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.
Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.
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