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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Benji13, Apr 23, 2020.
Australia is a beautiful place for tours
Yes but I would say that there are many beautiful places on this small planet. The beauty of Australia is different and almost weird because it is wonderful for adventure riders but the pretty peoples shopping on the Rodeo Drive high streets may not appreciate it at all.
Day 8 - 473km
After 7 days of riding, the amigos were still going strong. We started to appreciate the upright riding position of the big adventure bikes. Two amigos were using the airhawk motorbike cushions. I was fine with just the OEM seat. It was heavenly compared to the plastic board on the CBR RR. So we continued our march towards the rock. Before we set off, the washing was dry overnight and we smelt great with clean clothes. I talked to the two room maker girls in the laundry room. They were from central China with temporary work visas. Hope they and their families back home came out of this COVID shit unscathed. They looked honest and decent. I don't believe they would go near the bats at home wet markets.
Our plan was to hit the rock first and on the way out visit Kings Canyon. Then we wanted to hike the Canyon in sunrise. So we swapped the days and actually gave the area an extra 1/2 day. We believed that we could make up the time later, as long as we could avoid the highway patrol.
The triple black came with spot lights.
I could easily spot it in the mirror when one of them were pointing to the ground. So Mark obliged took our his immaculate tool set and adjusted the spot light mount. No problem. Those blxxdy mechanics could not even tighten the screw in the Munich factory on the new GSAs.
By the way, Mark was not sponsored by Klim. Instead he paid for the overpriced stuff so that he could privilegedly advertise for them for free. I was too dumb to understand that.
In this part of the world, not many people live here. However, it is an important route for foreign tourists to fly into Alice Springs and hopped on a tour bus to go the long drive to the rock. At the roadhouse near Ghan, same as us stopping for fuel and a drink, the tour bus also stopped for the tourists to use the washrooms. Absolutely normal.
I was sipping warm water in the warm air outside the shop window. At the corner of my eye, I noticed a gathering of half a dozen Asian women tourists holding their kawaii umbrellas under the strong sun around my GS. I thought they would have treasured their fair skin colour. Not sure whether they were Chinese, Korean or Taiwanese. This was what they were pointing at.
This was the last photo of Alice the hitchhiker.
Right before the trip, I put the 1.25 inch Alt Rider crash bar on the bike. It is super strong. When did Alice get on the bike and for how long, I had no idea. And I had been named the Bird Killer since that moment. Actually I killed 3 in the trip. So I am the BirdS Killer.
Robbie was a great buddy and he surgically removed Alice from the bar. He described Alice's legs were wrapped behind her bird brain. Sad. And the tour bus driver was not impressed when the women took a too long break here.
We arrived at the Kings Canyon in time for the sunset drink. Spectacular.
Not before a dip in the pool.
During supper, we spotted a dingo.
I have heard horror stories about them. If you travel to the outback with your young family, make sure you keep an eye on your baby or toddler. Serious. No kidding.
At the pool side, I chatted with two young lady tourist. They were on this 4x4 coach tour, staying at tents and the driver also prepared their dinner outdoor. This mode of touring is very popular in the outback. Very expensive too. The ladies told me they found their dinner portion were small. I was surprised as they were petite. So the big size men tourist would have starved. Weight watcher would be successful if they crossed-over.
Ok we were going to do the sunrise hike in the canyon the next morning. That means early night out tonight. Russ was not keen on anything strenuous. So he would sleep in. Oops I did not have hiking shoes. So I had to be extra careful not to twist my ankles.
Day 9 - 468km
Last night, we had a few drinks at the Thirsty Dingo Bar. Then we went back to our four bedder dom room for a rather noisy night. I confessed that I was one of the snoring culprits, but not the loudest. Ear plugs came to my rescue. After this trip, our bigger group of riding buddies have agreed to get single rooms where available and not too pricey. That was a game changer, for me at least.
We started the bikes at 5am in the dark. The air was cool but the temperature would rise rapidly after sunrise. Actually the Kings Canyon would be closed by 10am due to extreme heat. We rode 10km to the Rim Walk, changed to lighter clothes and shoes and started hiking up. The hike was 1.5 hrs, not too steep. We were happy to reengage certain leg muscles not used in the last 8 days. Feeling great and tranquil when the sun finally rose up.
