Wednesday, September 19, 2007

627 Treacherous k's : Gibb River Road

Treacherous probably isn't the right word for it, although the reputation is just that, and I did hear about people with flat tires and even met a guy who's wheel came off and passed him. Good stuff. The KLR ate the Gibb up actually and it was a great week. For now I'm off to some kareoke here in Kununurra and then off to Purnululu National Park tomorrow for a few days hiking and helicopter ridding around some mystical beehive rock formations. Should be good. I'll be back in Kununurra in a few days for full updates and photos.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Broome Time

I have to keep this one brief 'cause I need to get the hell out of dodge. I can't even be bothered to finish the last blog! It's a long story though. Strangely it's along story which covers a mere 48 hours. Compare that to the 14 odd days I've spent in Broome. If someone can tell me where they've gone I'd appreciate it.

Basically I've been living in a caravan park with other backpackers, and going to the beach. There's not much else to do. A few places to drink at night, but you allways end up on the beach after that. Bonfires etc.

I've been telling people I'm leaving tomorrow for a week.

Then I as i really was leaving I let my camera get dragged into the spokes of my motorcycle. No sign of it. Insurance, hopefully. It's replaced now.

Now I have to leave. I can't imagine being here another hour even if it's to finish a decent blog entry.

ON to Darwin via the Gib River road. Bungle bungles Kakadu.... see you in Darwin.

Monday, September 03, 2007

On from Karijini

"Ithica is Gorges" so the T-shirt reads, and it's true here as well, althogh theres no shirt to remind you. So if you want a quick buck, get an ABN number and get in. You'd be minted.

The gorges are great. Dales is for swimming and relaxing and apparently Weano is " a bit more exciting" as the group of Irish lads sharing their Vino with me explained. I didn't get into Weano, I couldn't bother to get wet and as I discovered at the bottom of the canyon you get wet straight away. The next couple of hours are spent navigating a narrow canyon way waist to chest deep with water until which time you can only proceed with rope and wetsuit. Normally i'd be pretty keen on that sort of thing, but having climbed Mt Bruce the day before and having spent a couple hours in the sun taking photos already I wasn't all that intrested wading into a cold creek bed already in the late afternoon shaddow. Please forgive how un cool this is.

At least I sumitted Mt. Bruce second highest peak in WA. Formerly the highest. I guess they 'found' a mountain. They have a funny habit of doing that sort of thing here. For Instance; they only found the Bungle Bungles about thirty years ago. Of course your average local would know they've been using places like that to navigate for ten's of thousands of years. Same with Mt. Nameless here in Tom Price. I guess white people aren't orginal enough. 40 thousand years the thing's been called ____ but whitey didn't bother to ask.

Like I was saying, I climbed Mt. Bruce the other day and laughed all the way -between gasps - thanks to the old Monty Python sketch with the Australian Bruces. It's aces if you should come across it some day.
It's a 1235m peak, and about six Ks to the top. I was on the trail at ten and summited in abuut two hours. I took a fair few photos out and back and it took 5 hrs twenty all up. A great little climb wth sight of one of the big mines and a whole heap of red dust in the air. You can see it in the haze in every directionn and this particular day the visability was pretty bad because of it, despite the wind of which there was plenty. I figured I would see snakes but no such luck. I was the only one on the trail so I figured I would be sure to come across one. But then again I can't bring myself not to stomp when I walk , despite all other anecdotal evidence of a lack of interest in self preservation. Anyway still no snakes, no wildlife of any note along the trail in fact.
The trail made up for it though with a couple of intresting spots which demanded full attention coupled with four points of contact. Both were about a third of the way up from the bottom as you reach the end of the first saddle, or tier in the ridgeline. Here you turn a corner which has a nasty v shaped notch out of it, which opens to the slope about twelve feet below. Thew were nice enough to put in a hand rail made of chain link though. What they didn't do was make any adequate warning of that or the fifteen foot stepped wall that you negotiate moments later. Intrestingly it's the only place in the shade and out of the wind and consequently the first good stopping point to have a snack and a rest. This allows you to work out the moves in advance. Or in some cases think of all the nasty ways your body could tumble to the jagged blocks bellow. It's a funny place I tell ya.

Karijini National Park - A DINGO ATE MY BABY....spinich ravioli
Sunday the 12th of August.

