We were awoken by beautiful birdsong this morning. This has been a particular delight of mine for the whole trip as it changes slightly everywhere we go. The only 2 times that didn't happen was in Brisbane (high rise apartment) and Mt Tambourine (a shock this one surrounded by lush palm vegetation and not a bird to be heard). The bird life has been rich since before Longreach and continues here. Great numbers of little birds right through to my favourite soaring eagles. What a treat to watch them soar as I ride then see their majestic shadow cross the road in front of me!

The temperature was comfortable as we rolled out of Mt Isa so we had our padded liners out of the jackets then shed the waterproof lining at Camooweal. We didn't need the water protection just the extra warmth. Two thirds of the way from there to here I ditched the long sleeve T top as well and the ride remained comfortable but my goodness, each stop for a drink or walk and finally fuel and to get our cabin key the temperature increased. Even got a T shirt shorts and thongs on as I write this. Norm is trying to find some pop rivets and some tin to reinforce my front mudguard. Can't find the
100 mile an hour tape we thought we packed so we'll either find that when we unpack at home or we took it out to use before we left. The guard had a slight split in it when I bought it and I had it repaired and painted. About half way here this morning when I slowed to stop for a break I noticed a tinny rattle. Norm checked and found the crack had opened up again. By the time we got here after a lot more bumpy road surface (also evidenced by a headache for me) it has opened much more so needs some repairs so it doesn't get worse. And as you may have guessed once dismantled the split is much worse than initially thought. Bugger!

The bike in bits.

The roads have been largely long and straight with no overtaking lanes, not that they are needed as there is ample opportunity for passing. An awesome sight was both the approaching traffic in front and the receding traffic behind forever disappearing into a heat shimmer as if melting into glassy sheets of water, so it wasn't just us feeling hot, the road did as well.

The terrain today gradually changed from rugged red stony outcrops and hills with reasonable tree cover to rolling hilly plains with more grass and fewer trees. By the time we got to Camooweal this had opened up to vast flat (near enough) well grassed country which continued way beyond the Northern Territory border. There were vast stretches with not a tree in sight then there would be an occasional one but mostly it was empty of trees other than an often distant green line snaking the outline of creeks and watercourses. Awesome. This gradually changed to a combination and variations of grassland with low growing eucalyptus and acacia trees and other scrub and termite mounds from a few inches to a few feet in height. The density varied from then to here.

In areas which hadn't been burnt in the last year or so and where the acacia was in full bloom the fragrance was deliciously sweet. We also found a small shrub we thought was a flowering grey leafed eucalyptus but on closer inspection the leaves are like a squat holly shaped leaf complete with small spiky bits on the leaves and the flower was like a miniature drooping collection of sturt desert pea type flowers without the black bit. Quite exquisite. Also found some pretty little succulents.

Still a couple of hundred kms from the north south highway so will get to there and head north tomorrow.
Till then take care.

Our cabin at Barkly Homestead. A relief to find it clean and comfortable inside including the en suite after our experience of the old donga at Derwent Bridge in Tassie.

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NB. 54km above was from running around town checking out old haunts.

Well here we are back in the Isa after leaving in February 1972 with our new little baby (Michael) on our way home to show him off to the family. Got a pic of a sign for him on the way into town. He is also one, just not up on a sign .....all will be revealed with the pic below.

The sign for Michael.

Well the road in from Cloncurry was good, both surface and width. The roughest and narrowest section was coming into town which would have been the first part to be sealed. When we were here on our working holiday in 1971 it was dirt from Charters Towers to Mt Isa with the exception of the main street of Cloncurry. We even saw a few glimpses of what would have been the original road with a thin seal into a creek crossing. In those days the dirt continued down into creek beds and across with warning signs each side not to park in the creek bed in case of flash flooding. Put the wind up me I can tell you with our 23ft 6in Viscount caravan behind our Holden Kingswood. See for those who thought we had only recently flipped our lids on the sanity stakes. ....we have been like that for always!

Very little road kill today except for a HUGE wild boar on the side of the road. Very different terrain of course. Pretty much rolling grass plains east of Cloncurry and these were replaced west of there to the Isa with rugged mini mountains of red rock (Selwyn Ranges)and I felt surprisingly at home. I pondered this for a bit on the ride in and put it down to 2 things. The 1st. I realised a few years ago that for me to feel 'right' I need to have access to big expanses of sky (perhaps from childhood when part of summer was laying on my back in the long grass dreaming up at the sky) and 2nd also need to be in sight of hills / mountains. Again not surprising since I grew up in the rolling green hills of Neerim South in sight of mountains. Okay the sky here is a different sky and the hills very different but wide open spaces with the two elements. I'd also like to think it has something to do with the 7.5 months we lived here, where our second child was born and we learnt that no matter how, new or scary an experience was together we could wholly rely on one another and figure it out and at the end of the day still be friends. So, not a bad thing to learn in early married years. Enough philosophising!

