September 28, 2008 GMT
Heading West on the Savannah Way

I headed west from Cairns on one of the best motorcycle roads I have ever ridden. Cairns to Mareeba, to Atherton, to Ravenshoe was “perfect” riding. Warm, sunny, great road, excellent scenery, and no traffic.

I saw a sign on a side road that said “Queenslands highest road to the highest city“. Had to see what that was about!

Since I had the GPS, it was easy to see that “the highest road“ went all the way up to 3500 ft and the highest city was a breathtaking 3000 ft.

Queensland must be fairly flat! :=) The next sign I saw was for the Undara Lava Tubes National Park.

It said something about sleeping in a rail car. Had to see that. The Lava tube tour was “cool”

but sleeping in that restored rail car was the real excitement! :=) The entire Lodge was made up of restored rail cars including reception, dining rooms, and the “coolest” bar yet!!

All Aboard!!!!
Left there after the tour and made it to Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria. I had been told that I HAD to see the Purple Pub while here. Apparently at one time this place had a questionable reputation and was THE place for anything and everything. Well everyone (including a family with two little girls) was there, so I guess it is now just a pub (but a colorful one).

That Croc is NOT just a sculpture, read the sign! :=)

Normanton is a decision point for road types going west. If you stay up by the Gulf, you have about 450 miles of not so great gravel and red dirt road to Borroloola before hitting tarmac again toward Daly Waters on the Stuart Hwy. You can also go south about 250 miles to Cloncurry then turn west to the Stuart then north again to Daly Waters and on to Darwin, all on tarmac. I wrestled with the decision for quite awhile. I was traveling alone and felt a bit uncomfortable taking to the dirt which has MUCH LESS traffic (in case of emergency). I called Julia and told her what I was about to do (so she would know where to look for the body) :=) let some air out of the tires and hit the dirt (little did I know how literal that would be). Kilometer after kilometer, mile after mile, DAY after DAY (actually just three) :=) nothing but savannah,


and red dirt

with a few live things thrown in to break the monotony.

I made it to Burketown which has “The Outback’s Greatest Hotel”, so the sign says.

That is ALL it has. The road from Normanton to Burketown wasn’t all that bad, just a lot of red dust but fairly decent. The same can’t be said for the road from Burketown to Borrolula. 310 miles of all the above plus, just when you think you’ve got it mastered, THIS.

This is the first of three (I was in NO mood to take pictures of the next two. :=) . There were also 4 water crossings with signs that said “do not walk it, Crocs”. I am sure it was for higher water times but still incentive to NOT fall over in the water (I was remembering Krys). :=)

10 hours (and a LOT of swear words) later Borrolula, which isn’t saying a lot but there was beer (sold ONLY between 2:30 and 5:30 PM. Thank god for that half hour time change at the boarder of NT. After Borrolula, I made it to Cape Crawford (no cape here) and got a helicopter flight /tour of the Lost City that I had read about in my travel books.

It was VERY impressive especially since there were NO people other than the pilot and me. There are NO roads to it (cuts down on tourists. :=) Climbed to the top of one spire for pictures.

Left CapeCrawford and made a stop at Daly Waters, a very historic outpost. Now in Katherine "resting" and will do the 200 miles to Darwin in a couple of days.
Sorry for the delay in updating, internet in the outback is a bit tough. More Later!!
Many more pictures here if interested!

Posted by Rick McDermed at September 28, 2008 09:05 AM GMT

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