Tuesday July 12
We are up at a reasonable hour, the morning is the best yet so we hit the road at 0830. Now we are really into the Eastern reaches of the outback, long straight roads. Many bumps and roads works, courtesy of the Road Trains and recent flood damage. We make good time, pull up at Winton for a Morning coffee and re-fuel, a nice little town and main street with a classic outback pub. Three old men sitting at tables outside the pub having a beer at 10am! Too early for me! Georg has relinquished to the wind noise and gets some ear plugs. We both use them – I can still hear the UHF radio and truckie talk even with the plugs in. We decide to push on to Cloncurry for the next fuel stop – we pass such icons as “Walk-About Creek hotel the name made famous by the original Crocodile Dundee movie. Georg is leading and slows down dramatically as we come to some road works 40 kays out of Cloncurry. I look down as his front tyre deflates before my eyes. We pull off to the side of the road. We can’t find a puncture so I use the portable compressor running off my bike to put some air in. We find that the rubber valve insert for the tubeless tyre is split down the side. We try several fixes, including the tyre glue normally used for punctures with gaffer tape – no luck. I leave him on the side of the road and ride into Cloncurry – find the local tyre repair place – their main clients are the road trains but they do have a replacement valve and a truck to go out and pick Georg up. I have a rest and follow up back to help Georg. I get there and no truck! The driver sailed straight past and didn’t see him a little way off the road in the shade. A wasted 45 minutes and he finally back tracks. We haul the bike up on the truck and off into the repair shop. They won’t pull the wheel out because they don’t want to be held responsible if something goes wrong. Okay, we do it. I ring my mechanic Phil Marshall just to make sure I have the routine right for Georg’s bike. Within 5 minutes we have it out, the boys have the new valve in within 2 minutes and we put the wheel back in easily. For the tow and repair, they sting Georg $100. Pretty fair really. We fuel up and head out of town into the setting sun through Roo country. I use all the lights I have, ride with the Visor up and eyes as big as saucers. We see plenty of cattle including a huge white Brahma bull surveying the road put no hoppers trying to commit suicide. We crest a raise and see the bright lights of Mt Isa – beautiful! Because the GPS isn’t working I accost a taxi driver, a couple in a car park and a nice young lady on a push bike for directions and eventually finally make our way to our Motel.
A courtesy bus to the Irish Club, a feed of Barramundi and in bed at a reasonable hour. What a day – This was supposed to be 646 Kays but another 700 plus day for me.
Wednesday July 13
Mt Isa, breakfast at Maccas, coffee is OK, phone calls made and it’s on the road again. We re-fuel near the border and bump into two guys on Harley’s heading our way. They’re heading to Alice Springs. While we leave after them and stop and the border for the obligatory photo, they are doing the same thing. We make good time to the next fuel stop at ………… again, they Harley boys are there. Talking to these guys, one of them says they carry octane booster they put in their fuel because the fuel outback is ‘pretty ordinary’ – especially for bikes that prefer 95 or above octane rating. We have a longer break and then head for three ways. A wide load escort answers our CB call and moves over to let us past. An easy run today, still plenty of road kill. We make our way South to Tennant Creek, fuel up so we can get away at a reasonable hour. I have a few spots of oil over the rear of the bike, it looks like small weeps from the bottom of the gearbox. A bit of a worry, we get to the Police Station and try and raise someone – Vince Kelly has arranged some accommodation in the Police facilities. We get onto Pauline Williams and her husband Ken who are great characters and auxiliary police officers. We find the officers accommodation which is great, a quick shower, throw the washing in and then get picked up and taken to the sporting club for dinner, then it’s back to the rear of the Police station where they have their own ‘club’ between the police and fire stations. A great idea where the members can unwind in private – very important in small country towns, particularly in the outback. They have a gym, playground for the kids and a wet bar for the bigger kids!
663 kilometres and a good time in Tennant Creek.