Burke and Wills, Burketown and Gregory Downs. It’s remote out there.

Burke and Wills, Burketown and Gregory Downs. It’s remote out there.

Sitting comfortably in Fannie Bay, Darwin, its time to recap on the wild ride across the remote country just south of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Not far along the road from Normanton to Burketown is the Burke and Wills Monument.

The trees at the camp were scarred as proof of the camp.

The last camp of explorers who perished in an attempt to explore this harsh land.

There were in the exploration party. Only one survived because he was found and saved by local aborigines.

The monument to this day is a warning to respect this land.

Travelling west along this section of the Savannah Way land is dry and dusty and the rivers, torrents in the wet season are just strings of waterholes that as summer progresses will disappear.

This can be seen clearly at Leichhardt Falls.

Where I stood on the dry rocks over which only a few month ago water roared and photographed the waterhole no longer flowing and turning green as it stagnates.

Arriving Burketown I’m again reminded that water in the desert comes from the ground as well as the sky.

Water has been bubbling out of the mound spring in Burketown at a temperature of 68c since before history.

The hot water and the minerals it carries from deep in the earth painting the mound and surrounding landscape.

The old post office is now the tourist office. Unfortunately, there were no places left to do the balloon ride over the desert so I had to settle for the sunset river cruise.

Gregory Downs is little more that a hotel

And a small shack that sells dry good, some locally grown vegetables and …

Espresso coffee and home made apple and cinnamon muffins!!!

What an oasis!

As was finding the Gregory River. A spring fed watercourse in the desert and my first introduction to the spring fed rivers of North West Queensland.

More about those next blogs.

Goldfield towns of the Savannah Way

Goldfield towns of the Savannah Way

I’m staying at the Club Hotel in Croyden as I write

Indulging in a cold beer in the lush green beer garden.

But I’ve jumped too far ahead.

The discovery of gold was important in bringing colonial development to this remote part of Australia.

After leaving Einasleigh my next stop was Forsayth.

Built as a mining town its now a tourist destination with the Savannahlander train running to Forsayth from Cairns.

I could even find an espresso and hummingbird cake. Rare in the outback and a treat for a city boy piecemeal adventurer.

Georgetown is home to Ted Elliot Mineral Collection.

An amazing collection of fossils, gemstones, petrified and fossilised wood and minerals of all types.

Georgetown also has samples the distinctive Queensland outback buildings.

Croydon was very successful gold mining centre so successful special train line built from the port town of Normanton. Now jokingly called the train from nowhere to nowhere the Gulflander is a tourist ride.

Croydon’s Historic Precinct contains a number of official building from the height of the 1870s gold rush.

The road to Einasleigh and Forsayth are off the main Savannah Way so include some unsealed roads till Georgetown.

The travelling is beautiful

Through savannah woodlands,

Across river causeways, where the rivers roaring floods in the tropical wet season is reduced to a feeble flow.

But still hold water in lagoons full of water lillies and birds.

And one can see a magpie goose on the wing

On the way to Croydon the Steinbock clocked over 22,000km since I purchased it in January this year. It’s been a crazy 6 months of travel.

The poster girl

Next the landscape changes again. The Gulf Country – the Gulf of Carpentaria. The rivers are big estuaries full of big salt water crocodiles. Normanton, on the croc infested Norman River is my next stop.

Rivers hot springs and gorges – heading west on the Savannah Way

Rivers hot springs and gorges – heading west on the Savannah Way

It was good to get off the beaten track, away from the hot tarmac and lines of caravans.

Out on the lonely backroads.

But there is comforts to found off the beaten track!

Tallaroo Hot Springs https://www.talaroo.com.au/ where I took a soak in a private hot pool. The new Talaroo Hot Springs Complex is being being newly renovated.

My next stop was the little town of Einasleigh site of the beautiful Copperfield Gorge.

With the Einasleigh Pub a welcoming place to visit at the top of the gorge.

The Savannah Way is dotted with beautiful springs, rivers and waterholes

Like Jacobs Lagoon

And the Einasleigh River

Which I had to cross.

The sun is getting higher in the sky. Time to go for a swim in the gorge !!!

Followed the river over the rocks and little rapids to a beautiful beach at the northern end of the gorge. The perfect spot to strip off for a swim!

May 26 2021 -Southern Hemisphere Luna Eclipse – the start of a new adventure.

May 26 2021 -Southern Hemisphere Luna Eclipse – the start of a new adventure.

