View Full Version : 8 days in the Aussie outback...

18-11-2006, 06:01 PM
Well, Melissa and I got back this afternoon from our ride through the North Queensland outback to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park. Now begins the onerous task of sorting through the photos, unpacking the bikes, and putting together a ride report for all of you. Can’t promise I will get it done very quickly, but will post a day by day account as I find time to throw some words together. So if you can bear with me I’ll share the yarn with you – it was a pretty epic adventure! To throw a few teasers: 2424km, 2 bikes, 44 degree heat, 8 days, and me drinking so much wine that I needed a visit from the flying doctor to stop the constant vomiting! Sound like your cup of tea?....

…..read on……

Day 1: Townsville to Georgetown – 540km

Up early, bikes packed, and headed west out of town along Herveys Range Road. As you would have heard me whine about he Bruce Highway whenever we go riding, this trip we managed to stay off it the whole time. So we headed out this back road up towards the gulf savanna, and within 20 minutes of leaving the house we were standing on top of the range, adjusting the luggage and looking back down into Townsville, excited about the adventure ahead.

Looking back down Herveys Range towards the coast and Townsville.

The bikes at the lookout ready to go. We had decided not to camp, so that I could carry everything required on the BMW and Melissa would not need to take anything on the KLE besides herself.

Once we got to the top of the range, the scenery changed from the dry coastal scrub, into a cooler and altogether more lush high country feel.

We rode along the gently sweeping road through the high country which was becoming progressively more scenic, and invigorating. Although we were not even 100km from town, up here is like a whole different world to the coast, and totally empty as there are no towns, and no people. Most prefer to stick to the coast.

We cruised along until I spied a brown marker sign indicating a historical site or point of interest. I’m nuts for a bit of brown sign action and if there is a sign then I have to stop and check it out. And man I wasn’t disappointed. Picture this – 110km from the nearest town, middle of nowhere, and someone built an arty monument to…….bitumen!! The road was only recently tarred, so they thought it worthy of a probably fairly expensive and deeply bizarre display. Check it out!

Also a great opportunity to take some snaps of ourselves. Melissa and the KLE

And myself and the BMW. Big thanks here to Wino, I got the wilddog buffs and they are probably the best riding accessory I have ever received! – but more on them later!

And of course a snapshot of the very excellent bitumen work at Herveys Range Road

We hopped back on the bikes and pressed on for another 15 minutes or so until we joined up with the Greenvale Road. On the edge of the region known as “Gulf Savanna”, the countryside was already starting to look a lot dryer and a lot redder.

We pressed on for another hour or so to the north and reached the very small village of Greenvale. Once a prosperous mining town, now really nothing, but a pleasant place none the less, and good spot to sit under a shady tree and reflect on how much the countryside was different than 200km ago at our house. Only 2 hours riding and we already felt worlds away.

The road leaving Greenvale to the north, along the top of the Great Dividing Range.

We pressed on deeper into the Gulf Savanna, and it became hotter, and drier, but mostly HOTTER! The road surface varied from dirt to crappy single lane bitumen. Was always good for a challenge though…


This area near Undara lava tubes was quite green following a recent fire and some rains. As you can see the difference on the road between cloud shadow and sun on the road was quite marked, and riding out of the cloud was like riding into an oven.

And in typical outback style we shared this pretty narrow and twisty road with some big trucks. Little did we know this truck situation was going to get a LOT more hardcore…

We stopped at Mt Surprise at about 1500, for a fuel up for mel and a cool drink for each of us. The heat was insane at the time, but looking back, it was probably pretty mild for what was to come. Stopped at an old café with the classic Australian “angry old guy” sign out the front.

We hopped back on the bikes to do the final 90km west to Georgetown, our planned destination for the night. And it just kept getting hotter, and hotter, and drier, and drier. At a little range about halfway to Georgetown we surveyed the landscape. Stunning scenery, it was almost like I had come to “Australia” for the first time!



Pulling into Georgetown the heat was insane at 1600. As we hauled our bedraggled arses into the caravan park we were staying, the lady who worked there gleefully told us it was 42 degrees and 1% humidity. That’s pretty hot to be riding around. We were shown to our delightful little (cheap) cabin where we set about unpacking all our crap and sitting in front of the air conditioner.


Fortunately the park had a very pleasant pool, so we ducked in there for a quick swim…

Before heading down to the local pub on the main street..


We walked in the door and were the only people in the bar at 1700! I tell you what the beer there was the coldest, best beer I think we ever had – just the ticket on a hot day.

We smashed down a quick brew, grabbed a six pack, then headed back up the caravan park where I ate the biggest hamburger I think I ever had. From there it was off to bed for an early night and a massive 10 hours sleep, filled with strange hamburger induced hallucinations……

That’s all for today, will write up the other 7 days as I find the energy and remember what happened!


