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[John and his wife Yvonne graduated as Wild Frontier mainstream dancers in 2014 and are staunch supporter of our club. John recently found he had a health issue and is living life to the full. He has penned this article for you all to enjoy. Good on you John grab every moment! Ed]
Sometimes a random thought can turn into a great adventure.
A few months ago I added the notion of riding my motorbike to Darwin to my ever increasing bucket list. It seemed prudent to delay the adventure until Darwin’s wet season was over and the outback temperatures dropped, thereby making the trip far more comfortable.
A reunion with my best man, Roger, whom I hadn’t seen for some 15 years had us discussing old times and future plans. On hearing of my planned trip Roger, who hadn’t ridden a motorbike in 28 years, was hooked. Within a week he’d bought a bike very similar to my own Suzuki 800cc Boulevard and was set to go.
The Endless Stuart Highway
We’d both bought communicators that fitted into our helmets, allowing us to speak to each other as well as streaming music from my phone to the speakers mounted inside my helmet. They were a godsend as aural isolation is the one downside of motorbike riding over long distances.
Weather wise we were blessed as the only rain we encountered was an hour after our ANZAC Day departure and conveniently it started as we stopped for a morning coffee at Port Wakefield.
Our first night was spent at Glendambo, a small settlement of some 30 people that is really no more than a petrol stop, pub and cabin and caravan site. We had a lovely dinner followed by a few games of pool while watching the footy on TV.
Roger’s comment that outback South Australia was hit with the ugly stick wasn’t far from the truth with very long stretches of monotonous moonscape. There is however beauty to be found in the colours of the landscape if you bother looking deeper.
The Beauty of Central Australia
We crossed the Northern Territory (NT) border a short distance before our next stop over at Kulgera. There was a plain black postcard on sale there, with the words ‘Night life…Kulgera’. That said it all. However the food was good and the beds in the cabin were comfortable after a long day in the saddle.
Our Latest Recruit
We noticed a dramatic change in scenery shortly after the NT border with a previously unsighted dimension, elevation, being added to the landscape. There were many beautiful areas of large rust hued granite hills and boulders with gum trees, straw coloured spinifex and other low lying shrubs set against the ever present clear deep blue sky. Riding through the area was almost a spiritual experience and I thought to myself how privileged I was to be doing this trip.
We arrived at Alice Springs around lunch time. Roger and I had both worked in the Alice back in 1977. We briefly parted company, I caught up with an old friend for his birthday at the fire station and Roger rode around to see the old haunts. We then met at ANZAC Hill overlooking the town before having a nutritious lunch at Hungry Jacks….everything is relative while on the road!
Our destination for the night was Wycliffe Well whose self-appointed claim to fame is being the UFO capital of Australia. I have to say they take it very seriously and there is no shortage of all things alien on display and naturally for sale.
Another decent night’s sleep after our third day on our hogs and we were off again, destination Daly Waters.
This stretch of our journey was my favourite, as not far out of Wycliffe Well in Karlu Karlu National Park are the Devils Marbles. A geographic feature that should be on everyone’s ‘to see’ list.
A Small Bit of The Devils Marbles
Until 20kms or so south of Daly Waters we had seen very little road kill and very little in the way of animals barring some emus north of Port Augusta. That began to change as the occasional dead cow and more dead wallabies were to be seen, not a welcome sight by any means.
A number of people had recommended we stay at Daly Waters and I’m glad we took their advice. The small settlement built around a WWII officers’ mess was full of character and characters. Even the omnipresent backpackers staffing these outback establishments had morphed into typical outback characters. It is easy to see why Anna the Irish backpacker waitress had been there for two years with no plans of leaving soon. The extensive dining area and bar were filled to the brim with all sorts of paraphernalia from 20 metre rods hung from the ceiling filled individually with baseball caps, knickers and jocks, t shirts, thongs to walls covered in bank notes from all over the world, business cards, number plates, old implements, certainly a feast for the eyes and worthy of a stay much longer than the night we were there.
Daly Waters Service Station – You can even drop in by helicopter
And in this remote oasis I had the best eggs benedict for breakfast I’ve ever had. Who would have believed that!
The day ahead would see us arrive into Darwin but not before a detour to see Katherine Gorge. While it seemed a good idea at the time, that and the time trying to find a replacement mount for Roger’s GoPro camera set us behind time-wise.
We had been warned that the Daly Waters to Adelaide River stretch of road was dangerous with cattle, horses, pigs, buffalo, kangaroos and wallabies being ever present and particularly at dawn and dusk.
We cautiously arrived into Adelaide River as night fell, our eyes keenly watching the road ahead and to the side. On leaving Adelaide River and with night now upon us came the most embarrassing couple of hours of our trip. Here were two now road hardened bikers riding 50 kilometres per hour under the 130 kph speed limit continually worried that we’d run into some beast that would ruin what had been a great adventure. I may have been hallucinating but I’m sure we were passed by a little old lady in her Morris Minor on her way to church. What should have taken us just on an hour to reach Darwin took double that. Though unlikely, the thought of running into a stray animal while on our bikes so close to our destination had us putter along the 120 kms distance to Darwin doing 80kph.
Thankfully we safely arrived at the airport and rode into my son’s employer, CareFlight’s premises only to see Ben waiting for us out the front in the moonlight. He’d been monitoring us on the GPS tracking app I’d set up on my phone for the trip.
John at his destination with his son Ben
CareFlight are contracted by the NT government to do the work of the Royal Flying Doctor Service north of Elliott.
3,145in Darwinkms covered without incident, reconnected with my best man, what a relief, what a journey, what a privilege, what memories.
Submitted by John Ragg
Posted on May 22nd, 2015 by Roger M
Filed under: Personalities, Wild Frontier | No Comments »