycles did the job. We arrived at 8:30am after a freezing 30 minute ride from Denmark and found him opening the shop. The tyre was due to arrive about 9:30 so he sent us on a bit of a tour of town. Apparently some whales had been hanging around the town beach for a week or so, so down we went. Sure enough, there they were. They were a bit further out that they had been the day before and there were at least 3 of them. We got back the shop around 9am and left the bike there and went and got some breakfast. It took a while due to the tow bar being in the road and we left about 11am to ride the 480k’s to Esperance. The first 150k’s we were surrounded by flowering canola fields. Very pretty but before long the screen was covered in bug splatter. Butterflies and bees enjoying the crops. We kept moving and after a quick fuel stop and windscreen clean at Ravensthorpe, we only had 180k’s to go. That’s when we discovered the effect that the recent rains had on the flying ant population. By the time we arrived in Esperance every front edge on the bike and myself was coated. I’ve never seen so many and it’s going to take ages to clean them off. We checked into a caravan park close to town and set up the tent just before dark. We found the small camp kitchen and boiled the jug for noodles and sat back with a bottle of Shiraz. After dinner we thought we’d go get a coffee at Macca’s and have a wander around town. At 8pm, as we passed the Esperance Motor Hotel, we noticed a band setting up. Well we ended up staggering home at midnight. We never did get to that coffee. It was a little tough packing up this morning and after a coffee at a beach café, we tootled of to ride the Great Ocean Drive. It’s a 25k loop from town, around the coast and back again. What a ride. The scenery along this road is breathtaking. Rocky coastlines dotted with white sandy crescent beaches and bright blue water. Dozens of small rocky islands dot the coast line as well. Beautiful. And now, here we are at Norseman. I’ve just spent an hour catching up on this log and I’m buggered. It’ll be a big day tomorrow. 722k’s and we lose daylight as we head east.
Thursday the 29th of August. We stopped short of Adelaide due to poor weather. We’re at Clare in the Clare Valley, about 150k’s north of Adelaide. We got across the first half of the Nullarbor without incident. It was weird doing the 90 mile straight. If the sign wasn’t there, you wouldn’t notice it. There’s so much straight road in Australia. We arrived at the border about 6pm, local time, after losing 1 ½ hours crossing time zones. Border Village wasn’t too bad. Allot of dirt and not much water. The cold room was buggered as well, so beers came from the esky. That’s if he stocked what you wanted. I got one XXXX Gold before he ran out. The next day was the definite pick of the two. Straight away we were on the coast and the views were awesome. One thing was wrong though. About 100 billion flies decided to join us. Others had screen bags over their heads and I found that keep the helmet on help keep them out of my eyes and ears. Down the road a little, we stumbled on the “Head of the Bight”. The sign said 12k’s and then Raylene remembered someone telling her that this was a place to see. So off we went, and when we arrived, we saw the $15 per person cover charge. Ah well, we came all this way in, so we payed and went for the walk down to the cliff edge. Man I’m glad we went. We could see around 8 pairs of Southern Wright Whales all mothers and calves just bobbing around together. Some close enough to hear, and some playing, launching themselves out of the water. It would have been great to stay longer but we had 600+ K’s to do, so we moved on. We arrived at Streaky Bay around 5pm and eventually checked into the pub. $65 including breakfast was too good to ignore. It’s a very quiet, pretty place with some beautiful views, especially from the front of the pub overlooking the jetty. The meals were cheap as well. The next day we headed towards Port Augusta, deciding that heading down to Port Lincoln was going to take up too much precious time due to having to get the bike serviced in Adelaide. We decided to get in on Friday instead of waiting for Monday or Tuesday. We now, only have 2 weeks to get home. We stopped in Port Augusta for lunch and to find a