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Long Ride 2007

Posted by TravellingStrom on May 12, 2007

Prelude- This is taken straight from the VSRI forum ride report, but photos are relinked to my own photobucket account.  If you want to read comments by other forum members and any answers or replies I may have made then go here instead.  Or you can go afterwards if you are interested.

Hi all
This will take a few days, so please bear with me.

The Long Ride was a concept that started about 18 months ago by a chap called Chris Dunne. His basic concept was to do a long ride with a lot of riders joining in along the way from whereever they were in Australia and eventually ending at a destination that was reasonably central to all. This turned out to be Darwin in the Northern Territory on the coast.

*Edit* He also thought it would be a good idea to raise some money for charity along the way and the Royal Flying Doctor Service was chosen, as they fly all across where would be travelling. This turned out to be a mistake, more on that later*

As I was starting from the Central Queensland town of Rockhampton, I was already part way there, but not by much. The people from the south started up to 2 days earlier than myself. My trip started on Saturday 21st April.

Day One

My original plan was to try and meet up with some other riders from my area and from up north as they were to travel down towards my area. They were staying in Clermont, 1 hour north of Emerald. If possible I was going to meet them at Emerald at 9am Sunday, this would mean an early start and a long day. I changed my mind and went to Emerald Saturday arvo, which gave me time to do a quick job for a client, watch some footy and have a few beers. That is exactly what I did.

This first part of the trip is boring for me as I travel with work right out to Winton all the time. But this whole area is coal mines called the Bowen Basin, it covers a massive amount of area and is all coal. Out here it is BIG money, your basic machine operator is on 100k and the house prices and rent situation reflects this. The coal trains are constantly running to the coast, this one I managed to snap while taking a shot of blasting in progress. You can see 3 engines, this is in the middle of the train, there are another 2 at the front. This train is 2km long!! You can only see the back part of it. The photo afterwards is just a shot of them blasting the overburden and a shot hole driller, or something.

Needless to say, the footy and beer was fine that evening as I did not have to get up early, smart eh! I only needed to go around the corner from the motel at 9am

Day Two

A lazy start before meeting up with the Northern riders, just around the corner at 9am. Good start, they were on time! The first group were cruiser style bikes, one with sidecar and one with a trailer, a few two up, then a couple of late comers, 2 beamers and a trumpy. We proceeded West at a sedate pace, just on the speed limit, not what I was used to, but this group had already travelled together, so I was the newcomer.

We only got as far as the Drummond Range rest stop before they all pulled over for a smoke. Well, nearly all, the two beamers, GS1150s who were in the lead kept on going. I knew the range had some good twisties and was looking foreward to it. I was not happy about stopping so soon as we had not covered any real distance and I am a reformed non smoker and if we stopped every half hour, I would need another week to get where we were going, hmmmmph. We were stopped just to the west of Emerald where the blue 168 is, at Boguntungun. I took a few photos though, this one you can see the Rocket III belonging to Andy and the Goldwing with trailer and dog

Here is a close up of the dog, how silly are these people????? This was one of 2 dogs on the trip, the other was even stupider!

Anyway, we finally got moving again after about 20mins but I got stuck behind the slow movers up the range, so I pulled over and waited for a few minutes to get some space, then I could open up a bit and blow some steam off, hehehe.

On the other side of the range is this enormous Bottle Tree

It stands about 80ft high and I could not get my bike up there because of the fences. These trees store water in case of drought, which is often. In the old days, the farmers would chop one of these up for stock feed during hard times, which would supply the moisture and the fodder for the stock(cattle,sheep etc). I have seen dead ones of these still standing, even the trees run out of water sometimes.

The next stop was Alpha where we all fuelled up, also met up with the other riders from my town. At this point I met up with the two BMW riders Alan and Des and the Rocket III rider Andy, when we started to move out, I tagged on the back of them as they seemed to be travelling at the ‘ideal’ speed, lol. This turned out to be the right move as in no time we were at the Barcaldine Artesian Hotel having a quench, get used to this style of picture

Across the road is the Tree Of Knowledge, an important part of history in Oz

A few years back, some arsehole poured 30lt of poison around the tree and killed it!!! Luckily, geniune stock material had been removed in years past and the original tree will have to be removed, in case it falls over, and then the new sapling can be planted in its place. This has big meaning for the Labour Party of Oz and with them getting close to winning the next election in a few months, it may even have greater meaning. ***edit – the new tree is installed, read Winton Rally report ***

The next pit stop was at Illfracombe, just a short ways down the road, this was where we were to meet up with all the southern riders coming up from Brisbane/Sydney and places down that way, but we had to wait, guess where??

As you can see, the number of bikes has increased fromt he original 1, then 8, then 10. We waited a while for more riders then pushed on to Longreach, the stopover for the night, but first, wait for it, yep you guessed it 🙂

The four likely lads at it again. I don’t know who Rhonda is, but her bike was on display inside!

