Sydney to Cairns (Part 2) – Crocodiles & Tropics

Filed in Australia, Riding, Travel by on May 14, 2013 1 Comment

Day 4 of the ride was the final leg to the trip North, the final dash to the coast of the Gulf of Carpenteria. This was actually quite unnecessary and even meant a bit of back-tracking in order to get to Cairns, however I like getting to the end of things and like I pushed onto the southern coast at Lakes Entrance last trip, this time I was headed for Karumba. This also meant traversing through the parts of Australia that had recorded the countrys highest ever temperatures. Of course I thought it a great idea at this point to stop to make a video mimicking the steps to a Brazillian sertanejo (Brazillian country music) song (AI Se Eu Te Pego, Michel Telo)

This was also the part of the country through which legendary Australian explorers Burke & Wills made their ill fated journey. This was evident by the numerous tracks and stops named after them

Finally getting into Karumba and parking by the coast of the Gulf of Carpenteria felt like an achievement but I was also excited to take a picture of the bike alongside a model of a huge crocodile captured in the region. That is, until I was told the statue was located in a town called Normanton…one I had passed through roughly 50kms back. Luckily though, I would have to pass back through Normanton in order to make my way to Cairns the next day.

The next morning I was up early as I knew I had to make Cairns today and it was a good 800km away. So after my first shower in 4 days (didn’t want to push for 7) I was back on the road with my first port of call the statue of ‘Kris the Crocodile’. A large 8.64m saltwater crocodile captured in 1957 and immortalised in the middle of sleepy Normanton.

After this it was pretty much back to business, trying to cover as many kilometres as I could without stopping for breaks which were either to fill up the bike, or me with a combination of drinks I was carrying to keep me both alert and hydrated, Brief stops included one at a 1800’s train stop and another to get a picture with some termite mounds (I saw some that were easily taller than 1m but couldn’t get my bike close enough)

After countless kilometres of dead straight roads and cows/kangaroos all over the place I felt a reprieve as I started hitting my first kinks in the road…which opened up to the beautiful surroundings of a wind farm. Had never seen one before so it was quite something to stand there and hear nothing else but the huge blades spin in accord.

I knew when I was getting real close when the road started getting twistier and the weather went from just straight up hot to tropical and humid. This combined with the tropical forest surroundings signalled my exit from the outback and into the Northern tropics.

I also started to get a bit too excited with the twisties and after one or two errors on decreasing radius turns, decided to take it easy, especially as the sun was setting. Without doubt though the road leading into Cairns was a bikers paradise.

The technical road also meant that it was well into the darkness that I was able to get into my hostel, Travellers Oasis, and finally have a place to call home for the next 2 days. As I started talking to people at the hostel, my plans for the next 2 days were set, spend a day riding to Port Douglas and up through to the Daintree rainforest and since I happened to be in the area; scuba dive the Great Barrier reef

After a good night of socialising I was up early to head into the Daintree rainforest towards Cape Tribulation. The Daintree I had learnt about in school whilst Cape Tribulation was the point after which there were no more sealed roads. My original intentions for the trip were to aim for Cape York (Australias northern tip) however wet season combined with unsealed roads, made this near impossible; especially so on a street bike.

Whilst the road up north was beautiful with the coast on one side and lush green forests on the other, the humidity took its toll. Especially so after I crossed the river into the rainforest.

After 30 minutes or so into the rainforest, I called it quits. A combination of road works slowing progress, the humidity and the bike running high temps I decided to turn back. However upon passing a sign for Cape Tribulation, I decided it’d be a good idea to take the turn off….onto an unsealed roads for 4WD’s only. I have to admit whilst this wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve had, it was a good learning experience with speeds of upto 70kmh on loose gravel. Deep potholes did seem to abuse the forks though.

After my little off-road adventure, I decided to head back towards Cairns for the night with a quick stop off in Port Douglas to meet up with some friends from the hostel to relax by a great sunset.

That night I had my first evening early evening and when in a backpacker hostel, what better way to celebrate than goon! (Very very cheap cask wine, a favourite amongst those travelling the east coast of Australia)

Although not riding related, the next day was also a memorable experience for me, having dived the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought the waterproof casing for my GoPro with me so have no footage or photos and will have to rely on my memory only. However, having done my dive training and a few dives in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, I couldn’t say I was overly impressed with what I saw. Although overcast weather did result in poor visibility so it could just have been poor conditions.

Although I had never really intended to do much else in Cairns than relax I was lucky to have seen some great sights in a short time and established new friendships, but then again, that happens in nearly every hostel I have ever stayed at. I just hope I’ll be able to see some of these great people again when they make their way down the coast to Sydney.

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I take GSXRs to inappropriate places