Week 3: Tour de Oz (QLD - NT)
The Ride Across
Crossing the border of Queensland and Northern Territory was an absolutely epic moment for me – one that I’ve waited for a very long time. After living in NSW for almost 7 years, the real outback was just a dream … and now, one that finally came true. Here I am in the middle of nowhere: riding my bike, on my own – one of the best moments of my life.
I didn't find the Barkly Highway boring, even though is just a very long stretch of ‘big nothing’ from Mt Isa to Three Ways (T-junction with Stuart Hwy); in fact, I truly enjoyed it! The speed limit in NT is 130km/h and even though it's very tempting to go faster on such well surfaced, straight roads, you're probably best to stick to the limit, ‘cause at any moment you need to expect the unexpected: wildlife jumping right in the front of you!
Mataranka & Katherine
After those long rides in the outback it was a nice change to stop over at the Thermal Pool Mataranka Homestead and have a swim in a natural, warm-water swimming pool – and have a cold beer!
It was only another 120km to Nitmiluk National Park (next to Katherine), so after my early arrival (inspired by all those maps I was handed on the camping ground), I decided to go for a walk to Southern Rockhole – the closest (free from crocodiles) swimming spot on the Katherine River. Mind you: this was 4.2 km one-way walk! And I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but I hate walking. So, wearing my bikini and a t-shirt, with a towel on my shoulder and half of bottle of water, off I went for a mountain walk. And, of course, due to a lack of signs on the track and the poor map I was handed, I walked for 3.7 km on the wrong track. Through some amazing landscape, I must admit, but with no option for swimming! All that walking for nothing!
Lesson learned from this experience: do not arrive too early to your destination so you won’t have the chance to do something crazy - like WALKING!
Litchfield National Park
This magnificent National Park was definitely one of the highlights of this trip so far – waterfalls, swimming rock-holes, magnetic giant termite mounds - and plenty of rainforest camps.
During my short stay in the park, I met some other 'lone riders' travelling around Oz – Chloe from France is doing her ‘big loop’ on her bicycle; seriously, that’s just insane, but good on her! Also got to have a chat with Luke from Sydney who’s been travelling on a V-Storm for the last 5 weeks. It was great to hear all their stories and exchange the experiences.
Finally, after 6500km, I made my way to Darwin. I arrived nice and early for my 10k service at Cyclone Motorcycles – and thought I’ll have the whole day for resting & sightseeing. Instead, I spent the whole day at the bike shop to hear that they had spent the entire time checking the valve clearance that shouldn’t even be done during the 10k service. Then I was told it’s going to cost me $700 when I was quoted $450. In summary, they're a bunch of clowns who have no idea what they’re doing.
After a few phone calls to other bike shops and BMW Australia I manage to prove my point to them. A big thank you to BMW Worthington for your advice and help!
After 8 hours of frustration and arguments I ended up paying the $650 for the service so i could get on with it, but i don't think anyone's ever ripped me off so badly. This definitely isn't the end of it...
OK. I've have enough. It's time for a drink - and to plan out final week of this first stage of 'Tour de Oz' - stay tuned!
Supporting the Shepherd Centre
Please sponsor my ride: http://everydayhero.com.au/onherbike