Here is us at the cabins were we were camping. I must say, these guys turned out to be great people and we stuck together for the whole trip, I fitted in well according to them and they had know each other for years. It made the trip go well. That is from left to right, Alan(BMW GS1150), me Richard, Andy(Triumph Rocket III) and Des(BMW GS1150)

As you can see I am afflicted by ducks disease, which is the reason I drop the bike a lot

Needless to say we had a good dinner and a few drinks across the road at the Qantas center. Tomorrow will be a small day playing tourist and only travelling 188km, so we could sleep in.

More next time

Day – 412km
Day Three

Another lazy start with breakfast being provided at the Qantas Museum across the road where we had dinner and where this plane is now parked and bolted down.

This was the first jumbo flown by QANTAS and they managed to get it fixed after retiring it and flying it into the Longreach airport. The airstrip was only 30m wide so they could only use the two inner engines for braking when they landed, otherwise they would have picked all the dust and stuff in the jets. When the captain landed, he missed the centre of the runway by 300mm or 1ft and pulled up well within the length of the runway, as they had minimal fuel, no passengers and no baggage etc, they did not need to strip the plane. Anyway, it is a plane!

Just next door is the Stockmans Hall of Fame

This shows the life of the outback people from the early days till the present and is quite interesting. I have been there before, as a tourist and for work, so while the other 3 went inside for a decko, I went and found some dirt and a river, I knew there was one out that way somewhere, you can see it on the map 🙂

After getting back into town, I found the lads had finished so we went for lunch then hit the road, next destination was Winton, where we had a fundraising event, which was tonights stopover and it did not take us long to get there and book in to our accomodation, which happened to be here

This hotel is run by a biker, a Ulysses Club member(the club that older riders join, not bikies). We had a few beers here of course. The water here is bore water and has a high sulpha content, which means it stinks. A bit disconcerting when you have a shower and you think someone has left a present lying around. Lucky they invented beer, thats all I can say! While here, another Rockhampton rider turned up, name of Thommo, he is a Far Rider and had ridden from Rocky that morning on his FJR1300. It seems thats what they do, long rides in a day, so the 870km to here was nothing. There was confusion about the dinner, for some reason the BBQ dinner was priced at $15, which was a bit steep and not what we expected, so we shuffled over the road and had dinner there before coming back for the entertainment at the pub( we found out the next day, half of the the BBQ price was to be donated to the RFDS), but this was a common theme on the way, raise the money from the people doing the travelling and not the public in the towns we were passing through, strange really??. No photo’s sorry, it was packed away, I was a bit wobbly The evening was a good night and only spoiled at a late stage by an idiot who decided that he would move a bike belonging to a girl into the back carpark. He had singlet, no helmet and rode up the street and back down at midnight to do this. The bike would have been safe where it was and he was pissed. It put a bad light on what we were there for. Enough said!

It was midnight before the bar closed, all in all a good night.

Day – 173km
Trip – 855km

Day Four

We left Winton at staggered intervals and I was planning on taking some photos, also Andy was into this as well, so Al and Des went on ahead at a faster pace, Andy was still in bed and I just left when I was ready. There is not much to see on the way to the Isa, here is some of it

But then it happened!! I spotted some titties on the side of the road and thought I would like a photo of that. I went on till I found a nice straight stretch of road then started a U turn, right in the middle of it a mustering chopper popped up from behind a tree and scared the crap out of me. I dropped the bike on the road, scraping my new GIVI bars, so they work at least and found out later I had destroyed my already busted up indicator on the right hand side and bent the bar end again!!! The OEM hand guards are now cactus, I will have to get metal ones! So here I am by myself trying to pick this bike up. I have MSI bottles of fuel in insulated bags cable tied to the pillion grips. This made it difficult and took me five attempts to get it up onto my thighs. Meanwhile the chopper is hovering 20m away and gesturing ‘do I want help’, I indicated back, no thanks, you have caused enough damage, please go away. Which was a pity really, I had the bike vertical but could not reach the stand, I will really have to try and grow taller! In the end, with the help of my trusty camera, I got it sorted(I needed the extra reach with the camera to move the side stand down firmly) After that it was easy, inspect the damage, have a laugh and a drink and go back and take a photo of the damm titties! Lucky there was no traffic around or it could have got messy.

Then on I went to the next stop that is quite a famous pub, for tourists mainly, called the Blue Heeler Hotel

Its basic claim to fame is that people get to sign the walls,floor whatever and every few years they just paint the pub and start again, lol. As you can see, it is nearly time! I must make a comment here, although we are stopping at all these pubs, it is not always for booze, quite often it is just for lunch or a softdrink, it is very hot out there and you can pretty much find a pub with cold drinks. Enough of the community anouncement, back to the pub, that is the next one down the road only 74km, this one eveyone should know about:

Have you guessed yet? It is the township of McKinlay, it was where Crocodile Dundee was filmed, the famous Walkabout Hotel and the Never Never Safari Tours HQ. Another coldie beckoned before fuel and onto the Curry, here is the two beamers, Andy still hasn’t caught up.

Funnily enough, we had no stop sheduled for Cloncurry so we went straight through to Mount Isa. I say funnily enough, because Cloncurry is the birth place of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, they had a museum and other things in town but the agenda ignored it??? Wasn’t this one of the reasons we were doing this trip, things were looking shaky on the charity point of view.

