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Tally ho, chocks away etc etc...
Originally published: 2nd April 2007
Right then! Gosling One is all put back together, and rather remarkably still resembles a motorcycle. Fuel fund is topped up a bit, so hopefully it'll last me all the way round the rest of Australia. Food is packed in the panniers, although I can't say I'm looking forward to pasta meals again for the next few months, I miss fresh veg! I am looking forward to instant mash though, that stuff is truly the food of gods, and lazy motorcyclists.
Heading up north from Perth, hugging the coast to Exmouth, then East towards Darwin, along the Gibb River Road. (aka 700km of dust, corrugations, rocks, potholes and river crossings - waterwings on standby!)
Shock and ore...
Originally published: 17th April 2007
...iron ore that is.
Sorry, been spending a lot of time in iron mining country and it's starting to affect my mind, as well as the colour of the bike and everything else I have with me. Everything has gone an interesting Tango orange. It's the new black, trust me!
So, first post since the essential two week petrol/work break, and it's good to be back on the road again. My backside thinks differently however, the bike saddle certainly hasn't got any comfier while it has been off the road.
Put the bike back together and remarkably it all worked pretty much first time, nothing bounced off back down the highway as I set off from Perth at least; which I took to be a good omen. Sticking fairly close to the west coast it is pretty much the same monotonous landscape, all the way up to Exmouth. There were a few exceptions such as the Pinnacles, Shark Bay etc, but mostly it was beach after beach after beach, paradise you would think? I'm not much of a 'beach person' to be honest, as I think I mentioned before; so I found myself getting a bit fed up with all the bloody beaches after a while. Never get bored with the scantily clad young ladies you tend to find populating beaches though, so there is an upside to everything!
The Pinnacles Desert, very pointy
Called in to see the 'famous' Dolphins at Monkey Mia, as it is apparently against the law drive past without stopping; judging by the visitor numbers at least.
While I was in the area I thought I'd bury the bike in the sand, to see if it made a good castle substitute. Decided not, as it doesn't have the requisite number of turrets to be a proper castle.
Hello China? Little help please...
This was the point I gave up in my attempt to reach 'Steep Point' (the most westerly point on mainland Oz). Loads of suitable excuses, but the best one is that it was the Easter holidays at the time, and all the passing 4x4s had churned the track into 30km of deep, deep sand. After getting stuck for the first three times, I decided my sanity deserved a break and I turned around. Good job too actually, as it started chucking it down with rain soon after. I'll be back to conquer that bit later though!
Exmouth and the road leading to it (there is only one), are in a ludicrously harsh and unforgiving section of the 'Pilbara' region of Australia. Similar landscape to that of the Nullarbour Desert actually, only with fewer trees. (if that is actually possible!) Aggressive heat, no trees at all and very limited water availability, meant it all got a little bit poetic on the ride north.
'Ode to a tree, by me':
If I could but see one more tree
I swear t'would fill my heart with glee
For 'neath majestic, shady bough
I would not sweat so, from my brow
Cook my brain, and it starts to come out with poetry. I think I need to get out of the heat more!
Exmouth is THE place to go swimming with Whale Sharks, or as the locals know them 'cash cows of the sea'. Everyone is in on the act, and all claim to be the 'world experts' on said beasties. Decided to take their words for it, as my budget definitely didn't stretch to the $400 for a 10 minute snifter. I contented myself with snorkelling on Ningaloo Reef and lurking at one of the more interesting beaches in the region.
I could warm up to some of these beaches, really I could
From there I headed inland to the Karijini National Park, and the town of Tom Price. Iron ore mining country, complete with some fairly spectacular (and thankfully shady) gorges. Some of them even had trees, hooray! Grabbed a permit from the local mining company to ride up the 350km of their rail service road, as an interesting alternative to the highway. It was good fun as the track ran right alongside the railway, which was constantly in action. 2km long iron transport trains thundering along, with me riding alongside. Adrenaline charged stuff!
Have paused for a moment in Broome to get the bike a few presents, things like a new tyre and an oil change as she's been so well behaved recently. Might treat myself to a shower too. (Australia breathes a sigh of relief)
Lots of pictures below.
Hooray for water!
