It was a much more relaxed start today. We are due to assemble at a meeting spot in Coolalinga at 12:30pm, giving us about 5 hours to ride about 300km. We were asked to stagger our starting times, leaving in small groups from 7am. Even so, when we left at 7:30am there was a steady stream of bikes along the highway pretty much all the way.
We had our first stop at Pine Creek where we fuelled up for the last time and had coffee and morning tea (at 8:30 in the morning!) When we reached Hayes Creek we saw a sign for a scenic route to Adelaide River and without consultation we all took it. This was the best winding road since being in Tassie. 62km of it and we saw just 2 cars. It was quite narrow and bumpy in places but well worth the detour. We had a long stop at Adelaide River, sitting on the grass beside the road. I bought a couple of things from the local store and I have never seen anyone move as slowly as the lady who served me.
We have seen so many beautiful places but not had the time to stop and have a good look around. The scenery is amazing, though much of it is the same and it only changes gradually. After a couple of hours you realise that it is different from when you started.
At Coolalinga we were met by about 150 riders from Darwin, taking the total number of riders to around 500. Traffic was stopped and we were escorted by the police for over 20km into Darwin.
The meeting place at Coolalinga
The official ride is over. Total distance I’ve ridden: 4565km.
The end of the Long Ride
We are staying in an apartment in Darwin for the next 4 nights. It is very nice, has air-conditioning, a nice kitchen and bathroom. As I’m the only girl I have the double room to myself and Doug and Scott are sharing the other. A rather nice arrangement! I unpacked, showered and relaxed for a while, then we walked into town to get a taxi to the End of Ride dinner at the Sailing Club in Fannie Bay.
After a great night of good food, music and more fundraising. Raffles were drawn, prizes awarded and group photos were taken. The official total raised is $180,000 but we raised around another $5000 at the dinner. The most generous town on the ride up: Longreach, where $1000 was raised with a donation tin at one stop.
Sunset at the dinner venue
It was rather sad to say goodbye to so many people I’ve got to know over the last week. Many will be heading back the same way as me and there are some tentative plans to catch up in various places.
Today’s distance: 333km