Banjo Paterson Rides Again

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Frugal Biker, Apr 1, 2021.

  1. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Next morning I explored Wee Jasper a bit. I hadn't seen a Golden Fleece sign since I was a boy and certainly didn't expect to see one here, the Golden Fleece petroleum company ceased years ago.

    This map just over the road from the Golden Fleece gives a layout of the area.
    You can see the Wee Jasper Road going to the west, that's the gravel road I wimped out on the day before, I have plans to make amends and travel that road on my next trip. At the top of the map is Binalong, that is where Banjo moved to from up Orange way with his family when a young boy, he grew up there and it became the family home.
    Looking across the valley, that's the Banjo's farm, Cooravale, he bought it later in life, I think I can just see the road to Hogan's Gap if I use my imagination.

    Now look, you see, it’s this way like,
    You cross the broken bridge
    And run the crick down till you strike
    The second right-hand ridge.
    The track is hard to see in parts,
    But still it’s pretty clear;
    There’s been two Injin hawkers’ carts
    Along that road this year.

    Well, run that right-hand ridge along—
    It ain’t, to say, too steep—
    There’s two fresh tracks might put you wrong
    Where blokes went out with sheep.

    But keep the crick upon your right,
    And follow pretty straight
    Along the spur, until you sight
    A wire and sapling gate.

    Well, that’s where Hogan’s old grey mare
    Fell off and broke her back;
    You’ll see her carcase layin’ there,
    Jist down below the track.

    And then you drop two mile, or three,
    It’s pretty steep and blind;
    You want to go and fall a tree
    And tie it on behind.

    And then you pass a broken cart
    Below a granite bluff;
    And that is where you strike the part
    They reckon pretty rough.

    But by the time you’ve got that far
    It’s either cure or kill,
    So turn your horses round the spur
    And face ’em up the hill.

    For look, if you should miss the slope
    And get below the track,
    You haven’t got the whitest hope
    Of ever gettin’ back.

    An’ half way up you’ll see the hide
    Of Hogan’s brindled bull;
    Well, mind and keep the right-hand side,
    The left’s too steep a pull.

    And both the banks is full of cracks;
    An’ just about at dark
    You’ll see the last year’s bullock tracks
    Where Hogan drew the bark.

    The marks is old and pretty faint—
    And grown with scrub and such;
    Of course the track to Hogan’s ain’t
    A road that’s travelled much.

    But turn and run the tracks along
    For half a mile or more,
    And then, of course, you can’t go wrong—
    You’re right at Hogan’s door.

    When first you come to Hogan’s gate
    He mightn’t show, perhaps;
    He’s pretty sure to plant and wait
    To see it ain’t the traps.

    I wouldn’t call it good enough
    To let your horses out;
    There’s some that’s pretty extra rough
    Is livin’ round about.

    It’s likely if your horses did
    Get feedin’ near the track,
    It’s goin’ to cost at least a quid
    Or more to get them back.

    So, if you find they’re off the place,
    It’s up to you to go
    And flash a quid in Hogan’s face—
    He’ll know the blokes that know.

    But listen—if you’re feelin’ dry,
    Just see there’s no one near,
    And go and wink the other eye
    And ask for ginger beer.

    The blokes come in from near and far
    To sample Hogan’s pop;
    They reckon once they breast the bar
    They stay there till they drop.

    On Sundays you can see them spread
    Like flies around the tap.
    It’s like that song “The Livin’ Dead”
    Up there at Hogan’s Gap.

    They like to make it pretty strong
    Whenever there’s a chance;
    So when a stranger comes along
    They always holds a dance.

    There’s recitations, songs, and fights—
    A willin’ lot you’ll meet.
    There’s one long bloke up there recites,
    I tell you—he’s a treat.

    They’re lively blokes all right up there,
    It’s never dull a day.
    I’d go meself if I could spare
    The time to get away.

    . . . . .
    The stranger turned his horses quick.
    He didn’t cross the bridge;
    He didn’t go along the crick
    To strike the second ridge;

    He didn’t make the trip, because
    He wasn’t feeling fit.
    His business up at Hogan’s was
    To serve him with a writ.

    He reckoned if he faced the pull
    And climbed the rocky stair,
    The next to come might find his hide
    A land-mark on the mountain side,
    Along with Hogan’s brindled bull
    And Hogan’s old grey mare!

    I'm not the only one that wimped out on some of the rougher tracks in the area, although I don't blame this guy.

    My destination for the day was Binalong so I had a very easy day, it wasn't very far away.

    I had a beer or two in the pub and I was enjoying it so much I didn't start looking for a camp spot until it was dusk. I went looking for a spot on the edge of town, but a local put me right, I could camp for free on the town's recreation ground.
    Cheers, Frugal
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  2. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    On my way to Binalong I had to stop for some road works, there was a long line of traffic which didn't look like much fun, so I turned around and headed back to the Hume Hwy. Yesterday I noticed a quiet road branching off to Illalong and Binalong and thought that would be a better ride. Along that road to Illalong I stopped to strap on the Gopro that was stored in the rack bag. In the photo you can see the back pack is still on top of the swag when I got to Illalong, but it was dragging along behind when I got to Binalong. That's right folks, I had forgotten to attach the front end of the bungee cords, even after receiving a warning the previous day, it wrecked the bag, ripped a hole in my waterproofs and I lost my towel which had been drying under the bungee cords.

