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Australia Counter Clockwise

Travel TSoderstrom COMMENTS 26 Feb, 2019

Back downunder again to see if we can circumnavigate Australia again, this time counter clockwise comparing to 2011 when Allan Nash and I did it clockwise. A few other things are different as well, start point this time is Perth instead of Sydney. Bike 2011 was a BMW 1200GS with big paniers and plenty of space for luggage, this time it's a Suzuki DR650 and we are two person on the bike. My son Leary and I will do the trip on the dirtbike but will use street oriented tires. Apart from the tires it is exactly the same setup as when I crossed from Perth to Ayers Rock and back on the Great Central Road in October 2017 with my friends from Perth, Mark, Jaime and Ian.  
Started April 5 from Triggs, Perth after have spent two days to prepare the bikes and work out luggage distribution. The Crew Chief Mark had already prepared the bike so it was just minor things to do. 

April 5
Headed south for brunch at the pier in Mandurah, lovely spot for a quick break. Continue to Bunbury for a coffee break and to check out the view tower of the city, nice place. Headed southeast on Road 1 down through Donnybrook, Kirup and down south in Balingup to Nannup where we spent the night in the local hotel. It was great to have Mark with us as we got to ride roads we would not have chosen.

April 6
Started with a short ride to Donnelly River Village to show Leary the local wildlife, not so wild anymore but not enclosed by any means. 
Leary feeding Kangaroo
Leary making friends with some Australian wildlife

Another short ride down to Pemberton to climb the Gloucester Karri tree, 53 meter straight up with a beautiful view over the tree tops. 
Gloucester Tree in Pemberton
Gloucester Tree in Pemberton

Leary on top of Gloucester Tree in Pemberton
Leary very happy on top of the tree looking over all other trees.

Continued down to Walpole and the Valley of the Giants.

Walkway at the Valley of Giants
Up amongt the Giants

A very old Karri tree
The Mother of all trees

Got in a hurry to get down to Albay where Allan Nash brother Graham were waiting with dinner. Had to get the tents up in the dark, not ideal when it is the first time you put the tent up but we managed.

April 7
Had a look around in Albany and visited the famous Gap and the Stone Bridge before splitting with Mark as he had to go back to work in Perth. Headed down to Esperance together with Graham who drove his car and the weather just turn perfect for riding.

Stonebridge in Albany WA
The Stonebridge in Albany, WA

April 8
Got the tour of Esperance by Graham who know the place as his backyard. This is after have cought up with work and laundry as that has to be done as well. Great to hang out with Graham and just chill out for a day. The bike got a rest as well.

April 9
Tried to get an early start but work come in the way so we didn't get away until 09:00 and as we had 640km in front of us it become a little bit of an issue. It turned out just fine as we had a great ride the 200km up to Norseman where we turned east towards Nullabor, of course after fueling up. Fuel and water are two fluids you need to make sure you have at all time here as it is not much of a chance to restock between the Roadhouses. The plan was to get the tent up but as we got a bit late by loosing another 45min in time different and it become quite chilly towards the end so we got a room in Cocklebiddy Road house.

Bike ready to go
Full tank and lubricated chain, ready for next day

April 10
We were holding off the departure until 09:00 as the sun was sitting right in our face as we were going to head straight east. Unbelievable the amount of roadkill between Cocklebiddy and Madura, must have been over a hundred dead Kangaroo's along the 100km streach in different stage. Some newly killed other just skeletons, all enjoyed by the Crows and Eagles. Weather again was perfect for riding with a clear blue sky and maybe 20-25°C in the air. Had a good run to the Border Village for some more fuel. Here is where you start to get close to the ocean and the Great Australian Bight.
As we have had headwind all the way from Norseman the fuel consumption have increased significant comparing when we bobbed around among the trees in south WA. There I got 410km out of 22.5 litre but heading east the baby used 19 litre for just 250km, 0.2 litre more per 10km. Something to take in to calculation before you pass a roadhouse without adding fuel.

West end of the Great Australian Bight
Sand dunes at the west end of the Great Australian Bight Marine Park

Looking east along the Bight
Great Australian Bight

After have been down to all view points we ended up in Nullabor Roadhouse for the night.

April 11
Didn't rush away in the morning just to let the sun rise a bit over the horizon and to catch up with work.
Just 20km to the Head of Bight, a great spot to watch the Right Whales that comes up from the southern ocean to born the calves and breed. Unfortunate so were we a bit early as they arrive in May/June and stay until September/October before they head south again towards Antartica.
It didn't leave us completely without any wildlife as it was a Sealion playing in the shallow water below.

Viewpoint at the Head of Bight
Leary watching a Sealion below

It was very noticeable the decline in roadkill on the South Australian side of the border, we saw very few. The reason I can only guess, too close to the ocean (salty air) for Kangaroo's, different vegetation or they shot them off to avoid traffic accidents? 
Stopped for a quick break in Ceduna, the end/beginning depending where you start of the Nullabor Plain. The Plain is actually not that wide but the stretch between Norseman and Ceduna is commonly called the Nullabor Plain. 
Headed south on B100 towards Port Lincon and did a little tour around the small place Smokey Bay, nice pretty place with a beautiful beach and Jetty. Noticed the fenced off area for swimming, guess they get the Great White (White Pointer in Aussie) shark visiting now and then. Very sensible way to deal with interaction betweeen humans and nature.  
Finally stopped for the night at Streaky Bay, a very small place but the hotel was packed with people so it was hard to get a table for dinner. Where do everybody coming from?

