Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Terry & Brenda Head West

Finally, Monday the 9th of August arrived, the big day. The first day of our yearly bike ride. This year it is the trip to see the wonders of outback Australia, staying for a few days in Broken Hill. Now I often say that I live in an outback town, but really I guess that's just a matter of perspective. I grew up on the coast so 400km inland seems to be outback to me, how wrong I was .. after the trip to Broken Hill I now have a much better understanding of true outback .. and I liked it!

Terry had worked like a demon for the preceding week to get all his jobs to a stage where we could just take off for a week with no stress, by about 11ish Monday morning the computer had been turned off and we were all packed and ready to go.

We both found it weird riding the bikes all loaded up. I had always had saddlebags in the past to balance the weight on the rack, this time I have no saddlebags and all the weight of my luggage is over the back fender .. it felt like the bike just wanted to tip over every time I stopped at first. Terry had a lot of weight in both of his bags, but by the end of the first day he realised that he had the heaviest bag on the rack, that was lifting the front wheel a lot and making steering interesting to say the least. He changed the way he packed the next day and it was a lot better for him.

The plan for this first day of riding was to get to Cobar, the first planned stop would be Nyngan for fuel but we ended up stopping at Trangie for a while to get eats, both of us had forgotten all about lunch in our rush to get out of Dubbo.

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Before we got very far along the road, about 30km's or so, Terry had the first mishap of the day. His right mirror dropped out and bounced along the road determined to take me out as well. Ummm should that have happened? He explained to me how it could have happened that evening .. ya see he had bought himself one of these gizmos ...

Picture from

 It's a throttle control and pretty handy but he was still kinda learning to use it, so when he realised that he was still in 4th gear at 100km/h and forgot that the gizmo was set, then pulled in the clutch to go to top gear .. well the result is that the vibration was all too much for that bit of glass.

The rest of the day I rode at the back with the specific job of letting Terry know if there was anything interesting happening behind that he should know about.

We made it to Trangie with no further excitement.

Trangie is a pretty standard small country town with not much happening, we found a nice enough cafe to get a couple of toasties and a decent cup of coffee from.

And spent too long there, like we tend to do. Ah well we were on holidays, as long as we got to Cobar before dark we'd be happy.

It was a quick stop in Nyngan for fuel then back on the road. Til Terry spotted some seats and decided that we really needed a hydration break and a bit of a sit. Umm cept Terry, they aren't seats ...

They are country town park art ..

We had a bit of a drink then back on the bikes. The sun was starting to get a bit low in the sky, and even though we'd had cloud cover for most of the day the sun managed to get around the clouds and make the ride interesting for the last 100k's or so.

We also noticed that the trees were becoming different, more stunted and less of them. And our visors were getting full of bugs, so was the GoPro but unfortunately I didn't even think of that til the start of the trip home so most of the pics and video will have bug spots.

We rode into Cobar at 5:15pm, just as Terry said we would .. he's good eh.

The motel at Cobar was cheap, but that's pretty well all it had going for it, 'cept the mine shaft outside our door .. that was interesting at least.

We'd left Dubbo at 12:15 so it was a 5 hr ride to get us here, we were just taking it easy so far but the next day we had more k's to cover so we'd have to start making the stops shorter, get going on time in the morning, so we could make it to Broken Hill before dark.

The next morning we actually got up pretty early, and after getting packed and sorted we went to hunt down breakfast, nope they don't serve breakfast unless you order room service the night before, they could have told us that the night before ..  we headed into the small town of Cobar to hunt down something to eat. We found a little bakery that had a bunch of riders sitting out the front .. we figured it must be OK. Well it was OK but the coffee really sucked, I stuck with water. As we sat there I noticed a shop across the road that had a big Honda sign on it ...

I pointed it out to Terry with the thought that maybe they would have a mirror for him. So after breakfast he headed into the shop while I waited next to the bikes and had my last smoke before we hit the road. He soon came back out of the shop and pointed down the opposite end of the street ...


