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  #91  
Old 11 Mar 2011
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" Arrrgghh " screamed an unknown voice in the dark.

" Fugging 'ell " shouted another.

" Crocs " someone screeched.

Then an entire chorus of voices erupted in several different languages..........and this was the rather non-poetic start for this nights bedlam.

Prelude

The Victoria highway was gone....and gone in a biblical sense at that.I stood in the middle of the road and looked out over the bridge...or where I guessed the bridge would roughly be under the raging torrent.

Arranged in a ragged convoy along the road behind me was a rag-tag collection of trucks, campers and cars with their occupants also decamped and surveying the same scene. Across the way we could see the road house/service station and a similar gaggle of vehicles on the other side looking at us....inbetween us was a decidely angry and massive flood swollen river and from best guestimates a submerged bridge about 3 metres below the surface.

As my name was not Captain Nemo...this is where the journey ends for a couple of days as there was simply no way to proceed.

Within a couple of hours everyone on our side of the river came to same conclusion and just congregated on a little rise in the land off the side of the road.Campers were parked and tents setup, truck drivers shut their wagons down and disappeared into their sleep boxes and a little community sprung up for the anticipated wait for the river to recede.

Having experienced special forces spiders leaping off trees at me recently and being present during a voodoo initiated zombie toad incident I was starting to get a little wary of the Australian wildlife...so put my well practiced plan of where to put my tent into action. In case of dodgy wildlife, I find it best to put your tent, smack in the middle of everyone....that way if the wildlife fancies a midnight snack they have all the surrounding tents to sample before mine.

Leaving trails of food outside the other tents or throwing " Loomie sticks " next to someones tent ( glow in dark emergency lights ) is rather unsporting, So I will say that I definately did not do that.

A couple from one of the campers had their tent set up on the edge of our site and the wife was woken up by a noise outside their tent about midnight...after much poking in the ribs, the husband stuck his head outside the tent and turned on his torch....to apparently come almost face to face with a sizeable croc!

Bedlam.

After an hour of people running around at random and much turning on of vehicle lights, the area was declared croc-free and we all got back to trying to get some rest.....with the exception that everyone was either sleeping inside their vehicles now, or like me actually camped on top of one of the trucks.
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  #92  
Old 11 Mar 2011
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I gave the situation at the impassable bridge crossing 5 days ( slowly getting bored of eating nothing but baked beans and almost exhausting my mead supply ) and then faced the fact that the water was not showing the slightest sign of getting lower and more storms were in fact on the horizon.

Choice made, fuel the bike up and head back the way I had come towards the town of Katherin and head south if possible and see what is what.The only possible route that might be travelled was to head a good distance south until I got to near to Tennents Creek and see if the roads to Mount Isa would be open.

Effectively the Eastern side of Australia was now closed to me on my bike....the next rout to Perth would involve travelling past Alice Springs and then simply heading east across the desert tracks and looking at about 700km before refueling stops....that is far beyond was is sensible and safe for any motorcyclist without support.

The last route would be to go as far south as I could ( nearly to Adeliade ) and follow the coast round...this would be several thousand plus Kms on soul destroying tarmac in high temperatures...I could do it, but it would be an utter pain and quite simply no fun.
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  #93  
Old 11 Mar 2011
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The road to Mount Isa was damaged and under water but It was possible to travel it with care and a bit of skill on a bike or other rough terrain vehicles, the road itself was almost universally to a depth of 1 foot for dozens of kilometers with small patches of dry land, before submerging yet again.

Hundreds of metres of road had been washed away in sections with concrete culverts weighing a dozen tonne or more just swept away down stream.

The whole country had been hammered by these floods and every main road was either effected or closed....whole communities further north were and had been cut off for weeks at this point.

No point in bombarding you with dozens of shots of flooded vistas....but thats all I had for hundreds of kms....apart from having to be very careful at water crossings in case those logs floating about have teeth!
Attached Thumbnails
No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-flood.jpg  

No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-pict0423.jpg  

No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-pict0411.jpg  

No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-pict0434.jpg  

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  #94  
Old 11 Mar 2011
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Bare footed ladies and headless kamikazee birds.

With the increasing greenery in the terrain, I was noticing a swelling in the wildlife numbers as well....especially in the numbers of birds and other flying thingies.

For whatever reason the DR650 was a magnet for these flying pest's and either the bright suzuki blue was offensive in some avian aspect or other, but the little sods felt compelled to dive bomb me....sometimes they didnt quite make the move and thudded into the bike.

One big fat git of a bird decided to commit suicide by flying straight into my front fairing where it literally exploded and showered me with bird bits and blood and other tasty treats that ended up in my beard and on the inside of my helmet. I pulled over and basically scraped off all the gunk and checked myself for any chicken feet stuck in my beard or anything and carried on.

Every service station on these long routes needs to be a rest stop to top up the fuel to be on the safe side and also to get some water down your neck. Pulled up at this servo, and walked into the semi-busy resturant to grab an ice-cream and did my usual routine of stripping off my motocross shirt and getting my body armour off to allow the heat out of my body.As I drop my gear on the floor I spot something out of the corner of my eye, roll away across the floor towards the people behind me.

