Friday 30 November 2012

GS OZ Day 65 Rocky 537km 8hr

After paying homage to the Big Mango just outside Bowen I rode through 400km of road works and cane fields.

The last 100k into Rockhampton saw the end of cane fields and start of cattle grazing.

Beef cheeks for dinner, yum followed by SkyFall at the local cinema

Thursday 29 November 2012

GS OZ Day 64 Bowen 600km 10:00hr

The ride down Palmaston hwy was smooth, curvy, no traffic and only 2 road work stops. It would be well worth a rode up the hill also.

Coffee and breaky in Inisfail to cap of a great morning.

From here on I stopped counting the no of road works after 15. Constant stopping and cooking in the heat. The road is boring straight, low speed limits, hopeless drivers, single lanes in each direction. The scenery is lush cane fields that go on and on and on. I can't help thinking that just maybe we consume too much sugar. (And not enough rum) no wonder we're obese.

I stopped at 3:30 in Townsville after cruising up and down the Strand which is the cities only reframing feature. A foreshore promenade that has been done up and goes for many blocks. Nice and cool sea breeze but no swimming due to the stingers. I had a quick drink and decided to stay in Bowen another 200k.

Finally after more of the same I arrived at 6:30 and procured a bed and a Guinness.

Bowen is one of those "Gateway To" places. The promotional claim of "Gateway To" is one step up from "Tidy Town". It basically means you must pass through this place to get to the actual attraction but not before being fleeced in some way.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

GS OZ Day 63 Yungaburra 360km 5hrs

Left the cape and attempted the Bloomfield track to reach Cooktown. Apparently the track was in good condition so I thought wtf. The dirt was fine even though it had rained this morning but the first river crossing, whilst not deep was slippery large river rocks and I was close to dropping the thing several times. 10 more of these? I thought nope so turned around headed back over my training river stalling 4 times in holes. Back to cape for coffee after a little fun in the dirt.

I decided to head to Port Douglas for lunch. Don't like it. It's full of people filling in time by spending money in surroundings that are at best average largely because they are full of said people. Nice sandwiches and coffee though.

After lunch I decided to ride a few of the great motorcycling roads around here. The cook hwy along the coast and the Gillies hwy heading back up to the Atherton table lands for some extra twisties.

Bloody road works every where! I must have stopped about ten times waiting for the stop/slow lolly pop person to allow me through. The roads were spectacular and fun but the road works were really too much. There must be an election imminent.

Anyway I was getting a bit weary so decided to stay in the charming little town of Yungaburra in the hills rather than head back to the coast just to stay in another beachside overpriced motel at a beach you can't swim at due to the box jelly fish. The motel owner is a motorcyclist and took his car out of his garage to put my bike in. The Beemers first garaged kip. He also showed me all the roads to try tomorrow but warned that all roads as far as Townsville had road works.

GS OZ Day 62 Cape Trib

Basically sat under a tree on the beach all day reading and contemplating bugger all.

I only moved from my tree to forage for traditional bush tucker. You know, the likes of, Wild Barra (served on a bed of sweet potatoe and eggplant with a suitable Sav Blanc accompaniment) and kangaroo (on potato and pepper mash with native lime aioli). Not sure why the indigenous people gave up this stuff for servo pies and 2 litre bottles of coke it's not that hard to stomach.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

GS OZ Day 61 Cape Tribulation 223km 4:00hr

Had morning coffee at the Skybury Coffee plantation (pic) then sussed out some of the excellent twisties around here. After effectively not turning a corner for about 15000kms this was a novelty. Went through Mareeba, Mossman, Daintree crossing the Daintree river on a car ferry then up to C ape Trib. A free extra K's on dirt saw me at the Cape Trib Beach house which is the last accom before Cooktown. I took a little cabin in the rain forest. Very basic but very cool. Now glass just shutters and fly wire 30m to the beach etc.