Oh a rotten big motorcycle shop .. yeah they will probably have a mirror eh.

They were very nice and found a mirror that would do for the trip, and even put it on Terry's bike for him, all for just $10. The blokes didn't even laugh too much when we told him how it had happened .. nice.

The route today was pretty easy .. we just need to head west for 460km and we would be in our home for the next three days.

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So it was only about 11ish when we finally said goodbye to Cobar and started riding. It's a pretty straight road, just what I was expecting really, but there are some interesting things too. There are hills believe it or not ...

 and every now and then you get a bend in the road just to make sure you're still awake.

 We didn't see very many trucks out here, there were plenty of caravans and camper vans though, I guess it's a good time of the year for the grey nomads to head out this way.

Terry had told me all about the goats he'd seen on a work trip out to Wilcannia earlier this year, they are everywhere and he said they just kinda wandered all over the road. We didn't see any on the road but plenty beside it munching on all the lovely green stuff that was all along the road. It must have been a good season because there was a lot more green than I'd seen in photos, it surprised me that there were a lot of flowers too, it is spring of course.

The other animals that we were watching for was kangaroos, we actually only saw one while on the road during the whole trip, and not that many dead ones either which surprised me for a while til the first stop that we made. But I'm getting ahead of myself again...

The first stop wasn't planned til about 120km's from Cobar for fuel at a roadhouse called Emdale but, about 30km's out of Cobar I felt a sting on the inside of my wrist, just where I sometimes get hit by things off the road that manage to make it up the small gap between my jacket and gloves. This one really stung, and kept stinging .. I shook my hand and it still stung .. hmm 'Terry I think I've been stung by something .. maybe a bee. It's OK though, I've been stung by bees and I'm not allergic, it will go away soon'

About 30 more k's down the road I spotted a rest area and decided since it was still stinging that I needed to maybe pull up and see if there's a stinger still in my arm. Yep there was, I got out the trusty first aid kit and left-handedly tweezered out the menacing stinger that had embedded itself in my arm, it had even left a little runnel in my arm as it hit, just like those impact sites you see in UFO movies. With the offending foreign object removed I soothed it with a cool antiseptic swab while we took a couple of pics and chatted with the lady who was doing the cleaning of the rest area.

This is one of those free camping areas for grey nomads, we'd pulled into one the day before for a quick drink and there were about a hundred camper vans and caravans parked for the night setting up their camp, well OK not quite a hundred, but lots. We'd watched in amazement as one couple did their washing in a tub that they then turned with a handle .. not unlike a cement mixer. Today there was just the one van in the area we stopped in, it was the middle of the day and I guess all the grey nomads were on the road .. this guy however seemed to be intent on stopping at every rest area he could find .. we passed them at the next one along the road just pulling in. It didn't move fast but it sure was a different way to get around.

I also got my first taste of a bush loo at this stop .. hmm I'd try to avoid these, it was clean but whoa the smell!! The lady who was doing the cleaning was lovely to chat with and she answered the question of why there weren't very many dead Kangaroos out along this bit of road .. part of her contract with the RTA was the clean the rest areas and clean the road kill off the roads. Sad to say but this just fascinated me as a job, not that I think it would be a great job or anything but I did wonder how she did it .. she had a hook. Terry was insistent that we get a pic just as I was trying to get information.

Yep that's the bush loo in the background. We chatted for ages and soon realised that it had been over an hour since we'd left Cobar and we'd only travelled 60km's .. time to hit the road again. I stuck a band aid over the crater in my arm before leaving thinking it would protect it a bit from flying dirt and stuff, it was still a bit sore but not red or anything, it would be alright, I'm not allergic.

The first time we spotted Emus I was thrilled, I've only ever seen them in captivity and I love those big birds. Then I realised I probably need to watch out for them on the road .. we ended up seeing maybe four groups of them but all but one group was way back off the road, the group of three who were close to the road soon ran when a truck coming the other way got close to them. Unfortunately I only got one photo of them with the GoPro and you really have to look hard to find them .. they are on the right hand side of the road just behind those trees in the foreground.