Anyway, on to Mount Isa, it is a mining town, you can tell this because they have this mine right in the middle of the town. A copper mine to be exact and lead.

As you can see from this sign up at the lookout, we still have a long way to go to get to Darwin.

The place we were staying was too far from town in a caravan park in cabins, so it made it difficult for any entertainment. This was probably a good thing! Tomorrow was a long day to Tennent Creek and we wanted to attend the Dawn Service for Anzac Day. I managed to find out some info about this eventually by going out to the RSL club and asking the staff. We had no information from our ride organisation, with things being changed and even some of the organisers not knowing what was to happen next and where. Anyway, it was a good time to get some washing done and have an early night. We had to be up at 5am for the service, which was right out front of the RSL club. The RSL is the Returned Services League, it was formed to look after the armed forces after they were demobbed, help them readjust etc. Anzac Day is very important to all Aussies, it commemorates the loss of life of those who served for Australia and New Zealand – Australian and New Zealand Army Corps = ANZAC. It originally was meant for the diggers at Gallipoli, but now it all those service men and women from all wars and conflicts.
Anyway, time for bed, in real life as well as on the trip, gotta be up early

Day – 461km
Trip – 1143km
Drops – 1


Day Five

So, we were up before sparrow fart. I was staying with some different people, 4 to a cabin, two hadn’t made it back from where ever they were last night, not my concern but the one with the side car was one of them. We had had to disconnect his headlight due to electrical charging issues, so he was going nowhere till daylight anyway. A quick cuppa then off to the dawn service, meet at 0530 for a 0545 start which went as planned

Not the best pix, but I did not want to disturb the service with the flash! After the service there was a free breakfast organised, I was well aware of this and was within the first 20 people there, there was at least 300-400 for the service. This meant I was eating while the lineup continued to build. Alan came past and said they would wait for me at the next servo, they would get breaky there, as the line was too long.

One of the things about Anzac Day is alchohol can be served straight after the service all day. This is a tradition, but we were unable to partake as we had a 635km day ahead. So it was off at first light, being real careful of the skippies. Along the highway out this far west there are rest stops serviced by a windmill and bore water, this one has been dead for a while, obviously the bore dried up!

Only a short hop of 188km to the next fuel stop and the last for Queensland, I finally found the lads here getting breakfast I didn’t need that but I did need to find a flat spot to oil my chain

As you can see, a number of others also made it before me. It was only about 15km down the road that we hit the Northern Territory border, time for a photo shoot

A different state and different scale and colour maps, so I have to split them a bit, first stage was to Barklys Homestead, were we could get the next fuel

then after that the next stop was Tennent Creek, this was on the main Adelaide to Darwin road and we had to go south when we hit the Stuart Highway

As you can tell there was no stoppage for photos, that was because it was getting mighty hot. This was autumn mind you, forget going in summer time! Our agenda was to get there quick and luckily for us, the NT has a speed limit of 130kmh instead of the one we are used to of 110kmh. They used to have unlimited up here, but that stopped in Jan this year and from the comments made by the locals, that government is history at the next election If there is nothing to see and lots of it, lets get past it as quick as possible! This meant for us higher speeds, but worse fuel consumption. So it was a tricky balance as the BMWs were economically bad at these speeds, mine was not too bad. If I stay at 80-100kmh I can get 150km for the first bar on my guage, but up at the 130kmh+ it was around 100km range. Something to keep in mind.

Anyway we finally got to Tennant Creek in the early afternoon and booked into the motel, then it was straight to the RSL Club. Remember I mentioned booze, well we had travelled over 600km and we were a tad thirsty. One of the other things besides drinking on Anzac Day, which is a national public holiday or course, is to play 2 UP

What’s that up there, in the sky? Nope, not superman, it is 2 coins and if they come up either heads or tails someone wins! In this case, because with only 2 coins you can have a no win situation, that is one head, one tail, they used 3 coins, you will always get a result that way A great past time while having a beer. And after a couple, it was take the bikes back to the motel. I had to go see a girl called Gypsy at the Goldfields Hotel for a friend, just to say G’day from Todd back home in Rocky.

Notice something different? A pub photo and no bike, lol. I could not find anyone there that knew of her, which was a pity, so I had a few more beers. This was when I found out I was somewhere different. The beers were schooners, 15oz instead of the usual pots of 10oz that I was used to, also because we had headed west, we were now in Central Time, so I gained an extra half hour of happy hour. Needless to say, I did not make the dinner that night at the RSL club as I was a bit shlozzled, I had dinner there and then an early bed as another long day tomorrow.

Day – 635km
Trip – 1778km
Drops – 1


Day Six

I thought I would give you guys some type of scale of the area we were covering during the ride.

Here is an overall map of the area that we will cover. This is only the top half of the Northern Territory and does not cover all the western part. You can see down towards the bottom right were we entered the NT from Camooweal. That line I drew on the map from Camooweal to the Stuart Highway, where we turned south, is 422km. Our target is right up top on the coast on the left, if you look carefully, you can follow the red road line up there.

So we had to start, the days stage was to get to Katherine. There we would be met by some Ulysses riders, two groups and some Patriots, the NT armed forces bike club who were riding down from Darwin to meet us.

