My Trip to Qld

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by Leigh Semmens, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. Leigh Semmens
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    Leigh Semmens Member

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    After a couple of days in Yungaburra it was time to leave Qld and head to the NT. Given that I was travelling alone on a bike that is not really suited to off road work I decided that Highway 1 was not a good road to test my off road abilities on a road bike. I headed south via the Kennedy Development Road thinking that it was bitumen all the way to Mt Isa. Oh, well, thebest laid plans of mice and men. I found that there were patches of dirt reminiscent of the Stuart Highway in the lead up to sealing it!
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    81. Kennedy Development Road I did not do much in the way of touring on the way south although I did stop in at Millstream Falls which was an area used for rehabilitation and training during WWII. At any one time there were up to 100,000 troops accommodated at 160 sites across the Atherton Tablelands. Lucky me, on my first night back on the road a thunderstorm decided to make its presence felt. I saw it coming and thought that it would pass me by if I set up camp by the side of the road where I was. Camp all established with stiff breezes meant that I was not going to try with the tent. My swag was under a hootchie to keep any rain off so I did not have to huddle in an enclosed space in hod and humid weather. Good thing I did! It blew right over me!
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    82. My bed for the night
    I travelled on to Mt Isa turning right at Hughenden and camping at Barkly Homestead for the night.
    Day 68 on the road included a stop at Attack Creek where Stuart turned back from his 1860 expedition to cross Australia after a hostile encounter with Warumungu Aboriginal people. I’m not sure what happened but many of my photos for the next couple of days were out of focus. The downside of having a switch on the lens which allows you to manually focus. My apologies to the girls behind the bar at The Daly Waters Pub very few of my piccies turned out. I’m gonna have to come back and try again.
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    83. D
    aly Waters Pub with some of the locals.
    The pub had dirt floors last time I travelled through, I suspect that Occ health and safety might have had something to do with the new flooring. Bare concrete. Just remember to bring a pair of jocks (for you blokes) or a Bra (for the birds) to decorate the bar. Plenty of food and cold beer for all and sundry! The next day I travelled into Darwin bypassing the other tourist spots, Mataranka hot springs and Katherine Gorge on the way in.
    Arriving on Saturday afternoon, I set up camp with my son and his wife in Palmerston. Next morning they took me into Nighcliff Markets for a breakfast of Laksa,
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    84. Laksa for Brekkie
    I‘ve had a slack week only visiting one set of friends so far but have visited several shopping centres in the Palmerston region, none of which were of much interest. My next project is to get my bike serviced in preparation for the next part of my journey.

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  2. Leigh Semmens
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    Leigh Semmens Member

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    I’m Spending Christmas in Darwin With my son and Family. Having caught up with numerous friends some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 30 years, Others, not since I left Darwin 17 years ago. I must be getting old! The service cost me just over $600 which included adjusting the tappets so, it should last me until Perth, I hope. I was only going to return home via Brissy and NSW but half way from Daly Waters to Katherine I had the bright idea of turning left at Katherine which means turning right when I head “south”. I’ve spent a couple of days planning that trip and it should add only a few more weeks onto my journey.
    Anyway, back to playing tourist for a while. The Top End as locals call it have a lot of attractions, many of which I have visited in years gone by. In the time since I left, Darwin has “grown up”, no longer a big country town it is now showing signs of becoming another “big” (for the Territory) City with the attendant problems. Sadly things that made Darwin unique have had to be modified to reflect societal trends. The Beer Can Regatta (which I’ll not still be here for) has had some major changes over the years. Gone are the days of huge piss ups in the days leading up to the event to finish building your boat. They can now be built of soft drink cans! Starting in 1974, it has grown to be a family day out where copious quantities of the amber liquid were consumed. Not so much now. Time was when the distance between places were measured in how many cans you drank to get there.
    I spent Sundays catching up with friends at various churches in Darwin and playing tourist between services. When our kids were small the NT Museum was a favourite haunt and we used to regularly visit the cafe for lunch. Sadly, the cafe is no more, although the restaurant still exists, albeit closed when I was there. One of the favourite exhibits at the museum is Old Sweetheart who was a croc that used to inhabit the Finniss River and liked eating outboard motors. He became such a problem that rangers accidentally killed him when attempting to catch, and re-locate him to a Crocodile farm. Weighing in at 780Kg, he isn’t the biggest, but arguably, the most famous.

