AFTER CHECKING out the sights of Darwin it was time to leave.
On my way to Litchfield National Park, I noticed the bike was getting hard to control. I pulled over and found I had a nearly flat rear tyre. Doh. I put it up on its centre stand underneath the shade of a tree, and off came the rear wheel. I thought I might as well put on a new tyre, considering the old one was nearly bald. Haven’t changed a bike tyre for a long time so I wasn’t setting any speed records.
Pulled into Adelaide River that night. Bought a bottle of metho at the servo for a whopping $16. Crazy, but I needed it for my cooker. Afterwards I found the little general store down the road sold them for $4.95 but the servo wouldn’t take it back. They got me!
At camp that night I decided to put the new tyre on the front as well. Had a bit of a crowd of toads watching me do it. Considering I paid $16 for a bottle of metho I might as well dump the old tyres in a bin at the same servo. The $16 should easily cover the disposal costs.
Started to really crank out the km’s now trying to get to Broome. Getting up to around 500 km each day which isn’t too shabby for a bike that only does 70 km/h. The trip took me through the Kimberly area which was amazingly beautiful country. Saw my first Boab tree. Also saw an overturned 4WD that had come off around a bend. I drove past saying to myself that it had probably been there a while, but it got the better of me and I turned back to make sure no one was in it, which there wasn’t, luckily. It must have happened recently because it was a fairly new car. I presume they will tow it away for insurance purposes soon. There was even a nice electric winch on the front which I don’t think will last too long out here.
Was filling up at Halls Creek and had a slight problem. Halfway through I got a sudden urge to pee, as you do. I tried to hold off by doing a little dance but I couldn’t hold on any longer so I ended up only filling the main tank and leaving whatever was left in the standard tank under the seat. Too embarrassed to fill it up again after paying and going to the loo, I rode off, hoping I would make it to the next fuel stop in 288 km. Unfortunately, due to the head wind, the main tank ran out at 260 km so I had my fingers crossed that whatever was left in the other tank would last. After a few nervous moments, it got me there.
Not having much luck at fuel stops because, filling up at Fitzroy Crossing, I could feel something moving around down the right leg of my jeans. Whatever was down there then decided to latch onto my inner thigh. I managed to continue on while trying to shake it off with no luck. Still outside next to my bike, I took off my shoe and tried to shake it out. No such luck, so I went and paid for my petrol while this thing was still biting me and asked for directions to the toilets. Rushed in and took off my pants to see a bloody centipede run off and hide under the toilet. It actually drew blood. I forgot to take a photo which would have been a bit of a laugh.
Noticed my chain is on its last legs for some reason — some parts of it are stretched and some are not — so will change it in the next few days. Disappointed that it has only lasted 6000 km
The last night before getting into Broome, I woke up in the middle of the night and I thought I could smell fuel. Mmm, what could it be? I wonder if I turned both fuel tank knobs correctly so that the main tank doesn’t siphon back into the under seat tank and overflow? Ah, I am going to have to get out of bed and have a look. Yep, the under seat tank is overflowing so I have lost some fuel for the 200 km ride to the next servo. Even managed to get a mozzie into the tent on my venture out so now I have that lovely buzzing sound to go to sleep to.
I eventually made it to Broome. Had a nice relax on Cable Beach. Was great to get into the sea and do a bit of body surfing on the tiny waves.
Serviced the bike using the trusty old orange juice container method again. Even put a new chain on. I know I should have put on new sprockets but they were only a few thousand km old so will see how it goes.
I heard about some dinosaur footprints on the beach that can only be seen in the rocks at low tide so I headed on down. There is no path because they are usually under water but I had my map which showed where they were by degrees, distances, and visual points. Of course I left my compass in my tent. Doh! When I climbed down the small cliff, people had already gathered around two of the areas where the prints were and they were really great to see, but the map showed three areas for foot prints and I really wanted to find the lost third set that nobody knew about or were searching for. I felt like a treasure hunter as I set out to find them. I eventually found them when I waded out to rocks that were submerged most of the time. It was great to see them appear for a moment when the wave backwash went out to sea. I was the only person to see those footprints that day. You can’t teach that shit!
The night I picked a spot to sleep at Eighty Mile Beach. On the map it showed a dirt road in, so at a little roadhouse close to the turn-off, I asked if the dirt road was okay or not. The young girl said a Harley rider came off recently so watch out for the sandy sections. Oh well, I will see how I go. Ended up the 6 km road wasn’t too bad: not much sand but heaps of corrugations.
