This is part of the Eleventh section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from the Tenth Section, Australia
27/8/04 We head out today along the same road that started the trip eight and a half years ago. We stayed in the same caravan park that first night. Not the big farewell this time, everyone more accustomed to our travelling, including us. The motorcycle not a modern two year old, now a tired eleven with 395,000 klm and a well worn engine. The riders also near nine years older, we took a cabin and were in bed early, not camping and drinking till late like our last visit here. Hughenden, 400 km today.
28/8/04 The flat sheep and cattle pasture lands stretch out all around us. Despite being a main road we relax to a vehicle every few minutes with only the triple or quad trailered road trains stirring the monotony. Officially still winter the temperature rising above 31 degrees and the sunshine bright, forcing us to rest every 100-150 km for a drink and shade. 100 km from Mt Isa ("The Isa" to locals) more hills, dry rugged and treed slopes. 500 km and here tonight.
29/9/04 This city of 22,000 started and survives only because of the discovery in 1923 of one of the world's largest bodies of silver, copper, lead and zinc, mined continuously since. The town lookout shows the dominant mine with the suburbs nestled below. The smelted copper and lead trained 900km to Townsville for overseas shipping. A quiet day, visit to the local H-D shop, lookout and relaxing.
30/8/04 The long flat road continued westward as the country side became poorer. Grasslands gave way to woody scrubland and property sign posts slowly disappeared. Petrol now 40% dearer than in Townsville and roadhouses over 250 km's apart. Our tail wind of the last few days swung around to be on the front quarter, the worst for buffeting and fuel consumption. 640 km to Three Ways (the junction with the Stuart Highway) and a short trip south to Tennant Creek. There is deservedly not much out this way, occasional windmills and dams, now empty, reminders of when drovers walked cattle to markets, now days trucked or trained. Dozens of caravanners heading east or south, the winter over and the heating up of the north driving them on.
31/8/04 The old gold mining town of Tennant Creek has little to offer today. Surviving only through government offices and a few tourists passing through. The main street, also the Stuart Highway, reflects a more prosperous past. Shop fronts boarded up, windows smashed, indigenous people loitering, waiting for the hotels to open or their next welfare check, nothing else to do in the middle of nowhere. Caucasians passing through, some stop finding solace in a society more tolerant, accepting or not caring of their past. Like John, holed up at the caravan park, waiting three months for rain to get a job caretaking the grounds. A loner set apart from society by his 13 years in jail for importing drugs. Distanced from family for marrying a Torres Straight Islander lady. Emotionally shattered when she, pregnant with twins, was killed in a car accident along with two of his children. His largest expense now, beer, while he waits for rain.
1/9/04 The clientele at the Daly Waters pub has changed since our last visit four months ago. The newby travellers heading north then, have been replaced by the experienced ones heading south. Gone are the excited eyes as of children, the gullible naivety, the desire to experience all. Even the perfect hair, lipstick and clean clothes have diminished as the city folk become a little country with their outback tour. The entertainers are also heading south, singers, bush balladeers, poets and story tellers, employed often for no more than a chance to sell a few CD's to travellers are moving with their clients. Three here tonight, the regular and two passers through, no competition, just a rotating space in front of the audience. Sometimes their talent is limited, has beens or never waz's, other times like tonight's captivating Scottish/Irish accented tunes from home by Jim, an unknown, held the audience till 11 pm when those not enthralled requested quiet and sleep. All for the possible sale of a few CD's.
2/9/04 Gary and Bronwyn invited us to visit them on our way through Katherine and we had two tyres posted there. We had removed the wheels yesterday along with working on the speedometer driver and installing a secondary alarm system. Today the tyres were fitted and wheel bearings greased. Two relaxed days, an evening BBQ with their friends over wine and beer.
3/9/04 The Rum Jungle Odyssey is held in Batchelor every two years. We rode with Gary and Bronwyn the 260 km north to join most participants after breakfast at Bennets Lake. A police escort took the 140 Ulysses members to the rally grounds, a resort and caravan park for lunch, minimal formalities, afternoon wine tastings, dinner, an evening disco and as we had been asked to talk, a brief background and stories of our trip and interesting questions from the audience.
