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
Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 4.47.53 PM

The first stop on our way to the Gulf of Carpentaria was Batchelor, center of Australia’s huge parakeet population, so we’re told
DSC06535

A quiet town, the houses are single storey and set back in the trees
DSC06525

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
DSC06524

Some drinking bowls laid out for the parakeets by a local bird guy
DSC06393

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.
DSC06236

The Gulah above the cage won’t leave without his one-legged mate. He’s been with her here for 8 years
DSC06240

The trees are full of birds
DSC06248

Doves?
DSC06247

Parrakeets
DSC06370 - Version 3

Vivid
DSC06414

Our first twisty road since south of Fremantle
Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 3.47.44 PM

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
DSC06506

Inviting though
DSC06503

Mermaids I’m thinking
DSC06501

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
DSC06540

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
DSC06482

Sideways
DSC06481

Plenty of shade trees. It’s 42C/108F again
DSC06551

We pass through Katherine again
DSC06543

On our way to Daly Waters
DSC06566

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
DSC06572

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
DSC06573

Long hot hauls
DSC06576

Plenty of cattle road kill. People have no problem eating fresh roadkill here, or so I’m told. No reason not to, we think
DSC06579

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
DSC06583

We thought it was long dead but here’s a pic of the grooves in front to prove it’s alive
DSC06584

Very smooth white termite mounds here
DSC06587

Interesting
DSC06593

Later, a water tank and a little shade. Lucinda’s in there next to the picnic table
DSC06598

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
DSC06601

The one and only road cut we’ve seen in the outback
DSC06605

Miles of this later
DSC06608

Close to Borroloola there’s a big pond
DSC06620

More archer fish in the hot water
DSC06622

Another
DSC06615 - Version 2

Lilies in bloom
DSC06631

Cattle cooling off
DSC06635

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
DSC06638

Then on to Borroloola, an aboriginal town
DSC06648

Where we get immediately breathalized, at 3 in the afternoon, along with everyone else, no exceptions. This is a troubled town we’re told
DSC06645

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
DSC06647

The next day it turns to sandy corrugation to the Gulf
DSC06660

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
DSC06678

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
bulldust2

Through a wasteland
DSC06667

To King Ash Bay
DSC06671

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
DSC06693

Looking sadly towards a sea we can’t get to
DSC06689

King Ash bay is in the exact middle of this Google Earth pic
Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 5.54.08 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.