A taste of the terrain at Lake Moondarra.

We spent some time checking out where we lived here and the local fish'n'chip shop and Lake Moondara (the local beach / water sport centre and in our day the town water supply .....which was down river from town. Needless to say no water was used to drink or to cook without boiling first!
I still can't believe this was the setup! Also saw the 2 caravan parks we lived in. The first the Argylla on the eastern approach which had opened a couple of days before. We wheeled right in there as we had been told accommodation of any sort was difficult if not impossible to get. It was an empty red stony block with a couple of strips of tar for the streets between the power outlets. There was an amenities block, a manager with a killer unfriendly attitude and that was it. Imagine our surprise to find a park with lush tropical gardens complete with palm trees on site cabins and 'friendly staff' according to the billboard. The second one was a little closer to town the Mt Isa Caravan Park which was the pick of them. Good amenities, children's playground, allowed to put a small fence around van to contain a toddler and even had grass! It is now surrounded by lush gardens. Unbelievable.

We spent most of the afternoon on a mine tour put on by the Heritage Centre which has underground tours and is a training site. The mine no longer has underground tours. The litigation possibilities no doubt got too much for them. Norm found it a bit disconcerting that when they talked about the old days they were talking from the 80's on and he left in 72! Anyway we had a good time and saw lots of the stuff he had used and had tickets / licences for.

Mineside (so much bigger and a new chimney but this is the one we remember).

We are about to go for dinner which will be a distraction from the itch of the bites I have on my neck. We detoured around some bridge work yesterday and as I accelerated out of that I felt something on my neck just behind my ear and flicked it off I thought. Held the collar back to get some cold air on it and it kept burning and burning. I assumed it was a bee but I have 3 big lumps there today so - guess it must have been an angry wasp or something. Just as well we had quite a ride between there and our bed last night to cool it down.

We'll be heading out of the Isa tomorrow.

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Well what an awesome day! The rolling grassy plains gave way to gradually becoming more tree'd with an occasional outcrop of rugged stony land and trees as well as rugged mini stone type mountains then back to grassy plains and back again. We've seen a few little ant hills over the last couple of days but only around 8inches high then late this arvo started coming across more substantial ones in both size and quantity. Up to a metre though most half that or less. Some were a real tease as we made our way the last few k's into town clearly pretending to look like kangaroos so some slow travel.

As the day has gone on the grass has been less dense and yellow and even a couple of green patches here and there. Good to see water in large creeks and rivers and some water holes. The fauna continues to be great. Leaving Longreach we saw 2 brolga take to flight from the side of the road, very ungainly until in the air but beautiful in flight. The eagles continue to amaze us both in number and wing span. Truly spectacular! They are a good guide to road kill which needs to be avoided. A big collection of circling eagles up ahead or over the horizon usually means a substantial bit of meat to be seriously avoided. The odd 1 or 2 eagles speaks of a smaller meal but also to be avoided. The road surface has largely not been as smooth today. Not potholes but rough and bumpy, some of it a bit of a reaction to the heat I suspect.

Came across a large lizard thing this morning. Colour was hues of gold and green. Great camouflage for the grass it was in. Not as fat a gut as the goannas I'm familiar with and overall longer. We were following a car and van 100 metres or so behind when I saw Norm's stop lights come on and he headed for the side of the road slowing quickly. I braked but initially couldn't see what was on the road then it didn't make any sense. I now realise that was because it was scampering / waddling across the road. It carried itself high off the road and was weaving in a wavy motion like a snake. I finally realised what it was when it swung its head out straight and it's nose went over the centre white line and it's tail was only just across the fog line when I passed so it must have been 6 - 8 feet at least. Thankfully it kept going across the road rather than back where it had come from under one of our bikes. We asked the girls at the BP servo in Winton what it would have been. One said they used to get a lot of them on the property she grew up on but didn't know what they were called. The other suggested we call it a gizard and who would know! The locals at Cloncurry tell us it would be a printy a goanna the colour we saw with diamond print on it so that's what it was.

