April 04, 2006 GMT
We still haven't got to the Blumberg
So Peter left off with us restocking, adjusting chains and the like and getting ready to do our first major bit of Aussie dirt roads to Birdsville.
Its Tuesday March 21 and we leave Longreach early and travel on some pretty suspect stuff called a paved road to Windurah, a lot of this road is paved but its only 2 tire tracks wide, and some 30k or so is dirt. We got to Windurah, the last bastion of civilisation for some 350 odd k and took on extra petrol, food for us and Peter went and check with the police regarding the state of the road and whether it was passable. There had been some showers in the area, and the sky was pretty overcast. The policeman told Peter all was a go, have fun and be safe. Off we went, and it was exciting as literally there is nothing but wide open spaces, flies and the occasional cow. Sometimes there will be as little as 1 car on this road all day.
About 203k from our destination of Birdsville, Larry(the cyclone) caught up to us and the dirt road that we were having fun on turned into a major mud hole. I could hear the dirt spraying up into my front fender, and the back felt a little slippy but the next thing I knew Peter was slipping sliding and spinning down the track on his Givi luggage, quite a sight really. Peter never drops his bike so this was quite the thing. As I'm slowing down to stop and help, down I go. Add water to Birdsville dirt, or for that matter most of Australias dirt roads and they become impassable to all but 4-wheel drive vehicles. the sticky clay dirt was coating our tires and filling our front fender thus disallowing any forward movement of the front wheel.
Fortunatley for us, as we were wallowing in the orange muck a Telstra man happened upon us. Telstra is like Telus in Canada but seeing its Australian its automatically better, just a dig. Brian the Telstra man thought we were cows on the road until we jumped up. He then spent the best part of the next hour trying to help us get the bikes somewhere safe. Lumpy fired up immediately but Butts wanted nought of it, so once Peter and the bikes were safely between two creeks that had both starting running in the hour that we were there, Brian and I went off for help. It was quite the thing to leave Peter standing in the pouring rain, under a huge Telstra umbrella with 2 mud caked bikes. He did have food, fixings for making tea and a tent, so I didn't completely abandon him.
After a good 45 mins of slipping sliding and plowing through creeks Brain got us to Morney Plains Station, where after explaining our plight, Craig Lasker, the station manager. calmly said he'd see what the men were up to. Within minutes up roared 2 Toyota 4 wheel drive flat decks manned by Rob(lead hand), Red Dog(one of the station hands) and Doug (the company pilot). The rescue was on.
I left Peter on the side of the road around 3.15, it was easy 8.30 before we got back to the station and it was less than 85k away. 504.6ks
We spent the night in one of the rooms they put aside for single workers and then the next morning after a call to our trusty and all knowing friend at North Shore Suzuki, Benny, had the answer as to why Butts wouldn't start. A simple connecting switch under the clutch. Once Butts roared to life and we said our forever heartfelt thanks and goodbyes we were off to Mt.Isa, the long way as I didn't wish to play in anymore dirt. Literally we were taking a 1000k detour.
We arrived in Charleville Qld early afternoon after riding on some of the straightest roads we've ever been on. Welcome to outback Australia, horizons forever and very straight roads. We did manage to spend a lot of this ride wet as we ran into system after system, all resulting from the cyclones off the coast. 591.3kms
We allowed ourselves a little sleep in as we needed to find a chain for Butts and thought we could make the calls from the motel. Peter went to the local bike shop in Charleville when it opened and they gave us the name of a shop in Mt. Isa. I phoned and they just happened to have what we needed in stock. When I told them that we'd be there on Friday the bike guy was a little dubious as he said all the roads into Mt.Isa were closed due to flooding. Adventures galore. If it doesn't kill you and it makes you stronger then I am Hercules sister.
Thursday night saw us in Winton, the home of Qantas before it moved to Longreach, and where Mr.Patterson wrote "Waltzing Matilda". It also held the record for the longest roadtrain until recently. This is a great town and I highly recommend a visit. The Tattersall Pub serves some of the best Morton Bay Bugs I've ever eated. 711.5kms
Friday March 24 we rode to Mt.Isa. The scenery changed quite dramatically as we entered the hills that surround Mt.Isa. Some evidence of lots of rain, but not that much water on the road. It was a short ride day, 480.2k, but we had to get the new chain on Butts. There was no more room for adjusting.
