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.

Off the Tableland and onto the Savannah Way

Off the Tableland and onto the Savannah Way

Waterfalls, like the Millstream Falls are are true feature of the Atherton Tableland.

The falls lay between Ranenshoe

Queensland’s highest town and

Innot Hot Spring there are thermal waters in the creek or spa centre to ease an adventurers tired bones.

Past the Springs the land opens out to the savannah at 40 mile scrub.

Not for on I found a spring fed water hole for a cooling dip.

Before stopping at the little town of Mount Surprise.

An old gem stone fossicking town close by the Undara Volcanic National Park and its amazing Lava Tubes.

This is my second visit to the Lava Tubes. Back in 2015 returning from Cooktown I stayed at the Undara Resort. This time I chose the Bedrock Village at Mount Surprise.

The lava tubes are remnants from volcanic eruptions 190,000 years ago.

And are inhabited by little micro bats about the size of your thumb

The scale of the tubes can be seen here. Look for the guide in the bottom left hand corner.

The National Park is home to hundreds of extinct volcanoes.

The Kalkani Crater is accessible for walking.

With informative interpretation signs.

If you walk quietly you may see pretty faced wallabies

The beautiful Wonga Vine

And amazing views over the savannah.

As I write a new covid 19 outbreak has emerged in Australia and who knows how that will effect my travel plans across the continent.

One has to be flexible while travelling in the time of Covid 19.

The Pacific Ocean Beaches of Northern NSW

The Pacific Ocean Beaches of Northern NSW

The ocean beaches of Northern NSW are the most beautiful I have seen.

The broad sweep of sand

The rolling blue ocean

Town beaches like Byron Bay (above) and Yamba (below)

The beautiful lighthouses on the capes

Sentinels for the sailors as sea.

But its the quiet,

The wild

The largely deserted

The hard to get to beaches on the coast that I love

Beaches like…

Ah you have to search for your own tranquillity!!!!

Where the surf pounds in

And the you can stand alone on the sandy beaches.

Image by Clare Rynhart

With a sea eagle circling overhead as a companion.

Set up the little tent

And at night be bedazzled by the Milky Way.

But the Pacific isn’t always peaceful

It doesn’t always contain its power

The a big swell expoding against the south wall at Coff Harbour a testament to the power of the sea.

It was beautiful spending the last of a mild Autumn on the NSW North Coast.

But the southern hemisphere winter is here and the temperatures are falling.

I’m sitting with my friend in South East Queensland

Tomorrow its time to head back north to the tropics.

Towards the start of the Savannah Way and the ride across the tropical North of Australia.

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 10 – West MacDonnell Ranges/Tjoritja

Central Australia Adventure 10 – West MacDonnell Ranges/Tjoritja

To ride through the West MacDonnell Ranges is to travel in a landscape created before time began

Mountains and rivers formed over 300 million years ago.

What an experience to camp beside and swim in the oldest river in the world.

The Finke or Larapinta River.

Ormiston Gorge at sunrise is a spectacular site from the Ghost Gum Lookout

The colours changing on the red rocks as the sun rose

The recent rains had filled the gorge with flowing water

So much water that on the Ormiston Gorge Pound Walk at one crossing it was strip off and carry packs high across the creek

But from this small inconvenience was worth it as the views from the walk were just beautiful

Ocre is prized by Aboriginal Australians for a range of purposes but primarily rock and body painting.

The Ocre pits here have provided this precious colouring for millennia

Gaps and chasms fill the length of the ranges.

Some of the creeks that run through then provide big swimming holes.

Like the Ellery Creek Big Hole

Or are a trickle that over the millennia have carved a chasm.

Tjoritja is vast and I visited only half of its amazing gorges. Maybe another visit is required

Central Australia Adventure 4 – Wilpena Pound

Central Australia Adventure 4 – Wilpena Pound

Wilpena Pound National Park lays at the centre of the Flinders Ranges.

In many ways an oasis on the edge of the outback

To climb one of the lookouts or scale a peak is to gain a breathtaking vista like the view from Wangara Lookout below

Though the tracks can be a little testing, especially if a bit of light rain makes them damp.

Inside the Pound the forest is cool with towering River Gums and shady Native Conifers

And of course there is the Wilpena Homestead

I’m.many ways a simple pioneers building but a symbol of devestation in many ways for aboriginal Australians.

But that is a story for another blog.

The beautiful campground offers a shady rest for the adventurer.

Aerial view of Wilpena Pound sourced from the internet
Central Australian Adventure 3 – walks around Willow Springs

Central Australian Adventure 3 – walks around Willow Springs

Only 5 weeks or so back there had been flash flooding around the station as 85mm of rain fell inn30 minutes.

This had closed a number of trails and left other badly rutted challenging for walking.

But the view from Yacca lookout was worth the walk. Named after the Yacca grass trees that are endemic to Australia and can be seen in the middle photo above

The walk was very steep in places and the foothold very loose.

Further along the trail there are petroglyphs – aboriginal engravings.

These are thousands of years old.

I had read the last time I was here back in 2014 that there engraving were often sign posts. Showing where water or food can be found.

The circle symbol meant a permanent water source and the arrows the direction to find it

So I followed the dry creek bed in the direction of the arrows

After a kilometer or so there seeping from a rock, life giving water

Enough to make a string of little water holes on the creek bed

Its been a beautiful couple on nights camped here

Sitting by the camp fire

Walking the amazing gorges amongst the gum trees and native conifers

Next stop is the Wilpena Pound National Park before heading north toward the Oodnadatta Track.

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!