A Travellerspoint blog

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Day 15: Kakadu National Park. Thursday 13th May 2010

I heard dingos howling during the night. It must have been a whole pack of them. One would start then they all joined in and it went for about a minute. Rather freaky. It happened several times.
It was nice to get up and relax, not have to pack up and get on the road. It was cool till the sun came up and then it got very hot very fast.

We did a tour of the Ranger Uranium Mine just out of Jabiru. It was very interesting and comprehensive. The mine produces 10% of the world’s uranium. It is set right in the middle of the national park which looks very out of place. When the mine is exhausted (in about 10 years) the mine site will be filled in and the area revegetated and returned to the park owners.

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Ranger Uranium mine

We had lunch in Jabiru, which is a very small town. Only people with jobs there are allowed to live there.

Another swim to cool off and Doug and I went out to Ubirr, while Scott went Barramundi fishing with strict instructions to bring back our dinner!

The road to Ubirr (unbeknown to us) had only just been opened after the rain, and before long we came to water over the road.
This wasn’t just a giant puddle, like at Litchfield, this was flowing water. I remembered to put my visor down this time and made it across ok, just wet!
Then a second, bigger, longer water crossing.
I’m getting braver now!

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Water crossing!!

We detoured down to a boat ramp where there was a man fishing, and then had an ice cream at the Border Store. Just as we finished a crew started burning off the roadside vegetation and suddenly the whole place was inundated with smoke. We left quickly.
Ubirr was incredible. Spectacular formations and views, stunning scenery. Rock paintings adorned many of the rock faces. We walked all around and climbed to the highest point where we could see the wetlands stretching out before us. What an amazing and spiritual place! I took lots of photos, but they really can’t do it justice...

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Rock art at Ubirr

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The view from the plateau at Ubirr

We made our way back, safely crossing the water again. After a swim it was just a matter of waiting for Scott to return with our dinner. Sadly, whilst he had a great time, he came back empty handed and we had to be content with vegies for dinner.

As I’d been walking across the campground by torchlight I noticed all these tiny twinkling ‘lights’ in the grass. There were dozens of them and they sort of sparkled in the light. My curiosity finally got the better of me and I had a closer look to see what they were. Spiders!! The sparkling bit: their eyes. I wished I hadn’t looked.

Today’s distance: 110km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 16: Jabiru – Katherine. Friday 14th May 2010

The heat starts so early. By the time I’d packed up I was boiling...
A final swim :-) and we were off. A visit to the Bowali visitor centre explained a lot of the Aboriginal culture and beliefs about the Kakadu region.

We also visited Nourlangie Rock which was good but nowhere near as spectacular as Ubirr.

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Rock art at Nourlangie

It was easier to keep moving than to stop in the heat and humidity. My display was reading 34 degrees. We rode into Edith Falls. The waterhole was huge and deep. Very refreshing.

In Katherine we camped at the same place as on the ride up – well, I camped and the guys took a cabin as they were heading off early tomorrow to Kununurra in WA while I continue south. The cool thing about them going there is that they will have visited all the states on their trip! I feel excited but a little apprehensive about heading off by myself. It’s been comforting having them around if I’d needed any help. But it will also be nice to do my own thing. To celebrate our last night together we had dinner at the local RSL club.

Today’s distance: 369km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 17: Katherine. Saturday 15th May 2010

After farewelling Doug and Scott this morning I rode into Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) and did a cruise of the first three gorges. The gorge has been closed to swimming because of crocodiles but we got to swim in a waterhole with a waterfall above the third gorge. It was hot and humid but beautiful in the water. The gorge was very spectacular.

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Cruise on Katherine Gorge

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The swimming hole at Katherine Gorge

The cruise took about 4 hours.
When I returned to my bike my display read 41 degrees! There were ants all over my bike and helmet. I tried to remove as many as possible but in the end I gave up and just had to get moving. When I got back I went into town and parked myself in the Coffee Club which was nice and cool, and attempted to update my diary...
There are Aboriginal people hanging around everywhere. We have been warned so many times about security and not leaving anything unlocked. I went to the supermarket to stock up for my trip south and headed back to camp.

I cooked dinner in the camp kitchen and talked to a German couple who are travelling and working in Australia. They are travelling by bicycle! Also there was an English father and two sons who had travelled up from Adelaide. It is interesting and helpful to hear other peoples experiences and recommendations about places I’m heading.

I called my kids tonight. It was nice to talk to them. I also called my Dad who is in Adelaide, and is about to do a trip up to Darwin. It looks like I will be able to meet up with him in Coober Pedy as I go south.