Sat. we left for the Northern Territory, and the first road sign we saw said"road closed due to flooding". Well never ones to be dettered we thought we'd go have look. Yes the road had a little water on it but not enough to stop the interpid travellors we are. My first water crossing of note, and I found that both my boots and socks hold a lot of water for a long time. Lovely feeling really. Not!!!
The next road sign of interest was as we entered Northern Territory and it indicated no speed limit. Yahoo. We quickley found however that strong head winds and higher than normal speeds, though making for good time and the dead straight roads far less boring also muck up fuel mileage big time, and when you can be paying up to $1.68/litre it makes speeding expensive.
We also found that there really isn't very much in the way of civilisation in the Northern Territory, other than roadhouses with expensive petrol and accomidation. Its very beautiful, but very isolated.
After experiencing more than a few places that weren't exactly the places we would feel safe leaving our bikes outside, we decide to push it to Daly Waters. Not monsoonal showers, torrential downpours or pitch black skies were going to stop us from reaching the Daly Waters Pub. Although a fast running swollen creek tried its best.
Daly Waters Pub is a hoot and a must visit. The place only exists because of the pub and seems to be on every backpackers list of must visit places. As with the rest of Northern Territory its spendy but fun. I've never seen such a good reserve wine list. Wines and vintages that haven't been available for ages and all at a decent price. 1035.9kms
Sunday saw overcast skies and the threat of more monsoonal rains. Lumpy is in need of a new back tire and being that there is nothing but a dead straight road between Daly Waters-Tennant Creek- Alice Springs, we put our head down and ended up in Alice 940.9kms. It rarely rains in Alice, with the exception of when we're there. Boy we were wet.
Alice Springs has a huge KTM Aprilia motorcycle shop, so first thing Mon. morning Peter headed over to it and got a new tire for Lumpy, and then we headed off to Ayers Rock (Ulura)519.3kms.
Ayers Rock is a huge national park that has been handed back to the Aboriginal people, and a very nice and hugely expensive resort has been built some 20k from the Rock. You are not able to camp anywhere near the Rock, so the resort is the only place unless you wish to camp almost 100k away.
We sucked it up and rented a cabin and then headed back out to the Rock as Peter really wanted to climb it. The Aboriginal people prefer that you don't as it is very sacred to them, and on this day we complied. We started to climb but I didn't feel at all comfortable with my footing in sandles, so we walked the base instead. Honestly it was spiritual. A 10k walk of pure silence (except for the flies) a raw magnificant beauty. I can see why the Rock is sacred.
Tuesday morning we were up at 5am as we wanted to see the sunrise on the Rock but the cloud cover and noisy tourist didn't make the experience as surreal as I'd hoped. So we pinned it to Coober Pedy.797.8kms
Coober Pedy is way cool, most of the town is built underground as was the hotel room we got for the night. It makes for the best sleep as the room is incredibly dark,quite and cool, especially after a very good meal at Umbertos Restaurant, which was in the hotel complex where we stayed. The town is also know to be a little on the lawless side, with miners fighting over opal claims and the like. There are stories of the police station being blown up by irate miners, and also after one incident where a miners vehicles had been deemed unsafe to be on the roads, two policecars were blown up. A definate must visit when in northern S.A.
Wed. March 29th, and we are heading south to Adelaide, none to soon for Lumpy as Peter is noticing that his clutch really isn't working all that well.
By the time we got to Port Augusta its not working at all, and Port Augusta is not on our list of places to stay overnight. So on the phone we go, and we find a brilliant young man by the name of Jason at Adelaide Ducati who with great hesitation tells Peter how he can bend a clutch plate to enable Lumpy to change gears, just to limp into Adelaide, which is about 3.5 hrs away.
We ride as far as Port Wakefield and call it a night as we are losing light fast and really don't feel like collecting a kangaroo on the front fender. 767.2kms
Thurs. we are at Adelaide Ducati before they open and they are amazed that Lumpy has survived as we have put on over 18000k at this point without a single belt being tighted or oil changed.
The diagnosis isn't good as they take off Lumpys clutch cover, and we are told that it'll be Sat. before they can tell us much. So home we go to Kapunda with me on Butts and Peter in a rental car.