carwash to clean the bugs off the bike. There was another couple of young travellers in a little car with a mass of bugs on the front of it. “Have you been anywhere near Esperance?” Yes, they said, having a little laugh. We kept going towards Adelaide, deciding to stop at Port Pirie for the night. Well, it rained and rained, and I found the bike dirtier than before the previous wash. Apparently there’s a lead smelter in town. The dust and fallout was horrendous. I went to the local car wash and lined up to give it another wash. It’s a popular place, the local car wash. The feed we had that night was excellent though. We stumbled on the local workers club and a sign on the window stated. “Back by popular demand! Schnitzel/pasta night. Buy 2 for $12” We were trying to find the catch and this lady popped her head out of the door and proceeded to explain to us that it was $12 for 2 meals, not $12 each and you didn’t need to be a member or have a shopper docket or anything. Raylene had chicken pasta, and I had the beef schnitzel. We also got a bottle of local red for $20. $32 for 2 meals and a bottle. How good is that? Today we got to Clare after stopping a Gladstone for a coffee and taking the road south through the Clare Valley. It’s very picturesque area. The only drama was the rain. It looked bad all around us and I wasn’t real keen on arriving in a strange city during a storm. It’s been raining here since and some of it quite heavy. It’s a nice town to be stuck in though, but we can’t get the cheaper pub rooms here as they’re all singles only. Tomorrow we head into the city and will try to get in early enough to still get the bike serviced. Hopefully the rain holds off as the shop is right in the city and I’m not really keen on finding the shop in the rain. We were supposed to be in the tent for the weekend, but with the weather like this we’re not that keen either. It’s supposed to fine up tomorrow so we’ll see what happens.
Monday the 2nd of September. We arrived at Mt Gambier yesterday. It’s cold here. It’s probably the coldest spot since Camooweal in the first week. Adelaide is a nice city. They’re doing up Rundle St Mall at the moment so there’s heaps of construction going on. The bike got its service and a detail, and I got a shirt. We spent the day wandering around the inner city, generally browsing and having one or two beers and a bit of lunch. Once we picked up the bike we went and found the van park and checked in. Adelaide Shores is a pretty flash park. Heaps for the kids to do with a well featured games room and pedal cars to hoon around the park on. The beach is right there and we got to see another sunset over water. Bloody push bike riders though, fly along the walking/riding path ignoring the signs. A couple of them nearly took out a kid as they came around a corner. We spent a day at the Adelaide Zoo while we were there. Some of it is looking a little tired and there were a few empty enclosures with maintenance signs on them, but overall, it was a good day. As always, the monkeys were funny to watch as were the Meerkats. Their enclosure allowed them to almost interact with the people. The Pandas weren’t very active, as were a number of others, but that’s normal with most Zoos’ I’ve been to. We had a great ride along the coast through the Coorong National Park. It’s like riding along the coast, but there’s a fresh water lake between you and the dunes, and you can’t actually see the ocean. We arrived about 4:30pm in Mt Gambier, found a caravan park in the centre of town, and set up. It was cold and damp with a heavy fog and everything was wet for a long time. We might end up getting away a bit late tomorrow waiting for things to dry. We found what was essentially the town information centre a ended up spending most of the day there watching films about the area and its volcanic history. We then spent the arve riding around the Lakes and town. Tonight we’ll walk down town to see the Cave Gardens Light Show. There is a sinkhole cave right in the middle of town and for years it’s been a feature surrounded by gardens. It should be good. Tomorrow we head off to Warrnambool or somewhere along that way. We’re heading towards the Great Ocean Road for the second time, but this time we’ll go the whole way, west to east. We’re looking forward to it.