The main hotel in Streaky Bay
Lovely old style hotel at Streaky Bay

Jetty at Streaky Bay
The Jetty across from the hotel

April 12
Slow start in the morning as we didn't have far to go, enjoyed the hotels continental breakfast and manage to do a bit of work before we took off. Nice and easy ride along the coast down to Port Lincoln, the home of the Great White shark. Of course it is not only here they hang out but it is at least a couple of operators who offer the cage dive with the locally called White Pointer.
We checked in at the Pier Hotel, perfect location at the waterfront and a nice pub in the hotel. Had a nice stroll along the water and the Jetty where kids were swimming on the way home from school, must have been freezing.  

Pier hotel in Port Lincoln
Perfect location of the hotel right on the waterfront. Full on Pub, very popular place for the sundowner and dinner.

The jetty of Port Lincoln
The Jetty in the middle of town are used for swimmers and also for fishing specially in the evening. Lovely spot to view the city.

April 13
Another slow moving morning as we were not in any rush, had booked two nights in Discovery Park in Port Augusta just under 350km away. Had a bit of a too quick look at the map on the phone and took off just to find ourself coming into Port Lincoln again from the same direction with did yesterday. Wrote it off as a free city tour and headed in correct way towards Tumby Bay. Nice and easy ride with nice temperature despite overcast condition. Arrived mid afternoon in Port Augusta and the Park was located just as you get in so no problem with having the GPS stowed away in the paniers (should have used it in the morning, smile).

Unpacking and packing every day
Living in a suitcase without as suitcase. Hard to keep it tidy when you pack and unpack the paniers every day.

Relaxing after an easy day riding
Relaxing after an easy day riding

April 14
Laundry day and catching up with work, the Millenium boy spent all day online.

April 15
Took off for our D-tour up north in again lovely weather. As we riding around 250km on a tank we try to have a quick stop half way between fuelstops to give our bum a bit of a rest. One problem being two on the bike with all the luggage is you can't move on the seat. Stopped at the Roadhouse in Woomera for brekkie (Australian for breakfast)  and fuel. Had our first Aussie Pie and Sausage Roll on the trip. Had to stop again in Glendambo for fuel even though it is only a run of 115km but next roadhouse is 250km away so it was a need to top-up.
Arrived mid afternoon in Coober Pedy and deside to scrap our idea of camping and got a room, it was very hot. Did a quick walk down to the Unoona Opal mine and museum to get a grip of what the town is all about.
Coober Pedy have more Opals than the rest of the world together by far and that is what the place is all about. A population of 17-1800 person and it's all about the mining. Unfortunate so did we miss the last underground tour so we decide we aim for it on the way back south again at the end of our D-tour.

Leary on top of Unoona Mine in Coober Pedy
Leary thinking of becomming an Opal miner after we seen the price of the gems.

April 16
Early start as we had quite a day in front of us. Did the first fuel run without rest stop so we got 250km under our belt before breakfast in Marla. Very hot weather with temperature in the mid 30's that didn't make the journey any easier. Leary got now introduced at every stop to the central Australian wildlife, the flies. Everytime you stop they get on you in big number and they are not shy.
Another fuelstop at Erldunda after we had crossed the border to Northen Territory. Here you could clearly see we were getting closer to a main tourist destination as the roadhouse was full of cars and busses. Turned west towards Yulara and now the heat was really an issue, stop for water was a must, not only to get the bum a rest. Rolled into Yulara and Ayers Rock Resort Camping ground after 9 hours travelling and could really feel all the 740km. The heat is what really wear you down. 
Put the tent up, shower and a feed to get our energy back. Very good campingground with a full on kitchen area.

 Ayers Rock from the distance
Ayers Rock (Ularu in local language)

Our tent sorted at Ayers Rock campground
Our home away from home

 April 17
After making our own breakfast in the very well equipped camping kitchen we took off to the famous rock, if not the worlds most famous rock. 
Very impressive when you get up close to Ayers Rock and it is easy to understand why so many people are visting the area. 
We noticed it was a lot of people climbing the rock so we decide to have a go as well even though it is recommended not to according to signs but it isn't prohibited. From what I have been told it was never an issue to climb it in old days and none of the local people who lived around the rock minded it. Only after it become a very popular tourist destination and a money maker the younger generation decide it had some spiritual value and was not to be climb !! The rumours are now it will be permanent closed for climbing in October. 
After we been on top of it we then took the bike around it, very impressive to ride so close to it. Also got off and walked a bit to see some caves and waterhole (dry as it hasn't rain since October).
Checked out the vistor culture center before we took off to Mt Olgas (Kata Tjuta in local language) just under 50km away. Also very impressive with a hight of over 500m and that is less that 5% of the mountain as the rest is underground. 

Approaching Mt Olgas
Mt Olgas (Kata Tjuta)

The ridge to climb Ayers Rock
We circle it !