Sat. morning just as we are ready to head to Adelaide and collect Lumpy we get a phone call from Adelaide Ducati saying that Lumpy has also lost a lung, well I guess we're not going to the Blumberg Hotel in Birdwood quite yet.
We chill with my Mum and Stan over the weekend and seeing Lumpy is in intensive care we thought that we might as well get Butts in for a service as well. Peter rode Butts into town yesterday morning and was told that they (the mechanics) would need Butts for a couple of days a they are swamped and would fit Butts in where they could. So we are back in a cage and exploring the Barossa and the surrounds.
We have been invited to speak at a Vintage Motorcycle Club meeting tomorrow night and a reporter from an American Motorcycle magazine wants to interview us, so we are still having adventures.
We hope to be back on our steeds by Thursday and then we'll visit the Blumberg, the final pub on our calendar, and then we're off to the Yorke Peninsula to visit with my sister and her amazing family.
Till then we are checking our emails and I do have to do the final blog from Birdswood and edit in the pictures, so keep posted.
If any friend or family wish to write a little thank you note to our rescuers from being bogged in the Birdsville muck, it can be addresed to
Morney Plains Station
Windorah, Qld Australia
People of note- his wife Nicky due with their second child April 18th
- Dusty, their beautiful and rambuncious 19 month old daughter
-Rob,lead hand. Red-Dog and Doug the pilot & Dori the camp cook, all the most incredible people you'd ever wish to meet. Meeting people of this calibre has restored my faith in human nature.
Posted by Karin Lepa at 02:49 AM
March 24, 2006 GMT
Safe and dry in Mt. Isa
Lumpy is a nudist.All manner of fasteners,fittings and parts and pieces are to be jettisoned. No screw, footpeg or fender is safe from this Harly-esque parts shedding. To curb this trait I have started to place a square of duct tape over repeat offenders. Gray tape on a red motorcycle gives the look of a mosquito ravaged child to which his mother has applied calamine lotion. A constant vigil with the spanners is required.
Tues. March 14 Sunny 30 cel.
-early leave, up th oxley hwy to Walcha
-173kms of 45 to 65k corners,amazing,good surface,no frost heaves. Imagine that.
-some guy on a honda st1100 came to grief on one corner
-couple of locals stopped to help
bike and rider a bit beat up.
-asked if I could do anything
-guy said no,ambulance is on its way
-guy flat on his back waves as I ride by, give him thumbs up
-stop for coffee at Gingers Creek, killer view.
-Urralla, Thunderbolt Inn. Beers and a chat.
-bought stubbie holder and barmaid gave me a monogramed glass
-off to Armidale and Wollomombi, turn onto dirt track
-dirt track gets narrow,then signs warn road narrows, watch for logging trucks
-off high plateau, down side of mountain
-extremely steep side hill
-eventually onto river btm
-lots of dairy and beef cows
-road covered with thier digested calling cards
-eventually see another house
-they apparently are having a garage sale. also tea,coffee and ice is available
-this guy is an optomist, we have not met a car for two hrs
-valley opens up and spits us back onto main hwy 43kms north of where we started this morning.
-excellent pub right on river
-beer and an autograph
-up to Coffs Harbour
-stay in main drag motel [cheap]
-eat Chinese take away [crap]
Weds March 15 sunny 26 cel
-early go 6:30
-starting to get green
-up through the border ranges to Warwick
-really bumpy roads
-signs denote county has applyied for funds to fix
-clench your teeth or fillings are breakfast
-Lumpy eats it up. hasn't dropped a bit in a couple of days. must be planning something
-Warwick Critirion pub.nice place,get pint of beer before taps go on the fritze
-local punters take interest in Lumpy
-900cc dirt bike, those Italians are on top of it eh?
-up through Toowooba
-head for coast on thru Somerset Dam and Kilcoy
-Island hwy to Coolum
-down day tomorrow
-nice motel 59 bucks with pool one block from beach
-three doors down and across the road from where Karin and I stayed 16 years ago on our honeymoon
-Thurs. March 16 sunny 29 cel
-breakfast on the verandah with the newspaper
-head for beach at 10:00
-coffee at two
-go for ride down coast and up for a look
-down to the pub with Karin for beer
-fish and chip take away for dinner Super!
