Australia Western Australia Turkey Creek
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My Adventure Story
A bit of a hiccup here importing waypoints from Spot. There is a 'missing link' of the return journey, which actually started from Halls Creek WA on 10Apr10. Check out "11_Missing link" first.
Well I finally got wet and cooled down a tad, but sadly it meant I missed out on Wolfe Creek Crater and Purnululu NP (Bungle Bungles). Perhaps it was good to miss Wolfe Creek Crater, after some kind souls told me about 'the' movie, which I hadn't seen!
Once I reach the Victoria Hwy between Wyndham and Kununurra it will be a case a deja vu and so it will be head down and bum up from there. From Halls Creek to Grafton is some 4241 kms and I plan to get home on the 6th night.
After leaving Halls Creek WA, I motored north with Jim (Jimmy from Scotland), who dropped off at Kununurra. I pushed on to Timber Creek NT - 587km. Crossing into NT the speed limit on the Vic Hwy was 130 and the right wrist was happy to become a little heavier. Cruising with Jim and his Triumph tractor (Rocket III) had been a litle slow, as he had to conserve fuel on his thirsty monster; he'd been averaging 90-100 and some spots down to 85! I think Honey enjoyed being let have her head and she purred on forward, happy to sit on 4300 rpm - running like a Swiss watch, though a tad noisier perhaps with the Staintune.
I remembered the red mesas from the 80s and 90s, and the stark contrast of the white ghost gums and their lime green leaves. On arriving at Timber Creek caravan park and roadhouse, I settled in quickly to $45 pn donga, a shower and a nice black, sweet tea. UDL Bundys were still $11! Chatting to the neighbours on the front step, it was sad to see that cane toads have made it this far into the Terrirtory. They really are a curse.
An early rise and a great shower in the morning and it was on the road again, to somewhere south of Katherine for night two. First stop was Victoria River roadhouse; sitting on a bend of the river and surrounded by the cliffs. This really is in an attractive part of the country. The vegetation is green and the red rock ridges forming the valley walls are breathtaking. The roadhouse has been updated a tad, but the bar was still was still the same as the last time through here in '92 with ARMY. Then I was here with some great mates and we all made some great memories. A few souvenirs for those friends, a quick drink and top up of the Camelback and it was off to Katherine.
The day had heated up and the 260k's across to Katherine was uneventful. A cruise around town led me to discover a Coffee Club restaurant. Ah my first real espresso since leaving Perth! Travelling is tough you know...
After lunch for me and a refuel for Honey, it was southwards down the Stuart to somewhere. I guess the start of the dry (tourist season), was the reason so many northbound motorists were trailling boats, all keen to get among the Barra. You would have thought there was a boat convention on in the Territory!
Stopped off at two little villages through the day; Larrimah and Daly Waters, both are classic places that time has forgotten. Larrimah held a sentimental reason for me with my father driving in convoys between Alice and Larrimah rail heads during WWII. He was too old to go overseas, so he was driving transports. It was time out with a tall glass of muddy water and to talk with him.
The major road signs were telling me that Elliott would the goal for this evening. Signs can be deceiving though; Elliott looked like a dump! $90 for a donga in a broken down caravan park turned me right off. I pushed on another 100 k's to reach Renner Springs Roadhouse, a much better choice; well maintained and even with grass (720k's for the day). $110 for a reasonable motel room and the tucker in the restaurant was good too! Settling down for that relaxing, cleansing imbibement (?) while a lighting storm moved in, was peaceful and entertaining; who needs TV? The rain was really heavy throughout the evening and perhaps about 40mm of it.
Day 3 and I started out for Q'ld and the target was Mt Isa, over 800k's to the east. Stopping at 3-ways Roadhouse for morno's, it was basically a straight line east through Barkley Homestead to The Isa - only cane toads could shorten a place name and make it longer! (Mt Isa 2 The Isa)...
Barkley Homestead is just a roadhouse and motel and if you wanted to stay here, it looks alright. The road was long and straight (sounds familiar) and at times I thought I may have been teleported back to the Nullabor. At one point on your way to Camooweal, you enter the catchment for Lake Eyre, some 900 kms to the south.
Camooweal is a quaint desert town and the roadhouse has a sign that shows Q'ld humour, or dreams; I'm not sure which. You cross the time zone to be back on eastern states time here. The sign comically states, "You have entered Q'ld, so set your watches forward 5 years and 30 minutes! Check the photo.
