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Old 11-10-2010, 06:30 AM   #1
rjdavies OP
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Oddometer: 16
Long Way Up: Perth to Darwin via the Great Central Road 2010

Charley and Ewan have a lot to answer for. I stumbled across Charley at the BMW stand at the London motorcycle show earlier this year. He was delightful: generous with his time, personable and apparently unaffected by his celebrity status.

As I took Charley’s photo with my five year old son Isaac I asked Isaac what the highlight of our European trip had been. Had it been skiing in Zermatt or meeting Charley Boorman? He didn’t hesitate. “Skiing in Zermatt” he replied. “Well that was predictable” observed Charley drily.

My own Long Way Up started over a dinner party, finding a common interest in motorbikes with my sister’s boss and formulating a plan to look at riding the adventure tour of the Australasian Safari together. Gradually it morphed into a planned ride from Perth to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) and return across the Great Victoria Desert via the Great Central Road. A couple of others expressed interest and at one stage it looked like we might have somebody interested in 4WD support but in the end it came back to just the two of us. Geoff, a lawyer, on a BMW R1200GS and me, Robert, a surgeon, on a KTM 640 Adventure.

It was a less than auspicious ride out of Perth when my KTM coughed and stalled after around 5km into a 5000km ride. The bike was coaxed back to life but by Toodyay I’d worked out that it was probably an over-oiled air filter skin starving the engine of air. With the KTM unrestricted and breathing freely again it didn’t miss another beat.

At a Toodyay café we drank coffees outside, telephoned our families and pressed the OK button on our Spot satellite device.

It was a pleasant cruise to Goomalling then on to Dowerin, Wyalkatchem and Koorda where we stopped for lunch.

It was then on to the tiny town of Gabbin where I went to primary school for a few years. The school closed a decade ago.

We rode east through Bencubbin

and Mukinbudin to our first overnight stay in Bullfinch.

I videoed Geoff as we rolled into town and we pulled up outside the Bullfinch Exchange Hotel.

We got excited by the “Skimpy 2 nite” sign posted outide, figuring that we’d aggravate our wives by getting photos of the girls on our bikes. It turned out that the sign simply hadn’t been taken down from the previous night and we’d missed out. We formulated a plan to find substitute girls to photograph somewhere along the ride.

Bullfinch doesn’t have a petrol station and so early the following morning we rode down to Southern Cross to refuel. It was cold. Geoff tucked in behind his ample BMW windscreen and flicked his heated hand grips onto high. Derisively I dubbed Geoff “Princess Leia on her BMW”. Each time we stopped though I’d peel the gloves off my frozen hands and warm them up on the massive cylinder heads of the BMW, molesting the machine like a sailor in a brothel. The pattern was repeated on a daily basis until we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn the following week.

We headed north again back to Bullfinch then hit the gravel for the first time.

The KTM took one corner too fast and went bush and the BMW had a little lie down as Geoff pulled up for a photo opportunity but the riding was otherwise straightforward and the road was in good condition. We turned east once we hit the Sandstone Evanston Road. In the early afternoon I stopped to take a photo of the lonely road that we were travelling cutting its way ahead across the country.

Unbelievably one of the only vehicles that we’d seen that day gradually came into view (rather spoiling the photo opportunity) then rolled to a stop alongside us. An excited girl jumped out from beside a dark skinned male driver. It turned out that he was Tanzanian and she was a Dutch tourist employed at a local mine having taken a break from riding her bicycle across the outback. We chatted for a while before we each headed out in opposite directions on our respective journeys.

We needed some GPS help to find the right turnoff to Lake Ballard. Between us we carried no less than 5 GPS devices: a Zumo on Geoff’s bike, a handheld Garmin on my KTM, a Spot satellite device, an iPhone with GPS mapping and a camera with its own integrated GPS. Getting lost wasn’t on the agenda unless we ran out of batteries.

Antony Gormley’s surreal sculptures on Lake Ballard look like silent, motionless Aborigines dotted across the landscape. We parked the bikes, ate some lunch and sent another Spot OK message.

Gormley apparently intended for the artwork to draw the observer into the installation itself as you wander from one statue to the next and actually become part of the artwork. One of the 51 statues on the lake was digitised from a patient of mine; her husband is also nearby on the lake.