-Fri March 17 sunny 29 cel
-early start foiled by me leaving my park light on
-battery totally flat
-lots of pushing, no go
-ride to noosa heads, no battery
-ride to Maroochydore,no battery
-ride back to Coolum and buy jumper cables and battery charger
-go to lunch with Karin
-rebook motel for another day and head for beach
-down to pub for a beer
-on a hunch place 5 dollar bet on keno, win my 5 bucks back
-bug Karin to play, she picks numbers and I make the bet
-win 400 bucks, yahoo!
-dinner out. I'll be farting thru silk tonight
Sat March 18 sunny 26 cel
-north to Gympie and inland through Gayndah,Mundubbera,Monto and Emerald
-Lumpy sheds his right chain tensioner crossing some railway tracks.Karin runs me down and I go back and get it. The bolt is still in it. Bonus.
Good eye Flossie
-cane fields give way to bananas to cotton eventually
-cheap motel in town and dinner at the R.S.L.
-average food and terrible service
Sun. March 19 sunny 24 cel
-Emerald to Clermont to Belyando Crossing
-pretty much all two track. ( one lane paved road )
-advised by locals that cyclone Larry is heading for Townsville.
-ask fat guy in ute about the backroad
-he says he put that road in about 26 years ago with a D9, should still be good.
-shopkeeper says water is running over at Burden Falls. its a long way in to have to come out
-up to Charters Towers
-quick run to Railway pub in Ravenswood. 88kms toward Townsville. Great place beautiful hotel lots of history.Old mine town.
-run for Hughenden to get away from Larry. The Great Barrier Reef will have to wait for another time.
-town in middle of nowhere. service area of cattle stations.
-Great hotel "The Royal" nice room,drive thru bottle store,pub,pokies,dining room
-Karin and I have mixed grill and a bottle of Wolf Blass's finest red
-left overs for at least three lunches
-life is good
Mon March 20 overcast 24 cel
-rained over night, that darned Larry
-run down to Winton
-the wind is back
-flat and more flat, one tree every 20k
-two track for 200k
-Winton to Longreach
-I have never seen so many dead things.The roadtrains run through here to the railhead in Longreach.Karin and I have taken to holding our breath when we see a lump on the road.
-I cannot tell you how bad they smell. six day dead roo,perculating in 30 degree heat, vile.
-I will argue untill I am dead that crows have no sense of smell
-stop at noon in Longreach for the day,laundry and a tour of the Quantas museam.
-clean and oil and adjust chains,remove Lumpy's front fender and repair
-buy gas cans for Birdsville run
-pizza in room
-early to bed.
More to come in a couple of days but don't be too expectant as blogging in the outback is mean feat. Stay tuned for more adventures.
Posted by Karin Lepa at 05:33 AM
March 13, 2006 GMT
Purring in Port MacQuarie
Hey one and all, this is the second attempt today to update the blog. I finished the original update this morning, went to save and send and the computer crashed. So after collecting my thoughts and insuring my language would be less colourful here we go again.
I believe I left the story with us grinning like Cheshire cats after riding the Great Ocean Road and looking forward to Philip Island, and now after riding the incredible roads of Tasmania and Gippsland we are definatley purring like lions in Port MacQuarie.
I had left the blog with us arriving in Wentworth, after visiting Silverton. If you are ever in Wentworth we highly recommend you visit with the wonderful family that own the Crown Hotel. Fantastic food,prices and people.
On Thurs. March 2nd we headed south towards the coast of Victoria and visiting the wonderfully historic town of Portland, and Macs Pub, where we were very welcomed and had a super cold beer. The riding to Portland was very pretty but was flat-flat-flat. Lots of rolling farmland and cows and sheep.
We ended the day in Warrnambool which is the start of the Great Ocean Road, at 665.3kms total.
We were on the road with the rising sun and rising anticipation of the ride ahead. Peter and I have driven this road before but always in a cage, so this time, forget the tourist spots we were just interested in the twist,turns, hills and dales. Honestly it made you gasp, the beauty and the challenge. Kind of like a really long Duffy Lake road without the frost heaves.
We got into Melbourne early as Peter really needed a new back tire and we needed to get ready for Philip Island. 361.7kms.
