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October 2017 Club News

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The Ride Around Oz Part Two

By Antoinet: continued from July issue

It is still very windy here in Broome but the temperature is beautiful. At night it cools down nicely. We put up our tent in the back yard of friends of friends. Our mate Laurie has come up to Broome for the speedway weekend this weekend and Ronnie and some other friends will help to get the car ready and fixed up if needed. I just love walking and exploring through this nice little town with so much history.

We had a great time in Broome, stayed for 6 nights in a friendís backyard. I had some days in Broome, wandering around and sightseeing while Ronnie worked on our bikes and helped our friend Laurie out with the speedway car.
Dowsettís speedway car, Broome.
It was really nice not to pack up every morning or second morning. I know we are on a big adventure but it does get a bit full-on sometimes (for me that is, Ronnie of course still goes 100 mile an hour after heís slept for 9, 10 or even 11 hours straight).

The speedway weekend was great. We havenít been too many speedway events here in Australia but it was great fun to watch Laurie race and to see the boys working together when things had to be fixed between races. Laurie came 6th in the final, good work!

After Broome we scored some nice 24 hour rest areaís on the side of the road. The countryside is so green, the boab trees are green and itís wonderful to travel around. The wind is still there though, unbelievable.
Boab tree near Broome.

Since Karijini weíve had a headwind every single day. Ronnie is ok behind the big screen on the Moto Guzzi but on the BMW itís a bit different. We did swap bikes for about half a km but riding the Guzzi was even worse for me because the turbulence was terrible. Anyway, the BMW is such a comfortable bike so we just have to take the wind as it comes. We canít complain about the sunshine though, itís there every day and itís beautiful. Not too cold and not too hot. Nights are cool which is of course great for sleeping. Since we left on May 2nd we havenít had to wear our wet weather gear at all.

We had 2 nights in Kununurra before going to Lake Argyle for 2 nights. Lake Argyle is Western Australiaís largest fresh water man-made reservoir by volume. The surface area is about 1,000 square kilometres.

There is a nice caravan park with an infinity pool, where the water flows over the edge. The water was so cold though so I didnít jump in but Ronnie had a quick dip. No one stayed in there for too long, just long enough to have their photo taken. Ronnie was very lucky to catch a ride in a little tinny (boat) with a guy he met. They saw crocodiles and it was amazing to see how massive this lake is.

NT border.
The next morning we only had to ride a couple of kilometres to cross the border into the Northern Territory. Our clock went 1.5 hours forward and we found a bush camp at about 4 pm. The sun goes down a bit later now but is also coming up later. Not until 7 in the morning. As most of you know I love getting up early so this is a bit of torture for me. Itís ok when youíre in a caravan park but when youíre in the middle of nowhere there is not much to do but read in the tent until it gets light.

Yesterday we arrived in Katherine where we will stay for 3 nights. 15 years ago we lived here for 3 months so itís nice to have another look around. Not much has changed though. We will get some washing done and stock up with supplies (weíve eaten everything) and this afternoon we will have a look at Katherine Gorge.

Weíve had some nice rides in Katherine and had dinner with Craig and his family. Ronnie and Craig worked together at Katherine Toyota 15 years ago. We also rode past my old work places. One of the childcare centres I worked at has closed down but the other one was still operating.

We also rode past the resort where I worked as a cleaner and the house where we lived for 3 months in 2002. Itís always nice to stay somewhere for a couple of days, the hot springs were close to the park so we went for a swim too. At night I woke up a couple of times because something was scratching in the annex of the tent.
Possum footprints.
The next morning I found possum foot prints all over Ronnieís jumper. It reminded me of an old book I read to the kids at daycare. I could write my own version: There is a possum in the tent and heís hiding in the annex.

Packing the gear.
After getting supplies and packing up we didnít have far to go. Mataranka was only 100 km south. We found a nice camping spot near the Bitter Springs where we had another swim. The water is lovely and warm and you drift along with the current and walk back to the start along the track. We had a campfire that night which was very exciting, it was only our second one on this trip. There were either fire bans or we were at caravan parks where itís usually not allowed.

