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Archive for April, 2010

The End

And here is the map of my trip:


Total distance traveled: 19,410 kms in 10 weeks. And I still need to do Queensland and the Top End. Australia is a lot bigger than it looks!

Here are some final pictures from along the way that didn’t make it into earlier entries because they were on other people’s cameras or I forgot.


Adelaide


Camping in the Flinders Ranges


Flinders Ranges


Esperance


Goodnight :)

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I’m in Sydney now! After I left Port Augusta, I slowly made my way back through outback New South Wales via Broken Hill. There wasn’t much to document or take pictures of along the way so I stopped writing daily entries. It’s pretty cold here now, and it was freezing riding through Lithgow and Katoomba, geez. I guess it’s not summer here anymore.

April 2, 2010
Location: Broken Hill, NSW

I am at the Palace Hotel. This place reminds me of my college dorm room. I think it’s the musty smell and wood paneling and communal showers.

April 3, 2010
Location: Cobar, NSW

I slammed through about a million locusts today. I think Jesus must have sent a locust plague through New South Wales in celebration of Easter, just like in the bible. My riding gear, goggles, and bike are now plastered with dead locusts.

April 4, 2010
Location: Orange, NSW

I think today was daylight savings, and I gained an hour according to my computer. It’s the opposite of what it would be back in the US.

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March 27, 2010
Location: Mataranka, NT

We are now in Northern Territory! After a lengthy discussion, I convinced H that shipping his bike from Darwin would not be any cheaper or faster than just riding back by going straight down the center of the continent. It will take less than a week to get to South Australia, and we would probably waste almost that much time going to Darwin and getting the bike crated up anyway. Of course, gunning it down the highway for 3000 kms will not be a pleasant way to go, but shipping a bike home after coming all this way would just be… lame.

So, we rode 630 kms today. It was raining nearly the whole time and kept the long ride at a reasonable temperature. It’s still raining now, and we are staying at a homestead. It’s basically a bunch of cabin rooms the size of shoeboxes. I look forward to the humidity dropping as we continue south, but I’ll probably be complaining about the cold again soon.

There are a bunch of wallabies outside. Sorry this picture sucks, I took my contact lenses out as soon as we stopped riding because my eyes have been bothering me, so I couldn’t see what the heck I was taking pictures of. There are also hot springs in the area, but since it is already so hot and rainy, we had no interest in visiting them. I may be a little burned out.

March 28, 2010
Location: Tennant Creek, NT

We rode all day down the middle of the outback. It was… boring. We are now staying in a room at a pub. I think this might be the first motel room we have stayed in all trip. There is air conditioning and a bathroom and hot water in the shower and everything! Wow, this is nice. We only have a few more days of traveling together, so we thought that we could afford a little luxury. As much as I am enjoying this, I am sad that I will be leaving my travel buddy soon.

March 29, 2010
Location: Alice Springs, NT

Continued south through the middle of nowhere. Stopped by Devils Marbles, which are granite rock formations, and did a bit of scrambling. That was about the only remotely interesting thing we saw all day. We are now in Alice Springs, which is approximately the center of Australia.



Devils Marbles


Me on some marbles


I am Sysiphus

March 30, 2010
Location: Yulara, NT

We came out here to see Ayers Rock, which is supposed to be the heart of Australia, according to the aborigines or whoever. The outback is quite something to see, since the terrain is so flat and the visibility so fantastic. However, it’s not as glamorous as Outback Steakhouse makes it out to be, because there are just so many damn flies and mosquitos out here. The flies keep going into my eyes and up my nose, and the mosquitos bite any last inch of exposed skin. When we take our rest stops along the road, I don’t even remove my helmets or gloves anymore, because they serve as defense against the bugs. Gross, I know. Someone really ought to introduce some cane toads or venus flytraps into this stupid ecosystem to keep the insects in check.


Obligatory tourist shot


Aboriginal cave paintings. These are supposed to be 150 years old. Didn’t Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel a few hundred years before that? Why are these impressive?


Ayers rock at moonrise. You can find better pictures of the rock on the internet, so I won’t bother uploading more of my amateur photos.

March 31, 2010
Location: Middle of nowhere, SA


Ayers rock this morning

My bike is running on opal, which is a type of fumeless petrol that the aborigines cannot smell. Apparently, there is a rampant problem of aborigines stealing petrol so that they can sniff it, so many of the petrol stations near aboriginal land only sell opal fuel. I asked H why aborigines sniff petrol, and he said, “Why do white people sniff coke?”

We are now in a fly-filled trailer behind a petrol station somewhere in South Australia. We wanted to make it to Coober Pedy today because it is supposed to be a town (and the only one for hundreds of kms around), but we ran out of daylight and stopped 170 kms short.

We started off early in the morning and went to see Ayers Rock again from a different angle. Also did a short hike to a waterhole. It wasn’t too exciting, and cost us precious riding time.