Mark brought a nice SLR, lenses, tripod, etc. I only had an iPhone5. So we all thanked him for great photos. Well an GSA is supposed to carry more than an GS right?
Talking about cameras, the triple black had 2 gopro, the white GSA had a garmin virb, the Tiger has car cams in the front and back. My GS did not have any. Well, not being too philosophical, I enjoyed the view with my own eyes and the great memories.
The virb was supposed to have some connection with the GSA and the NAV. That might make it a good farkle for some deep-pockted BMW riders.
After the hike, Russ was already up and we loaded the bikes before setting off.
Mount Connor greeted us like a gateway to the rock.
Then we finally reached the rock. What a spectacular sight.
Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a MASSIVE sandstone monolith in the Red Centre. 550 million years old. 348m tall. Perimeter 9.4km. The most amazing fact: the rock is 2.5km deep underground!
It is sacred to the aboriginals (or indigenous people, not sure which term is more correct, so please bear with me for my ignorance). Simple as that. Sadly the government allowed tourists to climb it. I found it the utmost offensive. The four amigos were not climbing it. That made me super happy. We rode to the bottom of the rock and looked up. It was just ashtonishing. AWESOME. You have to come here to sense its force, or Chi in my culture. Every Australian should come to visit the rock once in their relatively short life.
People said a few tens of tourists in total had fallen to their death in the past. Sad? yes. Karma? I don't know.
Finally the government banned the climb a year ago. The aboriginals are glad. Me too.
Not far from the rock, we also visited Kata Tjuta. Don't know why but I just love this aboriginal name instead of calling it Mount Olga.
We also changed to lighter clothes to walk amongst the various rocks in Kata Tjuta. The above photo was the sunset view of KT from afar.
That night, we stayed at the Ayers Rock Outback Pioneer Lodge. Nice place. Super expensive as the whole area of a few resorts was run by one long tenant. No competition. Wealthy foreign tourists. Camping not allowed. No wonder.
More photos of the rock of course
Day 10 - 838km
We were a bit tired after the excitement yesterday of seeing the Rock with our own eyes and touching it near the bottom. The place we stayed was comfortable as it was well catered for a large crowd of tourists. Outside the main door, there was a bike from the Uluru motorcycle tour. We did not check it out but good on them giving tourists another option of experiencing the area.
Today, we would cover a long distance and make up the extra 1/2 days well spent in this region. We did not reach the Threeways Roadhouse as booked but that was fine as we tried a different accommodation at the Devils Marbles Hotel (not more hotelly than any roadhouse we have visited which was fine by our standard). We went back on the Stuart Highway and past Ghan, Alice Springs and Ti Tree again back tracking.
In this part of the world, the traffic was very light. Apart from the road trains, we saw a few rental campervans.
I was wondering who were driving them. This became my favourite pastime on this day of straight outback highway. For vans like the HiAce, they basically sit right behind the windscreen. Easy to spot. Normally they were a couple, mid aged. Many of them looked solemn at the wheels. Were they Europeans? I would not be able to tell. But definitely not Asian or Indian. I loved to give them my whole-hearted motorbiker hand greetings everytime. But they did not return any.
If one acknowledged my greeting, it would have make my day for sure.
Of course, we had one of this fun type too:
My original plan was to do this trip solo. I was super happy at the end to do it with the amigos. There was a trade-off, a significant one. As a group of 4, we were a crowd ourselves, we shared experience and jokes of the day over beers and meals. We were self-sufficient mentally. At the same time, the local residents and other travellers saw it too. You could not blame them. I would often walked up to them, introduced myself, our ourselves and stroked a conversation if they cared.
It was a rather quiet day on the road. I might as well talked about the social taboo, or the Aboriginals.
I was pumping fuel at the petrol station in Alice Springs. The air was hot, almost choking. A young man, I thought in his mid-20s, walked towards me. As a biker, I felt slightly vulnerable every time I stopped at a petrol station. Is it just me? Hahaha.
The young man was wearing a smile. However the way his legs were a bit wobbly drew my attention. When he came to me, I could see his eyes went separate ways. He was drunk. It was not noon yet. Was it his skin or manner scared me, or was it just my naïve prejudice against some people? I was too heightened to tell.
The young man came to me to say hello. That's all. Nothing else. Then his wobbly legs continued to carry him away. Still with a smile. I felt sad. For me myself.
