A Travellerspoint blog

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Day 10: Katherine – Darwin. Saturday 8th May 2010

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

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 21:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 11: Darwin. Sunday 9th May 2010

Today was a rest day. I slept in :-) at least until my kids called to wish me happy Mother’s day. Washing was done, gear cleaned, my bike was finally cleared of locust remains!
The town was explored and tourist information sought. I sat in the mall having coffee and cake while deciding what activities to do while I was there.

On a walk to the wharf area we discovered the wave pool and it wasn’t a hard decision to go back to collect our swimmers and try it out. It proved a great way to spend a couple of hours and escape the heat.

The wave pool

Tonight I went to Mindil market, set beside the beach. There was a fantastic range of food and craft stalls and I indulged in things like satay octopus and BBQ prawn skewers. I spent some time on the beach watching the sunset which was spectacular.

Sunset at Mindil Beach

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 12: Darwin. Monday 10th May 2010

I went for a long walk all around the Esplanade this morning. I came across an Exeloo and having never seen one before I had to try it. Everything was automated (except the obvious) even the dispensing of toilet paper. The Esplanade ended at the Cenotaph. There is so much World War II history in Darwin.

I found the WWII oil storage tunnels and listened to the guide talk about their construction and the bombing of Darwin. The 6 tunnels cost the equivalent of $650 million to build, were completed in 1945 and were never used.

Inside one of the WWII oil storage tunnels

After lunch Doug, Scott and I went to Crocodylus Park. We took the tour seeing the crocodiles being fed and learning about their behaviour and habitat. They are huge and move incredibly fast! I wouldn’t want to come across one in the wild.

Big croc jumping

Local wildlife

Baby crocodile

The park also had a museum which was very interesting and, of course, a shop with crocodile products – bags, purses, belts – all rather expensive.

Tonight we caught up with some of the other Tassie riders at a seafood restaurant in Cullen Bay. It had a fantastic all-you-can-eat seafood buffet.... Yum!

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 13: Darwin (Litchfield National Park). Tuesday 11th May

We did a day trip to Litchfield National Park today, situated about 100km south of Darwin. It is very scenic, dotted with huge termite mounds, and nice winding roads. It felt great to lean the bike into corners again, especially without all my gear packed on.

We visited the magnetic termite mounds and my question about which way they face was answered. Apparently their orientation is genetic and different colonies build their mounds facing different directions.

Giant termite mound

We visited Florence Falls and went for a swim in the waterhole. It had 2 waterfalls and the water was clear and cool. The pool is home to many small fish which nibbled at our toes and ankles. The second swimming area Wangi Falls was closed due to crocodiles. We were disappointed because it was very hot.

Swimming at Florence Falls

Wangi Falls was closed

We found a cafe that had been recommended for its Barra burgers – very nice. To complete the loop back to Darwin we had to ride about 30km of red dirt. I agreed with some trepidation. The first obstacle was a huge puddle that was as wide as the road. The guys just rode straight through on their dual-purpose bikes, so after stopping for a moment to gather myself, I gritted my teeth and followed their line through the water. Water sprayed up all over my bike and I wished I had closed my visor as I got drenched...
It didn’t improve after that. Twice we came across deep, soft sand and as my bike fishtailed violently through them I was sure I was going to come off. That (expensive but now worth every cent) off-road bike course I did really paid off as I held my line, focussing on where I wanted the bike to go, and kept the power on. Just when I thought it was all over the bike recovered itself and kept going.
The second time we came to water I had had enough and I parked the bike and started walking and “allowed” it to be taken over for me! I was very pleased to see bitumen again.
Tonight we spent some time discussing routes and itineraries. It looks like we will have 3 more days together before we each head off in different directions.

Today’s distance: 314km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 14: Darwin – Jabiru. Wednesday 12th May 2010

It was a bit sad to get up knowing I wouldn’t see a real bed for some time. It’s been like an oasis staying in an apartment – nice bed, air-conditioning, TV...
Both Doug and Scott have decided to send home some surplus stuff. Apparently I am the only one to have packed properly. :-) I went to the camping shop to get some final supplies. I now have some dehydrated meals. Not too sure about that! I bought a present for my kids and sent them home with the guys’ stuff.

We set off for Kakadu National Park. The heat and humidity were bad today and I got sleepy very quickly. We visited the Windows on the Wetlands centre, then stopped at the Bush Bark Inn for lunch. We stayed at Kakadu Lodge at Jabiru. Once we arrived all I wanted to do was get out of my gear and into the pool. It was a nice campground. Another Tassie couple turned up and set up camp beside us.

Later we cooked dinner in the camp kitchen. This becomes a very social event as various campers use the facility. Tonight there was a British couple travelling in a Wicked van. These are brightly painted with individual designs and are very popular with young travellers.
The mosquitoes are really bad here and there is a host of other wildlife – green ants (that bite!), lizards and birds.

Today’s distance: 266km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:10 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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