18-11-2006, 07:52 PM
Day 2: Georgetown to Burke and Wills Roadhouse – 507km

After a very light breakfast following a very refreshing nights sleep, we pushed off from Georgetown at about 0745 with a view to head a fair bit further west, to the Gulf of Carpentaria, then a bit south, the Burke and Wills Roadhouse. Already at that time of morning the weather was hot, but fine as we rode west out of town with the rising sun at our backs.

After about 5km I spotted one of them brown “historical monument” signs again, and turned off down a little dirt road, to find a mystery chimney. No sign of why it was there or who built it, but man it was historical!

Onwards we went through the ever changing outback scenery. This place just amazed me. Every 50km or so the scenery and vegetation would totally change, and in the 150km from Georgetown to Croydon, the scenery went from flat grassy plains with few trees..

…to rolling hills covered in green colourful vegetation.

We pulled in at Croydon very quickly, not much happening there on a Sunday morning as you can see from the main street.

We kept pressing on west after stopping briefly for fuel, moving towards Normanton, in the gulf. On the way another brown sign caught my eye, for a place called “Blackbull Siding”. We pulled over there, and from what I could determine it was some kind of railway siding for the Gulflander railway of yesteryear, established in 1890. Now it was some sort of weird run down derilect thing. Possibly a shop, possibly a museum, possibly even a caravan park. I can’t put my finger on it but it was very freaky put out an immensely bad vibe. For those of you who are familiar with the british comedy series “The League of Gentlemen”, this place WAS the local shop for local people…a bizarre undefined establishment truly in the middle of nowhere.




What was even more concerning was that it was already well over 40 degrees by 10am, and Melissa was becoming very fatigued very quickly. The heat and dull roads were really taking it out of her, so much that while I was cautiously looking around the siding, hoping not to get shot with a crossbow by some unforeseen assassin, she had actually fallen asleep by her bike under a tree!

We got back on the bikes and headed to the town of Normanton, which is probably the biggest town in the area (which is to say very small), and the last town we would see for a week or so. We arrived pretty early in the day due to setting a good time, and opted for an early lunch at one of the crappiest shops in Queensland, which I will show here, just have a look at how enthusiastic Mel is!


Normanton is also home to the infamous purple pub, which is apparently the most violent pub in Queensland – hurrah!

But not feeling like getting my head punched in by some deranged local we headed south to finish the 200km to Burke and Wills Roadhouse. This was a boring road in the extreme. 200km of no nothing, no houses, no towns. Just a rest area about halfway along. And we were so excited even to be there that we pulled over and took a few photos, ate a muesli bar and drank some water to celebrate. If you do this road, believe me you will know the rest area at Bang Bang is a big deal – it even has a dunny!





Back on the bikes and switch brains to autopilot for the last 100km or so to the roadhouse. Due to a good average speed for the day (103km/h), we ended up getting there at about 1400. We thought about pushing on, but decided the best option was to stop there as it was hot, and from here out we would be venturing into the true unknown for us, on to Gregory Downs then out to the park. We fuelled up, they offered us a spot to park our bikes in the shed, and we set up camp in the very basic but comfortable accommodation.




After having showers, we opted for a very early dinner and a couple of beers out the front of the homestead, looking up the road at where we had tomorrow, into the unknown and onto our destination.
I went off to bed feeling a bit funny about the day as it was pretty short, and seemed kind of easy, and felt like we hadn’t really gotten anywhere. But in the end I was so tired I was asleep by 2000 anyway, and we would definitely need the rest for a challenging day 3 that I had severely underestimated the difficulty of….


18-11-2006, 09:19 PM
Never been to that part of the country Leon, but I have been to places that were similar. Had the same feelings at places in the Simpson. Thanks for showing it. You make it very real

19-11-2006, 07:40 AM

So if you can bear with me I’ll share the yarn with you – it was a pretty epic adventure! Leon

We can bear it . . .

Looking real good, keep it coming Leon.

19-11-2006, 11:20 AM

Thanks for the yarn, nice "filler" on a wet sundee arvo 8)

19-11-2006, 12:19 PM
Day 3, Part 1: Burke and Wills Roadhouse to Lawn Hill Gorge – 246km

The plan for day 3 was easy enough. Get up, ride the 140km or so of bitumen to Gregory Downs, have a hearty breakfast, then ride what I suspected would be a good solid fast dirt road like all others around here, out to Lawn Hill in time for an early lunch and a relax. As we were preparing the bikes and packing up I was yarning to a few truckies and asking them about the route. They pretty much all informed me the route was in very poor condition, as frigging huge road trains cart bulk fuel out to the mine, which is about 50km west of Gregory Downs, along the road we had to travel. I was told the road was severely chopped up, and where it wasn’t chopped, it was covered in very thick gravel, similar to decorative garden gravel. They all hastily added “but you should be right on bikes!”, but I could tell that was just to make me feel better. As we left the roadhouse and headed to Gregory, we spied some of the trucks in question, and they were huge.