My second night in Dales Campground and half of the camp hosts assurances have come to pass. A dingo has stolen my dinner. Two nights worth actually. A delicious beef ravioli (not baby spinich that just made for a better title) That was the first assurance, that we would see dingos day or night and that they would take anthing that they could carry. The other assurace was that we would see snakes but that hasn't come to be yet. Now mind you I walk like Fankenstein's Monster in the bush so that I don't surprise one. My only real fear is that It'll develop into a habit and once I return home that I'll be one of those people that stomps around a room having lost the light and nimble stride of a cat burgler that I've been perfecting over decades.

But about that Dingo. I spent the day down in the Gorge, amongst the scerene pools and canyon walks, only to find out from my G.N. Friends of the moment, Don and Marg that it had been a 'bit blowy' up top. Sure enugh I retourned to my camp to see the wind had yanked my ten around about 20 degrees, tearing a hole in the corner where I'd been keeping my food. I quickly set about taking the tent down to do the necessary stitiching in the fading daylight. And well to be honest I don't know if the little bastard got my rav while I was mending the tent or if he got'em while the tent was torn. I guess the later, I didn't notice they were gone untill I allread had the water boiled! Top Ramen to the rescue.

So I'll have to leave the park and re-supply in Tom Price tomorrow. A good excuse to buy a couple of cold beers though. That'll do a treat.

As far as the park is concerned. It's magnificent. The most subtly undulating country is covered in stout and prickly grey white spinfex grasses and occasional termite mounds standing as tall as a man and just as wide as at the base. They stand together with solitary Mulga and Eucalypts trees sporadically spaced along broad valley floors. More often then not they seem to then spread themselves more symetrically along the peaks of the Hamersley Range. The mountains, no more than 1100 meters or so high, arch quite gently into a rich blue sky as subtle red and green curves like waves along the horizon. Running West to East the range is cut down by tributaries of the Fortescue river. The water finds it's ways through soft vulnerable rock formations creating permenant waterfalls and pools in narrow box and slot canyons. The pools are sacred places to the locals, playing importat parts in their creation stories. Appreciating their cool and quite granduer comes quite easily having ventured down treacherous canyon walls from a hot and dry land above.

The water isn't quite crystal clear as it supports quite a bit of lfe in the form of small fish, frogs and lizards. Moss grows thick on shallow rocks and beneath the waterfalls which run warm carrying the heat of the earth above to a frigid pool below that steals the air from your lungs as you slip back to the surface of the water after a shallow dive from the rocks along the edge. You can quite happliy sun ... ( you might be intrested to know I can hear that damn dirty dingo trotting between the tents at the moment. ) ... Yourself on the rocks at the water's edge all day but it's good to go for a wander down the canyon and see the rock formations. BIF, banded Iron Formation. Is alternating Red and Grey rock layed down and compressed over eons,in this case from time when there was very little oxygen in the planet. Remember our friend the stromatolite from Shark Bay! His olds would have been responible for these bands which alternate between times where sediments were oxygen rich and oxygen poor.

Shark Bay

It's difficult sitting here in the tent while there's a band playing down the street, but where there's a band there is beer and a one particular fool and his money will... Well you know.

Oh this is heaven. I've just discovered that I can use my tank bag as back rest. It may require a bit of modification, but when filled with my fleece blanket and sleeping bag you can sit back tolerably. And when it comes to this touring business tolerable is as good as it gets sometimes.

Right, so a few days ago I was in Shark Bay, some five hundred Ks south of my current location. Shark Bay is a World Heritage area, and rightfully so. it's got endangered species which are found only there, also which I've forgotten the names of already, someone should have mentioned there would be a quiz. Actually I think that the heritage listing is due to the extent of marine life present. Also notable are the stromatolites of Hamelin Pool. These are the cyanobacteria lucky enough to colonize water so saline nothing else would eat them, and to prosper by trapping sediments and building mats of mini - reefs, and bommies, all the while doing their algal thing and were kind enough to release oxygen into the atmosphere to that ripe 20% we find so pleasant today. Hamelin Pools is one of the last places to see to see these splendid living rocks and the ten minutes you spend walking the boardwalk suspended above them is bound to be amongst the most overstimulating experiences of your life.

To be fair though the rocks have a hard time competing with the dolphins that have been visiting the area of Monkey Mia for nie on fifty years. Apparently some broad started feeding one back in the sixties and three generations of of the dolphins progeny have been showing up for a feed daily with little sign of stopping. Of course this makes for excellent research opportunities and even better money for the shire.