It was only about another 60k's to the next stop for fuel at Emdale Roadhouse. The area at the front of it is enormous, I suppose to fit in all the trucks and caravans, we pulled up to the diesel pump first then had to do a u-turn to get to the regular pump.

After the caravan moved out of the way we were greeted at the pump by a nice young man with a Scandinavian accent who unlocked it for us. Now we'd been told some interesting stories about this stop by Terry's daughter, she even warned off stopping here if we could avoid it. With Terry's tank being so small there was no way we'd make it all the way to Wilcannia without a top up so we had to stop, plus I wanted to see all the guns hanging on the wall that she had told us about.

They weren't there, there was no grumpy bush man with a shotgun at the ready to chase off all the evil people who he thought were going to rob him either. The place did have something hanging out the front but it was a surfboard .. no kidding .. I have no idea where the water was but I looked for it.

We parked the bikes and had a bit of a chat with the guys who were in those caravans, then went and sat in the shade of a lovely old tree to munch on some sandwiches

Real ham off the bone too .. very nice. The local cat also liked that ham.

After a nice relaxing late lunch we realised we really needed to hit the road again, we hadn't even made it half way yet and the daylight was getting away from us.

Next stop was Wilcannia, it was a fuel stop and I also wanted to take a cruise down the main street to check out some of the historic buildings I'd been told about. Now Wilcannia has a very bad reputation, we'd been told more than once to just drive straight through if we could. And I've often heard how bad this town was as far as violence went but I figured that it wouldn't hurt to just go for a bit of a cruise. By the time we got there not only was it getting late but the group of interesting youths using the very colorful language at the petrol station kinda changed my mind.
While we were there I did notice that the whole place was being circled by some kind of bird, it was too small to be an eagle, and not enough color. I have since found out that these birds are Brown or Black Kites. They tend to scavenge along the roads out here on the road kill, so we saw a lot of them on our trip but unfortunately no pics .. here's one from Wikipedia

We only had one more stop after Wilcannia, just as we topped a rise we saw a small rest area and the view that hit us was pretty breath taking.

More than anything I was just getting tired and dry, I wanted a drink and to walk around a bit ...

We were only about 60k's from Broken Hill now, and it's not a bad ride into town. While the rest of the ride had been pretty well just point the wheel straight ahead and look at what scenery you could find, the couple of k's before town gives you a few bends just to make it interesting. Of course by now the GoPro was completely flat so I didn't get any pics of the only bit of interesting road for miles, but it was good to see if I could remember how to take a corner, the first couple went slowly as I got my hand back in. We'd arrived in Broken Hill at about 5pm .. not bad timing at all considering all the long stops we'd had along the way, and it was pretty easy to find the holiday cottage that was to be our home for the next couple of days.

As soon as we got the bikes tucked away in the garage I headed down the road to the closest service station to get vitals like milk, coffee and chocolate. Walking back to the cottage fully loaded with vittles I realised just how painful my arm had become, when I looked at it I saw a spreading redness that ended up covering my arm from wrist to elbow, swelling and pain as well as an unbearable itch made me think things weren't going good with it. It seems I am now allergic to bee stings. We ordered pizza for dinner and Terry arranged a hire car for the next couple of days. First thing the next morning I was going to have to head for a chemist to see if I could get some drugs.

We had a big comfy bed to fall into that night, and trust me, we both slept well.


  1. Hi Brenda, I just love to read your travelogue especially since we have high winds and torrential rainfalls going with it.

    When I looked up several sections of your road trip on Google Street View I got the impression that you rather don't want to have a technical failure or other emergency on the road. It looks mighty lonely.

    I hope that the stinger didn't become a major issue. I am allergic and I would have an arm so swollen that it wouldn't fit in jacket and gloves any more...

