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Travelling south from Brisbane, we cross the state line into New South Wales and head towards our first 'extremity' Cape Byron - Byron Bay (28°37′S 153°38′E), Australia's easternmost point. From Byron, we follow the eastern coast down to Australia's largest city and host of the 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney. The eastern coast is the most densely populated area of Australia, and one which we've seen much of before, so the goal is to head South as quickly as possible to maximise the time we have in the less travelled areas of this huge country.
Continuing our journey South past the nations capital Canberra, we head to The Australian Alps National Parks (made up of 11 separate National parks) also known as the Snowy Mountains, Australia's winter playground, and home to our ski fields. The region also is the home of Australia's highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko (36°27′S, 148°16′E) at 2228 metres (7310 feet). Whether we can make it through the region is uncertain at this point as the climate in the region around this time can vary greatly from bone dry, to covered in thick snow, so if the weather is not with us, an alternate route will need to be found as we cross the border into Victoria and head to Melbourne.
Melbourne is a beautiful, multicultural city with many influences from Europe, and for a city with typically European weather (read rain) strangely has the nations highest proportion of two wheeled enthusiasts! While here in the deep south, we get to another extremity, the southern most point of the Australian mainland, South Point - Wilson's Promontory (39°08′20″S, 146°22′26″E). After some rest the route takes us by ferry to the Apple Isle, and Australia's Island state, Tasmania.
The ferry will drop us off in Davenport, and going against our 'Always Turning Right' system, will travel anti-clockwise around Tasmania. Tasmania definitely would need more than a week to explore fully, but time is against us as we need to get through the North before it warms up and the rains come. Whether we can make it to the southernmost point of Tasmania is uncertain yet.
Once back on the mainland we leave Melbourne once again and head to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. From Adelaide, our trip breaks from our clockwise route, and heads north to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Alice Springs is smack bang in the middle of Australia, and to get to it, you have to head in from somewhere. The roads to it come from the north, south, east and west. We've decided to tackle the Alice from the south to minimise backtracking, whilst the weather is cooler, and with the hope that we may be able to make a diversion to Lake Eyre (28°22′S 137°22′E) on the way, Australia's lowest point and largest salt lake..
To give viewers unfamiliar with the scale of Australia, our trip from Adelaide to Alice Springs via Yulara & Kings Canyon will take 6 days travelling each way. Almost a two week round trip to get back to where we were! Many believe that Uluru (Ayres Rock) is in Alice Springs, but it is in fact 445 kilometres (276 Miles) away, further than the distance from London to Paris. There's much more to see in the area than Uluru though. Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon) are some of the features we are most keen to see out here.
We will return to the Northern Territory later on the journey as we cross the North of Australia, but for now we will be heading back the way we came.
Once we've returned to Port Augusta, we continue the route along the bottom of Australia onto the Eyre Highway through the region commonly known as The Nullabor. While once known as the epitome of desolation, the region is quite well travelled and fuel easily accessible. It does however claim the title of Australia's, and one of the worlds longest stretch of dead straight road at 145kms (90 miles). The trip through the Eyre region from Ceduna to Norseman is approx 1200 kilometres (746 miles). Whilst the road is now fully sealed, and fuel now readily available, one of the problems those travelling on two face (other than water) is the middle of the tyre wearing out leaving tread on the sides.
From Esperance, we'll follow the coastline around and north to Perth, the Western Australian capital.
From Perth the route takes us to the Westernmost Point of Australia, Steep Point (26°09′05″S, 113°09′18″E) and onto Broome.
From Broome we enter the Savannah Way. The Savannah way refers to the route from Broome in Western Australia, Through the top of the Northern Territory passing the Gulf of Carpentaria and across to Cairns in Northern Queensland covering a distance of 3500 kilometres (2175 miles). For now though, the route will take us up to Katherine, home to Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) where we will leave the way and head Northwest to Darwin, the Northern Territory Capital. Darwin will allow us to rest a little and prepare for trek across the remainder of the Savannah Way, approx. 2500 kilometres (1553 miles), half of which is unsealed road or track and will to push the hardy little PX200's to their limits.
Instead of backtracking to Katherine to get back onto the 'Way', the route loops through to Jabiru in Kakadu National Park, 2720 Square Kilometres (8000 Square Miles or about the size of Wales) of wetlands, gorges, and Aboriginal sites. Definitely a highlight to look forward to.
Back on the 'Way' we leave Katherine and head to a town called Roper Bar where we switch to off-road tyres for the next 1700 Kilometres (1056 miles) crossing into Queensland until we reach Normanton. Back on tarmac we head east to Cairns, the tropical Mecca for European backpackers, before tackling 'The Cape'.
'The Cape' or the trip North of Cairns to Cape York (10°41' S) is considered one of the more demanding ventures one can undertake by 4WD or trail bike. We are currently investigating possible ways to make it to the Cape on our trusty steeds. While we won't be doing it in record time, if the weather is good, and the creeks are low with a few tricks up our sleeve we may just make it.
The North has two seasons. The 'Wet' and the 'Dry'. The Wet corresponds with the Australian summer from December to March. The Dry falls in our winter between May and October. The North in Summer poses far to great a risk for us, and in fact the whole journey has been geared around the seasons in the North. Summer not only brings unbearable and dangerously high temperatures, but also gets its name 'The Wet' due to the numerous tropical cyclones that bring monsoon conditions isolating many communities for weeks on end.
There's not a lot to see in Cape York itself. It's a journey of accomplishment rather than a destination to be seen.
Whether we make The Cape or not, the route takes us back down the Eastern coast of Australia in to increasingly larger and more populated towns such as Townsville, Yepoon, through Rainbow Beach and finally returning to where it all began... Brisbane.