As we rode along the flat boring and already hot strip to Gregory, I was becoming deeply worried.

By the time we arrived at Gregory Downs to fuel up at the pub and have some light breakfast, the temperature was already 40 degrees at 0915 in the morning.

Out here, the temp doesn’t really steadily climb through the day and just touch the maximum, it gets as hot as it will be by about 1000, then stays that heat until after 1700. So we would be riding through the toughest part at well and truly the hottest part of the day. Speaking to the pub guy, he concurred with what everyone else had told me about the road being a piece of shit. By now I was starting to freak out slightly, and so was Melissa. Still, she gave a cautious thumbs up…

And we headed out of Gregory to finish the final 100km of dirt to our destination.

As soon as we turned the corner we saw one of the road trains just coming off the dirt. The dust was phenomenal while with was moving. This photo was taken about 20 seconds after it stopped, so we knew the dust was going to be a mission, and this was going to be a hell ride.

And I wasn’t wrong. For the first 50km up to the mine turnoff, the road was severely damaged by trucks. The corrugations were so severe that the bike was never in a straight line, and you had to do about 70km/h to even be slightly smooth. Problem then was huge patches of very deep gravel everywhere, which would cause massive headshake and fishtailing, so you’d gas it more and end up going even quicker. It was really hard and I was really struggling to keep my cool, partly as I knew I was a long way from help, partly as I was worried about some huge truck flying along and causing grief, and partly as I was worried about Mel on the 500, as she had done very little dirt work before, especially not this difficult in a remote area on a day over 40 degrees. Still I boxed on, having a big moment every minute or so and becoming quite hot and stressed. I looked in the mirror, no sign of Mel. Shit. I backed off the gas (and in doing so nearly stacked it in deep gravel), and looked back over my shoulder, no sign. Fuck. Then as I turned back around, off to my left side, Melissa and the 500 came flying past me in the drain!!! The road was so shit she had obviously had a gutful and went up in the drain to ride along almost in the grass. So many emotions for me at that point – I was relieved she hadn’t binned it, I was felling stupid as I hadn’t thought to do that, but mostly I was deeply impressed that she was riding perfectly and managed to do that! I dropped off the roadway and joined her in the drain, which was like a dream! Everything was looking up…

We progressed on for a while like this, going from road to drain, around creeks and so on. It was still hard, and quite sandy in places in the drain, but still a lot easier and quicker than the road. After about 40km we came to a tarred causeway, and stopped there briefly for some photos and a little break.




As we started putting our helmets back on, one of the huge fuel tankers came thundering down the hill in the dirt and across the tar bridge. The dust was phenomenal, and the speed would have been over 100km/h. We looked at each other and couldn’t believe our luck that we ad been stopped when it went by. Had we been on the road it would have been a ride off into the bush to avoid it mission. We jumped on the bikes and cruised as quick as we could for another 5km, until we reached the mine turn off, and possibly the best most welcome sign I can ever remember seeing…

And instantly at that sign the whole tone of the day changed. The panic and stress melted away, the scenery became absolutely stunning and very central Australian (we were only about 80km now from the Northern Territory border here), and the road became very rocky, but predictable and easy and enjoyable to ride on. The heat did not subside, which was of concern, but now we knew it was relatively plain sailing to our destination.

The road took us initially across rolling red hills…



Through flat grassy and very windy plains…

Through dried out sandy cattle properties…

Until eventually we crossed some hilly country and ran south along the Constance Range, which runs parallel to the eastern side of the gorge.



By now Melissa was getting very tired, you could see it on the bike and she was totally out of energy. Which was not surprising as the ride had taken it out of me, and she had been riding like a Dakar superstar. We turned a corner around the southern end of the range, into the gorge, and into the park! We had arrived! At last, it had been a mission and we had so many moments on the road that in our minds we stacked it 50 times each, but never actually hit the dirt at all. Plus we were in new country. Very tired, very hot and with our heads spinning, we stopped of celebratory sign photos.



We hopped back on and rode the 4km up to the camping area, through a gate into the restricted area, then stopped finally at our friends AC and Kush’s house, the people we had come here to see. We parked our bikes at their house in the gorge under a red cliff face, jumped off the bikes and raced inside to the air conditioning. By now it was about 44 degrees, and we just needed badly to cool off.