We had looked at this map and planned our fuel stops by the range we could get in our tanks. This is where the information from the organisers fell down a bit. About 90% of the riders had been sent all this info by email, which was fine if you were back home, but we weren’t and did not have it. We also could not get a copy of the planned itinery. So off we sped! Filled up at Elliott as planned, the next stop was planned for lunch at Daly Waters, a great little pub. It was full of the ocker Aussie you expect to see in the bush, including a character who wore a silly hat and had animals on his head who sang for the tourists This will give you the idea.

We had a great lunch and a nice cold drink, before hitting the road again. We had the choice of filling up here or up the road 71km at Larrimah, we all figured ‘no worries’ 71km is easy. So we did it in quite a fast fashion! Bad move!!! We got to Larrimah, NO FUEL!!!! SHIT, the next stop is Mataranka another 68km up the road, we had no choice but to push on at a severley reduced speed to conserve fuel. So we sat on an average of 80-90kmh. My Strom would have no problems at all, but the two beamers were a tad concerned, to say the least. I had those two MSI bottles on my bike, so that was another litre each if need be for them. In the end we made it, but Des’ tank which takes 20lt, filled up with 19.6lt, so he was right on the border line.

The bloody stupid thing about it was that the servo at Larrimah had not had fuel since Xmas, as they had not paid their bill!!! This was not mentioned in any briefing we received, lucky we made it. There was a service truck riding as tail end charlie with fuel, mechanic and some spares etc, but he was 4 hours away at the pace he was going. I asked the servo owner to call back to the Hi-Way Inn and ask them to put a sign up saying last fuel for 250km, found out later they did, good stuff as some of the Harleys would not have the range.

Not to worry, we made it to the next town of Katherine at a fast clip, with fuel to spare.

Nothing different here. Problem was, we were to far from town where we were staying, another caravan park. Another problem solved, there was a free bus to the Memorial Club, where we had a great dinner and drinks all around and stayed quite late. This is where we heard about a certain bar in Darwin that had strippers on at lunchtime Friday, it was only a short run, just over 300k so it was doable even with a sleep in, that was our target!

Day – 627km
Trip – 2405km
Drops – 1


Day Seven

The final stage to Darwin was short, only 316km. But the actual ride plan was for there to be TV coverage at the caravan park with a greeting from the mayor before we left, then at each major stop, more TV coverage until the final convergance and procession ride into Darwin at 3.30pm. That was the plan Stan! Once again info went astray, I had heard the mayor was turning up at 0730, she was late and we nicked of at 0745, didn’t see a TV camera anyway. The other lads were not interested in parades, I wanted to go on at least one, I had missed the one at Mount Isa because they had changed the plan there. Anyway, I figured, we could get to Darwin, see the strippers, I could ride back out and meet the rest of the group at Coolaninga, a suburb of Darwin and join the procession.

So we left and scooted up the highway at a fair rate. Des was quite happy to do 130+ and usually himself or myself led and set the pace. This time I was leading and had a gap of 100m or so when rounding this bend two Brolgas stepped out of the bush on the left hand side and started across the road. My reaction I am sorry to say was pure dirtbike, drop a gear back off throttle and hit rear brake! Bad combo, rear wheel locked up and kicked out, the scream of tyres scared the Brolgas(what about me?) and one of them flapped his wings!! He was now 3 times as big, but, lucky I only skidded for ½ a second and by the time I closed the distance I was stable and straight again alowing me to get by safely, sort of, I was a bit shaky for a k or so and dissapointed in my use of the wrong brake.

This is all you get, I was too busy to take a photo! They are quite big, not as big as Emus though, still make a mess at that speed.

The other dramas we had on the trip from wildlife, beside the kangeroos and wallabys, were Wedge Tailed Eagles and Brown Kites. Every road kill had some of these on it and they did not move until you were real close. When they did move, it was slowly and straight down the road, until the last minute when they would vear away. Quite exciting at times! Needless to say, we arrived in Darwin safely and we had planned this particular shot for days, but we could not find a place to take it. Remember Wild Hogs the movie? Well, this was our version, supposed to be under a sign saying “Welcome To Darwin” but we could not find it, or missed it due to the traffic. So here is the “Wild Not Hogs” and proud of it!

I had already spoken to Nextus last night and told him to meet us at midday at the Parap pub just up the road, where we immediately adjourned to. The boys had some beer, but as I was planning on joining the ride into town I abstained. Only for a short while! The girls were nice, as expected, I met Nextus as planned and he showed me around a few places which was great. We eventually found the meeting place, a long way further out than I expected, but it was easy to find in the end.

Thats mine on the left, Nextus’ on the right

I must say, the procession was a waste of time. The lads back in town had said they would take some photos as we proceeded down the main street, from a good vantage point in Mitchel St, the main drag. I found out this would not happen. What was going to happen was a procession filmed by ABC TV down for about 15km and stop at the Aviation Museum before town. I guess they had not asked the right people to get a license or permit to do it, who knows.

