Home again

I’m back home in Beaumaris!

After leaving Longreach I headed south through the outback roads to Bourke and then Hay and through to Echuca and finally Beaumaris.

It took me just 3 days. I hadn’t intended to go that fast but it started getting colder and I thought it was time to get home. There is no place like home!

Here is a photo of Beaumaris Beach

Walking with Maggie on BEAUMARIS BEACH

Beaumaris Beach

So my fifth big ride is over. It’s been great and I’ve seen some wonderful places. I recommend Northern Australia and swimming with the Whale Sharks in WA is a must do…. Add them to your bucket list

It’s now time for Azulo to go into retirement. He’s been  amazing and a credit to Kawasaki. In the 85,000 kilometres I’ve travelled on my adventures, Azulo has hardly ever caused me problems. The difficulties I had on this trip were due primarily to poor servicing and it didn’t help filling up with diesel rather than petrol!

I intend donating Azulo to a Motorbike museum, if I can find one interested…I can’t possibly sell him…he’s almost part of the family…I suggested to Merry mounting him on the front gate or embedding him in the front wall but received a frosty look!

This is  my last post on this blog. Thank you for coming along with me on my adventures and a big thanks for those who have made comments. As I’ve said before the comments have made it worthwhile doing the blog which at times has been a bit of a pain…..but I knew some people were looking forward to the next post which was an incentive to keep going…… Now I have a diary record of the trip…… maybe I’ll get my book finished…I started a book but got bored with it!

To those of you whom I’ve met on my travels and watch the blog…please keep in touch by emailing me…gbransbury@gmail.com.

Good bye!

 

Heading South to Longreach

I’m now in Longreach on the long ride south. Longreach is about 2000 k from home

As you may know New Zealand again won the Americas Cup…The brother of my “Niece – in – law,” Claire Worth, is the “Spar Designer” of the NZ Americas Cup team. What an achievement!

Well done Martin McElwee…

Holding the Americas Cup – Congratulations Martin McElwee

My journey south so far…

I headed for Townsville via Cairns (where I bought a new camera!)

In Townsville I stayed with my biker friend Rob Curtis. He had kindly contacted a few Kawasaki Dealers around the country and found the missing chain guide.

Rob Curtis with Azulo

We fitted it onto Azulo. It was good that we did as the old chain had quite badly damaged Azulo’s rocker arm (not sure if that’s the right name)

This piece of black rubber you can see in the photo protects the bike from further damage (This bit of rubber cost $95.00…they certainly know how to rip you off with the cost of parts don’t they?)

The black rubber chain guide now fitted

Townsville to Richmond, Hughenden and Winton

My next destination is the “Dinosaur Trail” ….It includes the towns of Richmond, Hughendan and Winton.

The little towns in rural Queensland are all desperately trying to attract the tourist dollar from the “Grey Nomads” who trundle around the country in their caravans…there are literally thousands of them….You hardly see a tourist under 65 here….

Richmond, Huhenden and Winton are heavily promoting their Dinosaur connections.

In Longreach there is a free caravan park (actually it costs $3.00 a day.)…. Its nothing more than a dirt paddock…there were some 500 vans in it. I should have taken a photo. I was told if you add the number of vans in all the other parks in Longreach, there would be some 1000 vans here currently!

Apparently last year they had some rain and the caravan paddock became a bog…the vans were running into each other…they had to close the park and those trapped had to wait till the paddock dried out!

Back to the Dinosaur Trail…

110 million years ago, Australia was separating from Antarctica and there existed a vast sea that stretched from what is today the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Great Austalian Bight…. It gradually receded trapping the marine Dinosaurs. The land at that time was forested with huge conifers. It’s hard to believe it could have been like that when you look at the dry sandy countryside that exists here today..

Richmond is a tiny “one horse” town that is home of the Kronosaurus Queenslandicus. The museum here has 10 complete dinosaur skeletons.  There is also a great film that brings these monstors back to life!

The Kronosaurus was a huge crocodile like monstor of 10 + metres that ruled the sea. it had jaws TWICE the size and strength of the largest Salt Water Croc of today.

Jaw bone of a Kronosaurus compasred with a Salt Water Croc

There are other dinosaur fossils here that are very impressive.

The highlight of the collection in Richmond is the amazing skeleton of a Plesiosaur

A Plesiosaur

Richmond has, of course an impressive Hotel and a tiny RSL. I love these country pubs.

Hughenden

110 Kilometres up the road, Hughernden, not to be outdone, also has a discovery centre with more fossils and re-creations. Hughenden ALSO has sculptures of dinosaurs all over town and I love the litter bins here (and in Winton)

A model of a Muttaburrasaurus

Hughenden also has a Hotel, but this one seems to be in desperate need of help…Its derelict at the moment. I hope someone takes it and restores it soon.

Winton

Winton is 200k south of Hughenden. There is nothing on the way except the Caulfield Pub..I couldn’t see anyhting else in Caulfield OTHER than the pub but apparently they have races here every year and thousands of people turn up.