We kept moving, keen to reach the Grand Hotel Kookynie before dusk fell and the kangaroos started playing the game of motorcycle dodge. We’d planned to refuel at Menzies but found the iconic numberplate covered service station closed. You know that you’re on holiday when you can’t remember what day it is. We worked out that it was Sunday. Parked in the main street Geoff refuelled from his reserve fuel container and we kept riding.

The road into Kookynie is perfectly bitumenised up to a few kilometres before the town when it suddenly turns to gravel. It’s as if somebody in Main Roads miscalculated on the amount of bitumen they needed and they ran out just short of the town. In its heyday of the goldrush era Kookynie boasted 400 buildings and a population of 2500. It is now a ghost town and centres around the original hotel run by the local historian, Margaret.

We parked the bikes in the compound around the back. We were the only guests: Margaret usually didn’t take bookings on Sunday nights but when I’d phoned she’d remembered me from another ride that I’d done with my Swiss friend Maxime and she’d made an exception.

She’d asked that we look after ourselves for dinner, but then relented and gave us a basket of chips with our beers.

The following morning I discovered that Margaret had found my washing hanging outside and brought it all in to dry overnight in front of the fire inside. It was like having your mother along for an adventure ride.

Geoff misjudged the gap in the gate as we rode out of the compound that morning and the Beemer had another little lie down. It was now officially a daily occurrence.

We detoured slightly off the main road to take a look at Niagara Dam built in 1897 to provide water for the railway.

Next stop was Leonora. We refuelled, bought something for lunch and asked the girl at the service station where in town where we’d find the recently established refugee detention centre. We found it fenced off and nameless. The security guards viewed us with suspicion as we photographed each other making peace signs out the front.

Heading east to Laverton we stopped off at the local caravan park owned and run by another of my patients. Turns out that he was prospecting out of town but we chatted with his wife and told her to let him know that we’d dropped in.

We topped up the tanks again and just out of town hit the Great Central Road. This dirt road would take us another 1126km before reaching the Olgas in the Northern Territory.

The first section was wide but very corrugated: as a result the KTM soon lost its velcroed Laminar lip windscreen. This was retrieved and duct taped back on. One of my panniers was full of emergency type equipment: tools, spare parts, tubes, chain oil, filter oil, a first aid kit and enough morphine and local anaesthetic to keep both of us pain free and happy through any limb fracture. That length of duct tape turned out to be the only emergency supply that we’d need to retrieve from the pannier on the entire trip!

The road constantly changed as we headed east. Gravel gave way to sand and heavy corrugations gave way to smooth runs along heavily packed ground. At one stage it was single lane but mostly it was wide and we could take any line we liked since traffic was so scarce.

We finally rolled into Tjukayirla Roadhouse (“the most isolated roadhouse in Australia”) after dark. It was closed. We scratched around in the dark and tried the gate of the campground but that was also locked. By the time we’d found an after hours bell to ring we’d resigned ourselves to sleeping by the side of the road for the night. Instead we ended up sharing a “donga” in the campground and cooking up freeze dried dinners whilst watching a plasma TV!

I checked over my bike the following morning and found that the tang of a pair of scissors had pierced the knobby of my rear tyre, luckily missing the tube. There was a certain irony in a surgeon almost being brought to a halt by a pair of surgical scissors.

We posed for the obligatory photos on the only strip of sealed road on the entire Great Central Road: a length of sealed aircraft runway. I figured that the scissors that had skewered my tyre the night before had probably dropped to the ground during a Royal Flying Doctor Service transfer.

The big BMW and the KTM continued east along what was quite corrugated road. Sometimes this would turn suddenly to loose sand, testing riding skills.

We could communicate to each other using Scala headsets and I’d radio back to Geoff (who preferred riding behind) to warn him of impending sand sections that I’d just hit. The system worked reasonably well though I couldn’t hear much of what Geoff was saying. This was not always a bad thing. “You’re speaking Maori again bro” I’d counter when I couldn’t make out what the New Zealander was saying past the Akrapovic muffler on the KTM and the ear plugs that I was wearing. He certainly took notice when I alerted to him to a big bull camel by the side of the road, the first of a dozen camels that we saw over the next few days. I went bush in photographic pursuit of the animal while Geoff pulled up on the road.

Then tipped his bike over.

Wild camels comprised the majority of wildlife that we saw on the ride. Despite riding past lots of road-kill, we saw a lone dingo and only a few kangaroos along the way.

