Back into NSW

Where are we now >> Iluka NSW (http://goo.gl/maps/g3CMZ)
Total Kilometres travelled to date = 19,189
Total days on the road since leaving home = 82

Sunday 30 June 2013
We spent a very pleasant couple of days at the Lodge at Bunya Mountains with our Brisbane family before saying our farewells last Friday then retracing our route back down the mountain on a very foggy morning. As there are no demisters on our visors or glasses the trip down was very slow with constant stops to clear them so we could see. We finally made it down the narrow and winding road again setting off past the site of our recent Kangaroo incident not without some trepidation. The trip passed without incident however and, after catching up with a motorcycling friend in Toowoomba we headed for the coast for our night’s billet with friends at Redland Bay south of Brisbane. After an enjoyable stay (and perhaps a little more than our normal intake of wine) we headed south for a luncheon appointment with an ex work colleague at Main Beach – Surfers Paradise. We then headed for another billet with relatives at Benora Point where we were given a royal welcome.

We headed off this wet and cold morning for yet another luncheon appointment with friends in Ballina at the fantastic Ballina Services Club. We rocked in like drowned rats after a very wet ride the 100 k or so from Benora Point. After an enjoyable lunch we headed south again for our stopover tonight at the fishing village of Iluka at the mouth of the Clarence River. The ride was wet and cold but not as wet as the morning ride. Given all the fine weather we have been blessed with for the bulk of our trip I guess we can’t complain about the occasional wet day. Tomorrow we looking forward to spending a couple of days with our Coffs family some 100 km down the road.

In the rain forest amongst the giant Bunya Pines

In the rain forest amongst the giant Bunya Pines

Some of the local inhabitants at Bunya Mountains

Some of the local inhabitants at Bunya Mountains

Enjoying a coach ride at Bunya Mountains

Enjoying a coach ride at Bunya Mountains

Off to the Bunya Mountains

Where are we now ? http://goo.gl/maps/Ga3UZ
Tuesday 25 June 2013 (Day 77 – 18,623 Kms)
After a couple of days in Brisbane including a visit to Australia Zoo and spending time with our Brisbane family we rode out with them this morning from Brisbane in convoy (2 cars plus our motorbike). We headed out through Toowoomba on a crisp sunny morning toward our rented mountain lodge in the Bunya Mountains where we plan to spend the next three days. We turned off the Warrego Highway midway between Toowoomba and Dalby toward the mountains. The road was single lane  bitumen for much of the way through picturesque rural country. Our worst fears for the entire round Australia trip came to pass as we were travelling at about 80 km/hr along a narrow road with dense bushland close to the road on both sides. Four kangaroos in full flight burst from the bush on our right hand side heading across the road just in front of our bike. We managed to take evasive action (ie swerve and jump on the brakes) and managed to narrowly miss the first three but the last one saw us at the last second and tried to stop causing it to fall directly in front of our bike. It struck us low down on our front wheel which passed right over the unfortunate animal. We went through a heart stopping couple of seconds with the bike careering all over the road and in very real danger of coming down. We somehow managed to stay upright and come to a stop. The unfortunate (medium sized) kangaroo was killed outright. The irony was, that if it had kept on its original course and not tried to stop we would have probably avoided it. There was no apparent damage to the bike other than the ABS system which was indicating it was no longer functioned. We had ultrasonic kangaroo warning devices fitted to our bike with much general debate in motorcycle circles whether they are effective or not. I am now firmly on the side of the “or nots”. We gingerly travelled the remainder of the distance to our lodge winding up the very narrow and steep road to our destination. Our luxurious lodge was perched on top of the mountains with spectacular views from the veranda. We lit the fire and all nine of us settled in for a much anticipated three night stay somewhat shaken but very thankful for our narrow escape.