Bike plus pointy thingies
Dolphin at Monkey Mia
Just call me 'Action Man'
The consequences of not paying attention on the 'Pilbara Iron' access road, that used to be a Landcruiser
Stingray at Monkey Mia
Useful for a rest those pointy bits in the Pinnacles
My camp at dawn (DAWN, that's bloody early that is!) on the way to Tom Price
Trip mascot at 'Natures Window'
There are some BIG things out here on Australian roads
Sundown at Shark Bay
The 'Sandfire Roadhouse' living up to the 'fire' part of the name
Recovering Gosling One from the clutches of the sand
Shothole Canyon on the route up to Exmouth
Should have packed a bucket and spade really
Shovelhead Ray at Monkey Mia. This fellow accompanied me down the beach for about 45mins
Approaching 'Steep Point' in Western Australia
Campsite before setting off for 'Steep Point' (not in the water obviously)
Number of rivers I dropped the bike into: 0 (Mad skillz!)
Number of working cameras in posses ion: 0 (Not photogenic)
After soaking up the tropical atmosphere of Broome for a few days, and kitting the bike out with a few bits and pieces (front sprocket, rear tyre and an oil change); it was time to get cracking on the Gibb River Road. "Oh no you bloody well don't!", cried the forces that were beyond my control. Turned out that due to a very wet last fortnight of the rainy season, a big chunk of the track was (and still is) closed. A big washout along the track, rivers running high and a closed roadhouse (read: no fuel), meant the only way to get along said track would be to overdose on Red Bull and grow wings.
Not being able to afford enough Red Bull, I decided to go around instead. This detour did mean that I got to experience the fun track into the Bungle Bungles National Park. The 50km long track into the park took about three hours to traverse, taking in all manner of hazards; including various river crossings. A chap watching me cross the 'Frank River' on the way in, managed to capture it on video, so hopefully I'll be able to upload that at some point!. It went surprisingly well, with Gosling 1 proving she has a submarine somewhere in her genetic makeup.
Getting out of the park didn't go quite as smoothly as going in, but I managed to make it with no major dramas. I only had to go with my emergency plan of "open the throttle and hope I fall off on dry land" once, and even then we managed to stay upright. Safely on the opposite bank I let the engine steam itself dry, as I emptied the rather concerned looking fish out of my boots. That's one of the problems with waterproof riding boots; they're fine as long as you don't have water up to your armpits, then they just tend to collect the damn stuff!
Squelched back onto the bike, and rode the final few km out of the park feeling as though I'd conquered the world. (Which is next on my list, so watch it)
So I'm currently in Darwin having a bit of a break from the road, and waiting for a part for the bike to come in. The nut that holds the front sprocket has disappeared somewhere along the way, I blame the knobber that put the new front sprocket on. Methinks I should've checked his handiwork more closely, but I was busy battling with the rear wheel at the time. Long story short, the only thing holding the front sprocket on, was the tension in the chain and a whole lotta luck.
Will get that one sorted out asap. and I'll do it myself this time! Not too many pictures this time as my camera is buggered (official technical term used by the bloke in the camera shop), so these were the ones I could salvage.
The mighty, sloshing Pentecost River at the end of the Gibb River Road
Watching some other people crossing the 'Frank River', this is the shallow bit.
Can't be bothered making a track? Use a river bed instead!
Holy flaming scenery Batman!
A Water Monitor - His job is to make sure you don't waste water
Part of the Gibb River Road that wasn't actually under water
Taking advantage of the free shower facilities
Champagne Falls near El Questro Station on the Gibb River Road
Well I'm still stuck in Darwin, sans-camera, and more importantly, sans-motorcycle!
After resolving the first issue of the missing nut, I discovered a new one. A fault in one of the wires buried deep within the ignition system, which was causing the starter motor to fire constantly, even when the engine was running. This resulted in an annoying whining noise being emitted from the bike, and more worryingly the potential of a burnt out starter. Luckily I managed to limp round to the local bike place here in Darwin, where the problem was quickly diagnosed.
However, as usually happens with me and problems, it happened at the start of a three day weekend; hence my current status of being 'stuck' in Darwin. With any luck I should be picking up Gosling 1 today (Tuesday) at some point, so I'll be able to stave off the onset of cabin fever, and my growing desire to mow down the entire population of the town with a large machine gun.
To keep myself entertained I've trawled through my pictures to find a few more to post, which appear at the bottom of this text. Just a tip for any travellers arriving in Darwin: Don't stay at the 'Leprechaun Inn / Caravan Park' on the Stuart Highway. It's run by the most petty, small minded, self important and jumped up little Hitlers that I've ever had the misfortune to come across. There, my civic duty is done, consider yourselves warned.
Being stuck has meant that I've had a bit more time with the friends I made over in Broome, who recently arrived in Darwin; and I've also met two German couples, travelling from Germany to Australia over the course of a couple of years. They too are stuck without their bikes, as they are somewhere incarcerated within the bowels of a container ship, on their way here. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that!