Anyway, we all formed up with police car escort and moved out, now I know why Al, Des and Andy won’t do these things! Too many bikes, too many idiots with big noisy harly type bikes and cruisers with flags and things flapping off them and stupid dogs on the petrol tanks. They then proceed to fill up all the space I wanted in front of me. Every time I had clear air and could relax a tad, a fuckwit on a loud shiny bike would roar past and pull in front of me creating dramas for all. Even worse, these highways had about 6 sets of lights and we ran RED on all of them, there was no police on the side roads to block entering traffic. I was glad to get to the avaiation center where I found Nextus again and we bolted. So, no other photos sorry, but there is wild footage which I hope to get hold of some from the Tv station, I know I was on film a few times, I may post a link on Utube or something later.

The next few hours were more beers and strippers before hitting the sack at about 1.30am, I think.


Day – 316km
Trip – 2721km
Drops – 1


Day Eight

The day dawned! Geez, I wish it hadn’t, I was a bit tender after last nights effort. Oh well, I was in Darwin and awake, so got out of bed. No photo, lucky you!

Not much to do first up because I had no clothes, I was already on the reverse side of some of them, so it was going to be domestic day to start with, but had plans for after lunch. Once washing was doing its thing(these lush units had their own washer/dryer and everything you needed to live with), I just lazed around reading a book I had carted all this way.

I have not mentioned it yet but will do so now. The other 3 chaps, Alan, Des and Andy all hire tour bikes for a living and had ridden them to Darwin. But Des and Andy were delivering them here so some people from down Melbourne way, could fly up and ride them back to Cairns, where they came from, while they flew home. Neat eh! So they were busy getting tyres and stuff, cleaning them down etc. Alan had not had a renter organised, so he had to ride his home. My plan before I came on the trip was to ride home across the top end to the East Coast, then down the coast to home. As long as I was not travelling by myself I would do this, otherwise I would return the way I came. Alan said he would keep me company so that was all good.

Midday I had planned a trip with Nextus to Litchfield National Park. I had wanted to see those large termite mounds that he posted in his ride report, so that is what happened, it was only about 100km all up to get there, but I was a bit crook in the guts. Might have been last nights effort catching up. We made it, but it was hot and humid, very hot and humid.

We stopped in for a look at Wangi Falls, a nice place for a swim

Unfortunately, due to the outflow from the pool killing swimmers in the past, it was closed to swimming Another reason was because the water was deep enough to hide crocs, a pity because it was now about 2pm and stinking hot. I was also suffering from a bit of heat stroke( I had my Camelback on and was sucking water all the time, I am not that silly yet). We continued on to the next set of falls, from here you get a nice view of the park overall.

After this section we had to return the way we came as it was all unsealed back to Darwin this way and I was in no shape for it. There was also the big dinner to look forward to that night for all the riders etc. We got back just on 5.30pm, most everyone else had already gone, but no worries. Said hurray to Nextus, nice meeting you and safe travels m8!! A quick shower and off to the boat and Trailer club again,where they had saved a seat for me

Note the SOLO can, I was still suffering a bit and had a few of these till later on that evening, the other 3 were fine, lol, they had gone to bed at a reasonable hour. Here is a sunset shot

After that the show went on. It was spoiled a bit by two notable things. The load mouthed wanker that did the bike thing in Winton. But more so by the fact that the Royal Flying Doctor Service could not even be bothered to have a representative on hand to say thanks.

There was some funny gigs put on by the riders and some great entertainment, a bit of an auction to raise some money and music and drinks. The next day had organised rides, so some people left early, we stayed a bit longer, but not much. Except for the reasons stated above, it was a good night.

Day – 300km ish
Trip – 3021km ish
Drops – 1


Day Nine
Sunday 29th April, just so I know where I am

This was another lazy day, did not much at all. I had to modify my plan for home. I found with the way the bike was set up, it was way too top heavy, so the dirt roads I was planning on taking was out of the question. I had looked hard at the maps before I left and saw a place on the coast that had a name that appealed to me, called Bing Bong( I can see Alan groaning), just north of a town called Borraloola, both in the NT. Also just east of that in QLD was a town called Karumba, I had heard of this and wanted to have a decko. These were personal goals for no particular reason except to say, been there done that So for the rest of that morning I sat down to work out fuel stops, overnight stops etc. It looked doable, with only one section of 380km with out fuel. Alan was happy with the itinary, or he was then eh m8!!! I know he is reading this. During the day we went and bought a 10lt fuel can and hocky strap each, to cover that long stage. While in town I went to the tourist office and they called and booked overnight stays at Daley Waters and Cape Crawford.

Thats all today, did a chain clean with the Kettenmax and general service, no photos, no travel except town, it was a day off.

See ya tomorrow.



Day Ten

The Trip Home – A Short Story

We wanted an early start to get out of the heat, so it was just getting light in the east when we moved out. We figured it would take us half an hour to clear the suburbs so by then it should be light. And of course there should not be too much wildlife on the roads around the city.

Our goal was Daley Waters, near the Hi-Way Inn. Not much to spruke about on the way down, lots of road, lots of roadkill with eagles and kites on them, same old, same old. We got there booked in, had some lunch and spent the hot part of the day around and in the pool, with some beers. We had a great dinner with the rest of the tourists and enjoyed the ocker bloke I mentioned on day whatever, with the baby wedge tailed eagles on his head. They looked like chooks to me though! All in all a good night, but we had another early start tomorrow.

