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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by djeady, Aug 11, 2019.
Will be heading south on Monday!
Up early, showered and made coffee. I had to be at the bus shelter by 6:20 for the Yellow Waters cruise.
It was a very pretty morning with the sun rising through the mists over the flood plain.
We got loaded on our boats and after a very perfunctory demonstration of how to use the life jackets - “doesn’t really matter coz the crocs are going to get you anyway” - we headed out to see the sights.
There were many different kinds of birds to see and I got some great pictures. Most of the passengers were more interested in seeing the crocodiles and we did see plenty of those, mostly female, although we did catch a glimpse of a large male. Apparently the ratio is 40 females to one male! At least it wasn’t one of the “jumping croc” cruises like the ones offered outside the north entrance to the park where they dangle chickens on poles to get the crocs to jump.
We looked at a variety iof different habitats along the river including grasslands, mangroves, and near jungle.
At one point we observed a group of wallabies as they came down to the river to drink.
In addition to the natural inhabitants of the flood plain we saw cattle, water buffalo and wild pigs, all of which do significant damage to the wetland environment.
There’s a big debate over whether or not they should be removed. The land belongs to the aborigines and some of them want to keep these animals there as a ready source of meat.
The cruise took about 2 hours and then we went back to the resort for a buffet breakfast which was included in the price of the cruise. I loaded up so I wouldn’t have to bother with lunch.
I then went back and packed up my tent and headed out of the resort.
My destination for the afternoon was Makunga which apparently had a very nice plunge pool.
I had been told the road was freshly graded and certainly the first part was, but it was followed by about half a kilometre that was “paved” with 3-4” stones and then a few more kilometres of rusted gravel and sand.
I parked the car and headed down the path to the plunge pool, not bothering with my hat or with water since I thought it was only going to be a short distance away.
It turned out to be more like two kilometres, the last half of which was a clamber over rocky ledges along the river.
It was worth it when I reached the absolutely beautiful and huge plunge pool and had a lovely long swim in the water.
I then headed back to the car with my towel over my head and was quite thirsty be the time I got back. Fortunately I had lots of cool water in the car.
I drive back out the road carefully until I got to the Kakadu highway and then headed back out towards the Stuart Highway.
I stopped as soon as I got signal and phoned the dealership in Darwin who advised that the swingarm had just arrived and they would start working on it Monday and I should be out of there some time Monday.
I did a brief stop in the historic mining town of Pine Valley and filled up with gas then had a short walk through Miner’s park and had a look at all the old mining equipment on display.
I then headed north towards Litchfield Park and Florence Falls in particular which I was told was another great place to go swimming.
It was further than I expected and after a stop in Humphrey to pick up supplies at the General Store, I drove into the park and reached the campground at about 5:30. I put my money in the honour box and put my tag on the dash and proceeded to set up my tent.
I decided dinner would be a priority over going down to see the falls and set up my little folding barbecue. I got it going with some paper and sticks and added lumps of charcoal that were left in the fire pit. I cooked my sausages, potato, and zucchini and washed them down with a cold beer.
I chatted with someone who had just come up from the falls and he told me that at dusk the staircase down to the falls was completely surrounded by bats and that it was an amazing experience.
I crawled into my tent and read for a while before trying to sleep. Very hot again and heat was radiating into the tent from the hot ground below.
I hope you have better luck with your KLR than I had with mine. Be sure to carry a spare quart of oil or two.
I’m halfway around. Not carrying spare oil on any motorcycle is a recipe for disaster.
I was up early and made my coffee using the Kelly Kettle. Lots of little twigs around so it was easy.
Went down to the falls and had a lovely early morning swim - almost no one there - and watched the sun rise.
Hiked the trails along the river and had a swim in each of the other plunge pools, all much smaller than the one at Florence Falls, but each unique in its own way.
Went back to my campsite and had a bowl of ramen for lunch.
Went back down to the falls and what a change. There were probably 150 people there and it felt like a busy city pool - what a change from the quiet unspoiled place it was in the morning. I went in for a swim and then sat and watched the chaos for a but before heading back up to the campground. I went down once more in the afternoon to cool off and then again in the early evening.
This location is only about an hour and a half out of Darwin, so it is frequented by many locals as well as being a destination for tour buses and campers.