    There were showers at the recreation ground and I was most surprised when after a minute or so the water heated up. How good was this, free camping with hot showers, only happens in the country folks, the only downer was that I had lost my towel, so I had to dry off with a T shirt. My home town in northeast Tasmania has free camping but the showers are cold, ice cold. My father in law told me about a one legged man stayed there one night, he certainly would have been jumping about under that cold shower, sucking in deep breaths.

    Laying in my tent that night, I tried to figure out when I undid the bungee cords, perhaps a photo might show something. It finally dawned on me, it must have been when I stopped to strap on the GoPro. A photo showed that the back pack was still in place at Illalong, so with a bit of luck my towel might be somewhere in between, it's only a few kms. I got up early next morning and back tracked my way to Illalong, and bingo, sure enough there it was on the side of the road. By the time I had stopped the bike and walked back, it had been picked up by a guy out for a early morning walk, so I didn't even have to pick it up. He told me that Banjo rode his horse to school along this road and his horse was called Banjo. People would say 'Here comes Banjo' and the name stuck, true story.

    I spent most of the day in Binalong, that hot water was too good not to catch up on some washing, including the towel. Just out of town is the grave of the bushranger Flash Johnny Gilbert, who was killed nearby. Of course Banjo had it covered.

    There's never a stone at the sleeper's head,
    There's never a fence beside,
    And the wandering stock on the grave may tread
    Unnoticed and undenied;
    But the smallest child on the Watershed
    Can tell you how Gilbert died.
    For he rode at dusk with his comrade Dunn
    To the hut at the Stockman's Ford;
    In the waning light of the sinking sun
    They peered with a fierce accord.
    They were outlaws both -- and on each man's head
    Was a thousand pounds reward.

    They had taken toll of the country round,
    And the troopers came behind
    With a black who tracked like a human hound
    In the scrub and the ranges blind:
    He could run the trail where a white man's eye
    No sign of track could find.
    He had hunted them out of the One Tree Hill
    And over the Old Man Plain,
    But they wheeled their tracks with a wild beast's skill,
    And they made for the range again;
    Then away to the hut where their grandsire dwelt
    They rode with a loosened rein.

    And their grandsire gave them a greeting bold:
    "Come in and rest in peace,
    No safer place does the country hold --
    With the night pursuit must cease,
    And we'll drink success to the roving boys,
    And to hell with the black police."

    But they went to death when they entered there
    In the hut at the Stockman's Ford,
    For their grandsire's words were as false as fair --
    They were doomed to the hangman's cord.
    He had sold them both to the black police
    For the sake of the big reward.

    In the depth of night there are forms that glide
    As stealthily as serpents creep,
    And around the hut where the outlaws hide
    They plant in the shadows deep,
    And they wait till the first faint flush of dawn
    Shall waken their prey from sleep.

    But Gilbert wakes while the night is dark --
    A restless sleeper aye.
    He has heard the sound of a sheep-dog's bark,
    And his horse's warning neigh,
    And he says to his mate, "There are hawks abroad,
    And it's time that we went away."

    Their rifles stood at the stretcher head,
    Their bridles lay to hand;
    They wakened the old man out of his bed,
    When they heard the sharp command:
    "In the name of the Queen lay down your arms,
    Now, Dun and Gilbert, stand!"

    Then Gilbert reached for his rifle true
    That close at hand he kept;
    He pointed straight at the voice, and drew,
    But never a flash outleapt,
    For the water ran from the rifle breech --
    It was drenched while the outlaws slept.

    Then he dropped the piece with a bitter oath,
    And he turned to his comrade Dunn:
    "We are sold," he said, "we are dead men both! --
    Still, there may be a chance for one;
    I'll stop and I'll fight with the pistol here,
    You take to your heels and run."

    So Dunn crept out on his hands and knees
    In the dim, half-dawning light,
    And he made his way to a patch of trees,
    And was lost in the black of night;
    And the trackers hunted his tracks all day,
    But they never could trace his flight.

    But Gilbert walked from the open door
    In a confident style and rash;
    He heard at his side the rifles roar,
    And he heard the bullets crash.
    But he laughed as he lifted his pistol-hand,
    And he fired at the rifle-flash.

    Then out of the shadows the troopers aimed
    At his voice and the pistol sound.
    With rifle flashes the darkness flamed --
    He staggered and spun around,
    And they riddled his body with rifle balls
    As it lay on the blood-soaked ground.

    There's never a stone at the sleeper's head,
    There's never a fence beside,
    And the wandering stock on the grave may tread
    Unnoticed and undenied;
    But the smallest child on the Watershed
    Can tell you how Gilbert died.


    RIP Johnny Gilbert, you bad boy.
    Cheers, Frugal.
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  3. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    I liked Binalong, the friendly people I met in the pub last night and the top notch camp spot might have something to do with that, but I just liked the place. How about this old building for a bit of old Aussie country character, there is even a Holden ute parked out front.

    Before leaving Binalong I got Banjo to check out my steed. I don't know if he was impressed or not.

    I was going to leave this poem until I got to Eaglehawk, but I couldn't help myself, sorry.

    'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
    He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
    He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
    He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
    And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
    The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"
    "See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
    From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
    I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows,
    Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
    But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
    Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
    There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
    There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
    But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
    I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."

    'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
    That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
    He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
    But ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
    It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,
    It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.

    It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
    The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
    The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
    As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
    It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
    It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
    And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
    It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.

    'Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
    He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
    I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
    But this was sure the derndest ride that I've encountered yet.
    I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; It's shaken all my nerve
    To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
    It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
    A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill."

    I think there is a bit of Mulga Bill in all of us, well, I hope there is. 'Have a go mate, she'll be right'.