The view from our Bunya Mountains Lodge

The view from our Bunya Mountains Lodge

We made use of our daughter's photographic skills to get a few pics of us "on the go"

We made use of our daughter’s photographic skills to get a few pics of us “on the go”

South to Brisbane

Where are we now ? Brisbane
Distance covered so far =  18,383 Kms
Number of days since leaving home = 74

Wednesday 19 June 2013
The morning was a cooler 17c as we set off from Mackay headed for Rockhampton then out to Yepoon and the Rosslyn Bay Resort (we just had to stay there! after Mr Wotif came to the party again.) The first 100 ks or so out of Mackay through Sarina (where Ethenol is produced from sugar cane) was similar cane growing country to what we saw for most of the previous day. We then left the cane behind and settled into some good ole generic Australian bush for the rest of the 380km trip. This is the type you could see anywhere. The road was fairly straight and, with a 100 km speed limit most of the way, it  was not the most exciting bit of road we had ridden recently. We had several close shaves with the local upholders of the law but narrowly managing to keep the slate clean for the trip so far. The day was fine and sunny again but was decidedly cooler reaching a max of just 22c. We have now started to replace our warmer layers and gear as we move further south toward the cold. Our run of fine weather has continued however (touch wood). Our stopover spot for the night is the very pretty Rosslyn Bay on the coast out from Rockhampton which is the jumping off point for Great Keppel Island.

A majestic Brahma Bull in command of his paddock along the road to Rockhampton

A majestic Brahma Bull in command of his paddock along the road to Rockhampton

Farewelling Rosslyn Bay after our brief stay.

Farewelling Rosslyn Bay after our brief stay.

Thursday 20 June 2013
We encountered a continuous series of road works on our 450 km ride today from Rockhampton to Maryborough, our next overnight stop. It seems the Qld Government has decided to install a series of passing lanes along this section of the Bruce Highway and work seems to be proceeding on each one of them simultaneously. We were stopped by lollypop persons, sometimes for up to 15 minutes 15 or 20 times during the day. There was also a fairly heavy stream of traffic in both directions pulling our average speed for the day down considerably on what we had become accustomed to and making the ride today a little tedious and long. We also well and truly hit the colder weather as we crossed out of the Tropic of Capricorn at Rockhampton. It was almost as if there was a weather gate we passed through from warm weather to cold weather as you crossed the line. The average temperature today would have been no more than 17c, a far cry from the mid to high 20’s we have experienced for the last month or so. Our good fortune, however with the lack of rain has continued although it did look a little threatening in the afternoon. We have managed the whole trip so far without any serious rain (while we have been riding that is !). Lets hope our luck continues.

Friday 21 June 2013
Our hopes for continuing fine weather were in vain with winter and the wet weather well and truly catching up with us with a vengeance today.  A bleak wet day and a chilly 14c greeting us when we opened our motel door in the morning. It was good in a way because it meant we were finally going to make use of the wet and cold weather gear we had been carrying with us, mostly unused, since leaving home. (I would have rather not used it at all though!)  We had been invited to stay with some motorcycling friends of ours who live in Mapleton and were to ride from Maryborough to Gympie where our friend was to meet us and take on the scenic route back to their house at Mapleton. The 90 Km ride to Gympie was wet and cold with lots of highway traffic although we were spared the never ending road works we had experience yesterday. Passing B-Doubles in the pouring rain was not a lot of fun but necessary, as to remain behind them, reduced our visibility to almost zero. We met up with our friend at Gympie with the 100 km ride scenic to Mapleton indeed, very scenic albeit wet and cold with the temperature staying below 14c all day. We were made very welcome by our friends when we arrived and enjoyed a very pleasant overnight stay with them along with the opportunity to dry all our saturated riding gear. We plan to take another scenic tour around this lovely part of the country tomorrow headed for a family stopover in Brisbane to spend a week with our Daughter, partner and four grandsons for the next week. This will be a real treat for us as we have not seen them for quite a while.

Packing up in the rain at Maryborough

Packing up in the rain at Maryborough

Saturday 22 June 2013
The day was fine and sunny with no sign cold wet conditions we experienced yesterday. We were treated to  leisurely bacon and eggs breakfast by our hosts who had also managed to dry all our sodden riding gear for us. They then escorted us on a conducted tour of the beautiful surrounding area including a great view of the Glasshouse Mountains. We rode through Montville and Maleny before farewelling our wonderful hosts and tour guides over coffee at  Woodford. We followed their directions up over Mount Mee on the scenic route to our next stop in Brisbane for our family stopover. We only covered a modest 160 km today but it was all high quality riding and scenery, a day we enjoyed immensely.

Our Mapleton Hosts and tour guides

Our Mapleton Hosts and tour guides

The Glasshouse mountains

The Glasshouse mountains

We plan to hang around Brisbane for a few days before heading to the Bunya Mountains for a mini holiday with our Brisbane family before resuming our journey south.
The bike is still running perfectly and has been fantastic for the whole trip. Many thanks Mr Honda !

