Day 15 of the Around Australia Ride, it’s funny how the scenery changes from day to day. Before reaching Broome it was a mix of not too bad, to boring. From Broome to Port Hedland, however, it was mostly a mix of boring and boring. After a nice relaxing break we had 613km to push through to meet the predominantly mining town of Port Hedland. As a result there wasn’t so much scenery to capture as there were things that travelled along the road itself.
First the road trains. Yep still plenty of them and still quite large. The ones coming at you aren’t too bad as you just get over to the left hand side of the lane as far as you can and hope for the best. Sometimes they will pass with nary a whisper, other times you feel a sledgehammer of air strike you in the chest. And they are big trains out here, supporting the mining and gas industries. You show them respect, as failure to do so could end you up in the ditch faster than you can blink.
And overtaking them. Well that still remains a challenge especially at over 130kmh. They’re big and we’re reminded of how much the tail of these dragons will swing around by constant deep tracks in the side of the road where the rear trailers have swung too wide and off the tarmac. It’s probably the momentum of the huge trains that pull them back out on to the highway. Every once in a while when you ready yourself for an overtaking maneuver the tail will swing into the opposite lane – are you really ready? Well are you, punk?
So what remains for interest are other riders. As the day progresses you see plenty of motorcycles. Either by being overtaken, or by overtaking them. Sometimes a break on the side of the road will see a cluster of bikes go by, the occasional wave and honk of the horn as a passing greeting. Often evident is a questioning thumbs up – are you stopped taking a picture, or has the cycle failed you? Thankfully all my responses have been OK thumbs up in return. Every once in a while someone stops to help a bike back up that has decided to take a little nap. It’s hot out here and occasionally the motorcycles like a lie down on the side of the road too.
Wildlife. There is a bit in evidence but I have to be honest most of it is dead on the side of the road. I seem to have killed my fair share of small birds on this trip, last count at around half a dozen. I always go back to check the ones I think have only caught a glancing blow, but the Roadie takes care of them. I wonder why so many of them hang around the road when there is so much outback available to them. High on the air we see a lot of larger birds, Kites and Eagles navigating the thermals looking for food below. I can only hope the Shoei doesn’t attract their talons.
The day ended at Port Hedland with what at first looked like quite rudimentary accommodation. How wrong we were. Despite the rooms being made up from converted shipping containers, the motel we stayed at – the Hamilton Motel – was actually a company motel for Fortesque Mining (I’ll update this later if in error). It’s actually a motel for mining employees. Port Hedland really seems seems to be a mining industry town and this is what things like this exist for. The room was great with self contained clothes washing and dryer, but it was the food hall that MUST be commended. The mine’s employees must love this kind of attention with a great assortment of meals on offer as part of the accommodation. Certainly we all thought is was probably one of the best spreads we had come across so far and not a few riders are thinking about a career in the mining industry down the path.
And lastly what has to be mentioned is the Tutu of Shame. Yes, Craig “Banno” Banning wore the honer today as a result of tipping his KTM over on the beach at Broome – while his wife was on the back after showing up as a surprise visit. Looking tidy there, Banno, and don’t worry, I haven’t told a soul.
Tomorrow is our largest single day of this trip weighing in at some 870kms. The last scheduled support vehicle will be leaving at 6:00am local time, anyone after that will likely have to fend for themselves if they run into trouble. It’s going to be a long, hot day that will likely test many a rider. Here’s hoping I can make it through the day in one piece.