Caulfield Pub

The lady in the Pub sold me an orange juice for $3.00 and told me how she was rushed off her feet today…I wondered why as I hadn’t seen any cars on the road and the place was empty…I didn’t ask  though!

Winton

Banjo Paterson who wrote Waltzing Matilda

Winton is famous for being the place where Banjo Paterson first played Waltzing Matilda in the North Gregory Hotel in 1895. The Hotel has burned down three times so the current Hotel only dates from the 1950’s.

Lyndon Johnson, US President in the 1960’s, also stayed there in 1942 after crashing in a plane….. I also stayed there but I doubt the tourist brochure will mention that!

Azulo at rest outside the North Gregory Hotel in Winton

Winton also has other Hotels of course!

The North Gregory Hotel also hosts a daily “Chicken Race”

It’s great fun. The chickens are all different colours and are auctioned off. I naturally bought a chicken for $30.00…the highest bid was $95.00, paid for by a little boy of nine…doubtless funded by his parents.

Tally board for the Chicken Race

My chicken won the following day! The nine year old’s chicken won, netting him some $200! He’s now a gambler for life no doubt!

Winton has become the capital of the Dinosaur trail and it is fabulous. A must see….There are two places to visit…”Lark Quarry” and “the age of the Dinosaur”

Lark Quarry is where they discovered what they claim is a Dinosaur stampede…95 million years ago some small donosaurs were drinking by a lake when attacked by a much larger Theropod…Footprints of dozens of dinosaurs have been unearthed. They are protected now in a climate controlled building.

Lark Quarry and the Dinosaur Stampede

The road to Lark Quarry is gravel and about 100k from Winton so I took a tour. It also diverted to see some of the countryside.

The “age of the Dinosaurs”  is a complex where they prepare the dinosaur bones. There is also many displays of different dinosaurs from the area.

The people working here in the Laboratory are volunteers. You can become a Dinosaur Technician (bone cleaner) for about $1000 and then come stay here and clean bones all day. I spoke with Kim in the photo. He is a retired Sydney IT Manager. He says it’s great…no staff, no pressure, nice company and lovely surroundings

Kim, the ex IT Manager cleaning bones

 

“Bango” the Theropod. A nasty piece of work was Banjo!

The Age of the Dinosaur is on a hill a few miles from Winton. It’s quite an awesome location

Longreach

Longreach has become a major tourist centre for region as evidenced by the 1000+ caravans here

Longreach is most famous for its two attractions…The Qantas Founders Museum and the Stockmans Hall of Fame.

However….There is now another contender for the Longreach tourist attraction crown…Outback Pioneers.

Outback Pioneers are owned and run by the Kinnon Family. They own a cattle station but the droughts forced them to find other sources of income to avoid selling the property. They have thrived and now run a series of excellent activities.

I signed onto do a Stagecoach ride and a River Cruise but got much more.

The day lasted from 12.00 to 9.00pm….It started with a comedy play recounting the story of Captain Starlight the cattle rustler. The two young Kinnon boys were the actors.

They both have rasping accents such as you don’t hear anymore and both boys (about 19-20 years old) have superb and quick senses of humour. All very Australian.

There then followed a “smoko” (actually a Devonshire Tea)

Then a film (a 1950’s “smiley” film…being a Pom I didn’t know the Smiley films but I was told they were popular in the 1950’s)….

Then a Stagecoach ride (driven by the Kinnon boys)….This was fabulous. Five horses rode us around the tracks for about 40 minutes and we even had an 800 metre gallop….

Then a big bus arrived to take us to the River (driven of course by the Kinnon boys

Then a superb sunset boat cruise on the Marshall River (the two Kinnon boys were the skippers of the two boats)

Then a stockmans dinner (the two boys served dinner and told jokes)   as well as an old bloke who told us some stories

Then a short film at a open air theatre by the river…The Kinnon boys were in the film…

Then tea and damper…served by …you can guess who…

Then we all sang the National Antham…and the Kinnon boys drove us back to our various places exhausted

A superb and brilliantly done day ,

The Qantas Owners Museum was also excellent, if less exhausting…. We had a tour through a 747 and the very first Qantas 707…I came out to Australia on one of those in 1970

 

Under a 747

707… I came to Australia in one like this in 1970

Catalina Flying Boat

Replica of Quantas early plane – Avro

At the time of writing this post I haven’t been to the Stockmans hasll of Fame yet. I do that today but I want to send off this post so sorry. Nothing about that!

After visiting the Stockmans hall of fame today i head to Barcaldine and then turn south towards home.

Bye fro now

 

 

Mt Isa to Cooktown and the Gulf of Carpentaria

I want to say a big HELLO to the year 1 Pupils,Teachers and Staff of Skyswood School, St Albans, England.

I heard that you have been following some of my blog…I think that is fantastic. Good to have you all as pillion passengers..It’s getting crowded on Azulo!

