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.


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

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Coral Coast Galore .. and more

Thursday, April Fool's Day

It was time to leave our friends in Secret Harbour – just south of Perth – as our lives were fast becoming far too comfortable. After 5½ days of care-free living in a £1M+ home with private pool, sadly for us, it's time to get going again. [Must stay realistic]

But what a great lifestyle Reg & Suzanne have carved out for themselves over the last decade or so since leaving Cornwall, England. Everything has come-up trumps for them. Goodonya mates. Fair Dinkum.

Back on the road.

The 320km [200 mi] ride up and around the City of Perth to the coastal township of Cervantes was uneventful. Interesting new signage along the way though, reminding us that we we've now definitely returned to the wilderness and in the company of good country folk. No more BIG cities for us for the next four weeks or so.

EXCEPT it became evident, very quickly, that the Alp's wheels hadn't been balanced properly following the new rubber fitment. [Shakin' All-Uh-Over]. Moreover, the new engine oil level didn't even make the lower mark on the black beast's dipstick. The mechanics had obviously left the crankcase wanting by around half-a-pint in my estimation. On an optimum 2.3 litre correct capacity, that meant we were running on only 85% of the required engine oil. Very easily corrected, of course .. but really! .. wot a bunch of arseholes back at the Rockingham Honda Stealership, eh?!

LESSON LEARNED: So I've now vowed to do as much work as I can on the bike myself .. this will be good for me – as I do need to get more intimate with my bikes' workings in any case .. AND this will be good for my bank balance too .. :o)

We had pre-booked another basic cabin at the local campsite, which again, although frugal, suited us just fine. The office info board predicts good weather for the weekend ahead .. and we'll take it!

The local beach is just a few metres – less than a minute's walk away. So we stroll down ..

.. and inspect the local fishing fleet at anchor, as the sun sinks down to the western horizon.

It's the start of the new Crayfish /Prawn Season .. so to celebrate, for dinner, we buy THE poshest fish 'n' chips we've possibly ever had. YUMMY! .. :o) :o)


Good Friday, April-02

Besides easy beach-side living, Cervantes offers a base to explore a couple of natural history attractions that we would like to see. The nearest is less than two kilometres away from the township; Lake Thetis, which is home to some colonies of Stromatolites ..

.. AND, quite obviously, at least one brace of Pelicans.

Stromatolites are the earliest organisms to evolve on Earth that produced oxygen for subsequent life forms.

The colonies come to life when submerged.

It's interesting to see how life may have started. The beginning of everyone's family tree .. perhaps? The start of my kin's intellectual capacity .. now it all makes perfect sense to me! .. ;o)

The second phenomenon we want to visit is the Pinnacle Desert that's located about 17 km [10½ mi] south of Cervantes in Nambung National Park and 2 km inland from the coast.

We decide to ride through the reserve on the Alp, rather than walk around some of its fringe areas. SAND!! .. sometimes regarded as even trickier to ride upon than gravel ..

.. so I get in a little solo practice before we venture too far from the entrance.

Snapped a group of friendly Asians having fun. Seemed like a good bunch.

One of their members kindly offers to take our photo in reciprocation – the best one so far of us together on the bike IMHO.

Made up of thousands of limestone pillars, which vary in shape and stand up to 4 metres high .. and are from 0.5 – 2 metres in width.

Weird little organic shapes litter the area in certain quarters. Dunno what they are? (animal or vegetable summin' .. ?) Margaret-Ellen treats it as an eternity ring .. for about a minute or two only before discarding it [methinks she could be sending me a coded message!]

The Pinnacles are quite a sight – and definitely worth a visit.


Time to head further north though .. through mostly unremarkable countryside; always hugging the coast, within 2 – 5 km which is invariably just out of view. Occasionally riding through sections that had clearly been victim to bush fires in the recent past ..

.. with only one or two exceptional pull-off opportunities; one of which we take .. and stop for 15 mins or so to stretch our legs and sip some more water.

322 km [201 mi] since leaving Cervantes and we arrive in very rural Northampton.

As it's a National Holiday no staffers are working in the local motel as the bosses can't afford to pay the statutory extra wages .. so they [the bosses] roll-up their sleeves and take care of all the guest catering and other hospitality duties themselves. Nothing was too much trouble for our hosts; the food was fantastic .. the local patrons all very friendly – and we had the best night's [commercial-based] stopover of the trip so far .. :o) :o)


Saturday, April-03

When I said 'rural' .. well, as you can see – I meant it! We're really out in the sticks now. By 10:00am we're heading west back to the coast.