Day – 595km
Trip – 3616km
Drop – 1


Day Eleven

Another early start just on daybreak saw us heading east at the Hi-Way Inn along the Carpenteria Highway to Cape Crawford.

Lots more country pretty much all the same. A lot more greener than I expected though so it was nice that way. If you look real close you can just see Al at the bottom of the range. We stopped at Cape Crawford to book in around 930am, that way I could leave the tank bag in the room giving me a bit more control on the roads ahead. They were an unknown factor. We were unimpressed by the room we were given, just two beds and an aircon, nothing else. Stuck with it we were:( Anyway, off to explore BingBong.

If you ever get the chance to visit Bing Bong, don’t! It is closed!!!!

All those signs were attached to a big gate across the road saying keep out etc, private mining port, secure area etc. Then they were kind enough to supply a 10ft tall viewing platform just to the left of the gates above, so we had a look and could see the sea.

We looked, we saw we left and navigated the single lane ‘highway’ back to Cape Crawford without being hit by the semi trailers with FOUR trailers behind them,which is a commom site on a mining lease road. We stopped for a cold drink at Boroloola but did not look around, I may have to return for that one

Sorry Al. A round trip of 300km for bugger all. Never mind, we could have a beer and a swim in the pool. Did I say it was hot, probably no need, but it was bloody hot. Hmm, it turns out there was an irish lass behind the bar, a backpacker,she must have broght some extra irish with her, the pool was so green you could play billiards on it! And murky. Gave that a miss and had a cold shower, before adjourning to the airconditioned bar. Well, thats what the advert said, they did have one on the tin wall doing not much. We persevered for a while until it got too much. Had a chat to the manager about the cost of the place compared to Daly Waters not 300km away. They gave us aircon room, with TV, with Fridge, coffee/tea, microwave, entertainment with our meal, pool etc $95share. Here we got two single beds, no fridge, no pool,no aircon bar, no entertainment $90share. He got the impression we were not happy campers and we discussed a deal. He gave us a free meal each, then turned up later with a $5 discount for lack of fridge. It seems it got nicked, lol. It turns out the past two managers had been nicking stuff left and right, building renovations were in progress etc etc. If you want to go there, wait a year or two in my honest opinion. Did I mention the fuel at $1.72/lt the most expensive. The Scotch Fillets were great and the bar staff were also very nice to talk to.

Anyway, we survived, we also had a big day tomorrow, the longest so far plus the longest section with no fuel stops, mostly single lane. So an early night after

Day – 609km
Trip – 4225km
Drop – 1


Day Twelve

If you look at the map closely, you will see we are heading straight south from Cape Crawford to Barkleys Homestead, that was one of the stops on the way into the NT, our destination today was Mount Isa all of 820km away. The first 380km was mostly single lane. We left at sparrow fart and it was quite interesting. Al was leading and we were only doing 80kmh or so because we were concerned, extremely concerned by what wildlife was around. Most of where we expected to see skippys, we didn’t, when we crossed a bridge, Al got a bit of a fright when a wallaby hopped right across in front of him! That made me back off an extra 50m or so, just in case.

The road between Cairns and Broome in Western Australia is called the Savanna Way, we were on this road or the parts that were sealed anyway. This is why it is called that

and the height indicators do get used on a regular basis in this area. It is now the beginning of the ‘DRY’ season, so all the grass is in seed, but during the ‘WET’ plenty of water makes these roads nearly impassable.

We did not see much traffic on these roads. The country also changed back to termite territory, which meant not so much water flow across this area. I stopped here to take this photo cause I like it

It was not until afterwards that I actually saw the damm Red Angus bull hiding among the termite mounds, he was the same colour!!! Here is a zoom in closeup of the bull

can you spot him? He is just lright of center in front of a stand of trees facing me. Now, when we are riding along looking for wildlife to jump out, the termite mounds look a bit like wallabys amongst the grass, so you get a bit blasé, WELL now I was awake again!!! This is what the road looks like

Some of those termite mounds are now damm cows I am sure of it!!! It keeps you on your pegs, standing up and looking, looking Lucky the country changed again after a 100km or so and then it was time to fill up with fuel. At least down here, about 100km from Barkleys the skippys and cows have no where to hide 🙂

If you look real close, just on the horizon above the back edge of my topbox, you will see a slight rise. This is an artificial dam built up and next to it is a small windmill, that just tops up the dam with bore water. These are dotted around the landscape and are there for the stock. The stock knows where the water is all the time.

There was lots of this in both directions

In front and behind

I think we could have made Barkleys without the fuel stop, because we had run so slow and economical during the morning, I know I could have. Now we just had the run from Barkleys Homestead to Mount Isa

and once we got to town, we found all the pubs and motels booked for a mining expo, lol, so we ended up getting the last two single mens dongas at the caravan park we stayed at last week. We went to the Irish Club for a few beers and dinner, which we had on a Tram setup inside the complex next to a made up station, with the sound of pokie machines out the window, it was a licenced tram. A good days effort all told, but we wanted another early start, the rooms were great and fully self contained.

