(Written on 23/07/06)
Well, I wasn't expecting to update the blog so quickly but here we are in a town with an internet cafe so I may as well make the most of it and explain why we are in a town and not on the road...
Our last night in Darwin was great. We rode around the city a bit and discovered that Darwin is less like a city and more like a big village. After doing our chores we found ourselves outside the Deckchair Cinema, an outdoor cinema next to the beach. A good film was on ('Live and Become', French, very good) but what really sold it for us was the fact you could buy beer and curry to eat while the film was on, how civilised!
The next morning we left very late. We stop in a campsite for a few days and I'm always amazed at how stuff spreads itself out and refuses to go where it should...
We'd decided to go to Litchfield National Park for my birthday. The roads were a little rough but nothing worse than we'd had. Hame found a great campsite down a 4WD track and we managed to nab the last spot. It was quite a large spot so we had to look possessive as people drove by hoping to find a camp. After a while we felt bad doing that so as a young and friendly looking couple drove by we offered to share the fire. Soon after that a car load of students appeared so we fitted them in too and ended up pooling our supplies of food and herbs, beer and wine and having a party round the fire, celebrating my birthday at midnight - excellent!
In the morning there were a few fuzzy heads but the students were amazingly awake and organised, cooking pancakes, scones and damper on the fire. They even managed to create a birthday cake made of chocolate damper, I was really touched.
Mal and Jenny, the first couple who'd turned up, offered to take us in their van to some of the waterfalls in the park. We got on really well with them, being very like minded and with things in common - the boys, beer and engines; Jenny and I, talking!
We had a great day exploring the area and swimming in a huge waterfall at Sandy Creek. It was a stunning place, cliff walls easily as high as a 10 storey building and a massive flow of water into a big and incredibly deep pool at the bottom. If you look closely at the pic below you can just see Hamish and Mal chucking themselves off a very high rock into the water...
Drove by enormous termite mounds and through a deep creek on the way back, where we started the party once more. It was a great way to celebrate.
Hame and I were mindful of time running out. Five months sounded like such a long time to be in one country but as I've said numerous times, Australia is BIG. The further you go, the bigger it gets. So we packed up the next morning and went West, leaving the Northern Territory for a few weeks and heading into Western Australia.
After a night in a rest area we were finally on the Gibb River Road, in the Kimberley, an area of Australia in the North West that is bigger than the UK and a place we've long wanted to visit. We'd stopped in Kununarra to replace food we had to eat in a hurry (there are quarantine laws on fresh stuff as you pass into WA), get some info on the Kimberley and fill up with fuel. I think my head was still a bit mashed from birthday celebrations because I (the navigator) was paying very little attention to where we were going. Hame said he'd got good information about ways to get to Diggers Rest, our destination for the night but it turned out he'd not been paying much attention either!
We turned onto the Gibb River Road as it was getting late, but Hame said he thought he knew the way. The scenery was amazing, after so many days of flatness suddenly there were hills and escarpments all around us. The road we were after didn't appear and we found ourselves running out of daylight in the middle of nowhere. We thought we'd have to bush camp but then like a mirage came across a sign for Emma Gorge Resort. We knew it was there somewhere but also knew it was horribly expensive, nevertheless I suggested (!) riding to reception to see if there was a campsite nearby. There wasn't but there was one room left and we decided to treat it as another birthday thing and pamper ourselves.
As you can imagine I was really upset to have a nice hot shower instead of a river, fluffy towels instead of our rather smelly chamoix leather style camping towels, things that smelt nice and a big soft bed and of course we had to stay somewhere called Emma Gorge... (Funnily enough on the way to Kununarra we passed a township called Myatt!) Thank goodness for credit cards, that's all I can say.
In the morning we started packing up the bike when Hame noticed a crack in the pannier, a rather large crack which looked like it wanted to continue. As I was looking I noticed a crack on the bike's sub frame (the best way to explain it is to say it's the bike's skeleton, the thing that everything else is attached to, including me). Too many pies, obviously. We were quite horrified by these two discoveries but had had a sneaky suspicion it would happen eventually, so in a way it was a relief to get it over with.
There was no option but to ride back to Kununarra (very gingerly over the corrugations) and get it welded. The guys in the bike shop couldn't do it but coincidentally someone who worked at a local engineering firm was there and said he'd be able to do it in the morning. The guys in the bike shop told us very definitely we'd not be allowed to work on the bike in a campsite, but between us we charmed the caretaker of the Kimberleyland Campsite and he not only said he didn't mind, he let us use his workshop.
Hame got right down to business yesterday afternoon and took Bertha to bits.
Once on the job he discovered he had to take the sub-frame right off, a pain in the neck to do but easier to weld in the end. It was all done very quickly this morning so Hame has been painting the frame - which is now stronger than it probably ever was. Bertha is in about 1000 pieces, ready to be put back together when the frame dries. I'll let Hame explain more about all that next blog.
When it's all fixed - hopefully tomorrow or the next day - we'll be back on the Gibb River Road, over 700km of gravel, heading to Broome once again. And eating pies all the way...
Posted by Emma Myatt at July 21, 2006 08:53 AM GMT
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