Day 11 of the Around Australia Ride took us from Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing. Another large day of 650kms and after the previous day I was keen to just burn straight through to Fitzroy Crossing as quick as I could. Thankfully this was not to be.
I say thankfully because I think this day, of all the days so far, has been the most scenic, especially from Kununurra through to Halls Creek. I took no less than 100 photos with most from the saddle of the Road Star as I tooled along. Just about everywhere I looked there was stunning scenery of some form or other. Even the flat lands looked impressive as there was always something not far on the horizon to tempt the senses. I took pictures from the side of the road, in the scrub, from lookouts and even clambered up a small hill at one point – I was having so much fun.
I could try and go on about the reds, greens, browns, greys, oranges in the earth. About the sky that was blue, white, grey, dark and everything in between. I could go on about the birds, small and large, the animals everywhere, the eagles and hawks circling on the thermals, the scurrying of prey unseen below. The termite mounds that have gone from small to bigger than me. I could try and go on about all those things but I think I will try and let the pictures in the gallery at the bottom of this post do the talking instead.
Probably my most favorite shots were of a huge Boab tree, or actually about four that had all grown in a tight cluster. I’d gone past the tree thinking it looked great but it was a good hundred metres into the scrub and I didn’t want to leave the bike on the side of the road, but then as fate would have it there was an old road that joined to the main highway and I was able to backtrack just a little bit. I must have spent half an hour under and around this amazing tree. I was just far enough from the highway that I couldn’t be seen and while I did have a brief thought of how I could be in trouble if something happened to me, and I would be lucky to be found if it did, I didn’t realise how poignant getting injured out here could be until later in the day.
There also seemed to be a lot more wildlife on the road with plenty of cows, brahman (boy they’re big) and wild horses. Yes you read right, lots of horses out here and while they have the entire freakin outback to roam they seem to like hanging out on the side of highways and getting hit by trucks. Most fascinating was three horses I came across on the side of the road. I slowed down as you can never be sure which way they are going to bolt, but instead of bolting they just wandered on to the road in front of me! Didn’t give a fig about this noisy bike slowly pacing behind them until I gave a big twist of the throttle and a blast on the air horn – that got them moving. They kicked and bucked and pooped all over the place, but still never left the damn road! After criss-crossing for almost half a kilometre they finally veered off into the scrub – no wonder I have seen so many of them dead on the side of the road.
There was also a road side stop for fuel on this run as it was 290kms from Halls Creek to Fitzroy Crossing without any service. It was at this stop when Allan and Rachel got the call that we had a rider down 20kms back down the road. As far as offs go it was fairly innocuous, but unfortunately for Tony Roberts when he was doing a u-turn (as I understand it) his bike went into the red dirt on the side of the road which is very muddy and slippery and lost the front wheel. The bad news is the bike came down on his leg and broke his ankle. Last update I heard he was being flown to Darwin for pinning and plating. It was a stark reminder of how careful we have to be on this trip and Tony was just unlucky, so damned unlucky with his off as a good half a dozen of us (myself included) have laid bikes down in slow turns or loose gravel. It also gave me reason for a long think about being off the road with the Boab tree, the road I had gone down had become a rutted track with lots of old dug up blacktop trying to twist my own front wheel from under me. Would have been a very long crawl back to the highway if something similar happened – providing I could have pulled myself from under the 350kgs of a fully laden Road Star.
So the last 100kms into Fitzroy River were very sombre, made even more so as two ambulances passed us about 20kms out heading to the scene. It had been a fantastic day, and still remains my favorite I think, but it was certainly tempered by the incident. Our thoughts are with you Tony and hell, seeing as it was your right leg it’s only for the rear brake so you don’t need to use it anyway. Hopefully we will see you again before the ride is done.