Friday, October 28, 2005

day 7

about 250km to ride today. kalpowar crossing to the lion's den hotel at helenvale.

it's been my mate's turn to get infested with ants. we're all being careful to avoid the ants, but they must have liked something in his gear as they are all through his riding gear. turns out they're in my backpack too. i clean most of them out but am still finding them in there two days later.

i'm on the drz400 again. it's similar to the xr650 now i find, but not as stable over the corrugations.

there is an amazing amount of birdlife here. some mornings on the trip we are woken up by the early morning noise of the birds, but usually they settle into a rhythm, and you can get back to sleep. but here, as soon as i'm just about nodding off again, another stupid bird with a different noise starts up. rotten little pricks.

yet again, the highway was mostly corrugations and some sandy bits. over the past few days we've seen a few fires, and this morning the air was very still and there was some blue smoke just sitting on the ground. it looked really cool as we cruised through it, surrounded by the termite mounds.

the tour guide led us off the highway on a detour to see if we could see some crocodiles. he said that even though there was some sand, we should try and go slow and steady and not make a lot of noise, otherwise we'll scare them off. he got there first and was watching two, then one of the crazy kiwis turned up next, nice and noisy, and did a few donuts around where the guide had parked. crocodiles exit stage left. some of us are quiet, and a few are loud, but the crocs are gone and we don't find any others. another mate finds heaps of pig tracks, dog tracks and others. he's dreaming of moving up here and going pig shooting for the rest of his life.

i'm struggling in the sand again. i thought i had it wired on the way in, but on the way back out from our little detour i screw up again and dunno where i'm going wrong. later the head dude watches me come around a sandy corner to where he is stopped and he tells me i'm looking too close to the front of the bike, i need to be looking where i want to go.

back on the tarmac for a while, some aboriginals try to bail us up, but being naturally suspicious people and having previously had some bad experiences, we don't stop. they successfully stop some cars and a truck going the other way. about 10 minutes later (riding at over 100kph) we come across an ef model ford or something like that, in the middle of the field about 50 metres from the road and about 100 metres from some black skid marks in the road. the windscreen is smashed in as well. looks like they had a crash. i feel a bit bad about not stopping to help but at least someone going the other way stopped, and realistically there's not much we could do for them on bikes anyway.

we stop at a place called black mountain (the pictures don't do it justice, it really dominates the landscape), then some more interesting little side tracks and lots of boring corrugated road.

we visit cooktown, and ride up grassy hill where captain cook climbed up after pranging his boat into a reef (he was a yorkshireman you know says ex-pat pom turned crazy kiwi). we also visited a museum which used to be a convent and are bored after about 30 minutes. lots of religious and historical stuff. the only bit i really liked was the missing anchor from the endeavor.

as we get further south it's been getting a little cooler, which is really helping me sleep. that and the many drinks we had while playing pool at the lion's den hotel ;-) some backpackers working behind the bar, our ex-pat pom finds that one comes from yorkshire, not far from where he used to live. so he goes on and on about yorkshiremen (and women) a bit. we also run into another group of motorcyclists heading north. doing the same trip as us only going north and with another company. they are on their first day and less than impressed when they find we have a support vehicle and have been fishing and stuff, while they were promised all that stuff but aren't getting it. really, i'd hate to be living out of a backpack, that you carry on the bike, for the week going north. especially when you get wet a few times going through crossings. i liked having the support vehicle (with cook) carrying all our stuff, spares, tools and a spare bike.

it's fairly intensive on the bikes too. they are checked everyday and as we go south some have sprockets and chains replaced, air filters recovered with some air filter cover thingy, leaking seals and stuff like that fixed. it's a fairly hard trip on machinery. and apparently most motocross bikes do less than 2000km in a year. these do over 15000.

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