Travel Diary

Online Journal for the 'Right Around Australia' project.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Day 80 - Threeways Roadhouse to Camooweal

From Northen Territory to Queensland. Without those screens Torsten and Ulick are finding the highway drive more exhausting.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Day 79 - Daly Waters to Threeways Roadhouse

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day 78 - Katherine to Daly Waters

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Day 76

Today had them taking the off road tyres off both bikes. These will see their way back to Brisbane via post. The road to Roper Bar was their third chance. Both bikes will probably need another normal road tyre for the rear, as the exising rear tyres will be pushed should they be expected to make it back.

Depending on the how tomorrow goes getting the throttle bar/rod thingo sorted, the route back to Brisbane may change. They might have to come back down through Northen Territory and cut into Queensland a lot lower than originally planned. They may have to see Cairns another trip....

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Day 75 - Less than 2 weeks to go...

The update I got today involved much technical jargon. I shall do my best to paint an accurate picture. They removed the existing damaged headstock. The brake fluid had to be drained and this is a bit tricky as it is corrosive. When they got to the throttle they were stumped. The bar/rod thingo was bent. Now this means they have to find another - perhaps a motorbike part will suffice? Or they have to see if someone can bent it back in shape.

The throttle bar hanging limply from the smashed headstock

Everything routes through the headstock, cables, electrics, hydraulic lines and it all had to be pulled out and threaded back through.

Ulick hard at it...

The headstock is a 'part' so it has a black protective coating of paint on it. The whole bike will look a bit shabby for a while until Ulick can fix up all the cosmetic damage and give her a new paint job. As long as she get's him home in one piece it will do.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Day 74 - Back in Katherine

Glen gave the boys and their bikes a lift back to Katherine in his new big truck. Good news - the headstock has arrived. They will take at closer look at the damage just as soon as the heat of the day retreats....

Loading the bikes and gear into the truck

Ready to say goodbye to Planet Roper

Last farewells

Back out on the Roper Highway to Mataranka

Wayward cattle from one of the nearby stations

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Day 72 - Working in Roper Bar

We awake to a cool and foggy morning

Glen and Veronica have been an amazing support to the boys. Giving them accommodation and ensuring they are fed. I know that they are so appreciative of the helping hand they have been lent by all the staff there. Torsten and Ulick had offered their services to help out in any way, and today they were taken up on that offer. Stacking shelves in the store.
Fog off the edge of the airstrip behind the store

In the 'big wet' the airstrip is the only way to get supplies into the area

A view from the airstrip looking back at the store

Because the mobile coverage is basically non existent, the boys gave the phone number of the store as a contact number. The first time I rang this number I asked for the guy that had come off the bike, and Ulick was cooee'd to take the call. Well as best as an English back packer can cooee.
A mustering chopper from one of the local cattle stations picking up some supplies. Beats fighting for parking spaces at the supermarket...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day 71 - Resting in Planet Roper

Finding a positive in the situation - the boys enjoy Austar (cable TV) whilst resting up in Roper Bar.
The view from the end of the airstrip behind the store

RACQ is contacted and will put them up in a hotel at Katherine. Glad they arranged that coverage! So they will back track to Katherine to fix Ulick's bike there. They ring around trying to find a replacement headstock and talk to the mechanics they've already dealt with in the major cities along the way. The advise is consistent, it will be a challenging task to replace it. Not impossible - just hard work.

As we weren't going anywhere in a hurry, Glynn gave us a tour of the area.

Often the only way across to the community is by boat, but now in the dry, a 4WD can cross the causeway

Yes, salties do live here in the Roper River

Alex, one of the girls working at the store hadn't even seen what was around her since she started working at the store, so she came along for the tour.

They still need to consider the route home. They'd always had a buffer of a few days built into the route just in case they encountered a problem like this. So, at this point they are still on track to ride into Brisbane on the 11th of September.

The remains of the old police station. During the goldrush era, the populations in these isolated communities were much larger and the law accompanied them.

Mobile phone coverage is only available in small pockets and you have to be standing on a railing on the top of a hill above the small run way. Torsten and Ulick updated the relevant loved ones with collect calls.

That's all the news for now.....more to come.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Day 70 - An accident!