100 km [63 mi] later and we arrive at a cliff top known as Red Bluff, which is a prominent headland just to the south of Kalbarri township ..

Looking north – up the coastline – towards Kalbarri

Pity the weather wasn't better as we cruise through the approaches of the town five minutes later. By around lunchtime, however, the conditions did perk-up and the sun started to shine. Nice place Kalbarri .. you can see why it's so popular. Indeed, every bed in town had been claimed by tourists at least five days ago (Monday-29th .. the day I was on-the-phone hunting down our lodgings), otherwise we would have stopped here ourselves.

We then head back in a broad southeasterly direction towards the North West Coastal Highway (Hwy 1). The detour might look a bit pointless on the map, but we wanted to see this neat little fishing/tourist township of Kalbarri .. and some of the wonderful Kalbarri National Park, which ..

.. is a place that is much photographed. For instance, here's the evocative rock formation called Hawk's Head, with the extensive view over the Murchison River .. and

.. and another view of the Murchison, from the Ross Graham Lookout. Nothing wrong with a detour like this, eh?

We pick-up Hwy 1 again at Ajana Junction; turned left and headed northbound. Along the way Ellen remarks how bad the litter-clutter is in the verges and hedgerows. She's absolutely right of course. Pity. Maybe the one or two of the thousands-upon-thousands of discarded bottles have been the cause of some of the devastating bush fires in the region, who knows for sure .. ??


4:45pm and we pull-in at our overnight's stop .. in the middle-of-nowhere. The one-TV-channel-only .. Billabong Homestead Hotel-Motel.

A lukewarm greeting from our [eh-hem] slightly more 'senior' hosts; the chain-smoking John and Pam, made for some apprehension on our part.

John quickly opens-up though .. and is soon mulling-over our road atlas, providing us with the benefit of his local knowledge; where to go .. and where to perhaps avoid, etc .. fag alight all the while.

You can acquire a copy of John's highly unacclaimed and not-so-renowned guidebook-to-life here, yunno

Pam looks on, trying her hardest to at least appear interested .. fag on the go too. But it's obvious to us that she's seen and heard this routine many times in the past!

Pam reminds me of Grandma Clampett (of Beverly Hillbillies fame) – but with more cleavage.

Initial verdict: we've certainly stayed in more wholesome establishments in our time!

We wonder what sort of night is in store for us .. as the sun, once more, and not for the last time – we hope – sinks below our transient aussie western horizon


The Morning After (Easter Sunday, March-04)

How was last night's slumber? - Answer, I'm taking a leaf out of John's very own book ..it is, in one syllable: f¢kin' .. SHITE! [.. I meant three syllables, of course].

Possibly the worst night we've ever spent overseas. Up for more than half the night swatting flies and mosquitos; listening to little scratchin' creatures under and on top of our lodge room – I re-call then thinking about the animated movie 'Ratatouille' at the time! An antiquated air conditioning unit that made me cough, sneeze 'n' splutter .. an' me eyes water. Filthy-dirty would be an understatement.

We were obliged to vacate our lodgings by eight o'clock in the morning – a ridiculous house rule – as nowhere, anywhere in the world (as far as we are aware) requires guests to vacate before 10:00am. In summary ..

Final verdict: John and Pam – you run the worst hotel-motel in the whole wide world .. probably.

Hitherto we believed that a sh!thole in Brittany, northern France, had earned that accolade, but 'The Billabong Experience' has now taken first prize. In another three syllables, your establishment is absolutely: .. DISGUSTING! .. But strangely, and for some unexplainable perverse reason, we still enjoyed your company .. ?? .. so what does that say about us!?

BTW, John & Pam .. when are y'all intending to retire from the hospitality business?

Nuff said!


By way of contrast, the staffers at The Billabong Roadhouse, just next door, couldn't have been friendlier. So we filled up with bacon & eggs .. and triple-shot flat-white coffees; and then topped-up the Alp's tank with premium unleaded .. before heading further north up the Coastal Hwy, passing Parallel 26 along the way, which puts us officially in the North West Region of the Australian Continent.


I should have said the Desert Region of NW Oz! The only noticeable mammalian life out here are a few goats scratching a living on what little edible vegetation they can find in the dust.