I’m a bit over creepy crawlies. When I went to the toilet tonight there was a big green frog in the bowl. And the ants I collected this morning are still all over my bike...

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Frog in the toilet

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:25 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 18: Katherine - Dunmurra. Sunday 16th May 2010

I woke up with a crick in my neck this morning and could hardly move it. I couldn’t quite seem to get it together and packing all my stuff took forever. At 8:30am it was already 27 degrees and very humid. I had hoped to make the 9am tour at Cutta Cutta caves but it was not going to happen. I only just made the 10am tour...

The caves were good, much of it consisting of Karst – rock pitted with huge holes where the limestone had dissolved away. The caves had interesting formations, different from other caves I’d seen. They were narrow and humid, and though they started out cool they got hotter the further in I went. The effect was rather claustrophobic and I was glad to get out, even though it was so hot outside.

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Cutta Cutta Caves

I set off for Mataranka and had stopped at the bitter springs with a swim in mind. Here I discovered that the ants had taken up residence in my tank bag and had found my lunch... While I was cleaning that out, 2 other riders pulled in and I recognised them from the Long Ride. Teena and Suzie are both from Western Australia and also ride Moto Guzzis. We went for a swim at the thermal pool (the bitter springs were not so inviting with a lot of scum on the water) and I had a massive barramundi burger for lunch, which I couldn’t finish. We were heading the same way so decided to ride together. Just after we left Mataranka it began to rain. The temperature dropped rapidly from 34 to 22 degrees! And now I was cold...

We stopped at Daly Waters where it was very busy. There were lots of questions about the bikes and where we were from. I put the lining back in my jacket and donned my waterproof pants.
Dunmurra was only 50km away and we stayed at the roadhouse there. It had a bar, restaurant and a reptile display!. The couple who ran the roadhouse were very friendly, chatting with us, and giving us a free round of drinks. We had a yummy home-style meal.

There are cane toads everywhere here, along with various other frogs.
We went for hard walls tonight – no setting up tents in the rain. We shared a room with 3 single beds and attempted to dry some of our gear out.

Today’s distance: 355km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 19: Dunmurra – Ti-Tree. Monday 17th May 2010

It was a cool overcast morning but it was not raining. I still needed my jacket lining and overpants. What a contrast!

We left about 7:30am, stopping in most of the small towns to have a look and topping up with fuel regularly. People always stop to talk to us. It’s unusual to see three girls travelling together on bikes, especially Guzzis. We reached Tennant Creek by lunchtime - 365km already. 95% of the population of Tennant Creek is Aboriginal. It was a bit disconcerting, especially after all the stories we’d been told. But I haven’t seen or experienced anything negative. Their culture is very different from ours and the two don’t seem to blend very well.

In Tennant Creek we discovered oil leaking from the cylinder head on Teena’s bike around the gasket seal. There was oil splattered all over the bike and a steady drip coming out. This was not good. She set off to find a mechanic for help and advice. After a bit of a wild goose chase around town she found one who tightened the rocker cover and thought it ok to ride to Alice Springs, keeping an eye on the oil level and topping it up if necessary. There was a repairer in Alice who could replace the gasket.
Suzie and I went to get some lunch while Teena found oil and then a funnel. When she finally arrived at the cafe she got off her bike looking flustered and announced “Well, that was a drama.” When Suzie said, “Come and tell us all about it, darl,” I had to laugh because it was so different from being with the guys.

Our next stop was the Devil’s Marbles. They are extraordinary, so unique, and we had fun exploring around them.

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Devil’s Marbles

The next town, Wycliffe, is famous for sightings of UFOs and they really played up the alien theme. It made for a fun stop.

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Aliens at Wycliffe

Barrow Creek, on the other hand, consisted of little more than a small house with a paddock beside it for camping.

It is nice riding with the girls. It is a completely different dynamic to riding with the guys. We wait for each other, ride together, even ours toilet stops take the same time. And these girls set a mean pace too!

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Suzie and Teena

The sun was setting as we arrived at Ti-Tree, which boasts the most central pub in Australia. It has a nice campsite, the cheapest one yet – only $4.70 each. We just got our tents up before dark and it was getting cold fast. It was a beautiful clear night and the stars looked amazing. We had a meal in the pub and, as seems to be the way, got chatting with the owners. We discussed the Northern Territory alcohol policy at length and it was interesting to hear the opinions of those behind the bar. They are very interesting characters. It must be hard to live and work in such a remote area.
I enjoy the interaction with other people one meets when touring. Often it’s other bikers, or those who stop to comment or ask about my bike. Everyone has been friendly and helpful.

Today’s distance: 680km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:32 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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