This was a good place for lunch and I sat down on the shaded picnic table by the roadside, just to have a gaggle of peewees checking me out, like seagulls when you have a feed of chips. Being the soft-hearted and generous natured person that I am, I relented and tossed out some crust. What I didn't notice from under the shelter were the six whistling kites on the powerlines; the battle was on! A kite swooped down and scattered the peewees, grasping the crust in its talons and making a meal of it. This was something different. Shortly after a woman standing on the roadside with a sandwich in her hand and talking to her husband, made the mistake of bending her elbow and holding her arm upright with her sango just above the shoulder. You guessed it, she lost the sango to a swooping kite that kind of put the wind up her for awhile, untill she realised what had just happened.
I finished the run off into The Isa in the late afternoon and passed a parked and cleverly disguised Q'ld Police camera van. I'd forgotten how sneaky Q'ld cops really are; lucky an oncoming motorist had flashed their headlights. Well it is kinda hard to stick to 110 after a day and a half of 130!
On the trip home I had decided to run the risk of not booking ahead and nearly missed out on a bed in Mt Isa, as there was an Ag Exhibition in town. Luckily, I secured the last bed in an off the hwy motel. Spent the evening unwinding and getting the domestics done, ready for the next day when I would strike out for Longreach, or somewhere south.
Heading east out The Isa towards Cloncurry is back into the scenery and there are a good number of twisties and something like hills. Morno's at Cloncurry and then a little further east until you reach the right turn, south onto the Matilda Hwy. Funny it changed to sheep country with many jumbucks just to keep Banjo P's spirit happy! This is Waltzing Matilda's claimed birthplace, along this strip into Winton.
First stop was McKinlay which is a tiny little village, whose possible only claim to fame is to have Walkabout Creek Pub, of Crocodile Dundee fame. It has been relocated from the sidestreet to the hwy in the early nineties. It tickled me to note that the pub was reopened by a copper; I thought they usually close 'em! Perhaps he was the only 'dignitary' travelling through at the time.
Onto Winton and fond memories of the Adventure Riders' Rally 2007; scary to have thoughts of Sam, Mac and Dave this far away from home, but that was a good ride too!
Crossed back over the Tropic Capricorn and rolled into Longreach late in the afternoon, settling down into the Lyceum Hotel ($45pn); the first ricketty old pub for the trip. 640 kms completed for the day.
Next morning it was down through Isisford and past the turn off for the tourist route along the Outer Barcoo and through to Augathella with the Ellangowan Hotel, places Sam and I had covered in 2007. Just north of Augathella, wooded areas began to reappear and the smell of gidgee and gum were in the air; crows started to replace kites and there was movement in the bushes by the roadside; vigilance was once again needed for the odd skippy or two.
I was trying for St George tonight, but by the time I rolled into Mitchell and there was another 200 kms to go, discretion being the better part of valour, refer skippy comment above, I called it quits and settled into the Courthouse Hotel, Mitchell (614kms today). Ah gotta love competition, rooms down to $35pn here and a good, well looked after little pub it was too! Took in a walk around the main street of Mitchell. Not much happening, but the local council had done an excellent job on the footpaths and put in some Aboriginal art and novelities; very interesting.
The next morning there was an air of finality about; all going well I would be home and in my own lil beddy tonight; six weeks of travel, wonderment and soreness were coming to an end. For the last week I have had trouble with my left hand and the tendons in the middle and ring fingers; they had begun to lock up and pulling the clutch in was a challenge. I believe my fingers had begun to lock in a semi circle, about the same size as the handlebar diameter!
Down to Moree and I was in 'home territory' now. Across to Glen Innes to see the first golden autumn hues of the poplars and a slight chill in the air. So different to where I have been for the last six weeks. Down the Gwydir and through the rain forest of the Gibraltar Range; a rider's paradise of forest scenery and tight twisties, although this time the right wrist wasn't so heavy; the last forty minutes into Grafton was at about 80 kmph in the fading light; this was time for reflection and to appreciate how lucky I am!
Left home on Friday 5 March and returned on Thursday 15 April 2010; six weeks to the day; through 4 states and one territory; covered the west coast, which I have never seen before; met many great people; saw some unforgetable sights, with plenty of time to contemplate my fortune and completed 15, 400 odd kilometres.