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Thread: 09.2009 Australia I (East Coast to the Red Center)

  1. #1
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    09.2009 Australia I (East Coast to the Red Center)

    After having done the Americas we arranged for the bike to be shipped to Australia from Vancouver. Since we were told it would take around four weeks for the crate to reach its destination, we decided to fly to Australia through Estonia, other than directly over the Pacific, thus saving some cash that we would otherwise had spent on food and accomodation while waiting for the bike in Sydney. So, instead we spent 27 days in Estonia - meeting friends and family, and arranging some things.

    Having arrived in Sydney we were greeted by an elderly couple (the man was actually born in Estonia and migrated with his parents to Australia after the 2nd WW). We got their contacts from friends back at home and thus we had a convenient base for clearing the bike from customs and getting ourselves ready for the road. Since all this was taking some time, we had a chance to look around in this country that was very new to us.

    First we wandered around a bit in Sydney:


    Click to enlarge panoramas:

    Sydney opera house.















    But one of the highlights in that area was a visit to the Featherdale Park where we saw many birds and animals that we had never seen before, and that actually only live in Australia. That truly was a great introduction to Australia and its ecosystem that is one of a kind.








    A kangaroo (the word "kangaroo" in aboriginal language actually means "I don't understand" - this was the answer of aboriginal people when the white people came and asked what strange animal was that).




    Loads "roos".




    Some ancient looking bird.
















    The famous koala.
















    An echidna.
















    Australia is home to the most venomous snake in the World. The truth is, however, that only one or two people a year die from a snake bite here, in Australia, which is less than one-thousandth of those killed on the roads.












    A Tazmanian devil. Looks mean, but is actually on the verge of extinction.












    But soon enough the fun was over (or, rather, was just beginning) as the bike had been transported to a warehouse and we could begin the clearing process. The customs was easy (with a little bit of running around to arrange the inspection), but the infamous quarantine inspection caused a slight headache. Well, maybe we were worried too much, too, because we only had read about the quarantine horror stories by other travellers after we crated the bike, so we were not entirely sure how much dust and rust there was on the bike. The inspector was as thorough as we had read, checking every corner and hole with his torch, and also checked our riding boots and tent pegs. In the end the bike was prescribed a pressure wash (which, of course, we had done before!) and a 110 AUD bill for it (what a good business!). All in all its is quite true that the destination fees are more or less the same as the shipping costs. We paid 1091 CAD for shipping (plus 375 CAD for building the crate), and then 969 AUD for receiving, 111 AUD for the quarantine inspection, 242 AUD for warehouse fees, cleaning and re-inspection, plus 116 AUD for leaving the crate to the warehouse. An expensive thing it is to get here!



    Here's the crate that we had to dismantle:




    After all the worrying about clearing the bike and about getting the mandatory insurance to circulate the roads in Australia (which we never got, even after four days spent talking on the phone - the institutions that should be issuing it to foreign registered vehicles just know nothing about it), we fell ill for a couple of days, and fearing that it might be the swine flu, we even went to the local hospital, but the queues were so long that we quit waiting and got better "having a lot of rest and drinking a lot of fluids" (as recommended by a nurse at the hospital).

    Just before leaving Sydney, Dorothy and Roy took us to the Blue Mountains. Once again, this was a good opportunity to see the wilderness that we had yet to experience. Well, surely enough there would not be many more mountains in the regions we would be passing through, but the screaming of the birds in the valleys, and the sence of desolation, was surely something we would be excited about in Australia.



    Click to enlarge panoramas:

    Foggy valley in the Blue Mountains.




    The Three Sisters.








    Something very specific to Australia - gum tree.




    Banksia tree.



    But finally it was time to leave. We said good bye to our wonderful hosts, and hit the road!






    After a couple of days of riding the road nr 1 towards North we realised that it might not have been the best idea, since there was just awfully lot of traffic (which is even worse if these are your first days in left-hand traffic!) and not too much to see. In any case there was no ocean beckoning even far from the road.