It was an interesting start to the day. Woken at 3am by strange noises outside, one would assume Dingo? Crocodile? Upon further investigation the culprit was revealed to be a little wallaby. After some shooing away, he hopped over to the next campsite to continue his treasure hunt.

Leaving Katherine Gorge and heading to Roper Bar the boys knew today would pose a challenge. There would be a stretch ahead where the sealed road ends and the unsealed road continues. Having had 2 unpleasant experiences on unsealed roads, you have to admire the determination to give it a good go.

Getting the gear off to get the knobbies on

Preparation involved getting the off road tyres fitted and ready to tackle the unsealed road.

And we're off on an adventure!

As it turns out, the road tackles Ulick. Swapping positions, Torsten goes ahead. Ulls hits a soft spot and fishtails beyond control. Thrown quite a way Ulick does not sustain any major injuries. A few abrasions, some damage on his thigh from his racks and a few bruises (physical and emotional). The bike performed a series of flips in it's acrobatic landing. Torsten continued on without immediate realisation that Ulick had come off his bike and hit the dirt. A local store owner was only a 100 metres or so behind Ulls and approached quite quickly having seen a commotion in the dust ahead. He helped Ulls get the bike and bits and pieces off the road. By this time Torsten has turned around and approached the scene.

Where the rear came out and the front wheel dug in

The damage done

Instinctively going for the handlebars to push his bike off the road, Ulls discovers the headstock (where the headlight and handlebars are fixed) is pretty banged up, with some wires and things exposed. His wind screen is also smashed. It seems the purpose built racks that they had wielded on helped save the cowling as they took the brunt of the impact. However, the entire front of the bike is a bit worse for wear.

Glynn & Veronica, our guardian angels

The local store owner is fantastic in this time of need and helps them get to his store in Roper Bar. He arranges accommodation and even a few beers to help ease the situation. Not sure if it helps the headache.

A few bruises but nothing broken

Assessing the bike will have to wait till tomorrow. What will they do? Will this put their expected return date in jeopardy? Will they have to hitch a ride to Cairns?

The bike needs to be patched up, but Ulick is okay. A full face helmet, protective gloves, purpose made motorbike jacket and boots, and some draggin jeans pay off.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Day 69 - Katherine to Katherine Gorge

Only 30kms today, but Ulls and Torsten experienced Katherine Gorge. This included a walk and climb of the spectacular surroundings.

The view from the top of the gorge

They also went for a dip. Yes, you heard correctly, they went swimming. Now at first I thought they were joking. But I soon got clarification that it was in a freshwater area. Apparently fresh water crocodiles are much smaller and would leave less of a mark on their victim. More of a nibble than a meal. It is the salt water crocodiles that are the real scary ones.

Tonight they camp in Katherine Gorge.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Day 68 - Jabiru to Katherine

Another 290kms. At this stage Torsten's fuel gauge and Ulick's speedo are broken.

Now, when I spoke to Ulls and established that he had not been eaten by crocodiles or dingo's he told me about their day.

'We rode into bushfire area. Not sure if it was real bushfires or local brigades back burning. There was a stretch of highway where we had to ride through dark smoke and flames licking at our tyres'. He says.

I'd say this is exaggerated but I am sure it was a bit scary at the time.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Day 67 - Darwin to Jabiru

About 290kms covered today. Not a long day, but after 5 nights in Darwin it takes a bit longer to get going again. Also, there were some headwinds and crosswinds which made it that little bit more challenging.

Jabiru is in the Kakadu national park area. The boys camp there tonight. Today they saw crocodile warning signs during the day. They warn you not to stand at the waters edge, not to gut fish etc and not to swim, as these activities could be life threatening. Crikey!!!

Note to self: avoid loitering

If you were not slightly worried already, then let's add a Dingo. Food had to be kept in the tent overnight as there was a dingo lingering around the camp site. At this point you would be opting for 2 minute noodles over rump steak for dinner as I imagine dingo's would be less attracted to noodles.
At the National park gate

Monday, August 14, 2006


Looking out over the bay the guns were erected to defend

The heavy guns built but never used

Remains of the concrete bunker

The bay in more peaceful times

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Day 62 - Victoria River Roadhouse to Darwin

Riding the tailwinds at last!! The boys were able to get up to 100km per hour on the scooters. The biggest day so far in terms of distance covered. About 520kms covered today, with a stop at Katherine. Torsten and Ulls will spend a few days in Darwin with a friend and a rest stop.