I am sad to be back in South Australia, because it is one state closer to Sydney. In about two days, we will be in Port Augusta, and H will be going back to work. I think my journey will conclude shortly thereafter because I can’t think of anywhere else to go, as Queensland is almost completely flooded this season.



Here are a couple pictures I took while riding today. Basically this has been the unchanging view from my cockpit all week: long, straight, southbound interstate highway; scattered clouds and unlimited visibility. And H’s rear end.

April 1, 2010
Location: Port Augusta, SA

After 700 kms of riding today, we are back in Port Augusta. We have officially completed the long trek from the top to bottom of the continent. I am excited and relieved to be done with that long stretch, but also feeling a bit empty, because there is nothing else to look forward to.

It seems like so long ago that we were last here with F. And I do miss F. This time, we are not camped out by the beach, but staying at a cheap motel. It is a bit cold outside, but we have the air conditioning on at full blast, just because it makes the room feel that much more luxurious.

My stomach hurt today from drinking the artesian water that I filled my camelback with at the roadhouse in the middle of nowhere.

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March 20, 2010
Location: Karratha, WA

It is very hot and humid tonight, and H and I are sitting on deck chairs next to a community pool that we snuck into by climbing over a fence. Now I know that I am being a bad influence on him. I have a certain sense of diplomatic immunity knowing that I can easily leave the country if I get into any real trouble. H actually lives here and has a job and responsibility and crap so he tends to be more of a law-abiding citizen apart from me.

Today we rode approximately 550 kms up Hwy 1. It was yet another ridiculously hot day. We really should be taking extra fuel and water with us because the North West Coastal Hwy is even more sparsely trafficked and serviced than the Nullarbor, but neither H nor I are willing to take more weight on our bikes as we are both already so heavily loaded.

There were intermittent thunderstorms along the way today, and I actually found myself looking forward to them because it was so bloody hot out there. Of course, as soon as I started getting whipped around and soaked, I wanted it to stop. So, no pictures today, because I had to keep my camera out of the wet.

March 21, 2010
Location: Port Hedland, WA

Oh my god I am exhausted. First off, we got kicked out of the pool late last night after a security guard saw us inside. I had wanted to sleep on the deck chairs for the night. Bummer.

I couldn’t sleep worth anything in my tent; it was too hot and sticky and I was itching all over from insect bites. I ended up walking around the public bathrooms for awhile, because a radio was playing there and I hadn’t heard a radio in a long time. At some point I managed to sleep, but both H and I were up before 6 am because it was already near 40 degrees C by then.

We took off and continued north, and about 120 kms into the ride, the rear of my bike started squirming, and I pulled over knowing what grief awaited me. Sure enough, the rear tire was flat. The tire had over 6,500 kms on it and I was pushing it past the end of its useful life. I guess I should be happy that it took over 12,000 kms for the first flat to occur on this trip, and doubly happy that I had an extra pair of hands to help me fix it. H and I pulled into some shade and set up a ghetto bike stand out of a cinderblock I found. I was actually surprised at how easily everything went. My prior experiences with trying to change motorcycle tires by hand were always incredibly painful and messy. I think this morning’s process was facilitated by the fact that we had been rolling over boiling hot tarmac – the rubber peeled off like silly putty.

Anyway, I slapped a patch on the tube and put the tire back on. Some dudes drove by and stopped to take pictures of me fixing my flat. That irritated the piss out of me, but one of them proposed to me so I laughed. When all was done, we rode on.

Another 150 kms down the road, the tire went flat again. By then I was too hot, tired, and grumpy to deal with fixing another flat, and we were near enough to Port Hedland, a stupid mining town, that we could find someplace to set up camp. We sat in a McDonald’s for the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying free AC and wifi, and went back to the campground after dark. I replaced the tube in a picnic area. I hope to all that is holy that this tire can carry me another 600 kms, which is how far I need to go to reach the next town where I can buy a new tire.


How NOT to change a tire without a stand. I thought that I was being really smart with this setup, but the bike fell over on my head while I was pulling the rear axle out. I was ready to throw the damn thing in the trash.



A better way to change a tire without a stand. Ha ha.

March 22, 2010
Location: Broome, WA

We made it to Broome. Thank goodness. H and I were up before 6 am again this morning, and by 6:30 we were both drenched in sweat; it was so hot and humid. We rolled out 620 kms of highway today. The rear tire now looks like a weird rallycross tire, but it held up. The bike did have some more electrical issues because all the violence inflicted during yesterday’s tire-changing caused my ghetto-rigged fusebox to come loose. That caused a minor delay but I eventually got it taped back together.

I had a near-miss with a roo today. I was surprised to see it out in the daytime, as they usually do not come out until dusk. Roos are pesky and stupid creatures. I no longer feel guilty about owning a set of kangaroo leathers.

Broome is slightly less hot than Port Hedland, but even more humid. We arrived late in the afternoon and walked to Cable Beach hoping to cool down in the ocean. The water was bathtub-warm. I was surprised, since the ocean was still quite cold back at Coral Bay. We stayed in the water until after dark, then set up camp for the night.