Bye for now

Ros and Dick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down the Far North Queensland coast

Where are we now ? http://goo.gl/maps/9Lkgc
Distance covered so far = 17,221 Kms
Days on the road so far = 70
Friday 14 June 2013
We left Cooktown this morning on a beautiful crystal clear morning and a comfortable 22c to retrace our 150 km ride back to Mount Molloy. We then turned east for the coast again headed for the sugar cane town of Mossman. We passed lots of cane fields then got a spectacular view of the coastline as we rode over the lush green coastal mountains down to Mossman. After lunching there we turned south again along the coastal highway which ran right beside the ocean in places reminding us of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. We passed through the very upmarket resort town of Port Douglas then wound our way along the coastline to Cairns riding a total of 370 Kms for the day. We struck considerable traffic on the run down from Port Douglas, a far cry from having the road to ourselves as we have become accustomed too. We plan to stay here for a couple of days and are taking the tourist train up to Kuranda in the morning.

Crossing the Great Divide headed for Mossman in the distance

Crossing the Great Divide headed for Mossman in the distance

Resort row at Port Douglas

Resort row at Port Douglas

Saturday 15 June 2013
We spent the day taking the tourist train to Kuranda then returning on the SkyRail. A spectacular day culminating in a delightful visit to the family of some close friends who live in Cairns and very generously invited us to dinner.

Sugar cane and the Great Divide

Sugar cane and the Great Divide

Descending back to Cairns

Descending back to Cairns

Cairns Skyrail

Cairns Skyrail

Winding up the hills to Karanda

Winding up the hills to Kuranda

Sunday 16 June 2013
Today we stayed in Cairns again and took a cruise out to Green Island to sample the delights of the Great Barrier Reef. Ros went under the water for the first time in her life as we marvelled at the reef and sea life through the windows of the semi-submersible submarine.

Cairns from our room

Cairns from our room

Keeping us company

Keeping us company

Fish feeding frenzy

Fish feeding frenzy

Underwater Ros!

Underwater Ros!

Monday 17 June 2013
The countryside from Cairns to Townsville was lush and green with bananas, pineapples, mangoes and sugar cane alternately growing for almost the entire 390 Kms. We rode with the mountains of the Great Dividing Range on our right all day which were equally as green as the rest of the countryside making postcard type scenery for most of the day. The day was sunny and a little cooler at 24c making for a more comfortable ride. We took a detour out to Mission Beach which was a lovely spot with equally picturesque scenery. One of their claims to fame is the colony of Cassowaries living in the area with signs everywhere alerting motorists to watch out for them. The general area is known as the Cassowary Coast but, unfortunately, we did not sight any.  We passed through Cardwell which was the coastal town which copped the brunt of cyclone Yasi. A huge civil reconstruction program was well advanced along the waterfront to repair the enormous damage caused. We were slowed somewhat during the day by a continuing succession of road works together with fairly heavy traffic in both directions taking the edge off the otherwise enjoyable ride. We enjoyed a pleasant night hosted  by some friends in Townsville from our OZSTOC  motorcycle network.

Mission Beach Qld

Mission Beach Qld

Tuesday 18 June 2013
The ride from Townsville to Mackay today took us through mostly sugar country with sugar cane growing virtually the entire 400 kms. Almost every little hamlet we passed through featured a sugar mill, all of them puffing away well into their current crushing season. The area was cris-crossed by the narrow gauge railway network used in this part of the world to take the harvested cane directly from the fields to the nearest mill. We were held up once as an incredibly long train of wire cages each loaded with harvested cane, trundled across the  road. We passed through well known sugar growing towns such as Ayr, Bowen, Proserpine and our overnight stopover at Mackay. The sugar handling and shipping facility at Mackay Harbour is huge. The omnipresent Great Dividing Range kept us company again all day, sometimes close and sometimes forming a blue silhouette off in the distance. The ocean was on our left and we got occasional glimpses of the coastline often comprising large tidal flats and views of the nearer islands of the Whitsunday group. The riding was better today with less traffic and road works to interrupt our travels with flat and gently sweeping bends through cane fields, many right beside the road, most of the day. A very pleasant ride.

A coastal glimpse near Bowen of the Whitsunday Passage

A coastal glimpse near Bowen of the Whitsunday Passage

Off to Rockhampton and Rosslyn Bay tomorrow.