    But maybe it was a bit of unease that is so often associated with the first days of a big adventure (and after this short pause, these really felt like first days) - waiting for interesting things to come your way immediately, and being a bit dissapointed when they don't. But we were trying to adopt the travelling pace as quickly as possible, sleeping in our tent and having Spam for dinner:







    Views from our camping spot.





    Our first tourist trap proved to be the most easterly lighthouse in Australia, located near Byron Bay.



















    There were some decent views though.


    Click to enlarge panorama:




    But we are actually not very keen on seeing touristy things, it is rather the road itself that motivates us. Thus, soon enough we started wondering if that was all Australia had to offer. Tired of the main road, we decided to change our plans of going as far as Cape York, and turned inland instead. As soon as we did that, the scenery changed and for the first time on road, we felt excitement about being in Australia.



    The first things that greeted us were the huge bottle trees:




    But the deeper we rode into the inland, the quieter it was, and by the time the sun was starting to set, there was even nobody on the road. There we were, in the outback, and all alone. In the quest for a decent spot to pitch the tent we wandered into some small track and it was next to this track that we spent the night - it was just so calm and peaceful there that the chance that somebody would come and find us there, was extremely faint.















    As it got darker, we started to see the stars of the Southern sky again (last time we saw them was in South America), and the moon rising. What a moment! Australia was proving to be very rewarding, and it felt oh so good!







    The next morning we were still so enchanted that we made a mistake that could have been fatal. Check out the video (don't mind the Estonian subtitles) and see what's wrong:





    The ride further into the outback showed us the countryside and atmospheric country towns where it seemed as if life had stopped there a while ago.







    Barcaldine:

    A wind mill built in 1917.



    Longreach:

    Typical street.




    Old style.



    Displays in some old stuff museum:












    But this road was still too "wide" for us, so we quit the road that goes to Mount Isa, and from Winton we choose to ride West on a developmental road that mostly was only three meters wide. The views were, of course, much more desolated than so far, and we were really pleased with all that.


    Click to enlarge panoramas:





















    There are loads of abandoned vehicles aside the road in the outback of Australia.




    But aside the desolation we also found life in that far corner of the country:


    Some ants' home.




    Emus are not a rarity here - you see them quite frequently.




    Once again, found a nice camping spot not far from the road. The traffic is so non-existent there that only one car passed us while we stayed there:


    The night was windy, and the next day too. When we stopped at some lonely roadhouse (couple hundres kilometres from and to the next settlement) to buy a can of Coca-Cola, a dog befriended us and quite enjoyed Kariina holding him:







    The house itself looked worn, as all the other buildings around it:




    And strangely for us, there were camels wandering around:




    Soon after that we arrived in Boulia, along the last strip of bitumen on our road to Alice Springs. Some cowboys were doing their everyday work there, the cattle seemed huge:









    We knew that the Plenty Highway was rough, and riding it only confirmed that piece of information. There was both gravel and sand, and the closer we got to the Northern Territory border, the worse became the corrugations. And one more thing to consider - starting from Boulia, the next fuel is 460 km away. Good for us that we have a 32-litre Adventure tank!




    White surface.





    Then pink surface.




    Then the crossing from Queensland to Northern Territory.





    And then the infinite red corrugations.




    In many places along the road there are signs indicating that the road is subject to flooding. The indicators themselves have such high water levels marked on them that it is doubtful anyone will read them when there's such a flooding. Boatmen, maybe?





    The scenery does not change too much during the hundreds of kilometers (the total of this road being over 700 km), but we were lucky to see kome wildlife.




    Some kangaroos hopping over the road.





    Ants' nests, once again, but this time much bigger.





    A strange bug, looking like a piece of straw.




    Some flora:










    Here are some shots of the surroundings:

    Click to enlarge panoramas:





















    And a sandy camping sport right next to the road:




    When we finally reached the asphalt, this sign greeted us aside the road:

    Someone must have been really mad at the road conditions there! But to be honest, they were pretty bad, with corrugations beating the last out of us and our trusty bike. We were lucky not to break anything on that road.





    It was a relief to be on a sealed road again, with good feelings of desolated lanscapes and isolation on our minds.