    But it was time to move on, so I picked a route towards my next destination via quiet country roads, Boorowa, Frogmore, Woodstock, just lovely roads, then on to the Mid Western Hwy to Bathurst, I already had a camp spot picked out from a previous visit.
    This spot is at the top of the Bathurst race circuit, Mt. Panorama.
    Last night, it was dark when I arrived, well that's my excuse for not seeing the 'No Camping' sign.

    There was no water at this spot, but I had had another shower just before leaving Binalong earlier in the afternoon, so I was pretty pristine anyway. I could have sussed out some water somewhere, but security staff were about, so I let sleeping dogs lie. The key to not getting hassled when you camp in a prohibited spot is to lie low and get up early and move on.
    Cheers, Frugal
  4. mrsdnf

    mrsdnf Long timer

    Feb 8, 2019
    Lost between the Dandenongs and Yarra Valley
    Love the story Frugal. You have been to some nice places.
    Frugal Biker likes this.
  5. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Thanks, I really liked this trip. I've done my fair share of trips overseas, but I've neglected Aus to my shame. I have always intended to catch up when I'm finished overseas, but this covid thing has forced my hand. I'm already thinking of my next trip, this time on a lighter bike more suited for gravel roads, easier to pick up if I drop it, a 1973 Norton Commando. I want to camp under the veranda of the Red Hill Hotel.
    HeadOnStudentPrize2018_Chris Lanzon_Silverton2_47717-34736-85252.jpg

    Cheers, Frugal.
  6. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    I rode around the race track, down Conrod Straight at a whopping 60kms/hr, I would have loved to open her up but surely there are speed cameras about, I mean they are everywhere else so why not here. I had breakfast at my favourite diner, Ray Kroc will always be my hero, and then moved on to Banjo's birth place up near Orange.

    His birthplace is just east of Orange on the Ophir road, there is a park there in his honour. Here I listened to an audio history of Banjo, just push a button and you can learn all about him. Akubra make a Banjo Paterson hat as shown in this depiction, I've just ordered one. Sweet Jesus Frugal, get a grip.
    I pushed on up the road, there was a famous town up ahead, Stuart Town. You might ask what's famous about that, well it used to be called Ironbark.


    It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town,
    He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.
    He loitered here he loitered there, till he was like to drop,
    Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber's shop.
    'Ere! shave my beard and whiskers off, I'll be a man of mark,
    I'll go and do the Sydney toff up home in Ironbark.'
    The barber man was small and flash, as barbers mostly are,
    He wore a strike-your-fancy sash he smoked a huge cigar;
    He was a humorist of note and keen at repartee,
    He laid the odds and kept a 'tote', whatever that may be,
    And when he saw our friend arrive, he whispered, 'Here's a lark!
    Just watch me catch him all alive, this man from Ironbark.'

    There were some gilded youths that sat along the barber's wall.
    Their eyes were dull, their heads were flat, they had no brains at all;
    To them the barber passed the wink his dexter eyelid shut,
    'I'll make this bloomin' yokel think his bloomin' throat is cut.'
    And as he soaped and rubbed it in he made a rude remark:
    'I s'pose the flats is pretty green up there in Ironbark.'

    A grunt was all reply he got; he shaved the bushman's chin,
    Then made the water boiling hot and dipped the razor in.
    He raised his hand, his brow grew black, he paused awhile to gloat,
    Then slashed the red-hot razor-back across his victim's throat;
    Upon the newly-shaven skin it made a livid mark -
    No doubt it fairly took him in - the man from Ironbark.

    He fetched a wild up-country yell might wake the dead to hear,
    And though his throat, he knew full well, was cut from ear to ear,
    He struggled gamely to his feet, and faced the murd'rous foe:
    'You've done for me! you dog, I'm beat! one hit before I go!
    I only wish I had a knife, you blessed murdering shark!
    But you'll remember all your life the man from Ironbark.'

    He lifted up his hairy paw, with one tremendous clout
    He landed on the barber's jaw, and knocked the barber out.
    He set to work with nail and tooth, he made the place a wreck;
    He grabbed the nearest gilded youth, and tried to break his neck.
    And all the while his throat he held to save his vital spark,
    And 'Murder! Bloody murder!' yelled the man from Ironbark.

    A peeler man who heard the din came in to see the show;
    He tried to run the bushman in, but he refused to go.
    And when at last the barber spoke, and said ''Twas all in fun'
    Twas just a little harmless joke, a trifle overdone.'
    'A joke!' he cried, 'By George, that's fine; a lively sort of lark;
    I'd like to catch that murdering swine some night in Ironbark.'

    And now while round the shearing floor the list'ning shearers gape,
    He tells the story o'er and o'er, and brags of his escape.
    'Them barber chaps what keeps a tote, By George, I've had enough,
    One tried to cut my bloomin' throat, but thank the Lord it's tough.'
    And whether he's believed or no, there's one thing to remark,
    That flowing beards are all the go way up in Ironbark.

    I pressed on north through some beautiful country. I love riding through country like this, just relax and enjoy the atmosphere, not a worry in the World.

    In Dubbo a local told me about a tip top camp spot on the road to Narromine, free camping with running water.

    It was a clear night,
    not a cloud in sight,
    guaranteed to be dry,
    no need for the fly.

    Cheers, Frugal.
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  7. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    The bush bathroom wasn't quite up to the standard set by the Little Thredbo River set way back when, but beggars can't be choosers, and hey, I like variety, and this spot had a beauty all of it's own. On the road, every day there is something new, especially when you haven't been there before, well obviously duh. Climb down the bank, strip down to the full monty and the world is my oyster, along with the occasional Joe Blake.

