One of our FarRiders from Alice Springs is making a habit of organising a run to Glendambo, SA each Easter. I know we should all stay off the roads for Easter, but at least this run isn't in the more popular areas frequented by maniacal drivers over the holiday weekend.
Glendambo is 2262km from home so it was obviously going to take a couple of days to get there. Getting back? Well, I'd think about that.
I left home at 3am on Friday hoping to miss most of the traffic departing for the long weekend and managed that quite well. Almost no one on the Logan Motorway. It was a little cool. So on with the grip and seat heaters. Nothing. Damn. Hard to chase up electrical gremlins in the dark so nothing but grin and bear it. I can just hear the tears of sympathy raining from the eyes of those who ride without such luxuries. Not.
Sunup was the other side of Warwick with mist in the air and the odd small kangaroo sitting beside the road. None came close though.
|Misty morning sunrise|
First fuel stop was Goondiwindi and a chance to find the problem. Sure enough a fuse. Easily fixed. On the road again but by now it was 24C so no need for any form of heating.
Also there was now a lot of traffic on the roads as the holidaymakers got on the road. On the 110kph roads south of Goondi I saw another red GoldWing and recognised Thommo and Val making their belated way home from the Ulysses meet in Mildura. Huge wave and by the time I thought to switch on the CB we were well enough apart that we only had time for a "Gidday".
I'm not a big fan of the Newell Highway. It can be rough in parts and carries way too many heavy transports. So I generally leave it to them and take quieter roads. But it is generally the quickest A to B road through these parts and I had a long way to go.
By the middle of the day, traffic was quite heavy with more 4WD vehicles and caravans than the usual semis. All the servos were doing a roaring trade. This was not a day to practice 4 minute fuel-ups.
I made it to Nyngan and waited in line at the Shell. This would give me enough to get past the usually busy Cobar and top up at the small Emmdale servo which would let me breeze straight through Wilcannia and on to Broken Hill.
Cobar was indeed busy with lineups at all servos so I congratulated myself. That was until I got to Emmdale. Closed. Who does that on Good Friday? Well. Them. Apparently.
Ah well, push on to Wilcannia and hope they were open. I was carrying 10 litres spare on the back seat but wasn't sure if that would get me the 200km from there to BH.
|Darling River overflow|
I passed the W-5 sign and the bike coughed and conked out. No warning with fuel injection. It just stops.
Being this close I only put in a litre or so and it fired right up again and got me in to town where the servo was still open. Hurray.
Then it was the last two hours riding in to the setting sun and a glorious sunset and Broken Hill. Found a motel and all they had left was the 2 bedroom executive suite which I got at a small discount so long as I promised to use only one bed and not the spa. Sounded good to me. I was pretty tired anyway.
Rang Bazz and he had a gig with his band that night at a club and he also told me another couple of FarRiders were in town. So I didn't make any promises, but after a long hot shower I felt better and a little hungry. So down to the club I went.
Bazz was between brackets so we chatted while I scoffed a nice roast pork. The other two, had gone away for a bit but soon returned. Gateman and TonyK from Barraba. We sat around and chatted while Bazz got back to work, surprisingly playing a Creedence song I had been playing on the road in to town.
Turns out Chris and Tony had no plans to stay anywhere special and the windy weather was making swagging it a little daunting. So I offered my spare room with twin beds and they thought that was a good idea.
End of Day 1 - 1565km
Awoke in the dark just before the alarm and heard the other two stirring as well. It didn't take us long to pack the bikes up and get under way.
We rode out of Broken Hill straight into a setting Moon.
With the other two leading the way, I held back a ways in the dark so I could use the lights. Out past the border at Cockburn and follow the railway line.
After an hour or so it lightened up and pretty soon it was sunup with the moon hanging barely visible in the west. FarRiders usually take a photo at sunrise. We have a thread called "Sunrise on the Never Ending Road" which is full of such pictures. It is a special time of day.
Seems I led for a while after that, through Peterborough, Ororroo and Wilmington. We stopped for a breather at the top of Horrocks Pass before the enjoyable ride down through the twisty section and out onto the wide plain.
There's a place here called Winninowie. Nothing there at all. Just saltbush as far as the eye can see and the Flinders Range in the background. But it is kinda special. I've explained it all before.
We stopped at Davo's Plaque to pay our respect and take the obligatory photo of the bike with the range in the background.
At Davo's Plaque
An easy run up the Stuart highway with leisurely stops at the occasional lookout, saw us getting in to Glendambo at about 2:30pm to be greeted by half a dozen more FarRiders and ten thousand flies.
|Me and my friends|
|Riders come in all sizes|
|Lineup for food|
End of Day 2 - 697km
The remains of that day were spent in the company of FarRiders who had come from - well - far. No one could be accused of coming from near. Except the flies.
I slept in on Sunday morning. Must have been a nice bed.
8:00am saw me under way. I had two options. Home the way I had come = 2 days. Or continue through the Centre and down through Qld = 3 days.