4/9/04 The recently created Litchfield National Park, purchased from a cattle property owner, incorporating tropical wetlands, rivers, waterfalls and magnetic termite mounds, was toured by the rally today. Some swam the rock pools, some recovered from last night's excesses and others lazed near the cafe. The evening had another dinner and band plus a very controversial female strip show. Enjoyed by most, many who had not seen a female stripper before, but deemed inappropriate at such a function. Adding to the controversy was the invitation, by a club member, of outside guests to a private function. The bikie club members proved disruptive till 4.30 am to a number of campers, yelling and foul language. Neither of the two events concerned us and it was the most relaxed and enjoyable rally we have been to recently.
5/9/04 The last event of the rally was a ride to Douglas Daly Resort, 150 km south, about 40 riders set out, some continued onward home, others returned to Batchelor. We moved on to camp at Douglas Hot Springs. A large pool of 40-60 degrees spring water, flowing continuously to join a colder stream. Sitting in the mixing water, moving slightly for hotter or colder water an excellent way to relax after four days of socializing.
6/9/04 Still weary from the rally, a short ride into Kakadu National Park, Yellow Waters campground and an afternoon laze around the pool in humid 32 degrees. The road crossed a couple of billabongs, in one, a large saltwater crocodile was sunning himself on the surface, slithering beneath as we approached on the motorcycle.
7/9/04 With large volumes of evaporating water and slow build up to the approaching wet season the humidity is oppressive. The overnight temperature not much less that the daytime maximum had us lying in the tent perspiring all night. Two aboriginal rangers led a tour on bush tucker along the billabong. 300-400 aboriginals still live within the National Park, their traditional land. They are the majority influence on the management board and a large portion of the parks rangers. Living a traditional/modern existence they hunt for the foods they enjoy to eat, using modern weapons but buying the western foods they can afford and like. Toyota and tinnies (boats) the preferred means of transport. The main societal aboriginal structure, beliefs and values are still strong. Ochre rock art at Nourlangie dates from 6,000 years to only a few years ago. Old paintings often touched up by appropriate elders within clans. Ubirr in the evening, another rock art location, older art believed as old as 10,000 years but some as young as 10 years, a continuation of tradition. Another aboriginal ranger talk and sunset overlooking flood plains from atop the escarpment and camped near Ubirr.
8/9/04 More than a dozen saltwater crocodiles were sighted on an early morning walk through the monsoon rainforest alongside the East Alligator River. 3-5 metres in length, one on the bank, the others moving around on the water's surface, not concerned by our presence. A couple of careless people a year get taken by crocodiles in the north of Australia. The bird hide at Mamukala also revealed wildlife, primarily magpie geese, a prized aboriginal food, fattening on roots of reeds as the waters recede. A few ibis, whistling ducks, a jabiru (stork) and agile wallabies also sighted. 260 km into Darwin by afternoon, preparation for shipping the motorcycle tomorrow, repacking and sorting equipment along with shopping.
9/9/04 The motorcycle's cubed volume is about 3.2 cu/m but Perkins Shipping generously measured it at 1.7 cu/m for the trip across to Dili in East Timor. The freight and handling costs at this end just $190.00 Australia. We rode the bike into a shipping container hoping to see it in Dili in five days. Customs had previously signed our Australian carnet without charge at their office enabling us to re-import the motorcycle without duty at any time in the future. In sweltering 36 degrees, now without wheels, we walked back through town to our accommodation.
10/9/04 We don't leave Darwin till Monday 13/9, a few walks, reading, buying last minute things, waiting.
11/9/04 Digby, the ex-director of Darwin HOG motorcycle club wanted to meet on our visit here. We spent most of the morning touring the town, a place I had worked in for 3 months between high school and university in 1971, a place my father was captain of an Australian Navy patrol boat at the same time. Where we had lived, now replaced by multi storied concrete unit. Where I had worked, the oil fuel depot, still there, part of Darwin's history. Most of the town was flattened in the cyclone on Christmas day 1974, almost everything is new since then. Always a cosmopolitan place, Europeans, Aboriginals and Asians, each leaving a cultural legacy. Digby took us to lunch at the Buzz Cafe, the new Cullen Bay Marina, where the men's urinal is a one way mirror glass. Urinating against the glass you overlook dining patrons, the cistern flushing down the glass wall. The dining view overlooks yachts in the marina, a true touch of Darwin's humour mixed with class.
12/9/04 Updated web page, walks and relaxed and waited.
13/9/04 Posted home the camping gear, not expecting to
be used further this trip.
Move with us to East Timor
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