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.


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 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!


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 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 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


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 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


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.


Stuck in Mt Isa….

Yes….I’m stuck in Mount Isa

I’m sorry to report that Azulo has broken down and there are no parts in Mt Isa so I have to wait till they are flown in from somewhere!

The problem is that the sprockets and chain are stuffed. The chain guide is also missing. The the bike is unrideable. Not a serious problem in the scheme of things but it’s well and truly stopped me in my tracks..

This shouldn’t have happened as they were all replaced before the trip.

The difficulty is that there is no Kawasaki dealer in Mt Isa and the parts are not interchangable. They have to be flown in from somewhere.

I spoke to the Yamaha dealer today, Friday 30 June, (They have been very helpful). They have ordered the sprockets and chain, but unfortunately there is no “chain guide” in stock in Australia so the mechanic says he’ll have to make one…….. Perhaps this is no big deal but my mechanical expertise doesn’t stretch that far.

I arrived here on Thursday 29th around 4.00pm. Azulo was going beautifully until 50k before Mt Isa… then he started jerking and making a terrible noise.. It didn’t take me long to see the problem. I limped into town and found a motorbike shop.

I suppose the silver lining is that he didn’t break down 300k from the nearest town and the problem should easily be fixed when the parts arrive.

When one is having a bad day it only gets worse…

I checked into a place calling themselves “serviced apartments”. It was horrible. The room smelt and clearly this was a well used smoking room…There was no blanket and it was very cold overnight so I didn’t sleep much…..  and my dinner was awful.

Luckily I had some brandy and ginger ale left over from our Darwin  holiday. That disappeared very quickly.

It was not my day!!!

Today, Friday…I immediately checked out and have booked into a proper hotel. Hang the expense!

So, in summary…I have no idea how long I will be here….hopefully the parts will arrive on monday or tuesday….maybe… so hopefully I’ll be on my way again on wednesday…????…fingers crossed.

Now a quick update of my ride from Darwin

The journey from Darwin to Mt Isa

The journey from Darwin to Mt Isa is about 1500k. I did it in 2.5 days.

I stopped for a drink at Daly Waters about 650k from Darwin….At Daly Waters there is the “Stuart Tree” and a famous Pub and not much else.

The explorer John McDougall Stuart is meant to have carved his initial in the tree here. It’s just a dead stump now but tried as I did, I couldn’t see any “S” carved in the tree.

The Pub is more interesting.! It’s a tourist trap really but good fun.

Daly Waters Pub

A long way for a Big Mac

My stop that night was near Tennant Creek at a Roadhouse called Three Ways.

You meet some strange characters in these places. I was sitting on my own having dinner and was joined by a rather tubby bloke. He started telling me about his diet. He must have talked non stop about his wretched waist line for about 20 minutes.

The Bar…not many women…

Next came a nice couple of Grey Nomads. They talked about how they had experienced a hold up where she worked. She claimed she had been shot in the head. They both then went on about their various healh problems.

He had lost a tooth; she had damaged her hip and both their dogs have been sick on their trip….. Really interesting dinner conversation don’t you think!

One thing I’ve noticed everywhere is how all these places depend on the foreigh backpackers. You hardly meet an Aussie serving in the shops, bars, restaurants etc. There are Dutch, Germans, French, British, Irish, Chileans…

Apparently by working in the NT for some months they get an extension on their visa.

Next day was the fateful thursday….. I headed for Mt Isa totally unsuspecting any problems. I always check Azulo before I leave and everything looked OK

It was a long and very windy road. It was the worst cross wind since Patagonia. I saw one caravan and 4 wheel car turned over on the side of the road.

Queensland at last.

So here I am…stuck in Mt Isa

One piece of good news is that my old mate Kevin and his wife Janice have just arrived in Mt Isa in their caravan. They are here for four nights I believe so I have some good company..

I met Kevin and Gordon (my friend in Perth) on our motorbike trip through Nepal, Bhutan and India about 7 years ago.

I’ll let you know what happens when i know myself!!!


NT Holiday with Merry

Kakadu, Arnhem Land, Katherine, Mataranka, Litchfield National Park with Merry.

Katherine Gorge

I’m back on the air thanks to my web guru Charlie!  Heavens knows what was wrong but I couldn’t add a new post and photos. Anyway, Charlie fixed it. Charlie, for my Probus friends is Barry Amond’s granddaughter. She runs a web business called Creative Action.

