Friday, 10 January 2014

Bundaberg to Karumba. 2793km and the heat continues

The roasting continues


With New Year celebrations out of the way in Bundaberg, I was getting stir crazy and keen to continue. My friend Nathan wanted to ride with me for at least the first part, before rejoining his family in Bundaberg for the journey home back in the Central Coast NSW.

2nd of January we left Bundaberg, straight for Childers further west where we found some fun twisty road previously on the way in. Once at the fun stuff, for some unknown reason in my enthusiasm, after dropping down a gear for a corner, I brought my foot back and rested it on the lever for the centre stand, instead of the foot peg. When I started leaning into the corner, there was this horrible metallic scraping sound. At first I was impressed I had gotten the bike that far over as it didn't seem we were going quick enough. But I have rubberised foot pegs. Instead my foot had pushed down the centre stand and was pressing that into the road. Unnerving!

Nathan was riding his Suzuki GSXR750. A super sports bike designed for going quickly around a track. A touring bike it is not. He never complained of sore wrists even though he was leaning far forward over the bike. While his bike is far far quicker than mine, it has a smaller petrol tank and consumes the petrol quicker, so we found ourselves stopping every 100-150km to refuel as there are times where towns are quite far apart.

We camped at a town called Biloela. Go on, try saying it. I'm betting you're not saying it right. Even when I asked people to say it again, there was something about how it was said I kept missing. To me, it sounded like "Blue Heeler", so that's what I called it. Others just call it "Bilo". The town was surprisingly large, and the camp site had ensuite bathrooms for each caravan/tent spot. Luxurious. That night, the temperature was STILL about 30C and humid, and there was no wind. Lying in the tent was very uncomfortable. So we both ended up sitting in the pool talking until after 10pm. Even after then and returning to our tents, it was difficult to sleep.

3rd of January we continue on towards Yeppoon via Rockhampton. Along the way we stopped in Mount Morgan. It used to be a mining town, and seems to be reinventing itself as a tourist destination. A fascinating place. Where there was once a mountain, is now an open cut pit. I still found it hot wearing all the gear, but bearable. Here's evidence, yes my shirt is saturated.

We rode up to a lookout, and straight after turning off our bikes, there was a local on his bike stopping behind us. He told us it had been so long since motorbikes had come through, he heard us and came up to have a chat. Unexpected but kind of cool!

After passing through Rockhampton, we found Yeppoon on the coast quite pretty. It has a promising stretch right on the coast that ALMOST looks like Pacific Drive down near Wollongong NSW. Start travelling down that way however, and it stops within a few hundred metres.

I had a cousin to meet in Gladstone, and Nathan was returning to his family. Heading back south from Rockhampton was HOT at 42C. We stopped a couple of times to rest and get cold drinks. My bike jacket was dripping from the sleeves and a steady rate when I took it off and hung it over the bike. It's not from rain! Nice.

4th of January, after a very restful sleep in very appreciated air conditioning thanks to my most accommodating cousins, I left at sunrise and went straight for Townsville. Along the way is many, many, many acres of sugar cane. The ride was otherwise uneventful except for 1 spot where I saw a lookout up a narrow steep bitumen road. The lookout was quite nice. On the way down though, the heat had gotten to me and I wasn't thinking as quick as I should be, and reacted too late to a patch of sand over a corner. The tyres slid and I went straight for a grassy ditch. I managed to stop the bike in time before the drop, but was one hell of a wakeup call about how heat brings on fatigue faster.

Townsville was a pleasant surprise. It had this very sudden landscape of hills which are almost mountains. Quite dramatic. It also had a street alongside the beach called The Strand, and a lookout called Castle Hill.

5th of January, the trip to Port Douglas was just a blur. I was eager to get to the far end as I had much to look forward to. For starters I'd scored a good deal at a 5 star resort for 4 nights. The closer to Cairns I got, the more dramatic the mountains became. It almost reminded me of Tasmania. Just a lot warmer. The crops of sugar cane gave up some ground to bananas, mangoes and lychees.

Whilst resting from my hard holiday, I have to say Port Douglas is quite a gem. Hot air ballooning, visiting the Great Barrier Reef, the choice of places to eat, the scenery, worth a visit.

9th of January. Sadly it was time to leave Port Douglas. I was a little concerned about the distance between fuel stops on the way through Central Australia, so I strapped on 2 5L jerry cans to the bike. They'd look like panniers, except for the fact they're bright green! Hey, it was either that or bright red!

Only a short hop this time to Georgetown. The landscape changed to savannah. Long straights, slow changes. LOTS of wildlife to hit. Cattle, wallabies and roos everywhere. Just to make things interesting, there was the occasional stretch of road where there's only room for 1 car or truck. Not that there was much traffic, but when there was, I got out of the way. Having to swerve onto off camber dirt with road tyres on a bike would be a bad idea.

Georgetown itself had 2 camping/caravan spots from what I saw. I took the more appealing of the 2. Not that it was that appealing, but for $11 I wasn't complaining. The ground was soggy, the pool was murky, the ground unkempt. Still, it had a thunderbox (toilet) and showers. The diner was out the front. Still hot, at least I find the riding is a lot more bearable now that I've worked out how to slip the camelbak water tube through under the helmet while riding.

10th of January. Only another short hop. Managed to shake off any morning grogginess from a bad sleep, and enjoyed MORE savannah. From those who were with me last year on the South American mountain bike ride a year ago, it's like going through the Argentinian pampas. Well, not that bad, there's a bit more entertainment. Like when a wallaby darted from the bushes and ran into the side of my bike. I heard the thump as he hit the fairing, then he hit my boot, and we carried on our merry way. I found a slice through the surface of my boot (but not all the way through) with no other damage, just as well I was wearing those which are solid rather than just regular shoes. Maybe it was its teeth that did the slicing. There was cattle everywhere, lots of carrion birds eating the road kill. So if anything the whole trip kept me quite alert!

Staying in Karumba is clearly more tourist oriented around fishing and crocodile tours. It's right on the water in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Pretty place, the bugs here are ferocious. The mosquitos were having a great time until I got some tropical strength aerogard. I once tried to slap one mozzie, and hit 3 with one swipe. This is during the day! Lets see what the night brings...

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like quite an adventure already. I don't envy your riding in those hot temps. Am I to understand that you kinda back tracked to Gladstone? And you carried a souvenir of the wallaby with you? Delightful. Enjoy your mozzie feast and hope the crocodiles find you a bit too tough.