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Offline Jaqhama

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Jaqhama and Shalako-Lin April/May Holiday continued.
« on: May 29, 2007, 02:43:01 pm »
So we weren't going to South Africa...but that didn't mean we couldn't still get to see African animals.
Lin's brother lives at Dubbo, home to the Western Plains Zoo.
So we could stay with him a couple of nights to save camping or cabining.
Another early start, departed Sydney at o dark hundred and rode up into the Blue Mountains again as the sun rose.
Another adventure was about to begin. Before we returned home we would ride out into the north western scrub plains and arid desert areas of Lightning Ridge, the famous opal mining town.
We would avoid a fire that destroyed the building next door to our hotel, an arson attack. We would meet real outback characters. We would ride back out of the desert and down thru the beautiful New England countryside, along secondary winding roads with names like Fossickers way and Thunderbolts Way.
In all we would end up riding almost 3000 kilometers together over a 12 day period.
It was great.
Lets go...
Arriving at the Zoo.

We start our African Safari. The enclosures for the animals at the Western Plains Zoo are huge compared to most normal zoo's.

I thought for a moment this was Wino. :D Just hanging around.

The scenic gardens around the zoo are beautiful.

Does anyone remember Daktari?

The otter enclosure was great, completly transparent glass, so you could see a pair of them frolicking around above and below the water. they came right up to us thru the glass.

Lin, feeling a bit horny. :D

The meercats were wonderful, we could have watched them all day.

We have many pics from the Zoo, but as most are of African animals it seems pointless posting them on an Africa website.
So let's carry on a day or so ahead...

We bid farewell to Lin's brother and headed north, far north, out into the wilds, the area where a lot of the first Mad Max movie was filmed.
The roads are long and empty, speed limits seem needless...not that anyone was doing the speed limit.
Lin and I travelled at about 130 to 140 kph for hours.
An occasional local actually overtook us.
After riding for hours from Dubbo to the small country town of Walgett we arrived at sunset.
There were many aboriginals around, from kids to adults. The majority just loitering around, or walking aimlessly about, or sitting in the shade in doorways and on curbsides.
I asked the petrol station guy about a safe and secure hotel for the night.
He advised there are only 2 motels in Walgett, both have iron barred gates, both have guard dogs at night.
Hmmm...interesting, we had never come across this before.
It might be the norm in South Africa, it is certainly not the norm in New South Wales.
Taking his advice we rode around the corner to the first hotel. To recieve a warm welcome from the owners, Glen and Sue, and we were introduced to our own personal guard dog Patch, a Blue Heeler cattle dog.
Patch fell in love with Lin from the first pat. He never left her side for our entire stay at the motel. He kept guard outside our door all night long and followed Lin around every time she went out of the room.
Talk about puppy love. :roll:  :lol:

After dark about 8pm, Lin and I decided to walk over the road to the RSL Club for an evening meal. Glen and Sue advised us to be careful, Walgett is not a safe town at night apparently.
The RSL Club is quite literally less than a 2 minute walk from the hotel, to the street corner, across the road to the club.
But being the catious chap that I am I took my custom made Japanese Tanto knife with me.
The streets are dark, many of the street lights appear to have been broken. Lin and I walked along the actual road, the pavement being made even darker by overhanging trees.
Aboriginal children were everywhere. I said G'day to a couple and got the same in return. We crossed the road and entered the RSL Club.
The next day was Anzac Day. In rememberance of the Australian and New Zeland soldiers who fought in the two world wars.
As soon as we walked inside the Club we were greeted by Daryl, the RSL Club President and fellow motorcyclist. Me being dressed in my Bikernet t-shirt does have advantages it seems.
Daryl made us feel quite at home. And invited us back over to the Club for the free Anzac Day breakfast the next morning.
We ate and chatted to Daryl for an hour or so and then walked back over to the hotel. We idly noticed some aboriginal kids playing around in front of the local National Bank. Again I said G'day and they responded cheerfully. We made it back to the motel without any trouble at all.
To be greeted at the gates by Patch. A quick sniff to assure himself he knew who we were and he led us back into the motel courtyard.
Glen came out and locked the gates. We were two of only four guests, and the others were in ther rooms, so Glen and we chatted and Patch sat at Lin's feet, gazing up at her adoringly.
"You've made a friend there." Glen observed.
Even more so when Lin fed him some tidbits of meat we had left over from a previous meal.
A bit later, as Lin got ready for bed and Patch patrolled the hotel grounds, I was sitting outside having a last ciggie and a cuppa tea when I noticed a red glow in the sky off to one side of the motel.
Sue had told us they had a swimming pool over that way, so I assumed it was the lights, refelecting off of the pool.
Patch was growling a little and kept sniffing the air and running over to check the front gate was locked.
I finished my cuppa and went inside and closed the door.
Up at sunrise the next morning I opened the door to find Patch asleep in front of it. What a great dog he was!
He pushed me aside and went to say good morning to Lin.
I walked over to the bikes to find them covered in ash and bits of burnt paper?
Glen and Sue's 4WD was covered in it, as were the 2 other cars in the courtyard.
I called Glen over and he shook his head and said the locals must have set the nearby rubbish tip on fire again, a frequent occurence he assured us.
I thought maybe someone had tried to torch the motel, I even climbed up on the roof above our room to check. Lots of ash and burnt paper, but no sign the fire had been started here.
Glen reckoned Patch would have been barking his head off if the motel was on fire, and having seen how protective Patch was of his owners and motel and guests I could not help but agree.
Lin and I had a shower and walked back over to the RSL Club for that free Anzac Day brekkie.
The RSL CLub was still there, the National Bank was gone  :shock: :!:

