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August 2008 Club News

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Around Oz the Short Way in 61 Days

By Chester and Judy Powell

Sheer luxury camping with a Wing and a dunny
After our trip to Tassie in April 07 and the North-West ride with the club in September, the good wife suggested a trip to Queensland. I thought she meant with the caravan and car. So I was rather surprised when she said “On the bike of course!” “Of course” I said “We can make that happen.” So on the 9th of April this year we set off again on the Wing with trailer in tow.

Sharing the road is important
We travelled across the Nullarbor to Adelaide, then followed the Murray River east to the coast at Wollongong. From here we went up the coast of Queensland, with a few detours to avoid the rain, and went as far north as Cape Tribulation. We turned left to the gulf at Karumba and then left again to Mt Isa before turning back to the west through the Northern Territory to Three Ways.

Threeways turn-offIt was north from here, doing the circuit to Kakadu, Darwin and Katherine, before we got back on track to the west coast via Kununurra and Broome. On the home straight we flew down the coast to home (low flying that is).

It was fine weather most of the way apart from the severe storms north of Sydney. We headed inland here and rode up to Toowoomba and then to the Glass House Mountains. When we reached the coast at Caloundra, it was off with the winter gear and on with the summer jackets. The wet pants and thermals did not come out again until we approached Perth. There were times in the north that we almost succumbed to the temptation to ride like the locals, shorts, T-shirts and thongs.

Some highlights of the trip included the Snowy Mountains and the Alpine Pass, riding on the winding roads through Khancoban. It was while we were there fuelling up the bike that we were surrounded by a group of about 20 Buell bikes. They were being road tested by dealers from around Australia and New Zealand. We had a bit of a look and a chat with the fellows and were surprised when a couple of weeks later we ran into one of the riders south of Mackay.

Custom Harley trikeWe were filling up again when a slick-looking Harley Trike pulled alongside. It was ridden by one of the dealers. He was delivering the trike to his partner’s wife. It had been done up to the nines and the good price was about $83,000. Other great rides were the Bulli Pass (this was a bit hairy with the wet roads) - The Atherton Tablelands to Cape Tribulation – Katherine to Jabiru and the Kimberleys to name a few.

There were quite a lot of places that we would love to visit again, some for the beauty and scenery and others because there is so much to see. Of special interest was 1770, the Whitsundays, Darwin and the Kimberleys.
The worst sealed road we came across was in Queensland, heading west from Mt Garnet to Undara Lava Tubes. Skinny little tracks of bitumen (They call them roads) with jagged edges. It was topped off with lots of BIGGGG mining trucks hurtling along. The loneliest road would have to be the stretch from Mt Isa to Threeways.

It is really a small world when you travel on a bike around this big country. Part of the fun in doing these trips is talking to the people we meet on the way.  We met a couple on the Nullabor. They were on their way home from Tassie, travelling on a 750 Kwaka. After a bit of a chat Chester discovered he had gone to school with the lady in Rocky Gully. And this sort of thing just kept happening.

We are very fortunate to have been able to visit lots of friends that we have made over the years. This was a very special part of our trip. One meeting in particular was catching up with a couple who we last saw 30 years ago on our honeymoon in Fiji. Our contact over the years had been the annual Christmas letter, so it was amazing how we seemed to pick up where we left off all that time ago. Still travelling down memory lane, we called in to Penrith where we were married in the gardens. We strolled hand in hand, dodging the puddles under our umbrella.

We were getting the camping down to a fine art by the time we got home. The tent saw daylight about a third of the time and the rest of the time was in cabins, hotels, motels and one B&B or staying with friends. The hard accommodation varied in quality quite a bit. There were some pretty rough donga’s (cheap) amongst them and to the other extreme of the B & B (the most expensive). We quite liked the campsites with private ensuites. They gave us a chance to spread out a bit more, and it was not so far to walk at night when nature called.

So all in all, we had a great time and hope to do another trip next year. Maybe to check out Victoria and southern NSW. We’ll see……

Here are a few useless statistics that may interest a few.
We travelled 18552 km in 61 days
We used 1157 litres of fuel at an average cost of $1.68/litre
The cost of fuel was 10c per km
The dearest fuel was 203 cents/litre at Barkley Homestead NT.
We replaced 2 back tyres and one front tyre.
The laptop came in handy for something!

Chester was really pleased he was not towing a van behind the Patrol as those we saw were travelling for 35-40 cents per km. So we could afford an odd night in hard accommodation.

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