Sydney to Cairns (Part 1) – The long dash into the Outback

Filed in Australia, Riding, Travel by on May 8, 2013 5 Comments

Since my last long ride through the Alpine region I felt it was about time for another. With the arrival of my HEMA Australian motorcycle atlas I was able to make my decision; last time it was south, this time I would be headed North. The route was to be a fairly direct one and on a short time frame due to work constraints with only the following 3 landmarks in mind; The Qantas Pioneers Museum in Longreach, Queensland; Karumba, Queensland (the northern coast of western Queensland and finally, Cairns.

With a route in mind, it was time to prep the bike. A quick check over was done, chain and sprockets replaced and a 12V power outlet installed. Left for last was the easiest of the work, an oil and filter change; or so I thought.

After breaking two filter removal tools, stabbing the filter numerous times with a screwdriver to gain leverage my salvation finally came through Facebook. A friend who had seen me post about my despair was able to call on one of his friends who was a complete stranger to me to come around at 1am at night and help me with…a chisel and hammer. One stubborn filter but if it wasn’t for the help of a relative stranger this trip would have never happened.

Due to the trials and tribulations of the past night, the next morning I set off late…and being Easter long weekend this not only meant dealing with the masses of traffic but also the setting sun in my eyes as I made my approach into town for the night.

I had initially planned to rest in Bourke for the night however due to aforementioned delays it turned into Nyngan, rolling in at 8pm at night. Although a small town, they had a few motels…..each of which displaying a big NO VACANCY sign. After buying some meat pies for dinner from the near-closing servo in town I was able to find one of two possible options; either try one last motel in town or thanks to the servo owners kindness, park my bike behind the servo and sleep on the ground next to it. Having carried no camping gear with me, I can’t say I wasn’t a bit relieved to get the last room in the last available motel in town.

The next morning was an early start after adjusting the new chain on the bike to try and make up for some lost time from the previous day, and it would also be my first day of getting into the real heart of the Outback. Or so the signs coming into Bourke told me anyway.

Now although I had planned ot get into Bourke the last night, once I was in my motel I was informed by some locals that Bourke wasn’t the … most civilised of places; especially to leave my bike parked.

This was confirmed when I stopped at the local bakery in town for a late breakfast. Whilst parking the bike I had a local Aboriginal girl approach me; in what I thought was going to be to ask for “a dolla”. As I was pre-emptively saying no, I heard “Can I have a kiss?”. Not really knowing how to react I ignored her and carried about my business. Fast forward to a few minutes later; whilst I was sitting outside the bakery waiting for my food, she approached yet again and this time tried to go in for the kill not once but twice. The only way I was able to get my message across was a firm no and my boot planted straight in her gut. Although I get the feeling she may have decided to try another tactic as she then proceeded to ask if I wanted to share her sandwich… Needless to say I ate my breakfast and get the hell out of Bourke.

Before I left though, one thing I had wanted to do was get a photo with a sign I was sure I’d find; ‘back O’ Bourke’. A phrase that goes hand in hand with journeying out to the middle of nowhere; exactly what I was doing.

From thereon it was dead straight highways with only the horizon for me to gaze upon. Oh…and hundreds of dead kangaroos.

As night rolled in, so did the rain and I once again had to consult my maps to see what town I could call home for the night; and so, Tambo it was. I had initially planned to cease riding before sunset every day so as to avoid wildlife making its way onto the roads but so far this was not happening and I was dodging the odd kangaroo bouncing across the highway while I barreled along at 120kmh. I also learnt my first lesson about road trains (more on them later when halfway through passing one, I saw an oncoming car. Unfortunately I had to stay committed to my pass and just hope I could pull the gap between the truck and the car. And as guilty as it still makes me feel, the oncoming car realised I was not going to back off and ran off the road in order to save us all from a big mess.

The further into the country I got, the more road trains I encountered. Basically, a semi-trailer…with a LOT of trailers carrying all sorts of good across the country hurtling along at speeds in excess of 100kmh.

On my third day I was finally able to reach Longreach; promoting the great event of ‘Easter in the Outback’ which I was perfectly timed for, but no idea what they actually had on for it. This was also one of my key milestones for this trips to see some jumbo jets parked in the middle of nowhere. However once I got there, it just didn’t seems as impressive as it did in my mind. So it was a couple of photos with the jets, the Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame and back on the open road.

A quick visit en route to the Waltzing Matilda centre paying homage to Banjo Patterson

And right back to the open road where the most fun I had was testing my mileage on the bike

The rest for the night was once again determined by how far I could ride for the day and todays destination was Kynuna. Now, I thought I had been through some small towns; that is until I got into Kynuna. A grand total of 1 pub, 1 roadhouse and 3 houses made up this town. Once I had set down my gear in my ‘room’ behind the pub I made my way to the roadhouse for dinner, but not before a quick stop for some Outback sunset shots.

Why is QLD beer called XXXX… ? 😛

Once I got into the roadhouse, I saw the same collection of 3-4 people that were previously at the pub. These included an angry old lady serving me food rather reluctantly, her husband who wore short shorts, a button up shirt, trucker cap and aviator sunglasses no matter how dark it got and finally his friend who was severely disfigured with skin grafts all over his face and ….no nose or ears. My mind straight away started thinking Hills Have Eyes…I was sure that chicken sandwich didn’t taste like chicken.

The lonely Blue Heeler pub in the midst of darkness

My mind went further into overdrive once I saw my room by night. Actually, to call it a room is overstating the truth; it was a box with a bed and a light…a green one. That night I slept with a chair against the door and a metal bar by my side and the Simpsons keeping me company.


Keep reading on to Part 2!

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I take GSXRs to inappropriate places