Nathan and Elena's Aussie Ride-About

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Nathan, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. mb8

    mb8 One planet, no option.

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Australia
    @Kris :lift
  2. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
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    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    16/5/2011, Victoria Highway

    Going to bed at 7pm has consequences. The main one being that you will wake up very early. Kris got up an hour before dawn and after a few minutes of packing up, quietly slipped away. Because I'm a lame motorcycle rider, I had to wait for "day o'clock" in NordieBoy time. :lol3

    I faffed around until the sun was high enough to take a photo of our camp site, then set off in hot pursuit.

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    I caught Kris 10km down the road. He was stopped at a rest area. He said he got up and started riding to warm up. It's true, it actually was a cold night (by Aussie standards). I had both my polar fleece tops on and my warm gloves because the morning was still cold.

    We talked for an hour or so. I learnt a lot about "Black Fella" culture from Kris. The image presented by the Aborigines in most towns is overwhelmingly negative; they're a bunch of drunks, layabouts, and thieves. But there are Aborigines who do have their shit together. They just don't want anything to do with white people, which is understandable considering they were still being shot like animals up until 1960 or so. Though I can't help thinking that a bit of work presenting a positive image would be a good thing for Aborigines in general.

    Eventually Kris despaired of teaching me his hard-man ways, and we parted company. I continued down the Buntine Highway. It's a decently remote slog: 407km between fuel stops from Halls Creek to Kalkarindji.

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    The dodgy motocross front tyre is still performing well, but the centre knobs--like Nordie in the lavatory--are starting to show signs of strain.

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    The Buntine Highway isn't was exciting as the Duncan Road. In fact, it's a bit on the repetitive side. :nod

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    I arrived in Kalkarindji, a place Kris has described as a "very well sorted" Aboringinal Community. There were about 30 people and five scraggly dogs sitting outside the store/fuel station. They stared at me incuriously for a few moments, before dismissing me. The lone white lady in the store yelled at me from the steel-mesh covered window when I tried to get fuel before paying. She eventually activated the pump and told me to come inside and pay when I was done.

    Inside the store, there was an Aborigine family doing their grocery shopping. It seemed to involve much yelling and a complete indifference to the extortionately-high prices. I was having trouble ignoring the prices, so I only bought a can of baked beans for dinner and a box of pizza-flavoured crackers for lunch. The white woman walked over to me, handing me a scrap of paper with my fuel total on it ($2.32/litre!). I paid, went outside and ate some of my pizza crackers, still being ignored by the locals.

    I really wanted to take a photo, but the poor reception and Kris's words of "Black Fellas not wanting to be treated like animals in a zoo" put me off, and I wussed out. When I rode off, a few of the old guys lifted a couple of fingers to wave goodbye, followed by the younger ones. I waved back, not really knowing what to think.

    Not far outside of Kalkarindji, I found a pristine specimen of what is colloquially known as an "Abo car."

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    Kalkarindji is a dry community. At the town limit is a bent sign and a whole shitload of beer cans and broken bottles.

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    One of the oddities of Aboriginal culture is the way they litter without regard for laws or societal norms. To western sensibilities, it seems a bit odd considering that being caretakers of the land is a big part of Aborigine culture. From what I can understand, littering is not something that hurts that land from their perspective. Perhaps the litter is just a part of the story of the land. :dunno

    This is the Top Springs roadhouse. There were still bars over the windows, but at least the price for unleaded petrol was down to $2.00/litre.

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    The road turned into single-lane bitumen from Top Springs. I managed 532km before deciding I'd had enough. I found a long swale (:evil) that curved slightly at the end, giving me a nice camp site with an easy route in and out.

    [​IMG]

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    <iframe src="http://ridewithgps.com/routes/418967/embed" height="900px" width="1200px" frameborder="0"></iframe>
  3. OceanMtnSea

    OceanMtnSea Pretty Dogged

    Joined:
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    Location:
    exited middle Saskatchewan & entered middle BC
    You do have a story to tell - interesting meetings on the road less traveled.