Our next stop was Daly Waters pub. The next day was going to be my birthday so we had a nice meal and some drinks to celebrate as we didnít know where we would end up on my actual birthday.
Of course it is still windy and because we are travelling south for a couple of days itís coming from the south east. My earplugs donít seem to work properly and Iíve had a bad day the next day, my birthday, so Iím not very happy.

I think it doesnít help either that the landscape not very nice, just long stretches of nothing. But that is all part of the outback Australia. Iím looking forward to get to Queensland where there will be lots to see and lots of towns to explore.

Every day we meet nice people and itís great chatting to them about our travels, exchanging ideas and telling them about exciting places weíve been. We ended up at the caravan park in Tennant Creek, met some awesome people where we had a lot of laughs with and I was busy replying to all the birthday messages I received, that was really awesome, thank you.

Queensland border.
The next day we packed up and rode east towards Queensland. We found a great camping ground behind Barkly Homestead, I so didnít expect to find such a nice place here. A restaurant, a well stocked shop and a bar. We had a post birthday dinner here as well, a nice burger and chips.

The next day we rode into Queensland after riding through barren country for a lot of kilometers. We found a free rest area 50 km outside of the mining town Mt Isa. It was going to be a cold night so we collected some wood for a nice little fire.

We got supplies in Mt Isa but didnít do anything else there, the town doesnít look very appealing. Julia Creek was a nice little town where we found a spot at the local caravan park. That night we had dinner in the great campersí kitchen and  watched a rugby game between Queensland and New South Wales with all the grey nomads (retired travellers)

And now we are in Richmond. A quiet little town between Julia Creek and Hughenden. We are here for 3 nights and Ronnie was all excited when we found out there is an motorbike enduro event this weekend. Lots of motorbike people to talk to. The campground is right near a lake and itís got a nice walk all around it. The local butcher has sold us some amazing meat from his own cows and there is a Spar (Dutch retail chain) supermarket here ha ha.

We will watch the juniors head off in the enduro and tomorrow morning itís time for the seniors. The weather has been absolutely amazing, no rain apart from a downpour in our first week when we were in Jurien Bay. Since then sunshine every day. Canít complain about that can we?

A friend of mine said ďIt must be so exciting to wake up in a new place every timeĒ Sheís right, itís very exciting. Had a nice time in Richmond, met lots of motorbike people and watched the enduro for the off-road motorbikes. Looked liked hard work through the sand and the dust, awesome to watch though.

It was the juniors turn on the Saturday and the seniors had to do a 24 km track the next day, they rode for 4 hours. There were about 50 people who entered but a lot gave up after a while. Too dusty and hard. We watched until lunch time and then hit the road, heading east.

Nice pub (Prairie Hotel), we could camp out the back too.
We put up the tent behind the prairie hotel in Prairie. There is an honesty box or you can go to the pub for dinner, we did have a nice meal with 6 grey nomads in the very nice pub. The pub is full of memorabilia and the owners are very nice people.

The weather was still great and Ronnie had taken off the small windshield of my bike which made a huge difference to the noise. No ear plugs needed any more, I wish we had worked it out earlier, much more pleasant to ride along now.

Colourful Queensland utes.
We ended up at Charters Towers for the next 2 nights. At an awesome caravan park with lovely people and a nice grassy tent site. Charters Towers has got beautiful buildings and a lot of history.  

On Wednesday morning there are cattle sales at the yards and it was very nice to be there. Listening to the auctioneer and watching all the farmers and beautiful Brahman cows. Ronnie had to be careful not to talk with hands and feet like he always does otherwise we would have to somehow fit a big bull on the back of the motorbike.

We packed up after coming back from the saleyards and took off under grey skies, we had a bit of drizzle along the way but not enough to put on the wet weather gear. We camped in a gravel pit, a 24 hour rest area and had to listen to our female neighbour. She did not stop talking from 4.30 pm till 9.30 pm. We didnít want to listen but she was so loud, we know her whole life story.