Edit -Did I mention the fact we were back in Queensland? It was a good feeling, especially in the hip pocket, suddenly the beer and food and fuel was a lot cheaper to buy. It makes you think that everything we bought up there, had to cover the same territory we just did and that is a lot in extra costs. hmmm.

Day – 820km
Trip – 5045km
Drop – 1


Day Thirteen

A lucky break last night while I was putting my camelback in the fridge. I found a pack of frozen pies, must have been left by the previous nights tennant. That was breaky sorted anyway, not the most glorious food first thing, but it puts a lining on ya stomach!

We were going to be headed east into the rising sun at first light, which was fine by me. I had bought a tinted visor in Darwin, a bit on the pricy side, but worth it now. I stayed behind Alan a ways, cos he couldn’t see . Our first stop was Cloncurry.

We had decided we would have a gander at the RFDS museum, as that was the spirit of the trip. We got there at 8.30am as the lady running it was just finishing hosing the area. We chatted with her for a while and after hearing about how we were on the ride, let us in for nix!

She did mention that some other riders had turned up last Tuesday but that there was a power blackout and no one was allowed in 😦 Bit of a bummer for them. We had a good look around, it was not that large but well worth the half hour we spent there.

The lady also mentioned that the following week(which is as I write this) another fundraising ride, in cars was heading up that way with the RFDS media advisor on board, all the way. Funnily enough, I actually had a job at our local branch this week and saw the flyers and pamphlets that had been issued all about that ride. They looked impressive.

Anyway, we had to chuff off up north mostly on one lane sealed roads again, the terrain had changed a bit, still termites but earth a different colour and not so much grass, that made the riding a tad easier, not so much danger of wandering livestock etc.

Next stop was the Burke & Wills Roadhouse where we fuelled up and had some lunch. Then it was on to Normanton where we had to stop at the Purple Pub, I have no idea why they called it that

There was a great barmaid there, very cute, just my size too, not many like that out there, she was a welcome sight. Never got her name though as we did not stay(maybe you can do me a favour there Ozstrom?). Cos, our goal was up the road another 70km to a coastal town called Karumba. A fishing town where a heck of a lot of travellers end up after towing their boats, just to chase the barra. It is also a fishing port for the Gulf fishing trawlers. We stayed right on the waters edge at the main pub. Alan had noticed a bit of noise from his back end – of the bike I mean . We dropped the rear brake caliper and tested it, it seemed to be coming from the bearing. He went and got some oil and topped up the diff of the shaft drive. I did some washing etc and a chain lube which was needed.
We obviously had to go to the bar, it was nice and cool in the aircon, they had no pool there and you don’t swim in the sea with the crocs, they take exception to that!

After a Barramundi dinner we stayed up chatting to a retired local, he used to run the boxing circus that did the rounds up here in the past. Bad quality I know, but that’s what happens when you are on the turps

Then to bed.

Day – 565km
Trip – 5610km
Drop – 1


Day Fourteen

The day dawned very foggy and we had a long way to go. Our goal was Cairns on the east coast, preferrably by about 2pm.

This is the view from the back verandah of the motel we stayed at. This was just on sunup with a full moon and very foggy as you can see. If you look close you can can just see a dinghy coming back to the boat ramp.

This is what it was like for the first half hour or so, very uncomfortable, prime skippy country and low visibility! We had to retrace our tracks slightly to Normanton then head east. Alan was becoming really concerned by the noise from what we thought was his rear wheel bearing. It had been replaced at 100000km and was now up to 200000km, so it was about due for replacement. We persevered, with him leading and after about 50km he slowed right down. I could not see any real bad wobble from where I was looking travelling behind but his caliper had scraped quite bad. We stopped and cable tied the rear brake out the way.

Eventually we called it quits. I have drawn an arrow about where we were. I took his RACQ card(the Queensland AAA motor club for those international people reading this) and rode into Croyden about 70km east. I managed to find an RACQ agent for towing and I took him back where we picked up Alan and the bike. Due to there being no tie down points in the towing vehicle even though I had brought straps, Alan had to sit on the bike for the trip into Croyden.

He will kill me for posting those, but you only live once

So, now we were at Croyden, it was now 1130am and a long way to go. There was no way I could ride 2 up back to Cairns on those roads, Al was a lot heavier than me and it was all single lane stuff, with more traffic. Al decided he would try and hitch a ride and leave his bike, come back tomorrow with a trailer and pick it up. I headed east, alone without even music!! Did I mention the fact I ran over my Autocom cable and ripped it apart, no, well I had done so that morning. I can say now, that wind noise for 350km is no fun and drives you nuts. I thought I had packed ear plugs, but hadn’t sadly. Luckily for me when I stopped at Georgetown at the servo for fuel and lunch, the bloke there gave me a set. Good on ya m8, it was a blessing. He asked me to leave him in my will, which I think is going a tad far, but you never know eh! The rest of the ride was just soldier on, single lane, get off into the dirt when the 4 trailer semis come towards you, cos they won’t. My own goal was now to get to Cairns before nightfall. I finally found mobile phone service at Mt Garnet, about 150km from Cairns and I called Des, where we were staying for the night and were supposed to meet around 2pm. It was now about 4.30pm. He advised me to go down the Gillies and meet him at the bowls club and I dialled this address into the TomTom. I eventually got up into the Atherton Tablelands area and found the Ravenshoe windfarm

