Day 9 Sunday 26 May Mt Isa to Tennant Creek
After a great night I’m starting to feel my age and went to bed early. Mainly because I said we had to be up and at ‘em early today to make another 700 plus kilometres. We’d stashed the bikes at the rear of the police station so a 5.30am short walk in the cool morning air was just the ticket to clear the head. A quick fill at the 24 hours station, a nice breakfast for me (the others slept in) also hit the spot. John Laird decides we need some rubber matting for outside out tents when camping so it’s down to Bunnings first thing at 7.30. I’d left mine at home so we’ll share this one out. There’s some old gents setting p the traditional sausage sizzle outside Bunnings for their local fishing club I think. That’s the shirts they were wearing. They’re quite taken with the bikes, so, as men do, we talked bikes, aging, our lovely women folk etc. while Lairdy foraged around for his gloves. He’s making a habit of losing things, keys, gloves. I don’t laugh, I could be next.
Finally on the road, I get a couple of phone calls and have to make contact with our NT mate ‘Boof’ aka Craig Hamilton who, with a couple of mates has come for a short ride to meet us from Darwin, but they decided to head for the Alice, just because, and will meet us in Tennant Creek. NT Highway Patrol motorcycle guys Clint Richardson and Adrian Keogh also make contact and have ridden down on their police bikes doing a patrol and will meet us at Barkly Station Road house just inside NT.
We hightail it to Camoweal. A distant relative of mine Sarah Storer sings a song about the man from Camoweal that I can’t get out of my head. I’ve got it on the GPS/sound card so play it and sing to myself as one does.
We’re in there around 9.30 but no Huddo. While the others get their well deserved breakfast we wait for Steve. Apparently he left his smart watch back at our hotel so did a u turn to get it. I meet him at the petrol bowser about half hour later, talk about the smart watch. He found it in the room no worries and goes to show me it on his wrist. It’s not there. He’s shattered. Eventually he takes his jacket off and the smart watch falls out… lucky boy.
We talk about our problems. Spike has is in fits about the kilo bag of lollies he had stashed between his dashboard and screen going past a road train the wind draft caught it and the bag is somewhere giving kangaroos a sugar fix.
Huddo fesses up to having his mobile plugged into the dash only to see it fall down, he slows but it disconnects and skates down the road. I cross my fingers and hope for the best.
We stop at the NT/QLD border for an obligatory photo. All the bikes are there but someone has to take the photo so there’s always one missing. It’s a quickish run at the 130kph speed limit to cover the 260 plus kilometres to Barkly Station where the two marked police bikes are waiting for us. Also there is Lesley Horton, a Police auxiliary officer in the unmarked camera car to act as our tail end Charlie.
After a quick feed it’s off the 200 plus kays to Tennant Creek. Halfway there’s the remains of an old windmill. Leslie climbs up with a camera and takes a photo of us. Brave girl.
Tennant Creek has arranged to Billet us in the police Accommodation. There’s quite a few when Boof, Babe and Tinker arrive so I decide to pitch the tent, as does Luke and Huddo. A great night at their police faciility – which I think is a great idea for these isolated stations. It’s somewhere where they officers can relax away from prying eyes. I recall one of their members was killed at a night spot intervening in a brawl while off duty. A man upholding his oath of office on or off duty is what is expected. Especially out here.
Day 10 Monday 27th May Tennant Creek to Dunmurra
A good feed at the local RSL, a few quite ones and I’m ready for bed again…. They all reckon I snore like a champion. Funny Shirl never complains.
It’s a little noisy in the tent at the back of the station, which also incorporates the ambulance station nearby but all in I get a good sleep.
Next morning, we all line up outside the tenant Creek Station for yet another group photo, Leslie has become our unofficial photographer – makes sense because she’s got the camera car!
Outside to greet us is my old friend now Superintendent Kylie Anderson. Big hugs and kisses all round for me and Lairdy. She passes on her best wishes to Shirl, who she also knows well, then she’s taking snaps of us heading out of town.
‘Big Red’ the oldest and most used bike here needs a little oil so I wait for the local auto pro to open and get a litre. The old girl drinks about 350ml. the quick speeds are making her work hard.
Boof and the boys reckon we should take a quick sprint down to the Devils marbles for a look. It’s only 100 kays South so off we go in convey. It’s impressive scooting along at around 130 KPH under escort.
A quick photo op and we turn around and head back to Tennant Creek and re-fuel. The head winds are knocking fuel consumption around. How’s 6.9litres per 100. We have a car that gets better than that! But really who cares. This is way more fun than a car.
There’s a local lady taking photos of us and all the bikes. So I ask her if I can have a photo with her. Sure.. we have a laugh as she smiles a big toothless grin. Good onya love.
He have a relatively short day and at these speeds we cover a lot of distance so it’s a stop a Renner Springs road house for lunch and a chin wag. The landscape is now taking on that scrubby, hard red earth look of the gibber plains I know around Kalkaringi when Shirl and I visit the indigenous people her father helped when they walked off Lord Vesty’s cattle station. Again, Sarah Storer’s songs come into my head. She served a stint out there as a teacher and sung about the children teaching her about the ways of the old people.
Our escorts are staying at Elliot so we pull in for yet another photo shoot and we head off the short 100 kilometre hop to our overnight stay at Dunmurra. I camped last night and Lairdy had a single room, this time it’s my turn to take a bed. He won’t share with me due to his precious ears……
The NT boys and girls never hold back with their hospitality. I hope one day we can reciprocate.
Time for a shower, clean up and a few well earned beers to settle the dust.