Leary and me on top of Ayers Rock
We climbed it !

Sunset helicopter ride around Ayers Rock and Mt Olgas
We flew it !

Ayers Rock in the sunset from the air
Ayers Rock at sunset

Mt Olgas in the sunset
Mt Olgas at Sunset

April 18
No rush in the morning as we only had 300km to do but didn't want to leave it too late for the afternoon heat. We arrived in Kings Creek Resort at 2pm to get our tent up again and get sorted for the campinggrounds own Pub, The Thirsty Dingo Bar. Nice place and also the evenings BBQ was set up nicely with a good area to hang out without too many flies. Early evening as we planned to get away early for the areas main attraction.

The flies of central Australia
They are there to greet you from sunrise until sunset.

April 19
Off 7am to the main attraction of the area, the rim walk of the Kings Canyons.
Only 10km away from the resort area is the start of the walk with several options in length depending how much you want to see or are able to walk. We went for the full on rim walk, 6km and with the early start the temperature was nice so it wasn't that hard apart from the first 500m that was up and up. Not overly steep but of course Leary took off with his young legs and I had to follow in the same speed, a mistake as I run out of air half way up and had to stop to catch the breath. The next 3 hours was amazing with a scenery one will not forget. 

 Leary on the way up to the Kings Canyon north rim
Leary walking slowly up to the north rim of Kings Canyon

Up on the north rim
Very intresting formations formed over millions of years

Looking at the south rim
The south rim have more of a sheer wall comparing with the north rim

Leary with the south rim behind
The sheer wall of the south rim behind Leary with the sun in his face. You want to do the walk early in the morning before it get too hot. If the temperature will reach 36°C they will close the full walk at 9am.

 Top of north rim at Garden of Eden
Landscape on top what is called the Garden of Eden where the canyon ends.

North and South rim gets together
North and South rim gets together and form a very narrow cut

Rock formation in a shape of an UFO
Rock UFO just landed

A nice Kangaroo on the path
Walked into a nice not so shy Kangaroo on the way down from the south rim

April 20
Started to pack the bike just as daylight start to arrive to get away before it got too hot. Very nice cool morning for the first couple of hours. Had a water stop when we got down to Lasseter highway and got greeting with thousands of flies. Leary refused to take his helmet off for the invasion of flies.

 Arrive at Lassester highway

Had a fuel and brunch stop at Erldunda before we continue the 200km to Alice Springs. 
Got into the motel we booked at 2pm so plenty of time for laundry and catching up with internet and work before dinner and a couple of schooners.

April 21
The plan was to hang out in Alice (popular name for Alice Springs) to wait for Monday to get the oil change on the bike but it turned out that Monday is a public holiday too. Room was booked so we stayed to check out the area a bit better. Todd Mall is a nice area with shops and a bit of a mini market on the closed off street. 
Visited the Reptile Center where Leary got an opportunity to meet some new friends.

 Diplomat motel in the center of Alice Springs
We stayed in Diplomat motel right in the middle of Alice Springs, great location and had everything there, the pub was most popular place in town. Just had to chase off the small cockroaches when we arrived, not a big deal. 

Leary holding a Blue-tongued Skink
Blue-tongued Skink at Alice Spring Reptile Centre

Leary with a 2.5m long Olive Python
Leary hugging a Olive Python or was it the otherway around?

The Reptile centre's Saltwater Crocodile
We got a very enthusiastic presentation from the Centre's owner Rex about Saltwater crocodile. The Centre's own 2.5m Salty (Australain for Saltwater crocodiles) displayed a behaviour that clearly will make you stay away from the waters edge while you visit the north. As Rex said, they may not eat you but they will kill you, very territorial animals. Well worth a visit if you are in Alice Spring.

April 22
Very eary start and we were focus to really get away early as we were on a mission. Rolled off at 6:30am when the first light start to arrive and were out of town even before sunrise. Normally you want to wait until after sunrise before you move due to the movement of the Kangaroo's in early morning. As we were in town and had a bit to ride before we got out on the Stuart highway it was fairly safe and we didn't see any wildlife on the way out. 
The weather have dramatically changed or more the temperature, it was between 10-15°C so it was lucky we had added some sweaters under our bike gear. Unfortunate so did that not help the hands very much. Needed to pull over to warm up after an hour as all my fingers gone white, just to see a Kangaroo bounce off in the distance. As the sun got up higher the temerature rised but it never become hot so it was nice to ride. Fuelstop and breakfast at Kulgera Roadhouse, also stopped at Marla for more fuel.  Rolled into Coober Pedy at 3pm after 8 1/2 hour on the road, got a room at Opal Inn as we stayed there before. Quick off to the Umoona Mine and Museum for the last underground tour of the day, we just missed it on our last visit. We got a chance to learn more about the Opal mining and it was quite an enjoyable and educational hour underground.

Rest stop between Marla and Coober Pedy
Quick break between Marla and Coober Pedy. The colour of the central, Red and Blue.

Underground accommodation from old days in Coober Pedy
Underground accommodation was the only option back in old days as it was no buildings material available around Coober Pedy. Even today do most people live underground to avoid the summer heat and the winter cold as underground it is 23-25° all year around. 