Thursday the 5th of September. We’re still on the Great Ocean Road at Apollo Bay. We didn’t make Warrnambool, but stopped at Port Fairy instead. We stayed at the oldest continually licensed pub in Victoria, The Caledonian Hotel. Home of “The Stump Bar”. We walked the town and had a nice Chinese meal. It’s a very picturesque place. The next day we got to Warrnambool and had coffee and a quick look around, then on to the Great Ocean Road. The area at the start is very green and consists mostly of dairy farms. This made it smell like cow poo. But soon this gave way to the “Otway National Park and forests of huge trees with a great twisty road through it. Most of the traffic was going west so we seemed to have the road to ourselves. I stopped to set up the video camera to take so footage of us riding past and nearly bogged the bike while pulling a U turn down the road. Raylene got a good laugh out of it. We stopped for a look at the Twelve Apostles again and took a heap of photos that we’ll compare to the others we took 3 years ago. Apollo Bay is a pretty place. We’ve walked the town and had a feed last night as well as some relaxing on the balcony at the motel with a bottle of Shiraz. Today we’ve just lazed around the motel and catch up on this record and some washing. The weather’s fined up so we’ll head off for a walk around the bay shortly and take in a few more sights.
Saturday the 7th of September. Metung. Apollo Bay was awesome. It’s a nice quiet place and our motel was excellent. We walked and took in the sights and the weather, although a little windy and cold, stayed dry for the day. For dinner we had a basic deep fried fish and other stuff with no chips and sat out and enjoyed the last night on the balcony. The next day, Friday, we headed off along what was left of the G.O.R. and after a coffee at Lorne we managed to make the ferry at Queenscliff right on 12pm. The crossing was smooth and quick and before we knew it, we were lost on the Mornington Peninsular. We found a café at Blairgowrie and after a quick lunch, we found the motorway and headed north to Frankston, then turned east and bumbled around a bit until we asked for directions and found our way towards Koo Wee Rup and eventually, Inverloch. We were freezing as we arrived and found a little motel with very friendly hosts. Inverloch is a nice little place and we looked around and found our way into one of the local hotels, funnily enough, and while we were sitting there enjoying a little libation, this bloke raised his voice at the barmaid and said “You smell like an ash tray you little biatch”. We were probably the only non locals in the bar and we looked up a little shocked. The girl looked at us and said “It’s ok guys, he’s my dad” and most everyone else started laughing, including her. It was just one of those moments and funny as. The next morning we left for Lakes Entrance and after an awesome ride through Foster we stopped at Yarram for a coffee. It was still a cold morning with a local sign informing us that, at 10am, it was 16 degrees. We stopped at a bakery/café for a warming coffee. Just as we were pulling up, I noticed a little shop with an old Honda parked on the footpath. While we waited for our coffee, I went to check it out. This guy, Pud apparently, used to race 750 four Hondas in a side car championship. He had so many bits left when he finished, he decided to open up a shop. It’s an interesting place to find in a small town like Yarram. He had 2 or 3 nice 750 fours as well as a Z1000, a Harris Kwaka, and an old Indian as well. By the time I got back, Raylene had nearly finished her brew and as I got stuck into mine, she headed off to check out a SALE sign on one of the nearby shops. It was voting day for the federal election and after a couple of nights checking the net and looking for a place to vote at Sale. I found out the interstate voters have to go to an official office to get your vote in and Sale happened to be on our way. It was the easiest voting experience ever. After about 15 minutes we were on our way to Bairnsdale. After a quick lunch we moved on towards Lakes Entrance. It’s been no secret that we’ve been enjoying a couple of wines during our trip so when a winery sign appeared, we made a small detour to the Nicholson River Vineyard. We were greeted by an open sign which was a little unusual, as the last few we looked at were shut. We entered the cellar door and shortly after, another 2 couples followed us in. I tell ya what. If we had nowhere else to go, we’d still be there. What a bunch of great people. Now we’re at Metung. I saw the sign, and instead of the planned night at Lakes Entrance, I decided to take Raylene for a look here. Having stayed here before I knew what a lovely place it is. As I unpacked at “The Moorings” I noticed one of the trailer tyres was flat. Excellent! Saturday afternoon in a little town that doesn’t even have a servo, and I have a flat trailer tyre. After some discussion with the RACV and then the RACQ, it seems that it’s all too hard. The RACV don’t do trailers, so RACQ have to handle everything from QLD and the local call out guy isn’t answering his phone. So here it is. It’s 9pm. I’ve filled the tyre with “Tyre in a can” and pumped it up. We could hear it leaking for a bit, but it seems to have stopped. Tomorrow we’ll see if it still up and head into Lakes Entrance to see what is open on a Sunday. The plan was to try to get to Canberra, but with a dodgy tyre, I don’t want to get too carried away. We might not get too far tomorrow.