I thought Ronnie talked a lot but heís nothing compared to her. Poor people she had invited over to stay for dinner at their caravan.

The next day we put on all our wet weather gear and rode towards Cairns. Ravenshoe (highest town in Queensland, 930 metres above sea level) and Atherton were covered in mist and rain but everything was very green. The roads would have been very nice in the dry weather but when wet itís a bit hard to enjoy the twisty and windy roads.

Itís school holidays here now so a lot of traffic and the caravan parks are pretty full. Ronnie has been riding without a speedo since Tennant Creek but I always ride up front so hopefully there are no speeding fines. We did ask our friend Huw to send a new cable to Cairns so we were now close by to collect it.

We have been in Mareeba for 4 nights now, it says Marreeba: 300 sunny days a year on the sign when you come into town but weíve had 5 days of drizzle and grey skies. Every now and then the sun comes out and we get very excited.
Foggy mornings.

We stayed at the rodeo camp ground for the first 2 nights but that was the maximum we could stay there. Tents are only allowed to stay 2 nights, thatís something new and we were not very happy about it. We also tried to book a tent site on a beautiful park but they only allow fully self contained motor homes and caravans in their park. We asked for reasons but they canít really give us any, we think it might be because of the backpackers. They havenít got a very good reputation here. Lots of farms here grow bananas mangos, zucchinis, coffee and sugar cane. So lots of work for backpackers here and I think they have spoiled a lot for other people. They can be very messy and noisy at the camp grounds.

Most people think we are backpackers I think. Here are some of the questions they ask and they ask them very slowly so we can understand them ha ha: Where are you from? Which part of the world were you born? You donít sound Australian! Have you got an Australian phone number? Where are you from? Germany? South Africa? Finland? When we tell them weíve been living in Australia for 18 and 20 years their eyes are huge.

Weíve just been spending lots of time looking at the weather forecast and still donít know what to do. Going back west, south or north? The rain keeps hanging along the coast.

We had quite some days of drizzle and rain and it looked like it wasnít going to clear up for a few days. Luckily it did though and we have had beautiful warm and sunny weather for about a week now. We are back in Mareeba after 2 nights in Cooktown. Most mornings are very foggy and Iím surprised that the hot air balloons still go up in that kind of weather. They launch from an area not far behind the caravan park and itís amazing to see those huge balloons go up in the air.

We have camped at the same caravan park in Mareeba for 8 days now with a trip to Cooktown in between. The people here at the park are very friendly, trying everything possible to make your stay pleasant. They have just opened last year in December. It has been nice to just leave the tent here and explore the area.

Iíve hopped on the back of Ronnieís bike most days and weíve enjoyed riding through hilly and windy landscapes. Everything is so green and pretty here and the distances to the next towns are only small.
We checked out most of the roads and towns in the area. Rode the waterfall circuit, had a look at the markets in Kuranda, checked out Port Douglas with all its flash resorts and expensive looking people and rode the mountain roads to Kuranda and Cairns, they are very popular motorcycle roads and they are the only roads going down the Great Dividing Range.

Great roads, Atherton Tablelands.
The Gillies highway down to Gordonvale is famous for its 263 corners and 800m elevation change in only 19 km of road. You feel the temperature drop and you enjoy beautiful views onto the valleys below. The Kuranda range road takes you from Kuranda to Cairns and is very windy and twisty too. It is very different to the Gillies though going through the rain forest instead. The Kuranda sky rail cable-way crosses the road twice.

We checked out Lake Tinaroo, the curtain fig tree near Yungaburra and went for a nice ride to Atherton, Herberton and Malanda. Last week we met a very interesting 80 year old man. He still works as security at Australian movie sets. He was in Albany for Locky Leonard, worked when Mad Max was filmed and Australia. Heís got an 1926 Harley Davidson and needs still some parts that Ronnie might be able to help him out with. 