Leary on the way out from the Umoona Opal mine
Modern shafts are drilled with machines hence they are perfectly round. Leary climbing out from 15m underground.

 April 23
Finally the Easter holiday was over and everything start to work as usual, Australia celebrating Easter Monday like in Europe, not what we are used to in the Philippines. Our Baby got new engine oil as soon as the car workshop RAA open the door at 08:30. The guy who run the place was very kind and let us borrow the facility to dump the old oil. 
Didn't waste any time after and was on the way around 10am in perfect riding weather, sunny and 20-25°C. 
The road from 50km north of Glendambo Roadhouse to Pimba was littered with roadkill, every 50 metre it was a dead Kangaroo, Emu and even some Cows. Even worse than Nullarbor.
Made it down to Port Pirie an hour before sunset so it had already become quite chilly, can feel we are getting south.

Historical Railway station in Port Pirie
Railway station in Port Pirie, built in 1902 in Victorian Pavilion style.

April 24
After breakfast we got hold of the main motorcycle shop in Port Pirie, Boats N Bikes Port Pirie where we got a new rear tired fitted in no time. Very helpful staff and quick service.
Now we have new oil and new tire, can it be better?
Slowly took off for the 200km plus into Adelaide where we had a room booked in Adelaide Meridien in North Adelaide, turned out to be very good value for the money. A bit of a shock when we got close to the city and realise what traffic is, haven't seen it since we left Perth 3 weeks ago.
We spent the evening with old friends like Allan's Mother, his two brothers Ray and Collin together with Lynne (Allan's sister-in-law) and our old mate from the beach, Nik Day. Great evening and really good to see them all again.
New tire fitted in no time at Port Pirie
Always good to have nice new tire on the bike.

Dinner with the Nash family and Nik Day
Dinner together with Team Nash and Nik Day.
Leary, me, Collin, Joyce (Mum), Nik, Lynne and Ray.
Great evening and lovely to hang out with them all again.

April 25, Anzac Day
Leary and I decided to join the Dawn Service at South Australian National War Memorial at 6am.
In the memory of the brave men and women from Australia and New Zealand who have been fighting numbers of wars and conflicts all the way back since WWI until today. 

Anzac Dawn Service at South Australian National War Memorial
Lots of people come out in early morning in memory of the service men and women who have faught in the past wars. Lest We Forget

 Karrawirra Parri, North Adelaide
Kirrawarra Pirri, North Adelaide

Very cold morning so we didn't take off in any hurry, packed slowly after breakfast and then got out of town without hassle. Past by Hahndorf just outside Adelaide where I have very nice memory from with all the Bavarian and German flags, completely out of place in the middle of Australia. Obviously a lot of German settled here way back and many name are still there like Otto's Bakery.......
Have to say the place have changed a lot since my last visit 2011, the names are still there but the German and Bavarian flags and paintings are gone. Not too sure I'm all happy about it as I thought that was a big part of the place and its history. 
Easy ride down to Halls Gap in the Grampiens National Park but again start to get really chilly towards the end.

 Kangaroo's visiting the Motel lawn foir a feed
Not all guest check in at the Motel, some just hang out on the lawn. Photo taken when Leary and I walked back from dinner.

April 26
Slow start as it was very cold, specially in the morning. Spent most of the day driving around in the Park to check out McKenzie Fall, Ried Lookout and Baroka Lookout. As it is a long weekend with Anzac day yesterday so most people could not bother to go back  to work for one day and we could see that in the park, very busy. Weather was going on and off and it tried to rain but didn't last very long but very strong wind all day. Thought we were going to fly off the cliff at Reid Lookout as the wind was very strong there. 

 Leary in front of McKenzie Fall
McKenzie Fall is located 500m plus from the road, 500 metre down and 500 metre up. Well worth the small hike.

Lake Lonsdale from Boroka lookout
Nice view of Lake Lonsdale from the Boroka lookout.

April 27
Left Halls Gap in 6-7°C with all clothes we could fit under our riding gear and with the rain gear on top. Even the rubber gloves we bought in Woolsworths in Esperance went over the leather gloves. It was a mistake to leave the thicker gloves back home but it was to save in space and weight in the luggage. The rubber cover works find both for rain and windbreaker but could have done with size XXL but unfortunate not available. 
It was actually sunny when we left but as soon as we got down to the coast it started to drizzle.  We stopped in Warrnambool for breakfast and hot chocolate before headed on to the Great Ocean Road. It's clearly another long weekend as the road was quite busy and holding us back quite a bit in speed on the fairly narrow road. 
Visited Loch Ard Gorge where two survivors from the clipper Loch Ard got ashore when the ship went down early morning June 1, 1878. Beautiful place but wow has it change from my last visit 2011 when it was just Allan and me there wondering around. Bus loads of tourist and with several Parking controller directing the traffic to parking space. 
Continue the 4km to the next attractions, The 12 Apostels, again beautiful scenery but way too much people. Even a helicopter airport with 4-5 helicopters waiting for customer, think it was too windy for anyone brave enough to get a flight. 2011 Allan and I drove pass the place without noticed it, we basically missed it!
Stopped for fuel in the nice town of Apollo Bay before we got to the part of the Great Ocean Road that are winding along the shoreline all the way to Torquay. Great road but way too much traffic to have fun riding as it is very limited places for overtakes. Many brave surfers were out riding their boards on the rolling waves despite the temperature. 
We got to the ferry in Queenscliff just as it was going to leave but they were kind to hold it so we could get onboard. A 40min ride to Sorrento that cuts out the ride around Port Phillip Bay and Melbourne. Stayed the night in Rosebud 10km from where the ferry lands. 

