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Week 3: South Australia

February 20, 2010
Location: Lorne, VIC

I am feeling completely wiped out. Motivation is at an all-time low. I hope this is just some hump that I will get over with a little more sleep. My stomach felt awful all day. Yesterday, I ate half a can of salmon that had been sitting open in my tent overnight. Maybe that was it.

I arrived in Melbourne this morning in good spirits because the weather was grand. I changed my oil and filter in an auto shop parking lot in the city and made a huge mess, in typical eraine fashion.


Good morning Melbourne!


We were on this boat

I made friends with two German travelers (F and H) who are headed towards Adelaide. One has a similar bike to mine, an XTZ660. This is good because if my bike breaks, I can kill him and strip his bike for parts.

We took M1 to Geelong, then Torquay. Went to Bells Beach and then took trails through Anglesea, and then the Great Ocean Road to Lorne.

February 21, 2010
Location: Portland, VIC


Three cool cats at Lorne

Left Lorne in the morning and followed the Great Ocean Road to Cape Otway. There was a bit of traffic on the road, but it wasn’t so bad to go slowly because the views were nice. Tried to take some trails through Otway National Park, but most of them were closed off.


Yamaha XTs checking out the Great Ocean


View from Otway

There were a lot of koalas hanging out in the trees on the side of the road through Otway. The koalas were really ugly for some reason.




Koala Yummies!

Stopped by the 12 Apostles rock formation. Continued along A1 to Portland, and am camped out here for the night.

I took a pretty good dump on the bike today. The bolts holding the ignition lock have been broken for some time, and today it was loose to the point where the ignition was cutting out while riding. It needed attention, but I didn’t want to hold up the group, so I tried to ride around it until it killed the ignition mid-corner and locked up the rear, tossing me to the ground. I’m fine, the bike isn’t any worse off, and I was able to bandage the ignition together with duct tape. I don’t know that there is any better solution beyond drilling out and replacing the bolts, which I don’t have the facilities for right now. I generally don’t like duct tape fixes, so if the ignition continues to have issues, I’m just gonna hotwire it.


Only 2 apostles?

February 22, 2010
Location: Salty Creek, SA

We are now in South Australia, about 200 km from Adelaide. We were supposed to make Adelaide today, but had a bit too much fun screwing off.

The Germans played a mean trick on me this morning. We needed to siphon petrol from one of the fuel tanks so that we could light our little cooking stove to make coffee. I was assigned the task of sucking fuel out of my tank with a hose, which I accepted because I am kind, but did not realize that F held the other end of the hose just above the fuel line, causing me to inhale petrol fumes until my stomach turned over. It’s a good thing I don’t need my brain cells anymore.

To make a queasy day worse, we filled our camelbacks from a bad tap this morning. As the day went on, both F and I suffered from intestinal issues and required frequent stops. H had no such problems because he does not drink water, only coffee and beer.

At some point, someone came up with the brilliant idea of riding some trails that crossed over sand dunes. My bike was perhaps the only one even remotely suitable for sand, and even then it was asking a lot of the bike and rider. There was a lot of falling over involved today, but it was a great time and now I’m bruised and sore as hell.


Woops.


Teamwork

February 23, 2010
Location: Adelaide, SA

And here we are in Adelaide! Took Princes Hwy almost directly here from Coorong. Took the Wellington Ferry. Didn’t take any pictures worth uploading today, as I was exhausted from a sleepless night of being attacked by insects.

We are camped out by the beach. This afternoon H dared me to swim out to a buoy about a kilometer from the shore, so I dragged him out to sea. He nearly drowned and I had to rescue him.

February 24, 2010
Location: Adelaide, SA

Got new tires and brake pads for the bike today. I changed the tires the day before I left, but those knobbies burned up quick in the last 5,500 km. I switched to a much harder hybrid compound this time, because there will be hundreds of kilometers of hot desert tarmac ahead.

I also finally bought a proper riding jacket today, something I wish I had done months ago. My lovely white rain jacket has just about reached the end of its useful life, unfortunately.

No pictures from today because I spent the day working on the bike, and it was not very interesting. Also reloaded on fluids and spares (for both me and the bike). All of a sudden my luggage is really heavy again. Damn.

February 25, 2010
Location: Rawnsley/Flinders Ranges, SA

Took about 400 km of highway from Adelaide to Orroroo to Hawker and am now camped out in the wilderness that is the Flinders Ranges. H & F were annoying the hell out of me so I ditched them and found my own campsite.




Flinders Ranges

There were lots of wild emus and kangaroos along the way, but they disappeared in the bush before I could take out my camera.