Saturday the 14th of September. We are now at Lennox Heads. I haven’t bothered to break out the computer for a week. Well, the tyre wasn’t any good the next morning so we pumped it up and found a servo at Johnsonville. He was a nice bloke and actually sold tyres and had a workshop. So he sold us a new tube and fitted it on a Sunday. Off we went to try to make Batemans Bay instead of Canberra due to losing an hour or so. So off towards Orbost we went. Man, the road and the scenery all the way to Eden were beautiful. The hills and corners had my left foot tap dancing like Shirley Temple on the gear lever. We stopped at Cann River for lunch at the local bakery. Being Sunday, there were bike everywhere and it was a great day for it as well. A little cold but blue skies and sunshine was our companion until around 3pm. As we got close to Batemans Bay it started to look like rain but it held off and we found a little motel in the town centre. We had a quick look around, but it was quiet being Sunday and we settled on Hogs Breath for dinner. Over dinner we chatted about going to Canberra and whether we could actually fit it in, also the cousin we were going to visit had been crook for a week, so the decision was made to give it a miss and keep on heading up the coast. We were looking at trying to make the Scarborough Hotel for lunch and stop the night near Stanwell Park. Well, those plans went out the window early the next morning when the before mentioned trailer tyre went flat again. This time the bead broke and the tyre and tube both spun on the wheel. We weren’t going anywhere for a while. We called the NRMA and after 30 minutes or so, a young fella turned up, removed the wheel and managed to refit the tube and tyre and got a bit of air into it. The leak was slow enough to allow us get to Sanctuary Point, where there was a tyre shop. It turns out that the hole was in the same spot as the last, so there must still be something in the tyre. The last guy had also fitted an 8x4 tube into a 10x5 tyre. Anyway, we decided to fit a new tyre. We didn’t want to be stuck on a freeway in the middle of Sydney the next day, and it was cheap. $89 for a tyre and tube fitted. So off we went again to find the Grand Pacific Drive. We turned off at Nowra and immediately found the Two Figs Winery. We went up the hill to the cellar door and we were greeted with beautiful views over the Shoalhaven River. We tasted and purchased 2 bottles and were on our way again. Through Shoalhaven Heads and Gerringong and back onto the Pacific Highway following the coastline. The scenery was very nice but as it was getting late in the day, the traffic increased and the pace slowed. We made it to Corrimal Beach at Wollongong and pitched the tent. We should have checked the weather report. There was a strong wind warning current for that night. I usually check, but it was late and we were running out of daylight. I woke at 1:30am with a horrible flapping noise. I got up and found a broken rope. The wind was gusting real bad. More pegs and ropes were added and we battened down. I didn’t get much sleep and at 4am I was thinking about packing things away, it was getting that bad. By 6am it had blown itself out and we were up brewing a coffee. The others in the park all had their stories of broken ropes, etc. We packed and headed off to face Sydney. I was disappointed we wouldn’t get lunch at the Scarborough Hotel, but as we got there, I saw a breakfast sign out front and we quickly pulled in. The sun was mostly out and the view was how I remembered it. We moved on and it wasn’t long and we were crossing the Sea Cliff Bridge. Raylene had the video camera and filmed the crossing. We climbed out of Stanwell Park to find the lookout and took some photos and while we were there, a steady procession of bikes turned the corner near the lookout and headed into the Royal National Park. So we followed and I’m glad we did. It’s a little slow going and signed mostly at 60k, but still a great ride and soon enough, we popped out onto the highway on the edge of Sydney. After a few K’s, we stopped at a servo, topped up and asked the girl about finding the bridge. Follow the city signs, she said. So off we went with no GPS. I thought I’d stuffed it up, but after 2 tunnels, we popped out of the ground and went round a corner and on to the Harbour Bridge. It ended up being a bit of a letdown due to the fences and rails. We couldn’t see as much as I hoped but we did it. But that was just the start. The rest of the way on the Pacific Highway through the suburbs was horrible, especially as we were towing the trailer. Every red light seemed to be on a hill. I’m not sure how long it took us, but probably 2 ½ hours from stop to stop. We ended up at Gosford for a bite to eat, then on our way again, on the Pacific Motorway, towards Newcastle. The motorway north of Sydney was a great ride. There were hills and sweeping turns through