I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.

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PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Topping Out

Broome

Monday morning, April-12, brought with it the departure of our new friends, Tracey and Brett, as they must leave Broome and Rocket back up north to their hometown of Darwin City; their respective work schedules await them .. :o( :o(

It was good to meet them .. and we enjoyed their company. We have no doubt that we will all meet-up again sometime in the not-too-distant future; we hope so anyway.

Margaret-Ellen and I have another full day in this seaside township, which will give us the extra time needed in an established settlement, with all the mod-cons, to catch-up on all our chores like: our laundry, blog updating, and some phone calls to the folks back home in England .. plus I'm overdue for a haircut too.

A final decision needs to be made tonight about our track across to Kununarra; do we (a) continue eastwards along The Great Northern Highway via Fitzroy Crossing ~~> Halls Creek – a distance of 1,050 km; or (b) ride along the shorter (920 km) more direct unsealed dirt track – and therefore more hazardous – Gibb River Road, which would take us into the very heart of the Kimberley Region of Australia's far northwest?

Rumour has it that sections of the Gibb River Road are still impassable to anything other than 4-wheel drive vehicles. In addition, the scarcity of re-fuelling and ready-made accommodation stopovers .. makes us decide to take the safer option of (a) .. sticking to the sealed road surface.

Had the Gibb River Rd dried-out a bit more since the recent rainy season and was therefore in better condition; AND had I been travelling solo, with all the associated extra carrying capacity for additional fuel & water .. plus the ability to take along a swag-bag (small tent, etc), THEN I would probably have given the Gibb River option a damn good go.

BUT Miss-Ellen – and privately me too – decided that, under the prevailing circumstances, it would be irresponsible to consider the adventurous more direct route. We shall, therefore, clock-up at least 1,000+ km [625+ miles] for certain, by continuing along of the Great Northern Hwy before we reach Kununurra towards the end of the week.

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Tuesday, April-13

We set-off from Broome under a close and oppressively sticky sky. There's thunder in the air today.

180 km [112½ mi] into the day's journey we stop for fuel and refreshments at the Willare Bridge Roadhouse. 40 mm of rain had fallen around here overnight.

A Kimberley ranger informs us that the Gibb River Road is indeed still flooded quite badly in places. Nothing but 4x4 vehicles can get through. Clearly we had made the right choice by avoiding this particular track. It's still too early to go that way even if I were riding alone.

We spend the rest of the afternoon trying to skirt around developing thunderstorms. There's rain to the left of us ..

.. rain to the right

It's raining right behind us (look in the mirror) ..

.. and it appears wet ahead too (or is that simply heat haze?)

So we didn't need any more convincing that it might not be a bad idea to climb into our wet-weather gear.

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Then the damndest odd thing happened .. we experienced only a couple of the lightest sprinklings you can imagine .. that weren't worth the hassle of putting our gear on for. We sweated and steamed away inside all the same though. A price for cautionary measures, as it turns out, that just wasn't worth paying.

Ho-Hum!

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We arrived at our pre-booked lodgings in Fitzroy Crossing around 4:00 pm.

The Crossing Inn's public bar was full of noisy and rowdy local indigenous fellows, all obviously having a good time. We straightaway hoped that our room was located far away from that mob!

I'm thankful to report that it indeed was! .. :o) :o)

Dragging our stuff up to our 'Gecko' Lodge unit alongside the Fitzroy River (up on stilts, because of the danger of river flooding) .. we couldn't help but notice the abundance of wildlife right under our noses: frogs, jumping /fly-by creatures and other multitude of insects .. some of which were obviously having a good time too!

Anyone for cricket?! .. ;o)

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Wednesday, April-14

It's sometimes handy having your lodgings built on stilts ..

.. as your room can then double-up to become a convenient overnight sheltered parking space as a bonus!

I'm watching my tyres closely. They've done nearly 4,000 km [2,500 mi] since leaving Secret Harbour. On these harsher road surfaces up north, I'm not expecting to get anywhere near as much mileage as I would normally expect. If they get me all the way to Adelaide .. then I'll be well pleased.

Yunno, there really is a problem up here with 'things' disappearing in the heavily Aborigine populated areas ..

.. 'things' that you would normally expect to see on display and available for use anywhere else in establishments offering services to the public. I'm talking here, for instance, typically about 'things' like the user-end air pressure dispensing equipment that you find freely available at filling stations. Well, up here that sort of equipment would simply 'disappear' in no time at all.

Result is: if you want to check your tyre pressures, then you have to go the attendant at the kiosk and ask for the garage's air dispensing equipment.

Obviously the same principle applies when it comes to tap handles at the local garage /service station here in Fitzroy Crossing. Read what follows ..

.. it made I chuckle anyway! .. :o)

The scenery is definitely different up here compared to what we've been used to further south. What we're seeing around us is certainly more 'interesting' .. insofar as there's more relief in the terrain – and the the deserts are starting to appear greener and more 'lush'.

More rivers and creeks too .. which must mean more rainfall, I guess.

And as for termite nests? Well, there are literally hundreds-of-thousands – more likely millions – of 'em up here littering the countryside.

That's not a termite nest in my rear-view mirror BTW .. it is, in fact, a homo sapien, although I'll agree that it does look suspiciously like ..

.. this one, which definitely IS a termite nest .. that simply resembles the above example of homo sapien.
[I'm now wondering if life will be worth living anymore .. ??!]

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For some reason, which, for the life of me, I simply cannot remember now .. we decided to stay in the equally high Aborigine-populated township of Halls Creek for two nights.

We ended-up lodging in one, of only two hotel-motel establishments, that exist in the whole settlement.

