March 15, 2002 GMT
Vicious wombats

After leaving Brisbane, I rode South in the company of fellow British overlanders Mark and Clare (Also on XT600's), who were heading for Sydney to catch a slow boat to NZ. I had recently spent a month in NZ myself, sans bike, and cautioned them that large quantities of water were likely to drop continually from the sky, in a way horribly familiar to residents of the UK; but they were still determined to go. We managed to successfully avoid asphalt roads for a large proportion of the trip, by staying a couple of hundred kays inland of the Pacific Highway. Oz is a country so wonderfully endowed with dirt roads, and equipped with excellent, cheap roadmaps, that spending the entire day blasting through the dust is a thoroughly pleasurable experience.

Looking down the road.

After passing through the Northern end of Wollemi National Park, we parted company just north of Lithgow; I headed west to Canberra, while M & C disappeared into the clouds of smoke emanating from the bushfires surrounding Sydney.

Australian countryside - clouds of smoke on horizon.

Meeting up with Mike in Canberra, we headed westwards by an extremely circuitous route, via Deua National Park to the coast, then looping round through Wadbilliga NP, crossing the Snowy river and then north to the Alpine NP. Our objective was not so much the achievement of Westerly movement, more a sort of dirt-road training cruise.

Doing the dirt with Mike, on a circuitous route from Canberra to Melbourne.

Doing the dirt with Mike, on a circuitous route from Canberra to Melbourne.

After five days of travel, we had made it as far as the town of Nimmitabel, approx 2 hours drive South of Canberra!

Mike, as an ex-KTM owner, now on a BMW R100 equipped with Michelin deserts, was by far the more capable offroader. Yours truly, as the Horizontal Irish Biker, was distinctly less talented, and almost became Horizontal on a number of occasions. Particularly when we picked a 4x4 track 3kms North of Harrietville in the Alpine NP to take us in the direction of the town of Bright.

Mike with bikes.


Ye gods. On the way upslope I was standing on the pegs, bent over the tank so I could inspect the front wheel from close range. Halfway up, I knew I wouldn't be able to get back down, so was obliged to keep going. The other side was, if anything, steeper and very loose - really lucky that I had removed the luggage, which used to sit on the seat behind me, as I felt like I was hanging my ass over the taillight.

Sorry Grant, this is precisely the sort of thing you never get photos of... I mean you can hardly say 'Hang on Mike, just hold it there with that expression on your face while I find somewhere on this rubbly 45 degree nightmare to park, and once I've fumbled my camera out and stopped shaking sufficiently to operate the shutter, I'll take a great picture.'

No. Doesn't work, really, does it?

Tree on the road.

So we plummeted down the other side to the 5 or so creek crossings which finished the whole job off, and I discovered that Mike's BMW has a cleverly designed bashplate extension which sluices the water to either side thus keeping your feet dry. Whereas the Yamaha has an equally ingenious system which fires it straight up your trouser legs, thus (presumably) keeping your feet nice and cool on hot days, (and scaring the Bejasus out of your pet ferrets).


And so to Melbourne:

Out of cash and out of options, I return with leaden feet to the profession of animal doctor, at least for a little while.

At some unspecified point in the future, my bank balance may be sufficiently recovered to tolerate a trip to Western Australia -

Connor prepares to fight off vicious wombats!

Connor prepares to fight off vicious wombats!

Till then, keep an eye out for 1/2 inch flying beetles, and avoid exposing any open-ended tubes...(doesn't bear thinking about really)...

Connor

Posted by Connor Carson at 12:00 AM GMT
 



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