Monday 26 November 2012

GS OZ Day 60 Atherton 679km 8:30hr

Two months and 17,000km on the road, priceless.

That almost twice the odometer reading on my Ducati over 10years.

Today I headed away from the Gulf back to Normanton. Then it was along the Savanna way through Croydon, Georgetown, Mount Surprise (the big surprise here is that there is no surprise) and on to Atherton.

Road works every where on the Gulf Development road adding 10 stop lights (one permanently red which is tricky) single lane roads, gravel roads and a bit of dirt. All adding up to 1:45hr extra taking we well past my 4:30 roo curfew.

I think I'm saying goodbye to the out back. Atherton tablelands is lush, 23 deg and green with twisty roads, albeit absolutely crap surface. Qld has (so far ) the worst roads of all states visited.

Tucked up in a motel in Atherton on for the kip.

Sunday 25 November 2012

GS OZ Day 59 Karumba - the Gulf 576km 7:00hr

I left mount Isa as soon as possible. Coffee at Cloncurry and then north to Burke and Wills road house where I met a French group of about 30 BMW GS riders with their support vehicle. Jean Claud (of course) was excited to see me as we had the same bike and same hairstylist. He spoke excellent English and introduced me around including to some guy who is a French Rally champion that has completed 27 Dakars (see pic guy in the middle) I can't remember his name, bugger it.

After chatting for a bit and itroducing Jean Claud to Sqwincher I headed north where the road turns to single lane bitumen with wide dirt verges. This makes for very interesting passing of road trains.

I arrived in Normanton to find all fuel stations closed so continued to my destination, Karumba on the gulf of Carpenteria. Along this single lane road I pass a mega flock of Brolgas drinking the water on the side of the road(pic). Unfortunately didn't have the helmet cam on as over about 500m they all progressively took off as I passed by and it was truly spectacular.

The Gulf water looks dirty (I expect it's so you can't see the crocs) but the sea breeze is welcome and supping a beer at the tavern overlooking the gulf is a fitting end to the day.

Saturday 24 November 2012

GS OZ Day 58 Mount Isa 460km 4:30hr

Not the earliest of starts and 42deg at 10:00am. I left NT today crossing into QLD the most noticeable change is the speed limit decrease fro 130 down to 100kph. After a month or more traveling at 130+ 100kph seems like walking pace and travel times increase accordingly. Also as one needs now needs to constantly check the speedo distraction has increase exponentially.

Many fires along the way some you had to ride through fast and feel the heat. Luckily I'd stocked up on Sqwincher an electrolyte replacement powder used by the mining industry to keep their staff hydrated in the mines. David put me onto it and it has helped heaps as I was drinking lots of water but still getting fatigued craps etc now that's all gone

On approach to Mt Isa a brilliant lightning storm surrounded me. The sky darkened so much that the instrument lights came on and the temperature plummeted fro 44 down to 23. Then the rain started. Not too hard but as it hit the hot trees an intense eucalyptus smell permeated the air. It was almost overpowering reminding me of eucalyptus inhalations administered as a cold ridden child.

Not wishing to ride further in the lightning, spectacular as it was I decided to stop in Isa. Mount Isa is a mining town and has that desperate, artificial, "cashed up bogan" cloud hanging over it. I have noticed a strong correlation with this type of atmosphere and the presence of Harley dealerships.

Friday 23 November 2012

GS OZ Day 57 Barkley Station 725km 8:00hr

Big day @ 44 degrees. Fuelled up at Aileron where apart from fuel they sport the brilliant 10m status of the Desert Mermaid (pic) outside and her man atop the mountain behind. There is definitely some artistic licence going on here as the indigenous forms hanging around under the trees waiting for the bar to open at 11am dont look anything like the sculptures. To be fair I suspect its their crap diet though.

I was planning to stay at Tenant Creek but on riding through I suspected the drunks would prevent any sleep that night if the bed bugs didn't do the trick. So on to Three Ways to fuel up and check ahead to see if Barkley Homestead had a bed. They did so it onwards another 200k.