All that was left was the brick enclosed vault in the middle.

The police guarding what was left of the bank informed us it had been set alight sometime late last night. A chap whose entire family normally lived in a cabin at the rear of the bank (luckily the mother and children were away with her parents that night) had been awoken by the blaze shining thru his bedroom windows, he had got out just in time, the cabin went up in flames also.
It's indicative of how often this happens in Walgett...the local fire brigade did not even bother turning on their sirens when they came to put the fire out last night. Hence me not waking up when the building next door was ablaze...yes that's right, the Bank was the ajoining building to the motel, only seperated by a fence and a bit of of an alleyway.
The local police office told us that in a town of only 3500 there are about 50 full time cops. Homicide cops, arson, rape, child abuse, special duties and the rapid response riot unit.
My, my..that's about the sum total for where Lin and I live in The Shire, and we have over 200,000 people there.
Never a dull day or night in Walgett if you're a polieman apparently. :shock:
Daryl was upset that they had burnt the bank down on the eve of Anzac Day. Bloody un-Australian!
But he shouted us to our free Anzac Day brekkie and regaled us with local riding tales, so we felt ok about it.
If Lin disliked Walgett before she positively loathed it now.
Back on the street and many of the local on-lookers were obviously amused at the bank's destruction.
Not so Glen and Sue, they had their motel account there and it was one of the few remaining banks in town.
We all looked askance at Patch for not alerting us to the fire last night. He sort of wriggled around and shied over next to Lin.
I think he spent the night guarding us inside our room and to hell with the rest of the motel and the people in it! :lol:

We said goodbye to Glen and Sue, who don't particulaly like living in Walgett, but it was a different place when they bought the motel many years ago. Patch got many pats and hugs and it was with an extremely sorrowful look that he watched Lin and I depart. I'm sure he would have hopped up on her Ducati at the slightest suggestion that we could take him with us. :lol:
Leaving Walgett we headed out into the arid country of the north west of New South Wales.
It hasn't rained here for months..and the photos show it.
Everything looks like this.

Even the local animals have a tough time surviving.

It was hot and dry and dusty.
I avoided an errant semi-trailer driver who almost lost control on a curve in the road as his road-train came roaring towards me, doing at least 140 plus.
We arrived at one of the most famous towns in Australia...the  home of the fabled Black Opal.

Pulling in at the tourist information centre, we discovered the local radio station was next door to it.
Jack, a local miner and biker came over to greet us, he then introduced us to Kevin Kelly, his good mate and radio DJ. Within minutes of arriving in Lightning Ridge Kevin mentioned us on his radio show and asked everyone in town to welcome us. Can't do better than that for your first 5 mins in a new town :!:  :D

They were an invalueable source of info on what to see and what not to bother with in LR. A lot of the mine tours are just touristy rubbish, but thanks to them we got to see a real working mine.

Good to keep busy out in the bush.

This piece of equipment has a special meaning for me!

I tried my hand at opal mining, I did not find any..Lin however did a bit later on. :roll:

We left the Walk-In MIne and had a bit of a ride around the large town and surrounding area. Discovering a place where the bloke is nuts for cacti. (We later came across various forms of cacti in our travels hundreds of miles from LR..Lin and I have no doubt it has sprung up around the outer regions from seeds being carried by birds.)