As we sat around in the aircon, we looked at the clock, it was only about 1200. Still another half a day to explore this new place we were at. To be honest I felt really kind of negative at this point. We’d been trying to get here for days, and it was hard, and now we were here, it kind of felt strange. Felt a bit like we were nowhere in the middle of the dry country, probably as I had heard so much about this park but had not yet looked around. I headed off for a shower, and Mel headed off for a sleep, and we prepared for part 2 of day 3, which when I look back on it was a pretty diverse day.

Stay tuned for what we got up to on the afternoon of day 3 soon…


19-11-2006, 02:30 PM
Day 3: The afternoon

Following a shower and some light lunch and a catch up with AC and Kush and their fantastic 2 boys Liam and Daniel, Melissa headed off for a sleep and I decided to go for a bit of a look around.

I won’t get too much into information about the park itself, that can be found our work (QPWS) website here: http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/parks_and_forests/find_a_park_or_forest/boodjamulla_lawn_hill_national_park__lawn_hill_gor ge/

But anyway everyone had told me it was like an oasis in the desert, and it truly, truly was. Here’s some snaps of what I saw as I wandered around – it’s such a contrast to the dry, dry country all around…

Lawn Hill Creek, about 30m from AC’s house!


The pandanus and palm trees down by the creek. About 15 degrees cooler here than 20m away from the creek bank.

The house was situated right at the beginning of the steep and beautiful red gorge.

AC and Kush house was a basic colonial style QPWS house. Very practical, great verandah, fully air conditioned and modern inside, and only 30m from the creek. A great spot to spend a few days and catch up with friends.

I got back to the house, AC got home from work, we had a cup of tea, jumped in the canoe and headed off up stream, through the very dramatic cliffs of the gorge and up to a place called indari falls.

Melissa and Kush and Daniel walked up to the falls, while we took Liam and some beers and snacks with us. Melissa walked past some impressive cliffs on her way to the falls, about 1km from the house.

Upon arrival at the falls, we swan around and goofed off in the cool water until the sun went down. Nothing quite like a cold beer in a cool stream at the end of a very hot and huge day.




Once the sun had almost set Mel and I set off in the canoe back down to the house, for a delicious meal of lasagna and salad, prepared by AC and Kush. We were told that the best option for exploring this area was to get up very early and walk to avoid the heat, then go out again in the afternoon, and stay indoors or sleep during the heat of the day. We decided that was very sound advice, and headed off to bed. I think I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow! It seemed like a year ago we were heading off from Burke and Wills, but it was only 14 hours ago – it was a big, big day, with more excitement to come as we explored this remote and beautiful place.


19-11-2006, 03:22 PM
Day 4: Exploring in the morning

Tuesday morning we got up bright and early and headed straight up the cliffs to above the gorge and falls we had canoed the previous afternoon. Now I must warn you – at this point this point gets very self indulgent and has nothing to do with riding…

Everywhere we looked, we saw an awesome landscape. Classic Australian red country, with amazing cliffs, views, gorges and trees. I have tried and tried to cull the photos I took on this day, but there is still a large amount. Won’t do much commentary, will just present a lot of photos to try and convey the feeling of the place.

First up, climbing the cliff behind the house in the early sunlight.

Nearly at the top.

Looking back down the gorge into the QPWS village. AC’s house is the one closest to the camera in the foreground.

On top of the gorge.



Gorge we canoed through the day before.


Sun starting to come out over the top of the higher hills

Looking back down the gorge.


Vegetation on the rock stacks on top of the gorge.


The falls from the day before. Looks odd as there is a little dam wall naturally formed of a limestoney stuff called “tufa”, which has caused what looks like a little lock. These are the falls we were under yesterday, so the wall is about 2m high. The photo’s don’t really do it justice, it looks quite bizarre, and I’ve never seen anything like it before


Heading further up the hill

Aboriginal midden site high above the falls. White stuff is mussel shells eaten many, many thousands of years ago at this site.

From there we headed back down to the base of the gorge, and looked back up at the cliff face in the rising sun.

From there we wandered downstream to a place called “island stack”, which is basically a big stack of rocks on an island in the gorge. To get there involves crossing the creek downstream, and so we didn’t have to get wet, AC had rigged up a little pontoon and rope to pull ourselves over. Felt very much like something out of “The Goonies” for anyone who remembers that film…

Creek shots from the pontoon


Heading up the steep cliffs to the top of the stack.


View back up the gorge. The red cliff on the left hand side is where we just walked from.

Looking north.