Landcruiser in need of some 'TLC'
The bike is a photographer as well as a mode of transport
Camping in Shothole Canyon (don't tell anyone, it's not permitted!)
Night time bugs in a spotlight at El Questro Station on the Gibb River Road
Pilbara Iron train, 2km long!
Unfair competition for the local supply of fish
Guess which side fork seal was leaking?
Pelican at Monkey Mia
The kids thought losing the 4x4 was a great laugh
NOT crossing the Pentecost River on the Gibb River Road
Just to remind y'all it's not a bloody holiday! :-)
Trip cancelled due to romantic involvement...
Originally published: 15th May 2007
Hah, gotcha! Actually I'm departing Australia for Singapore in order to renew my visa. With any luck it will take a maximum of one week. Then I can return and get the hell out of Darwin, and on with the expedition.
Damn this town gets me down. OK I'm off to wallow in self pity in the corner
I'm on my feet, I'm on the floor, I'm good to go...
Originally published: 29th May 2007
..well, almost. I have returned triumphant from my visa renewal quest to Singapore and Malaysia, and have also unfortunately returned with a cold; courtesy of some smelly backpackers in Singapore.
The Eastern Heritage Guesthouse 4quid a night for a double room with balcony. Marvellous!
My time in Singapore was spent mostly in a state of constant technogasm; wandering around marvelling at the huge range of technological gadgets and gizmos on offer. I actually encountered a grandmother of perhaps 90 years on the subway, simultaneously talking on her cellphone, listening to an MP3 player, and playing a puzzle game on a PSP; I was most impressed. Of course it's quite possible that she was a bit senile and thought she was still at home, wondering why the telly was showing nothing but stuff about the subway.
Malaysia was the exact opposite of Singapore, and it's also spelled quite differently. I spent most of my time in a town called Malacca / Melaka, attempting to master the Malay language. Most of my attempts were met with the sort of looks usually reserved for somebody that had just jammed a set of chopsticks in the other persons nose, and drop-kicked their last rice-ball into the roadside gutter. So, in the end, I gave up and resorted to being the ignorant tourist; which seemed to please the locals much more than my mangling of the local dialect.
The Australian immigration department has seen fit to grant me an additional six months in Australia, which should be plenty of time to complete the grand loop-and-a-bit. Unfortunately I'm no longer allowed to do any work; I say unfortunately because my petrol fund currently contains a grand total of $3 and 27cents. This alarming lack of substance has mainly been caused by the last round of repairs, and of course my unscheduled trip abroad. Think I'll adopt the attitude of the ostrich to solve this problem, and bury my head in the sand. If I can't see it, it can't be happening.
Fuel woes aside, I am about as eager as a small child with a puppy and an espresso, to get back on the road, and more importantly away from Darwin. I'm sure that if nothing had gone wrong during my stay here, I would have formed a different opinion of the place. Unfortunately, lots of things went pear-shaped, and thus the place, and the grumpy ass majority of those that reside within it's boundaries, can go and swivel for all I care. Of course not everyone was a sad-sack, and I'm sure other people would get a different impression of the town; but the best view I will have, is of the town disappearing in my rear-view mirrors.
Vying for a job with the local tourist board I am not.
A tree frog attempting to make off with Gosling One
Malacca by night
Sundown from the balcony of my guesthouse
Malaysian pussy, yours for 2 tins of kite-kat
The German bikers, bikes finally arrived!
Arriving back in Darwin at 3:30AM to find Gosling One all safely tucked up
Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park
Tobi and Renata, about to depart for the mechanics
Me testing Gosling One in Litchfield National Park
Bullshit, bulldust and...well, bulls...
Originally published: 8th June 2007
So it was with a heavy heart that I bade farewell to Darwin, I'm not sure who's heart it was but it certainly wasn't mine. I should probably look into giving that back at some point.
Kakadu National Park, green, very green.
I took a short trip into Kakadu National Park, because that is the done thing around these parts. A few waterfalls, some rock 'art' and a bit of bush camping later, and I was firmly back in the travelling groove. I have a hard time getting too excited about Aboriginal rock paintings, some are interesting, don't get me wrong, I just don't 'feel' it, if you catch my drift. I wonder if in years to come we will be touring round London underground stations, marvelling at the graffiti covered remains of the tube trains, wondering at who exactly Wayne and Tracy were, and what exactly it was that they 'did' there. Who can say?