Ah the anticipation of smelling race fuel, there's nothing like it. So like kids on Christmas morning we were up with the birds and heading for Philip Island. We hooked up with our friend form Vancouver, Ian Coutts and his family aroung noon and Ian graciously donated his childrens Pit Walk Passes to us. So of course I got to get up close and personal with my "boyfriend" Troy Bayliss, and I got my helmet signed by Tousland and had a great chat with Chili, so all in all I had a very visually appealing day. Oh Yeah, the races were really good too. We got to see all of the Australian Superbike series, qualifying and practise. We left the track that day exhilerated and sunburned, something very few people get to do. Get a sunburn at Philip Island, that is.
Ian had rented a place on Philip Island and had invited us to stay, so we didn't have to ride back to Melbourne, wicked. We were able to be at the track on Sunday before most of the riders I think. Philip Island is an awesome place, in that the fence seperating spectators from the track is only waist high and you can ride your bike all around the outside of the track. Pretty spectacular scenery to boot.
After spending the day watching some great racing we headed back into Melbourne, and this is where S.C.R.A.M.P. could learn a lesson or two from the organisers of Philip Island, the ease of getting to and fro was effortless. The police actually enable smooth flow of traffic as oppposed to the grid lock at Laguna Seca. Any who I digress. We stayed the night in our fav. motel in Parkville, for an early get up for Tasmania. 336.8kms.
Monday was spent on the Spirit of Tasmania bobbing our way across the Bass Strait, It was a little bumby and noisy but painless. 12 hrs later we were in a very cool inn called Batman Fawkner in Launceston. 119.4kms.
After a quick visit to the Prince Albert Hotel in Launceston,too early for a beer, we headed down island to Hobart and to visit with my Uncle Bill.
However, the roads in Tassie are unbelievable and we got a little side tracked. Tight,twisty,narrow logging roads that just happen to be paved. Life is good. It took us 479.1kms to get to Bruny Island and Bills when as the crow flies its around 250.
My uncle lives in a spectacular part of the world, rugged, wild and not developed and yet 15 mins from cities and suberbia. A lot of Bruny is unpaved, hard packed dirt with loose gravel top, and like Tassie roads not very straight. We know this because after missing a ferry to get back to Hobart we decided to go exploring and Butts and I got very up-close-and-personal with the road surface. We are both right as rain but neither of us will be entering a beauty contest any time soon. Butts truly is ugly now.
After dusting ourselves off we headed back to Davenport to catch the ferry to the mainland. 448.3kms.
Back in Melbourne Thurs. morning Butts was fitted with a much needed back tire, the other was a little bald. We headed for Sale and the Star Hotel. After about half and hour on the M1 we were seriously bored and I found a road on the map that would take us up and over to the coast,kinda. Oh my God you guys. Breath taking, stunning,challenging, did I forget anything. Oh yeah,fun-fun-fun.
We ended Thurs in Bainsdale, a must visit for anyone visiting this area, especially the Main Hotel for dinner, a foody must. 438.6kms
Friday saw us leaving the Gippsland region (sad cause its gorgeous and great riding) and heading for Wagga Wagga. Little did we know that we wouldn't be sad for long as this takes you on the Great Alpine Road. You climb and climb and climb, you twist,turn and dodge trucks to Mount Hotham and then you just stop because you feel like you're on top of the world and you might fall off.
Climbing down from this heavenly place took us into Wagga (pronounced Woga) and a very fun town, with colourful locals. 490.3kms took us the best part of 7 hours so you can imagine just how much fun the roads were. Mt.St.Helen for 7 hrs. yes please.
Saturday took us through the Blue Mountains, easy see through fast corners and very little traffic, to Bathust. The home of Australian Sport Touring Car racing and about a gazillion bikes. After an incredible ride along what felt like the spine of the Blue Mtns. we ended up in Richmond for the night. Early as we really needed a laundrymart. Gets a bit hot and sweaty when your having fun. 501.8kms
Sunday took us on a killer road from Windsor to Singleton, 45 to 85k corners, up a ridge down a creek bed and repeat at least for the next 2 hours. Can you stand it. After a little bit of being bored on Hwy 1 we headed down to the coastal road along with a million other motorcycles, one of which lost the plot in one of the many 35k bumpy corners. Kinda like Duffy Lake road all round actually. Back on the main highway for a bit to Taree, the home of my "boyfriend"and then on to Port MacQuarie. A beautiful hamlet on the ocean that just happens to have a stellar caravan park right on the beach and downtown. 523.8kms
So today is the down day,Peter is lazing on the beach and loving life. As you may have gathered by now I have totally fallen back in love with Australia. The weather,the roads the scenery, its all good.