 Loch Ard Gorge from above
Loch Ard Gorge, where the only two survivors from the sunken Loch Ard manange to get ashore.

Loch Ard Gorge from shore
The gorge from the beach

Razorback at the Loch Ard Gorge
"Razorback" in the same area

The 12 Apostels
The 12 Apostels 4 km further east from Loch Ard Gorge.

How to make your summer gloves warm and waterproof
How to make your summer gloves wind and waterproof for a few dollar

April 28
Early start despite one digit temperature but we were on a mission. It was light rain on and off all the 130km to Phillip Island where we had breakfast at the Champions Cafe (where else) next to the racing track. Then off to see the Penguin Parade but when we got there we got treated with free entrance to the place with the word, we only charge after 3pm as the Penguin don't show up until 6pm. A very nice lady gave us a good rundown how it works and we saw the movie and checked out some resting pinguins in the showcase they had there. Next time read all information before you go to something like this. It was not wasted as it not far from the racing track and both Leary and me learned a bit about the Little Penguins. 
We took the B460 that took us to M1/A1 just west of Traralgon and it was a very nice roads in a hilly landscape with very little traffic. Continue to Lakes Entrance for fuel, lovely spot that would be worth to hang out at specially in warmer weather. Now the sun was shining from a blue sky and we stripped off the rain gear. Did another 60km to a small place Orbost where we found a motel for the night.

 Phillip Island Racing track
Couldn't find the right settings for the DR so I never took it out on the track, next time........

April 29
Blue sky and not a cloud as far as you could see, very nice after the last few days with overcast and drizzle on and off. Still cold so the rain jacket and rubber gloves over the leather went on. Beautiful road through the forest to Cann River where we headed north on B23. Perfect motorcycle road up the hills to Bombala where we stopped for breakfast and to warm up a bit. Temperature dropped even further as we climbed up to over 1,100 metre but we got rewarded when we got closer to Canberra and down around 5-600m in elevation. Time to get the rain gear off and ride into Canberra in comfortabel temperature. Manage to take a wrong turn as we got closer to the Capital of Australia but it all turned out good as we ended up right next to a huge Bunning store. Checked if they has some XXL size latex gloves but negative. Got the GPS out of the bag and got straight back on track again into Canberra. 
Arrived mid afternoon to our good friends from Puerto Galera, Rob and Ning who runs a Sheep Station outside Yass. We got to see when they moved the ewe with newly born lamb (18h old) to a different area for them to get some fresh grass. 
Great to catch up with Rob and Ning who used to tour the Philippines on a BMW 650.

Merryville Station entrance
Ning, Rob and Leary at Merryville Station. Great to see Rob & Ning again.

April 30
A day on the Historic Merryville Station where we had a fantastic time joining Rob to check out if we had got some new lamb since yesterday.  Two ewe's with two lamb each that needed to be move in to the smaller field with nice grass for them to increase the milk productions for their lambs. This sounds like a straight forward tasks but it is quite time consuming as you first have to move all the other ewe's to a different field so they don't sneak it to the yammy grass field. Lots of moving around in the UV to open gates here and close gates there, then back and slowly move the sheeps in to the next field. Close the gates again then back to open up the yammy grass field gate before you can try to get the ewe's with lambs to move over there. It turned into a minor drama when one of the lamb got all confused and run off but Sheepdog Rose quickly solved that problem. Very impressive to see the dog handle the problem, in about 2 seconds the lamb was under Rose control by gently holding the lamb to the ground. Reunited with the mother the lamb wondering off towards the new field.
Merryville Homestead is a lovely home that offer B & B accommodation and you feel like you are in museum with so many old funiture and the bulding was built 1903 so it has quite a history as well. Perfect place to stay if you are checking out the wine in the Murrumbateman area that have a very good reputation as cold climate wine. Even if you visting Canberra the Merryville Homestead is a good option for accommodation as it's only 50km away, very nice and quiet away from the city.
For booking contact Ning Clark at info@historicmerryvillehomestead.com 

 Leary open the gates to a new field for the sheep's
Leary open the gate for the sheep's to get new fresh grass.

Ewe's with lamb enter a new field with fresh grass
Ewe's with their newly born lambs enter a yammy grass field. Photo Ning Clark

Leary removing Serrated Tussock
Leary removing Serrated Tussock to give space for the grass to grow. Sheep's don't eat Serrated Tussock so it's no use for it on the farm.