Barkley station accommodation and steaks were excellent. So much better than any other road house I've stayed at.

Thursday 22 November 2012

GS OZ Day 56 Alice Surrounds

Popped out to see a couple of mini canyons in the eastern McDonald ranges, Emily and Jessie Gaps each a dry riverbed gap through the rages with rock art referring to three caterpillars that have some indigenous link to creation if the area. I couldn't pick any caterpillar likes attributes to these though.

Like a good communications engineer I also payed tribute to the profession by visiting the Alice Telegraph Office reserve.

To finish up another great day I swam drank beer and read my book. Then it was off to shower and put on my formal thongs, T-shirt and shorts as David and Margaret came to the hotel for a Barra feast. Had a good farewell catchup discussing everything from my grandparents lives to indigenous issues.

I must say that so far in my travels i have not seen anything that would paint anything but a pretty grim picture of the indigenous people's plight. They seem by in large hopeless and lost.i hope I'm wrong.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

GS OZ Day 55 Alice Town

Caught up with David, Margaret and a friend of theirs Penelope, who is one of the editors of the Centralian Advocate news paper. we met at the Royal Flying Doctor Service cafe for lunch. This is the operations and tourist centre of the RFDS. What blew me away was how many planes are in service. See photo of the real time display of the locations of all the RFDS planes. (Every box refers to a plane)

Tuesday 20 November 2012

GS OZ Day 54 Alice Springs 490km 5:30hr

I got up early (for me anyway) this morning 7am to walk the Rim Walk at Kings Canyon as the guide says it takes 3-4hrs. I started walking at about 7:45 and enjoyed the relative cool of the morning. This place is special with its beehive domes, Mesa type canyon walls and prehistoric fern filled gorges. The Garden of Eden was a beautiful rain forest looking gorge with ferns pools and about 400 tourist tramping up and down the wooden stairs and walk ways. I know the tourist dollar is sort after but I often lament that sealed roads, signed and raised walkways gift shops etc have made it too easy. There's no effort needed to get here and consequentially millions infest these places and destroy the essence of wilderness.

Monday 19 November 2012

GS OZ Day 53 Kings Canyon 352km

Headed back to Uluru this am to ride around its base. Also stopped for a quick walk and touch the rock.

After saying goodbye to my new fav I rode a hot and dry route to kings canyon. After a kip I wandered up to whatcha the sunset on the canyon then sat outside for a couple of largers and a pizza.

Sunday 18 November 2012

GS OZ Day 52 Yulara 556km 8hr

Long ride to Yulara where I pitched my tent and shot off to see the Olgas and then back to what the rock at sun set.

The Olgas will require another visit to sample some of the walks.

Uluru is magical. I'm not pressed nor get excited very often these days but seeing the rock appear from a away sent a shiver down my spine. All the other "attractions of the out back and Oz have fallen short from expectation in some way mainly everything looks smaller than expected. These expectations were probably set as a child and scale is always magnified as a kid. But Uluru was beyond my expect ions and on a scale that blew me away. It's truly my new favourite things in the whole wide world.

Saturday 17 November 2012

GS OZ Day 51 Alice Springs

Rest day today, thighs are sore from standing on pegs on the dirt, so I slept and read and squeezed in the odd coffee.

Thursday 15 November 2012

GS OZ Day 50 Standley Chasm etc 324k 8hr

Just back from a loop day. I rode out along Namatjira drive. First stop Stanley chasm then on to Ellery creek and Big Hole where I spent a few hours lazing around and in a cool water hole in the gorge. i then continued on past Glen Hellen Gorge to meet up with Larapinta drive and loop back to Hermannsburg. The last of this consisted of 1.5hrs of corrugated, sandy, dirt and I'm still vibrating. I did get to see Albert Namatjiras house but not much else as the sand was really slow. Finally back in Alice I headed down for roo steaks and a rumbo beside the pool.