The evening visit was spoiled by the presence of 4 late teen/early 20s males who were clearly inebriated and staggering around yelling. They were climbing the cliff walls and jumping off in spite of signs warning them not to do this and it was just pure luck that none of them were injured. They left leaving their empty cans and bottles for others to pick up. Their final gesture was to heave a plastic bottle of juice off the top of the cliff that landed very close to where people were sitting.
I went back up and met my neighbours who had moved in for the night - a father and daughter from Israel -and then walked back down at dusk because I wanted to try and see the rock wallabies and the bats.
I didn’t see any wallabies, but the bats were amazing. Just at dusk the sky was filled with thousands of bats with approximately 30 centimetre wingspans as they headed out for a night of hunting insects.
I went back to the campsite to cook my dinner. Last night I had used my little barbecue and it had worked fine, but tonight in the dark I just couldn’t get it to go. I finally gave up and got my little gasoline stove out which worked well, but it was hard to control the temperature and everything wound up somewhat charred. I ate my dinner and went over to the little sink and cleaned up before calling it a night. It was still hot and the flies were fierce.
We are in New Zealand (New Plymouth on the West Coast of North Island), a bed here if you need one.
Will keep in mind. Arriving on the 19th in Auckland and will head North first.
Up early and made coffee. As the sun rise you could see the bats flying back to their roost.
I walked down to the falls and had a swim in the peace and quiet if the early morning and then went back up to the campsite where I packed up and got ready to leave.
I’d found I could get a weak cell signal behind the amenities block and was over there checking my messages when a young man approached and asked if I could help boost his pickup truck. I went and got my little Ready Boost pack, but it didn’t have enough juice to turn over the Diesel engine -?” Diesels require a lot more cranking Amos due to the high compression ratio.
I went over to get the Toyota and it wouldn’t start - guess I’d left the hatchback open too long. Fortunately I was able to start it with the Ready Boost and then drive it over to help start the pickup and all was good.
I finished packing up and drove into Darwin where I checked in to the Free Spirits Resort campground and set up my tent.
Once it was up, I drove out to Casuarina Beach and spent a couple of hours relaxing. There were warnings about crocodiles and box jellyfish, but I went for a swim anyway in the warm Timor sea. It was almost as warm as swimming in the Arabian Sea in India.
Mid afternoon I drive back to the campground and got cleaned up before heading to the Darwin Sailing Club for dinner and to watch the sunset. There are a lot of social clubs here and you’re allowed to sign in as a guest a few tones a year. More than that and they will charge you a fee or ask you to become a member.
It was roast night and I had some nice roast lamb washed down with a pint of “Little Creatures” and watched the sun set over the sailboats.
Afterwards I drive back to the campground and called it a night. Slept peacefully until I was awakened by a group a couple of campsites over who chatted until after 1 am.
might want to line the arm under the guide with a aluminum can shim for future extra protection,
"Once it was up, I drove out to Casuarina Beach and spent a couple of hours relaxing. There were warnings about crocodiles and box jellyfish, but I went for a swim anyway in the warm Timor sea. It was almost as warm as swimming in the Arabian Sea in India."
Having camped with a guy who went in up to his knees and was stung by a box jellyfish, went into cardiac arrest and had CPR performed on him for 4 hrs before getting to a respirator in a hospital, I'd think I would obey the warnings, or at least wear a stinger suit. There have also been a number of people taken by crocodiles from beach swims. Again, not sure it's worth the risk.
Got up, ate a mango and got cleaned up for the day. Did some sink laundry, then finished cleaning the car out and drive to the little cafe at the service station and had a coffee and a breakfast sandwich.
Afterwards I headed to Cyclone Motorcycles to check on how long it would take to get the bike ready.
They said it would be ready by 2, so I headed downtown to return the car and then walked along the Esplanade looking at the various war memorials and the views of the Timor Sea.
While I was walking I got a text that the bike was ready early.
I went over and walked through the Smith St. Pedestrian mall, stopping for a sandwich and a cold drink before hailing a cab and heading back to the dealership.
I paid for the work - thought the price was quite reasonable- and went back to reinstall the panniers. They wanted to check the sag in the bike with it loaded. All seemed good and after a quick adjustment in the chain I was ready to go. Before I left I chatted with the service manager who was from New Zealandia to see if he had any tips about buying a bike there. I mentioned that I had inquired about several bikes,but hadn’t heard anything back. He said he had a friend near Auckland that had a dealership and might be able to help. He asked what kind of bike I was looking for and I brought up an ad for a bike I liked. By some strange coincidence it was his friend selling it so he called him up and after a quick negotiation on the phone I bought the bike.