We’ve had a terrific trip. The weather has been perfect and the sights amazing and interesting

Unfortunately it’s now over and I’m alone again heading for Cooktown in Queensland.

This post wont have much commentary…I haven’t got much time and in any case I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

One other little drama this week was when I received a phone call from the Darwin Hotel saying some idiot had rammed Azulo! Luckily it seems that apart from a bent gear pedal everything seems OK

Our route

We drove to Jabiru, took a day trip to Arnhemland, then through Kakadu National Park to Cooinda, then to Katherine, then Mataranka and finally Litchfield Park

Jabiru – Kakadu

Guluyambi Cruise on South Alligator River

Cahills Crossing the South Alligator River to Arnhem land

Abandoned Car swept away by the current

We did a day trip to Arnhem land where we visited an Aboriginal Community

Paint brush made from Pandanus Palm

Geoffrey with Geoffrey

High in the cracks at the top are spears…part of the Aboriginals initiation ceromony was to try and get the spear stuck in the crack. If he suceeded he was given a beautiful woman!

Next more of Kakadu

We went on a Yellow River cruise..lots of birds and crocs….The Saltwater crocs are the dangerous ones and we saw a whopper..about 5 metres…Despite being called SALT Water crocs they happily exist in FRESH water too.

The Freshwater crocs are less dangerous.

Salty about 5 metres

Leaf hopper…called a Comb-Crested Jacana

Baby Leaf Hopper

Azure Kingfisher

Plumed whistling Ducks….these ones don’t quack and dont much like water!

Sea Eagles

Next we went to Katherine Gorge…simply amazing. Just like the photos except better!

Mountineering Merry
She did well

Red Fruit Bat…there were thousands of them….so many they broke the branches

Nests in cave of tiny little Martins that migrate from Asia

Next we drove to Mataranka where we swam in lovely hot pools…The current in the river takes you leisurely along!

Huge ant hills everywherer

The Matralanks Pub….

Finally we visited Litchfield National Park which is only 100 K from Darwin

Florence Falls, Litchfield Park

Idiot jumping off Florence falls

Finally back in Darwin…Naturally we ended our trip at some good restaurants…one of the nicest was called “Char”

A truly terrific holiday. Very sad to see Merry go. Now i head for the dusty long road to Cooktown Queensland


East Kimberleys – Kununurra to Darwin

Kununurra to Darwin

Have Azulo and I finally lost our marbles?

DSC03930 (2)

DSC03932 (2)



No…It was an amazing stunt show in Darwin before the parade for the Supercars that are racing here soon

The distance they jump is 25 metres. Simply amazing.

DSC03939 (2)


As you see, I arrived safely in Darwin and Merry arrived on the 15th June. We’re off on a trip through Kakadu, Litchfield nnd Katherine

Back to the journey!

My last stop of any significance was Kununurra. After that it was a dash to Darwin to meet Merry.

Kununurra is a new town created when they did the Ord River scheme in the 1960’s. It’s become a centre point for tourism in the East Kimberleys..

I did two tours from Kununurra…one a boat trip up the Ord River to Lake Argyle and the second trip by air to the Mitchell Falls. Both were fantastic.

The Ord River Cruise

The Ord River scheme is an amazing engineering achievement which has trasnsformed the area.

Here are some photos of the river trip down the Ord.

DSC03802DSC03782 DSC03773





An amusing thing happened on the boat…a lady got locked in the Loo! Luckily the skipper had a screwdriver and had to remove the door handle. It took about 15 minutes and we all thought the poor lady was destined to spend the day in the Loo!

Skipper trying to open the Loo to release the trapped lady!

Skipper trying to open the Loo to release the trapped lady!

The Ord River Scheme that started in the 1960’s has transformed the area by harnessing the massive waterflows of the Ord River. Previously, during the rainy season massive amounts of water was wasted as it poured into the ocean.


The result is a huge and fertile area for crops which will eventually be over 45,000 hectares. Also, the year round stable river system has created a wonderland for plants, animals and birds.

The Ord’s flow is stabilised though two dams. The Argyle Dam blocks the Ord River upstream and has created the huge Lake Argyle which has more water than 21 “Sydney Harbours”

Overflow Channels release excess water from Lake Argyle mainly in the wet season and Lake Argyle itself provides more than enough water to stabalise the flow during the dry season.

The other Dam near Kununurra, further downstream, regulates water from the Ord River and controls flows to the sea and the irrigation channels.