May 1
Back on the bike again with an early departure as we had a meeting at PADI Asia Pacific in Frenchs Forest, Sydney before lunch. PADI is the largest organisation when it comes to certification of scuba divers and we have been working with them for close to 30 years.
An easy 300km ride with a quick stop for fuel in Gunning along the M31 highway and a quick stop at a rest stop half way. All smooth until we hit the redlights in Sydney, most of them shining red for some reason. We had to go through all Sydney area as PADI AP's office is in the north but apart from it takes time due to the redlights it was easy to navigate with the help of the GPS. The only time you really need a GPS to guide you in Australia is in the big cities as it's very well marked out on the road so a quick glance on the map in the morning is often enough.
Had our meeting with Danny Dwyer and his Team from the different departments where we got updated of what's going on and what's in the tube for the future. Great to see them all.
We stayed in Narrabeen north of Sydney and finished off the day in the hotels pub togheter with a few of the guys from PADI. Nice way to finish of the first day in Sydney.

Boardroom of PADI Asia Pacific with the Team
Great to see the Team at PADI Asia Pacific or at least part of the team.

Bike safetly parked at the PADI's warehouse
Bike was safetly kept in PADI's warehouse while we were there for the visit. The Team waving us off when we left.

May 2
Headed into Sydney by bus after breakfast to get dropped of right in the center. Now we are real tourist so we walked down to Circular Quay to checked out the Opera House, probaply one of the most famous buildings in the world with its unique design. Sydney Harbour Bridge being another icon of the scenery of Sydney. 
Weather was great for sightseeing with a thin layer of clouds so we did everything by foot.
Walk over to Darling Harbour to pay the Sea Life aquarium a visit. It's well worth to pay a visit as they have a lot of interesting stuff going on in the aquarium with highlights like a Dungon, number of different sharks, big Turtles and handfull of Eagle Rays.
Off to the Sydney Tower Eye to get a good view of the city from above before we got the bus back to Narrabeen and a lovely dinner with Danny and his wife Sharron to finish off our visit to Sydney.

 Leary with the Sydney Opera House in the background
Leary with the famous Sydney Opera House. 

We posing in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge
Happy tourists in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sea Dragon at the Sea Life Aquarium
Sea Dragon at the Sea Life Aquarium in Darling Harbour.

May 3
After big breakfast we took off from Sydney to start our trip to the north, overcast and perfect temperature for riding. Stayed on the M1/A1 2-lane highway all the way up to Wauchope, great if you want to be moving but quite boring riding. 
In Wauchope we were going to check out the Timbertown as we had been recommended it as something interesting. We thought it would be a museum type thing that you run through in your own chosen spead but it was more of a themepark with different program going on during the day. As the time was already 15:00 (3pm) we were too late for any activities.
Continued the ride to Coffs Harbour where we took in at Bananatown motel, where else in the town that used to make it's money from Banana plantations.

 Timbertown theme park
Timbertown Theme Park in Wauchope

May 4
Left early with the aim to have breakfast at Byron Bay and to see a bit of the coastline along the way and not just hightway. Weather a bit so and so with rain on and off but with made it to Byron Bay, a bit overdressed as it had stopped rain and people were walking towards the lighthouse in shorts and t-shirt were we rolled in dressed in full rain gear. Quick look at the Byron Bay old lighthouse before we headed to town for a breakfast at the beach.
Back onto the highway all the way to the Gold Coast where we turned off to the Gold Coast Highway that takes you along the water all the way along the Gold Coast and past Surfers Paradise. 
Started to rain quite a bit in the afternoon so we just put our head down and ride as far as we could get. When we rolled into Gympie we run out of daylight so we found a motel close to the Gympie Gold Mining & Historical Museum, we were wet and cold.

Beach at Byron Bay with lighthouse in the background
Nice long beach at Byron bay with the old lighthouse far in the background.

Breakfast stop at Byron bay
Leary with full tummy after a great breakfast at Byron Bay.

May 5
On the bike at 7am as we last night made a plan of reaching Cairns in two days, over 1,500km of riding and we are not on a Gold Wing with cruise control. The weather forcast was a big sun all the way to Cairns, one of the reason why we even consider the idea. Freezing cold in the morning but as the sun got up a bit higher on the sky it become very nice to ride and the rain jacket as a windshield could come off.
After a few quick and efficient stop for brunch and fuel we rolled into Mackay a bit before sunset and took into Miners Motel along A1. A very nice guy changed their Sport channel settings so we could watch all 3 MotoGP races from Jerez live while having Fish & Chips from the neighbour store. 

May 6
Again 7am start and same condition as previous days, didn't take long to lose the feelings in the fingers but it was a choice between getting the hands squeezed by the too small Latex gloves or bear the cold. Took the entire brunch break to get the feelings back but after it was all good and we even needed to take off some linings under the riding gear in the afternoon. 
Like to mention our last fuel stop for the day, Cardwell a nice little place along the ocean with a lot of people hanging out.
Rolled in to Cairns at 17:00 (5pm) with the feeling of Mission Completed.
A bit of a drama upon check-in at City Sheridan Motel as they had no staff as it turned out to be Labour Day. A phone call and a bit of wait got us a code to a safety box where we had our key and information. 
The town was a Ghost town with no people outside but we did find an Asian style restaurant that was open for a meal and a cold beer.