Now I own 4 motorcycles in 3 different countries!
The one in New Zealand is a 2013 Honda NC700X which is not a bike I’m familiar with but looked ideal for the purpose and had great reviews.
I spent the afternoon doing odds and ends in the KLR, adjusting the shift lever, adjusting the left bark buster, installing a throttle lock, and general bolt tightening.
I also had to install a new headlight bulb because the low beam had burned out on the way to Darwin. I’d swapped the high beam bulb over and left that socket empty, so now I just had to install the new bulb. Normally you just take off the windshield and squeeze your hands in to fit the bulb, then put it all back together.
As I was putting the bulb in the clip that holds it popped off and I wound up having to take off the entire front fairing to fix it. Got it all back together and everything was good.
I went over to the little restaurant at the campground. The special was “rump and ribs” so I ordered that. It came with a free drink and I already had another free drink ticket so I washed it down with a couple of beers and then walked back to my tent and called it a night.
I put n
Packed up early and after having a coffee and breakfast bun at the gas station cafe I headed south towards Katherine.
Thought I was going to have enough fuel to make it to Katherine, but ran out just short. The winds are reducing my mileage significantly. Toooed up the tank from my spare 10l can, then stopped in Katherine and filled up. The gas station had a Pie Face so I had a chicken and cheese pie for lunch and washed it down with a lemon soft drink.
Lots of willy-willies about and I passed through one as it crossed the road. Got quickly tossed to the right, then the left. You can see them off in the distance, towering plumes of dust sometimes hundreds of metres high. They sometimes look like a fire.
Stopped at the Victoria River Roadhouse for fuel and a cold drink. Everything was burnt all around and apparently they narrowly missed being burnt out the previous week thanks to a sudden shift in the wind.
The scenery shifts around the Victoria river from savanna to escarpments and it makes the drive a little more interesting.
I was making good time and was actually going to make it to Kununurra thanks to a time change and also the distance travelled West.
It was a long day though - 848 km - a lot of time in the saddle.
Just outside Kununurra I crossed into Western Australia and the time moved back 1.5 hrs. I had to stop at the quarantine station and they told me to go and eat my last mango at the adjacent rest stop, then come back with the seed and peel in a bag. There are very strict controls on bringing fruits and vegetables into WA as they are trying to keep fruit flies out.
Checked in to the Kimberlyland Waterfront Holiday Park. There was another couple checking in at the same time and I chatted briefly with them.
Went to my campsite which was just a short distance from the water and set up my tent, then went over to see resident freshwater croc it’s and took a few pictures.
There was no place to get dinner in the campsite do walked over to the sports bar in the hotel across the highway.
Ordered fish and chips and a beer and sat down. Turned out the folks who were checking in at the same time were there and they invited me to join them.
Sue had recently lost her husband and was down visiting brother-in-law Glen and his daughter Jaycand they were taking her back up to Darwin. Had a lovely chat over dinner and when I brought them over one of my stickers Glen invited me to join him for a drink if bourbon.
Afterwards I went back to my tent and called it a night. Didn’t bother to put the fly on and I think it was cooler that way. I fell asleep in my flimsy nylon tent just a few metres from a lake I knew had at least one croc in it.
Some pictures deserve their own posts and I think this is one of them. “Sunset with Crocodile”
Lake Argyle and the Ord river scheme was originally a failure for the intended crops of cotton and rice but has since become a major fruit growing area. I would say this is why the quarantine now which is a bit funny as the Mango probably came from there.
I was last there in 1980 and it was just a huge dam and a caravan park, no crops at all.
Thinking about it gives me a reason to go back and check it out next winter before I get too old.
Didn’t go to Lake argyle - thought about it. I did stop at the Ord River and look at the dam.
Past the halfway point!
Got up and packed up early then had a coffee and sandwich at the little cafe at the campground.
Went into town to get fuel and a replacement for my power port USB charger which had died towards the end of the day yesterday. Second one this trip. I checked my oil and decided a top up was in order, then I headed out of town.
I stopped briefly at the Ord River dam which was built in the 1970s as part of a massive irrigation scheme in the Kimberley region that also included the creation of Lake Argyle.
I carried on for a while and when it was time for a break I stopped at the Mary Pool rest stop. It was a dusty and barren place with a few big campers parked there. There were cattle wandering everywhere. No sign of any pool, or Nary for that matter.
It was another very hot and blustery day and it was exhausting to ride.