There were short sections where Geoff walked his bike through but this was exceptional. Sometimes we’d find lovely hard packed smooth road that would see us riding at around 90km/h but at other times we were at walking pace. We passed several graders that were working their way along some sections, obligingly slicing a smooth swathe for us with their blades.

On my bike I found myself focussing upon the subtle detail of road surfaces: details that wouldn’t really register and wouldn’t matter if I were driving a car. Occasionally I’d stand up and watch my front tyre rolling forwards, imagining that I was actually standing still as the earth spun underneath. Either way, with each revolution of our tyres we were closing in on Warakurna, our next planned overnight stop.

We stopped at Warburton for lunch and to re-fuel the bikes. Warburton was rubbish strewn, dusty, dilapidated and felt slightly menacing. A sign on the shopfront forbade photography; a noisy dirtbike ridden by an Aborigine roared back and forth in the distance and mangy dogs sulked around. Aborigines silently stared at the two of us and I kept an eye on the bikes as Geoff went into the roadhouse. He soon reappeared again unimpressed by any of the deep fried offerings that apparently needed carbon dating. I went in and bought a loaf of bread, some tinned tuna and fruit and we ate sitting at a picnic bench on a small grassed area opposite the roadhouse. At Tjukayirla we’d been told to avoid staying overnight at Warburton. If we did stay then we should make sure that the bikes were locked in the compound overnight but even then we were told that they were still at risk. Geoff stole a surreptitious photo of the place and we moved on.

We rode the last 30km into Warakurna after sunset. If it was difficult to make out the road surface in the dark, it was impossible in the dust kicked up by an occasional vehicle coming the other way. We eventually turned off the main road that leads into town and rolled to a stop outside the roadhouse. It was closed. Somebody wandered over and we were told that no, sorry, they didn’t have any motel rooms. Their campground was the only option and so we rode around the back and surveyed the tent site options by the light of our headlights. We chose a flat piece of red dirt between a couple of 4WD campers and were immediately welcomed and lent a hammer to get our tent pegs in. We declined a kind offer of dinner and instead wandered over to the kitchen area where we cooked up another freeze dried food banquet, finishing off with an instant cappuccino. I couldn’t work out why it seemed so dark and cold until I established that we’d crossed time zones and it was an hour and a half later than we thought.

I slept pretty well considering a thin Thermarest and subzero temperatures overnight that saw a frost over the tents and frozen washing strung across the bikes in the morning. We were up early, Geoff complaining about what a rotten pillow he’d constructed the night before. It seemed to me to be poetic justice for the Princess who otherwise spent her days cocooned on a BMW whilst I endured the relentless 640 Adventure vibrations to the tune of a bleating Akrapovic.

Even the Princess’s favourite undies had frozen overnight.

From the time that we planned our ride I was determined to play the Midnight Oil song “Warakurna” in Warakurna. I walked around the campsite videoing my iPhone as Peter Garrett sang “Warakurna, camels roam, dogs are cold and fires are warm…”

I chatted to two cyclists who were camped nearby and had ridden all the way from Perth on their way to Uluru. Geoff and I were impressed by their endurance: it sure would have been tough riding loaded mountain bikes along the loose gravel road.

After breakfast we rode out to the Giles weather station on the outskirts of town to tour the weather station and watch the launch of the daily weather balloon.

Back in town we refueled. All along the Great Central road the only fuel available was Opal: a low volatile petrol that discouraged petrol sniffing amongst the Aborigines. The fuel pumps are all caged and the pumps themselves have to be unlocked to dispense the fuel.

I pointed out the mis-spelling of the “Welcome to Warrakurna (sic) Roadhouse” sign emblazoned on the building. “Mate”, said the owner, “I only noticed that myself last week…”

Riding out of town we passed the two cyclists crawling their way east. We beeped our horns and waved as we left them in a cloud of dust.

The KTM had its only lie down of the trip when I gently lost balance and toppled over whilst taking a photo. Geoff was delighted. I still had a lot of catching up to do though.

Old abandoned cars were dotted all along the Great Central Road. Most were rusted and decrepit but some looked almost driveable. We were told that the convention was that if an Aborigine was coming back for the vehicle there’d be a lump of wood placed across the bonnet; otherwise most were simply abandoned or intentionally torched.

Later in the morning we crossed from Western Australia into the Northern Territory.