I hear a girlish scream .....and even though I am an ugly bloke, I do not normally get this kind of reaction, so I looked round... to find a young aussie girl standing on one bare footed leg while screaming and kicking her other bare footed leg in the air?

She manages to dislodge whatever is stuck to her foot and it shoots across the floor until it rolls along and gives a friendly nudge to the foot of another lady ( made of sterner stuff ) who stamps down and squashes the thing with a resounding wet crack.


That explains where the head of the exploding bird had got to from up the road.....lodged into a crevice on my armour until I dislodged it unknowingly in the cafe.
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  #95  
Old 13 Mar 2011
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Really enjoyed reading your ride report! I wish I had your writing skills, you're a funny guy.
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  #96  
Old 13 Mar 2011
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Thank you Titbird.

Most of the influence stems from that lovely drink I discovered out there called Mead....its medicinal as well.

Plus a technique called " Retrospective Inspiration ", I'm sat in front of my computer wearing my Arai Tour-X with the temperature turned up to 40 degrees and having the roomate run in every two minutes to throw some sand into my face and occasionally throw a dead pidgeon at me .....it just brings it all back.

Last edited by BaldBaBoon; 14 Mar 2011 at 01:07.
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  #97  
Old 13 Mar 2011
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Mount Isa

Finally broke through the flooded landscape and emerged into this area of Australia where the unending bush starts to give way to hills and rocky terrain.

Mount Isa is one of the main mining area's in this district and something industrial on this scale is right in your face as soon as you come into town. Camping is not really an option near population centers like this, so a bit of boo-rah started in trying to find a place to stay. Its a working town which means a lot of the casual lodgings are taken up and as its not really a pretty place....so the backpacker places are few and far between.

The only place I could find was a lodging not far from the centre of town and it had one of those ' feelings ' about it that put you a little on edge. A bit of a dingy collection of communal buildings with a semi-permement population of residents living there on their welfare payments.

Needs Must.

Booked in and parked for the night and for the first time, completely stripped the bike of anything remotely ' shiny ' that an idle hand would be tempted to take. Also for the first time, I locked the bike with the padlock and chain that I had been lugging about unused since I had landed in Australia. I got a few sidelong glances from some of the residents....as apparently they simply did not get travellers here.

I may have mentioned that I am a very, very light sleeper, Coupled with the fact that I happily get by on four to five hours sleep a night and can be instantly alert and awake in a split second......something that has proven useful on occasion!

I was asleep until I heard the rooms door slowly creak open and a dull spilling of light enter the room from the distant corridor light and a muffled shuffling of feet. I was not the only one staying in that room, but I was the only one who was sleeping in that corner of the room....so when I heard a soft clinking as a bit of equipment was moved from my stored panniers, that pretty much ruled out an innocent room mate.

# Cheap little alarm system....empty food can with some round pebbles inside and leant against of inside your gear makes a very good alarm#

If you are just going to lay there and pretend to be asleep and hope its an innocent party/not pinch anything important...then carry on. If you are going to confront them, do it in an impressive manner and hopefully put the fear of God into them.

I might be a great deal fatter since I left the forces, but 105kg is still 105 kg when it leaps across the room at you and knocks you to the floor.....the flattened interlopers were a young man and a young women who apart from being in shock were also obviously drunk. Not to go into detail, but after a little bit of a discussion they decided that they had made a very bad mistake and it was time to leave before they made an even worse mistake.

That incident was one of those little things that is natures way of telling you to move on.
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  #98  
Old 14 Mar 2011
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Townsville

Next day I set off in the hope of heading to Townsville, heading back into the tropical climate from the broken bush/hilly terrain and then farmland of this area.

The road was closed after Cloncurry, it was totally impassable and from the advice given from the servo staff and returning or stuck travellers....the entire road to Townsville was effectively hit and miss......the road to Cairns was just gone. It was a case of long stretches of water with the towns being isolated islands ( if they were lucky ) and an unknown timeframe for this natural disaster.

Some of the towns north of this point were isolated for 16 weeks ( as I later found out ) and had to rely on water and food being helicoptered into them. Assuming you could actually get to Townsville, you would then be stuck.

Another one of those " Plan B's " came into being at this point, and a plan that even the A-team would have been proud of.

After talking to some truckers and some farmhands, we got a plan in motion that was a follow my leader type of affair....following the farmhands who worked this area and intended to push through by utilising the backroads and the more elevated off-road routes to perform a kind of zig-zag effect to get to an undamaged road.

The plan worked, and after a bit of effort and a lot of luck we managed to bypass the flooded roads and ended up on the other side and on the main route heading to Rockhampton. Effectively heading due east.
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  #99  
Old 14 Mar 2011
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Rockhampton or bust.