Curtain Fig Tree, Atherton Tablelands.
Another nice trip was our ride to Cooktown. I really didnít know what to expect and thought the trip up would be quite boring but it wasnít. The 260 km up there went pretty quick with some stops along the way with nice views from lookouts. We walked to town and checked out all the history. They have done a great job there with lots of information about Captain James Cook. He beached his ship the Endeavour here for repairs in 1770.

We met some more motorbike riders at the caravan park. A group of about 8 on offroad motorbikes with a car and huge back up trailer were planning on going to Cape York. I wonder how they will go because one had already major problems and had to go back to Cairns, a 650 km return trip to get the bike fixed.

We had a chat to a nice and very funny couple from England who had bought a BMW 1200GS here in Australia. They have come back 2 years in a row now and travel different sections on the east coast. They would love to come back next year to do the west. They were very loaded, their big tent strapped on the back weighed already 11 kiloís!

Every Sunday the Tablelands Restorers Group meet at the coffee shop in Yungaburra so we met them there and had a chat. Friendly people riding old and new bikes. And now weíre here with maps and information about Cape York; our next big adventure.

We caught up with our friends from Albany, Perth, Narembeen and Darwin and had 2 days of luxury in a big house in Cairns. Got supplies, looked over maps and caught up on washing. Ronnie and I were catching a seat in the car with Trevor and Kieran from Darwin. We had only met Trevor once before and it was the first time we met Kieran so it was super nice of them to take us along on their adventure.

Looking relaxed in tropical Northern Queensland.
We had quite a bit of rain in Cairns but on the morning we were leaving it was sunny and warm. We drove up to Port Douglas and Mossman to have a look around and the boys caught up with people who own the local mechanical workshop.

Off to the Daintree River ferry and we enjoyed the drive through Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield track. We had talked about taking the Creb track but heard them some parts were closed due to the rain they had in the area, we were maybe doing that on the way back. We camped the night at Bloomfield and enjoyed a drink around the campfire to celebrate our first day.

The next day started with drizzle and lots of overcast. We had a look at the Lionís Den hotel and drove to Cooktown where we had lunch. The rain started so time to hit the road, it was so nice to hop in the car instead of the bike. We will be living in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops for the next 2 weeks.

The gravel roads must have just been graded because they were in very good condition just after the school holidays. We found a gravel pit along the Battle Camp road and set up camp. Trevor loves cooking so after drinks and nibbles it was time for our first gourmet meal on the track: prawns, fish and chips, salad and oysters Kilpatrick!

The weather was beautiful and after packing up everything we were on the road again. Lots of sections of the road to Cape York have been bitumenised, some are fine gravel and some are very corrugated. We drove along the Peninsula Development to Archer River Roadhouse where we put up our tent and the others got their roof top tents, swags and stretchers ready for the night.

Another beautiful morning and we were keen to start the Old Telegraph Track (OTT); the remnants of the original telegraph track that was constructed through the centre of Cape York during the 1880ís to facilitate the telegraph line from Cairns to Thursday Island. The track starts at Bramwell Roadhouse and straight away there is Palm Creek, a muddy and slippery river crossing. There are lots of detours around most crossings, some have turned into chicken tracks (easy way out) but most are still quite challenging to get through.

I canít remember what all of them looked like and in what condition all the river crossings were but it was great fun to celebrate crossing them with a High Five. Itís amazing what these cars are capable of, water crossings like Nolanís Brook are long and quite deep so you have to be careful where and how to cross it.
There are beautiful waterfalls along the way were we could have a swim and a wash. Two nights we camped along the OTT at Dulhunty river and near Canal Creek.

Fixing the damaged fan.
All four cars did very well but some did get some damage; uni joints broken in the drive shafts and a fan lost all its blades, lucky no damage to the radiator was done.

We booked a site at Seisia Caravan Park and the boys got stuck into fixing the damage. We all enjoyed a shower, a walk along the beach and nice food and drinks.