Geoff decided to do a sort of prone snow angel on the border, with his head in the NT and his legs in WA. Unfortunately no vehicles were on the road to take advantage of a lawyer just asking to be run over.

The section of road east of Docker River was reputed to be the worst of the Great Central Road. A year before my friend Maxime had cracked both pannier retaining locks and lost a pannier on this section as a result of the relentless corrugations. Instead Geoff and I were blessed with a newly graded road with only some sandy sections to cope with.

As we got closer to the Olgas the road became hard packed gravel and we found ourselves comfortably riding at 100km/h. We ate lunch by the side of the road just within sight of the Olgas, the impressive rock formation that lies to the west of Uluru.

I videoed Geoff riding the last of the 1126km of unsealed Great Central Road. “Where’s Busselton?” he deadpanned after pulling up at the turnoff.

We cruised around the Olgas, Geoff dropped his bike (again) and then we headed to Uluru.

The rock gradually looms more and more impressively as you get closer, a massive red monolith erupting from the flat desert. At the base of the rock climb we stopped in the carpark next to a couple of dusty F800GSs that obviously belonged to two riders sitting nearby. They wandered over and we got talking. They were two Frenchmen who had also just completed the Great Central Road and were planning to next ride the Tanami track to reach the Kimberleys in Western Australia, then zig-zag their way back to the Northern Territory via the Gibb River Road. They bemoaned the limited fuel range of their hire bikes, having much preferred 640 Adventures or GSAs had these been available. I worked out that these had been the “two Germans on BMWs who passed through a few days ago” that we’d been told about at Warakurna. The subtleties of European geography obviously didn’t figure highly in outback Australia.

I sent a Spot satellite OK message and, now that we had mobile coverage, we received congratulatory SMSs from various friends and family. We didn’t end up climbing the rock: I’d done it on two previous occasions and Geoff wasn’t much interested and so we rode on to Yulara, the main settlement some 18km away. The campsite didn’t have any units and, having tented the night before, we allowed ourselves the luxury of a night at the hotel Sails in the Desert. This gave us the opportunity of cleaning up, washing some clothes and sleeping in a proper bed.

rjdavies screwed with this post 11-16-2010 at 03:57 AM
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:32 AM   #2
rjdavies OP
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Oddometer: 16
Long Way Up: Perth to Darwin via the Great Central Road 2010 Part 2

It was Wednesday. We’d left Perth the previous Saturday and we still had ten days up our sleeve, having originally planned for all sorts of disasters that had never eventuated. The original intention had been to turn around and ride back along the Great Central Road but neither of us fancied this. Instead we bought a map of Australia and went out to dinner, poring over our further travel options. “Why don’t we go to Adelaide?” said Geoff. “Nah, let’s go to Darwin” I replied. There was a surgical conference there the following week and I figured that then I could make the trip tax deductable. I also figured that it would be warmer for the one of us without heated handgrips.

Our waitress that night turned out to be a young Italian girl who got very excited when she saw us sitting at our table with an unfolded map of Australia and learned that, yes, we were riding motorbikes, yes, we’d ridden all the way from Perth and yes, we’d decided to head to Darwin. “I weel come back in a minute” she told us. After looking after her other tables Lucia gave us her ratings of the various sight and towns along the main road to Darwin. “Is amazing!” she’d exclaim about almost everything. We scratched “Lucia’s heart ratings” on the back of a napkin, I offered her a ride with Geoff and she almost thought that I was serious.

We were away early the following morning and I gradually lost all feeling in my hands again from the cold. At least we were now on a wide bitumen road and the riding was easy. I recognized the turnoff to Imanpa, an Aboriginal community that I’d visited as a University student to volunteer to help build a house for the community adviser and his wife 28 years ago. I wondered whether it was still standing. We were overtaken at one stage by a 650GS ridden by a girl with long blonde hair streaming out from underneath her helmet. Incentivized we upped the pace and we eventually caught up with her at the Erldunda Roadhouse, where the Lassiter Highway meets Stuart Highway. She was another Italian who had hired her bike and ridden solo from Darwin to visit Uluru.

Erldunda Roadhouse was busy. Buses disgorged hungry tourists, vehicles filed past the petrol bowsers and lines of 4WD campers and caravans were parked nearby. We re-fuelled and bought some lunch. “Do you have anything vegetarian?” I enquired at the café. “Yer, we got chicken” replied the girl behind the counter. I settled on a burger and ate it whilst warming up in the sun outside. A few people chatted to us. We constantly found ourselves the centre of interest and along the way people would come over and strike up a conversation whenever we stopped and pulled off our helmets. It was as if not being cocooned inside a car made us fair game for everyone. In any case we enjoyed the random encounters that makes travel a journey.