It all works through gravity.

A hydro electric plant by the Argyle Dam generates enough electricity to support Kununurra and the whole area.

The Argyle Dam

The Argyle Dam





The next day I took a flight to see the Mitchell Falls


Another spectacular day.

The flight took us over King George falls and the coast. We landed on the Mitchell Plateau and walked 4.5 k to the Falls.

On the way we saw the Little and Big Mertens falls which are impressive in their own right and some Aboriginal paintings in the caves.


Captain Geoffrey

Captain Geoffrey

DSC03829 DSC03824 DSC03821



Aborigianal paintings

Aborigianal paintings

DSC03850 DSC03854

A very sophisticated steer.(photo taken by Peta Land

A very sophisticated steer.(photo taken by Peta Land

Eventually we reached the Mitchell Falls. There were a group of keen photographers all with big tripods and very expensive cameras taking photographs of the Falls….I asked stupidly if they were on a photographic tour and was told they were on a Ken Duncan tour.

Ken Duncan for my overseas readers, is a famous photographer here in Australia. He takes superb photographs of landscapes etc. His photos cost heaps.

Anyway…the great man appeared running over the rocks with his equipment strapped all over him.. He barged past me saying he had to get to a ledge as the light was perfect. He is a big man and I was amazed how he navigated the rocks to get to a ledge high up on the cliff. Not to be outdone I followed him…He was like a mountain goat!

He eventually got to the ledge and here is a photo of the great man’s backside taking a photo of the Falls.


I met two charming nurses from Toowoomba QLD who were travelling around in a camper van, Peta and Judith…They thought my chasing Ken around like a “groupie” was hillarious and Judith took this photo of me taking Ken’s photo!

Judith's photo of me tasking Ken's photo!

Judith’s photo of me tasking Ken’s photo!

The next photo is mine from the same spot. The good news is that my photo costs you nothing!


Here is Peta’s photos of the Falls…Ken better watch out!

6d 5d

Finally a photo of Peta and Judith. Great companions. Merry and I later met them in Darwin.

Peta (left) and Judith

Peta (left) and Judith

The flight back to Kununerra was a photographers delight. Here is Peta’s photo of the Coburn Ranges


After leaving Kununurra, I dashed to Darwin to meet Merry, a distance of about 800k.


I am very impressed with Darwin. it’s a lovely modern place that was virtually rebuilt after Cyclone Tracey destroyed the City on Christmas Day 1974.

The weather here during the dry season is perfect. Sunny and 30 degrees every day. The wet season isn’t so fantastic apparently!

As always when Merry arrives the quality of our food and lodgings goes up several notches.

We did a wonderful Sunset Dinner Cruise where we had a feast of prawns, oysters and beautifully cooked fresh local fish. Definitely an improvement on the hamburgers and pizzas I’ve been living on for the past six weeks


Another arty shot!

Another arty shot!

We visited the new Parliament House which is a magnificent building built in 1994. It is a superb and grand building amongst the finest Parliament Buildings I’ve seen. Given the population is only 250,000 they are obviously planning for the future!

One wit says it’s known locally at the “Wedding Cake” partly because of it’s design. He said, like a wedding cake its full of fruit and nuts and alcohol


Government House is a beautiful building surrounded by lovely gardens. I love the pink hedge and have no ideas what it is!


Darwin suffered badly in WW2…there are reminders everywhere

Darwin, Broome and the North suffered over 60 air raids by the Japanese, the biggest of which took place in February 1942 when 188 Zeros bombed Darwin in two air raids.

Over 235 people were killed, 300 injured, nine ships sunk, at least another 11 badly damaged and 30 planes destroyed.

At the time the seriousness of these attacks was hushed up and even today many don’t realise how serious these Air raids were.

It was only 10 weeks after Pearl Harbour and it was the same Japanese strike force that attacked. Apparently, more bombs were dropped on Darwin than on Pearl Harbour.

There is a superb “virtual reality” experience at the Royal Flying Doctor Service museum at the Waterfront.It really feels like you are in the middle of the air raid.


We’re now off to Kakudu, Lichfield and Katherine in a comfortable rental car. Azulo is having a well earned rest at the Hotel.



The West Kimberleys

Derby to Kununurra

I cannot understand how it has taken me 72 years to visit the Kimberleys! The scenery here is simply awesome. If you haven’t been here, jump on a plane soon!