The total eclipse is the big daddy of Luna shows

The stadium superconcert

All the wow factor

At Cape Byron, the Eastern most point of Australia

Sunset played the support act

Warming up the crowd

Luna finally emerged staying a little coy

Using the Cape Byron Lighthouse to tease the audience

Peaking cheekily around the stone edifice

Soon, though, the show warmed up Luna out on full show casting beams of gold and silver across the sea.

Dancing with her band the clouds

Then in the second set the magic started

The amazing disappearing act

The giant white orb shrinking away to a tiny orange sliver

To the eye no bigger than a star

Only to re emerge in a new red costume

Image courtesy of Clare Rynhart

With an edge of silver bling

What a show

The wind was cold on the Cape so I missed the final act of return to silver.

I sailed the coasts before the days of GPS

The light of the moon and the coded flashes of lighthouse welcome companions

Like a brother and sister guiding the night sailor.

But now I’m not on a yacht but on the Steinbock again, my BMW adventure bike

I’m on the Eastern most point of Australia, heading north then West and later this year will be at the continents Western Point

Traversing the Savannah Way right across topical Australia

Thanks Luna for your blessings and for a great show to start the new adventure.

Desert gives way to Rainforest in the Bunya Mountains

Desert gives way to Rainforest in the Bunya Mountains

The Bunya Mountains are west of Brisbane in Australia’s Great Dividing Range and house the world’s largest Bunya Pine forest.

The Bunya Pine is one of the few plants surviving from the Jurassic period -200 million years ago these magnificent trees developed and the Bunya Mountains is the place on the planet where they are still prolific.

What a place to camp for my last nights before reaching my destination.

I love the Bunya’s droopy branches and leaves.

To me they resemble giant rastas with their shaggy dreadlocks towering above the forest.

Walking in this beautiful cool rainforest wa such a contrast to the hot dry heat of the central Australia.

Walking amongst the trees

Walking through the trees.

Gardens on the ground

And in the trees in the shape of ferns and moss on the trees.

The gentle wallabies are in the camp grounds and on the trails.

At the northern end of the range at Mt Kiangarow, the forest is drier and grass trees prolific.

The view from Mt Kiangarow magnificent

By day

And at sunset.

That is just over 10,000km completed since I left Melbourne on 1 March 2021

What a ride:

Along the Great Ocean Road

Through the Coorong

Into the Flinders Ranges

Up the Oodnadatta Track

Immersed in the Red Centre

Across outback the Northern Territory and Queensland

Climb into the Bunya Mountains.

And now it’s the wedding on Saturday and I made it on time.

Central Australia Adventure 7 – Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta

Central Australia Adventure 7 – Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta

The road from William Creek to Coober Pedy was rough with lots of sand drifts – my biggest weak spot – SAND.

A large part of the track transverses the Woomera Military Base. I’m sure the leave the road rough so no one dare look left or right for fear of hitting a big sand drift.

But due to rare summer rain the desert was green and I arrived in Coober Pedy, where the populace live underground to escape the heat on a mild afternoon.

The climatologists said it was going to be a mild summer – go climatologists.

Not a day over 30 in 4 days in the hottest part or Australia in late summer

The underground nature of Coober Pedy creates a different street scape.

The road from Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta crosses the Painted Desert. I can’t describe how beautiful it is and my photos can’t capture it.

The changes of colour from pink to yellow to green with glimpses of quartz glimmering in the sun.

Then there is the water holes.

And as the day warms up they siren call the traveller into the cool water.

Now I sit in the Pink Road House in Oodnadatta enjoying a cold beer.

Its 40 years since I last really road in the desert.

The desert and the sky in its vastness makes me feel small.

A speck on a motorbike in this huge space. How can one not be in awe of nature.

Central Australian Adventure 6 – onto the Oodnadatta Track

Central Australian Adventure 6 – onto the Oodnadatta Track

It was a beautiful dawn in the Northern Flinders Ranges.

There was a mixture of excitement and nerves as I headed north to Marree and the start of the Oodnadatta Track

Marree is an historic town and a major Old Ghan Railway.

The name The Ghan was derived from the Afghan camel handlers who were instrumental in opening up the centre of Australia to European settlement and in building the railway.

This historic mosque is a remnant of the Afghan presence.

The southern part of the Track is straight and fairly well sealed with quirky sideshows along the way.

It also skirts Southern Lake Eyre.

Coward Springs sits amongst provides a sheltered camping space amongst date palms originally introduced by the Afghan camel herders.

The owners have planted a new date plantation.

It provides a sheltered place to campin the arid country.

Coward Springs sits amongst a ground of mound springs.

And has a natural spa on site feed from such a spring

What a relief after a long ride!