February 26, 2010
Location: Port Augusta, SA

H found my campsite this morning and woke me up. Departed early because it gets really hot out during the day. We rode a few hundred km around the Flinders Ranges, and did some pretty awesome tracks. F kept trying to race me, and it made me really angry. I miss doing my own thing. This evening, I told H that I did not want to ride with them anymore. He offered to ditch F and continue with me, but I declined that offer.




This was illegal

After riding around the Flinders Ranges, headed back down to Port Augusta. We’re nearing the desert now, and it is getting really hot!

Next: Week 4 Crossing the desert
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Week 2: Tasmania

February 14, 2010
Location: Queenstown, TAS

Today we docked in Devonport, Tasmania at about dark:00 am, and I was sleepy as all hell. I dragged myself and the bike off the boat and into a 24-hour cafe where I drank coffee and stared at the rain until daylight (migrating to a McDonald’s after a couple hours). At 10 am, I went to an outdoor store and bought the hugest, ugliest rain pants known to man. But boy was I happy to have them.


Fresh off the boat, welcome to Tasmania!

I rode along the coast to Smithton, then took a sand trail down to Zeehan then Strahan, and Queenstown, which is where I’m staying now.



Bridge after Smithton


The sand on this trail is actually silica, which has great traction when wet, which it almost always is.




We took a ferry across Pieman River. There’s the ferry operator! The XT600 and I were the only passengers on the ferry.


Finally, Strahan.

February 15, 2010
Location: Hobart, TAS

And so ends day 10. I’m really abusing my body on this trip. I think I’ll have to visit a day spa when it’s all over. The tap running at the campsite in Queenstown was putting out disgusting brown water, so I filled my camelback in the morning at an untreated ground tap. After drinking out of that all day, I had some stomach issues.

Today involved a mix of trail and tar from Queenstown to Hobart, via Laughing Jack Lagoon. The whole way out of Queenstown was indescribably gorgeous. It looked like I was in Jurassic Park. There is no way that words or photos could do it justice, so I’m not even gonna try.

I passed by several singletrack turnoffs that possibly led to somewhere awesome, but couldn’t bring myself to risk getting stuck on them. I thought long and hard about the roads not taken, and wished that someday I could come back with a riding mate to do better exploring. It made me sad, because I knew how way leads on to way, and I doubted if I should ever come back.


This is Laughing Jack Lagoon. The best part about Tasmania is that there’s NO ONE HERE.

February 16, 2010
Location: Hobart, TAS

Quite exhausted today. So today was a rest day. Hobart is, I think, the biggest city in Tasmania (and it’s tiny). I rode into the city in shorts and sandals – not good, but I’ve been wearing the same pants for 11 days now and I needed to get out of them for awhile. I walked around Hobart a bit, and then went to the Bonorong wildlife park. So, I did my touristy duty. I can’t wait to get outta here tomorrow. Being around people just reminded me of how much of a hermit I am.


Spot the XT600! My friend Joel asked me why I have to have my bike parked into every single one of my photos. It’s quite simple, really. I’m not a very good photographer. If you want to see coffee-table-quality photos of Tasmania, search google for them. I’m not trying to compete while wielding a $100 Canon Powershot; I just want my pictures to be personal. Furthermore, the XT600 is my best and only companion these days.


It’s Kanga and Roo!

February 17, 2010
Location: Bicheno, TAS

Today’s route was almost entirely dirt track from Hobart to Brighton to Stonehenge to Nugent to Ross to Bicheno.

I dumped the bike today while trying to avoid running over an echidna. Echidnas are interesting animals that curl up into a ball when startled, and then erratically change their minds and uncurl when my brakes are locked up. I would have been more amused if I didn’t have a 200-kg load to pick up. Actually, I can’t believe I did that. I must not have been completely awake yet. I seem to be in a perpetual state of exhaustion these days; I’m not sleeping well because it’s pretty darn cold at night in Tasmania. Kinda wish I’d kept that sleeping mat, heh.

Breathtaking views of Tasmanian landscape partially obscured by my bike are getting a bit tiresome. I’ll see if I can infuse some wildlife into this set.


Lake Leake


Bicheno before the storm. Everything looked a little surreal.


The girl working at the petrol station told me that penguins usually walk around the beach at dusk, so I waited in the freezing cold rain until 10pm to see the penguins come home. I thought that it would be like March of the Penguins brought to life, but it was not.

I left my shampoo in the campground shower last night, and someone stole it before I could retrieve it this morning. Oh well, I guess I won’t be washing my hair anymore. I’ll probably be bald soon, anyway. My hair has been falling out in handfuls since the start of the trip. I’m not sure if it’s a result of poor nutrition, or being wrapped up in a sweaty helmet all day, or both.

