December 06, 2010 GMT
Escape to the Outback

The first time we tried to leave Sydney the fog was so thick and the rain was so hard that it made our face masks fog up that we pulled in to have lunch and stalled in an aborigine culture center. The rain never let up so we found an upstairs 3 bedroom flat surrounded by tropical trees and flowers and birds. It was within walking distance of the ocean and people were surfing. The next morning it was still raining pretty hard. Two little green, red & yellow birds were huddling together against the sliding glass door. I know they wanted me to open the door and let them in. We went closer to Sydney to find internet and ended up using McDonalds. The next day we went north and crossed the Blue Mountains where it wasnít so high, still getting rained on. By the time we had crossed the mountains and arrived at Orange ,we pitched our tent in a campground where the ground was pretty saturated. We were camping with cherry pickers. There was a group of french speaking young people. But by 6am it was raining hard on us again. We pulled into a little town called Sturt to use the post office and internet. The internet cafť was closed for a funeral in hall next to it, but the retired postmaster came to our rescue. He opened the shop, served us coffee, tea and fairy cakes and conversation while Bob used the internet. You know Americans in this small town was more exciting than the old fellow could stand.

We checked into a motel in Dubbo by about 3:30 because it was raining so hard and traffic was terribly backed up. There are 5 highways that come into town but water was closing roads and bridges. The next morning traffic was still backed up for blocks but we got out of town. A few miles out is where Bob took the picture of the flooding river and big round hay bales floating down stream. We had to cross water over the road 4 or 5 times that day but we were able to pick the center of the road and never over 6 inches deep. It wasnít raining when we got to Copar, a town where they found copper in 1870, but it was predicted so we got a motel again. And the town was having a Marti Grau party that Saturday night. People and dogs were dressed up, goodies and things for sale on the sidewalk, old Fergusen tractors and one McCormick tractor on display. They had set a lowboy set up as a stage and people were singing Christmas carols.

We had a lovely day on our way to Broken Hill. It was our first day in two weeks without rain! But we found a nice room queen bed, pool and internet and it seems very quite and private. And it was raining by 6pm. The rain out here is not so bad as it seems to last a short while then dry out. When we were on the coast it was rain all the time, just changed from lite to heavy.

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The rain almost stopped and we set out from a nice motel we had sogged into last night

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The combination of rain, fog and lots of traffic made it unsafe to continue west. So we waited here for a couple of hours hoping it would lift then went back to coast and found a nice place to dry out.

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Here we are within walking distance of the ocean with much tropical growth outside our window

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These two bird wanted in real bad, they did not like the rain ether.

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Hotel in small town we stopped in to use internet, the small towns are neat and clean looking like they have not changed in decades.

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Macquarie River flooding, saw seven hay bales go by in the short time we were there. The river was not to reach peak flow for 8 more hours.

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Thunder storm in the distance that we had to ride through

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The long straight road, The land is greener than normal due to the rain. This area has just gone through 13 years of drought, floods may be a problem but most are glad to see the rain.

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Martha was looking at traffic and not at me and ran in to me denting can. I caught the bike, was all I could do to hold it up but with no way to tell Martha to back off I ended up dropping it right in the middle of traffic,

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Repairs to Sportster, silage tape, better than duct tape

Posted by Robert Thode at 09:21 AM GMT
December 19, 2010 GMT
Running From the Rain

As we headed toward Mt Buller for the HOG rally the flooding was raising havoc. We came to a detour and were told to turn right at T then right and next T to get back to main road. We took a right on a narrow oil mat road then at next T turned on to gravel. Had to cross water several times but made it back to main road only to find out it was prior to main flooding area, so wandered around the back roads till be made it around.

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Stopped for lunch on this back road

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Was nice and dry when we set up camp but this is what we had in the morning, everything wet. 80mm rain overnight.

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Road to Mt. Buller

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Went on a ride to this micro-brew/bar/cafe. When I went to leave I was going to go into town and get fuel and catch up with the others later, a little way and I could tell something was not right so went back to brewery and found rear wheel bearing was destroyed. I have been broke down in a lot of places but this had to be the best, if I could not get it fixed I had food and drink. I got the wheel off but could not get the old bearing race out so they gave me a ride to town (3k) to a little shop where we made quick work of getting it fixed, Back to the pub, together and on the road in half an hour.

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Switch Backs up to Mt Buller. Mt Buller is a ski resort and normally would have been at a comfortable tempature this time of year but it was quite cold (down to 1C) so we got a room in a ski lodge. They gave us the whole unit of two rooms, kitchen and we could have slept 7. Cost us $50 a person a day.

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Staging area for "Thunder Ride". there were about 300 bikes, over 600 had pre-registered for the rally but floods and rain kept many at home.

