Nathan and Elena's Aussie Ride-About

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

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    567
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    4/11/2010, Weilmoringle and the Little Aborigine

    Yeah, that title is shockingly racist. :lol3

    This was a big day for me: nearly 600km. The town of Dunedoo was first up, followed by some back roads to Coonabarabran. In Warrumbungle National Park, there is the Siding Spring Observatory, home to the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope. I'm a huge nerd, so I couldn't miss this. The entry fee was $5.50. Congratulations astronomy, you made me part with my money for a tourist trap. No one else has managed that so far.

    Here's a picture of steel milk cartoons that visitors can lift to see how much they weigh on all the planets,and such, of the solar system. I was dying to know much milk weighed on the Sun, but I forced myself to go down the line lifting each one. The Jupiter milk, as expected, was pretty hefty. When I got to the Sun, I clasped the super heavy milk with both hands and heaved... only to discover that the exhibit had cheated and just attached the milk carton to bench with a spring. So I still don't know how much milk weighs on the Sun. :bluduh

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    The observatory is 50m high and houses this monster.

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    The green bit is the bearing the telescope rotates on.

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    The park has some spectacular views too.

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    After getting my geek on, it was time for some back roads from Coonamble to Walgett. The roads were really narrow, with crops right up to the edge of the road.

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    While riding along this narrow little road, the biggest lizard I've ever seen darted out in front of me. It must have been a freaking Komodo Dragon. The damn thing was 5 feet long. Unfortunately, he darted out of the under growth and right under Elena's wheels. I barely had a chance to think, "Holy shit, that's a big lizard. No, don't..." And then thump thump and I'd nailed a one-hundred-year-old dinosaur right on the neck. :cry

    I didn't stop to "render assistance" because I had a 4WD right behind me, and the dragon would have bitten my head off. I don't rate the old boy's chances, the 4WD would have finished him if Elena didn't.


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    There are more opal fields north of Walgett. Just as weird as White Cliffs and just as desperate for tourism. I didn't hang around for long. When you've seen one weird opal mining town, you've seen em all. :lol3

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    In the Goodooga pub, I met this tiny, ancient Aborigine man. He shook my hand with a grip like a vice, as if he had spent his entire life crushing bigger men's hands and looking them squarely in the eye. He then proceeded to give me advice on where to go, completely ignoring my stated intentions. I said I wanted to go into Queensland via Brenda Gate. He said, "No, go via Jobs Gate. The road to Weilmoringle is very good, no rocks, no trucks."

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    I had decided to ignore his advice, when he announced that he would drive me to the turn off. Feeling trapped, I hopped on my bike and dutifully followed him. He showed me the turn off and waved me down it when I stopped.

    The road wasn't too bad, but it was heading due west, so I was squinting into the setting sun while dodging big potholes created by trucks that supposedly didn't use the road.

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    I arrived at Weilmoringle, ignored the little guy's instructions to tell the store owner something or other, tried to head through Jobs Gate--only to find the road closed. I was in a grumpy mood, so I gave up and pitched my tent on the side of the road.

    I have to say, he was a nice wee chap, though. He just called me to make sure I was okay.

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    #61
  2. cul8rr

    cul8rr busa no more

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Bunbury, West Oz
    XLNT!!!!!
    Looking forward to the next leg
    #62
  3. PilbaraGoat

    PilbaraGoat Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Tom Price, WA/Bendigo VIC
    Nice report, funny. I've been interrupting the family with out loud laughs!

    I met Andre and Alex (the Germans you met with the Didgeridoo) in Tom Price in North West WA!
    #63
  4. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    567
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    5/11/2010, The Cunnamulla Fella

    This is where I camped for the night.

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    Being foiled by the dastardly "Road Closed" sign, I had no choice but to continue heading west. West was all right now that it was morning and the sun was behind me. I was tootling along, when a fat little pigeon-type bird flew up off the road, smacked into Elena's windscreen, bounced off the GPS, then nailed me right in the throat. :eek1

    I wasn't sure whether to "render assistance" to myself or the bird first, but then I remembered my SAS training (I watched a TV series about the SAS once) and in a triage situation, one must assess one's own well being first. Turns out I was okay, but I couldn't find the bird. The only proof I had of the incident was some feathers stuck to my GPS.