So that's what I'd come to see, but I saw a lot more thanks to Ranger Rodger of the local CALM Office. I met Rodger's sister Sue in Perth, via my friend Clare whom I was visiting, and she suggested I pay Rodge a visit. He was nice enough to let me stay at his house. And even show us arround

The weekend got off to a good start as we went to a farewell dinner for one of his workmates which turned into a late night party out on the old homestead in the National Park. The sole reason being to utilize the saltwater bore hot tub. So the first night was spent telling lies under a waning moon, and a creaking windmill with the park staff.

I entertained myself the following day by visiting the dolphin feed and a small aquarium named Ocean Park, just down the road from Denham. The aquarium is remarkable because A) the place collects all the marine life right out of the ocean half a K below B) they do it at minimal profit and 3rd the main draw is a tiger shark which prowls an open pond with a gazebo stood in the middle. Nothing to keep people out other than common sense. But of course this is Australia, if you don't have common sense you die of spider, crock, snakebite , or liver serocis by the age of ten.
Apparently even common sense lacking non - Aussies need not fear the beast as she's incredibly shy and tries to hide when the staff dive the pond to clean it. Other attractions at the park include loggerhead turtles sent from down south by greyhound bus for rehab and re-release into the wild, sea snakes and several types of sting ray.

Saturday rodger invited me on a ride along while he did his rounds along Francois Peron Park. This basically consisted of riding in a Land Cruiser for 8 hours while Rodger collected park fees and swept dunnies. I was able to stare down the lens of my Nikon at the various lookouts and was able to catch some pics of a sea lion, a ray and a blue tongued lizard. I didn't have my camera when I startled a Brown snake in the dunnie however. Which was equally disappointing for Rodge as he rarely sees snakes. The Brown was quick to get away once seen which is why aussie pit toilet walls have a two inch gap above the floor. Off into the bushes as soon as I opened the door.

Over the weekend I also learned that endangered species taste delicious. The locals, real locals, were having a native food festival and are allowed to kill one Dugong that's Manatee to northerners for special events. It seemed nice, but was overcooked. Better was the green curry sub turtle for lamb and the roo tail in plumb sauce stole the show, with fall off the vertebrae slow cooked goodness.

We put a nice cap on the weekend by getting out onto the water on rodger's day off to do a bit of fishing. WE didn't' have much luck other than some bait fish , but we were met by some playful dolphins just before we called it a day.

A great weekend, thanks heaps Rodge.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Out of Perth...Sort of

Well as usual I've been trying to get back on the road after a week or "relaxation" with our old freind Clare and Co. and it's taken at least an additional 48 hours. I haven't been able to sort many of spares etc I needed for the next leg of the journey.

- New Rear Tire (last being replaced in Adelaide - it lapped the front!)
- New (1987) reservoir bottle.
- GPS unit has risen from the dead.

- replacing busted odometer
- replacing busted gear shift lever

I suppose we're at least leaning on the favorible side!

Perth is a funny place. I may have mentioned that it's quite suburban and spread out like our fair Eh-Marican towns, and that's seems quite lovely in that it's fairly clean and people seem friendly. However, these same people when asking you how you find Perth will invariably answer your question for you "Pretty boring huh?". What pittiful self asteem. I think it might be the season. I hear summer is the time to be here. And they must be right because I haven't had an enjoyable days weather since I've been here - nine days already!. It's inconsistency is marvelously consistent however. Every day is windy and it's going to have sun, sprinkles, showers and buckets. IN NO DECERNEABLE ORDER. Not very good for motorbiking or taking pictures (3 thus far). There seem to be plenty of surfers, and the pubs get good business though. When in rome eh? Did I mention I don't surf?

So with any luck I'll be out on the road tomorrow up the coast as far as Geraldon, and then up To Denham (Monkey Mia) by Thursday evening. We'll see though. My track record at leaving a major town in one mechanical piece is...yeah.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Ah, here we are, about a quarter of the trip under the belt.

I'm the moment I'm residing in the good graces of former Brunswick street housemate Clare Dowling and her flatmates Tom, Gary, and Tassiano. Musos, dancers, entrepenurs, and all around great blokes they are.

Getting into town was interesting enough. With only a rough map of the city in my atlas and an address I cruised into town and found my way to Cottsloe just on the beach, nestled just between Fremantle and Perth. Only running a half hour behind schedule I looked for the center of town. Meanwhile, Clare and a bunch of her mates were about to settle in at the local pub for the Tri - Nation's Rugby Australia vs. UnZud. She picks up her phone to call and find out where I am when a dashing red motorcycle pulls on to the same street and I see a manic blonde running through the parking lot waving. How's that for coincidence? So suffice it to say it was drop of the bike at the appartment and make the 3:30 kick off down at the pub. Then a house party and making some new friends before setting out to the club later that night. The best moment for me came when I wasn't allowed into the club at 3am because I was still in shorts. One of the eight Kenyans I'd met at the house party blurts out I GOT JEANS in DA CAR MAN, and in perfect unison the whole group starts singing the footballer's chant "OLE OOOOLE OLE OLE OLE OLE" as we march back to the car so I can get dressed.