We take another watering break up on a windy ridge-knoll. The lookout to our road ahead reminds me of a typical viewpoint you'd find in New Mexico, USA.

Something else that Miss-Ellen has never experienced before.

Not too far from tonight's destination of Carnarvon, we pull-in at the Wooramel Road House. The lady-owner tells us that this is not a flock of her pet parrots. Instead, they're wild Cockatiels which constantly invade her paddock to steal the hay and straw. She's desperate to see them off, but it's hopeless in her opinion. The pesky feathered ferrells are destroying all her tree foliage too! .. :o(


Carnarvon .. and after checking in at our cabin in the Coral Coast Tourist Park [very nice BTW], we stroll into town ..

.. which appears nearly deserted for some reason ..

.. ??

.. apart from a few fishermen down on the quay.

[Easter Sunday, April-04] is the day the town celebrates the re-opening of its historic and heritage-significant 1-mile Pier. AU$Millions had just been spent on its restoration during the recent past.

We had heard that you can acquire some nice crayfish at the Pier, so during the late afternoon we ride the short distance [3 km] to buy our dinner.

BUT sadly the celebrations had all finished by 2:00pm .. we'd missed the party!

So instead we visit the local Woolworth's Foodstore .. where we buy two succulent rump steaks, plus some salad stuff – and as dusk fell, enjoyed a feast back at the campsite .. utilising the park's BBQ facilities, which were situated right outside our nicely-appointed cabin. Wonderful grub.


Carnarvon Township? - Well, it's an odd sorta place. A town of two partisan societies, which don't seem to be sitting comfortably together; I mean the local Anglo-Saxon and Aboriginal assemblages. There's definitely an atmosphere of mutual distrust – even dislike – between the two cultures. For this foremost reason IMHO, the town seems a little run-down, with just too many boarded-up shops etc, for what should be a very healthy and prosperous community. It's a place in paradise .. that's lost its way. I hope it finds it again.


Easter Monday, April-05

Soothing our now erupting mosquito bites from two nights ago, by 10:00am we were on our way again .. AFTER slurping back loads of juicy, ice-cool watermelon slices. Yummy!

140 km [88 mi] up the road we stop at the Minilya Roadhouse to re-fuel, where we strike-up a conversation with some fellow bikers.

Miss-E takes this respite opportunity to catch-up on her journal entries.

About 55 km [27½ mi] further up the road, we arrive at the Tropic of Capricorn; stop to take a pic – as ya do – when and where another fellow biker, riding a Yamaha Tenere, also pulls-up to have a chat.

Although we had never met 'Frank' [German] before, he and I kinda already knew each other, as we had exchanged e-mails within the last few months. Why? The common ground between us being the intention to tour a foreign country on two wheels, of course. How did we 'virtually' meet? Well, through the Horizons Unlimited website. Bizarre that the two of us should, by pure chance, actually meet-up here, in reality, on the edge of the Tropics .. both thousands of miles away from our respective homes.

Isn't modern technology: .. simply .. bloody awesome?!

Forty minutes later .. and we stop for a late lunch of fish chowder in Coral Bay. An idyllic location, which unfortunately ..

.. as I discovered a week beforehand on the telephone – could not accommodate us [no beds available] .. :o( :o(

Just like being in the Caribbean.

We are, however, temporarily reunited with Frank in the cafe .. :o) :o) :o)

Pity we couldn't stopover here, as this place is a real tropical paradise ..

.. with fabulous beaches that almost irresistibly invite you I to take a dip in the warm Indian Ocean.

Young Frank, however, did manage to secure a dormitory bed in the local Backpackers' hostelry .. which is just simply not for us [.. WHAT? A DORMITORY! .. AT OUR BLOODY AGE?!]

So we head a north for another 150 km [94 mi] – just under a two-hour ride – passing thousands of termite nests along the way .. to the near equally sensational seaside location of Exmouth, which at first view appears to be a sub-aqua diver's dream town.

We're here right now, in Exmouth, as I tap out these words .. at lunchtime on Tuesday the 6th of April.

Not absolutely sure exactly where we're heading tomorrow. We have a fair idea, of course; our final decision rests on a couple of phone calls that we shall make this afternoon.

Stayed tuned. I'll post again whenever I can get some decent access to the Internet .. which up here, away from the major cities, could be some time away ..