Sandfire Roadhouse


Sunset at Cable Beach


Going for a swim

March 23, 2010
Location: Broome, WA

It is 41 degrees C right now at close to midnight. Last night was ridiculously awful. After the sun went down, the air was completely still, and the mosquitos were swarming around so thick I was inhaling them. I couldn’t get into my tent without a hundred of the disgusting creatures following me in, and once inside, I couldn’t do anything to protect myself. The mosquitos here are impervious to DEET. I HATE THEM SO MUCH. I couldn’t sleep while being attacked, so I wandered back out to the beach where there was at least a little bit of a breeze to keep the bugs away. Eventually, I succumbed to my exhaustion, and went back into my tent and let the insects suck the life out of me.

In the morning, I was in the worst mood ever, and I think H was just as pissed at me for dragging him into this hellhole. Apparently he spent the night standing under a public shower, and also ended up covered in mosquito bites (ordinarily, he never gets bitten because of his constant blood alcohol level). I went to the only motorcycle shop in town, which turned out to be a little tin shed. Their selection of motorcycle tires consisted of a rack of 15 road tires that looked like they fell off the back of a truck in the 80s. I found an ugly 17″ front tire that should fit on my rear rim, and hopefully take me another few thousand kms to the next garbage-dump town. I will be coming back in the morning as the shop owner is going to rummage around and see if he can dig up a slightly more suitable piece of rubber.

When H found out that we needed to stay in Broome one more day, he insisted that there would be no more camping. I felt pretty bad, cuz this whole thing was my stupid fault. We checked into a hostel, and I slept for the rest of the afternoon on my crappy dorm bed. This place is filthy, but there is a fan on, and it feels like the freaking Four Seasons after the sweltering camping conditions we’ve had all week.

March 24, 2010
Location: Broome, WA

We are STILL in Broome. We are still at the hostel. It is full of young people, and I feel like a creep here because I am so old.

This morning, I went back to the bike shop, and sure enough, the owner had found a 17″ 120×90 rear tire. It’s a road tire, but I think I will be on the pavement for a lot more kilometers yet. It has [3106] stamped as the manufacture date, so at least it came from this decade, heh.

After I got my new tire mounted, H suddenly remembered that he needed to go to the Medicare center to take care of some health insurance business. I don’t know why he did not think of this 2 days ago, but I couldn’t really be mad since I had caused the first delay. Anyway, by the time he finished with his health insurance stuff, it was too late in the day to depart, as we would have just ended up camped out on the highway in billion-degree heat. And that is why we are STILL in Broome. H felt bad and offered to take me to the town shopping center. He thought that a shopping trip would appease me. I was just dying to buy some new shoes and crap to carry across the continent in my saddlebags. Ha, ha, ha.

March 25, 2010
Location: Halls Creek, WA

We rode about 700 kms today, I think our longest day so far. It was a difficult ride in the heat, but we needed to make a long haul as we were crossing through aboriginal territory, and it would not have been safe to set up camp overnight on the side of the road with aboriginal communities around. And no, I’m not just being racist here.

It was another hot hot day with intermittent thunderstorms, and I found myself looking forward to each torrential downpour as it provided a respite from the heat. We had a minor delay as we hit up one roadhouse with empty tanks, only to find out their pumps were broken. We had to wait to get fuel trucked in so that we could make the next stop. This is why we should have been carrying additional fuel cans. We ended up arriving at Halls Creek at dusk, and had to set up our tents in the pouring rain. It has been a tough day.


Thunderstorms one minute, blazing sun the next


I bought this carton of soymilk on our shopping trip yesterday and stowed it in H’s topbox. It exploded while riding today. I didn’t know that soymilk cartons could do that. woops.




H took these two pictures. I particularly like them.


Here comes the sun

March 26, 2010
Location: Kununurra, WA

H is done. I think I might be done too. Last night just wrecked us. The thunderstorms lasted all night and flooded our campsite. We did not do a good job of picking out a camping spot, and it turned into a lake overnight. Water poured into our tents and everything got soaked and muddy – sleeping bags, clothes, everything. One of H’s tent struts broke. We had a long argument this morning. H wants to go to Darwin, crate up his bike and put it on a transport service, and fly home. Option 2 is for me to sell my bike in Darwin and ride his bike back for him while he flies home. Not sure what will happen at this point. We rode out to Kununurra and are just a few kilometers short of Northern Territory. We are staying at a hostel tonight because we were too exhausted to do anything else.

I am sad. I’m not ready for the trip to end yet, but it really is the wrong time of the year to be in the northern part of the country. Also, I am finally getting a little tired of camping. I have never been this dirty in my life.

Finally, here is a picture of a spider (?) bite that I have on my leg. The bite occurred over a week ago, but it hasn’t gotten much better, probably because I wrap it up in sweaty riding gear all day. I finally remembered to take a picture of it to demonstrate that I have had the full outback experience.

Next: Week 8 in Northern Territory

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