    You're in the Outback - "Social Norms and laws" are different there.

    "Things" are just meant to be used and when they break or are no longer useful (run out of gas, oil, coolant and/or battery).....well they are no longer useful, so leave them and move on. If the thing stops being useful......well it is useless to go to any effort to hang on to it!

    Reserves & "Aboriginal", "First Nations", "Indian", "M&#257;ori" - whatever the politically correct cultural term is ------- in Canada, NZ, USA, Australia & elsewhere all have a surprising similar "look".

    Living close to a number of reserves here in Saskatchewan and regularly traversing them, I get the impression many/most/some just do not care what the "white man (fella)" thinks about how things "look". Why should they care what we think? Is it important? No!

    Check out the recent film - Mad Bastards: http://www.madbastards.com.au/
    I read in the OZ news that life is imitating art for some of the cast in the Kimberley.

    In the very long-term, the land eventually recovers - white man or any "man" for that matter is not an essential feature that the earth cannot do without.
  4. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    567
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    17/5/2011, Adelaide River

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    I finished the last of my pizza crackers for breakfast, loaded up Elena, and rode the remaining 140km to Katherine.

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    It's a nice town, though one of the glass sliding doors to the library had been smashed, and subsequently replaced with a plywood board. Whoever got inside also broke a lot of the gib board to complete the look.

    In general, the indigenous peoples of Australia seemed a lot more chipper in Katherine. The malaise that infects them in other towns definitely wasn't as evident.

    After doing ride reporting, food shopping, and getting told off by an ex-ambulance officer in the visitor centre when I loudly proclaimed that "I ride a motorcycle; I don't care about safety!" in response to yet more road closures, I headed towards Darwin. :lol3

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    From Pine Creek, I decided to do the Mount Wells Road, a gravel road tourist route. It started off easy enough, with a plethora of sign posts warning of every conceivable hazard, except fire.

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    But the road turned nasty soon enough. Not the anvil-hardness of the Duncan Road, but a devious, malicious sort of difficulty. The road signs all but disappeared, while corners appeared on the top of crests, water crossings at the bottom of step downhills, and snaking, flood-damage ruts on the straights.

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    Once again, I'm perplexed by the RRAA's (Royal Roadside Association of Australia) efforts to signpost every crest in existence, despite the obviousness of them, yet they steadfastly refuse to warn of hidden corners on the top of the crests.

    I ended the day in Adelaide River, at the best caravan park in Australia. :getiton


    <iframe src="http://ridewithgps.com/routes/420361/embed" height="900px" width="1200px" frameborder="0"></iframe>
  5. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    Ignoring the white man is--and always has been--a recipe for disaster. To me, it doesn't feel like a sustainable strategy to hide from the rest of the world on reserves. They need to start caring what the rest of the world thinks if they want a place in it. Otherwise, they'll just continue to live on the sufferance of white Australians. Of course, my grandpappy wasn't shot by a white farmer, so maybe that's why I feel differently.

    Glass and aluminium hang around for a long time, much longer than the organic items Aborigines used to discard. I do feel that the western world is sometimes a bit obsessed with maintaining the environmental status quo, but the opposite extreme of heedlessly polluting the land when a rubbish bin is right there seems, well, lazy and foolish.
  6. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    18/5/2011, The Best Caravan Park in Aussie

    Why is the Adelaide River Inn caravan park the best in Australia? It's cheap ($10), has a huge swimming pool, lots of trees for shade, green grass growing on ground you can actually push a tent peg into, hardly any insects and zero Frenchies, a complete lack of pointless bureaucracy, and a bar and bistro next door that sells pints of beer for $4.40. :freaky

    I think we have a winner.

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    Owards to Darwin!

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    Okay, that's the extent of the pictures I took. I really hate dealing with cities when it's hot and I'm in motorcycle gear.