    So there I was, warm and snug in my rug, studying the stars as they drift on by, I think I've got them figured out, it's all a matter of relativity. Please bear with me, I'll try to explain it. You see, the problem is the whole sky seem to twist as the night passes, why is that so? At the first simple thought you would think that the stars would just move from the east to the west as the Earth rotates. But no, that would only apply at the Equator to a star directly above the Equator. Still laying on your back at the Equator consider a star low on the horizon directly north or south, that star does not move at all, eg. the North Star. Now consider yourself at either pole, a star directly above doesn't move and a star low on the horizon will move from east to west, the complete opposite of being on the Equator. Now, visualize being somewhere in between, nah, it's too hard.
    One thing for sure is that you need a cloudless sky to see the stars and some were disappearing right in front of me. She'll be right mate, Narromine is just up the road and the only cloud there is a cloud of thirst that won't burst.
    The Banjo had it figured out.

    The stranger came from Narromine and made his little joke--
    "They say we folks in Narromine are narrow-minded folk.
    But all the smartest men down here are puzzled to define
    A kind of new phenomenon that came to Narromine.

    "Last summer up in Narromine 'twas gettin' rather warm--
    Two hundred in the water bag, and lookin' like a storm--
    We all were in the private bar, the coolest place in town,
    When out across the stretch of plain a cloud came rollin' down,

    "We don't respect the clouds up there, they fill us with disgust,
    They mostly bring a Bogan shower -- three raindrops and some dust;
    But each man, simultaneous-like, to each man said, 'I think
    That cloud suggests it's up to us to have another drink!'

    "There's clouds of rain and clouds of dust -- we've heard of them before,
    And sometimes in the daily press we read of 'clouds of war':
    But -- if this ain't the Gospel truth I hope that I may burst--
    That cloud that came to Narromine was just a cloud of thirst.

    "It wasn't like a common cloud, 'twas more a sort of haze;
    It settled down about the streets, and stopped for days and days,
    And now a drop of dew could fall and not a sunbeam shine
    To pierce that dismal sort of mist that hung on Narromine.

    "Oh, Lord! we had a dreadful time beneath that cloud of thirst!
    We all chucked up our daily work and went upon the burst.
    The very blacks about the town that used to cadge for grub,
    They made an organised attack and tried to loot the pub.

    "We couldn't leave the private bar no matter how we tried;
    Shearers and squatters, union men and blacklegs side by side
    Were drinkin' there and dursn't move, for each was sure, he said,
    Before he'd get a half a mile the thirst would strike him dead!

    "We drank until the drink gave out, we searched from room to room,
    And round the pub, like drunken ghosts, went howling through the gloom.
    The shearers found some kerosene and settled down again,
    But all the squatter chaps and I, we staggered to the train.

    "And, once outside the cloud of thirst, we felt as right as pie,
    But while we stopped about the town we had to drink or die.
    But now I hear it's safe enough, I'm going back to work
    Because they say the cloud of thirst has shifted on to Bourke.

    "But when you see these clouds about -- like this one over here--
    All white and frothy at the top, just like a pint of beer,
    It's time to go and have a drink, for if that cloud should burst
    You'd find the drink would all be gone, for that's a cloud of thirst!"

    We stood the man from Narromine a pint of half-and-half;
    He drank it off without a gasp in one tremendous quaff;
    "I joined some friends last night," he said, "in what they called a spree;
    But after Narromine 'twas just a holiday to me."

    And now beyond the Western Range, where sunset skies are red,
    And clouds of dust, and clouds of thirst, go drifting overhead,
    The railway train is taking back, along the Western Line,
    That narrow-minded person on his road to Narromine.

    Well, blow me away, brilliant weather so far, and it starts to rain, just down the road from Narromine, what are the odds. I lost all faith in my inbuilt weather man and jumped up, I threw my light weight tarp over the tent and then the fly and climbed back inside just in time, because the heavens opened up and it really poured down. That tarp under the fly works a treat and I drift off to sleep, all snug and warm.

    When I wake up next morning the sky is blue, but there are puddles of water on the road. If it's gotta rain, and it does, it's best to rain at night. I pack up my camp and ride the 20 odd kms to Narromine for breakfast. In Narromine it was a case of 'rain, what rain?'. I missed it the first lap through town, but found the bakery on my second lap. Great coffee and a steak and pea pie, I'll live forever with a diet like that.

    Yes, that is a FJ Holden ute, circa 1952, immaculate. There was also an EH Holden circa 1964 parked nearby. My first car was a 1935 Plymouth, so I have an interest in old cars.

    I push on north up the road, and come acrosss the Castlereagh river.

    Castlereagh River? Now that rings a bell.

    The roving breezes come and go, the reed-beds sweep and sway,
    The sleepy river murmers low, and loiters on its way,
    It is the land of lots o'time along the Castlereagh.


    The bell is set a-ringing, and the engine gives a toot,
    There's five-and-thirty shearers here a-shearing for the loot,
    So stir yourselves, you penners-up, and shove the sheep along --
    The musterers are fetching them a hundred thousand strong --
    And make your collie dogs speak up; what would the buyers say
    In London if the wool was late this year from Castlereagh?

    And ...

    Sweet Jesus Frugal, I think it's best,
    If you give this bloody poetry a rest,
    The dogs are barking in my head,
    They've all been well and truly fed.
    Having just seen the Castlereagh,
    I get on my bike and on my way,
    And pick up a rock and put it in my pocket,
    Because the next destination is Walgett.