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From Powers lookout
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From Powers Lookout, can still see some flooding and it has not rained in five days.
the story is that Harry Powers, a bush ranger, (aka highway man, thief) would watch the road below and could see if the authorities were coming for him. Giving him time to hide out.
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At Batlow, apple growing region, all orchards were under shade cloth. We have passed many picturesque dairy and beef farms.

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Apples under shade cloth

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One Big Sheep, This area is noted for their sheep production.

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Have found some really neat road up in the mountains, Martha does not always share enthusiasm for these back way roads but I think you get to see more of the 'real" Oz. I have managed to stay off of dirt/gravel roads most of the time. Many of these roads are one lane oil mat with many patches.

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Bendermeer Hotel, was recommended to us and we found it to be a delightful place and they had good food too. The flood here was the highest since '76'. Seems each small town has an old Hotel.

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We rode up to Bald Rock park and saw several of these termite mounds along the way. When we got to the camp ground no one else was there and if we had brought food I think we would have pitched the tent under one of the shelters as it was a very nice place, even had BBQ grills with propane. Save that for the next time around the world.

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Very scenic ride today and I figured out how to set camera timer so I got in picture. This was on the way down to the Gold Coast.

We got to Southport and spent a day at "Sea World" was good for a break in the riding. Today we rode into Brisbane to see what was available for storage of our bikes for four months. It rained the whole way so we got a room and watch it just pour out side. The weather report is good for the next 3 days so there is hope.

Will ride some north in the next two weeks then back to Brisbane to store bikes till we can get back in May.

Posted by Grant at 05:59 AM GMT
December 29, 2010 GMT
Floods, Rain and More Floods

We visited friends and rode north from Brisbane to Beerwah in sunshine and found a caravan park to put our tent up. The next day we visited the Australian Zoo. It was a great day in the sunshine. I got to hold a Koala, feed an elephant, and pet a kangaroo and lizard. The zoo is set up with programs to inform and have animal contact, very entertaining.

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Rain in Brisbane, waited all day for it to let up, no luck

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Martha holding Koala at Australia Zoo

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Camp at Beerwah

Wednesday we headed back into Brisbane to have lunch with friends (Ken and Carol which Bob met in South America and Peter and Kay who have traveled to every country in the world on a Harley) and then headed north to go west looking for sunshine. We were having to cross water crossing the road but by the 24th we were in sunshine and enjoying our ride. Saw ostriches and kangaroos running through the fields and lizards on the road. We are seeing Brahma and Santa Gertrudis cattle in this part of Queensland. Everything looks green and grass everywhere. Reservoirs that have been at 12% are full for the first time in 30 years. We are traveling back roads where we may see 2 vehicles in 75 miles.

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Flooded

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This is where we had Christmas Dinner, ham and cheese sandwich.

We rode 266 miles through open range cattle to an old hotel that Bob wanted to stay. One mile out of town we ran into a raging river crossing the road that we couldnít cross. We had been riding toward a very black sky but hoped to get in before it broke loose, but as it was we had to ride back 75 miles through the cows in pouring rain. I didnít think I would make it as I already had 147 miles on that tank of fuel, but I made 227 miles. Bob went 32 miles on reserve.

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This is called a "Primary Road" in the outback

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This is listed as a "Main Road"

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We packed up and left in the rain but the sun came out and dry things only to rain again, from wet to dry four time today ending up wet.

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Road to Isisford

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More of the Road to Isisford

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This is as far as we got, Isisford is 1K on the other side of the water, 120K back to Blackall.

We headed out of Blackall to find all roads were closed do to flooding. We visited the historical museum and then decided to ride out to the flooding and wait until we can get through. We didnít find the flooding until we got to Barcaldine and then the roads both east and west were closed . After talking with several people who thought it would take a couple of days for the roads to open, we decided to head south away from where the cyclone hit and the heavy rain. Along the road Bob stopped on a bridge where water was rapid and just barely going under the bridge. Bob watched a snake going down stream and I watch a little kangaroo. Only its head was above water, but it finally made it to shore and sat there exhausted. Then it took off bounding. By 5pm we had hit road closed so we got a motel room in Augathella and headed out the next morning.

It was a sunny day and we made it almost to Roma and the flooding was wide but a farmer had gone through it and he thought we could make it. Bob went across and I waited to see if he made it. There were two pickups waiting to cross and Bob caught a ride back with them to ride my bike across as the current was swift over the bridge and about a foot deep. So I caught a ride with a lady waiting to cross and keep my boots dry. As we started up Bobís Buell made a funny sound. We had about 3 miles into town and rode through town and Bob was having trouble with the Buell so he checked us into a caravan park to figure it out. At this point he thinks the clutch disks are jamming.

This morning Bob went out on the Sportster and found all the roads are still closed (4' of water over the road we wanted to go). The motorcycle shops are closed but he is trying to get some tools made that he needs to take the bike a part.

Posted by Robert Thode at 07:50 AM GMT
 
 

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