    I went the really crowded visitor centre to try to wrangle some information about going into Arnhem Land, a massive tract of Aboriginal land east of Darwin. The (dis)information lady was next to useless, so I ended up at the police station. The lady there was surprisingly helpful, printing out the road conditions report, permit application, and even giving me a map of Darwin. Well done, Northern Territories police! :clap

    The route I was considering started in Jabiru, headed through a maze of roads to Ngangalala, then down to Bulman, and back to the Stuart Highway. It looked like all the roads were open, but the 511km leg in the middle with no fuel stops gave me considerable pause. That's really pushing the range of a Safari tank on dirt roads. In the end, the massive distance combined with the expiration of my travel insurance made me chicken out. It's fearsomely remote, and I had no idea what the actual condition of the roads was. So, maybe some other time, when I have someone accompanying me. :nod

    After all that wasted organising, I spent ages trying to find a motorcycle store. Man, I hate dealing with cities. I did eventually find a Kawasaki shop, and they had a Mefo Explorer tyre in stock. The Deathwing is proving to be Broome's last gasp attack on me. It's practically melting away on the hot roads. If I get 5000km out of it, I'll be amazed. So I'm going to lug a tyre around with me for a while.

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    The heat in Darwin was really getting to me at this point, and since Kakadu National Park wanted an extortionate $25 entry fee, I decided to return to the best caravan park in Aus. It's almost like home. :D

    I mentioned Elena's ailing chainguard a few days ago. Well, it's taken a turn for the worse. Somehow a part of it got wedged under the chain on the Mount Wells Road, which had the expected outcome of buggering the guard pretty badly.

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    I pulled it off and tidied it up as best I could, but I fear the chainguard's days are numbered.

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    <iframe src="http://ridewithgps.com/routes/420898/embed" height="900px" width="1200px" frameborder="0"></iframe>
  7. mb8

    mb8 One planet, no option.

    Joined:
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  8. ScooterC

    ScooterC Woohoo!!

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
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    Location:
    London
    In an effort to help the noobs because obviously I know the answer to this (*cough*cough*) but what difference does the chain guard make? Yeah, I've got one but I'm a little lost as to its actual function and the removal of mine would impact.....?

    Cue rampant laughing and abuse. Ship it in.
  9. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    That's only 0.0005 cents per acre! :eek1

    It's the principal of the thing. National Parks should be free, or dirt cheap at the very least. There's also a secondary mechanic at work: expected beauty pales in comparison to serendipitous beauty. Nothing in Kakadu will compare to the Duncan Road because I'm expecting it to be good, whereas the Duncan Road completely ambushed me with fantastic views and road trains rattling and smashing their way past me. It was a much more raw experience than anything Kakadu can offer.

    And lastly, touristy places are a pox on the world, watering down amazing experiences so they're palatable to everyone. Some things should be difficult, remote, and challenging, or they lose an essential part of what makes them so majestic. Uluru, the red heart of Australia, is a perfect example of this. What a sham. Tourist resorts and throngs of slack-jawed bus tourists cheapen the place to the point where the beauty and majesty of Uluru is buried beneath crass commercialism. We don't all deserve to see it. I would be fine with a 200km walking track being the only access to Uluru. The people who get there will have earned the right to see Uluru unspoilt, and the rest of us can accept we don't have gonads to walk that far to experience it.

    In many ways, adventure riding is doomed by it's own popularity. Look at the ride reports section of advrider. It's not enough to just get on a motorcycle and ride somewhere now, like Ted Simon did. Now you need go out of your way to do crazy things, embrace suffering for the sake of it, or be wilfully negligent just to have an adventure that isn't the cookie cutter and done to death.

    Tourism, by it's very nature, demeans the places that tourists visit. One visitor per year may add value to a remote area. 100,000 visitors will ruin that same area as surely as a flood of water. And the thing is, only one person gets to be that first one, the rest of us who follow along later are drops of water in the flood.