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    The next road north had--you guessed it--another "Road Closed" sign. At this point I had resigned myself to going to Enngonia on the main highway. Fuel was available in Barringun, so everything was going to be fine. Right?

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    I was still riding west when I approached an iffy looking stock grid. I slowed down to about 60kph, picked my line over it, then focused further up the road. Only to see a six foot long snake taking up most of the road. :eek1

    I had no chance to do anything other than thump thump. I wasn't really sure what the etiquette for "rendering assistance" to big-ass snakes is, but I wanted a photo, so I stopped and turned around. The monster was gone, and all I could find were these marks. I guess he thrashed about a bit, then slithered off.

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    Random picture of a sandy intersection.

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    Which had this massive ant hill.

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    The roadside... er... cafe at Baringun had pictures of big rigs on the wall signed by their various owners. The woman behind the counter made me a lovely sandwich then told me, "We don't sell fuel any more, didn't you see the sign?"

    Since I had come in the ass-backward "Road Closed" way, I had missed that wee factoid. Not that seeing the sign would have miraculously solved my fuel problems. After some wrangling, the lady agreed to siphon some fuel from her car for me. It cost me $10 for four litres, but I was just glad to get it.

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    I cruised into Cunnamulla a bit after noon with plenty of fuel to spare, so I probably wasted $10 on the fuel. Better safe than sorry in the Outback though!

    This is the Cunnamulla Fella, immortalised in bronze as a tribute to the hit song by Stan Coster/Slim Dusty that immortalised the Cunnamulla Fella. :huh

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    Who was that Cunnamulla Fella? I guess we'll never know because I can't be bothered Googling it.

    At the Cunnamulla zoo, you can see a ferocious tractor in cage.

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    Now this caged Cunnamulla zoo tree has an interesting story, handily made available by a plaque on the cage. Back in 1880, Joseph Wells robbed the Cunnamulla Queensland National Bank and attempted to escape on horse. He lost control of his horse, ran into the surrounding sand dunes and then climbed this tree. A sniffer dog follwed his scent, and he was caught and hung. But mad props for climbing that tree. I couldn't do it.

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    #64
  5. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    You know, I never did get Alex's name. Andre introduced himself and didn't bother to introduce Alex. After a while, it just gets too awkward to ask. :lol3
    #65
  6. zandesiro

    zandesiro In rust we trust....

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Polygyros, Greece...
    :clap I like your photos and your trip a lot..... keep up.....:lurk :lurk
    #66
  7. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    6/11/2010, Jundah and an Emu

    I've been travelling north west lately, and the temperature has risen accordingly. Now, you're not supposed to travel in the Outback at dawn or dusk, but the people who say that haven't tried riding a motorcycle here at noon in summer. Besides, I like the light in the morning. I got up a bit after 5am and was on the road by just after 6.

    From Cunnamulla, I rode some back roads to Quilpie. Along the way, I took this photo. I wish photos would show how big things actually are. Outback = BIG!

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    Here's another weird opal mining place. I think this one is going for the surface-of-mars look, rather than the moon. (I know there's no liquid water on Mars!)

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    I smacked an emu in the head with my Sidi Crossfires. The bugger was hiding on the shady side of the road, and darted out at the last second. I think Elena's Safari tank hit her first then, then she copped my right shin. ATGATT saved my shin from having an emu head imprint. I'm a real pro at "rendering assistance" these days, but I wasn't keen on stomping on an emu's head to kill her. Luckily, she was sitting in the road looking dazed, but pretty well alive.

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    That's what emu poo looks like. And that's what an emu looks like trying stand up after a 10 count.

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    She eventually got back what little wits she had and went on her way. :clap

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    Outback roads are sometimes inexplicably wide.