February 18, 2010
Location: Port Sorell, TAS

Another fantastic riding day, but what else is new? About 450 km of trails, from Bicheno to St Marys to St Helens to Ansons Bay to Gladstone to Scottsdale, then Bridport, George Town, Exeter, and here, somehow.


The cold blue Antarctic… brrr

Unfortunately, I do not have many pictures from today, because my camera battery died in the morning. My camera has no visible battery-life indicator until 5 seconds before it goes dead. Major design flaw, Canon!

I’m exhausted, but tomorrow will likely be low-mileage as I will be heading to Devonport to take the night ferry back to Melbourne.

February 19, 2010
Location: Ferry back to Melbourne

Rode a short loop around Port Sorell today. Wanted to ride on the beach, but park ranger would not let me. Next time I won’t bother asking.

I was going to ride to Cradle Mountain today, but was not sure that I would have enough time. I went to the harbour early, but the ferry ended up delayed for several hours. I hung out at the vehicle loading area with a bunch of other motorcyclists returning from Tasmania and talked smack about the roads we traveled.


Making new friends while waiting for the ferry

A couple of Aussies on BMWs were making fun of my “Yankee accent”. I thought that was interesting, because I had never been made fun of for having an accent before.

Next: Week 3 in South Australia

Week 1: Sydney to Melbourne

February 6, 2010
Location: Tumut, NSW

I’d been sitting on packed bags all week waiting for the rain to let up so that I could have a dry departure, but the thunderstorms were relentless and were predicted to continue through the next week. Enough was enough, and I decided to hit the road anyway, and just keep going until I found some sunshine. It was pouring rain, but I
gunned it towards Canberra via 31. Had to stop a few times to repack, as contents shifted in flight. I had never strapped so many bags to a dirtbike before, so packing would be a learning process.

It was a cold-wet-windy-miserable ride. Got to Yass, which is a little north of Canberra, before it finally dried up. While the sun was out, I took a gravel goat trail to Tumut, which is where I am now.

By the time I got here, it was already almost dark so I had to figure out how to set up my new tent really quickly. I think I got it right cuz it hasn’t collapsed on my head yet. Here is a new friend that I made. He’s hanging out in the tree next to my bike and really creeping me out.


I didn’t take that many pictures on the road because I had my camera inconveniently wrapped somewhere inaccessible to keep it dry. Here is the XT600 at Wee Jasper.
My luggage consists of a set of saddlebags, one carrying vital fluids (chain lube, oil, WD-40, 6L water) for both me and the bike; the other carrying a sleeping bag, towel, and some clean underwear. On the tail is a large backpack containing my toiletries, shoes, and electronic items. Behind that is a 5L fuel jug. On the two sides are a folding tent and a foam mat tied to each saddlebag.

February 7, 2010
Location: Thredbo, NSW


First, some quick pictures I took in the morning at Tumut. Sunrise by the river :)

I’m at a hostel in Thredbo now. It’s on the western edge of Kosciuszko National Park. I did about 200 km of trails around the park after leaving Tumut, then another 200 km out to Cooma and back. Tomorrow I plan on taking a trail to Omeo and then straight down to the coast somewhere, and the day after that I should be in Melbourne if I don’t screw anything up.

Here are some pictures I took along the way today.



Loaded down like a pack mule…



Sunshine, solitude, and the best bike in the world. I couldn’t be happier!




I can see for miles and miles…

I saw 4 kangaroos today. They were all smashed and dead on the road. I haven’t seen any live ones yet.

February 8, 2010
Location: no freaking idea

Today was both really really bad and really really good. I think that makes it fantastic.

I don’t have a clue where I am right now. Well, camped out behind a farmhouse in the bush. The nearest town is supposed to be Albury, which is an hour’s drive away.

So, let’s begin. Leaving Thredbo this morning, it was drizzling but all was well:

From there, went to Corryong. Then Mitta Mitta. Then, hopped on some dirt trails that were supposed to lead south so that I could end up somewhere on the coast.




I’m in paradise!



Continuing on this trail, my path was blocked by a pile of cows. I didn’t know what to do about them, and rather than try to barrel through them, I turned around and found another path to take. That was a bit of a mistake, as it was not a real trail and I ended up aimlessly wending my way through the forest.

That was mid-afternoon. While trying to find my way back onto a main road, it began to rain, hard. The dirt became mud and the XT600 got stuck. I must have spent hours trying to free the poor thing, but it was too wet and slippery and I only succeeded in repeatedly throwing myself in the mud. I gave up around 7:30pm or so. It had stopped raining by then, but it was nearly dark and I needed to get out of the woods, or at least find a clearing where I could set up a campsite. I unpacked my camping gear and backpack, and started hiking.



Right before I abandoned the XT600. I know, I know, it doesn’t even look like it’s stuck that bad. I’m a wimpy little girl.