Now you will doubtless have noticed the kidney belt I have wrapped around my chest. :roll:
The roads out here, although tarred, are rough and bouncy, I had not fully recovered from my last fall off the bike...and as the days went by instead of getting better I was getting worse.
We stayed a couple of days in LR just so that I could have a rest from riding the bike for hours every day. It got to the stage where I had trouble taking a breath without wincing in pain.
This is a typical side street in LR. People live right next to their mines. Those little hills of earth are the slag taken out of the earth, checked for opals, and then dumped right beside the hole in the ground it came from.
Not the best looking neighborhoods we've seen.

Some of the original miners cottages are a tad on the small side.

This is where we stayed. Got a discount for being on a bike, got another discount for mentioning Jack and Kevin's recommendation to stay there, actually Kevin lives in one of the other cabins on site here.

Lin relaxing in the humid afternoon heat...and doesn't she look just like GI Jane :?:  :D

This pic kind of reminds me of that castle in Namibia.

A sign here said...two guard dogs off their chain...and trespassers beware..experimental crocodile farm...did they mean they experiment with crocodiles here or what? We thought they were full of crap, just trying to scare the tourists away from the not yet completed castle. Which someone actually built to be their home. Weird!
And speaking of weird... :?:

Fantasia St is a new addition to Lightning Ridge...this is the place that many of the miners who have been fortunate enough to strike it rich build their homes. There are not many houses in this street!

At sunset one night Lin and I wandered over to one of the slag heaps to fossick for opals, the big mining companies dump some slag next to the tourist info centre for the tourists to scavange thru. The day before we arrived a woman found two black opals worth over $20,000. It was big news all over town. Even locals were fossicking around the site.
Lin and I waited until it got dark and most people had left. I already knew you water down the slag so that you can see the rock gleam better, and therefore make it easier to spot an opal.
I never really expected to find any.
Lin was booked on an evening tour in the Glass Lantern House, a cottage made of glass and lit inside at night by hundreds of candles and lanterns.
BUT...she found an opal :!:  :shock:  :shock:
Some 10 minutes after she found the first one I suggested she would be late for her Lantern Tour.
I hesitate to repeat her reply. (But I shall :D ).
"Fk the lantern tour, help me find some more opals, go and get some more water!"  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:

Oh oh...she had opal fever, I've heard about it but never seen it.
And bugger me if a few moments later she didn't find another one. :shock:
And then another, all clustered together in the same area, obviously from the same chunk of rock, that had been crushed up by the grinder, and the opal in it missed.
This is Lin just as she found another piece.

You can see that wild gleam in her eyes yeah? Scary.
It's not just a mode of transport, it's a fking adventure!

Offline Clockwork Orange

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Jaqhama and Shalako-Lin April/May Holiday continued.
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2007, 03:28:57 pm »
Really enjoying this report so far. Keep it coming :lol:
When in doubt...grab throttle!!!


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Jaqhama and Shalako-Lin April/May Holiday continued.
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2007, 04:38:15 pm »

Boys will be boys.

Reminds me of this pic of Zonkelnut taken in the old fort in Maputo Mozambique.

Lekka aminals. From Afrika.

Offline Jaqhama

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Jaqhama and Shalako-Lin April/May Holiday continued.
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2007, 04:56:19 pm »
Lightning Ridge was spoilt for Lin by two things that last night.
Just after we (finally) finished fossicking a local aboriginal teenager rode past us on his bicycle and yelled out, " Ya fking ugly fking tourists cnts."
I dropped down to the ground and came back up with a golf ball sized rock in each hand!
But he, not being as dumb as he appeared, and obviously realising my intent was peddling away as fast as he could with shocked, backward glances.
He saved himself from a nasty headache (or worse) there. Word of advice kid, don't assume every tourist you meet is going to take your abuse!
A bit after that Lin and I were in the cabin/motel park bar and found the place deserted except for a few locals who eyed us with some suspision.
I waited for the barmaid to ask us what we wanted. She ignored us, despite the fact we were the only people standing at the bar.
A local guy came past us, walked up to the bar and she straight away asked him what he wanted.
Lin and I decided we would not spend a penny there at this stage.
In a loud enogh voice to be heard by everyone in the bar I said. " Yeah that's the trouble with these little bush towns, the locals are too insular. Oh well, I guess we'll go and spend our money back in Sydney."
No one said a word. We left.
That kind of soured our time spent at LR, up until then we'd been having a great time.
It's kind of ironic, without tourists none of these bush towns would survive.
Some of them have obviously not yet been able to work that out.