May 7
Started the day with a big load of laundry to get all clean before we start to head west. Brekky (yes, Australian for breakfast) and then off to the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum just 10km north of Cairns. A privately owned museum, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.  Leary was on the moon when we walked around there and as usual when we going to see stuff like this he knew all about it. Who said video game is bad for children? I got a lecture in which tank is the faster one and which had most armour, biggest gun and so on. The place is very impressive with all the different vehicles and guns of all kind included a surface to air missile from Russia, seems to be no limit.
We even manage to get a ride in an armoured vehicle, same comfort as a Jeepney from the Philippines.  
Off to the Skylink that was going to take us up to the rainforest and give us a beautiful view of the place just to find out it was closed for maintenance.
Back on the bike to go back into town again to get over to check out the Aquarium. Very similar layout as the Sea Life in Sydney and equal impressive. Lovely shark and ray tanks among many nice displays.
Asian dinner again, this time a bit of Balinese influence at the Bayleaf Balinese, very good food and service.

 Leary in Aus Armour and Artillery museum
The number of different tanks and a armoured vehicles are very impressive.

Tiger I Tanks
Replica of a German Tiger I tanks next to a original gun for the Tiger.

Just after our armour vehicle ride
We survived the ride in the armour vehicle, not much different than a Jeepney ride in the Philippines, at least when it comes to comfort.

Swedish weapon AT4
The weapon in the middle is an AT4 which I was part of the development of in the mid 80's back in Sweden. Used still by the US Army, Leary was very impressed when I told him.

Cairns Aquarium
Something a bit nicer, Cairns Aquarium, well worth a visit.

May 8
Left Cairns at 07:00 (7am) in around 20°C with a all blue sky on the Savannah Way that tooks us north before we turned west up onto Atherton Tableland. The climb up took us through the rainforest on a winding road unfortunate with a bit of traffic as it would have been great fun being on an empty road there. It got quickly chilly as we gained altitude and the hands suffered quite a bit of the cold in the morning. 
The Savannah Way is a great option if you are heading west to the Northern Territory from Cairns rather then go back to Townsville and the main road west. The first 250km crossing the Atherton Tableland are beautiful with some great views over the landscape. 
Breakfast at the Roadhouse in Mt Gagnet sitting in the sun to regain some blood circulation in my fingers. 
Got to Undara Lava Tubes between Mt Gagnet and Mt Surprice to find out that next tour was mid afternoon and the option to sit and wait for four hours to see some holes in the ground wasn't there. 
Back on the road that were more or less empty, have to say it's nice to be away from the busy east coast. After the fuel stop in Croydon we did not see one single vehicle in the next 150km to Normanton. Rolled into the motel at The Purple Pub for the night. 
Got a couple of XXXX Gold before dinner as I understand that's what you drink in Queensland and this was my first ones. 

The Purple Pub in Normanton QLD
The Purple Pub in Normanton, have it all.

Bike parked outside out room in Normanton
Our Baby getting a rest outside our room, ready for the next days ride.

May 9
Up early as usual but with one changed, we had no daylight. As we had moved more or less 700km straight west we had to wait for for almost 30 minute for the sun to come comparing to the east coast. We still got away just after 07:00 (7am) and had a beautiful 200km right down to Burke & Wills roadhouse. Plenty of animals along the road, lots of birds of prey feeding on the roadkills with some majestic eagles as well. Two fullsize what to me looked like Crane's took off as we approached, Kangaroo's sitting along the road or on the road in some cases. We even had to slow down on a couple of occations to let some cattle cross the road. We should not forget the Galah, more known as Grey and Pink Parrots who takes off in big groups when you approach them with the noisy bike. 
Brekky and fuel at Burke and Wills roadhouse before we carry on down to Cloncurry where we turned west on A2 (Barkly Highway). Arrived in Mount Isa early afternoon and checked in at Central Point Motel located close to Ride & Bikers store. After dropped off all the gear we took the bike over to Ride & Bikers to have them do a bit of a service on the Baby.
Cought up with my old friends for Angeles City Hash House Harriers, Peter and Renee who lives in Mount Isa and just arrived back from Australia Nash Hash in Port Douglas. Great to see them again for a few cold ones and dinner.

Breakfast stop at Burke and Wills roadhouse
Fuel and breakfast stop at Burke & Wills roadhouse after a great 200km ride from Normanton.

Dinner with Peter and Renee
Dinner with old friend Peter and Renee in Mount Isa, great to see them again.

May 10
Picked up the bike at the Bike & Rider shop in the morning, now ready to go all the way back to Perth with new oil and filter, also the air cleaner got a brush even if it wasn't much to clean.
Very strong wind from south east pushed us towards Threeways and the Stuart Highway, sometimes a bit too much from the side so it was a bit of wresling with the bike to stay on the road. The worries is when you are fighting with the side wind and meeting a Road Train in the same time you are not sure which way you are going to blow.
Brunch and fuel stop in Camooweal where they still have the bar to tie up your horse from old days outside the roadhouse. Forgot to take a picture but have it somewhere from our trip 2011, nice to see some things don't change. 
Another fuel break at Barkly Homestead Roadhouse, very nice place and look like it would be a nice place to stay overnight but we had our eye on Threeways at Stuart Highway where we spent the night.