I thought about it for a bit, but knew that really there was only one choice. The long way.
So north it was, on my own now. I like to travel with groups but it does have its setbacks. Alone I was my own Boss. My decision on whether or how long I wanted to stop. My decision on what speed to travel (within limits of course). If I can't have Charleen on the back or following on the CeeBee, I really do prefer riding alone.
The weather was excellent. Nice and cool. Clear skies.
By now most Easter holidaymakers were staying wherever they stayed and there was almost no traffic. Maybe half a dozen vehicles an hour. I only saw about a dozen trucks all day.
So North was the order of the day. Stops were made only for fuel at Coober Pedy, Marla, Erldunda and then Alice Springs. Oh and one short stop at the SA/NT border for a photo and loo.
From Alice it began to get dark, but as I was travelling so well, I continued on. At Barrow Creek I was greeted by the publican. He looked over the Wing whilst I was refueling and told me he had owned a couple. A GL1000 and GL1200, but hadn't ridden one for years.
"Think it is nearly time to get another one" he said with that faraway look in his eyes. Probably won't be the publican any more next time I go to Barrow Creek.
I left him dreaming and rode off in to the night.
Last fuel up was Tennant Creek. It was getting quite late now and there were just a few locals hanging around the 24 hour BP servo. As I was paying, a local rider came in on his Harley with the stereo up full blast. I guess he needed that.
Not long after, my northwards run finished as I came up to the Three Ways and turned East back towards the Qld border. I was starting to get a bit tired, but it was a lovely night - balmy and with a full moon - so a great time to camp out.
About 30-40km along the road I found a nice site. Up off the road near a repeater tower. Flat ground made of small pebbles. Time to set up camp.
End of Day 3 - 1508km (in 14 hours - love those NT limits)
Turned out I didn't sleep so well. Oh everything was set up nicely. I had a nice mesh shelter so no insects, a blow up mattress and a good sleeping bag. I was quite comfy. Until the mattress went flat.
I rolled out and blew it up again and this continued every our or so through the night.
Blow it up, crawl in nice an comfy for an hour or so then be woken by hard ground. Repeat.
By 6:00am I had enough and did a leisurely pack up to be back on the road at 7. Still before sunrise but it was quite light. An hour or so up the road and it was time to stop for the obligatory Sunrise Shot.
|Then I had to ride straight in to it|
There was a lot of birdlife along the road, some of it suicidal. It is not always easy to see them dart out from the sides or be the last of a group scattering before the bike. I heard a thump at the front and a small bird landed in my lap. Quite dead.
Shortly after one flew in from the right and hit me in my right index finger. That hurt. Blood everywhere. Fortunately (?) it was all his and none of mine, but I did pull the glove off to check.
|Obligatory border shot|
Fuel and the occasional food stops were made at Camooweal, Cloncurry and Winton.
|This made me run and hide|
I had been through a small rainstorm around Mackinlay and some rather large clouds were building up to my south west. Approaching Winton the sky was really dark as a large storm approached the town at the same time I did. Fuelling up I chatted with a driver who had just come from Longreach and he said it was fierce out that way. His 4WD had nearly been blown off the road by the winds and visibility was awful.
I checked the weather radar and sure enough a large dark mass was covering the Winton-Longreach stretch of the highway. Time for a little discretion.
Back around to the North Gregory Hotel - that big brick one in the middle of town. I've never stayed there and heard it was good so decided to give it a go. The manager helped me get the bike undercover as the rain was now coming down and organised me a room. It was disappointingly expensive.
End of Day 4 - 1077km
The Pub meal was OK and the room comfortable enough, so I got a good night's sleep. I had set the alarm for 3:30 and awoke at 3:27. I was on the road by 4:00am
The sky was clear with the moon still high and many stars. I overtook a long road train leaving town and as I didn't want my speed to be too high in the morning, he kept up with my 100kph nearly all the way to Longreach. I just managed to stay far enough ahead that his high beams didn't melt my helmet when he put them on several kays behind.
|Sunrise near Barcaldine|
I had a leisurely breakfast in Barky then continued South. By now, I am quite familiar with this route and was really glad to be going through the Augathella - Morven - Mitchell area in the middle of a warm day. All the roos would be asleep under trees somewhere.
Only animals to annoy me were the birds, with a poor magpie mis-cueing his takeoff and getting blown back in to my path. No damage - to me or the bike at least. Hate to see that happen to a Maggie though.
Fuel stops for the day were Barcaldine, Augathella, Roma and a short topup at Dalby from where it was an easy run home, getting in at 6:45pm.
Absolutely great to have Charleen watching the SPOT and so had the gate and garage door open.
End of Day 5 - 1362km
All in all, a great way to spend an Easter (plus one day). Although there was a fair amount of traffic on the Friday, an early departure saw me avoid most of it. The rest of the weekend, traffic was very light. I guess most people go to beachside resorts for this particular holiday and so the outback roads were definitely the place to be.