We got talking to some guys on postie bikes, 15 of them had set off from Cairns to the tip and back to Cairns to raise money for mental health. (Ride 4 Awareness)

The gang at Cape York.
Off to the northernmost point of the Australian continent with a stop at the Croc Tent where lots of memorabilia is sold. There was a bit of drizzle around when we pulled up at the tip. We had to walk another 15 minutes or so to get to the tip and most of us walked along the beach to get there. Photos were taken and phone calls were made: we made it to the tip! Now it was time to explore more of the Cape York Peninsula.

We went to Somerset Beach and camped the night, just across the water lays Albany Island where you can go on a fishing charter.

The next day we drove along the northern and southern bypass road to Bramwell Station, this road was a bit boring compared to all the fun we had on the OTT. We set up camp at Bramwell, which is the most northerly cattle station in Australia and covers 320,000 acres (which is nearly 130,000 hectares I think)

Then off to the Frenchmans Track which was very interesting having to cross the Wedlock and Pascoe rivers. The track is very steep and very rocky going into the rivers but we all made it. It was good fun watching each car go through and lots of photos and videos were taken.

We had a look at Chilli Beach but because this is a national park you can only book camp sites online which we hadnít done because we never know where we will end up each day. We drove for a bit longer and found a campsite near a river where we set up. We saw the postie bikes again and had anther chat to them, all was going well apart from some people coming off. One guy had ended up in hospital with a broken leg and a lady had come off the postie on the Bloomfield Track.

Laura was our next destination before we were going to take the Old Coach Road back to the main highway. Friends in Cairns had told us about this track and we were very happy they did because it was really worth it.
Meeting up with Ernie Dingo and TV crew.
On the first morning we came across the LowRange television crew which was so cool. We stopped and had a chat to Ernie Dingo (an indigenous actor, TV presenter) , Glen and Kenno from LowRange. For hours afterwards we were talking about how awesome it was to come across them, we had just talked about the show the day before.

We enjoyed the scenery along the Old Coach Road, a rocky and steep track. We had a look at Maytown, now a ghost town which became in 1875 the administrative and business centre of the gold fields around the Palmer River. An estimated 20 or 30 thousand people made their way to the goldfields.

The road coming from Maytown was very scenic, windy and hilly. We did miss out on doing the Creb track but the Old Coach Road was really worth it.

We made our way to Mareeba where some of us camped and some booked a motel room. The next day we caught up and enjoyed a last huge cooked breakfast together before driving to Kuranda to have a look at the markets and then off to Cairns where we stayed in a house at the caravan park. Lots of washing to be some, sorting out of supplies and saving photographs and videos on each otherís laptops. We took a taxi to the Chinese restaurant and cheered to a trip of a life-time with great friends. If you guys read this: THANKS AGAIN!

Packing up and saying goodbye the next morning was a bit hard, but new places are to be explored so off onto the bikes again.

Ronnie and I had another 2 nights in Cairns with friends and it was time to service the bikes, a new rear tyre for me and trying to pack everything back on to the 2 bikes.

We left Cairns yesterday morning and rode to Innisfail so we can ride around this area. Apparently you can spot cassowaries on the beach near by so hopefully we will see one today!

We did some small rides in the Innisfail area, went to Etty Bay where there are often cassowaries on the beach. We sat and walked around for a while and after an hour and a half Ronnie said: letís wait for 5 more minutes.
Elusive Cassowary.
No luck, we stood up and suddenly Ronnie said: There is one there near the rocks! And yes, there he was such an amazing creature. I walked a bit closer, not too close as they can be very aggressive.

I got some good photographs, the cassowary just kept walking through the campground and walked straight past us and our bike. He ate seeds and fruit that had fallen off the trees. We watched him for a while and headed back to the camp ground, happy to have seen one. The next day we went and had a look at Paronella Park; it was build in the 1930ís by Jose Paronella, a Spanish immigrant.

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