I hiked a mile, or 2, or 3, I have no idea. I was busy wondering if I was going to die. It wasn’t actually that long before I came upon a farmhouse.

I walked up to the door trying to look as nonthreatening as possible. An older man came out.

“I, uh, need some help.”

“Do you need to go to a hospital?”

“No, my bike is stuck in the mud. Up the mountain.”

And that was that.
The guy who lives here is named Michael, and he said I could sleep in a tent behind his house. He is a sage farmer. He was just finishing dinner as I showed up, but he gave me a bowl of kangaroo meat. It looked like hamburger. I know, I know, eating meat goes against everything I believe in, but I was starving and it could have been dog food; it was the best damn meal of my life.

February 9, 2010
Location: Still no clue

I’m still at the sage farm. I found out in the morning that there are several people camped out around the farm and on neighboring farms. Apparently it’s common for wandering hippies to set up camp on these farms, work on the farm for awhile, and then move on. Today, I became one of them.

I was up at 5 am today because my tent was soggy and smelled disgusting. Michael told me that the reason I was up so early was because his garden gives off a lot of energy which my body must be absorbing. Yeah, ok. I don’t think he sleeps, but it’s probably from smoking crack. I walked around and took some pictures of the farm.



Farmhouse and the tent I slept in.



Inside the farmhouse. There is no bathroom here, only an outhouse.




Sage farm in front of outback



Woods where I wandered out of last night.

And then it was time to go rescue the bike. I hiked back out to the woods where it was stuck (I had a little bit of trouble finding where I left it). Now that the ground was all dry, getting the XT600 out was easy.


Here is the XT600, safe at the farm. I was so happy to be reunited!

It was really hot and humid out, and I didn’t want to leave just quite yet. I spent the afternoon wrapping and drying sage with the others while getting hotboxed.



Here’s the XT600 watching me prep sage.

After that, I cleaned the bike and all my gear and checked it out to make sure everything was okay. I should be leaving tomorrow. I’ll head straight for Melbourne this time; no more screwing around.

February 10, 2010
Location: Omeo, VIC

Got a slow start this morning, loaded up the bike.



Here is the XT600 all amped up and ready to go! My gear is starting to look a bit ratty.

After studying some maps, I found out that the farm I was stuck at was somewhere near Mt. Tawonga. I figured out how to get to some sort of main road, and took off. Shortly after departure, I ran into a thunderstorm. The rain was coming down hard enough to sting, and the wind was making the bike difficult to control. By the time I got to Omeo, I’d had enough, and checked into a hostel for the night.

February 11, 2010
Location: Dandenong, VIC

I finally made it to Melbourne. Actually, I’m at a motel in Dandenong, which is a few kilometers short of Melbourne, but I figured it’d be cheaper to stay here. It’s been thunderstorming today, but hopefully it should be nice tomorrow. I took paved roads this time, from Omeo to Bairnsdale along the coast to here.



All packed up and ready to leave Omeo this morning.

I thought that the rest of my journey was going to be drama-free, but at a restroom stop in Foster, the XT600 collapsed on me.

I know exactly why it broke, too. I’ve been spinning the bike around on the sidestand to get it turned around in tight places when I’m too lazy to back it out. My friend Steve taught me this trick many years ago.

Anyway, Foster has a population of about 10, but I was able to find a mechanic who removed the stand and welded it back together. The whole ordeal barely took an hour. I tried to pay him, but he wouldn’t let me. He said he just couldn’t bear to see me in distress. What a nice bloke. You may also notice that my license plate fell off somewhere on the way from Omeo. ARrrrrgh, the poor bike just can’t catch a break!



Here we are at Wilson’s Promontory. It’s still a bit out from Melbourne, but this was the last picture I took before the rain started pouring down. The thunderstorms seem to be following me.

February 12, 2010
Location: Dandenong, VIC

I’m currently camped out at Dandenong. It’s rather cold out here. Not much happened today. I made arrangements to take the XT600 to Tasmania on the ferry, and made sure the bike was okay after all the mileage I’ve been putting on it. Did maybe 150 km of trails around Bunyip State Park to let the XT600 stretch its legs.



Bunyip State Park

February 13, 2010
Location: Ferry to Tasmania

I won’t be writing much today because I don’t want to make myself seasick. Today was wildly uneventful. I rode around Melbourne a bit, and realized that I can’t stand cities or people. Watched some kitesurfing competition today. Oddly, I seem to be carrying less and less luggage. The only thing I’ve thrown out is the mat, which was disintegrating after being soaked so many times.

I then hung out at the port, made some friends, and boarded the ferry.


Waiting to board.



Dudes tying my bike down for me.


Goodbye rainy melbourne!

Next: Week 2 in Tasmania