Winjana Gorge

Winjana Gorge

I rode to Derby (pronounced Derby, not Darby) from Broome where I pitched my tent under the most beautiful Boab Tree. Lovely as the tree is, it still didn’t help me sleep!

There was a white peacock wandering around the camp site making a nuisance of himself!



The camp sites are full of “Grey Nomads” and by 7.30pm you could hear a pin drop…. it’s deathly quiet as they have all gone to bed!

I did the sites of Derby…there aren’t many but its a clean well kept little town.

There is a very long pier as the tides are huge. There is a 1000 year old Boab tree called the Prison Boab. This wonderful old tree was used as a holding spot for Aboriginal prisoners who were marched from as far away as Fitzroy Crossing some 250 kilometres away. They were marched in chains.

Prison Boab where Aboriginals were held

Prison Boab where Aboriginals were hel bu

From Derby I visited Cape Leveque on the Dampier Peninsula, then I visited Winjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek (just off the Gibb River Road) then I took a flight to the Horizontal Falls.

On the way to Kununurra ar Turtle Creek I took a helicopter flight over the Bungle Bungles

I’ve been very busy!

Cape Leveque

The road to Cape Leveque is a shocker but luckily I had left Azulo in the camp site and was on a day trip in a big bus!


First we stopped at Beagle Bay. There was a Mission here that was started by the French Trappist Monks in the 1880’s. They lasted 10 years and the Mission was taken over by German Pallotine Fathers. They were joined by Irish St John of God Sisters.

The Monks built this impressive Church in 1918. Totally out of place here…



The mission “educated” the half caste children who were removed from their mothers.  They are now known as the “stolen generation”

The Sisters apparently gave the children loving care and genuinely believed they were helping them to a better life. There is a documentary with some of the children of the “stolen generation” who grew up at the Beagle Bay Mission talking about their lives on the Mission.

They say it was a happy place to grow up in and the whole place was one big family…but THEY were NOT the children removed from their parents; they were the second generation and were there with their mothers and fathers….. It is all is so misguided and wrong to our 21 century attitudes isn’t it?

Next we visited the Cygnet Bay Pearl farm. There are only three farms left now in Australia. In 2004 there were 17 but there has been a collapse in the industry after the recent financial crisis. Mind you….the pearls still cost s fortune. Japan had the monopoly in cultured pearl production until WW2.

There was an Aboriginal artist, Bruce Wiggin carving Mother of Pearl shells into beautiful pendants. He is a senior Bardi man from the coastal Kimberley community of One Arm Point. He is a renowned carver and has works in many collections including the collection of Mr Kerry Stokes. Take a look at this!

DSC03492 (2)

These cliffs in the photo below, at Cape Leveque, were used by Qantas for their famous TV advert which featured the Australian Childrens Choir. I must be a grumpy old man but it strikes me as a huge waste of shareholders money (even for Qantas) to fly a large choir up to this remote spot just for a TV ad! Surely they could find other suitable cliffs much nearer at a fraction of the cost!…It was a great ad though!


Ok, you’re right. I AM a grumpy old man!….but  now I’ve got that off my chest!

My next trip was to Winjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek which is nearby.

Again the photos fail to capture the magnificence and feel of these amazing places. They are all sacred to the Aborigines and you can understand why.

Have you heard of Jandimarra or Pigeon (his nickname)….?

He was the Aboriginal equivalent of Ned Kelly. It’s a sad story and it all started in Winjana Gorge and ended at Tunnel Creek ….Here are some photos first….

Winjana Gorge

DSC03567DSC03560 DSC03563 DSC03555 DSC03554


Tunnel Creek

As the name implies Tunnel Creek is an underground river. You need a torch as there is no lighting in the caves and also you have to clamber over rocks and through water. It’s quite a walk.

Inside the caves there are Aboriginal paintings thousands of years old high up in the cliffs. How they got up there to paint these images is a mystery to me and also to our Aboriginal guide. The Aboriginal painting was near the roof of the cave. The photo was taken on maximum zoom.


Briefly, here is the story of Jandamarra.

In the 1880’s the first pastoralists arrived into the West Kimberleys bringing first their sheep and later cattle. Soon the land was all divided up into Sheep Stations. The white settlers had no regard for the Aboriginal land which to the Aborigines was sacred.

Also, the Aborigines soon got a taste for roast lamb and started spearing the sheep…… In 1889 some 4000 sheep were speared which was not appreciated at all by the farmers!