The next morning we saddled up and headed out of LR headed east.
On the way we stopped on the side of the road, wondering what all the little bits of white fluff were, blowing around or stuck to the tumbleweed grass.
Cotton! Loose bits of pure cotton.
We were in cotton growing country but could not see any cotton farms? Where was it all coming from?
Our answer came by moments later, a huge double trailer semi..with bales of cotton overflowing on both sides, and the wind tearing loose the stray bits sticking out of the cotton bales and making the landscape look like it was covered in snow with pure white, freshly picked cotton.
We picked some up, it was sooooo soft.
The landscape was covered in it for many miles as we rode on.


And this is...errr....a load of bull. :D

Towards Collie.

Check the elevation above sea level.

Another almost dead aboriginal town in the middle of nowhere.
The petrol pumps stay locked 24/7, to stop the locals sniffing and drinking petrol.

Locals lounging around the main steet stared at us and I stared at them.
I guarded the bikes and the gear while Lin went to the toilet. She did the same while I was gone.
Walgett, Collie, Wilcannia, Bourke and a dozen other towns out this way, all have a distinct feeling of unease about them.
It wasn't like this when I was out this way 25 or so years ago.
Then most of these towns were thriving cattle and wheat properties, but the drought, economics, and I guess the fact that it's hard for younger locals to find companions and work out there has almost killed some of them off.
I raised my hand to a local as we rode out of town. He waved back.
Local kids playing in a dry creekbed at the edge of town ran over to see our bikes go past.
I blew the horn and waved to them, they grinned and yelled and waved back, kids are kids everywhere, they all love bikes.

We headed east...

We travelled  along deserted roads where the cattle and sheep just wandered around at will. No fences out here.
The landscape varied between desert and scrub. we passed some cotton plantations, where they waste water at an amazing rate.
We passed abandonened homesteads. In  the dry fields alongside the road
flocks of Emu's ran around, startled by the noise of our bikes.

We came across a few more isolated towns.
The name of this pub says it all. Note the original name and date at the top of the pub.

We met this young lady.
Jan, 60 years of age. been riding since she was 30. Still wearing the same riding suit her husband bought for her, all those years ago. She has ridden all over Oz and overseas. her first bike, a 1000cc Virago, one of the original models now sits in Nabiac Motorcycle Museum near Canberra.
She donated it to the museum after it had carried her over a hundred thousand kilometers..she could not bear to sell it to a wreckers when it finally came close to expiring. The museum has fully restored it and it now sits in a place of honour amongst the other bikes there.
This the new bike she bought to replace it. A mere 1200cc cruiser. :D
Jan is a well known member of the Oz wide Ulysess Club, junior membership is 40 years of age, to be a full member you must be 50. The average age of members is 60. Jan is featured in their monthly club magazine often. She was just on her way back from a 2000 kms ride when we came across her.
What a woman :!:
Lin was in awe of her.

We stopped for a break in Moree. A former cattle railhead, where the cattle are trucked to be shipped north and south on the trains. This town has also changed much since I was here many years ago...but this time for the better. The little city was clean and had lots of new buildings, any old ones had been redecorated or repainted. It's a nice looking town. At least Moree appears to be doing well.

Note the double trailer semi-trucks, barely managing to fit on the normal sized main street of Moree.

As the hours and the miles flew by we gradually left the barren vastness of the north behind us and came at last to the rolling green fields and lush mountain ranges of the New England region.

We overnighted at a cabin park at Inveral.
Shalako-Lin was living up to her name. (Shalako is the Apache rain God.)
It had rained for the first time in many months our last night in LR.
The rain had followed us all across the arid north west and now here we were in Inveral and it was raining like mad. A real frog strangler.
A posh motel wanted $90. The nicely furnished cabin park was owned by a young couple, the guy had 3 bikes, two XR's and a new SV 650. Would we like a cabin, with linen, for a discount of $50 because we were on bikes and we soaking wet?
Thanks very much mate. :!:
Actually only our jackets and riding pants were wet, we were dry underneath.
But I can show you how much it was raining, these guys asked if they could sleep on the porch that night! :shock:

So we let them of course. :D
The next morning it was still raining hard, but we ok under our riding clothes, so we carried on south, the rain stayed with us until Walcha.

We stopped in a country pub, ye olde english style, built a hundred years ago.
The back section reminded me of the little back alleys of Whitechapel in London, where Jack the Ripper wreaked havoc almost a century ago.
And weird as it may seem, not one photo that Lin or I took in the back part of the pub came out properly. It's said to be haunted. Who were we to argue?

The rain stopped as we carried on.
There were great views and lookouts along the way.

Thunderbolt's Way; named after Captain Thunderbolt, a famous bushranger (outlaw) who roamed this area in the days when Australia was a penal colony and this part of the country was only just beginning to be settled.