Headed south from there down the highway to Mataranka, before breaking with the bitumen to head east on the 'Savannah Way', a mostly gravel, sand, water and dust track linking up with Queensland on the east coast. Certainly beat travelling via the highway at least, although the road-house at Roper Bar certainly knew how to take advantage of the location, by charging the most I've yet to pay for fuel in Australia.
Please deposit soul at counter before filling tank
A few encounters along the route with large (200m long or more) sections of the infamous Australian 'bull-dust', certainly served to keep the mind awake and the body aching.
Gosling One, lying down on the job
Of course me being me, I thought it would be quite nice to have a bit of a lie down half way through one patch of bull-dust, just to get the full effect. Trust me, the places I ended up with dust in you don't even want to hear about.
Orange is the new black for 2007, trust me
If you don't know what this bull-dust stuff is, just think about riding through knee deep icing sugar, only without the potential for making tasty cakes, and you'll pretty much get the picture.
In addition to the bull-dust, there were also plenty of bulls, cows, kangaroos and various other critters that were determined to make the best possible roadblock they could.
The immovable object meets Gosling One
All good fun, and despite their murderous intentions, I managed to make it to the lush and very, very green state of Queensland. Certainly quite a departure from the dry and dusty conditions in the Northern Territory, it's even been raining for the past couple of days, which actually makes for quite a refreshing change. First time in about four months that I've actually needed to break out the waterproof liners for the riding gear. Saves you getting wet from the rain, but you get just as wet from the sweat, so I'm not altogether convinced of the usefulness of said items at the moment.
Not having my bird book to hand, I shall hazard a guess and say Kookaburra, sheltering with me from the rain.
I have a couple of days in Cairns, catching up with emails, doing some much needed washing (a service to mankind at this point) and hopefully sorting out Gosling One with some nice new rubber; in preparation for the stint up to the top of Cape York.
Fish in my headlight...
Originally published: 26th June 2007
I have returned triumphant, relatively in one piece and rather soggily from the very top of the Australian continent! I've tried to keep this update brief although it's still pretty damn long. I'll post as many pictures as I can, as apparently each one of those is worth at least 1000 words. So I can cheat and pretend I've got a massive word count.
Heading north from Cairns with new tyres front and rear, I stuck close to the coast up to the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation, in the heart of the 'wet tropics'. Who would've thought that with a name like that, it would actually be bloody wet?! Spent two nights camping at Cape Tribulation waiting for the rain to stop, as my route north would be impassable in the wet. (Due to lots of mud and hefty inclines)
With the rain finally letting up it was north along the 'Bloomfield Track' to Cooktown, past the Black Mountain National Park, and then west along 'Battle Camp Road' (a 4wd track) to join the Peninsula Development Road. 'Road' is a term which is open to much debate; the route was mainly sand, gravel, mud and some very large potholes. One of which, just outside the Archer River Roadhouse, I didn't spot in time to slow down or avoid. Cue a suspension testing, bone rattling, arse numbing descent into said pothole. Luckily, no damage done (or so I thought)
Rolling to a stop outside the fuel pumps I noticed quite a lot of oil dripping into the dust under fuel tank. Now I usually like my oil on the INSIDE of my motorcycle, so I was somewhat concerned at this development. Turned out the shock of the impact had cracked the frame just in front of the fuel tank, causing the oil (which is kept, normally, inside the frame) to leak at an alarming rate. Cue a large number of words not really repeatable in polite company, and a quick trip to the roadhouse workshop and a date with a welder. Of course the day was not quite done dishing out a beating. The welder managed to crack one of the fuel lines; so instead of oil leaking everywhere I was now faced with a fuel leak. Managed to fix it all together again though with the use of some 'quiksteel' and a few cable ties. (the motorcycle riders wonder-gadget) So I was now all set to get back on the track.
Just glancing down at the km reading for that part of the trip, and I kid you not, the readout was 066 6 as I rolled into the roadhouse. Signs of satanic influence? Who can say? Me, I can reasonably imagine the staff of the roadhouse out with shovels in the dead of night, deepening the pothole some more.
Headed north the next day to Bramwell Junction, where after hearing a few motorcycle riding horror stories from the proprietor (why do people think you want to hear that stuff?), I started up the infamous Telegraph Track. Now unless you've actually seen the track, or been along it yourself, it will be impossible for you to get an accurate impression of what it was like. Hopefully some of the pictures will help, but basically just think of the worst sort of surface imaginable, drop a few bombs on it, flood it, add liberal buckets of thick mud, fell some trees across it and crack the route into an intricate network of bike swallowing crevices; and you may have a close approximation.
Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads...
In short, worst sort of road to ride along imaginable, and therefore quite a lot of fun! Took a lot of concentrating, and was pretty much soaked through for the entire trip, as there are many, many creeks and rivers to cross.
Came off on one creek crossing after hitting a submerged log. Of course motorcycles don't really like lying down in thigh-deep water that much, so this caused a few problems. Wouldn't start in the water, so I had to get it to the opposite bank somehow. Unfortunately the bottom of the crossing was sand and mud, which refused to relinquish it's grip on the wheels. So the only option for getting to dry land was to lay the bike down in the water, and haul it forcibly round, first by the rear wheel, then the front, then the rear, ad infinitum.
Checking the depth of one of the water crossings
Once on some relatively firmer soil, but still in the water, I still had to push to the opposite bank. Words cannot describe how completely knackered I was at this point, as a water-soaked 180kg motorcycle is not the easiest object to manhandle through mud, sand and deep water. Luckily for me, just as I was about to commence pushing again, the support team rolled up!
I say support team, but it was in fact a group of two families I had met a few hours back along the track in their two 4x4s. Steve, Kerryn and Ashleigh, Robyn, Barry, Leanne and a little later also joined by Manny and Veronica. With a hand from this lot I was soon reunited with terra-firma, and could begin the task of getting all the water back on the outside of Gosling 1, and getting the engine back into working order.
All hands man the pumps!
Long story short, it took about four and a half hours of draining water, spraying WD40 over almost everything, and push starting up and down a small hill. The latter task was uncomplainingly undertaken by my new friends, for which I shall be ever grateful. It surely would have been an even longer and more odious task, had I been forced to do it alone.
Luckily for me, the bike finally fired back into life, albeit sounding a little unwell, and with cappuccino coloured engine oil (never a good sign).
Nolans Brook would be the final barrier before a turn-off onto a bypass road to join the ferry to cross the Jardine River. Unfortunately by the time I set off again, with the now officially official support team following a few KM behind, it had started to really belt it down with rain. I don't mean a light drizzle either, I mean headache inducing sized drops of rain and lots of 'em. This had the combined effects of a) making it very hard to see, and b) turning the track into thick sloppy mud.
Earth eats leg, hold the front page!
A precarious 30mins or so had me finally arriving at Nolans Brook, a very picturesque and rather annoyingly waist deep, wide 'brook'. According to the map there was an alternate log 'bridge', not recommended for heavy vehicles, and a quick glance around showed what I thought to be the ruins of said bridge, lying in the brook. So the only option for crossing was to push across the water with the engine off, as it was definitely too deep for riding.
Push ya scallywags!
Between the support crew and myself we managed to get safely across to the other side, although this second drenching had the effect of stopping the bike from starting on the other side. I decided to set up camp for the night, try and let Gosling 1 dry out a bit and then attempt to carry on in the morning. Bidding my new friends farewell (with the promise that they would check back in a day to make sure I had made it out), I set up camp, and they continued up along the track. Of course it was at this point that I spotted the fecking bridge! It had been hidden from the opposite bank by a fallen tree, har bloody har mother nature.
The 'this would've been useful last night' bridge
The rain continued to pelt down, with me collecting the water for drinking and at the same time trying to keep the bike dry. Perhaps half an hour after leaving, I spotted headlights coming towards my camp from the direction that the support crew had left in, lo and behold they had returned! Apparently a few km up the track, the track had pretty much disappeared, now being closer to an ocean than a track. So, not being able to get through they had resolved to return and set up camp for the night with me. By this point we had also been joined by another couple (busy day on the track this!), Ronaldo and Sue. So we had a very cosy night in a rather cramped and damp campsite.
I have to admit, that for all the misfortune of the day, it worked out very well in the end; and I ended up meeting some great people and even spending more time with them once we reached the 'tip'. An 'up' side to every 'down' and all that.
The next day the track had dried out sufficiently for us to continue on, and it was the work of about 45mins to get off the Telegraph Track and up to the Jardine River Ferry.
Spent a few days recuperating, drying out and generally enjoying the company of my new chums. Definitely worth the trip up, met some great people, and now know how to re-start a completely sodden Yamaha XT. Although with any luck, I shan't need to use that knowledge again any time soon.
Hurrah! Made it!
Am back down in Cairns now, just getting a few bits and pieces together; and of course doing another oil change just to be sure I've got all the water out. It's south from here on a wiggly route down the east coast. With any luck I'll be able to find time to get out onto the Great Barrier Reef too, can't get this close and not actually have a look. Will probably leave the bike on dry land for that one though.