It was a recipe for conflict.

Jandamarra was brought up on a Station and became an excellent horseman, marksman and spoke good English but he returned to his Banuba tribe and himself became a sheep spearer. He was soon caught and sent to Derby but because he was an English speaker and a capable horseman he was enlisted into the Police force. He obviously thought being a policeman was better than being in jail.

He was assigned to the Police Station at Lillimooloora near Winjana Gorge …don’t you love the name?

Anyway, the problem started when a group of Aboriginals were arrested and brought to Lillimooloora. These turned out to be Jandamarra’s blood brothers and his own Banuba people….. He couldn’t put up with this so he shot and killed the Police Captain, Bill Richardson, and released the prisoners and escaped with them to Winjana Gorge.

Ruins of Lillimooloora Police station where Jandamarra shot Bill Richardson and released the prisoners

Ruins of Lillimooloora Police station where Jandamarra shot Bill Richardson and released the prisoners

It all got worse when a cattle drive entered Winjana Gorge. Jandamarra and his gang killed the stockmen and drove off the cattle. This led to the Battle of Winjana Gorge where Jandamarrs gang had a gunfight with 30 or so police. Jandamarra was injured but escaped to Tunnel Creek which became his hideaway.

Over the next three years Jandamarra and his gang created mayhem and attacked some of the stations and generally played hide and seek with the police.

Eventually it all ended when Jandamarra was shot and killed near Tunnel Creek.

I haven’t done justice to this story at all. It’s worth reading about. I believe there is a movie being made of Jandamarra’s life by his tribe, the Bunuba people.

Horizontal Falls

On a much lighter note my next trip was a flight to the Horizontal Falls where i had a boat ride through the falls and a helicopter flight over them. They are spectacular.



Horizontal Falls from the air

Horizontal Falls from the air


Essentially the Horizontal Falls are two gaps in the cliffs between waterways. There is a big tide and water builds up on one side as the tide goes in or out creating a waterfall effect. The height difference is up to 5 metres.

Tourists clamber into a big speed boat and zoom through the gap. It’s good fun.

In addition to the falls we went on a lovely boat trip around the area and witnessed the feeding of the sharks. They have a cage where you can swim next to the sharks and watch them eye to eye. i accidentally touched one of the sharks through the grill but luckily it wasn’t it’s mouth!



.The road to Kununurra


It’s about 900 k from Derby to Kununurra via Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek.

I stopped in Turtle Creek (Warnum is the new name) at a roadhouse. I was parched and looking forward to a drink….shock horror it is a DRY area and so water and orange juice had to suffice!

I took a flight over the Bungle Bungles which was great but I think it would have been better to also visit by road. The problem is that its a four wheel track and Azulo loaded up doesn’t like these roads at all!

I think seeing the Bungles from the ground and well as the air would give more perspective.


DSC03762 DSC03754

Bungle Bungles

Bungle Bungles

I then headed to Kununurra where i decided i had done enough camping for awhile and booked into a motel for three nights!

Thanks again for your comments. They are company for me and it makes it worthwhile doing the blog if i know you are along for the ride!

Coral Bay to Port Hedland via Karijini National Park

 Coral Bay to Port Hedland via Karijini National Park

A long but interesting ride to Tom Price followed by two nights camping in the spectacular Karijini National Park, then another long hot ride dodging Road Trains to Port Hedland

And then….another problem with AZULO that actually saved me from something much worse…….Are you intrigued?…How’s that for a dramatic intro?..

Coral Bay to Tom Price was an interesting ride through rugged country. The scenery changed frequently. There is something quite magical about the Australian Outback.


The ride is some 550k to Tom Price but I decided to take it easy and break the journey. I found a Roadhouse (actually the only one on the route i think)

I had booked a room just in case. Here in the Roadhouses they use shipping containers as rooms and they call them “DONGAS”

I was bemused when i made the booking. I was told a SINGLE  “DONGA” cost $155.00. I asked if there was anything cheaper and was told no. I looked up the website and found they had double “Dongas” for $135.00….I rang back and asked how much a DOUBLE donga cost and was told it was $135.00…I never found out why a double is cheaper than a single.

It was hardly value for money at $135.00…No windows and a VERY noisy air conditioner.


My Donga with no windows. Only $135.00

My Donga with no windows. Only $135.00

There were some friendly visitors…


Karijini National Park


I camped at the Eco Lodge in the Park. They have up-market tents there…but.they cost $280.00 per night so i opted for the unpowered site for $20.00!