Back on the bikes we turned north along the only road to Darwin. We crossed Finke River (destination of the eponymous two day Finke Desert motorcycle race) and rode on to Alice Springs where we stopped for coffees and phone calls to our families.

North of Alice Springs we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, marked by a small monument. There was surprisingly little traffic on the road and we cruised along, occasionally overtaken by other vehicles. It was a bit brutal much above 90km/h on the KTM and, whereas this bike had been coped best with the dirt of the Great Central Road, the BMW was much better suited cruising up the Stuart Highway.

Around 50km south of Ti Tree we noticed figures on the road a few kilometres ahead. As we got closer it turned out to be a Police roadblock doing random breath testing out in the middle of nowhere. I had to take off my helmet and pull out my earplugs before I could make out what they were saying to me. We stood around and chatted for 5 minutes, talking about the bikes and our trip before they remembered what they were there for and asked us to blow into the alcometer. I was quietly confident that if there was going to be some legal problem then my lawyer was sitting on his bike alongside me. Note to self - stop calling him Princess Leia – he might need to be my friend.

After more than 600km on our bikes that day we were glad to pull into Ti Tree just after dusk.

We checked into a little motel room around the back of the roadhouse and I introduced myself to a group of Harley riders who were staying there too.

After cleaning up we went to the roadhouse bar for a beer and to order some dinner. The affable, overweight bar girl that served us was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “Dingo Bait” across her voluminous belly. ”Great T-shirt” I enthused, “I’d love to get one like that for my wife”. “Well” she replied, “It’s actually maternity wear coz I’m expectin’.” When she turned around I noticed a R.M. Williams longhorn logo tattooed across the back of her neck. “That’s what happens to you when you get pissed” she said when I asked her about it. After serving up our barramundi and salad she retired outside for a cigarette.

I took the opportunity to clean my air filter that night ready for re-oiling the following day. We watched some television and turned in for bed early before reciting our nightly mantra:
“Goodnight Charley”.
“Goodnight Ewan”.

The Harley riders were away early the following morning. Geoff waited for me out the front of the roadhouse while I oiled my air filter and repacked my bike. We rode north that morning through Barrow Creek up to Wycliffe Well (“UFO capital of Australia”) where we took a break.

We noticed a small group of Aborigines sitting down at the river bed as we re-fueled. One wandered over to the shop, bought a six-pack of beer and returned to the group to continue their morning drinking. Geoff meanwhile espoused some theory of his about the origin of the scrawny dogs inevitably found scavenging around Aboriginal communities.

We pulled in at the Devil’s Marbles to look around at this extraordinary rock formation. I convinced a couple of little kids there to be photographed holding the plastic toys that my son and daughter had given me to accompany us on our ride: a plastic Bionicle and a pink horse. Like kidnapped garden gnomes taken to all sorts of improbable places, the toys had been photographed along the way astride 4WD bullbars, sitting on bar tables and riding on the bikes. They’d have riotous stories to tell the other toys when they got home.

Riding up along the Stuart Highway we’d occasionally pass lone Aborigines walking along the side of the road. There’d be no settlement or vehicle within cooee. I’d beep my horn, wave wildly and radio to Geoff “He’s my cousin!”

At Tennant Creek we found a nice café for lunch. It contrasted with the rest of the town which looked pretty rough. When we came out I found that Geoff had touchingly planted a small flower on my bike. I was almost expecting a romantic dinner that night.

Instead the end of the day found us in Dunmarra in a motel room opposite the campground.

We laughed at the toilet paper folded to a point in the bathroom and the strip of paper over the toilet seat. We retired to the bar at the roadhouse, drank beer and watched sport on TV.

The food that night was some of the best that we’d eaten on our trip: neither of us could finish our meals. My leftover pizza was kindly put into a container by our waitress for me to take with us. Outside we found a movie night running using a data projector projecting onto screen on the other side of the road. I turned off my lights and rode blind through the show on my way back to our motel room around the corner.