The view from the back of the Roadhouse at Victoria River

Huntin Wabbits

It was actually quite cold this morning

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Day 61 - Lake Argle to Victoria River Roadhouse

A shocking toothache had Ulick on the side of the road and Torsten patting him on the back in a brotherly comforting effort to make the pain more bearable.. One of the first stops back in Brisbane is the dentist. Thank goodness for Nurofen in the meantime.
(Tor: And a big thank you to a gentleman by the name of Gerry at the roadhouse who gave us his last panadol and a packet of cloves to help with the pain)

Where isn't there something to see here?


Looking out over the Victoria River at the bridge to the military base near Timber Creek

The Durack Memorial outside Timber Creek. Sadlyis now a dumping ground for locals and their VB cans.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Day 60 - Warnum (Turkey Creek) to Lake Argle (Ord Dam)

About 290kms today. A gorgeous day of sweeping bends and beautiful scenery. It is very hot, but one of the most enjoyable days on the trip so far. Ulls said it beat the Great Ocean Road. A big call there. If it were 5-10 degrees cooler it would be perfect he said. Lake Argle is pretty impressive. A man made dam, constructed over 3 dry seasons. Lucky the beauty distracts you from the mozzies. The boys might try to make the 500kms to Katerine tomorrow, or they might stop there on the way back from Darwin.
We knew it was going to be a long day as around every corner there was something to stop and look at

There was constant backburning going on to prevent fires getting out of control by themselves.

Having a chat in Kunanurra with Elvis, Uriah and Co. some kids from the Jabiru community further north.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Day 59 - Fitzroy Crossing to Warmun (Turkey Creek)

Well, the pesky headwinds were still an issue today. Another slow day on the scooters. Then, a sign ahead.

They had seen these signs before, but had not taken much notice of them, until now. 'Caution - water on road'. So, around the corner they came and screech went the brakes as they stopped for some water on the road indeed. Not to miss an opportunity to video record something exciting, Ulls jumped off his bike and sent Torsten head on into the creek. What suspense, how exciting, he made it across. Yeah! Then Ulls waded across the creek gave Torsten instructions to now record his crossing. Ulls mounts his bike then heads into the water himself. Hmm, harder than it looks... the water was up over the muffler...putt, putt, putt, kaput. The engine died. Stuck in the creek. Lucky Torsten is catching this all on film. I bet Ulls was cursing under his breath. We will have to listen to the tape with extra care to try and see if we can hear a hint of any swearing. The adrenaline gives him a surge of excitement, his blood pumping. He tries to get that engine turning over. Fail. Try again. And again...and with a growl it roars to life and he floors it out of the water! Hooray.

Now here is a theory...perhaps they call it Turkey Creek because of all the travelers that get stuck in it! Hee Hee.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Day 58 - Roebuck Plains Roadhouse to Fitzroy Crossing

One of the earliest starts saw Ulick and Torsten take advantage of the glorious morning. The first hour produced the luxury of no wind. But as the sun rose higher and the day got warmer, the wind returned. Stocking up for fuel and food supplies the next few days will be quite challenging. This area has many one lane bridges called 'crossings'. Perhaps that is why they call it Fitzroy Crossing.

The boys are due to arrive in Darwin on Sunday at this stage. They will have a couple days with a friend and pick up the necessary parcels that have arrived for them there.

Anyone know any media contacts in Darwin?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Day 57 - 80 Mile Beach to Roebuck Plains Roadhouse

About 35kms out of Broome, the boys opt to pull up here. Apparently Broome is super busy and 'full'. Again a bit of a battle with the wind today but from here on in they are travelling directly East and those pesky headwinds should be a thing of the past. A close call today in terms of fuel, even with the extra external fuel tank and jerry can. I believe they made it with mere drops to spare..

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Day 55 - Karratha to 80 Mile Beach

The headwind today was awful. It was only in the last few hours of the day on the bikes that Torsten and Ulick reached a speed of over 70kms per hour. A very slow day indeed. Staying in the 80 Mile Beach caravan park tonight Ulls mentions that he is surprised as to the popularity of caravans in this country. It is becoming the great Aussie adventure that sits high on many 'to do' lists. Jump in a campervan or caravan and see some of this fantastic countryside. Whether it be on retirement to travel the dream or win Lotto and live the dream.