However I did treat myself to meals at the very fine restaurant.

This is truly a fabulous place to stay and the Park is spectacular. Again the photos don’t do justice to the scenery.



Here are some photos of the Gorges in the Park.

DSC03407 DSC03404 DSC03403

DSC03434I was told each rock “layer” took some 10,000 years to form. Given that the gorges are up to 100 metres deep it means they are billions of years old


DSC03424 DSC03428

As you see from the above photo the infrastructure in the park is good. However, most younger people prefer to clamber down the rock paths to the pools at the bottom. The trouble is the rocks are not stable and as a result there are frequesnt accidents and fatalities.

I took the steps to the pool below and had a swim.

There are little black fish that nibble at your feet and knees.. I was told they were called Frotescue Grubbas…rather a big name for little fish. They are nothing like their South American cousins, Piranhas!



he road to Port Hedland

It’s only 400K but a fairly difficult ride. This is a main road for the Road trains from Newman to Port Hedland. Some I saw are some 80 metres long.

They are huge…four large trailers speeding along at 110 k per hour. They take no prisoners and they nearly blow you off the road coming the other way.

They also chew up the road which doesn’t make for a fun ride either.

A small Road Train...only 3 wagons. Mostly 4 wagons on this road

A small Road Train…only 3 wagons. Mostly 4 wagons on this road

I was pleased to reach Port Hedland and book into a very nice cabin (not a donga) at the caravan park.

The motels are very expensive,,,typically $180-$300  per night. Everything seems expensive here!

Frankly there is not a lot to see at Port Hedland. There are big ships and big trains. The train in the photo had 280 big wagons pulled by four deisal engines.

Long train. 280 wagons, 4 engines

Long train. 280 wagons, 4 engines


A happy fisherman

A happy fisherman

This is a photo of the salt pens


They have cyclones here…none at the moment!


 Now…My latest little drama…

It could have been so much worse. Sometimes one has to believe things happen for a reason,

I noticed Azulo was spluttering and jerking as I entered Port Hedland…. as if there was an electrical of fuel issue.

When I set out the next morning on my leg to Broome Azulo just refused to start. I did everything i could think of with my limited mechanical skills and all the experts in the Caravan Park helped me but Azulo wasn’t having any of it. He just wouldn’t start.

There are very few motorbike places in Port Hedland….Actually NONE…I found a boat place and the name of a mechanic and phoned up.No answer from either.

Eventually one of them rang back…Mal is his name. He dropped everything and came over to the camp site and bundled Azulo in his Ute….He took me to a shopping centre and told me to relax.

I walked arouind the shoppong centre and couldn’t help noticing there were FOUR dedicated “smoking shops” (tobacconists) The Aboriginals in particular seem to smoke a lot.

Mal loading Azulo on his UTE

Mal loading Azulo on his UTE

Azulo peeping over Mals UTE

Azulo peeping over Mals UTE

After about three hours Mal came back. Azulo was fixed. He had changed the spark plug and cleared a blockage in the fuel system. All was good now.

To change the spark plug he had to remove the fuel tank. When he did this he found that one of the fuel lines was seriously damaged and would have burst any time and fuel would have poured out over the exhaust pipe. The consequences might have been very bad indeed!

Azulo's fuel line. About to burst...had moved too close to exhaust pipe

Azulo’s fuel line. About to burst…had moved too close to exhaust pipe

Quite relieved Azulo and I headed for Broome. It’s about 600k so i stopped at another Roadhouse and another Donga…This one had windows and only cost $80.00.

Take a look at the Roadhouse. It’s very remote and red!


I arrived in Broome where I stayed with John and Rachel Beadle. John is the son of my friend Ken Beadle, and Rachel is the daughter of my friend David Seedsman. Both Ken and David belong to my Probus Club.

Ken kindly dobbed John and Rachel into having me stay for the night.

It’s lovely being in a family home again after my donga experience.

This selfie makes John look huge...He is tall but Rachel and I are not THAT much smaller!

This selfie makes John look huge…He is tall but Rachel and I are not THAT much smaller!

The next day I did the sights of Broome.

DSC03469DSC03470Later I met Rachel at the Sunset Bar on Cable Beach. Johnwanted to watch his team lose to my team Richmond!