The Aboriginals definitely post a social problem. From the westerners' perspective. Many of them got drunk from all sorts of alcohols they could get their hands on. Or cough syrup. Or they sniffed petrol. Hence the petrol pumps in the outback were caged and locked, and the government tried to give them food vouchers instead of cash welfare benefits. The school attendance, employment opportunity, domestic violence, health and life span were poor. The public housing provided to them using our tax dollars were mostly trashed. Those sitting under the trees in the parks were most unemployed, skipping schools and/or drunk.
This was the same in many places we visited. If you can, try to avoid places like Elliott where I felt the worst. It was just overwhelming to me. I know some successful Aboriginals who became lawyers, politicians, athletics. However for the majority of them, I could not see how the next generations could break away from the vicious cycle. You could hardly see them in the major cities like Sydney or Melbourne. They had been almost wiped out in Tassie (that would be another story next time). So have they been left behind the big wheel of modern age, or they never wanted to catch it anyway. Where could they lead their normal way of life instead of becoming a topic being avoided by politicians or media.
When we lived in Singapore, I rode extensively in the ulu kampongs of Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. The indigenous there in comparison led a dignified life and were contributing to their community. Perhaps I am just confused, and we need some wise people to improve the livelihood of the Aboriginals in this country. Even if that mean they should be allowed to live their own life style in some excluded outback areas. I just don't know how we could make it work for them.
PS all the above are my own view. I could be and likely be wrong in some parts. So if you come to visit this country, please visit some Aboriginal galleries and rock sites to appreciate their heritage. Even better if you buy a piece of their painting and enjoy it with your family and friends back home.
When we reached the Devils Marble Hotel, it was almost sunset.
Again, we jumped into the pool to cool down. There was a tiny frog in the pool. While these macho bikers were wondering what to do, a young lady took the initiative to scoop the little soul out of the harm's way. You can rightly call us pathetic. We were. Still we thanked the lady.
Day 11 - 880km
Today the idea was simple. I had booked rooms at the Pine Creek Hotel Motel. 880km away. Gentlemen start your engine.
The amigos had slightly different ideas. Some wanted to wing it. Some didn't. Some would not mind either. So I consulted the wise amigo. He rose and said "we call the place, if they do not sound full, we do not book it. Just arrived at the place and see if they still have vacancy." Wow wisdom is priceless. We human race just need plenty more of this.
Heat had been a major issue during our trip. It was getting worse as we now pointed to the north. This became a smaller issue only when we reached Fremantle. Everytime we spotted a tree with decent shade, we stopped. There were not many tree to begin with.
When we reached Tennent Creek, it was already hot and the street was empty. It was a Tuesday. A special Tuesday.
We found an interesting pub with corrugated metal sheet wall on the exterior. A cool beer in the morning. Yeah.
Why the bike above the bar had a Queensland rego plate, I did not know. Perhaps he met his true love here and decided to stay. I was trying to romanticise or just had hallucination.
Then we were in Elliott for lunch. What a name for a town. Scottish it sounded. The place was not. Far from it in every way. We bought food and drink thru a small window of a bricked house. The window was fully decorated with bars as thick as the Alt Rider engine bar. Was it a safe place. I did not think so. Just move on, alright?! Sorry no photo, we were in a hurry to get out.
Then we reached the famous Daly Waters Pub. And it was Melbourne Cup Day!
This is "the race that stops the nation". We would have a long lunch with colleagues and stay at the bar until the race at 3pm. When it is over, we go to another bar or go home to sleep. It is a public holiday in Victoria, but the bosses would give us a 1/2 day off anyway. What can they do elsewise?? Hahaha!
The ladies from the nearby stations put on their best show and celebrated the afternoon in the Daly Waters Pub. Beautiful scene.
This party probably crashed landed at the pub when they went out of beer.
Afterward we took it easy. Past Katherine. And reached at Pine Creek. Only stopped as Robbie wanted a photo of a dressed up termite hill mould. This one was about 2m tall, in a tradie style.
Now we were into crocodile territory.
So we equipped ourselves with the most protective footwears in the local shop.
Day 11 continues
The drink driving law in Australia is a bit relaxed than some countries. Zero tolerance only applied to learners, I think. So as long as you pace yourself and have one drink each hour, you probably are fine. The great thing about this China Virus is that there is no RBT (Random Breath Test) on the road.
cause for constipation?