Got to the campsite, quickly set up the tent, and walked over the dune to find an amazing long white beach. I was amazed at how far the tide was out. I thought, “Should I do it?” Ah, what the heck, so I rolled up the jeans and set off on an adventure to make it to the water’s edge, which took nearly half an hour. The sun was going down rapidly so I hurried back to the shore thinking, “I wonder if I am now on a sandbar and there is water between me and the shore?” In the end it was all okay and it turned out to be a great little adventure.
The sunset turned out to be a cracker. “Ah, the serenity,” as they say in The Castle.
I was heading off early one morning when a funny thing happened. I had noticed an older lady in her 50s walking past. At some stage she had changed into a small tartan mini-skirt that a teenager would wear. She walked past a couple of times then invited me over for coffee. I declined because I don’t actually drink tea or coffee but I just had this funny vibe she was a cougar. Probably wrong, but there you go.
After checking out Karratha, which was surprisingly interesting for such an industrial town, I headed on to Exmouth. The night before getting there I was camping at a rest stop when a couple came out of the dark and gave me a few beers. I had a chat to them and it turns out they do a lot of motorbike touring. In fact, they had a Buell in the back of their ute. He was saying that a few years ago he bought a Harley in Canada and cruised everywhere on it including Canada, Alaska, USA, South America, etc. He had some stories.
Finally made it to Exmouth where I had always planned to fork out a fair bit of cash to swim with the whale sharks. Before I knew it, I was on an 18-metre boat anchored off shore. We went for a training snorkel at a huge clump of coral on the inside of Ningaloo Reef, then waited for the spotter plane to find a whale shark. It didn’t take long so off we went through a break in the reef to the seaward side. We got to the whale shark and I was in the first to hop into the water and wait for it to slowly swim by on the surface, which was amazing.
This continued throughout the day, following several different whale sharks. Just as we pulled the pin at the end of the day because everyone was exhausted, a large one, about 8 — 10 metres, was spotted so we all quickly hopped in for one last time. When I eventually saw it, I realised this big mouth was only a few metres away and slowly swimming straight at me. I had to quickly dive to one side as it glided past. Amazing!
I did a bit more sight seeing in Exmouth. Even checked out a nudist beach to find there was no talent.
Now the big trek to Perth, and on the way I came across my first truck driver who had taken a couple too many angry pills. This fella comes up behind me just as we are going into a few long sweeping bends. He goes to overtake me on a bend with double lines, but a truck appears in the opposite direction so he has to pull back in behind my little red machine. As we get around the bend, he realises there is another bend straight away so he gives me a quick toot. I presume he wants me to move over so he can squeeze through. Well, he has no chance of getting me to ride on the edge of the road for him to go past. Way too dangerous so I kept my line. That doesn’t go down well with the tool so he decides to put his horn on 24/7 trying to get me to move over. I kept riding along in the middle of my lane. Coincidentally, my turn-off for camp that night comes up just around the bend, and as I move into the right lane to let him through, he winds down his window and gives it to me. Life must be pretty bad when you have to wait for less than a minute for one lone little postie bike travelling around Australia.
Spent that night at an amazing little hidden spot called Blowholes. I rode in as the sun was setting and saw the blow-holes shooting water up into the air as the waves crash in. There was supposed to be a camping area but I couldn’t find anything so I rode off the track behind a big salt bush to camp. After a while I noticed a car go past and my curiosity got the better of me. I got back on the road, and after a km or two, I came across this hidden place where everyone was camped in the sand dunes along a sandy beach track. It was amazing. There were no backpackers, just heaps of old run-down shacks, campervans, and tents filled with people who must know about it. On the other side is the sea and I can hear the waves crashing as I write my diary. There is even a tinny next to me with SS Sinka Tinny spray painted down the side.
On the next day of riding I was busting to pee again so I pulled over into a parking area. So there I was doing a pee behind a bush, and I even had a good chance to pick my nose, when something caught my eye. I realised that the row of bushes between me and the road were not as high as I thought, and I turned around to see a tall 4WD tourist bus go by while I was holding my willy and picking my nose. The windows had a mirror finish so I couldn’t see their faces but they must of seen it because it’s massive!
As I am getting closer to Perth the weather is getting cooler. Writing this I am rugged up in my bike jacket with my jumper underneath, and my chicken legs are starting to feel a little cool. A couple more days and I think the thermals might be coming out.
Headed off on a cold morning ride to the coastal town of Jakes Point which had a surfing symbol on the map. Wow, this place was going off. It had an amazing left-hand tube off a rocky point. There were a few surfers out there and it was great to watch them. This fella came to grab his board off the car next to me, and with some sort of USA accent, said he had been here for three days surfing and yesterday was even bigger.