Next morning I was puzzled to find that the pizza that I’d left in the fridge overnight seemed warm. I eventually worked out that Geoff had thoughtfully unplugged the fridge to recharge the variety of electronic devices we were carrying. At least our Scala intercom was charged up for me to berate him as we rode out.

We’d planned an easy ride up to Katherine that day. We never got close to the extraordinary Northern territory maximum speed limit.

At Mataranka we stopped at an art gallery for a coffee and a lady tentatively approached me. “Excuse me, can I ask you your name?” she enquired, then went on to confirm that she’d somehow recognized me through the beard and red dust that I was sporting. She had been rather hesitant to believe that the scruffy biker was her husband’s surgeon. I joked to her husband who was out the front that I was there as part of the very personalized follow-up service that I offered. They were part of the “grey nomads” who tour around this country and I’d see them next in the outpatient clinic at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth for a routine appointment a couple of months later.

We reached Katherine by lunchtime and checked into the Mecure Inn recommended to us at Mataranka.

We unpacked the bikes, Geoff did some washing and I checked out the sightseeing options. Geoff decided to stay in town while I rode the KTM out to take a boat tour along the Nitmiluk gorge that afternoon. I convinced the girl at the boat reception kiosk to look after my helmet and motorcycle jacket while I was on the boat. As we chugged upriver the man sitting next to me suddenly became agitated and started wriggling in his seat. He was less than impressed when he found the end of my water bottle tube gradually leaking onto his seat. I told him that he should be happy to discover that he hadn’t suddenly become incontinent.

I spent as much time looking at the gorges as I did observing a horde of young foreign travellers on a group tour. The girls shrieked predictably at the freshwater crocodiles and there was a slightly panicked disbelief when they saw several swimmers nearby. I reassured them that the crocs only ate Americans.

Geoff and I walked down to the Katherine Golf Club for dinner that night, signing in as guests.

The next morning we rode north out of town and took the road out to picturesque Edith Falls.

Gearing up in the car park on our way out a 1200GSA rolled in and we chatted to the rider. He’d ridden across from Sydney, crashed somewhere along the way and had his bike repaired in Darwin. He was heading to Perth to meet up with his wife. His bike was superbly set up with a Zumo GPS, two way radio, panniers and top box along with extra foot pegs mounted on the engine crash bars. We compared stories, bade each other safe riding and we saddled up again.

At Pine Creek we re-fueled and I found Geoff a job.

I re-oiled my chain and we bought some lunch. We had mobile coverage again and called our families. We’d decided to do a detour via Kakadu and so we headed out towards Jabiru along the Kakadu Highway, stopping to pay our $25 entrance fee each at the park entrance. The Muirella Park campsite that we’d been recommended turned out to be hot and barren and we decided to keep riding on to Jabiru. Geoff called out the temperatures from his BMW mobile weather station, noting that it had climbed to 38 degrees. He was speaking the truth: my hands had finally warmed up.

At Jabiru we rode around town and checked into the Holiday Inn, Geoff impolitely dropping his bike out the front. That afternoon we took it easy in the air-conditioned comfort of our room, then wandered down to the service station to buy some food and cooked up dinner in our room.

We looked over the Bowali Visitor Centre the following morning. Even there the lawyers took another hammering.

Along the Arnhem highway we stopping at the Mamukala bird hide.

Geoff wanted to offer his tiny point and shoot camera to a photographer there who was sporting a massive Canon SLR with a lens longer than his arm but he resisted and we kept laughing about it as we wandered back to the bikes. Crossing Alligator River Geoff spied a big saltwater crocodile lying on the riverbank and we stopped, walked back onto the bridge and caught sight of other crocodiles dipping out in and out of sight in the muddy waters below. For a moment I considered pushing Geoff over the edge but assumed that it would be a waste of time since crocodiles (like sharks) wouldn’t touch lawyers out of professional courtesy.

We rode on to the delightfully named Humpty Doo, stopping along the way at Fogg Dam. The signs there warned against walking across the dam wall due to a rogue saltwater crocodile in the area. Instead we rode across and I wondered whether the croc might prefer lunch served on a BMW or a KTM.

Just south of Darwin we pulled into a roadhouse for lunch. An old Ford LTD pulled up covered in fur and disgorged a bunch of dodgy looking Arabs who then tied their car to a post.