Banjo Paterson's statue at the Waltzing Matilda Museum Winton.

Winton had a really pretty main street. A real credit to the council and local townsfolk. The Waltzing Matilda Museum is there but we didn't visit. Took a pic of the Banjo Pattersons statue and windmill - very outback. Had a works burger at the Kynuna road house for lunch. It was basically a mini mixed grill jammed in a monstrous bun and held together with a shaslick skewer. HUGE.

Having a break.

Stopped at McKinlay for a 20min power nap (approx 100kms SE from Cloncurry) and managed to find some shade from a picnic table. Nice breeze. Happy we didn't find any big red ants on the rug with us. Saw a few as we rolled it up! There was a pub there claiming to be Crocodile Dundee's Walkabout Creek Hotel. Passed up the opportunity to have a lemon lime and bitters because we wanted to get to Cloncurry before the kangaroos started coming out of the shade to graze. Now we're having a couple of XXXX Gold's (mid strength and very nice) in the bar of the Cloncurry Post Office Hotel.

Post Office Hotel Cloncurry

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Firstly a correction for yesterday. The pic from Emerald wasn't the Post Office but the Railway Station. DUH. Also neglected to say we had passed several road trains which was interesting. Thankfully no cattle trucks amongst them! We also enjoyed a spectacular cloudy outback sunset which neither the phone or camera could do justice to the colour and followed that up with dinner at the pub across the road.

So today. Sleep in, breakfast at a local cafe then off to the Qantas Founders Museum which was awesome. Will have to come back at a later date to actually tour through the retired but fully functioning Boeing 747 (the plane credited with putting international travel in reach of ordinary citizens and being the death knell for shipping travel - Qantas donated it to the museum on the 82nd birthday of Qantas in 2002 and it will never leave as the runway is too short for take-off) and the Boeing 707 (the plane which connected Australia with efficient volume travel - this one found in England and restored for flight by volunteers). Not enough time today. Next port of call was the Stockman’s Hall of Fame which again was awesome and a great tribute to the grit, determination and courage of the pioneers and current residents of the outback. Must confess it's always a bit disturbing to see so many implements and bits and pieces of supposed historic stuff that I recognise from growing up on our farm so you do have to wonder about the true authenticity of some things......or not.

Kicking back now, Norm is comparing notes with some fellow bikers and it feels like it is about beer o'clock. Off to the RSL for dinner tonight. The people in the next room yesterday had said it was a 7min walk so had decided against it then this morning we tripped over it about 1min from here! Now admittedly the man was a smoker so may have had to stop periodically to get enough wind to continue but I reckon I could push an iron lung there in 3 minutes and that's with a bit of a dodgy knee. Takes all types I guess.

Notice found in the bar last night. The publican says #3 is popular.

A couple of good looking bikes (I know a recurring theme) parked up at the Qantas Founders Museum with the Boeing 747 in the background.

Bikes again and Norm at the Stockman’s Hall of Fame where the air-conditioning was so good we were uncomfortably cold

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Well somewhere east of Alpha it became official, this is the longest trek we have made on the bikes! Way past the Tassie trip. The sunny skies disappeared a short time out of Emerald and we finally gave in and donned the wet weather gear east of Jericho to warm up. The sights have been spectacular changing from rugged mountainous surrounds changing from dark green to silver grey to deep blue or yellow if minimal tree cover. The mountains gave way to hills then slipped into rolling lightly treed land and now heavily grassed plains. The road kill has increased and been fresh late in the day. Have seen hundreds of eagles. Magnificent. Then lots of cattle today, a few wild goats, a couple of emus and a dingo / dog / giant cat thing??? We had lunch at Barcaldine and saw the tree of knowledge where unions and the labour party had their origins. So much to see, so little time! Intend to stay 2 nights and then head off to McKinlay. Booked a motel tonight so it won't be as noisy as a pub….we hope.

Emerald PO (Longreach also quite similar)

A couple of good looking bikes in front of the tree of knowledge newly dedicated surrounds May 2nd this year, you may have seen it on the TV.By the way, the safety barriers are those we carry from the Victorian Manufacturer all up the east coast so again the product of our work!

Twin speaker car alarm at Barcaldine or a couple of lads about town. Who knows?

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Well we caught up with our customer in Rockhampton then checked out the Botanical Gardens and headed for Emerald where we have a bed at a workers motel type inn. Fine weather until Duaringa for lunch with black black skies ahead. Started to rain heavily before we headed off and waited till the worst passed. Intermittent heavy rain and hail with drifts of hail beside the road 5km from Duaringa like snow! Gradually mostly fined up by Blackwater. Awesome sights of rugged ranges and ever changing skies including jet black in the rear view mirror complete with a spectacular rainbow arch.