    Cheers, Frugal.
  8. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Distances between the towns take their toll, as the day presses on I begin to tire, so I like to stop for a rest to revive a bit, have a drink and something to eat, some nuts or dried fruit, apricots are my favourite.
    Anyway, when I pull up at a rest stop half way between Coonamble and Walgett there are three other vehicles stopped also. One bloke in the group was talking on a two way radio, he had the receiver on loud speaker, blasting his crap far and wide, ten four good buddy and all that nonsense. Anyway, the conversation ends and all is quiet, peace resumes it's rightful place and all is well in the world, I sit at a table nearby and rest up. But it didn't last for long, five minutes or so, the blast of noise coming out of the radio actually hurt my ears. I didn't stop to think, it was just a spontaneous response, 'Turn that bloody thing off! Sweet Jesus, a bloke stops for a rest and he's got to put up with that bloody crap! Turn the bloody thing off!' He tries to respond but I'm not having it. 'Turn the bloody thing off!' He complies, and I turn my back on them, not wanting to escalate the situation and peace and quiet returns. They quietly grumble a bit, pack up and move on, wondering no doubt what they did wrong. I continue my rest, ten minutes later I'm back on the road, refreshed.
    When I got to Walgett I had big plans to emulate a smart arse who had been there before, but I had bitten off more than I could chew - the river was in flood.
    Snapshot - 14.png

    There came a stranger to Walgett town,
    To Walgett town when the sun was low,
    And he carried a thirst that was worth a crown,
    Yet how to quench it he did not know;
    But he thought he might take those yokels down,
    The guileless yokels of Walgett town.

    They made him a bet in a private bar,
    In a private bar when the talk was high,
    And they bet him some pounds no matter how far
    He could pelt a stone, yet he could not shy
    A stone right over the river so brown,
    The Darling river at Walgett town.

    He knew that the river from bank to bank
    Was fifty yards, and he smiled a smile
    As he trundled down, but his hopes they sank
    For there wasn’t a stone within fifty mile;
    For the saltbush plain and the open down
    Produce no quarries in Walgett town.

    The yokels laughed at his hopes o’erthrown,
    And he stood awhile like a man in a dream;
    Then out of his pocket he fetched a stone,
    And pelted it over the silent stream —
    He had been there before: he had wandered down
    On a previous visit to Walgett town

    Oh well, push on, this time I headed west towards Bourke, but I didn't get very far - the road was closed. Oh well, push on, this time north up the Castlereagh Hwy, up to Lightning Ridge and then over the border into Queensland. I can't find many photos of that day, I must have been tired or something, it explains but doesn't excuse my outburst at that radio guy. Either that, or the battery went flat in the GoPro, I think it did because I'm sure I recorded the main street of Lightning Ridge, but I can't find it.
    I passed through little places like Hebel and Dirranbandi and camped just off the road south of St George. Having been caught out the previous night, I wasn't taking any chances and I put the fly over the tent.
    I need not have bothered, next morning I had to get up and take the fly off so that I could enjoy the sunrise from the comfort of my sack.

    I packed up and rode into St George for some breakfast. My word, country people are tops, the bakers were friendly and helpful, not only great pies and coffee, but only too happy to fill up my water bottles, chilled water too, too right.

    I was now in Queensland, heading for the real outback, the outer Barcoo and beyond.
    Cheers, Frugal.
    garfey, Mcahron, staticPort and 3 others like this.
  9. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    After a tip top breakfast at the St George Bakery, my destination for the day was Tambo, 500 kms away, all on bitumen roads, it was just a hop, skip and a jump on the map, but Australia is a big place, Tambo is not on this map, it's just up off the top left hand corner.

    I pass through Mitchel, Morven and Augathela, little communities supporting their local farming enterprises. Wild dogs are no-one's friend out here or anywhere come to that, harassing stock, they get some harsh treatment in these areas. Any wild dog caught hanging about ends up hanging about.

    I wonder if that sort of treatment would work on other species. Well no, it has been tried with appalling results, the resulting trauma lasts for generations.
    I stopped to look at that work of art depicting the conflict between the police and the bushrangers, where I met that guy who thought the centre of Banjo's life was, or should have been, Winton. Another guy there was flying a drone, a Mavic Mini, so we chatted about that, I was secretly relieved that he too had had his moments flying drones. I think the secret to a long drone life is to imagine that you are actually in the drone, so that you pay a bit more concentration to the flying experience including pre-flight checks. As the saying goes - there are old pilots, there are bold pilots, but there are not many old bold pilots.
    I finally arrive in Tambo and I immediately like the place. There is a lovely park on the north side of the road, I was going to camp there until I saw a 'No Camping' sign.

    So I camp down near the river, I'm getting close to the outer Barcoo, but I'm not there yet.