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    85. Old Sweetheart

    Another display at the NT Museum is that of Cyclone Tracy. If you’ve never experienced the destructive forces of weather, this is a poignant reminder of what a little bit of wind can do. Yes! I am making a HUGE understatement here!! When I left the Territory in 2003 there were still reminders of Tracy around Darwin if you knew what to look for. Christmas night 1974 will live in the memories of those who survived for the rest of their lives.

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    86. A section of wall from someone’s home

    Officially, only 71 people perished in Tracy. Friends who worked in the medical system say, there were a LOT more.
    I also celebrated a birthday whilst in Darwin and was tricked by my daughter in law into buying my own present! She suggested that she needed help purchasing a nice bottle of Scotch for my Son (birthday just after Christmas) and, stupid me, fell for it. We picked out a nice bottle and I dutifully hid it in my room for her. Next day (my birthday), son rings me and tells me to get it from my room! It was a nice surprise. They also took me out for dinner.
    A friend I had stayed with in Brisbane decided to fly up and visit last week end. He arrived on Friday and, time Saturday came around there was not much left in the way of Scotch or beer. Poor Matthew (son) was not up to going out for breakfast with us. We went with Jess into Parap markets for Laksa voted the “People’s Choice” at the recent Laksa festival. I agree, it was very good! Next day was a fishing Charter where we were to spend 10 hours out on the Arafura Sea trying to encourage fish to jump into our boat!.
    I can heartily recommend Equinox Fishing Charters for a great day out. There were 8 of us in the group and we all managed to go home with a good haul of fish. Even I managed to catch a few. My strike rate is very low when it comes to fish. One year we were fishing with hand lines from a boat and all I caught that day was a hangover. Everyone else was dropping a line in and pulling up big fish! They filled a rubbish bin in a couple of hours! Not I.

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    87. My Catch of the day (Blue Salmon)

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    88. Our Haul

    Today I visited the East Point Military Museum and the Aviation Museum by the Darwin Showgrounds. Both are a testament to the people who fought and died for our freedom and those who have worked to preserve the memories of the people who helped make Australia great. The military Museum has many displays and a very effective video (using actual footage) of what it was like in Darwin when the Japanese attacked in 1942. The displays are immersive and you can spend hours just wandering and reading about our wartime history. Interestingly enough, more bombs fell on Darwin that fateful day than fell on Pearl Harbour!

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    89. The video is worth watching

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    90. Many military vehicles were on display

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    91. Even the Land Rover made famous by “The Bush Tucker Man”

    The Land Rover used by Major Les Hiddings in his series “The Bush Tucker Man” which was an extension of his military research into bush survival in Northern Australia.

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    92. The Navy was well represented

    Despite being a Military Museum , the Navy was also represented, and there were maps and images of the ships that were based in Darwin during the war.

    After leaving the Military museum, it decided that it was time to rain and I was just on the edge of the storm as it blew over Darwin. Stopping to take a couple of pictures across Mindil beach towards Darwin was a risk that I dared to take.

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    93. Darwin City Skyline

    I made it to the aviation Museum at Berrimah not long before the skies opened up! Although this is a general aviation museum, it does boast an impressive range of military air craft, including the only B52 bomber outside of America! It is housed in a hangar and it is positively HUGE!!! There were other aircraft in the hangar on display with it, but, they were dwarfed by its size! Just for that one aircraft alone this museum is worth the entry fee! To get a look into the cockpit of this plane you have to walk up a set of stairs used by Ansett to board their passenger planes when they were the alternative carrier in Australia.

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    94. An A3 Mirage Dwarfed by the B52 Wing

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    95. The video inside the B52 bomb bay was informative.

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    96. This little character looked mean

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    97. 1938 Indian used as a communications bike

    The attached info tells us that the Indian motorcycle was based at the same air base as the B52 on display. There was also a collection of older aircraft outside. They were not as accessible as those inside.

    I managed to return “home” before I got too wet, so, all in all, a good day
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  3. Leigh Semmens
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    Leigh Semmens Member

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    A couple of days were spent catching up with friends and exploring some of the old military sites around Darwin. Some of these are well signposted with information on the significance of the site, some still have some remnants of the original infrastructure.

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    98. WWII Anti Aircraft Battery

    As it was approaching Christmas I stopped playing tourist for a while and played a father visiting his kids for Christmas. We spent the day with son’s friends “down the track” which is Darwin speak for the rural area.

