May 11, 2004 GMT
beginning the first leg

1st May 2004

Just a progress story on my trip to Asia.
One the first fateful Saturday of May 2004, Doris (thatís my bikeís nickname) left Brisbane on a Ulyssian epic that would take us up to 12 months to who knows what adventures and exotic places we would encounter.

Well first of these exotic places was Moree, for the Moree Muster, about 550kís south west of Brisbane. Things were going along quite nicely at around 110k/hr on the Dakar, (I had installed an MP3 player in the tank bag, with ear phones). Then just out of GoondIwindi, FLAT tyre, Bugger! Shit! And every other bloody name I could think of!.

Ist flat in 10 years, up on the centre stand, off the the luggage, throw it all over the bloody place, looking for a tube and tools.

My old dirt bike memories come flooding back from 30 years ago, and the wheel was off in no time.

The predicament I was in, how do you break the bloody bead on a rear tyre!

As I sat on the side of the Newel Highway 55Kís out Moree and continuously holding my breath and closing my eyes every time a bloody big semi-trailer went past, I could hear the distant rumble of bikes in the distance.

Well the cavalry arrived in the surprising guise of Pat (The President of the Brisbane Branch of the Ulysses) his wife Barb on Pillion and good old Willy.

Iíll tell you what I have never been happier to see to Harleyís in my life.

We got to work breaking the bead using Pats side stand and the weight of the Harley, then out with the old tube, check the tyre and in with the new.

I just bought a new fangled pump, with CO2 cylinders, trouble is we used the only cylinder for a practice run and couldnít blow up the tube. Thatís when Barb found the instructions!

Well along came another good Samaritan in the form of a Honda Trike, towing a bloody big trailer. Another Ulyssian by the name of Andy, from Goondiwindi, he new a farmer down the road with an air compressor, so off we went me on the back holding on to the tyre like grim death.

No problems, the farmer wasnít home, but his workshop was open so we were soon back and putting Doris back together again.

We spent the weekend in Moree having a look around, saying farewell to my Brisbane and Goondiwindi friends to road north, I turned Doris around with a south heading towards Newcastle, 500kís away, were I plan to spend a week with friends and family, go to my mates 3rd wedding then watch mum jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane for her 76th birthday and Mothers Day.

Some of us have silly friends and Mad mothers.

I leave on 12th May 2004 Destination Darwin.

Posted by Tom Forde at 05:36 AM GMT
May 30, 2004 GMT
HERCULES, KOORIS AND THE OASIS HOTEL

12/5/04

TOTAL 690 kís

I left Newcastle on a crisp Autumn morning, the southerly wind was building up the ocean and the sea breeze was blowing in storm clouds.

Saying farewell to my parents and kids, I headed off West along the New England Highway, basically the same way that I had come down the week before. Anyone visiting this area, known as the Hunter Valley, should take time out t visit the vineyards, some of the best in Australia.

Still going west, I wanted to get about 500 kís inland along the New England Highway, and then join the Kamilaroi Highway into Cotton Country. Around Narrabri the difference in scenery is startling, from green undulating hills, to flat treeless landscapes, so flat you can see the circumference of the earth meeting the sky.

The highway is littered each side with cotton, dropped from the trucks passing through on there way to the cotton gins for processing. You also canít miss the amount of road kill on this part of the highway, mostly big red kangaroos, and the occasional steer.

After 690 kís the1st day, I arrived at a small town called Walgett, best known for its aboriginal (Koori) problem, with a population of around 2000, most on Government Benefits.
I stayed at the Oasis Hotel, the managers name is Bob, nice bloke from Sydney. The pub is guarded by the biggest dog I have ever seen, Hercules is a Great Dane, and he weighs 95kgís! and is black as the night. His girlfriend Angel was very pregnant, and together with 2 smaller blue healer dogs, guarded the pub, which was protected by a 2.4m high steel fence all around with padlocked gates. Good security for Doris.

Obviously I was assured of good nights sleep, however I was woken around 5.00 am with the howls of the local dogs. Getting out of bed at around 7.00am, Bob informed me that Angel had given birth to 8 little Great Danes.

Well, I gave Hercules a pat on his big head, and was on my way to Lightning Ridge, about 50kís north for breakfast.

13/5/04

What a place Lightning Ridge is, a total contrast to Walgett. An Oasis in the desert, full of tourists and a heap of things to see. After a good breakfast of bacon and eggs, it was off to Longreach.

Doris sits on 110 to 120kís an hour with the new Michelin Anakee tyres I fitted in Newcastle, doing a much better job than the Bridgestone Trail masters I had used for the past 5000kís. Fuel consumption was down about 30km from a tank of fuel, due to the touratech panniers fitted, I am only getting about 270k before the reserve light comes on, I get about 100k out of reserve, plus I carry a further 4 litres for the Australian leg of my trip.
I crossed the Queensland border at a little town called Hebel on a beautiful blue skyed day. Plenty of road kills from the night before.
Kamikaze kangaroos would make a formidable force in Iraq, Taking on Road Trains head on takes balls.