Bye for now
Ros and Dick
 

 

 

We reach the east coast

Where are we now?http://goo.gl/maps/rDUsJ

Days on the road = 65
Kilometres travelled = 16,057

Tuesday 11 June 2013
We bade farewell to Karumba this morning as we backtracked about 85Km through Normanton to pick up the Savannah Highway to turn due east toward Cairns. The countryside was predictably savannah type although it continued to changed subtedly and was always interesting with lots of missed photo opportunities due to the lack of places to stop. The local industry in the region is clearly cattle with lots of Brahman cattle wandering along the roadside and on the road. We stopped beside two triple trailer road trains packed solid with young Brahman cattle apparently headed for export at Townsville. It seems the local cattle industry is so depressed due to the problems of live cattle export to Indonesia that we were told “you could not give away a local cattle property”. We stopped midway on our 390 Km ride at the historic mining town of Croydon which was a quaint little village which boasted the oldest operating store in Australia and was the eastern extremity of the famous little motor rail train the Gulflander. We rolled into our destination Georgetown  around 3pm and, after inspecting our booked digs at one of the local caravan parks decided the dodgy room we were allocated was not habitable and relocated to the local pub.

Cattle enroute to market

Cattle enroute to market

The Oldest Store in Australia at Croydon Qld (Or so the sign says anyway!)

The Oldest operating Store in Australia at Croydon Qld (Or so the sign says anyway!)

Wednesday 12 June 2013
We set off due east again this morning from Georgetown heading out along the Savannah plains as we have more or less done for the last few weeks. We passed through the very small town of Mount Surprise with the temperature hitting a very warm 30c in the morning. The road was sealed all the way but included substantial sections of single lane tarmac requiring us to get off in favour of large vehicles coming the other way a number of times. After travelling about 150 km before we came to the major Kennedy Highway and again turned north toward Ravenshoe, Atherton and our next overnight stop at Mareeba. The change in climate and landscape was dramatic and almost instantaneous. Within a space of about 10 minutes the temperature had dropped to 19c and we finally left the Savannah Plains behind in favour of hills, winding roads and lush green countryside. Check out this little YouTube video >>>http://youtu.be/u8hjo-1fhyo The other major change we experienced was the immediate feeling that we had suddenly left the remote and isolated country we had been travelling through since leaving Perth over 5 weeks and 8,000 Kms ago and were well and truly back in “civilisation”. To add to this dramatic change, we were forced to stop at Ravenshoe to dig out our wet weather gear for the first time in almost 5 weeks. The windy wet road through the Atherton tablelands slowed us down somewhat and provided a different pace to the almost constant maximum cruising speed we have enjoyed for the majority of the trip. We encountered a group of four bikers at Mount Garnet who were doing our trip in reverse after starting from the Central Coast of NSW and were just heading out into the “never never” following our tracks almost exactly. It was nice to be able to play the “experienced outback traveller” bit with them telling them where they will have trouble with fuel, roads and overnight stops. They marvelled at the fact that we had done the trip “on our own”. We are off to Cooktown tomorrow before turning south for the final time for our run down the coast.

Out come the "Wetties" at Ravenshoe Qld (first time for five weeks)

Out come the “Wetties” at Ravenshoe Qld (first time for five weeks)

Wind farm in the Atherton tablelands

Wind farm in the Atherton tablelands

Thursday 13 June 2013
Our comfortable 270 Km run from Mareeba to Cooktown today took us North to Mount Malloy before sweeping inland to skirt around the coastal mountains again reaching the fringes of the Savannah country. Yet again we were treated to some wonderful scenery with Savannah one side and mountains the other then some great views as we climbed over the mountains into the delightful Cooktown. On arriving in Cooktown we finally reached the East Coast 23 days and 5,800Kms after leaving the West Coast at Broome. Tomorrow we start our long trip South down the coast towards home. Our day culminated with “drinkies” on the lawn in front of our motel room overlooking the Endeavour River yet again watching another beautiful sunset but this time over the mountains instead of the ocean.

The Savannah meets the hills enroute to Cooktown

The Savannah meets the hills enroute to Cooktown

The hills around Cooktown

The hills around Cooktown

Yet another sunset this time on the East Coast at Cooktown Qld

Yet another sunset this time on the East Coast at Cooktown Qld

James Cook watching over his landing spot at Endeavour River Cooktown Qld

James Cook watching over his landing spot at Endeavour River Cooktown Qld

Off to Cairns tomorrow for a three night stopover to check out some of the tourist hotspots.