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    99. Our Christmas tree was unique

    After Christmas I thought I’d visit Berry Springs which was a popular swimming spot when I lived here but it was closed for the wet season. It never used to be so I moved on to the Territory Wildlife Park just down the road. The park features many of the indigenous wildlife found in the top end including the ubiquitous Saltwater Crocodiles and Water Buffaloes. Plan on spending a day there. It started to rain as I was finishing my day so I thought I’d sit in the cafe until it passed before riding home. I watched the rain band on BOM on my phone pass over and thought, “Yep! All clear, now I can ride home without getting wet!”. You know what they say about the best laid plans.

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    100. Salty

    I’d ridden about 500m and it started to rain again. A proper tropical downpour which stopped when I was nearly home! Riding without wet weather gear at 100kph is downright uncomfortable!
    Another few days were spent visiting friends and bidding farewell to them. I had considered heading to Western Australia from Darwin but decided that the Wet Season across the Top was not conducive to pleasant camping so decided to head home.
    The road around Litchfield national Park had not long been sealed so I decided to to the loop on the way home. Visiting the various waterfalls and swimming spots along the way. Well worth a visit and the road was a good ride, too, with many long sweeping bends.

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    101. The Litchfield loop - Berry Springs to Batchelor

    As it was stinking hot I did stop for a swim at Buley Rockhole. However, to do the park justice, you must spend several days travelling and camping here. Don’t forget to take lots of water as some of the walks are quite long and arduous.

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    102. Wangi Falls


    I pressed on and managed to make it to Mataranka some 400km away for the night. There are numerous hot springs around the top end, but Mataranka is probably the most famous. Because of the heat on the road, I booked into an air conditioned cabin for the night before soaking in the springs for an hour or so.
    From Mataranka I moved on to re-visit the Daly Waters Pub and managed to get some pictures that were in focus, this time! The museum across the road also has some very nice vehicles from the past.

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    103. The Pub

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    104. Daly Waters Museum

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    105. Kwakka 900

    After polishing off a late breakfast I headed south to my next destination, the Barrow Creek Pub. I was hoping for an early tea when I got there but the kitchen was closed for the month! It’s a pity, because I have made it a habit to eat a steak there in all my years of travelling up and down the track. Their steaks are always good and cooked perfectly every time!

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    106. The Barrow Creek “Bank”

    I also made a deposit into their “Bank” which decorates just about every wall of the Bar.
    From there, I pressed on to Alice Springs for the night. Again in an air conditioned room with a couple of cold drinks. Given the temperature around central Australia (about 40C) I decided that I’d not bother with Uluru or the Olgas and headed south to the border expecting to have to fill out declarations and other COVID statements as I crossed. They must have been glad to see the end of me as I got waved through only slowing down enough to ensure that I wasn’t going to be arrested for ignoring the lockdown.
    I pressed on to Coober Pedy where I stopped for a cold Belgian Ale at the roadhouse before aiming for Glendambo for the night. I was disappointed when I got there as the pub was shut!! Eating “roadkill” at the old roadhouse (the new one was also shut) before setting up my swag for the night along with couple of Gypsy Jokers (former) who were heading north. We had a good yarn before crashing for the night.
    Next morning was a pleasant ride to Port Augusta turning left through Horrocks Pass and meandering home via Clare. As I was leaving Alice, I guessed that I’d be home by around 2pm on Thursday. I was 15minutes out, arriving home at 1:45!!
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  4. Leigh Semmens
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    Leigh Semmens Member

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    That concludes my travels for now! Hope you enjoyed! :D
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  5. ottafish
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    ottafish Member

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    Bloody amazing trip and great read. One lucky fella..
    I'd be taking al this and combining it into a book, have it printed and send it to some of the folks you were a along the way.

    Thanks for sharing the experience. Just an amazing trip and read.
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  6. bruzer
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    bruzer Member

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    I agree with Otta, a fantastic ride and even better report. Very jealous of your trip Leigh and obviously the long trip improved your riding skills....didn't see any reports of bike falling over after the first few "offs" at the start. lol,
  7. Leigh Semmens
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    Leigh Semmens Member

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    The offs were all at low speed, fortunately. I did find myself a little unstable at low speed after a day in the saddle on the way home, but it soon wore off. :D Thanks for the positive comments.
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  8. Hopper
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    gold mate bloody ripper