Spent the night in a small town called Roma, in an old pub called The School of Arts, it is a typical big pub built in small towns at the beginning of the 20th Century, and provides clean and secure accommodation for around $20 a night.

14/5/04

On the road first thing, heading for Longreach. The road is flat, straight and boring, with the inevitable road kills on the sides of road. Got into Longreach at around 5.00pm, another 700Kís for the day.

I intend to spend a few days here, so I booked into a motel, close to the QANTAS and the STOCKMANS HALL OF FAME. Well worth a visit.

15/5/04

On to Mount Isa, the road is again straight and the landscape flat, boring as far as a biker goes. Still plenty of road kill and the birds that feast on it are just as dangerous!
A lot of near misses as up to 6 large carrion fill their bellies. Another 700k to Mount Isa.

The only few highlights are the BLUE HEALER PUB in a tiny town called KYNUNA, and a pot of strong tea in WINTON, and a yarn with one of the colourful opal miners in the area. Sitting on 110k and trying not to fall asleep and risking running into a caravan sitting in 80k. Reached Mount Isa at around 4.30pm.

Oh ye, got pulled over by the Police in CLONCURRY and then in MOUNT ISA for an alcohol breathalyser test. 2 in 2 hrs!

17/5/04

Had a good nights sleep at a local caravan park, (cabins for $40/night), have a look at the local tourist centre, it has a full working underground mine, takes about 3 hours and costs $40. I met a guy on a Harley Trike called Tony, heís from Melbourne, just gone through a divorce and doing the running away thing. No idea on bikes, bought the Harley for $35G, and off he goes, gets to ADELAIDE and the motor shits itself.
$4,500 later!

Off towards the Northern Territory, and across the Savannah Way, what a shit fight, single lane bitumen with huge road trains 150m long carrying cattle. Met an old bloke riding from CAIRNS to ALICE SPRINGS on a 175cc Yamaha Trail bike 2 stoke. It takes all kinds!

Finally I get to the intersection with the Stuart Highway, which travels north to Darwin, stayed overnight at a THREE WAYS TRUCK STOP, and met up with 2 guys on 1150 BMW Adventures, from the south coast of NSW. They have been travelling for 3 weeks and are heading home via COOKTOWN and CAIRNS.

19/5/04

Just a short ride to DALY WATERS (450k). I booked into the pub for a good rest, great atmosphere with live music every night.
This pub is so good I stayed another night, go have a look at the old air port, heaps of history.
Say hello to Knocker, an old biker, living in a bus behind the service station, has he got some stories! Bought the bus off a junky for $5,000 in DARWIN, she wanted $25,000, good deal!

25/5/04

On to Darwin (500k.)

I finally arrived in DARWIN around 1.00pm. After staying in KATHERINE GORGE for a couple of days, great place for a canoe paddle and bush walks, with spectacular scenery.

Doris was due for a 20,000k service and a new chain and sprocket set, before heading for ASIA. What dramas, the local BMW Dealer sells Korean cars an d hasnít got a clue on bikers needs, but I need my service book stamped for warrantee! Anyway the donít have any parts, and have to order them from Melbourne, with no guarantee of delivery times.

I bought a BMW for their reputation, so this wasnít good enough, so I rang Customer support in Melbourne, explained my position and presto, things were put in place and the parts arrived Thursday night.

28/5/04

Unfortunately the ship I am putting Doris on to go to Singapore (THE ARAFURA SEA) is leaving a day early, so I had to hastily get Doris through customs and couldnít get her serviced. A quick call to SINGAPORE BMW and everything is arranged for a service on arrival. DARWIN wake up!

PERKINS SHIPPING is the company looking after Doris, contact is Nandra Turton , ph 89822000 or nandra.turton@perkins.com.au.

A total cost of $176.00 and I will meet Doris in 9 days.

She has company, with 2 young German riders (Iris and Florin) who have been on the road for 18 months, travelling from Germany, through Africa and 6 months around OZ. on 1982 500cc Yamaha XTís. I will meet up with them in Singapore, they are off to BALI, and Iím off to BORNEO to see the Orang tangs.

Fortune Favours the Opportunist, Just when I was thinking of what to do for the next 3 days, waiting for my plane out of Darwin, I get a call from a company I did work for 2 years ago. They tracked me down and offered me a couple of days work, It'll pay for my Darwin stop over.

However a small problem with my entry into Singapore has arrised, apparently Royal Brunei will not allow me on their plane unless I have a forward flight out of Singapore. Therefore I had to purchase an additional ticket to K.L. In Malaysia, once I am in Singapore I can return the ticket to Royal Brunei in Darwin for a refund, talk about red tape!

Posted by Tom Forde at 03:16 AM GMT
 
 

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