    It was a Sunday, not many people about, so I didn't see the chook races. I could hear cattle mooing and lowing, generally making a racket, so I go and investigate. Speaking to some locals, they tell me that locals can graze cattle on some common ground near town and they had rounded up these cattle and they were off to market, no wonder they were a bit cranky.
    On the edge of the park there was a toilet block that included a shower, the water was not heated but it didn't need to be, it was naturally warm. So I have a shower, then pitch my tent and have a good sleep down by the river.
    It's another beautiful day here at home, I think the new drone is ready to fly, the firmware has been updated, all systems say go, so I'll give it a try, wish me luck.
    Cheers, Frugal
    mrsdnf and Suncoaster like this.
  10. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    I've been looking forward to this day for a while, basically it was the genesis of the trip. I first heard of the Barcoo River from an Irish horse trainer back in 1993. Dermot Weld is the trainer of the 1'st northern hemisphere trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup and he was a fan of Banjo Paterson. During an interview a reporter who had done his homework asked him what his favourite poem was and Dermot quoted him the 1'st verse of 'A Bush Christening'. I might have enjoyed English Literature at school if we had studied poetry like this, instead of merely tolerating it in order to pass the end of year exams.
    Anyway, the day started the same as all the others, pack up the tent, think about breakfast, if none about then leave it at that, just a thought, and hit the road. I did have another shower at the park and none of the shops were open so I headed towards Blackall, a 100 kms down the road.

    Along the road a bit I come across a herd of cattle being driven down the 'long paddock' towards Tambo, not a sight you see very often. It was a fair size herd, several hundred or so, perhaps even a thousand head, too many for me to count anyway, there were several drovers on horse back, and a caravan being towed by a truck following up behind, it was a proper show.
    Snapshot - 15.png

    In Blackall I tracked down the bakery for some breakfast and some bread rolls to keep me going, I didn't expect another bakery until I got to Birdsville. They didn't take a card, only cash, so I had to nip over to the service station and fill up with petrol and get a bit of extra cash. They only handled debit cards, so we buggered about with that a bit, the only problem was I couldn't remember the pin, so he finally relented and pushed the right button to give me some credit.
    I got talking to a bloke outside the bakery, he told me about the Black Stump that was over behind the school, I never would have known if he hadn't told me about it. He also told me about his wife, he was a full time carer, she has agoraphobia, somedays she can't even make it out of the bedroom, let alone the house, and this is in outback Queensland, a thousand miles from nowhere. He said his wife is a victim of sexual molestation, a life sentence of pain and suffering, it makes you weep. Later I had the thought, perhaps they would be better off in a city somewhere, where everyone is anonymous, it was just a thought, I know nothing about it.
    Anyway, it was time to head into the outer Barcoo, the next town was Isisford, pronounced 'Iceford', or so I'm told.
    The little shop on the left was either the bakery or the butchery, I can't remember which, but both had closed down years ago by the look of them.
    But the pub was still operating and in good nick.

    Anyway, it was time to go down to the river, find some shade and sprout a bit of poetry.

    On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
    And men of religion are scanty,
    On a road never cross’d ’cept by folk that are lost,
    One Michael Magee had a shanty.

    Now this Mike was the dad of a ten year old lad,
    Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
    He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
    For the youngster had never been christened.

    And his wife used to cry, ‘If the darlin’ should die
    ‘Saint Peter would not recognize him.’
    But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,
    Who agreed straightaway to baptize him.

    Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,
    With his ear to the keyhole was listenin’,
    And he muttered in fright, while his features turned white,
    ‘What the divil and all is this christenin’?’

    He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,
    And it seemed to his small understanding,
    If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,
    It must mean something very like branding.

    So away with a rush he set off for the bush,
    While the tears in his eyelids they glistened —
    ‘’Tis outrageous,’ says he, ‘to brand youngsters like me,
    ‘I’ll be dashed if I’ll stop to be christened!’

    Like a young native dog he ran into a log,
    And his father with language uncivil,
    Never heeding the ‘praste’ cried aloud in his haste
    ’Come out and be christened, you divil!’

    But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,
    And his parents in vain might reprove him,
    Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)
    ‘I’ve a notion,’ says he, ‘that’ll move him.’

    ‘Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;
    ‘Poke him aisy — don’t hurt him or maim him;
    ‘’Tis not long that he’ll stand, I’ve the water at hand,
    ‘As he rushes out this end I’ll name him.

    ‘Here he comes, and for shame, ye’ve forgotten the name —
    ‘Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?’
    Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout —
    ‘Take your chance, anyhow, wid ‘Maginnis’!’

    As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub
    Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,
    The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head
    That was labelled ‘Maginnis’s Whisky!’

    And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,
    And the one thing he hates more than sin is
    To be asked by the folk who have heard of the joke,
    How he came to be christened ‘Maginnis’!

    Cheers, Frugal
  11. jstruman

    jstruman AZCITGRWR

    Sep 11, 2008
    Waddell, AZ
    great fun RR. Many thanks for the clever poetry and good fotos. I especially like your sophisticated gear packing arrangement - looks like mine!
  12. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Thanks, I'm pleased you're enjoying it. A friend once told me I pack my bike like a pack horse.
    I'm thinking of my next trip, I was thinking of riding my Norton Commando, but it needs a bit of work, it's over geared and I have to reduce the size of the front sprocket to fix it. It has to be done sometime because it's not a pleasure to ride as it is, but I'm now thinking of riding the H-D XR1200, I'll fix the Norton in the middle of winter sometime. Also, I'd worry all the time if I could start the Norton every morning, it's a kick start and has a mind of it's own.
    I've had a look and it should be easy enough to make a bracket up to carry the swag, a 5l fuel container on the right, (just above the exhaust, where else) and my wash basin on the left. I need to carry extra fuel because the XR tank is only 13 litres, a range of only 220 kms or so.
    This is the mock up.


    I'll make a canvas cover to waterproof the bucket so I can carry stuff and fit a set of Shinko E705's, I'll be ready for the Red Hill Hotel.