It was starting to get greener, the roads were widening out a bit in patches and certainly a lot cooler compared to the past few weeks. A lot higher and a coastal breeze I guess. I ended up at the Gillies range just on dusk, still with sunnies on, bad move. This is 21km of mountain bends, a lot of them hairpins. I managed to find a relatively straight bit and got my sunglasses off and down my jacket front. Here is a preview of the Gillies

I eventually got to the bowls club and met Des and his m8 Charly. After a quick beer, we went back to Des’ where he was putting me up and met his lovely wife and kids and also Suzy, another friend. We were just tucking in to some rum, chicken wings and pizza when Al called. It turns out he had scored a lift on a truck WITH his bike and was an hour out. We proceeded to wait, drink more rum and watch the Broncos narrowly beat the Rabbits, not often the word ‘narrowly’ is used there! Des’ son went and picked him up and we had a bit of a chin wag before we hit the sack.

Des, I gotta say thanks a million m8 to you and your family, I appreciate it, it was a great nite and your wife cooks great chicken wings, my place is yours when ever you pass through. That goes for you too Al and Andy.

Day – 709km
Trip – 6319km
Drop – 1


Day Fifteen

As todays travel plan was only short, I had only to get to Townsville, it was a lazy start. We were going to go to a local bike shop for a chin wag, it seems a lot of bikers go to Wayne Lennards to do this, meet and greet, have coffee etc, maybe even buy something! Charly was heading for the weekend with some other friends to Kurramine beach and was quite happy to take me for an out of the way ride to get there. So, after the meet and greet, he took me back up the Gillies Range. I must say here, I need to do it again, with no gear on the bike and maybe quarter tank fuel. I could not do it justice, but it was still bloody good, I loved it,as do a lot of bikers for the following reason. Yesterdays preview photo was taken today, I cheated 🙂

You can just see the road down below here

And then we hit the rainforest

And then just up the road a ways was the Palmerston Range, this was a real fast twisty, I was clocking 120 easily and that was slow, great pictures from up here as well!

Around this area is the town of Millaa Millaa where the timber industry used to thrive, but not as much now, you have seen this photo before, but this is where it was taken, up in this area.

After all this fun, we eventually parted ways where this road hit the Bruce Highway, he went straight across, I turned right and south, headed for Townsville. My old strom buddy from Rocky was now living in T’ville and he was going to arrange to meet me around the town of Ingham. This eventually happened and after a chinwag we headed to his place about an hour away. We dumped my gear upstairs and took a quick tour around town, including up to Castle Rock where there is a fab lookout, could not fit the bike in up here.

But that’s OK, we found a suitable location

We then put the bikes away, had some dinner, a few drinks(well OK, a 40 pounder) chatting and watching some movie about jet boats going up some river. I might have to watch that one day, I think it looked good. Thanks for putting me up TSV-Strom and Deb, see you guys soon maybe.

Day – 344km
Trip – 6774km
Drop – 1


Day Sixteen Last Day

Woke up a bit crook this morning, but was OK after a bit of tea and brekky. Nobody else awake so I just took off.

Not much to spruke about on this leg. It was a good ride, may have been a tad fast going past Camilla after lunch, smokey got me and booked me, lol. Nice chap what can I say, I was going a bit fast. Fair cop as they say!

I eventually got home to Rocky around 3pm.

I have some dicrepancy in the distance travelled. I know I zeroed the trip meters before I started, No2 was the perpetual one and it has the figure 8270km total. This means between Townsville and home I clocked up 1496km, I must have taken a wrong turn as it is only 726km. I have not done the fuel or costing for the trip yet, I will do that this weekend.

Needless to say, it was a great trip, a long one , my first purchase this weekend is an AirHawk seat pad. I had a sore arse from day one! Des lent me his for one stretch just to test it out and it made a big difference, but he wanted it back 😦 Thanks m8, try before you buy certainly works for me.

Day – 726km
Trip – 8720km supposedly
Drop -1 > Just in case you were wondering why this was here, it was to keep you guessing, will he drop it again, lol. Nope, did not 🙂

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6 Responses to “Long Ride 2007”

  1. Dave said

    hi really great blog,i never realized that australia looks so much like southwest usa, it looks so much like new mexico even. Really great stuff, be safe and always enjoy the ride, sincerey dave

    • travellingstrom said

      Hi there Dave

      Thanks for the comments 🙂

      I can only take your word on what you say about the south west USA, but, as I will have my visa soon, I can find out for myself 🙂

      I was actually hoping for something different though 😉


  2. Jan Ferrari said

    Ive only just joined Ulysses and started reading about your trip across the top of Oz. Fantastic. The pics and dialogue are great.
    Looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip.

    • Hi Jan

      Welcome to Ulysses, I am a junior member 🙂

      Thanks for the comments, there is plenty to read and you never know, I may see you in Albany WA if you make it across 🙂

      Cheers TS

  3. said

    Very good write-up. I certainly love this site. Keep it up!

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