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    Wild goats.

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    Near Quilpie, I saw this little guy on the road outside a house. His whole demeanour revolved around trying to look small and harmless. I don't think he was a stray. To the owners of the house: treat your dog better, you fucking fucks! :boid

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    Quilpie.

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    It was time for a bit of bitumen after Quilpie. Pretty dull, but there were these odd sand dune hills sprinkled around like God had tipped out His sand pail willy-nilly.

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    On a spur of the moment, I decided to head to Jundah through Welford National Park. Aussie national parks are often exactly the same as the surrounding area. There is probably something special about Welford, but it wasn't apparent to me. It was midday and hot, so no pictures.

    Just before the turn off to Welford National Park, I saw my first cow road kill. It was lying in the red dirt and its coat matched the colour of the soil almost perfectly. I guess being a camo-cow has its disadvantages.

    The lady in the store at Jundah said I could camp near their sports field, which had a toilet and shower I could use for free. What she didn't say was that the ground was hard as rocks, and even hammering my tent pegs with a tyre iron only got them a few centimetres into the ground. Buy free standing tents, guys. :deal

    Sunset in Jundah

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    #67
  8. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    doing good Nath!




    :clap
    #68
  9. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    7/11/2010, To Winton the Back Way

    And this was dawn at Jundah.

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    The Jundah Winton road is 370km of gravel road with pretty much nothing on it. I was a bit worried about the distance and remoteness, but decided to man up and give it a go.

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    The first 100km is beautiful.

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    After around 120km, the road deteriorates, often with no signs. This nasty rocky part caught me by surprise. Standard "worse than it looks" applies. :lol3

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    Termite mounds, I think.

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    I get the feeling Aussies haven't really grasped the point behind road signs. 180km down a gravel road, someone suddenly decided to put a huge sign warning that the road was indeed gravel. I'm pretty sure that anyone who hasn't figured out they're on a gravel road by that point isn't going to notice the sign. :rofl

    About 100km from Winton is the Lark Quarry Conservation Park, which has the only known fossilised dinosaur stampede footprints in the world. I rode in at 9:50, just in time for the 10am tour. Not only was my timing impeccable, but I was the only person there. $11 bought me the services of Terry. :evil

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    The fossils are housed in this big building to prevent them from deteriorating.

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    And inside. That raised centre bit is an old viewing platform from before the fancy building.

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    There are footprints from 150 dinosaurs, mostly small to medium herbivores, including Coelurosaurs, which are the ancestors of modern birds.

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    They all fled--causing the stampede--when this big guy showed up. He was a large carnivore, similar to T.Rex. There are 3500 footprints, and the scientologists have matched all the footprints, and figured out the individual paths that all 150 animals ran.

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    My inner geek satisfied, I busted out the final kilometres to Winton. The last 50km were actually bitumen, thankfully, because I was well sick of gravel by this point.

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    #69
  10. TONY.

    TONY. n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1
    Hey Nathan,
    have been reading all your posts some real funny stuff looks like a unreal adventure. also this is my first post with advrider after you told me about it. great site!
    thanks for the museli bar in capertee! i really hope you didnt need it desperatly. drop in if you come through sydney :D
    #70
  11. Mileater

    Mileater Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
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    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Going along nicely! :clapThanks for taking the time to get it all together :deal

    Back to :lurk


    Cheers :freaky
    Allan
    #71
  12. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    Heya Tony! Welcome to the site.

    I practically live of museli bars, so I always have a bunch on hand.
    #72
  13. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    Christchurch, New Zealand
    7/10/2010, Mount Isa

    In my last update, I forgot some of the amazing highlights from Winton, so here they are.

    This is Arno's wall in Winton. Arno likes to put crazy stuff in his wall because he's crazy. I think he's legitimately crazy. I didn't have to pay to see the wall, so it's not just a tourist scam.