    Cheers, Frugal.
    eaglescan, mrsdnf and leighwgold like this.
  13. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    In Isisford I checked at the council chambers about road conditions to my destination for today, Windorah. I could go south to Emmet or west to Jundah via Bimmerah. They said the road west was ok but cut up a bit by trucks in a few places where it was wet, it didn't really matter which way I went, so I went south, it was sealed for a while but mostly gravel. You can just see the Barcoo through the trees, I could see it had been in flood but was now on the way down. Back in Tambo it was just a trickle.

    Around Isisford I suppose you could describe the country as Savannah country, good grass and scattered trees.

    The gravel road section to Emmet was in good condition, a pleasure to ride. Just stay in the vehicle tracks, keep out of the loose stuff.
    Snapshot - 16.png

    In Emmet the train station was a good rest stop, flushing toilet, all the mod cons.
    Snapshot - 17.png

    The history of the railway was displayed with a collection of interesting photos hanging on the walls. The railway line is just visible under the rear view mirror. I still had 200 kms to go to Windorah on mostly gravel so I pressed on.

    Cheers, Frugal
  14. bigjohnsd

    bigjohnsd '14 BMW R1200 GS Adv Supporter

    Jun 1, 2014
    Spearfish, SD
    I was fortunate to ride through some of the same country in NSW in December 2019 on our way to Melbourne and Tazzie with my mate @Festar.
    I love your report, great job.
  15. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Thanks, it's great to get on the bike and just ride, meeting people living different lives to my own.
    I was impressed with the gravel roads, they were in really good condition. I never scared myself once on the way to Windorah, usually on gravel I have several sphincter moments where I'm at the mercy of fate, most of the time due to too much speed for the conditions.
    Snapshot - 19.png
    For some reason I don't really understand, perhaps it was because I once seen a photo with a signpost pointing to Jundah, anyway, I had it in my mind to go to Jundah, so when I came to that junction I naturally took that road. I didn't get very far, I came over a slight rise and there in front of me was the Barcoo River, it was flowing over a concrete floodway and the depth indicators were showing 400mm of water and it was flowing pretty fast. Also the water surface was showing some sort of disturbance below the surface in one spot, about one third across the river. I aint no hero, I done a U turn and continued on the southwest direction I'd been on since leaving Emmet. The only mistake I made was that I thought I had captured all this on the GoPro, I sure was disappointed when I discovered I didn't have it recorded, I think a flat battery, again.
    Anyway, I enjoyed the 50 km gravel run down to where it joined the Diamantina Development Road which is sealed and took me over Cooper Creek and into Windorah.
    Snapshot - 20.png

    Cooper Creek really is an enigma to me. The Thomson and Barcoo rivers join to become Cooper Creek and you can see from the photo that there is a lot of water in it at the moment.
    But as it flows south west towards Lake Eyre it disperses in what is known as channel country, I think it just soaks into the ground, some of it evaporates and some of it drip, drip, drips into the Great Artesian Basin, a great natural water resource. Only in extreme flood does it flow into Lake Eyre.

    Anyway, I cruise into Windorah and fill up with petrol, I also fill up a 5 litre container I've been carrying in the rack bag just for this next leg from Windorah to Birdsville, it's 386kms. Previously, I've travelled 436kms on a full tank so the extra fuel is most probably not necessary, but hey, it's better to be safe than sorry. I look around for a camp spot, I need a good sleep tonight, tomorrow is another big day.
    Cheers, Frugal.
  16. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    The lady in the service station said the nearest river was east, back down the road at Cooper Creek, but logic dictates that I move forward so I head west into the setting sun.

    The low sun is killing me, after a while it dawns on me that the smart thing to do is stop and set up camp, I persevere because I'm stupid and optimistic that the road will veer to the south a bit, but it doesn't so I eventually do stop, near a dried up creek.

    There were a couple of muddy puddles in the creek bed, so I give the wash a miss, besides I did have that shower way back in Tambo at the break of day.
    Although there had been a fair bit of gravel road during the day, it all had been pretty good, so I was looking forward to the next couple of days.
    I can't remember what I had for breakfast, it could have been a tin of tuna, or a tin of peaches, perhaps baked beans or even a muesli bar, I live pretty high on the hog when I'm on the road. I also stock up with mixed nuts, dried apricots and even bananas when they're available, no expense spared.
    The landscape changes as I move further west, it's drier, more desert like. I come across a couple of native wells, dug by the first people who travelled this land for more than fifty thousand years before they were disturbed by us latecomers. The wells are only a couple of feet deep, I think they would have to be scooped out a little bit more to gather water, and then fill them in a bit to protect the water source before moving on, but I'm only guessing, they were dry when I looked.

    The gravel road starts at the turnoff for Birdsville, up until now it had been a breeze. It wasn't long before my love affair with the gravel received a reality check. I was scooting along at about 80kms/hr in the wheel tracks when they suddenly disappeared, all of a sudden I was in deep loose stones going far too fast. I hung on for dear life, scared witless or something like that, out of control, all I could do was go with the flow. Holy smoke! I had the feeling that perhaps this was beyond me. Oh well, pay attention and press on. I stop several times for a rest, have a drink and a few nuts.
    That's the bike down there on the side of the road.
    There were small sections of sealed road which were much appreciated, but my confidence had been shaken. I reduced my speed but the constant concentration was tiring.
    Cheers, Frugal.
    mrsdnf likes this.
  17. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Here are some photos taken on the go by the GoPro.
    Just starting out for Birdsville, thankfully the sun is behind me, I can actually see where I'm going and what's coming, a whole lot of not much more than nothing.
    Snapshot - 21.png

    Steady on Frugal, not this turnoff.
    Snapshot - 22.png

    Nothing much changes out here, not in a hurry anyway.
    Snapshot - 23.png

    The turnoff for Birdsville, be careful what you wish for Frugal.
    Snapshot - 24.png

    I love bitumen roads.
    Cheers, Frugal
  18. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Bright by light, the glare did scare.
    Might not right, skills required yet to be acquired.
    Shite by fright, shocked and bowed I soon slowed.
    Fight not right, relax the shoulders to miss the boulders.
    Snapshot - 25.png

    Are we there yet, how far is it to Birdsville?
    Snapshot - 26.png

    I did turn off to go up to Deon's Lookout, but the corrugations were that bad I had to shut my eyes to stop them from falling out. I walked up a nearby hill instead.