    1. Hiya Sonja, yep the weather was perfect for most of the trip which is good for spring, it can be so changeable.

      It's lonely but not as lonely as you would think from looking at the pictures .. there are grey nomads everywhere (not sure if you know that term, grey nomads are older retired people who take off on road trips in their camper vans or caravans often for months at a time, they are normally fully equiped for everything) so I guess if we'd got into a real jam we would have found help. Fortunately we didn't have any real problems but we did have a lot of 'just in case' stuff with us .. you know how it is if you have it with you then the odds are better that you wont need it. That was the first time I've had to pull out the first aid kit, and I was glad that I'm pedantic about keeping it well stocked.

      The bee sting didn't swell all of my arm but my hand definately wouldn't have fit in a glove for the first couple of days and in the end it was the itch that drove me crazy specially at night. I'm glad we hired a car for the next couple of days or we wouldn't have done anything.

  2. Great travel journal with lovely photos! Sounds like quite a road trip! The mirror flying off at the beginning must have been a bit of a shock, plus that sting sounds like it hurt bad!
    The long straight roads and bush loos bring back loads of memories :)
    It must be quite dangerous for bikes driving in the outback no? A couple of time I had cows in the middle of the road and kangaroos jump out in front, but I was well protected in a jeep!
    Take care

    1. Hi Bel, it was a great road trip just not long enough!

      I bet that the photos brought back some memories for you, a lot Australia looks the same but it's pretty amazing eh.

      Yeah it is pretty dangerous, actually the animal I was most worried about were the goats, they are most active during the middle of the day. We try not to ride at night or early morning/evening .. that's when the native animals tend to be most active like kangaroos or you cant see cows. And cause we're lazy there was no danger of riding early morning, and we planned it well enough that we made all our destinations before dark.

  3. Yikes on the bee sting. That could not have been comfy. Odd how it hit right at the little gap between the gloves and jacket cuff, almost like it aimed.

    So far it sounds like a good trip but not without a few mishaps. The scenery looks beautiful and looks nice and warm. One day I'll get to Australia.

    1. Hey Brandy. Yeah that bee made a beeline for my wrist :)

      That's all the mishaps we had for the whole trip, I call that a success! That first day was the warmest, the rest of the time the days were low 20's celcius and the nights I even had to put the heater on!

      When you get here we'll take you for a ride through the outback :D

  4. Some really nice pictures and good narrative. Just the thing to read on a wet and windy english autumn day. It's wonderful to see all those empty roads and open spaces (and all that sunshine) when the bike is sitting on the drive unridden because I'm a wimp and the car is so much more comfortable.

    1. Hi Buildingstoat, thanks for reading my adventures, I'm glad you enjoyed them.

      Ahh we have just gotten over a pretty mild winter but have to admit to being exactly the same as you, I think the bike only went out for about 4-5 rides over winter and most of those were in the last month. It's just way easier to jump in the car :)

      It was great to get out on the bike again!

  5. Brenda:

    what a nice, relaxing 2 day ride to Broken Hill. Not much traffic either but make sure to watch out for animals on the road. Temperatures look hot. I am not a fan of bush loos either, I think it is the smell . . .

    keep an eye on that bee sting, doesn't sound good. Hope your medicine works fast

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Hey Bob. Ah huh my eyes were peeled the whole time watching for animals and the cry over the sena to Terry was often to be heard .. 'Goats to the left!' or 'Emus to the right!!' Have to admit to still being excited about seeing so many emus.

      Yep definately the smell ...

      The medicine did it's job but it had side effects unfortunately, it made me very drowsey.

  6. Looks like a good days riding Brenda. Yep there sure are lots of straight roads out that way. I think I'd have to have a ZX-14 and take advantage of it on those straights.

    I got a bee sting in the neck once at about 130 odd kmh and it hurt like hell so I know what you were going through.

    1. Eek the neck would hurt!

      Actually it was nice just cruising along at my own pace with minimal traffic to worry about.