Pretty darn good start to the week.

So I've been ammusing my self in perth - when it's not raining - by working on the bike. Fluids, filters, and changing out this broken coolant res. bottle, as well as trying to track down a new gear shift lever so I don't have to keep having the one I got re-welded. Ian over at Maddington Motorcycle Wreckers has been instrumental here, letting me change the oil in his shop and sourcing the shift lever for me (fingers crossed). He even had the res bottle from an 87 KLR hanging about the shop. Perfect fit. First class service, second hand prices. Love it.

Also trying to resurect my GPS unit which was forwarded to me. It seems to be working but needs a trial run. The rest of the week will be more of the same, lightening the load by sending warm clothing back to base in Melbourne and gearing up for some long days up the coast. BRING ON THE SUN! And of course some Salsa, Regaee and Funky Samba music out at the clubs the next few nights. All courtesy of this weeks flat mates from Sambalicious

Hard bein' me. I tell ya.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sing "Welcome to the Hotel Cali..ah hmm Kalgoorlie..."

Yeah, so we weren't good as gold as reported in Ceduna. Just after writing that and driving around the block the patch failed and I was spewing coolant out the rervoir once again. Not to worry though, cause I'd bought the boys a six pack to say thanks and now they were pretty embarassed so they got done up smart quick when I came back a second time!.


Crossing the Nullarbor. Boring to some definatley. But hey Dingos meet you at the Nullarbor Roadhouse and that was novel. Watching wales frollic in the ocean is pretty good too. Otherwise; Long straights and scrub. And if your lucky get the chance to leave a rubber mark 46 paces long and clip the tail of red roo which bolts out of the scrub at mach looney, hell bent on getting to the otherside of the highway for no good reason other that greener grass of which there's none to speak of.

Ran up from Madura in an epic day (700K) to visit my friend Scott (aka Loyd Christmas which makes me Harry _?_ ) in the mining town of Cal - goo - lee, the biggest gold mining town in the country, home of a "Super Pit" Goldmine which is a wonder to see. It's also a wonder to hear how much money you can make driving a dump truck. How does as much as 3.5 grand a fortnight strike ya? Kal is wild west town. Every dirtbike in the street wheelies when they pass eachother and girls are flown in to most of the local pubs to pour beers in Lingere which they - The Skimpy - remove as soon as the "Titty Kitty" is filled by the night's patrons. I spent nearly a week here. Now I'll admit the scenery was nice but it wasn't a weeks worth nice. Again I tried to leave town and I broke down - this time a dead battery. But it gave me the chance to meet a great German couple traveling two up on a Honda Africa Twin. Jan left GER on the bike in 2004 convinced Cloudi to meet him in India and have been on the bike together ever since. They're a wonderfully inteligient funny and inspirational pair. Oh and kind too they helped me push start the bike twice - the second time because I let it die. Thanks guys.

With a brand new battery in place, I've arrived in Esperance and don't have a clue what to do with my self. Maybe I'll go for a walk on the beach.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Westbound once again, as I've just picked up the motorbike from the shop. I've been in Ceduna for two and half days now while the coolant reservoir was patched up. I was literally saddleing up to leave town and I could smell coolant burning. A familliar smell to me, as the res had damaged by heat last year. Thanks to Mark Haugh's enginuity and his locksmiths van full of ods and ends we were able to fix it about 4000 miles and a year ago, but she finnaly gave way. The local boys have weleded a new plastic nipple on the tank and added a bit of heat sheild to the tank, so we should be 'GOOD AS GOLD MATE'!

I've a written a bit in the last day but mostly I've only gotten some pictures loaded up so have a look at those if you like.

If you click on this small slide show you can back out to see more - New Wilpena Pound photos and a portion of the Coober Pedy, and Oodnadatta photos I was able to put up. I only have about four rideable hours left in the day so I'd beter get to it.

Today: Cactus Beach, Fouler's Bay (CAmp?) or Border Town.
Tomorrow. Head of the bight and Whale watching, Eucla telegraph
Thurs: Nullarbor
Friday: Kalgoorlie?

We're away.