I had noticed some oil dripping on the side of the engine. I couldn’t see any sign of a leak and the oil level seemed normal, so I carried on.
When I stopped in Halls Creek I notice the leak was coming from th dry bag I have in top of my left pannier. The lid had vibrated off the bottle of oil and soaked everything in the bag. It would have been a bigger mess, but my toilet roll soaked most of it up.
I cleaned up as best I could.
As I was doing so a young man came into the service station on a Triumph Tiger. His name is Ben Dillon and he is also riding around Australia. He had been working in Canada and was back in Australia waiting to see if his employer in Canada would sponsor him to come back.
We agreed to meet back in town for lunch and had a nice sandwich at a little cafe. He had stopped for the day and I was carrying on
I continued on to Fitzroy River where I camped for the night at the Fitzroy River Lodge.
After setting up my tent I went up to the amenities block and did my best to clean up the oily bag and it’s contents.
Afterwards I walked up to the hotel bar for dinner. The grounds were absolutely crawling with Wallabies
And I stopped and took a few pictures on my way up.
After dinner I went back to my tent to read and sleep.
When I had pulled in someone had parked a pickup truck a dozen metres away and around 10:30 they came back and blasted music for about half an hour before finally falling asleep in the back seat of the truck.
After that I had a peaceful nights sleep. It had cooked off and was reasonably comfortable for sleeping.
About that tool tube, called in stores a welding rod holder, a few hose clamps will complete it. the worse that can then happen is you have well oiled tools.
I have one on my KLR at home - not sure an oil bottle will fit. Only going to have this bike for another month or so so will work with what I have.
I was up early and packed up. My neighbour was still sleeping it off in the back of his pickup. I didn’t make extra noise, but I didn’t take steps to be extra quiet.
As I drove out there were still wallabies all over.
I filled up with gas and went inside to have a coffee and a muffin before heading off to Broome.
There was less win this morning and it was a fairly easy ride, although still very hot. As I got within 20 kilometres of Broome, the temperature dropped a bit and you could feel the humidity more.
I stopped to take a picture of the bike in front of the Broome sign which had just been installed - guess they knew I was coming.
I headed to the campground in Cable Beach and checked in and set up my tent.
I hadn’t had lunch so I rode into town and went to Matso’s Beer where I had a quinoa salad and a glass of their famous mango beer which was quite tasty.
I rode back to the campground and walked over to the beach to check it out. It’s a beautiful miles long sweep of sand on the Indian Ocean.
I walked up the beach a distance and checked out the camel rides, then returned to the supervised area.
There were the usual signs at the entrance to the beach warning of crocs and box jellyfish, but there were lots of people in the water and I went in for a lovely swim and floated on my back in the waves.
Afterwards I walked back to the campground and got changed, then walked over to the Sunset Beach Club at the Cable Beach Resort to hang out with the rich and famous and watch the sunset.
I ordered a burger and a beer and wound up sharing my table with two ladies from Perth. One of them said her husband was currently off in an adventure somewhere in the desert on his motorcycle.
The sunset was lovely and I finished my burger and beer and started to walk back to the campground. I decided to stop for one more beer at a little place called The Zookeeper’s Store before heading back and calling it a night
Slow start to the day. Walked out front to the little cafe and had coffee and a bun.
Went back and packed up. Discovered I had an ant infestation in my large dry bag so had to empty everything out and throw some food items away.
Finished packing up and went downtown to visit the Broome Museum. Interesting mixture of town history, history of the pearl industry, and WWII history.
I headed out of town and rode the Broome Road back out to the main highway and started across the Great Sandy Desert. It is 322 km to the Sandfire Roadhouse and there is nothing else in between.
The temperature was over 45 C and there were strong crosswinds which made riding miserable and again meant that my range was much shorter and I had to use my extra fuel to top up before I got there.
I stopped and fueled up and had a meat pie and a soft drink for lunch then started towards the Pardoo Roadhouse. Partway there I started to have abdominal pain which I thought meant I needed a washroom.
I go to Pardoo and went to the washroom but nothing happened and the pain continued. I took a campsite and went and set up, with frequent trips to the washroom with no relief.
I went in to the restaurant and had a beer and fish and chips thinking I might be constipated and that would help. Still no relief.
Back to the the tent to sleep. It had cooled off which made for a nice sleep even with the hum if the diesel generator and the overly lit campground. Several trips to the amenities during the night but still very sore.