    Sorry for the rant, but perhaps you now see why I don't care about Kakadu at all. We're losing the adventure in our world, and the reason we're losing it is because we all think we deserve adventures.
  10. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
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    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Not much. It stops crud from the chain being flung upwards and onto the rest of the bike and rider. The bottom chain guide is super important. It keeps the chain on the sprocket. :nod

    [Edit]I just thought of a really good analogy for my previous post. Tourism is like making Mount Everest lower so everyone can climb it. The mountain is diminished by the very act that allows everyone to experience it.[/Edit]
  11. ScooterC

    ScooterC Woohoo!!

    Joined:
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    Bottom chain guard: tick. Top chain guard: optional. Total chain guard understanding: tick. Thanks.

    Agree with your rant. The first time I went travelling 10 years ago things were so much harder and out of reach; so much more effort and kudos (yes, I'm shallow) went into achieving them. Nowadays those places are on the stock standard tourist route and I feel robbed.

    That being said, I hope to go to the now touristy places I wouldn't have before. Hypocrisy = me.
  12. OceanMtnSea

    OceanMtnSea Pretty Dogged

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    exited middle Saskatchewan & entered middle BC
    That's what I so like about this thread :ear - real life, honest observations & opinions:kboom - with minimal political correctness:puke2! Vive le France!
  13. Sundowner

    Sundowner Extended Play

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    Location:
    Sun Over Beach, Oz
    Crocs and rocks - you'll love it if you give it a go. Grab a couple of old oil containers as spare fuel carriers - the 500 km trip sounds amazing.
  14. mb8

    mb8 One planet, no option.

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    hehe

    Nice rant, and while I agree in principle, it does sound a bit like cutiing off your nose to spite your face. Kind of like if a beautiful woman offers you sex and you say no just because she's your cousin. Sure it may be wrong but you tap that arse anyway! :lol3
  15. Flys Lo

    Flys Lo cool hand fluke

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    Good to see the Tasmanian contingent checking in...





    :lol3
  16. TritonTEX

    TritonTEX Adventurer

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    Location:
    Adelaide, South Australia
    Nathan, cheers mate for making the time to do this RR. Fairdinkum great read:D
    Have you replaced your laptop after it was nicked?
    Do you have a ipod or just listen to the voices in your head?
    Good to see you have left the BMW owners alone now that you're giving it to the Frenchies instead.
    :clap:clap:clap
  17. jtb

    jtb Long timer

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    Noice!

    Great report and photo's keep it coming :ear... I'm a keyboard ADV rider for the moment so I need good quality ride reports to tide me over until I get my next motorised cycle.
  18. vac

    vac n00b

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5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} </style> <![endif]--> Well Nathan, quite apart from market issues such as user pays... Kakadu and Uluru national parks aren’t on publicly owned land, they represent leasehold arrangements between the government and the traditional owners – they are legally Aboriginal land. In fact, Aboriginal people hold formal title over much of the remaining truly remote country in Australia, and I reckon are entitled to impose the same controls over its access as any white landowner.
    I find it depressing that so many people (particularly Australians) feel Aboriginal people have no right to make a dollar from their land (often their only real asset).
  19. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    567
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Your cousin charges you $25 for a root? :huh

    If I wake up in the middle of the night twenty years from now wishing I had seen Kakadu, then I'll hop on a plane and go see it. I really just don't care right now. Most touristy stuff feels like work to me. I do it because I think I should. Fuck that; I'm done with it. I'll see the places I care about and ignore the rest.

    Thanks, TEX. Yep, I bought a little Toshiba in Broome. It was basically the only option in town, but it does okay--except for crappy battery life.

    I listen to the voices in my head. I tried using headphones, but the road noise was too much. I would like to try some noise cancelling headphones, but I'm unwilling to stump up the cash right now.

    Oh, and some tosser on a clean F650 just rode past without stopping to say hi. He was also wearing jeans. Nuff said, really. :1drink
  20. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    567
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Thanking yea.

    For sure, the Black Fellas can do what they want with their land. But $25 to visit a national park is bullshit. I was okay with spending $5 in WA. That's still $5 too much, but at least it's reasonable.

    Right, not sure when I'll be near interwebs again. The Gulf of Carpenteria is calling me. :evil