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    This is Bosyboots. He likes to sleep in the window of the Winton hardware store because, well, he's a cat and that's what they do. :lol3

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    Sunset. I had to run back from the pub with a belly full of roast and beer to get my camera. :puke1

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    My rear tyre was getting near the end of its life, and Elena also needed another service (already!). Mount Isa was the nearest place with a decent motorcycle store, so I headed that way.

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    It was bitumen the entire way. Since I wasn't continually in fear of wildlife and ruts, my mind was able to wander. I became convinced that my mirrors were causing much of the wind noise I was hearing, so I stopped and pulled them off. After 50km, I put them back on. The wind noise comes from the wind, not the mirrors! :lol3

    It was dry and road trains were starting to appear.

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    In Conclurry I got scammed for $4.50 for a Coke, then tricked into paying $8 for a "museum" that was one room and consisted mostly of lots of different types of rocks. :snore

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    Ye olde style Milo. I'm a Kiwi, so I thought this was super exciting.

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    Outside was a tractor.

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    It's a little known fact that I have my heavy wheels and rollers licence and mucho tractor driving experience. So I took it for a spin.

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    This is the town of Mary Kathleen, which serviced the Mary Kathleen uranium mine . It's not actually a two dimensional town. Instead, it was closed in 1983 due to an oversupply of uranium on the world market. For some reason, they knocked down all the houses, but left the streets intact. If they had left the houses up I'm sure it would have been creepy and probably disgusting. As it is, it's just a little weird. I wanted to see the uranium mine, but couldn't find it. I suspect that BP, being the douchebags that they are, have closed access to the mine without telling the information-and-rip-off-museum lady in Conclurry.

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    There was also a bush fire, but I was that only person that seemed to care. I'm sure the ocean will put a stop to it eventually.

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    Mount Isa is a whale of mine with a tiny barnacle of a town attached. It's really quite hard to get a picture that conveys the sheer scale of the mine. It dominates the entire town.

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    Elena got her service, and I finally got around to hardwiring the GPS to battery so it wouldn't turn off when I turned the engine off. :clap They didn't have any tyres in stock that I liked, so I decided to take a punt that my tyre would last until Alice Springs.

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    One of the bolts holding the Safari tank brace on had vibrated out as well the nut holding the horn on. The bike shop found me a new bolt, but I solved the horn problem by simply removing it.

    After Elena's service, I went to find a caravan park. They wanted $27 for my little tent. I was pretty miffed, but agreed to their demands. They then asked for a $10 bond for the fridge key. I really wasn't happy at this point, but went with it. When I saw my tent site--rock hard dirt with no shade--I threw a wobbly and demanded my money back. If you're going to charge me that much, I want grass and a nice tree. :lol3

    I rode around for a while and eventually camped on the side of the highway. Roads trains kept driving past at all hours, even 3am, but it was better than paying $27.

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    #73
  14. NordieBoy

    NordieBoy Armature speller

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    You visited Flatland!
    #74
  15. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    Christchurch, New Zealand
    That I did! My mind is brittle and fragile like glass at the best of times. After that much flatness, I began to see the sense in Arno's wall and how it fits (poorly) into the grand cosmic scheme of things.
    #75
  16. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    9/11/2010, Plenty Highway

    It rained during the night with big lightning bursts that lit up the sky. I had intended to take the Plenty Highway to Alice Springs, so the rain had me a bit worried. I got up early-ish and went to the visitor information centre to get some road info. Unfortunately, it didn't open until 8:30am, and I was too impatient to wait the 20 minutes required.

    I did meet a real glue-sniffer Aborigine dude outside. He had crusty bits around his eye, nose, and mouth, his belt was undone, and he was wobbling worse than Nordieboy's DR. I could barely understand him. He asked me where I was from and when I told him, he said "I'm from Australia!" :rofl

    Another Aborigine guy then came over and started haranguing the poor dude, letting me make my getaway. The rain was still threatening, and the blackest sky was in the south-west, right where I was heading. A lesser--or more intelligent--man would have waited the 20 minutes for the information centre to open, but not me! Elena and I headed out of town.