Thanks again to the 'support team' and all the new friends I made along the route up to the 'tip'.
The ever handy, and now official 'support crew'
See you later!
Oh yes, I managed to get the whole 'falling off in the water' incident on video, so as soon as I have time and a decent internet connection, I shall upload it for all the world to chuckle at.
For now, more pics!
Desperate measures to combat the fly menace
It's a monster!
Crossing Cockatoo Creek
Cockatoo Creek on the Telegraph Track
The motley crew I met at Cockatoo Creek
Taking a well earned break at Eliot/Twin Falls
This one is for Stampy McStamperson
Couldn't find any horns though
My ugly and rather sweaty mug during one of the many crossings
More getting stuck on the Telegraph Track
End result of some backpackers driving too fast, I assumed the role of traffic police for this little incident
Correct attire for the Telegraph Track to Cape York
I wish to report that rumours of my death have been highly exaggerated, however rumours of my laziness in updating this blog are spot on. Sorry about that!
So, after recovering from my various underwater expeditions up on Cape York, it was time to get cracking moving south down the east coast. The weather had anticipated this move by me, and in a cunning counter-strike it decided to drop the temperature to "it's frickin' freezing out here Mr Bigglesworth!" levels. I kid you not, every night and morning since departing Cairns has been an exercise in important appendage shrinking exposure training. Chilly? I should bloody co-co!
I wound my way south mainly sticking to long since abandoned inland routes, as these proved to be far more interesting than the more mundane (but faster) coastal highway. Of course the route I chose had a tendency to wiggle its way up and around the Great Dividing Range, which meant the whole "argh I can't feel my fingers!" situation was somewhat exacerbated. Plus of course me being a clever bugger, I'd posted my thermals back to Perth way back when I was suffering in the oven like temperatures of the Northern Territory. Makes quite a nice change not sweating like a Swede in a sauna though.
Kayaking in the Whitsundays
Popped out to the Great Barrier Reef / Whitsunday Islands when I got to Airlie Beach, as it would really be my last chance before getting further south. Spent quite a nice (and also nicely warm) day kayaking all over the show, spotting turtles, snorkelling and generally making an aquatic nuisance of myself. Continued on south from there before progress was severely arrested in the town of Gympie, by a mechanical gremlin (who thought that would happen to me? to me of all people?!).
Not kayaking in the Whitsundays
I'll not go into too many details (as people may fall asleep), but I was stuck in Gympie for about a week, camping in a highway rest area. Turned out the problem was an air leak around where the carburettor joined the engine, meaning too much air was getting in and the bike was acting like a fish out of water. Gasping, coughing, spluttering and generally giving the impression that it was about to explode. (not that a fish out of water would explode, but you catch my drift)
The leg bone is connected to the...
With some help from a chap called Steve who I met in the camp ground (usefully a small-engine mechanic, what are the chances?), I was back on the road once again and the bike is now like a brand new machine. Runs well, more power, more efficient and it even makes the coffee in the morning. (ok so I made that last part up)
Called in at Surfers Paradise for a quick look-see, and spent most of the time drinking a coffee outside the Tiffany's store. I felt the atmosphere outside the front of the shop would benefit from having a dirty, smelly biker drop dust all over the place. Marvellous! I also managed to catch up with some of the members of the unofficial support team from Cape York, which was really nice. Good to see them again!
Compressing the last few of weeks into a paragraph means that I have now arrived in Sydney. I've also finally managed to get some new suspension for the bike, which I actually managed to fit myself without breaking anything, I must be getting better at this mechanic lark. So now I don't get a free spinal adjustment every time I venture onto unsealed roads, which tends to happen quite a lot.
Replacing the rear shock absorber
Old on the right, new on the left (well, newer-ish)
So I'm camped in the suburbs at a place called Miranda, as finding somewhere in the centre with secure parking for the bike proved to be nigh on impossible. Still, it probably would've felt far too weird sleeping under something other than canvas.
I WILL keep this updated a bit more regularly from now on, but too keep y'all entertained for a while, here are some pictures:
Steve assisting me in rescuing the bike (ok it doesn't look deep, but wait til a bit further down the page)
Pushing uphill, only to turn around to try and start the engine back down the hill
See, I told you it was bloody deep
Getting a helping hand to progress through the thigh deep mud
Friends of mine JUST managing to get across Nolans Brook on the Telegraph Track
Just to prove I don't always end up underwater...