Looking south at the road we came in on yesterday through the valley

From there we walked back down the cliff and back across the pontoon. By this time it was heating up, and we had already walked about 5km, on no breakfast. We decided to walk back through the QPWS camping area. This camping area is a great little spot, right by the creek, with showers, drinking water, toilets, and some of our iconic marsupial fanua hopping around. The camp site was dead empty. Apparently it is chock full of oldies with caravans in the winter, and becomes very hectic. We were glad that despite the heat, we had come when we did, as we literally had the whole park to ourselves – if you can hack the heat I recommend it to anyone.




We headed back to the house, had some breakfast, showered, then off for a sleep through the hottest part of the day, with a view to link up with AC at about 1630 and check out some other parts of the park. I must say I was coming around to the midday nap idea!


19-11-2006, 03:44 PM
Day 4: Exploring in the afternoon

We got up from our sleep at 1600 to discover it was still 44 degrees. Nonetheless we headed off to the ranger base, caught up with AC and we headed off to a place called “Wild Dog Dreaming”, which is an aboriginal art site. The local traditional owners ask that photos are not taken at the site, so I respected that wish, and have some photos on the way in and out of there. The site itself is truly awe inspiring and amazing. A must see for anyone who goes to the gorge. The towering cliffs looked quite haunting in the setting sun, it is little wonder that aborigine and European people feel a connection to this amazing place.

Walking across a spot where the creek only flows in the wet season.

Cliff face walking in

Pandanus on the lower gorge

Bowerbird nest made with trinkets collected from the road and campsite

Cliffs in the sunset



Once back at the house, we ate another great dinner, and planned for the following day. Day 5 was when it all became a little bit unglued for me…..

We headed off for another early night in preparation for a big day tomorrow.


19-11-2006, 05:47 PM
Day 5: Riversleigh and beyond

Day 5 say us up bright and early again, in the car with Kush and the kids, and off to a place called “Riversleigh D site”



About 70km south of the gorge, this place has one of the richest mammal fossil deposits in the world, and it was amazing. There is a small area of the site that is signposted and tourists can walk around. It was quite awesome as just about every rock you looked in contained a fossil. For a wildlife nerd like me, I was in heaven at this place.

D site

Mock rock interp centre in the middle of nowhere

Life size replicas of the giant birds and freshwater crocs that lived here in yesteryear.

Femur of giant emu bird type thingy

This place used to be by a giant inland lake, and covered in rainforest and very cool. Standing on top of the hill looking out, it was actually quite easy to imagine it back then, but so different now.



The place left me with really mixed emotions. On the one hand it was great that people can go and see and touch and do what they like here, on the other hand it was upsetting that people could do that and steal and wreck stuff. As I wandered around and for the rest of the day I felt very conflicted and strange about it. Fortunately my job involves the protection of wildlife in Queensland, and I left there with a sense of resolve knowing that I may be able to do something to help these long dead animals of the past.

Like I said, almost everywhere you look a rock with a fossil in it.





This one is the fossilised cross section of a turtle carapace.

Stopped for a quick photo in front of some fossils – my moustache is coming along a lot slower than I had hoped incidentally…

Heading back in the hilux, saw a couple of emu’s by the road. Stopped for the obligatory photo.

From there we headed to Adel’s grove for an ice cream and a look around. A small camping, resorty, shop type place about 10km from the gorge and park, but on Lawn Hill Creek. A very pleasant little spot, with a restaurant, hot showers, and a very nice cool shaded camping area.

The rapids at Adel’s.


The shady camping area by a waterhole. If you crave a more luxurious experience than the basic QPWS camping area, I highly recommend this place.




We left Adel’s and of course it was already very hot. Back at the base AC had already knocked off work. We ate a light lunch. Mel and Kush went off for a sleep. AC and I went for a swim. Somehow we decided that instead of having a sleep when we got back we should sit on the deck in 44 degree heat and drink 3L of shitty cheap cask wine. Bad move.

That’s all from me today, will post the wine fiasco and the adventure home in the next few days.


19-11-2006, 07:36 PM
Wow, what an adventure!

I can't wait to read the rest of it.

Sounds like an absolutely amazing trip.


19-11-2006, 08:28 PM
This story of yours brings back heaps of memories for me, from driving from Julia Creek up to Normanton, staying at one of the pubs in Normanton (not the Purple Pub! altho I did have a few beers there) back in the mid seventies. No three ways roadhouse then! 270 miles not ks between JK and Normanton. I worked up there on a cattle property for 6 months; great times.
Visited Lawn Hill a few years ago with wife and 3 kids. Stayed at Adel's Grove with brother in law and their kids for 3 days I think. Magical place. Did the kayak trip up above the falls, unreal. Came up from Mt Isa-Camooweal road through Riversleigh and out the way you came in, although we went south back to Cloncurry and Mount Isa from the 3 ways. Wouldn't have stayed at the QNPS camp site then as it was chockas and the ablutions blocks stunk to high heaven. Hopefully better now. The road then from Century turnoff out to the bitumen was fairly corrugated in a 4WD, not as bad as the road south of Riversleigh though. Would love to get back out there with the bike one day soon. One of Australias hidden jewels. Know what you meant by having mixed emotions re letting the great unwashed visit these special places. Should be able to draft them out somehow, so that the d***heads aren't able to visit.