The final day’s ride into Perth was a big one, cranking out 542 km. I rode through Geraldton, then on to the Pinnacles which were amazing. Especially the beautiful honeycomb coloured sand. Getting there, I wanted to go along a dirt track so I could stay along the coast. I asked the lady at the booth about the condition of the track and she said it was deep sand. Doh, that now adds about 100 km to my ride.
Eventually got into Perth at around 7:30 pm. Caught up with a mate and even had a sleep on a bed for the first time in over a month. It felt strange. Still managed to sleep in my sleeping bag and have breakfast in my little cooker bowl though.
I noticed that behind the cold front currently going over Perth was some good weather so I decided to take a risk and head off, even though it’s still a bit wet. I had to rug up a bit more to cope with the cold and wet weather. Even brought out the new dishwashing gloves that I put under my summer gloves to try to keep my hands warm.
Eventually made it to Wave Rock after going through a ute-loving town called Corrigin. This place holds the record of the most utes, with a dog in the back, driven together. Over 1500 utes stretching km’s driving into town.
The ride out was about 150 km of dirt. During the ride I noticed a big conga line of furry caterpillars crossing the track. They were joined end-to-end and they just played follow-the-leader. I accidentally ran over the middle of it before I realised what it was and turned around to see the front section march on while the back section was doing circle work trying to figure out what happened.
Before I checked out the mine at Kalgoorlie, I pulled into the local Honda shop. Very friendly people who even allowed me to go out back and change the oil. I then headed off to the mine they call the Super Pit. It was absolutely massive and the mining trucks looked like they were little Matchbox toys. Apparently, Allan Bond in his day started buying up all the smaller mines around the place and instigated the Super Pit. You learn something everyday.
Over the last couple of days, the poor old helmet has started to fall apart so I Kwik-Gripped it back together.
In the same caravan park was a 91-year-old lady who was on her 14th trip around Australia. One or two trips ago, Honda found out she was doing this in her old Civic so they gave her a free car and petrol for as long as she wants to continue.
After riding the longest straight stretch of road in Australia, I pulled up that night in the bush. Had nothing else to do so I put on the mini-head-torch and changed the rear tyre which had worn out again. Initially, the bike stand sunk into the fine sand so I came up with this clever idea of using the tyre levers under the stand. Gees, I am smart, but then I realised I couldn’t get the bloody tyre off because the levers where under the stand. I had to laugh. Anyway, with a bit of swapping around, I changed the tyre and it was all good.
Went and checked out the Cocklebiddy Caves which are about an hour out of Caiguna. It was a great little windy track out to them. I believe they are supposed to be well known in the cave diving scene. Anyway, I walked to the entrance which was unfortunately fenced off because rain had made the rocks above the entrance unstable. I shouldn’t have done this, but I went over the fence and down a little wire ladder over a sheer drop to make my way into the cave. I went a little way in to the point I started to see little reflector markers on the rocks, then turned around and came back out to find someone had ridden in on a postie bike as well. What are the chances of that? Later found out it was his support transport to the car he had further down the road.
Checked out the sheer cliffs of the Great Australian Bight, the Eucla Telegraph Station that is partially covered by sand dunes, and then spent hours trying to find a monument to one of our ancestors, W H Gray, that our family put up somewhere out here when I was a kid. I could have sworn that my sister told me it was 1 km to the West of the WA/SA border, and my cousin thought it was 1 km to the East of the border. After doing multiple passes back and forward, up on the foot pegs, and even off the bike, I got to know the border crossing fella pretty well. I even rode back 15 km after giving up and riding out. I just had to find it. Eventually, I did give up and left thinking I had let the family down. Guess what? I eventually found it 200 km down the road, 1 km West of the Nullarbor Road House. Yep, I got my directions mixed up.
I decided on the last part of the ride to head to Adelaide via the coast of the Eyre Peninsula rather than the quick trip across. The costal towns along the way were beautiful and I will be going back for sure one day.
It was starting to get really cold now. On the last day of riding, the freezing cold head wind in the morning was unbelievably painful. Each rest stop would take me a good five minutes to get my hands working enough to take off my helmet. The people at the servo at Whyalla and Maccas at Port Augusta must be thinking, ‘What is this fella doing out in the carpark?’
Anyway, I was glad to reach Port August where I did a 180-degree right-turn towards Adelaide. The gale-force head-winds changed into a tail-wind so I was happy. Even got my first wave from a fella in a car using his middle finger.
Got into Adelaide and my journey had finished. Even managed to fluke my late arrival into Adelaide for a Friday night marinated chicken at my local surf life saving club, so it was great to park the bike outside and walk in to see my mates and have a meal. The ride was now over and I had a ball.
Story by Martin Grace