The Sydney Harbour Bridge (not pictured, the Sydney Harbour Bridge players)
Made it to the most easterly point of mainland Australia
More operatic scenery
Nice back road through the hills
I am a shadow of my former self
Gosling One, posing for the camera
You can't see too well in the photo, but it's about 1KM straight down at this point
I come from the land of ice and snow...
Originally published: 10th August 2007
Greetings oh loyal reader from almost Melbourne!
Cabramurra, highest town in Australia; deep within the Snowy Mountains.
Just for reference, it's -4 deg C at this point.
(Factor in the wind-chill, and it was about three days before I could feel my fingers again)
I say 'almost' as I am lurking in the eastern suburbs at the moment after booking Gosling One into a local mechanics, for the motorcycle equivalent of open heart surgery. I'm fairly certain the procedure will still involve a large hammer at some point though. A top-end engine rebuild with a new piston, cam-chain and various other complicated sounding items that probably don't come with usable instructions.
It'll be good to get the loyal steed reconditioned. I consider it a thank you gift to the bike for getting me safely 'almost' all the way round Australia. (Plus with any luck it'll add a bit to the re-sale value!) Once the work is completed early next week, I shall ride the last few hundred KM back to my start point, thus finishing the complete lap of Australia. Cue massive party, lots of press, groupies, a ticker-tape parade and loose women everywhere.
Unfortunately reality is more likely to be a celebratory pack of 2-minute noodles, a fill up at the nearest fuel station and then heading off into the central deserts. I've still got to get back to Perth you see, so it's not quite as easily finished as all that!
Over to Adelaide, up to Port Augusta, along the Oodnadatta Track, over to Ayers Rock, down the Great Central 'Road' and finally back to Perth. Only umpteen thousand km, piece of cake I'll be home in time for tea.
Meanwhile my journey from Sydney to Melbourne was fairly standard, unless you count the arctic temperatures (-4 and -2 all day for a few days) and the apparently unreported hurricane that seems to start up every time I jump on the bike. Still, it's all a bit of a laugh innit? Right?
Road conditions in the Snowy Mountains
Three points down on my effort to reach all four extremities of the Australian continent, south was the most recently visited one. Could only ride to within 20km of the actual point, so I resorted to hoofing it through Wilson's Promontory National Park. A 40km round trip in one day, on foot. I certainly knew I'd been exercising the next morning I can tell you!
The VERY uninspiring sign that greets you at the southern most point
Will post an update regarding the bike engine operation as soon as I have news. It's like waiting next to a sick friends hospital bed! Perhaps she'd appreciate a bunch of grapes? Motorbikes like grapes right?
Finally I spotted a Wombat!
Typically Australian, would you just look at all that sand and desert?!
A nicely snow-free, but still bloody cold camp in the forest
This noisy bugger decided it would be nice to try and look under my tent for food in the middle of the night
Mount Oberon in Wilson's Promontory National Park
The southern most point of mainland Australia - Lunch break
From my upcoming book of modelling poses titled: 'Christ my feet are cold' :-D
Someone shot my hamster...
Originally published: 17th August 2007
This is the new VERY fuel efficient model of Gosling One:
Unsurprisingly for a mechanical device associated with me, things became a bit more complicated than a simple top-end rebuild. Various seized bolts in awkward positions meant that the engine needed to be removed to gain access. (ordinarily this wouldn't have been necessary apparently) Of course getting the engine out proved to be an impossible task due to a seized bolt / axle in the swing arm. Hammers worthy of Hercules himself, and even heat applied to the problem area proved fruitless. Eventually the only option left employ a sharp object to cut the offending bolts off.
I'm assured by the doctor that it is all "downhill from here", although hopefully he was referring to the level of difficulty for the remaining procedures and not Gosling One's survival chances!
The most annoying thing about all this is that I can't get in there and assist. I think I'd make a good nurse, I've got the hips for one of those nurses outfits. I'm stuck getting updates via telephone and pressing my nose up against the plexiglass window in the workshop; I'm not allowed in because of the insurance risk annoyingly.
My wallet may require some CPR and a defibrillator after all this though.
Originally published: 22nd August 2007
Poor old Gosling One remains in hospital awaiting parts, although with any luck it should be no more than a day or so before she is back on her wheels. It had better be, otherwise I know of a few mechanics that could well be on the receiving end of a number of creatively explicit nouns.
To keep me from descending into premature insanity while I wait, I've assembled a few panoramas from their component photos, which you can take a gander at below this text; quite a lot of glue and sellotape was involved.