Bye for now
Ros and Dick

 

Up to the Gulf

Where are we now ?http://goo.gl/maps/mDq5C

Sunday 9 June 2013
The first 110km section of the 550km ride today was due east from Mount Isa to Cloncurry along a gently undulating and winding road through picturesque and rocky hills. This was a very pleasant and scenic ride. Here is a short YouTube video of this ride >>http://youtu.be/kOqgAIiK1f8  We turned left and headed due north again at Cloncurry whose main claim to fame seems to be that it has the highest recorded temperature of any Australian town. (53.1c in 1889). The countryside almost immediately changed back to the now familiar straight road and Savannah type vegetation punctuated occasionally by red rocky outcrops as we headed toward Normanton and the Gulf. This was a run of almost 400km with the only civilisation between Cloncurry and Normanton being the aptly named Burke and Wills Roadhouse. Although sealed all the way, substantial sections of the road were the old style single lane with passing vehicles required to move at least one wheel off the bitumen and onto the dirt. This provided for some “interesting” riding experiences negotiating our bike past large trucks and motorhomes coming the other way. Fortunately we did not encounter any road trains during these sections although we did pass a couple during wider sections of the road. Here is a little YouTube video of some of our single lane road experiences. http://youtu.be/0zCBv3bcCfs  We were excited to spot several groups of very large birds along the roadside that we assumed were Brolgas. We even saw several pairs of them taking off as we passed. We marvelled at how these huge birds could actually get off the ground. When we arrived at our motel in Normanton we were informed that they were not Brolgas but another similar bird (often mistaken for Brolgas) called a Sarus Crane. It seems nobody even knew these birds existed until they were first identified near Normanton in 1996. Unfortunately we were unable to get any photos as there was nowhere to stop. We are staying in Normanton tonight prior to heading out to the gulf at Karumba tomorrow. One of Normanton’s main claims to fame is that their pub is painted purple!.

Typical Savannah vegetation along the Matilda Highway heading for Normanton

Typical Savannah vegetation along the Matilda Highway heading for Normanton

Waiting our turn to fill up at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse

Waiting our turn to fill up at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse

The Purple Pub at Normanton

The Purple Pub at Normanton

Monday 10 June 2013
We had a leisurely 75 km run today to the coast at Karumba on the Gulf. Before we left Normanton we checked out the replica of the largest crocodile ever “captured” (ie shot!) by a lady back in to 50’s when crocodile hunting was a sport. It was absolutely huge at 8.62m and hard to believe such a monster existed. Apparently crocodiles can live to 120 or more and never stop growing. They banned the shooting them 50 or 60 years ago so crocs this size could be a reality again in 40 or 50 years from now. The Normanton Rodeo was on this long weekend and the town was awash with cowboys on Sunday as they prepared to head home again. Their standard vehicle seems to be a Toyota truck with a cage on the back holding two pig dogs with a couple of swags in the back and a high lift jack attached to the cage. We saw literally dozens of these vehicles, all c/w dogs. A young couple in just such a vehicle stayed in the motel next to us. They took the two dogs out of the cage and chained them next to the truck. There they stayed all night and did not make a sound. We assume pig hunting is big in this region. We certainly saw a few killed along the roadside as we came in. The short run into Karumba was pleasant and we were fortunate enough to see some more of the large Sarus Cranes along the road. We just stopped in the middle of the road to take a few photos and waved and smiled to the few puzzled drivers who passed us while we were stopped . They were a fair way away but we got a couple of shots of these fascinating birds that would be at least a metre tall. Not surprisingly, the main industry (aside from Grey Nomad tourism) of Karumba is prawning with a large prawn “factory” in the middle of town and many large trawlers moored in the Norman river. We went out to Karumba Point about 5k out of town and found it to be jam packed with the fishing variety of Grey Nomads. These are the ones you see with the caravan on the back and a tinny on the roof usually with the wheels of a fold-up boat trailer hanging off the back of their vans. Their were literally hundreds of them filling all the available caravan spaces. Karumba seems to be some sort of “Fishing Grey Nomad” Mecca and judging from the catches we hear about we can see why. We came across a billabong near Karumba Point that was teeming with all types of birds as well as a lone wallaby. A great photo opportunity. We took a sunset cruise out onto the Gulf (with prawns and wine of course) and were, yet again, mesmerised by the sunsets over the ocean, a sight that us easterners are not accustomed to.