I bet the caravans struggle with the headwinds too...

I wonder how many caravans tow motorbikes on a trailer for lighter side trips.

Mo' bush...

And heat...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Day 54 - Cane River to Karratha

They ran out of drinking water because it is so dry out there. So it is a good time to leave the serenity of the dry river bed by the highway. One of the other reasons why they did not stray too far from the highway is the bikes do not handle the sandy off road conditions very well when they are fitted with highway tyres.

. Later - picture this, a section of the highway referred to as the 'wildflower highway'. Hundreds of tiny purple and yellow wildflowers, then interspersed among them less frequently are vivid red wildflowers. Sounds absolutely gorgeous to me.

They reach Karratha in great time and head onto Dampier to check it out. Apparently the ocean is an amazing crystal blue

Friday, August 04, 2006

Day 53 - Coral Bay to Cane River

Deciding to stay at Nanuttara Roadhouse, where it cost $20 to pitch a tent and $6 for water, the boys met a fellow from Holland, who is riding about on a motorbike. After some getting to know you chat, they were convinced to get their money back and ride on a further 20kms or so and all camp together. Now I havn't got all the details yet, but apparently this involved staying under a bridge for the night. Yes, I was interested too. I will add more detail when I talk to Ulick later.
Okay, what happened was, is they followed the highway and stopped where it crosses the Cane River. Not far off the highway is where they camped, near the overpass of the highway and kind of in a dry river bed. The river bed had stagnant pools of gross water and the tents were visable from the highway, so every time a truck went past during the night it gave a freindly honk honk. Hmm, not sure if I imagined this picture when I thought about Ulls and Torsten camping in the outback. But that's not all folks! There was a festival in town. The FeNaClNG festival. Now I hope I get this right. The 'Fe' stands for Iron, the 'Na' stand for sodium, and the 'Cl' stands for Cloride, and 'NG' which stands for Natural Gas is silent. It is pronounced something like 'Fee knuckle..'. Ulick told me about the scattered ant mounds everywhere which are built into sky scrapers of red earth. What an interesting day on so many levels.

The beach at Coral Bay. Did we back board shorts? Of course not...

Ant or termite mounds

Close up of another mound. Looks very Giger.

A very odd fungus growing out of the red dust. Absolutely no moisture here and the ground would burn to walk on. That's one tough 'shroom!
We touched the 'shroon and it went boom! It seems it was just waiting to be touched to release a large cloud of spores.

Stopping by a dry river bed for a break and a photo.

And now up to our gearbox in sand... again.

Picking a spot for our tent.

Bas and his Pegasso at our site for the night beneath the bridge.

The road used to cross the creek via this causeway. In these dry conditions it's hard to imaging raging torrents ripping these slabs and flipping them over.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Day 52 - Billabong Roadhouse to Coral Bay

An over-the-shoulder jobbie

Vegetation is starting to get thinner

Back into the nothingness

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Day 51 - Jurien to Billabong Roadhouse

It sounds like some of the staff at the Billabong Roadhouse could use a refresher in customer service training.... Imagine, you have spent the day on a scooter riding in the elements, tired (and cranky at your brother) and you want to have a shower and take off your bike gear. With no other competitors close by it seems you don't need basic manners to work at this roadhouse. Hmmm, perhaps they were just tired and cranky themselves.

Ulick and Torsten eventually do find a camping ground out the back of the caravan park attached to the roadhouse. The ground is hard which makes pitching the tent a challenge. With neither regular mobile phone coverage or CDMA coverage I get my daily update via a payphone. Remember those?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Day 50 - Lancelin to Jurien

Apparently the ride from Lancelin to Jurien is amazing. It is off road though. Now you may remember the boys last off road experience (see Day 39 for the details). Well, today was also deemed a failure. This time it was due to getting bogged in sand dunes. It took more than half an hour to get the bikes free. At one point the bikes sitting in the sand up to the foot boards. Huffing, puffing, cursing and swearing finally paid off and they again turned around and returned the way they came. Beaten by the sand!

Making their way back to the highway, they loop around and visit the Pinnacles. These amazing rocks jutting out from the sand sound like a real sight.

As a RAA supporter I've just ordered my Right Around Australia T-shirt from the supplier mentioned below. Pretty easy actually!