Gulf 1

*The blog ‘going private’ is having to wait until we get a new website up. The fine print in WordPress says if this goes private only WordPress users can ever log in, making it a hassle for my family and support crew*

And, warning: nothing much happens in the outback on this side of the country to post about. It’s kindof the same thing over and over again, but a great thing.

The track, about 800 miles
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The first stop on our way to the Gulf of Carpentaria was Batchelor, center of Australia’s huge parakeet population, so we’re told

A quiet town, the houses are single storey and set back in the trees

One highlight is Virgin’s Villas, the nunnery. We make a point of slowly riding by, trying to look casual a few times on our way to the general store and back over the last couple of days and don’t see any pretty nuns at the windows to wave to. I suppose a thousand long distance riders have done this before

Some drinking bowls laid out for the parakeets by a local bird guy

Bob, the bird man, has a large aviary he keeps rescued birds in. His hobby and passion. He’s had some of the damaged birds here for 30 years. Wingless or legless, they’re the ones that can’t be returned to the trees. We spend hours over a few days talking about them. He has a story about every bird.

The Gulah above the cage won’t leave without his one-legged mate. He’s been with her here for 8 years

The trees are full of birds


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Our first twisty road since south of Fremantle
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We ride into Litchfield Park for a swim at Wangi Falls to cool off but everyone else has the same idea and so we pass

Inviting though

Mermaids I’m thinking

A local paper the next morning berates a father for taking his family out in a boat here smaller than the local crocodiles. So I guess you’re not even safe in small boats

Batchelor is close to the end of the green belt as we happily rode back into the outback.

The outback is the name for the dry inland 85% of Australia. The huge percentage of people in Australia live along the coast in the same way as the huge percentage of Canadians live along the 49th parallel. But rainfall drops precipitously away from the coast, unlike Canada, and the outback population is tiny. Alice Springs being the exception with 25k people.

We ride past a field of termite mounds called ‘magnetic’ because they’re thin and aligned north/south. In fact the termites have built them this way for temperature regulation. But they’re rare and this field is fenced off


Plenty of shade trees. It’s 42C/108F again

We pass through Katherine again

On our way to Daly Waters

Then the distances open up and we take a single lane road east to the Gulf of Carpentaria to the beginning of the Savanna Way at Borroloola

Even out in the middle of nowhere the road trains roar by. We leave the road and ride the shoulder as they pass. We wave at each one, they wave back. It’s the same thing as in every country so far, the further from the cities you get, the friendlier the people

Long hot hauls

Plenty of cattle road kill. People have no problem eating fresh roadkill here, or so I’m told. No reason not to, we think

We pass a gigantic old tractor. The photo doesn’t show the scale of this relic which would seat a dozen people, but it’s huge and antique

We thought it was long dead but here’s a pic of the grooves in front to prove it’s alive

Very smooth white termite mounds here


Later, a water tank and a little shade. Lucinda’s in there next to the picnic table

Cold water. It’s hard to express how welcome this is. It feels like an unlikely miracle. We do the usual, take our t-shirt off, soak it and put it back on under our jacket. It’s a shock and fantastic, but the ventilation in the jacket as we ride dries it out in 15 minutes. But it’s great while it lasts

The one and only road cut we’ve seen in the outback

Miles of this later

Close to Borroloola there’s a big pond

More archer fish in the hot water

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Lilies in bloom

Cattle cooling off

Then through the town, population maybe 30, of Cape Crawford, with no Cape, to gas up at the only station for a couple of hundred miles in any direction

Then on to Borroloola, an aboriginal town

Where we get immediately breathalized, at 3 in the afternoon, along with everyone else, no exceptions. This is a troubled town we’re told

But they have an excellent looking little restaurant that evening but the food was crap, which is unusual. Every pub menu, every one, has the same top item: Chicken Parmigiani, or parmi for short

The next day it turns to sandy corrugation to the Gulf

Except for a couple of big bottomless holes. Famously called bulldust. There’s no riding technique that works. It’s deep deep dust, as fine as talc, and even the best Aussie rider thrashes through it. If you don’t see it coming (and it’s sometimes hard to spot) you will crash, 100%. This was my first bulldust day of several

Here’s a hilarious photo I stole off an Aussie website. The bulldust is shallow here, so the guy on the right is trying to ride through it. You can see where the problems end, about 20 feet from the camera. But as you can see his bike is out of control, his left hand has just left the grip, he’s being thrown off the right side of the bike and he’s about to have an epic crash, lol. The guy on the left is doing the smarter thing and paddling his bike with his feet along the side. I have tried both, paddling is the way to go, solo, so far. But I get a little braver every time

Through a wasteland

To King Ash Bay

And the river, 20 miles from the sea. We can go no further without a boat. It’s the end of the season, hot, the travellers have gone home south, and the two charter operations are closed

Looking sadly towards a sea we can’t get to

King Ash bay is in the exact middle of this Google Earth pic
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