20-11-2006, 06:59 AM
Day 4: Exploring in the morning

Now I must warn you – at this point this point gets very self indulgent and has nothing to do with riding…

Hi Leon,

As far as I'm concerned this does not apply to you.. Sensational photos and write up as per your usual high standard.. Great work mate.

thanks, looking forward to reading the rest when you've posted it. :chug: :chug:

20-11-2006, 07:46 AM
Top report Leon :chug:
Man, I gotta get up that way !!!!

20-11-2006, 09:47 AM
Day 5 and day 6: The wine thing!

Basically the short story is that I drank too much wine ona hot day, spewed up everywhere, and had to spend the day on Thursdeay convalescing. Thursday was actually quite a worrying day as I had heat exhaustion before then and needed hospital, was very concerned if I was going to be well enough if I was going to get home the following day...

When I got back into work this morning, AC had written an all staff email to my work colleagues detailing the incident, which I will print here, as I feel it does far more justice to the story than I ever could:

"I have struggled for about half a day as to whether or not I should disclose this anecdote and have decided to do so.

On Tuesday it was 43 degrees at 3pm at the base. We had worked on a fencing job most of the day and had two more days to go. As such and given the extreme conditions, we decided to start work at 5am and work through with a couple of short breaks and knock off at 1pm on Wed and Thur.

On Wednesday, I got home and said to my good friend Leon – “Mate, the radiant heat off the rocks out here takes more out of you than the air temp, it was disgusting out there today, I think I might just pack up and leave”

To which he replied sarcastically in that annoying voice (you know the one) “the radiant heat is soooooo hot, I just want to leave …………… errrrrrrr, one day in the heat and your ready to pack up …..errrrrr”

About a half hour later, Leon suggested that we take a swim in the cool waters of Lawn Hill gorge to which I agreed. We swam for about an hour or so, and Leon came up with the suggestion that it would be great if we headed back to the house, sat on the verandah and cracked open some cheap red wine and ate chips.

I again agreed – it was 3pm – 40 degrees.

At 4:30pm, we took the wives and kids on a walk to the cascades for a swim after consuming several really bad wines and eating many many savoury snacks.

The swim was fantastic and we had a couple more reds and solved several but not quite all of the worlds problems.

We arrived home and Leon was starting to look a little worse for wear (approximately 800m walk from cascades to our house).

He didn’t want another wine or any of the lovely stew with dumplings that he and Melissa cooked.

He promptly went to bed and then resurfaced later to spew quite often throughout the evening, including a ripper that left a little vomit trail up the hallway.

I had a couple of beers and then fell asleep on the couch, waking up in my room ( somehow) at 4am to go to work. We started fencing at 5am and while I was up there, Kush arrived in the car to let me know that Leon was not well and could not stop vomiting, could we get to the flying doctors kit. I promptly laughed loudly and suggested that they saw the doc who was at Adels Grove in the morning. Kush went home and rang but unfortunately, the plane had left, but Michelle kindly offered for my heat exhausted and dehydrated friend to head up to her and she would ring the doc and look after him.

I took him up to Adels at around 11am and left him there – being a little bit worried about him, I was unable to pay him out too much as he was in quite the bad way, until he explained what happened.

“I wasn’t feeling very well yesterday and then had a couple of wines….. I think it’s mainly the heat and dehydration” (hmmmmm…. A COUPLE OF LITRES OF WINE METHINKS)

He ended up at Adels for about 3 hours being tended to for heat exhaustion and dehydration, the very thing he took great amusement in giving me curry about when I arrived home from work.

I still have not really given him too much curry as he was pretty crook but thought it would be far more appropriate to send him on his way this morning and then email you all for your amusement for this is what a true friend should do.

Have a good one.


I really have no defence or response to his story, but everyone has had a field day giving me shit at work today - will be a while until I live this one down.

Moral of the story = don't do stupid shit in front of your mates who have the internet!

Stay tuned, next chapter is day one of the ride home via a different route, and the homecoming.



PS thanks for the words of support it's motivating me to finish sooner!