Huge ore trains (awesome that we cart near enough to all the conveyor belts they use). Counted 1train 2 locos in front then 44 carriages and another 2 locos in the middle and another 42 carriages.A real buzz to see massive trains heading to the ports and knowing we had provided the conveyor belting to the mines to make it possible!

I remember why we found this area so spectacular on our working holiday in 1971. Off to dinner now then another 11 hours sleep which seems to be our routine.

A tropical view in the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens

A southerner taking a break at the gardens

A giant fig tree which spreads over a huge
area dropping tendrils which become supports and continue the spread

The war memorial, beautifully done

A real buzz to see massive coal trains carryinge coal to the ports and knowing we had provided the conveyor belting to the mines to make it possible!

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I have lost the text of early posts but still have some photo so will add them before I add the posts I still have.

We headed off with somere reasonable apprehension but hopeful we could do it and yay, we not only did make it but we had a ball!

Before we headed off from home

Just before heading off from Narooma with Chris (quirky chance to catch up)

Outside the RACV Club in Newcastle where we stayed after catching up with a Customer

Looking back to NSW on the Lions Rd from Kyogle NSW to Rathdowney Qld. Trucks and vans are not supposed to use it and would be bloody mad to do so. Very narrow and winding with numerous one lane stretches and one lane bridges as well as lots of very steep stuff. We were gob smacked to see the NSW heavy vehicle cameras but only there according to the sign to monitor livestock movements.......yeah like we believe that.

Looking to the Qld side and the 19% downhill grade. Many more steeper than that on the NSW side but not signed.

Leaving a friends property in Beaudesert

I had a Trustees meeting in Brisbane then we headed for the Gold Coast for a neices Wedding and then onto the Sunshine Coast to catch up weith a Brother in law and friends as well.

We headed off from the Sunshine Coast in heavy rain and experienced torrential rain and saw flooded areas on our way north. Thankfully the river at Gin Gin hadn't yet cut the highway at Gin Gin.

A welcome coffee was had at the bakery in Gin Gin

A stop at the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour

Long gone from Coffs Harbour but just to prove it isn't just the Telstra Broadband Combie van which can go there. Illegally parked and up where I'm not allowed to be so Norm took the photo on his camera instead of my clever blackberry which I could have e-mailed the pic from. Hence here I am on the Sunshine Coast using my
brother in laws PC.

Trip going awesomely well and having a ball. Head towards Rockhampton the day after tomorrow.

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The Ride was finally underway but I somehow managed to delete the first part of it from the Blackberry. Technology really is grand in the hands of amateurs!

Any way I have some photos from the early part of the trip and will include them over time then get to the actual record I kept.
Let me tell you by the time we got to Sydney my butt was complaining somewhat but I was getting used to it by then but after travelling along the coast and amongst rural areas the Sydney traffic felt pretty full on. The thing which lightened the situation as we fuelled up on our way towards Newcastle was when Norm told me he thought we should meet Steve in one of our trucks before too long so he called him and they figured we would meet within around 15 – 20 minutes and sure enough we did so we were riding along waving madly and he was flashing his headlights and hanging out the window. I love how these boys have this innate ability to know exactly where they are in time and space and I always get a buzz when I see any of our trucks on the road, it’s just an extra buzz when it’s also a family member.

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In 2008 we made a tentative decision to head to the UK and beyond on motorbikes and explore the countryside and Transport and Logistics Supply Chain as we had been doing in Australia as well as checking out possible new routes for our trucks and crossing some off the list as well as checking up on some of the great projects we have been involved in over time.

Anyway. Since such a trip (without checking up on projects we were involved in obviously) would involve a lot of travelling….we decided a trial was in order to see if we could stand being on the bikes day after day after day. The obvious decision was made to do a trial run in Australia and if we decided we were over it an International flight wouldn’t be involved to get back home.

So we planned to take a serious road trip here in Australia and incorporate some business meetings and catching up with customers along the way. Then a few days before we headed off my organiser died and I bought my first Blackberry which I learned to use on the trip and so the trip update / blog was born.

PS. The REALLY good news was that the trip (in 2009) was a rip roaring success (and follows…or will soon) and the International trips began in 2010.(I still have to transfer the 2010 one to the blog but plan to do that also.)

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