Just after Rockhampton I met another bike on the road. Turned out to be Catherine, also from England, also riding around Oz on a Kawasaki. (Gpz500) We decided to ride together for a while and rode up to Mackay. Visited Eungella National Park and Finch Hatton Gorge. On the way back we saw a snake in the middle of the road. Catherine thought it was dead, but when another vehicle went by it moved pretty fast!
Cat and snake
Onto Arlie beach where we both did our first scuba dive. Fantastic day sailing around the Whitsunday Islands. At Townsville I left Catherine as we are both on different time scales. I went up to Cairns for a couple of dives on the Great Barrier Reef then rode down through the Tablelands to Atherton and down towards Charters Towers.
The road to charters Towers on my map is the same colour and width as the main road that follows the coast to cairns. It isn’t. (Note map is inaccurate number 2.) In parts it’s nothing more than a single lane track with lots of red dirt and rocks either side of it. Also it has big signs that read Caution – Road trains 50 metres long. The first road train I saw coming towards me I slowed right down, got off the road, held on to my handle bars pre-paring for a massive gust of wind. Nothing, he sailed on past and gave me a wave – no worries! (I’d heard horrible stories of these huge trucks and how they never slow down and just sit at 140kph flattening everything in their path. It’s not like that.
Road train and bike
I spent the night at The Oasis Roadhouse, Lynd Junction. At this point this was about as remote as I’d been. There was nothing else there. It was great to meet some of the road train drivers – I even got to sit at the wheel of one and look around the cabin.
I had ended up in The Outback without really realizing it. The road from Charters Towers to Mt. Isa is very open and isolated. It’s an amazing feeling to be out on the road with no other traffic. Lots of road kill and birds. I had my first kangaroo encounter. They are extremely unpredictable and bounce around in front of you before hopping off into the bush. I don’t ride at night or early in the morning for this reason, but they can be found during the day in very remote and quiet places.
There was room for me somewhere.
There is some very diverse scenery around Cloncurry, which is also where Australia’s highest recorded temperature was – over 50°c. At Camooweal there is a sign warning of no fuel for 265km. I needed had to carry a jerry can for this stretch as I only have a range of 200km when the bike is fully loaded.
I stopped for the night about 100km short of Barkley Homestead at a rest area (free camping) I nearly got back on my bike and left after the horror stories I was told by a couple who’d stopped for a bite to eat. Whilst giving me a cup of tea and feeding me biscuits they told me about a mad killer on this stretch of road who’d killed a guy who lay in his swag next to his bike (as I was planning to do) without even waking him up (well why would they?) I went and set up camp near a big pink bus. Later the owners of the bus invited me to sit around their fire and told me that the killing spree in this area had happened near Mt. Isa in 1978 and nothing had happened since. Silly man – I reckon he owned the caravan park in Barkley Homestead because he really thought I should go there to be safe! Instead I saw a beautiful sunset out in the bush.
At Three-ways it seemed to get real hot. I couldn’t ride with my jacket on any longer. I put sunscreen on my arms, but not far enough up, because when I got on the bike, the wind blew my t-shirt sleeves up and I burnt the tops of my arms. I am now stripy – brown forearms, burnt tops of arms and white shoulders.
At Daley Waters I went to a caravan park. I hadn’t had a shower since Cairns and I needed one.
I am now in Darwin and going on a four wheel drive tour. I’m not to keen on tours but it will be nice to let someone else drive and a lot of Kakadu National park is inaccessible by bike. (Especially when the rider has trouble staying up-right as soon as she leaves sealed roads.)
The 4WD trip into Kakadu was excellent. We swam in waterfalls and up gorges. There were lots of rocks to climb and jump off into the deep pools. I enjoyed the bushwalking more then I thought I would! On the last day we went on a crocodile safari. I am glad they took us there after I had been swimming otherwise I might not have gone in!
Sunset in Kakadu
After one last night out in Darwin, I left for Katherine. At the petrol station I met a couple of blokes on bikes going the same way as me, I have been bumping into them all the way down the coast. I also saw lots of brightly painted cars with people dressed up in pantomime costumes. They turned out to be on The Variety Club Bash, raising money for a children’s charity. They were heading the same way too.
The next day I passed into Western Australia. My last border crossing on this trip. They have strict rules about bringing fruit and veg into WA. I asked if a packet of instant mash and a tin of sweet corn would be a problem - apparently not! He did ask to look in one of my pods though. My panniers have now taken on a Sci-fi kind of image. I think I like it and will re-name all the bits of my bike. Any suggestions?
When I got to Kununurra I was hot, tired and ready to drop wherever my body landed. I hadn’t even unloaded the bike when a beer was put in my hand and I was talking to a couple from Perth who had ridden up the coast on an ST1100. I had a couple more with Donna and John before jumping in the pool to cool off.
As the sun was setting thousands of bats flew overhead. It was an awesome sight. There wasn't a patch of sky not filled with bats. It lasted for about 10 minutes. I was told it happened the night before, but had lasted even longer.
I stopped at a roadhouse to drink some water and hide in the shade. The Variety Club convoy showed up too. They have a roadtrain driving with them. The driver came over to say hello. He had ridden around Oz before and was insistant that I take some water from him. I was carrying about 5 litres, but it was at the same temperature that I normally drink tea. So some nice cold water was gratefully accepted. He said I could just pull him over if I needed any more, this seemed kind of drastic, but it was a kind gesture.
I had a brief stop in Halls Creek, but I was ready to get to the coast again. I rode all day to get to Broome - 731km. I've ridden that far in a day before, but usually the scenery changes. I planned to spend a few days in Broome on the advise of people I had met coming the other way. The first couple of kilometres on the way in look like a building site. I wondered what this place was that so many had insisted I should see. It turned out to be a great place to chill out for a while. Before I had found a place to stay I met a couple that had ridden overland from the UK. Simon and Rachel had been on the road for nearly 2 years, on and off. I wanted to hear more of their stories so they took to me to the campsite they were staying at. I had a good few days in Broome and felt nice and refreshed when I gat back on the road to Port Hedland. I always love that feeling when I first get on the bike in the morning and my bum doesn’t hurt. How can a seat that feels so comfy at 8am turn into a block of stone by midday?
I didn't spend as long travelling down the West Coast as I would have liked. After Broome it started to get cooler again and beyond Port Hedland the head wind was so strong it wore me out riding in it. So in trying to get away from the bad (though not bad by English standards) weather I sort of shot through to the south quicker than I had planned. I did have an interesting night sleeping behind a roadhouse at Fortescue River. It is family run, but the main woman in the house is called Barbara. She is a right character. I sat in the bar for the night being entertained by this incredible woman - whose husband promised her a holiday 20 years ago and still hasn't come through! I woke up in the early hours and found I was surrounded by about 10 kangaroos. I have seen lots, but never so close in the wild.
As I got closer to Perth, the countryside started to look more and more like England. One minute I'm in the Australian outback where it's all red dirt, dry grass, starving cattle not a puddle in sight. Within a few hundred kilometres it gets very green, the rivers have water in them, the cows are fat and I saw a yellow field.
It felt odd to reach my final destination. I was happy and amazed that I’d made it, yet also a bit sad that it had come to an end. Not to worry I am already planning more trips for when I get home. (When I’ve finished paying for this trip anyway!) I have been in Perth for a week and I haven’t ridden the bike since I got here. I will though, just one last time.
There will be photos on here when I get home around the end of October.
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