some awesome countryside along with beautiful views around the Hawkesbury River. I don’t think that road will move in a hurry, judging by the solid rock they’ve cut through to build it. We arrived in Newcastle around 3:30pm, so the traffic was pretty wild. We went looking for a shopping centre for coffee and to pick up a couple of things and ended up in the city. The old part and it looked derelict. It was all boarded up and covered in graffiti. Eventually we found a centre and after our business was sorted, we plugged in the GPS and went looking for Les and Kate’s place. I turned out to be only a few blocks away. We went around the corner for a beer and waited for Les to get home from work. After chatting to some locals, it was decided that it was 1989 that the big earthquake hit town. The bloke was out of town for the month and wasn’t happy that he missed it. To each his own I guess. We went back to the same pub for dinner that night and landed in the middle of a trivia night. It was very noisy and we were shouting most of the night to be heard. Les and Kate have and older house that has been nicely renovated with a guest room. It was a great night and good to catch up with them and introduce ourselves to Olly, their dog. He’s a very suspicious Maltese cross. Very funny and it’s made me want to get home to Scratch. The next day we headed on north to find another spot to camp for a couple of nights. We remembered passing through Bellingen on the way back from our Tassie trip, so we decide to try there. Bellingen is a quaint little village at the bottom of the Waterfall Way. They don’t have a caravan park but they use the show grounds for travellers. We set up and tried to phone the caretaker, along with 3 others, to find out the code to get into the toilets. No answer, and eventually we found and asked another couple that were staying there. Eventually one of the caretakers turned up and we paid and got the code. The next day we washed and checked out the town and ended up playing pool and having lunch at the Digger Tavern. We had so much fun that we took the bike back to camp and walked back for more. Not before we moved the tent though. We were in shadow until around 11am and everything was soaked with dew, so we decide to move the tent so the sun would hit it earlier to dry everything out for packing up in the morning. So after a great arve at the pub, we got back to camp just after dark and found that they’d changed the codes on the toilets. I was ok but Raylene was in trouble. We had to knock on the door of one of the vans there to find out the new code. There was no note at our tent about the change. The next morning it was overcast and there had been a fresh breeze all night so everything was dry anyway. What a waste of an hour shifting everything. And to top it off, the sun came out and it got real hot in the middle of pulling the tent down. We could have been in the shade. Bugger! Ahh well, not all plans work out I suppose. We weren’t sure where to go then, except it had to be somewhere nice, small and not too far away. We stopped at Grafton for a quick bite and then on again following the Clarence River towards Ballina. It got overcast again and then it started raining. Just lightly but enough to need the wets on, so we pulled over in this little town called Harwood. Had a quick beer at the hotel so we didn’t feel bad about using the loo’s, got our gear on and headed off in the drizzle. Then true to form, the rain stopped. It never fails to stop as soon as you’re all kitted up. Anyway it was cold enough to not bother stopping to remove it all. We passed Ballina and saw a sign pointing to Lennox Heads. We’ve never been there so in we went. It looked perfect so we found a little motel near the town centre and booked in. We got upgraded twice. Once because he had no standard double rooms left and we were staying 2 nights, and again because it was our first time here and as he put it, “You must have a great experience for your first time”. So we have a two room self contained unit on the second floor for the price of a motel room. We got out of our gear, unpacked, showered and hit the town to find something to eat. We ended up going to a little Thai restaurant in the middle of the town. Every table had a reserved sign on it but they seated us anyway. The place was packed and there was also a constant stream of people picking up takeaways. The feed wasn’t bad but we thought Biloela’s was better. Today we walked the town, took some photos, checked out the shops, had coffee, beer and lunch and now we’re back at the room catching up on the log while waiting for the footy to start. Real footy for a change after 3 states of AFL. We’ve got beer, a bottle of red, and schnitzel and veg to cook for dinner. It’s been real windy this morning so the room’s not a bad place to be. Tomorrow we head for Queensland and one more night somewhere before heading home.