This struck us as slightly out of the ordinary until a carload of nymphettes arrived followed by a bunch of Roman soldiers. The Variety Club Bash was passing through and I saw our opportunity. Chatting to one of the support crew about his three month ride through South America on a Kawasaki, I mentioned that we’d been trying to find a couple of girls to photograph on our bikes ever since missing out on the Skimpy at Bullfinch. He quickly rustled up a couple of Roman babes and they obligingly draped themselves over our bikes, beers in hand.

We reached Darwin by mid afternoon, heading to the Royal Darwin Hospital to meet up with a nursing friend of mine, Nikki, who works at the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre there.

In the hospital Geoff fell asleep on a couch upstairs. He was clearly exhausted from picking up his bike so many days in a row.

After almost 5000km we’d virtually bisected the country. We checked in to a luxurious serviced apartment on the Esplanade in Darwin, went out for a beer at a local bar and reminisced about our journey. Then we got thinking. If we had started our ride in London how far along Charley and Ewan’s Long Way Round journey would we be right now? We worked out that we’d have reached Kasakhstan.

We started thinking about the Road of Bones.

rjdavies screwed with this post 11-29-2010 at 03:29 PM
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:54 AM   #3
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: forrestfield, western australia
Oddometer: 201
Excellent write-up and great photos. Sounds like a great trip, thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-11-2010, 03:25 AM   #4
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Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Pilbara
Oddometer: 330
Great ride. Great report.

The world is too small, I was on the GCR 6 weeks ago, it was all mud and water over the road. The Dutch girl you met is Mirjam Woutars, if you need inspiration to travel, check her web site, amazing lady.

I gave her a lift in Karijini National Park and could not believe how casual she was riding alone on our outback and desert roads. I suffer in an airconditioned 4WD, but I guess she is used to the outdoors having ridden a push bike from Europe.

Looking forward to your trip home.

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Old 11-11-2010, 04:09 AM   #5
rjdavies OP
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Oddometer: 16
Dutch girl

Yes: that was her. Many thanks for providing the link: it's fantastic to find out more about her. She was very friendly and keen to talk to us even though we were really just random strangers by the side of the road.

We didn't ride back from Darwin. Geoff trucked his bike back and I sold the KTM. It was a great bike but I'm now on a new GSA.
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:18 AM   #6
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Perth Australia
Oddometer: 323
Great photos and report. Its a fantastic trip.I did the reverse trip in 2009 ( no RR my camera crashed and I lost most of the photos)
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:58 PM   #7
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Joined: May 2008
Location: Western Australia
Oddometer: 1,903
Originally Posted by rjdavies
Yes: that was her. Many thanks for providing the link: it's fantastic to find out more about her. She was very friendly and keen to talk to us even though we were really just random strangers by the side of the road.

We didn't ride back from Darwin. Geoff trucked his bike back and I sold the KTM. It was a great bike but I'm now on a new GSA.
Great RR. Enjoyed your tale of a ride I've done a few times in recent years.

You sold the 640 and bought a GSA?? There was another way...
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:38 PM   #8
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Another way

Clever. I thought about that but with a WR250R and a CRF50 too I'd need another garage.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:46 PM   #9
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thanks for the report

nicely done
Remember Abe Lincoln said "Don't believe everything you read on the internet."
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Old 11-17-2010, 12:50 AM   #10
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A great ride report and good photos to-boot. Thanks for posting them up!
Well worth the read.

Originally Posted by rjdavies
Yes: that was her. Many thanks for providing the link: it's fantastic to find out more about her. She was very friendly and keen to talk to us even though we were really just random strangers by the side of the road.
I met her on the Gibb August 2009, thanks for the link, she should have a story to tell.
So many roads . . .
So little time!

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Old 11-17-2010, 01:05 AM   #11
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What an incredible adventure.. and the RR was well done with excellent photography.

Well done lads...

Just loved reading it.
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:34 AM   #12
I like stuff...
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Very entertaining report Dr Davies Thanks for taking the time to write it up the way you did
1987 XLV750 long gone, 1994 YZF600 gone, 1999 XTZ660 Tenere gone, >> 2008 Honda Varadero - click here to see <<, 2008 Suzuki DRZ400E. Simpson Desert by DRZ, July 2012
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:01 AM   #13
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Well crafted RR. Great.
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Old 11-17-2010, 01:59 PM   #14
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Great read, Great Photos. Cheers
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Old 11-17-2010, 02:20 PM   #15
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That was a great read. Can't get over the constabulary doing RBT's in the middle of nowhere!
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