A Black Kite on the wing over the Norman River

A Black Kite on the wing over the Norman River

Another Black Kite taking food on the wing from our cruise boat

Another Black Kite taking food on the wing from our cruise boat

An eclectic gathering of birds at a billabong near Karumba Point

An eclectic gathering of birds at a billabong near Karumba Point

The Gulf!

The Gulf!

Along the road to Karumba Qld

Along the road to Karumba Qld

Some of the elusive Sarus Cranes near Normanton Qld

Some of the elusive Sarus Cranes near Normanton Qld

Filling up at Normanton Qld

Filling up at Normanton Qld

The local standard vehicle at Normanton Qld

The local standard vehicle at Normanton Qld

 

The giant Croc (actual size) at Normanton

The giant Croc (actual size) at Normanton

Black Cormorants at Sunset over the Gulf at Karumba Qld

Black Cormorants at Sunset over the Gulf at Karumba Qld

Sunset over the gulf at Karumba

Sunset over the gulf at Karumba

 

 

 

Into Queensland

Where are we now?http://goo.gl/maps/hAkHw
14,429 Kilometres travelled so far since we left home 60 days ago

Thursday 6 June 2013
We headed due south today for 550 Km on a relatively straight road. It was interesting to see the changing vegetation as we moved from sub-tropical coastal areas into the red centre. The trip was relatively uneventful although we seemed to be playing leapfrog with a number of caravans through the day. They were travelling at 100Km/Hr and we were sitting on the speed limit of 130 Km/Hr so we would pass them but we need to take more breaks so whenever we stopped they would pass us again. We passed one particular group of NSW vans about four time throughout the day then ended up spending the night with them at the Threeways Roadhouse near Tennant Creek. The old classic case of the tortoise and the hare!!. We have another big day tomorrow with 650Km to travel to Mount Isa in Qld (we also lose 30 minutes) so we will get an early start and try to be on the road by 8am Qld time.

Grave site of the "Maluka" of "We of the Never Never" fame

Grave site of the “Maluka” of “We of the Never Never” fame

Road train replenishing the fuel tanks at the Threeways Roadhouse at Tennant Creek NT. This busy servo reputedly dispenses over 1.5 million litres of fuel each year.

Road train replenishing the fuel tanks at the Threeways Roadhouse at Tennant Creek NT. This busy servo reputedly dispenses over 1.5 million litres of fuel each year.

Friday 7 June 2013
The run due east today from Tennant Creek in the NT to Mount Isa in Qld is one of our longest rides so far at 650 km. We set our clocks 30 minutes ahead onto EST before we went to bed so we could start the day on the new time rather than losing 30 minutes through the day. The road was predictably straight with the weather fine and sunny warming up to 31c during the day. We were buffeted by strong head winds for most of the day making the riding interesting at times. We had a very close encounter with a huge wedge tailed eagle who was sitting in the middle of the road and decided to take off with its 2m + wingspan almost clipping us on the bike as we veered out of its take-off path. A close call!. It was a real comedown to cross the border into Qld and see the speed limit drop from 130k/hr down to 110 k/hr. The countryside is surprisingly green and seemed to be much the same for the whole distance but it actually changes subtly during the day until you suddenly realise the country is totally different to what it was like in the morning. I took a sort of a time lapse video over the past few days which I am hoping to compile into a YouTube video to show the changes as we first headed about 1000 km due south from Darwin to Tennant Creek then 650 km due east today from Tennant Creek to Mount Isa. We are staying in Mount Isa tomorrow and will take a guided mine tour underground. On Sunday we will head due north again up to the Gulf of Carpentaria at Karumba.

One of the vary rare NT highway rest stops we encountered along this road (no loos though!)

One of the vary rare NT highway rest stops we encountered along this road (no loos though!)

A couple of fellow bikers we travelled with today hailing from Cowra. Their adventure touring bikes and gear (c/w spare tyre) contrasted starkly with our highway touring rig

A couple of fellow bikers we travelled with today hailing from Cowra. Their adventure touring bikes and gear (c/w spare tyre) contrasted starkly with our highway touring rig

Saturday 8 June 2013
We spent the day in Mount Isa (albeit somewhat deserted due to it being a long weekend). We got kitted up and  went underground on a tour of their tourist mine which had live demonstrations of working underground equipment. Very interesting. We are heading off in the morning for Cloncurry then Normanton, a ride of some 550 kms.