Mound Springs are a unique part of outback Australia where water bubbles out of the ground from Australia’s Great Artesian Basin.

These springs provide green oasis in this otherwise arid land

The Southern section of the Track ends at William Creek an old railway siding with a welcoming hotel.

It was time for a break, adjust the drive, have a cold drink and choose my route to Oodnadatta.

The choice is direct or via Coober Pedy. Time is on my side so I have taken the long way via the underground town of Coober Pedy.

That tale is for the next blog.

The Steinbock ready for the outback

The Steinbock ready for the outback

It has been an anxious wait to start this trip.

A covid 19 5 day lock down in Melbourne meant state borders closed and my Central Australian adventure not possible.

Life during the 5 day lockdown was not too arduous as I live near the beach

And it was only 5 days till I could catch up with mates again

And undertake preparation for the trip ahead.

In the days of GPS I still love a good map

The 5 day lockdown turned out a godsend.

The outbreak was quickly bought under control and there are no more new cases in Victoria

I recieve my permit to enter South Australia on Friday and today I complete my annual medical tests

Problem of being 63 with some heart disease.

But will soon be off on the adventure which will take in

The Great Ocean Road;

The Coorong;

The Adelaide Hills,

The Flinders Ranges,

The Oodnadatta track and surrounds,

The Red Centre of Australia made most famous by Uluru and the amazing county around it

Into Queensland and down to Longreach,

The fossil area finds around Winton,

Carnarvon Gorge.

0ver 8,000 km to get to my friends eldest daughters wedding near Brisbane.

Wouldn’t do it any other way!

Time to test and set up the new bike – 2

Time to test and set up the new bike – 2

A mob of sheep being hearded along the road side to confirm you are in rural Austratralia

That you are in the mid west of NSW

I waited till it was clear to skirt around the outside of the mob and the sheep dogs and farmer skilfully hearded the sheep into the selected paddock

You also know you are in mid west NSW when you set up tent in the back of the Premer Hotel and enjoy the hospitality and a few Schooners of Old.

But the purpose of the trip north was not to enjoy the mustering of sheep or the taste of a Tooheys old but to test the Steinbock’s comfort for long touring and to test its ability on some of my favourite riding roads. Also to test it on trails I had been reluctant on which to ride the mighty breva.

The Steinbock handled the beautiful roads of the Coffs Coast area of NSW with aplomb taking the beautiful Waterfall Way and its surrounding roads in its stride. AA full tick of approval indeed

But the real test was the Armidale to Kempsey back road that included 127 km of varying road surfaces through national parks and beautiful farming land. (see map above)

What a ride! I also became very aware of how tiring riding on trails iy is compares to road riding.

In the highlands south west of Kempsey are the beautiful Ellenborough Falls. The longest single drop falls in NSW

From to falls east there is there is the Flying Fox Refuge in Wingham on the Manning River

Not far from the coast and its beautiful beaches

The Motorcycle Museum at Nabiac is emblematic of the biker culture in this part Australia

And a travelling piecemeal adventurer can find like souls – lovers of bikes and boats

The test was complete and the ride back to Melbourne was direct and purposeful

As I write Melbourne and Victoria are in a circuit breaking lockdown.

Hopefully, these actions curtail the current outbreak of Covid 19 and I will soon be on my adventure to Central Australia via the Oodnadatta Track.

Stay tuned for updates!

Time to test and set up the new bike

Time to test and set up the new bike

I’ve christened the new bike The Steinbock

The name of a Bavarian Ibex

Im sure you can see the resemblance!

So the best place to test the Steinbock is in the trails of the mountains

Close to home on the trails of Otway ranges of Victoria

Where just of the Mount Sabine Trail is the beautiful Lake Elisabeth

But the real test for the Steinbock was on the high planes of the Mount Kosciusko National Park

Amongst the kangaroos and the wild horses

I was so glad to see that my favourite high country camp ground had been spared the 2019 bushfires

The Ghost Gully campsite is named by the stands of beautiful Ghost Gums that ring the campground

A couple of families with their horses were also sharing the campsite and we soon got to talking and sharing a cup of tea around the camp fire

Bushfires are such fickle things

While the Ghost Gully campground and the rest of the Long Plane were untouched by the fires

Just across the Snowy Mountains Highway the Yarrangobilly Caves reserve was badly burnt

But it was heartening to see the forest regeneration down at the thermal pool

And the caves totally spectacular

I was starting to feel the power and agility of the Steinbock both on the tarmac and on the loose and gravelly roads.

It’s a bike that asks to be ridden so I couldn’t stop here.

but that is for the next post!