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!.
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.