    When we stopped next to the road, we saw a strange thing on the ground. Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a ball, or a globe, to be more precise. Of course, we had to take it with us, so that we could be able to explain curious strangers where we're from!


    Before reaching Alice Springs, the far center of Australia, we once again crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. Here's a proof of that:




    That's it folks, more later! Kariina

  2. #2
    Shedi Knight Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    as always;
    and
    Thank You.
    appears bright from a distance / dim up close

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ogmios View Post
    as always;
    and
    Thank You.
    ditto.

  4. #4
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    When 'looking for the problem' I thought you were going to turn around and realize that you had left Kariina behind!

    Nice post again as usual. I was amazed at how much it cost to get your bike shipped there though... wow!

    Thanks for taking the time to post.. its very nice to see.

  5. #5
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    Hey great pictures and ride report, and we have all driven on the wrong side of the road in a strange country !!! at least you didn't meet any oncoming road trains !!!

  6. #6
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    Thank you kindly.
    Stunning pictures, what is the camera out of interest ?

  7. #7
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    Stunning

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hustler View Post
    Stunning pictures, what is the camera out of interest ?
    Old used and abused second-hand bought out-of-dated Canon A710is, the only affordible camera we could get in South-America when our A720is was stolen in Brazil

    Thus despite they're 7MP pics they're quite noisy and relatively bad detail pics actually, only when downscaled to small they look OK.

    Would like to buy Sigma DP2 for muchos better quality pics for my taste, but just don't have enough £££ fer it while travelling so got to run cheapo Canon and make smaller pics and hope film rolls will make back home allright...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsiklonaut View Post
    Old used and abused second-hand bought out-of-dated Canon A710is, the only affordible camera we could get in South-America when our A720is was stolen in Brazil

    Thus despite they're 7MP pics they're quite noisy and relatively bad detail pics actually, only when downscaled to small they look OK...........
    And coincidently my camera is a Canon A720is.
    But the bad news of course is that my pictures don't have the quality of yours so maybe I need to downscale mine a bit.
    Thanks very much for the reply and bon voyage.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hustler View Post
    And coincidently my camera is a Canon A720is.
    But the bad news of course is that my pictures don't have the quality of yours so maybe I need to downscale mine a bit.
    Thanks very much for the reply and bon voyage.
    And no, I didn't buy mine secondhand from a Brazilian.
    I've got the receipt, honest.

  11. #11
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    Great stuff Margus and Kariina

    different sides of the road gets all of us at some stage....on a nearly empty road like that i would ride very close to the centre line then adjust for traffic and corners.

    Goodluck for the rest of your rideabout in the outback....

  12. #12
    Oh Yes.... Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    Perfekt ist nicht gut genug.

    UKGSER-A place where I've wasted so much time, learned so much, laughed a lot and cried a few times.

    Every bed of roses has pricks in it!

  13. #13
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    Music from the headphones, beer in the glass, a feast of images from Tsiklonants adventures, what better way is there to while away an hour or two....perhaps dont answer that.
    Thanks anyway.

  14. #14
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    Good luck to you both

    The clip riding on the wrong side of the road had me cringing. I always look forward to your updates.
    Cheers,

    Pedro.

  15. #15
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    Damn good read, Margus; even two years on ! Off to Oz for 3 months in Jan 2012. Hoping to buy a 2nd hand GS out there. As you found out, it's a bit 'salty' price-wise to temp. export into Oz (plus the hassle factor when you arrive).
    Excellent photographs, I also have a Canon A720is, must be a GSer thing.
    Last spent some time in Oz 20 yrs ago travelling the east coast on a CX500 with tiny panniers. I also had my full UK snorkelling gear complete with 6mm wet suit - how did I get all that luggage on board ??? Think I'll leave my leather jacket at home this time....how clothing technology has moved on since then.

    Recall taking a tumble on 'bull dust', but failed to find the 'drop-bears', LOL.

    I use to suffer from the wrong-side of the road syndrome on the Continent, easy to do when the roads are MT. One hell of a close call with the road train.

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