Thursday the 19th of September. We're home. We arrived home two days ago and have been busy cleaning and catching up. We left Lennox Heads and went through Byron Bay, back to the highway. We stopped for coffee and fuel at some big servo with a McDonalds near the Gold Coast then headed off to find our way through Brisbane. I decided to skip the Clem7 and go through the city. We ended up on a toll way anyway. No matter which way you go, if you follow the signs north, you get caught. The thing is, I don't know how many I went through or which ones. It isn't that easy when you don't know where you are and you're just following signs in traffic. Also, I don't know which rego they'll have, the bike or trailer. So I suppose I'll wait I'll wait for the letter. I'll probably have to pay double but I think it's only $2.50 or so anyway. Nothing like making it hard on travellers. We continued north to Eumundi and arrived at around 2pm. It's a sleepy little village and I've only stopped here for lunch once or twice. After looking around and searching the net, we found that there isn't any motels in town. One pub had basic rooms and the other was renovating theirs. So we found a B&B, (The Homestead) about 500m from the town centre and booked in. They were very friendly and knocked some cash off as we weren't going to have the breakfast or afternoon tea. The room and the place itself was very nice. There's only 4 rooms and one other couple. We had a nice big veranda with a green pastoral outlook right outside the French doors. We hit the town after checking in, had a look around and ended up in the Imperial Hotel. We grabbed a beer and the young fella behind the bar unlocked the pool table and switched the TV to the footy. So we settled in for a couple of hours. After the game we purchased a bottle of red, wandered across the road to order some takeaway Thai, then back to the B&B to sit on the veranda and take in the serenity. After a great night's sleep we packed and headed off for our last day on the road. Definitely the worst road of the trip, but I suppose they're getting there. We saw a little rain getting to Gympie but not enough to put on the wet's, and after a bit of fuel and a check of the weather north, we kept on and pulled up dry at Gin Gin. Again we took on some sustenance for both us and the bike and headed off to complete the last 160k's of the trip.
The feeling as we finish is a little different this time compared to the 2 month Tasmania and east coast trip we took 3 years ago. We were a little disappointed to be going home then, but this time it's sort of feeling good to be home. I think we averaged 150k's per day on that trip, at just short of 10000k's in 60 days. This trip was just over 18000k's and twice the daily average. Also, the other main difference was that this time we camped for allot of it. I think the setting up and packing up was starting to wear a little thin by the end. So after 18000k's, two services, a set of tyres for the bike and one for the trailer and a missing gear lever, we arrived home in one piece. The only scare was going into Lennox Heads where this bloke in his work ute ended up on our side of the road about 20m behind us. He was going way too fast for the corner and his tyres were screeching as he passed us. It happened so quick it never gave us time to even sh*t. Yesterday, we coloured in the roads ridden on the map, fitted it back to the frame and hung it back on the wall to wait til the next trip. Hmm, there seems to be a big gap in the middle now.