Re: Melbourne Cup. My folks have travelled to Australia a couple of times for extended travel. They were wondering one day why it seemed nearly everything was closed. They were told it was Melbourne Cup Day.
You got to love the Aussie for that.
Day 12 - 473km
There were some farm machines decoration outside the Pine Creek Hotel. They were OK. The amigos were not keen. Cause we were going to ride into Kakadu today.
How to describe Kakadu? Tough question it is. I would say it is timeless.
We arrived at the carpark and quickly changed to the best clothes.
We walked into the largest national park in Australia of 20,000 sq km. The aboriginals have lived here for 65,000 years. And the British colonised the continent 200 years ago. Time and culture is a funny thing sometimes. It was wonderful to see their sites and rock arts which tell their stories.
It was hot and humid. Perhaps place for flies. The fly net kept Mark sane. Barely.
This was one of the most significant rock art.
View attachment 2319086
Day 12 continued
After the rock arts, we walked up the hill in our sexy thongs to see the vast Arnhem Land.
At 97,000 sq km, it occupied the north east corner of the continent. In the year 1623, some Dutch East India Company people found this land. They were a bit confused. Was it part of the New Guinea? Apparently they were asking amongst themselves. When they realised there was nothing there worth a trade, they left. That was 150 years before Captain Cook landed at the Botany Bay near Sydney. The rest was history.
The sun never sets on the British empire. It could have been wrong had some Dutches not left the land in a hurry.
We had a late lunch in Jabiru where we found a place with air-con. God sent. We also stocked up on water. The Kakadu Highway was a nice motorcycle road and scenic.
Our rule was not to ride one hour after sunrise and before sunset. When we were leaving Kakadu on the Arnhem Highway, it was late. Almost 6pm. Dozens of wallabies were on the road. I spotted 3 on the road in front. I prayed and passed two on the right, one on the left. In my mirror I saw the white GSA was doing the same until one on the right started hopping to the left. Robbie narrowly missed it. Close shave. The mass of the GSA was much bigger than that of the wallaby. However the physics would not work that way if they crash. I knew it first hand.
Wallabies were not Robbie's worst enemy during the trip. Something much more evil was.
In the dark, we found the Leprechaun Resort near Darwin. It was too late to taxi to downtown, so we had dinner in the restaurant there. Not bad, super clean. You have to see this parking arrangement. Perfect.
We had a villa each with their own en-suite, air con, and balcony. The car space was perfect for each bike. The amigos were happy. Funny the BMWs parked in the right direction while the Tiger in the wrong.
My Metzler Tourance Next was not in good shape. Same for the others.
No problem, new rubber tomorrow. Also, we would be having an off day, doing laundry, drinking beer and seeing the sea again.
what is the reason for a tire change, the wear is minimal, road conditions?
You are correct. There were still life in them. The choice however is limited outside of Sydney and Melbourne for bmw Motorrad dealers. We need to change tyres and also service the bikes once in this 20,000km trip. There’s bmw dealer in Perth. However for the new GSAs, the first 10,000km service was up when we reached Darwin. Their owners did not want to postpone the service for another 5,000km to Perth. So we saved time by doing service and tyres together there. By the way Darwin was the only off day for the amigos in the 34 days. The other planned off day was in Barossa which has plenty wineries but no bmw dealers. Would we go to a non-bmw shop for service, definitely not for the new GSAs.
I learned later that the tiger had a much longer service period at 16,000km. Respect for triumph. It had new tyres in Darwin anyway.
Our objective was to do a quick lap using our 4 or 5 weeks off before going back to office to finish the works prior to the Xmas holiday. Next time perhaps we could change to knobby tyres and tackle the unsealed roads. That didn’t mean that we stayed on the sealed road the whole trip and rightfully one amigo hit the dirt big time... ...
Knobbies are great on the sand and hill climbing in Australia. However we would have to change tyres 3 times if we used it for the lap. Tkc 80 below.
Day 13 - 0.6km
Yes it was only 300 meters from Leprechaun to Cyclone Motorcycle shop. We had booked for service and tyres.
I slept well and had a good vibe when I was sipping my first coffee of the day at the beautiful restaurant in the Leprechaun. I could already smell the fragrant washing power in the clean jacket and pant drying in the balcony. Life was great. I did not understand why the amigos started criticising my dressing style...