20-11-2006, 03:41 PM
Day 7: Lawn Hill Gorge to Richmond – 634km

After spending most of the previous night being very worried that I would be too ill to make it down the very tough road to Gregory Downs, I actually woke up very refreshed, and determined to make a good go of it. AC had mentioned that if I was still crook he would trailer the bikes the 100km or so to Gregory past the worst of it, and I could ride from there. Both Mel and I were not keen on that though, as it would seem very much like quitting. In order to try and beat the heat, we set out at the crack of dawn though the gorge and out of the park.

We saw on the news that a cool change was coming through, which was great as it was a lot cooler, but it was also very, very windy with 30+ knot winds and a strong wind warning, unfortunately this was a head wind for us, which continued the whole 1100km or so home and dented our fuel consumption figures. Still we felt great as we left the dawn shade of the gorge, and broke through the Constance Range on our way out of the park and onto the flat rocky country.


We cruised without incident through the tracks up to the mine turnoff, and reached the very crappy 20cm deep gravel for 50km section for a quick break. By now the sun had picked up and so had the wind, we drank a little water and chatted about the upcoming stretch.



The wind played havoc with our photos, check out the dust cloud, and Melissa’s hair! It blew up moments before pressing the shutter button!

The wind on this section was insane. The whole place was a choking dust cloud for 50km. But remarkably, the riding was totally easy this time! Don’t know what it was, whether we had gotten that bit better at riding, if we had built it up to be worse than it actually was, or if the angle of the early morning sun made it easier to pick a line, but it was heaps easier. We cruised on very much without incident, arriving at Gregory unscathed about 2 hours after setting off from the gorge. As we stopped on the bridge at the Gregory River for pats on the back, two huge trucks came rumbling by on their way out to the mine – talk about lucky timing.

Tried to take a triumphant photo at Gregory Downs as we fuelled up, but the bloody wind and dust got in my eyes again! – makes for a funny photo though…

We had planned for breakfast at Gregory, but were both so pumped up after the dirt section we decided to press on to Burke and Wills roadhouse, to get all the backtracking out of the way in one hit. The road was flat and boring, and we had already done it once, plus the headwind was fierce, but we were looking forward to a fed at our next stop, before pressing on into new country on our way home.

Between Gregory and B & W

Out here the best spot for an airstrip is often the road.

We arrived at B & W pretty early and had a feed, a sports drink and a sit down after fuelling up the bikes.

I noticed a camel and thought it would be very clever to take some photos of it and the BMW and make some sort of lame “ships of the desert” analogy for you guys…

And of course the feral thing tried to chew my bike. I clipped it over the head, and noticed it had a bolt coming out of its nose. Now that was just weird…

From there we headed south east along the crappy single lane bitumen. Here we left the fairly diverse and interesting gulf savanna and entered the northern downs, which is a flat, bland, windy boring area of amazing desolation and monotony. On the 250km to Julia Creek the only shade to even stop was a place about halfway along called Sedan Dip Racecourse, which is an old bush racetrack. It was pretty cool really to think that thousands of people still flock here each year to the middle of the outback for a dressed up day at the races.

A few photos of the facilities – not like a flash big city track that’s for sure!



Treeless, flat and unimaginably boring would be the best way to describe the road from here to Richmond, our final destination for the day.


I really like this photo, really sums the whole section of the trip up.

It’s a funny old place as it is so homogenous, it feels like you haven’t traveled anywhere, yet you’ve done hundreds of kilometres. You feel like you could do another 500km, yet you are totally exhausted. Mucks with your head…

We decided to stop at Richmond and stay at the flashest hotel in the west, the Ammonite Inn, and spoil ourselves on our last night away with a bit of luxury. And man it was a treat. We stepped out of the air con briefly to have a look around town. Most stuff was closed but they did have a dinosaur display (lots of fossils here too – was a big inland sea hence the boring scenery), for some moronic posing.


Had a junky feed of fish and chips and went to bed with that funny feeling of looking forward to getting home, but also feeling a bit down the adventure was coming to a close. Didn’t sleep too good actually I had a lot on my mind.

Only one day left until our triumphant return to Townsville.


20-11-2006, 03:57 PM
Day 8: Richmond to home – 500km

Got out of bed late, and ate a fatty breakfast of bacon and eggs, jumped on the bikes and began to ride though more of the same flat downs country.


The flat country was dull, and the headwind was pissing me off, but it did give me lots of time to think and reflect on the ride that was, and think all of those thoughts you think when you are doing a last transit stage of a long adventure. Most of all I was so impressed with Mel – she is one tough arse lady and constantly blew me away with her stamina, confidence and natural skill on a motorcycle – I married the right girl for sure. I also thought it kind of sad as our riding days were coming to a close together, as 2007 we are going to try and start a family, but glad we had had so many adventures on bikes over the past 8 years. I also decided to by a big fancy dual cab 4x4 ute for more outback adventures when family time rolls around. Basically over the next few hundred kilometres I worked out all my stuff, solved the problems and was feeling pretty good about the world.

