Day 7 Friday 24th May Roma to Longreach
We’re now out on the Darling downs, where unfenced roads and wildlife are a constant. We’re all up early, the boys who have to return to Queensland with Braydon are all down at an early morning bakery. We gather there for a substantial breakfast say our goodbyes. Lots of man hugs and ‘take care’ messages. See you in Canberra mates.
We’re down to the diehards. There’s a grumbles about me insisting that they be up early, fuelled up and ready to roll but we hit the road just before 7.30am. I have the vents open on my jacket and pants and the morning air is chilly, but refreshing. I make sure we are covering big distances while we are fresh so it’s around 280km to our first fuel stop to Augathella on the Warrego Highway.
We’re riding through rolling hills, green grasses and the occasional stand of trees. Coming up one rise there’s a mob of about six kangaroos bounding across the road about 100M in front of me….. the right fingers wrap around the front brake lever. Better be vigilant in these trees….
There’s some road kill, mainly ‘Roos which attract the birds of prey. They gorge themselves and as we ride by, try to fly off with slow lazy wing beats. Again motorcyclists need to take care as they sometimes swoop back and down to gain lift. Three or four Rosellas, quick little birds swoop along and just miss my helmet.
We have 30 minutes off the bike in Augathella now on the Landsborough Highway, sometimes known as Matilda Way,due to the song Waltzing Matilda the Australian Legend. That was supposed to have occurred out here.
We’re humming along aiming for a late lunch at Barcaldine around 300km. Huddo on the Harley and Lairdy on the VStrom drop off at Blackall for a quick splash and dash. Luke and me continue on. Georg and Spike scooted off from me and I’m just cruising. There’s a line up of old tractors, trucks and graders lining the highway. It’s a permanent display for travellers put up by proud locals. Rolling past the police station they’ve got into the town spirit too. There’s an old motorbike planted in the dirt out the front. Of course I have to stop for a photo.
We’re testing out the camping gear tonight so it’s into the caravan park where the grassed area is inviting. Huddo, Luke, Lairdy and me pitch tents. Georg and Spike wimp it and take a rather cosy little cabin.
Lairdy is keen to sight see and heads off by himself as we finish off the camp set up. A phone call from Lairdy… a flat tyre, he’s just up at the Qantas museum, Georg, Spike and I go up there, He’s also lost his bike key (but has a spare set). We find the nail hanging out of the tyre, I pull it out and plug it with what Lairdy has bought, a plastic plug with ripples…. It doesn’t work, meanwhile, on the phone there’s a tyre place in town that will patch it for him. I know if it’s down right it’ll be fine on a newish tyre. We pump the tyre o=up and sent lairdy off. Georg and Spike do a search for the lost key. I follow Lairdy. The boys at the tyre repair place have trucks, four wheel drives and now one small motorbike.
They’re great and get stuck in. I watch as the bevel it, glue and them pull through a huge patch from inside the tyre, It’s remounted on the rim and then I help the young fellow mount it on the bike… All good, except Lairdy, while fetching a tool trip over a hoist and skins his arm. Anyway $35 later it’s all good.
We’re back sharing beers, laughs and a good feed at the restaurant in the caravan park and watching the AFL Swans Vs Collingwood on Luke’s computer. I have to sent Mick Corboy, an avid Swans supporter a message when Collingwood (my team) pip them…. He blames the umpires,
A good night’s rest, another big day tomorrow.
Day 8 Saturday 25th May Longreach to Mount Isa
It’s another 0545 start. This time we have to break camp, pack up tents and gear and get on the road as early as we can. It’s another 700km day in front of us. We’re getting good at it though. We’re in the main street grabbing a quick feed and on the road by 0810. Of course we attract attention. Two locals are talking to Spike about his K1600. An older man comes up to me and tells me about his prostate cancer and asks if I’ve had the check ups!
We’re still on the Landsborough or Matilda Highway and heading for Winton, the home of the Swagman in the famous song. It’s heating up so a quick cool drink and we take off again. We’re not travelling close to each other, just head off when you want and see you at the next stop. Sometimes we pair up, sometimes wander off by ourselves. That’s the thing about motorcycling. Sometimes it’s nice to be in your own headspace and making your own decisions and that’s just fine. We all are getting on well and giving each other space. We seem to be sensing each others moods. It augers well for the many miles to come. I stop for fuel at Kynuna, a little over half way to our destination.
I’s amazing how the landscape has changed from flat open country to close scrub, creeks and verdant grasses. There’s signs of the flood waters everywhere. The road is undulating and speed restrictions down to 80 and 100 in places due to conditions.
Once we turn onto the Barclay highway and head out of Cloncurry there’s another change. Unfenced road, nice curved road and a really smooth road for a change. It’s actually quite pretty as the larger hills of red earth contrast against the green grasses and blue skies.
Just outside Mt Isa, Sergeant Aimee Sewell is waiting for us in her marked 4WD. The road Policing Command roll up and after introductions, we’re escorted into town and our hotel for the night.
Aimee has organised a gathering at the local police club they have out here. It’s a great idea in these outback communities. It’s somewhere Police, the families and children can relax. They have a really nice area with a swimming pool, childrens’ playground and indoor /outdoor areas. John Laird and myself talk about the Wall2Wall ride, show the wonderful video and talk about Police Legacy, the police family and the work many are doing in the area of PTSD and mental support for each other.
I also have the pleasure of meeting Micha, who is dating my 2nd cousin Emma Renton, now a QPS policewoman and about to be stationed at Mt Isa. It’s great to see dedicated young people pick up the proverbial baton out there doing their best to protect their communities. Thank You Mt Isa.