August 31, 2002 GMT
East Coast, South Queensland

Surfers paradise was great. I went to Movie World and Dream World where they film Big Brother. Had my photo taken on the Big Brother stage. Found the TT bike races in the arcade and was happy to find I can still win.

Got a bit lost in Brisbane. I went over a bridge and then went over it again going the same way as before, but I was sure I hadn’t crossed back over the river anywhere else. Saw an advert for some extra money:
“Research subjects wanted for sunscreen testing”
Didn't bother.

I went to stay with a friend in Maroochydore and dropped the bike again right outside her house. This time I was trying to park on a hill and I ended up under the bike – great! Before I could think about crawling out all embarrassed and shameful, a man was picking the bike up for me and a woman was picking me up and offering me a cup of tea – excellent! (Thank you both)
Went to see The Big Pineapple – got my photo and left.

the big pineapple.jpg
The big pineapple.

It was getting a bit ridiculous each time I loaded up the bike. Lots of things that didn’t have a place in my luggage were getting wedged under any available bungee strap. It looked like something out of Steptoe and Son. So I bought a tank bag and it’s so good I shall be sending it home at the end of my trip.

At Tin Can bay I asked at the petrol station if there was anywhere I could camp for free. I was given directions and got on my way. Around the corner, left and left again and then the road ran out. I hate riding on rocks and dirt – I’m useless, but I gave it a go anyway. I was doing OK until I hit a bank of sand, wobbled a bit, then a lot, and then dropped the bike again. Good job I hadn’t replaced my clutch lever or else I would have had another knobble in my collection. My nice new tank bag now matched the rest of my things – old, used and dirty!

I took a road that runs from near Tin can Bay to Maryborough where it re-joins the highway. On the map it is a tiny minor road but it is as well maintained as parts of highway one – first note of map being inaccurate.

Posted by Nicky Austin at 02:03 AM GMT
Rockhampton To Cairns and down to Charters Towers

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.jpg
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.jpg
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.

Posted by Nicky Austin at 02:24 AM GMT
The Outback

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.

bike fully loaded outback.jpg
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.

sign flies 2 mil.jpg

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.)

Posted by Nicky Austin at 02:54 AM GMT

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