We stopped on top of the Great Dividing Range, about 250km south west of Townsville for a leg stretch and a bit of a break.




About 110km west of Charters Towers near Pentland, I spied a sign and had to pull over for a photo. Glitch, this is especially for you and the CT110 postie bike crew! Why do I have a feeling this sign will go missing after the Cape York postie bike tour…


Stopped briefly at Pentland, about 230km away from home for a coffee, and to try out what may be my next adventure bike. Pretty sweet ride man!

The rest of the trip back was pretty much straight through familiar country I ride through quite often, stopping occasionally for the odd piss break. Eventually the ranges behind Townsville came into view – we were nearly home.

One last photo of Mel and the 500. I can’t say enough good things about the way she rode on that trip. 2424km of challenging riding in tough conditions many hours away from help and civilisation, and she handled it like a trip to the shops.

Back into town, a bit of culture shock with the traffic and so on. Nothing can top the feeling when you turn into your own street after a long trip away, hard to describe that feeling, will just show it in a photo.

We had done it. Home at last, what a ride, tough conditions, exciting new places, great adventure…

……and my moustache was finally starting to come good!

Thank you everyone for reading, that’s all from me, I hope you enjoyed – I sure enjoyed sharing it with you.


20-11-2006, 06:10 PM
Thank you everyone for reading, that’s all from me, I hope you enjoyed – I sure enjoyed sharing it with you.Leon

No, thank you. What a great read. Lawn Hill was always on the agenda for me and let me just say, it still is.

22-11-2006, 02:38 PM

Yes please, I'll have one of those ! :lol: :chug:


LOVE that new trackbike !! You'll blitz 'em like never before :rofl:

I hope you enjoyed – I sure enjoyed sharing it with you.

Finally finished reading and gawking....WHOW !!!!

What an awesome trip and lots of fun (what you caught of it in that inebriated state :lol: :lol: ) ...but also a pretty tough one.
Congrats to Mel for showing you how it's done :wink: :wink: ...through the ditch!! :lol: :lol:
Those temps alone would've seen me crawling under a rock...any rock...on the first day, howling for mercy.
Christ...they breed 'em tough up north.
THANKS for the post....now I'll go back and start reading from the top again...

22-11-2006, 07:47 PM
Brilliant report Leon. And Thank YOU for sharing it.

19-12-2006, 11:23 AM
For those who PM'd me the photos were down, they appear to be back now so you can finish reading! :)

20-12-2006, 11:56 AM
Tks mate...goes to show that even if posts seem to vanish off the top15 list, there's still plenty of interest.

21-12-2006, 07:59 AM
Great report - thanks for the pics

So how does the KLE go?? Was on my shortlist before the KLR due to twin and six speed box but at 180kg's and a bit too much to damage when dropped I didn't end up riding one.

Thanks in advance

Grey Gentry
21-12-2006, 10:12 AM
Top yarn... It seems I was on the ride with you.

21-12-2006, 04:26 PM
It is a great report Leon and Melissa, I did read it earlier just after you posted it but sad to say I did not have broadband to admire the photos, only now on a friends comp have I seen. It is a great adventure I wish I was there maybe next time. Keep them coming.



12-03-2008, 09:08 AM
Hey Leon
Is the road from Greenvale to Normanton still dirt?
Liked your story. I used to shoot up on the gilbert river north of Normanton years back, of course the road to Normanton was just dirt, hidden potholes and bulldust.
Am considering taking a bike around oz and deliberating the type. Was your good ladies a KLR650? IF is what are her/your impressions of the bike and did it have a comfortable fuel range?
Thanks in advance

12-03-2008, 11:38 AM
Hey Leon
Is the road from Greenvale to Normanton still dirt?
Liked your story. I used to shoot up on the gilbert river north of Normanton years back, of course the road to Normanton was just dirt, hidden potholes and bulldust.
Am considering taking a bike around oz and deliberating the type. Was your good ladies a KLR650? IF is what are her/your impressions of the bike and did it have a comfortable fuel range?
Thanks in advance

Hi Laurie

Sorry for barging in here....but sadly we haven't heard from Leon for quite some time. Tried to contact him without luck, too.
His bike was a KLE500 IIRC, and as far as I know/ remember, they never had fuel issues, she also seemed to like the bike a lot.
As to the road in question, I couldn't help...but hard to imagine that that stretch would warrant the cost of construction, given the comparatively low traffic volume.

For for the "what type of bike for a lap of the map"....I'll keep quiet on that score (for the time being anyway :bs).
Wanna make that a separate thread? Others might be interested in the responses as well...