    Here's a pile of rocks. The Outback contains huge amounts of uniformity broken up by bizarre things at random intervals. The sudden contrast of these oddities gives the Outback an unhinged quality that seeps into the people who live here.

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    After 90 kilometres of bitumen, I was right in the middle of the darkest clouds and it was raining. The road to Urandangi was wet but since it had a decent amount of gravel I decided to try it.

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    After about 10km, it became apparent that the road wasn't as gravelly as I had hoped and was also wetter than I had thought. I was making my way down it okay, but I was quite worried that someone would yell at me ruining their road.

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    Here is more flat land. Or maybe it's the same flat land... :becca

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    I arrived at Urandangi covered in mud even though I had been riding like a nana due to my overburdened "don't ruin the road" conscience.

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    The lady in the pub asked me how the road was and I admitted it was a bit wet. I asked her if I should have been riding down it, and she told me that bikes can get through worse stuff than 4WDs because they can choose better lines. She didn't seem to care in the slightest that the road might get rutted. When another local took off down the road in his 4WD, I decided to stop giving a crap about the road. :ricky

    The Urandangi hotel and my mud-splattered bag.

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    Urandangi is essence of Outback. Check out this little saggy-pants guy. He was running around with the animals, free and unfettered, when a big white guy with a lazy eye came out of the pub and yelled at him to get inside. The little scamp ran under the diesel tank, so the white guy walked over, grabbed his arm and hoisted him off the ground. White dude then proceeded to tell him to "get inside because I've got fucking work to do!" :lol3

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    Meanwhile, a little horse was a silent bystander to the commotion. Those blue steel struts are what the little kid "hid" under.

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    Oh, there was a friendly cow too. I scratched him behind the ears, which he seemed to like.

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    Yes, Urandangi is awesome. Check out their welcome sign. What a breath-taking vista. :rofl

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    The flatness... It haunts me. :twitch

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    The lady in the Urandangi pub told me to watch out for the typo on the border. Road sign fail.

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    Then it was onto the Plenty Highway, which runs to the Stuart Highway, 70km out of Alice Springs. The road had dried up now and the sky was clearing.

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    A few kilometres after that sign, I saw this. Now, it's pretty bad, so if you're squeamish, don't click on the link. I have no idea what went down here. Aliens maybe? :dunno

    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_guF3w-1XHdk/TNoWwi27FtI/AAAAAAAAA_c/0rWWLFIU2gE/s1200/PICT0051.JPG

    I was going to inform somebody at Jervois Station, which is a fuel stop, but totally forgot. Then I was going to show the police today, but I forgot again. :nod

    Anyway, as I said, the Outback is a strange place, full of contrasts.

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    And earthmovers! They were making a section of road so awesome. It's going to be amazing. Of course, a few kilometres down the road, it's still rutted, corrugated crap, but we'll let these guys make their little spot of dirt-road nirvana in the middle of nowhere because it makes them happy--like little Outback Oompa Loompas. :lol3

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    Check this out.

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    And I camped for the night a few kilometres from Atitjere. Over 600km in one day, most of it on dirt. :slurp

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    #76
  17. bikerooter

    bikerooter the hard way

    Joined:
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    by the C !
    Some nice pictures mate.

    That pile of dead cows mate is pretty standard when a stock truck rolls a trailer or two.
    Probably just after a bend in the road or a decline. Some of the kinks in the Plenty road sneak up on ya.
    Even seen em' dead like that after a lightening storm on the downs country.
    #77
  18. Nathan

    Nathan Why I laugh?

    Joined:
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    Well that explains it. It was on a bend after a small slope. I wondered if it had been some stock truck mayhem, but it seemed odd that the cows hadn't been moved to a... more discrete location.
    #78
  19. NordieBoy

    NordieBoy Armature speller

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    #79
  20. NordieBoy

    NordieBoy Armature speller

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    Nah.
    It's dropbears mate.

    Vicious bastards, they'll have a go at anything once they've had a few drinks...
    #80