Suited up for our underground mine inspection at Mount Isa

Suited up for our underground mine inspection at Mount Isa

One of the hundreds of Forked Tail Kites soaring in the skies over Mount Isa

One of the hundreds of Forked Tail Kites soaring in the skies over Mount Isa

A view of the Mount Isa Township with the omnipresent mine towering on the hill behind. The mine can be seen from virtually everywhere in town.

A view of the Mount Isa Township with the omnipresent mine towering on the hill behind. The mine can be seen from virtually everywhere in town.

Our trip to Normanton and Karumba tomorrow is the final leg of a somewhat round-a-bout trip we have needed to take to reach the Gulf via the only available sealed road (know as the Matilda Highway) . The distance from Daly Waters in the NT to Karumba on the Gulf in Qld is around 775 Kms as the crow flies.
To make the journey via the largely unsealed coastal Savannah Highway is a journey of 1150 Kms. Our road bike is definitely not suited to this type of journey. Our route via the Barkly and Matilda Highways (sealed all the way) through Camooweal, Mount Isa, Cloncurry and Normanton is a little over 1,600kms. We still think it is worth it to be able to see the sunset over the Gulf. 😮
Cheers for now
Ros and Dick

 

 

 

We head out of the top end toward the Gulf

Where are we now ? >>http://goo.gl/maps/DhBPM
Sunday 2 June 2013
We left Darwin this morning to make the relatively short 280 Km run out along the Arnhem Highway to Jabiru in the heart of Kakadu. Darwin was our most northerly point on the trip and we have now started to move South again. The day was a steamy 33c and the ride was relatively warm humid. The road was pretty straight and flat for the whole distance. The country was relatively green with smallish trees and lots of pandanas palms in amongst the trees. The undergrowth was sparce which is a product of the annual burnoff practiced in the Territory in accord with the age old Aboriginal practice. We followed four local “weekend warrior” type bikers out from Darwin on sports bikes who rode 140 km to the Bark Hut Roadhouse. They stuck rigidly to the speed limit (130 km/hr) all the way attesting to the vigilance of the local constabulary. We chatted with then at the stop and found they were making the return trip after their coffee and the ride was just a regular Sunday blast. 140km of dead straight and flat roads then return. Not much of a Sunday blast by Southern standards!!. We arrived early at our Hotel,  the verrry nice Gagudhu Crocodile Holiday Inn at Jabiru (Good ole Wotif again). We spent the afternoon lounging around (and in) their pool. It is hard work but somebody has to do it!!. We are taking a day tomorrow to look around Kakudu and decided to blow our budget and take a flight to see it all in one go! from above.

The obligatory self shot of us and the bike in front of stuff, in this case, the entry to Kakadu

The obligatory self shot of us and the bike in front of stuff, in this case, the entry to Kakadu

Enjoying the pool at the Crocodile Hotel after a hot ride out from Darwin

Enjoying the pool at the Crocodile Hotel after a hot ride out from Darwin

Monday 3rd of June 2013
We took a one hour flight over the Kakabu region today which was great. The plane flew at about 800 to 1200 feet most of the way which gave us a great view of the escarpment, rivers and flood plains. It was a bit bumpy due to the air turbulence so close to the ground and several of the other passengers (we were six plus the pilot) succumbed to air sickness. This did not stop us having a great flight and taking some good photos.   We spent the afternoon at our Crocodile Hotel vegging out a bit in preparation for some of the big rides we will be doing over the next week or so as we first head south then east to Mount Isa then North again up to the Gulf at Normanton and Kurumba. Having said that, we are heading to Mataranka tomorrow to enjoy their famed thermal springs.

Part of Kakadu from the air

Part of Kakadu from the air

Kakadu flood plains

Kakadu flood plains

The intrepid flyers

The intrepid flyers

Tuesday 4 June 2013
The 450km ride from Jabiru to Mataranka Springs was mostly pleasant albeit straight and flat. The temperature topped out at a more comfortable 28c. For the first 100 ks or so out of Jabiru the  vegetation was smallish trees with lots of Pandanas in the relatively sparse, fire cleared undergrowth. As we moved out of the Kakadu National Park the Pandanas gave way to a return of the termite mounds. We arrived at the Mataranka Springs at around 3pm just near a replica of the old Elsey Station homestead of “we of the never never” fame. This was of particular interest having recently reread the book whilst on this trip. We plan to spend the day here tomorrow and sample the thermal pools.