Thunderbolt's Way is one of those roads that every rider should take a bike on at least once in his life. The road has clearly viewed straights, winding curves, numerous twisties and sweeping long corners. Lin and I got up to some pretty high speeds along here. We were loving every minute of it now that the road had dried. Almost 200 kms of this, what more can a rider ask for?
It got dark all too quickly that day.

We overnighted at Gloucester, a quaint little Engish style town.
There was only one cabin left, and it had not been properly cleaned. The lady owner of the park gave it to us for $30. The next morning she came by and handed us our money back, explaining she felt bad because we had to give the place a quick clean up ourselves. We gave her $20 back.
How could we not? The normal overnight price is $50.
These the views we got from our cabin for $20.

Once again we saddled up and continued southwards, here are views typical of the New England area.

Approaching the town of Dungog.

In Dungog we re-fuelled, the only petrol station I have come across where you ride onto the footpath to park and fill up.

The bakery here has scones, pasties, sausage rolls and pies to die for. The pastry so fine and soft that you can inhale it. And choke, as I did, much to Lin's amusement. A girl at the next table was also choking on the super fine pastry. It literally melts in your mouth.
One of Shalako's rain clouds followed us for a while.

But eventually decided this was a bridge too far.

We passed some rather odd looking vehicles in a field. Two blokes dressed in silver suits with helmets much too big for their heads inquired of us if this was Alpha Centuri?
I said no. One said to the other..I told you so. They thanked us and were walking back to thier vehicles as we left. :D It's a big universe, easy to get lost I suppose.

When we saw the timber log pub of Wollomi we knew we only had a couple of hours to go until we reached Sydney.

The place was full of WPP's, Wollomi Pub Posers. Everyone (except us) were on pristine clean and shiny road bikes. They were all dressed in expensive leather jackets and riding suits.
We, on the other hand, were on bikes covered in four weeks worth of dust and mud and grime and a million dead insects, and that's pretty much what our helmets and riding clothes looked like as well.
Other riders did double takes at us and our bikes.
Ours had all the touring luggage on, no one else's did.
Unlike other bikers we had met on the road during our travels none of this lot as much as said G'day.
I think they were over-awed. I said as much to Lin.

We had some food and a drink then re-mounted for the final leg back to our home on the southern outskirts of Sydney.
With the exception of a couple of days here and there back at home we'd been on the road for almost four weeks.
The first week I was struggling to manage an hour on the bike at a time.
The second week I was doing pretty well, it all caught up with me that fourth week on the road to Lightning Ridge.
But I got past that and I reckon Lin was absolutly fantastic, considering she went from a ZZR 250 and a DT 175 to a speed-kitted Ducati 680, complete with luggage, with nothing more than a couple of hours the day before in an industrial car park for practice.
She's a legend! :wink:
It's not just a mode of transport, it's a fking adventure!

Offline Clockwork Orange

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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2007, 08:39:31 am »
Fantastic, really fascinating.
When in doubt...grab throttle!!!

Offline Ama ride ride

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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2007, 10:57:15 am »
One of the best touring trip reports in a long time....looks like SouthAfrica is becoming to small for the local WD's....so we awe at your report.

Thanks and keep it up :)
Gewoontlik n@@i ek reguit aan op fyndraai.


Offline Jaqhama

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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2007, 02:32:38 pm »
In the last hour or so I've added some photos to the ones that were already there.

Ama...Thanks mate...I am frequently awed at some of the WD reports.
It's not just a mode of transport, it's a fking adventure!

Offline Trailrider

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Jaqhama and Shalako-Lin April/May Holiday continued.
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2007, 02:54:41 pm »
Wow. Great report.  8)

Before long we'll have a South African Wild Dog posting a Aus ride report. Can't take to long before someone here will pop over there with ride reports like these.   :D

Offline Jaqhama

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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2007, 03:51:04 pm »
Yes I can see it now. :roll:

WD Oz report begins:...Cronulla Beach is great, the women all go around half naked and there's a pub across the road....
Report ends. :lol:  :lol:  :lol:
It's not just a mode of transport, it's a fking adventure!


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« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2007, 05:14:03 pm »
Buccans = Big Rocks.

So either we ride over Buccans or it takes Buccans to ride over them.

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Jaqhama and Shalako-Lin April/May Holiday continued.
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2007, 06:30:20 pm »
Quote from: "Jaqhama"
WD Oz report begins:...Cronulla Beach is great, the women all go around half naked...

 :D  :D  :D

Wow. Pity there isn't a pub nearby.  :D

Offline Watty

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« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2007, 08:15:49 am »
A big shout of Verrrry nice !, and a little dance for a report of such high standard!