I believe you particularly liked the Aboriginal Art photos from Arnhem Land?

The place we visited was called  injalak Arts and Crafts. Look up the following link for more info. Click here

Back to the trip

The parts for Azulo arrived on Monday so I had five days in Mount Isa…more than enough!

I then rode to Normanton near the Gulf and then to Karumba, a small fishing port on the Gulf of Carpentaria. From there I travelled 680 k to Atherton near Cairns via Georgetown, then up to Cooktown on a simply wonderful road……lots of bends and corners……something I haven’t seen much of for thousands of miles!

Mount Isa

Mount Isa is home for Mt Isa Mines, a huge copper, lead, zink and silver complex that has some 900 kilometers of tunnels and at one point supplied 60% of the world’s copper!

It’s also the seat for Queensland’s very unusual Politician Bob Katter!…Actually I saw him whizzing through town with a police escort! (sorry to my overseas readers…totally meaningless to you)

I was fortunate that my friends Kevin and Janice arrived in their caravan. They were great company.

Kevin and Janice Taylor. Kevin was on my motorbike tour of Bhutan, India and Nepal in 2010

We visited the nearby lake and stopped to take a photo. Janice looked up into the tree and saw a big nest…maybe an eagle…She then noticed a large bird hanging out of the nest being suffocated by a snake..ugh! The snake killed the bird and doubtless then made for the chicks in the next. Horrible but nature at work.

I was relieved when I received a call from the bike shop saying Azulo was fixed. They were terrific.

The bike shop and staff deserve a big wrap. The shop is called Ajax and the mechanic was Shane. Terrific service.

Shane (right) and Duane. Great mechanics at Ajax Yamaha

Refreshed and full of energy, Azulo pounded down the 600K to the little town of Normanton, 80k from Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria.

On the way I stopped off at Cloncurry and visited the John Flynn Museum. John Flynn was founder of the Royal Flyin Doctor Service (and now is featured on our $20.00 note). At Cloncurry there is another Museum where they proudly display the water bottle found at the site where Burke and Wills died. Actually there is a little note by the bottle which says there is a dispute whether or not it’s the actual bottle!

Burke or Wils water bottle at Cloncurry

Normanton

Normanton is a small, sleepy place but it is full of charm in a strange way. There really isn’t much there but it’s worth the trip…It’s got one wide street with some lovely old buildings and quite a few Pubs! A real outback town..I found a cafe where they serve bacon and eggs to die for…I went there twice!

Very purple

My hotel…surprisingly good

Karumba

My goal was to see the Gulf of Carpentaria. Karumba is a sleepy but nice little fishing Port on the Gulf. I think it is about the only town with a beach on the Gulf, (I might be wrong about that)

I went on another sunset cruise…I hate to say this but sunsets are becoming a little like visiting churches in Europe…all wonderful but do I really have to see another!!…I’m sounding a bit like the weary traveller aren’t I?

This boat trip was excellent. For $50.00 they filled us with wine, prawns, cheese and salad…we also had the cruise!

I had to go fishing didn’t I?

Unfortunately…this is where my camera finally died, luckily I have the iphone.

We left at 7.00am and this is a SUNRISE!

My fish cooked by the Pub…Chips & Salad added for $7.50!

There is a Barramundi Hatchery here. They are amazing fish. At birth they are all male and somehow when they are old enough, some change to female. They lay their eggs on only one night of the year and then at full moon. The eggs fertilise in 12 hours…Only 1% survive.

Another interesting thing is that Barra from this area will not breed further afield. Similarly Barra from other areras will only breed around their area. It’s something to do with water temperature.

The hatchery was necessary as the Barra is becoming fished out. They restock all the rivers that feed into this part of the Gulf.

I also saw some Jabaru..lovely birds and very graceful with red legs!

After leaving Karumba I headed for Cooktown and eventually reached Atherton, a nice town in the Atherton Table lands. There are some nice towns on the way and I briefly stopped in Croydon and Geogetown. There are some interting places off the main road but I don’t have time to visit such as Cobbold Gorge and Undara Volcanic National Park. There’s so much to see!

Cooktown

Cooktown is the farthest north I’m going on this trip. To visit Cape York you need a 4 wheel drive. Azulo and I have chickened out!

Cooktown is where Captain Cook repaired his ship Endeavour after it hit a reef in 1770.

I love history and stood on the hill above Cooktown where Captain Cook stood 250 years ago. You can let your imagination run wild. He stood there in mortal danger with a little wooden ship with a hole in the hull and was trying to work out how the hell to get over the reef. They were amazing people.

Hill above Cooktown. Captain Cook stood here in 1770 and tried to plot his path through the reefs

Captain Cook beached the Endeavour about here in 1770

Cooktown

Tomorrow, I head for Townsville via Cairns. You may wonder why I’m missing the Barrier Reef and the holiday towns such as Port Douglas and also the Daintree….. but I’ve been there with the family and this trip is for me to see places I haven’t visited before.

Bye for now.