Our Mataranka Springs mansion

Our Mataranka Springs mansion

Replica of the old Elsey Homestead which was made for the movie version of "We of the Never Never" made in 1982

Replica of the old Elsey Homestead which was made for the movie version of “We of the Never Never” made in 1982

The Roper River adjacent to the Mataranka hot springs

The Roper River adjacent to the Mataranka hot springs

Wednesday 5th of June 2013
We spent the day at Mataranka Springs enjoying the thermal pool and catching up on some housekeeping.

The Mataranka hot springs pool

The Mataranka hot springs pool

 

Here is a little video of some snippets
from the past few days >>>http://youtu.be/mWdaw29OUug

Bye for now

Ros and Dick

 
 

 

 

 

 

The top end

Where are we now ? >>>http://goo.gl/maps/0btQJ
Wednesday 29 May 2013
We had an easy morning off the bike in Katherine then rode 30 km in the afternoon to take a two hour boat trip up the spectacular Katherine Gorge. Fantastic!. We ate in the little sports Club next door to our Motel again. Excellent food and drinks at very reasonable prices. A far cry from some of the other places we have stayed at over the past couple of weeks.  Heading to Darwin tomorrow for a three day pit stop.

Part of Katherine Gorge

Part of Katherine Gorge

Thursday 30 May 2013
The 400 km run into Darwin was pleasant albeit a little warm again at 33c. We took a 100k “scenic” route detour part of the way along the Daly River back road which was very nice but the road surface was heavily water effected. It was difficult to get over 80 k/Hr due to the many dips, bumps and floodways. The vegetation is getting more sub-tropical and greener as we get closer to the coast. The termite nests in this part of the world are much taller than those seen in the west with some seen at over 4m high. The tall ones are supposed to be anything from 25 to 60 years old. Amazing!. Tomorrow we are getting a new tyre fitted to the bike and also getting it serviced again in preparation for the long trip up to the gulf and across to the NQ coast. The bike is still running beautifully and hasn’t missed a beat in the 12,400Km we have travelled so far. o:

There are certainly some heavy duty drinkers in this part of the world !

There are certainly some heavy duty drinkers in this part of the world !

Some of the many huge termite mounds in this part of the world

Some of the many huge termite mounds in this part of the world

Friday 31 May 2013
We spent a pleasant day mooching around Darwin while the bike was being serviced and new rear tyre fitted. We also enjoyed the amenities of our up-market, downtown hotel which we managed to jag for three days at an unbelievably low tarriff thanks to our last minute booking on Wotif. (Way to go Wotif!!) . A real pleasure after some of the high priced, low grade digs we have encountered at other places where the choices were minimal to non existent.

Saturday 1 June 2013 (Day 53)
We took a tour from Darwin to the Adelaide River then the Lichfield National Park finishing the day back in Darwin for champagne, prawns and sunset over Fanny Bay. During the day we saw some great close up action with huge saltwater crocodiles in the wild, lots of bird life, some unbelievable termite mounds and some beautiful water falls and swimming holes. All in all a fantastic day. We are heading off tomorrow for a two day stopover at Jabiru and Kakadu.

One of the thousands of saltwater crocodiles in and around the Adelaide River

One of the thousands of saltwater crocodiles in and around the Adelaide River

One of the many Kites and Hawkes seen everywhere in large numbers throughout the Territory

One of the many Kites and Hawkes seen everywhere in large numbers throughout the Territory

Wangi (pronounced Wongie) Falls in Litchfield National Park

Wangi (pronounced Wongie) Falls in Litchfield National Park

A colourful native Rosella plant

A colourful native Rosella plant

Another sunset, this time over Fanny Bay - Darwin

Another sunset, this time over Fanny Bay – Darwin

Another one of the massive termite mounds. The mound is only 30% of the nest with the remaining 70% below ground. Amazing!

Another one of the massive termite mounds. The mound is only 30% of the nest with the remaining 70% below ground. Amazing!

 

 

Bye for now
Ros and Dick