If you asked me the most important thing I carried during the trip. It was the bike cover.
When I lived in Manchester, I kept my Suzuki with a U lock in a covered space with locked iron gate. I kept the bike shiny. Every morning, I found cat paw prints all over the seat. I did not like it. So the bike cover is a must every time I went on an overnight trip. Chain lock? I only had a skinny cable lock, and I used it only on a few occasion. How safe it is in Australia I don't know. If I do the same in England, I definitely would be left with only the cover and the bike would be gone.
We dropped the bikes at Cyclone. The lads at the desk were not super keen to begin with. That was ok. He did not get my fantastic fashion sense perhaps. Forgivable.
In this part of the world, do not expect to just roll into the shop and get whatever you want. I had booked for the service and pre-paid the tyres a month prior. At least all the selected tyre choices had arrived. I was happy with the Tourance Next. New ones please. Robbie and Russ chose TKC 70. And Mark got Anakee 3. He must loved the noise too much. More on the Cyclone experience later.
Now we could play tourists. I thought of the Darwin Aviation Museum nearby. The amigos wanted to hit the town. That's fine. I shall be back.
Darwin reminded me of Jakarta, KL, Pattaya and even Singapore but much slower. We taxied to the town centre and fooled around and got to the Royal Flying Doctor Service Darwin Tourist Facility on the shore. We had no idea that it was a worthwhile morning spent there.
The facilities there were great. We enjoyed a virtual experience of the bombing of Darwin 19 Feb 1942. Not long after the Pearl Harbour. 235 lost their lives on that day in Darwin. The Mitsubishi Zeros proved to be efficient killing war machines. Wars were brutal. It is still happening in some parts of the world 75 years after the VE. And these days the news talked about trade wars. Every time shit happens, the poor people suffered the brunt the most. I also wonder sometimes why we have countries, territories, governments, borders, enemies. Is utopia something too high up there for the human race to reach. I felt cold suddenly, was it the air con?
RFDS then warmed my heart. They provided the essential service to the people living in the remote areas. The sight of the RFDS planes there represented hope and kindred spirit. Loving it.
I bought some souvenir and made a small donation at the shop. That's the least I could do. Mark and Russ bought the pilot teddy each who weathered the trip with us. Actually Russ lost his daughter's teddy in the first week. Happy for him to have one now.
After 12 days of pub/roadhouse food, we had a taste thai lunch. Yummy and washed down with Chang beer.
We went back to collect the bikes. Everything looked normal, yeah the cost a bit steep, I thought.
We asked the reception for a good place for sunset drink and dinner. She immediate said Darwin Yacht Club. It had amazing sunset. Mmm I shall take my wife here next time.
Bikes coming out of Cyclone with new rubbers. And happy amigos.
4 bikes, 20,000km trip, not a single puncture. We were blessed. Especially for Robbie who had the highest hit rate of puncture in our riding buddies group.
I read somewhere that the majority of the puncture happened at the later stage of the tyres. So perhaps having them replaced a bit earlier was money wise spent.
Had a friend with the same problem years ago, he rode down the center of the lane. Picking up every sharp object deposited on the road.
Red dirt loved by all adventure bikes.
Day 14 - 433km
The Darwin day off was great and refreshing. However we had to move on. Today it was going to be an exciting day. We were going for a dip in the Litchfield National Park.
Ok it is time to talk about National Park fees. Most of the NPs in Western Australia were fee charging. So we all bought the WA Holiday Park Pass for 4 weeks online @ $44. However it did not cover Monkey Mia or Steep Point. So we paid when we were there.
In NT, we bought 3 day pass for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta NP $25 and a Kakadu Park Day Pass $25. No fees for the NPs in the other states. Of course there may be fees for camping in some places.
Litchfield NP is about 120km from Darwin. The Litchfield Park Road was a fantastic piece of motorbiking road especially we were dancing on new rubbers. And there was no highway patrol and the traffic was light. The twists and turns between the jump-up and low hills made it a terrific fun time. There was some gravel swept onto the road. Be careful not to run off the road and you will be fine. There was no petrol station in the park. We were fine as the GS range is at least 350km. The GSA's range is 60,000km. Just kidding but that is just huge.
The park entrance.