[For your information, the total population in Halls Creek is circa 4,000.]

Thursday, April-15

It's Melanie's (my daughter's), birthday today. So .. 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY [again] Melanie' .. :o)

Ellen decides to go for a morning swim in the hotel pool .. and couldn't help but notice that she wasn't the first to arrive 'poolside' .. !!

Like I've said, it's the little things in Australia that make it soooo different from what we're used to!

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We then go take a look at what Halls Creek has to offer travellers like us .. which, as we discover, will involve a little excursion into the bush. Beforehand though we go for a wander around the town's 'main street' area. What we see is actually quite shocking ..

Loads of native Aborigines just hanging around, doing absolutely nothing.

These guys aren't waiting for a bus BTW .. they're just .. well .. I really couldn't tell you what?

.. having a beer?!



Youngsters .. just moseying up and down the main drag ..

.. or hanging around street corners .. kicking a ball around.

I have no problem with this, as the kids are off school until next Monday (April-19) in any case ..

.. BUT it's the poor buggers like this bloke that concern me – they seem to have no apparent purpose to their lives.

You get the picture, I'm sure.

Basically harmless folk though .. or so it seems to a couple of poms, just passing through.

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But never mind all that .. we have a date with the outback!

Off we go for our first [intentional] dirt track experience.

Just 6 km out of town we go take-a-look at the 'China Wall', consisting of a sub vertical vein of quartz protruding up to > 6m [20ft] from the surrounding surface.

Nice tranquil creek running at its base though; a real mecca for pondlife /pond insect-life enthusiasts!

The 'off-road' experience starts to get a bit more challenging ..

Some water to negotiate too. Some of it's easy across man-made floodways .. and you just gets your boots wet (if you forget to raise your feet off the pegs)

Some is a bit more challenging. To be sure Margaret-Ellen goes ahead to investigate just how firm the ground is.

16 km [10 mi] from town we arrive at Old Halls Creek (Elvire River), where the first gold discovery in Western Australia was made in 1885. We stop for a drink.

From here on the track get very sandy and rocky ..

So we backtrack for 1-2 km to Caroline Pool, which was once the main recreational spot for folk of the pioneering era.

Shady trees and wide banks provide a great path for bushwalks ..

.. if yer into that sorta thing .. which I'm not!

So we're soon back onto the corrugated dirt track .. and getting' shaken to bits.

40 km [25 mi] of unsealed road surfaces has convinced me that we definitely made the right decision to avoid the Gibb River Road on this particular aussie visit!

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Saturday, April-17

Yesterday [Fri-16], we rode the comparatively short distance of 164 km [102½ mi], northeast up the Great Northern Hwy, to the smaller – yet even more [pro-rata] overwhelmingly Aborigine-populated township of Warnum. NOT that we have any sort of peculiar fascination with our Aboriginal brothers .. it's just that we want to take a closer look into the Purnululu National Park.

Still closed to all but the hardiest of four-wheel drive vehicles, the only practical way we can get to see the Bungle Bungle range of the Purnululu NP is from the air .. and the award-winning tour operator 'Slingair' has an aeroplane based at Warnum doing Bungle Bungle scenic flights, which is the reason why we stopped here.

Yes, we're about to fly over the Bungle Bungle range.

[stupid bloody name though it is!]

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Background:

The Bungle Bungle range of the Purnululu NP is acknowledged as one of the great wonders of the Australian Outback. It was World Heritage listed in 2003. It's renowned for its spectacular beehive shaped sandstone towers and gorges, which were formed in the Devonian period about 360 million years ago. Erosion sculptured the striped formations, which comprise of thin outer skins of black lichen and orange silica.

So now ya know!

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Aircraft Data:

Cessna 210 Centurion
Cruise speed: 260 km/h [163 mph]
Range: 1,400 km [875 miles]
Engine: 300 hp
Ceiling: 17,300 ft
Seating: 6 persons

Pilot: Kurt

Ellen & I are seated in the middle row [of just three rows], behind the pilot and front passenger.

Looking southwest back down the Great Northern Highway .. where we came from yesterday.













The Bungle Bungle range .. the 'star' of the show.

More info on the Purnululu National Park: Click Here

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The next three days riding eastwards across to Katherine, in the Northern Territory, struck us as being particularly green and lush ..





.. AND we meet some interesting folk along the way .. and made a few more friends into the bargain .. for instance:

Our charming English waitress who served us dinner - cooked by the fair hands her very own chef-boyfriend - at the Kununurra Lakeside Resort in the township of Kununurra

'Tas' and ..

.. his guitar-playing owner

Benny, riding his Harley Davidson 'Softail'

Fellow Ulyssean motorcyclists, Greg & Julie, who are out on a walkabout, circumnavigating their native land of Oz. Incredibly I had made a note to contact Greg, as he is the Quartermaster of the Melbourne Branch of the Ulysses Club .. and therefore someone who should be able to provide me with some very valuable information I shall need when we finally get back to Melbourne in just under three weeks' time. Yet by some astounding coincidence I meet-up with Greg, by absolute pure chance, in the middle of no-where up in the Northern Territory. Unbelievable!

.. and not forgetting

Mr Prince .. the frog

Mr Hall .. the toad

.. and, of course, our old friend Jiminy.

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We are in Katherine NT right now – Monday, April-19 – specifically to update this blog.

Geographically we're just 14.5 degrees of latitude south of the equator, this is as far north as we be getting on this particular trip. We have reached yet another significant turning point .. and within the hour we shall start our great southbound leg, which will take us right through the very heart of this country's vast red centre. Places like Alice Springs, Kings Canyon, Ayers Rock and Coober Pedy await us ahead.

Better get going!

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