The Sunset Bar is at a sensational spot. You can enjoy a drink and food whist watching the incredible sunset over Cable Beach



Rachel works, looksafter a family with 4 kids and operates a stall at the market.

Rachel with helper Laylor

Rachel with helper Laylor

My last day in Broome I did a 4 wheel tour to Cape Leveque some 200 k away…I flew back. Ill add those pictures next post

I now head for Darwin to meet Merry on 15th June. Before that I am looking forward to seeing the Kimberleys for the first timde.






Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Coral Bay

Swimming with the Whale Sharks

This was very special. I think it’s worth a post all to itself!


The Whale Shark is the largest FISH in the ocean. They can reach 18 metres although this is rare. Typically a big one is a mere 12 metres! They eat small fish and plancton and are not dangerous.

Whales are bigger but they are mammels.

I was very lucky to see one. They had not seen any Whale Sharks in the past week so i was warned it  was probable we wouldn’t see one. The arrangement is that if you DON’T see a Whale Shark you can come back another day….

The boat sets off and a spotter plane searches an area of about 50 square kilometres. Whilst they are doing that, we did some snorkling over the Ningaloo Reef.

We saw sharks, turtles, sting rays and lots of colourful fish.




Suddenly all hell broke loose….they had spotted a whale Shark some 25 miles away.

We were told to get back in the boat pronto. The boat then took off at maximum speed to reach the whale Shark.. All very exciting!

Whale Sharks are solitary fish. Not a lot is known about their migration  habits. It seems to vary. Not many have been successfully tagged apparently

We were given instructions on what to do and not to do. For example…if the whale Shark is coming towards you…..you must get out of the way QUICKLY as they won’t dodge you.


Photo – the briefing

Eventually we reached the Whale Shark. They are unlike whales in that they don’t come up for air so they are hard to spot.

When we eventually reached him/her, one of the crew jumped in ahead of the Whale Shark and determines its direction. We are then called into the water and told to WATCH OUT!

The moment arrived and in we went!


And within a few seconds there he/she was…We were within a couple of meters from the Whale Shark. it looked enormous. It took no notice of us and swam on at a leisurly pace. It couldn’t care less!



They swim faster than us so after a few minutes we were called back into the boat and the whole operation was repeated.

Altogether we had about five dives. I was exhausted but it was a fantastic experience.

A note of caution should you visit Coral Bay or Exmouth to do a Whale Shark tour. Some have a spotter plane supporting 3-4 boats. In our case there was one boat and one spotter plane. In other words we had the Whale Shark to ourselves. I think it would have been chaos if there had been three or four boats chasing the same Whale Shark 


Perth to Coral Bay

Perth to Coral Bay

Yesterday, in Coral Bay, I swam with the Whale Sharks…a wonderful experience. I’ll put up some photos when I get them, on the next post.

How’s this for a sunset?


My good friend Wendy Kelly and I have an ongoing photo competition… Unfortunately, though, I have to admit I didn’t take this photo. INichole Oliver did. Merry and I met her in Fremantle and she sent me the photo.

It’s been and interesting few days since my last post. I’ve had my first minor drama…. also I’ve seen some interesting places including a visit to the Hutt River Principality.

I’m now in Coral Bay….CAMPING…impressed?….As you see I’m well set up… and it’s warm here.I reluctantly pitched the tent because a cabin in the camp site costs $280.00 per night.


Monday 22 May

After saying goodbye to Merry, I picked up Azulo (another $750.00) and spent the day with Gordon and Anne. They very kindly took me to a very nice Japanese restaurant.

The next day, Gordon came with me on his scooter (!!!) It was raining again.

I’ve got some new boots. As you see the old ones had passed their used by date



Gordon Robertts

Gordon Robertts

After Gordon left I carried on to the Pinnacles Desert some 200 k north of Perth. The sun came out which was lucky as I then found I had a puncture.

A puncture in the middle of nowhere is no fun, especially if it’s the rear wheel. I was doubly annoyed as I had just got new tyres fitted in Perth. They had managed to pinch the inner tube.

First I looked at the Pinnacles which are quite extraordinary


Back to my puncture!

I tried pumping up the tyre. It was only 20 K to the next town. No luck. It went flat within minutes.

I then thought about trying to fix the puncture. I removed the wheel but I couldn’t remove the new tyre.

A good Samaritan came to my rescue in the form of a young German, Aljoscha Achilles, Alexander Heeg….Al for short.