You will have to forgive me here as the next few days were a bit of a blur and either my memory is crap or I lost a few days getting drunk when caught at a few towns that were cutoff.....In fact I believe the getting drunk accounts for quite a lot of it.

I do recall just getting out of one town as the waters started to lap over the road and riding hell for leather....

And the next thing I can recall in a concrete manner is a giant set of Sheeps testicals about 10 foot in height.....as that is a bit of a random memory for anyone, I checked through my photos and confirmed that....Yes I did indeed see a set of 10 foot tall sheeps Testicals or Rams testicals,( I dont really know the correct term as I had never thought of a sheeps genitalia until that point ) ......but that was actually a month later on in the trip.

Why I have this random memory of Giant concrete sheeps nuts and Rockhampton....I have no idea!
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  #100  
Old 14 Mar 2011
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Yes, I believe I went off at a slight tangent in the story telling then.


Back to the story.

The terrain was changing again, to add a nice take on the scene and as is also traditional when approaching the main population centers like cities....car drivers road skills started to get atrocious as per normal everywhere in the world.

A particular flavour I noticed in Australia though was the complete lack of concept in braking distance.....bloody cars would always be sat about a cars length behind you all the time....tailgating is one of my pet hates, and I have developed ( patent pending ) a whole series of internationally recognised hand signals to convey my displeasure at this.

Big town is Rockhampton and was also blessed with a main bike dealership on its edges, the bike was booked in due course for a complete service and yet another set of tyres....a off-road biased set again ( Kenda ) and I set off into town to waste a few hours while the boys and girls at the bike shop did their stuff.

Went and watched a film at the cinema, what film was it?.....no idea as I had met a very nice Aussie lady ( Amie ) in the queue and we spent the whole film talking and giggling. Amie, worked in town in one of the banks and proved to be a great person to spend time with..she had travelled extensively when younger when working in Europe and had the same wunderlust that we all share..all in all a very good person who I really liked.

I have a problem when getting close with people in that I have always expected others to hold themselves to the same standards I hold myself. I simply do do not and cannot " give second chances ".I even know when this started, I was fighting in Bosnia and the German girl I was engaged to marry when I finished the tour started sleeping with a colleague back home....I was absolutely gutted and could never forgive that.

I stayed with Amie for a full 2 week's, she took a week off work and we just had a fun time....and I don't mean that in a flippant/smutty way...but we really did have a laugh together.In two weeks time I was going to attempt to ride to Cairns....until then, we just had a good laugh.
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  #101  
Old 15 Mar 2011
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Well, I gave it good attempt and did my best to head north....but as you may have guessed I just happened to time my trip with the worst weather Australia has had for decades.I got a few 100kms North and then started running into increasingly deeper road washouts until it got to the point where there was nothing that could be done.....so time to spin the bike around and head back to Rockhampton and plan the next stage.

Amie had received a surprise invite from her sister who had been out in the States studying for the past year or so and had met the man of her dreams and decided to marry. The invite was to spend the coming full month out there preceding the wedding and some time after.

She asked me If I wanted to come with her for a couple of months.....and after thinking about it for a few days, I worked out that I just could not go for various reasons...she was dissapointed but understood, as it was totally unplanned. I then stayed with Amie until she flew out ( just under a week ), she even offered me her house to stay at while she was gone.....amazing offer for someone who you have only really known for a month...but I could not accept such an offer.

There are not many decisions or choices I have made in my time that cause me problems..I have made right choices and wrong choices, but have the attitude that " what is done..is done " and live with those choices.

I have never made a choice that has caused me so much regret afterwoods by not going to the States with Amie, It still keeps me awake some nights and I have to give myself a good slap to stop thinking about it.We still keep in touch....from the other side of the world, but in hindsight I was a bloody fool to keep travelling at this point.
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  #102  
Old 15 Mar 2011
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Here are some pretty pictures, before this ride report sinks from view from pathetic self-pity.

I took a aimless and slow meander down the East coast and just explored and stopped off at a whim for the next week, every cove was a sight to behold and it dified belief that an even more beautiful feat of nature lay ahead.....this area is blessed with its terrain.

It was comfortably warm, the rain had stopped and that lovely salt air tang filled the air that you do not realise how much you have missed it until you taste it again.

On a technical note.

At this point I gave away my one man tent to a charity shop as I had started to develop a nervous twitch whenever I built the thing....it was truly like crawling into a coffin every night....

And splashed out on a K-Mart $25, 3 man dome tent!
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  #103  
Old 15 Mar 2011
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Nuts..here are those photos I was supposed to post.
Attached Thumbnails
No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-44.jpg  

No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-123.jpg  

No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-pict0005.jpg  

No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-pict0018.jpg  

No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-pict0056.jpg  

No plan, no research....Australia, here I come.-pict0044.jpg  

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  #104  
Old 15 Mar 2011
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Nicely described! I liked reading your journey and seems as if you had quite an amazing days through out your journey and thank you for providing us lots of information.
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  #105  
Old 15 Mar 2011
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an amazing read.. keep em coming

subscribed

cheers
Geordie
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