From here we plan to go up to Qld. across to Birdsville up to Daly Waters and then back down to Mums in Kapunda. We should be done by the end of the month, though if the lotto ticket I bought today is a winner we might take a little longer.
We are having more fun than two people can and are loving life. Reality bites and we are staying in Nirvana for now.
Wish us luck with the ticket, and with me trying to get the pictures up.
Cioa for now.
Posted by Karin Lepa at 03:31 AM
March 03, 2006 GMT
We're in Melbourne
After a spectacular morning spent on some of the best twisty and beautifully scenic roads ever Peter and I arrived on our trusty steeds to the bustling metropolis of Melbourne, where the first order of business was to get a new back skin for Peters bike.
A little about our steeds. Peter is on a magnificent exotic, loving known as "Lumpy". It is a Cagiva Elefant, wonderfully red and full of personality, and I'm on "Butts" slang for butt ugly, a super reliable and huge grin factoring Suzuki Vstrom DL650.
We arrived in Melbourne via some of the most incredible vistas known to man.
Leaving Bob and Kati in Dawesville we headed West and South through rolling hills, then farmland and then nothing-flat-falt-flat.
Our first pub to visit was "Morans" in Wagin(pronounced Wagein), a magnificent turn of the century building manned by one of the original 10 children to be born there. I insist that if you are ever in Wagin W.A. you must visit with Terry Moran, one of the friendliest blokes we've met yet.
From here we headed down to the coast and were looking to do a short cut across to Norseman(on the edge of the Nullabour) but were advised by the locals that they were not even taking their 4wheel drived vehicles across this track. So down to Esperence we went, and I'm glad, what a beautiful place.735.2 kms
The next morning it was head down and some serious riding along some of the straigtest and flatest country I've ever seen. The excitement factor increased with the occasional locust plagues, we arrived hot, tired, seriously dirty and dying for a beer in Eucla around 5pm SA time. A total of 925.4kms and the most expensive petrol, food and accomidation found yet. I think the highest gas price we paid was $1.57/l. Keep this in mind when travelling from WA to SA, its spendy with no choice or competition.
From here we are in SA and the change in remoteness was welcome. Decided we needed some sea air so we popped into Streaky Bay in the Eyre Penisula and then headed to Wudinna(pronounced Woodna) and stayed in the local pub. Great food and even better prices. A 762.1Kms day.
As we've been eating the miles we thought we needed some Mum and Stan attention, so after visiting the Fourways Pub in Port Augusta, very quickley I might add as not that welcoming to fair skin,and our favorite vineyard in Clare (Jim Barry) we went home to Mum in Kapunda. A short day at 537.8 kms but we needed a couple of extra hours to get the bugs off.
Now we are entering some serious outback, hot dry and dusty. We arrived at the Silverton Pub outside of Broken Hill, where I recieved a certificate for passing the Silverton Pub test,not telling we had I had to do until in person. Headed dead south from here and it did not stop blowing. Peter and I arrived in Wentworth after 767.1 kms of riding sideways down the road.
Believe it or not but the internet cafe is closing so I have to wrap it up. Thurs and Fridays adventures to follow in a day or two,along with some promised photos, and amazing stories from Philip Island.
We do miss one and all, but we haven't stopped grinning or pinching ourselves yet.
Posted by Karin Lepa at 07:00 AM
February 25, 2006 GMT
and we're off
Next stop Wagin.
Its just before 8 am on a gorgeous Saturday morning in Dawesville and our bikes are packed and we're off.
After a couple of hissy fits over the phone and via email, and physically going down to where the bikes were being inspected for some obnoxious Canadian soil, we freed them, or rather Peter did.
I ran around in the cage and did chores whilst he uncrated the bikes and put them back together. Never has throwing a leg over felt so incredibly liberating. The grin factor was huge as we rode from Freo back to Dawesville, and now we're off into the wild blue yonder.
Pictures next stop I promise.
Posted by Karin Lepa at 12:00 AM
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