He kindly drove me to town (it’s not really a town) where, after an hour or so we found a mechanic . The mechanic wasn’t much help but between the three of us we fixed the puncture and Al drove me back to his very bored friends. It took most of the day!

Mechanic and Al (on right)

Mechanic and Al (on right)

Al (right) and friends

Al (right) and friends

I then  headed for the nearest town, found a bed and a Pub and had a few beers!

The next day was much better. I headed to Geraldton via Dongara.



Geraldton is a nice town…I visited the Memorial to HMAS Sydney 2 and the Shipwreck Museum where they have some relics from the Dutch Ship Batavia that sank off the Abrolhos Islands in 1629

The Memorial to HMAS Sydney 2 is very impressive and beautifully done.. There was a volunteer guide who explained the memorial.

HMAS Sydney intercepted a disguised German raider Kormoran in November 1941. Both ships were destroyed. There were 645 personnel on the Sydney. There were no survivors.


Seagulls... one for each sailor. Very emotional

Seagulls… one for each sailor. Very emotional

A worried woman looking out to sea. You can feel her anguish

A worried woman looking out to sea. You can feel her anguish

The Batavia


The shipwreck museum is excellent and I had a guide explain the amazing story of the Batavia. It’s worth reading about it.

Peter Fitzsimons has written and a good novel but for a quick summary, go to Wikipedia Click this link

Briefly… In 1629 Batavia was heading for Batavia (Jakarta) to pick up spices. It hit a reef on the Abrolhos Islands and sank. Most of the 300 or so passengers and crew  managed to escape to a sandy island nearby.

Captain Francisco Pilsner took one of the longboats and sailed for Batavia to get help

Replica of a Batavia Longboat

Replica of a Batavia Longboat

In his absence, Jeronimus Cornelius and a group of misfits went on a killing spree killing over 100 people.

Palseart returned and brought things under control. Joronimus was executed along with some of his cohorts. Two of the gang were dumped onto the mainland. DNA in the local Aboriginal show Dutch DNA so maybe they survived…there were other Dutch shipwrecks though.

It’s truly a gruesome story…but it’s true!

My next stop was the Principality of Hutt River.

The road to the Principality of Hutt River

The road to the Principality of Hutt River

If you don’t know about this you’ll think its April fools day and I’m making it up.

The Principality of Hutt River declared independence from Australia in 1970.


The issue was about wheat quotas and Leonard Casley thought he had been screwed by the State Government. He dug up various laws and wrote many letters to the Government, Prime Minister and even the Queen. He must have been a serial pest.

HRH Prince Leonard with a letter from the Queen

HRH Prince Leonard with a letter from the Queen


Anyway, The Hutt River Principality today claims it is independent of Australia. Quite what that means I’m unsure but he doesn’t pay tax and is having all sorts of issues with the Tax department.

The “Principality” is ruled now by HRH Prince Graeme. HRH Prince Leonard, the founder is in his 90’s and still going strong but has abdicated.. I had a long chat with Prince Leonard. He is very sharp and must have been formidable in his day..

I also met HRH Prince Richard. Prince Leonards wife, Princess Shirley died in 2013.

Photo – Prince Richard signed my visa.

HRH Prince Richard...He stamped my visa!

HRH Prince Richard…He stamped my visa!

Azulo has a new sticker…


Google has more…It’s quite a story!

Next I visited the Pink Lake. It’s pinker than it looks in the photos.


My last stop before Coral Bay was Carnarvon.

Carnarvon was the location for a tracking station for the Apollo Space Missions. (actually much more but that’s it’s main claim to fame) It has a great space museum.


The battle between Sydney and Kormoran took place near Carnarvon. Both ships have a memorial

Carnarvon Memorial to HMAS Sydney 2

Carnarvon Memorial to HMAS Sydney 2

Kormoran Memorial... Sydney nearby

Kormoran Memorial… Sydney nearby


The countryside here is very flat and sparse. These ant hills were near Coral Bay


Thank you for your messages. I apologise for not answering all of them yet.I will do so when I can. Please keep the messages coming…I love them

I continue to have WiFi problems… I’m having to do this post on my hotspot. The WiFi either doesn’t exist in many places or is very poor so it is making it hard to do the blog this trip. I’ll keep trying though.

I’m now heading for Karunjie National Park near Tom Price. It is very remote and there is no mobile signasl and definitely no wifi! I’ll also have to camp again…ugh!