    It's not the destination, it's all about the journey. Nah, it's both, never to be forgotten.

    Well, hopefully not forgotten anytime soon.
    Cheers, Frugal
  19. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Opposite the Birdsville Welcome sign, was another sign displaying the road conditions, it was saying that the Birdsville Track was suitable only for 4WD vehicles. That suggested to me that the track was still muddy, I've had my fair share of horror shows, I used to fish commercially in Bass Strait, I soon learnt to give myself a break, I would take tomorrow off and see what happens.
    I rode into town to check out the most iconic pub in Australia.
    Tired but happy I've made it this far, still in one piece. I sussed out the information centre and they recommended I give the Birdsville Track a miss, I think they thought I was past it, and who can blame them, I do look like a bit of a mess. The three ladies in there said even accomplished riders have come to grief on that road, I guess I don't present an air of confidence. Oh well, it's better to be under estimated than over. Later I went back to the pub for a beer and there was a 4WD SUV towing a Harley Davidson Sportster parked outside. The bike looked familiar, painted grey with red rocker covers, an extended swing arm, but when I last saw it, it was in the back of a Ford F150 on YouTube. Sure enough Daniel Hayes, aka Million Dollar Bogan, comes around the corner and we talk motorbikes for a while. He showed me the rear window in the SUV was completely shattered and the car was full of dust. I soon figured out what I thought had happened: A rock had shot up from the back wheel, hit the front wheel of the bike and ricocheted into the window. There is something always happening to that guy.
    He was on his way to check out the Big Red sand dune 35 kms west of Birdsville. I like the guy, he's always looking for a challenge, living the dream, the show goes on and he makes me laugh. Yesterday I had photographed the sign pointing to Magee's Shanty, I bet he would have rode up that track. Not me, it was too far out of left field. If something had gone wrong that would be the end of me, no-one would know where I was. M$B has a GPS tracker, if something goes wrong, just press a button and a helicopter flies over the horizon, 'What took you so long?'. But that Magee's Shanty sign has sown a seed, that's all I'll say about that at the moment.

    A local tells me that I can camp at the Trainers Camp out at the racecourse, I missed the spot he was telling me about, so I camp just over from the ticket office in the car park and I found a tap with beautiful running water from the Great Artesian Basin, all the mod cons a bloke needs.

    I met Dan,
    the Million Dollar Bogan,
    a Youtube motorbike showman.
    Dan stayed at the Birdsville Resort,
    I camped down the road for nought.
    Dan slept in a bed with five stars,
    I slept in my tent under the stars.
    Dan doesn't like to camp,
    But I still think he's a champ.


    Cheers, Frugal.
  20. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Daniel had just come up the Birdsville Track and told me that it was all good, I wouldn't have a problem with it. You can't get better advice than that, so I decided to take a day off, rest up and if the good weather continued then I would go south down the track the following day. The weather had been perfect so far, a couple of weeks earlier it was a different story, floods were widespread across eastern Australia. I really enjoyed the day off, just relax, take a look at Birdsville and it's history.

    The Birdsville Cup is a big deal every September, thousands fly, drive and ride in, street vendors set up shop in the main street and it's party time, or so I'm told.
    Every man and his dog is a champion jockey sometime. Well, that's what Banjo thought.

    There's some that ride the Robbo style, and bump at every stride;
    While others sit a long way back, to get a longer ride.
    There's some that ride as sailors do, with legs, and arms, and teeth;
    And some that ride the horse's neck, and some ride underneath.
    But all the finest horsemen out -- the men to Beat the Band --
    You'll find amongst the crowd that ride their races in the Stand.
    They'll say "He had the race in hand, and lost it in the straight."
    They'll know how Godby came too soon, and Barden came too late

    They'll say Chevalley lost his nerve, and Regan lost his head;
    They'll tell how one was "livened up" and something else was "dead" --
    In fact, the race was never run on sea, or sky, or land,
    But what you'd get it better done by riders in the Stand.

    The rule holds good in everything in life's uncertain fight;
    You'll find the winner can't go wrong, the loser can't go right.
    You ride a slashing race, and lose -- by one and all you're banned!
    Ride like a bag of flour, and win -- they'll cheer you in the Stand

    Ain't that the truth.

    A visit to the Birdsville Bakery is worth the trip on it's own. Most of us come and go, you can't even see where've been, but a few leave a legacy, Dusty Miller had a vision and established this bakery, a visit is a history lesson and great food and coffee to boot.
    Their bread buns are a meal in themselves, so I stocked up with them ready for the track tomorrow.
    This sign let me know exactly where I was.
    Innamincka? With a name like that, it's got to be worth a visit. Where is it exactly?.... Holy smoke! Put it on the list for later.

    Cheers, Frugal.
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