Sunset at Threeways on Stuart Highway
Sun set at Threeways roadhouse, the intersection between Adelaide to Darwin and Townsville.

May 11
Freezing cold in the morning so most of the clothes went on before we took off around 08:00 for the trip to Katherine. We still had the southeast wind blowing but as we headed north it was now pushing us off the road rather than to the opposite lane.
Brunch and fuel in Elliott, we stopped at the first fuelstop but the second one is more of a roadhouse we found out too late. 
Wind started to slow down and also the temperature got up to a nicer level, so nice so we had to stop and strip off some layers. Have been waiting for this for some time as it has been very cold morning since we left Cairns.
Arrived in Katherine in good time and found the motel Allan and I stayed in 2011 but now under new management. Chinese restaurang on the premises so we got a bit of rice again that we both appreciated. This is after the power come back on after the brownout !!

May 12
Slow start as we only had 300km to go, in wonderful temperature for the first morning since south Queensland. We headed to Pine Creek for brunch but got welcomed by bushfire just outside the little town. The local fire brigade looked like they had it all under control so we stopped and got something to eat and fuel.
Carry on towards Kakadu National Park and had a few stopped plan along the way to the main town Jabiru but it turned out we were too early in the season as most roads were closed. Water was still too high so not possible to pass most of the roads off the main road. Got to Jabiru where we fueled up and got some supplies, the place was dead, maybe because it was Sunday.
Another 40km towards Darwin were our accommodation was located, Aurora Kakadu. Big resort but clearly off season as it not that much people around but far from empty. 

Bush fire just outside Pine Creek
We had to think twice before we decide to stop for brunch in Pine Creek.

Huge termite barrack between Pine Creek and Jaribu
A bit over 3m (10 feet) high termite barrack between Pine Creek and Jaribu.

Poolgame in Aurora Kakadu resort
Finished of the day with a game of pool in Aurora Kakadu resort.

May 13
After a bit of work and breakfast we went to check out the billabong (water hole) behind the resort and walked the 3.6km Gungarre Walk. Lots of birds, a Kangaroo jumped across the path just in front of us and plenty of nice Spiders with their web. 
Checked out the flow of South Alligator river as we past the boat ramp along the Arnhem Highway, sport fishing is very popular so quite an activity at the ramp.
Visited Bowali Visitor Center for some local culture on the way to Coolind Lodge where the Yellow Water Cruise starts from. We had booked the 16:30 (3:30pm) cruise, the last of the 4 cruises offered in a day. Started with the Yellow Water billabong and continue out to South Alligator river with plenty of diiferent kind of birds everywhere. Before the cruise was done we had spotted 9 Saltwater crocodiles and two Waterbuffalos (Carabao in the Philippines) as well. The later should not have been there as I understand they were introduced to Australia some hundreds of years ago by Chinese settlers. You can clearly see it is the same animal as we call Carabao in the Philippines and are used in the farms. 
Wine and Oyster Bloody Mary's were flowing during the trip but nothing Leary and I coulod enjoy as we had a 100km motorcycle ride in the dark back to our rersort. This cruise is a must-do if you visiting Kakadu.

 Billabong behind Aurora Kakadu resort
The billabong behind the Aurora Kakadu resort.

Bushwalk along Gungarre Walk
Gungarre Walk took us 3.6km through the bush.

Spider along the Gungarre Walk
Local resident along the walk, amaizing how they get the web cover such a wide area across the path.

Saltwater Crocodile in South Alligator river
Nice display of a young Salty in South Alligator river.

Nest of a Saltwater Crocodile
The nest of a mother crocodile, she was hanging out in the water right next to it.

Buffalo in the Yellow Water billabong
What we call a Carabao in the Philippines but this ones are wild.

Sunset at Yellow Water billabong
Sun setting at Yellow Water billabong.

May 14
We had a nice slow start as we were trying to find a place around Darwin to get the tyres change on the bike. As it is a short ride in to Darwin we tried to get the tyres change on the way to the hotel in town but failed to find someone that had the right rear tyre. Didn't help that the mobile didn't work inside the park but funny enough the data worked. Guess it's good in a way as you don't want the phone go off ringing or listen to people talking in the phone while you try to sneak up to watch an animal. 
On the way out of the park it was still a lot of small bush fires going with all the smoke. All burning very slow as it was no wind to move the fire around fast so it didn't seems to be any danger.
Drink stop at Humpty Doo tavern, an iconic place and could probably be quite fun to hang out in an evening.
We arrived into Darwin and our hotel early afternoon and continue the search for new tyres now with the phone back online again. After 4-5 stores without luck we got to the the local Yamaha dealer who had the tyres and promissed to change them the day after, finally problem solved.
As we got a hotel on Michell Street we didn't have to go very far to get drink or food, the street is full of places and seems to be the place to be, pure luck as we had no idea when we booked it.
Had a walk along the Esplanade, pretty walk at the seafront but unfortunate so were they working in the little park along the seafront so a bit hard to get to the water. Will be all good when they are done with the project.

 Drink stop at Humpty Doo tavern
Drink stop at the iconic Humpty Doo Tavern just before we got to Stuart highway for the last 40km to Darwin.

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