To give you a general idea of what is left to do, here is a little map. The route is very roughly indicated by the red line, the UK shaped blob is obviously the UK, and the blue line is the USA. That should give you an inkling of the distances remaining. I forget where the map came from, somewhere on the Internet though, so thanks to whoever came up with it in the first place!
The bit in red is the part of the route still left to complete
Gentlemen, I was my hands of this wierdness...
Originally published: 2nd September 2007
A projected time-scale of five to six hours, eventually became a grand total of almost three weeks, but I have finally been reunited with Gosling One. She's looking rather dashing, even if I do say so myself. I even found a spot on the front wheel that was actually reflecting light, imagine that, a shiny bit on my motorcycle! Shiny!
All back in one piece. Now 90% new parts!
My wallet however now resembles the head of the latest celebrity heiress, i.e only there for show, and filled with nothing of value. The parts list for all the work done ran to four pages, and a similar number of figures for the final bill. Still, it's good to have a bike that is 100% reliable for the up and coming desert sections of Australia. (fingers crossed at least)
The run from Melbourne to Adelaide will be used to 'break in' the new engine components, and hopefully that will be the full extent of any breaking going on. At least the mechanics seemed to have a sense of humour:
Har-de-har-har, observe the stated colour
My eternal gratitude to the friends I met in Cape York, for letting me mess up their home by staying with them for the last few weeks. Without their hospitality I would probably have been sleeping on a park bench and eating squirrels. Cheers!
Who the #$*! is Alice?
Originally published: 2nd September 2007
I have no excuse for my tardiness in updating this blog; or rather I have many excuses, none of which will pass muster.
The run from Melbourne through to Adelaide went very well, with me retracing my tyre treads from the first run around Australia. That's right folks, once all the way around this very large country has been completed. Hooray! Now I just have to get back over to Perth...cake of piece.
View from the Great Ocean Road, near Johanna Beach
As I mentioned, everything was trouble free for the most part, until that is the clutch cable snapped near Adelaide. Coincidence that it happened so soon after being in the mechanics? Perhaps, but I take solace in blaming them anyway. So I had a few days of cooling my heels near Adelaide. Once again, many thanks to the friends of mine, who valiantly put up with me watching all their DVDs and drinking all their tea.
Clutching hold of nothing
Once said cable had been replaced, I headed north, up through the Flinders Ranges National Park, before joining the start of the Oodnadatta Track at Maree. Temperatures are now well above the maximum level for wearing clothes, although social etiquette demands that I continue wearing at least some. Bloody prudes.
The Oodnadatta Track, not all of it...just a bit
Anyway, the run up the Oodnadatta Track was pretty interesting, sand and gravel for the most part, following the route of the old railway. This meant there were plenty of railway related sights to be had, the railway siding at Curdimurka providing a nice shelter from the desert nights.
Camping it up at Curdimurka siding
The dead centre of Australia, thought it warranted a cheesy picture
The end of the Oodnadatta Track at Marla, saw me rejoin the highway for a spell, heading North. Called in at the very centre of Australia, near the Aboriginal community of Finke; also the home of the Finke Desert Race, although I was a little early (about 7 months) to actually enter officially, but it didn't stop me having a go anyway. :-D
Hot work this racing in the desert malarkey...what, you're supposed to use a vehicle? Ohhhh.
So now I find myself in the tourist haven of Alice Springs, a small touch of 'civilisation' in an otherwise very deserty, desert region. Re-shod the bike with new tyres yesterday and am taking today as an 'off' day, to catch up on things like sleeping and eating. From Alice I will be heading over to Ayers Rock (Uluru) tomorrow, then down the Great Central Road through the desert, over to Western Australia.
Best desert fatigues all round, and don't forget the sun-tan lotion!
On another note, cheers to 'Trailbike Adventure' magazine over here in Oz, who kindly printed an email I sent them, any minute now the charitable donations will be pouring in...aaany minute now....I can feel it. There was also a mention in "Australian Roadrider' magazine, and '2Wheels' mag, although I've yet to be able to grab hold of a copy of those. But thanks to them too!
Trailbike Adventure Mag
Lake Eyre South, off the Oodnadatta Track: Salty
Transport options through the desert have improved somewhat since I was last here
One of many 'dust devils'
Protest art in the desert, or drunken plane parking; take your pick
Approaching the Flinders, honestly they're over there somewhere
Has anyone actually every seen a happy looking camel? I certainly haven't
Curdimurka siding on the Oodnadatta Track
Curdimurka siding on the Oodnadatta Track
In the pine forests of South Australia, having a tea break
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