Day fourteen of the rideabout, would take us from Barcalidine to Blue Water Springs. We gas up and prepare to hit the road, the skies clear a bit on the chilly side but not cold.
Notice in this photo of the road how there is a ONE lane wide strip of pavement in the center with a dirt shoulder on either side, also note the road train is on the pavement. This type of road is typical when your not in a settled area frequented by large trucks, the trucks ALWAYS have the right of way, the trucks DO NOT pull off the pavement the drivers of smaller vehicles be they cars, trucks or motorcycles MUST pull off on the shoulder and allow the trucks to continue on their way. When meeting oncoming traffic of smaller trucks or cars most but not all will pull over and drive with their left side wheels on the dirt shoulder sharing half the paved surface with the oncoming traffic.
In most gas stations we fueled at there are posters hung on the wall showing the results of wreaks between cars or other vehicles that didn't pull over and were then struck by road trains, needless to say the smaller vehicle was often times smashed beyond recognition, these big trucks run 24-7, they stop for food-fuel and nothing else, they OWN the road when on the move and the law is on their side.
Its not long and we area again on dirt roads, this road looks smooth, it is NOT, there are many holes that are filled with dust, these holes can be a few inches deep or a foot deep, they can be a few inches long or wide or they can be large enough for the entire rig to drop into and then bounce or fly out of the other side. After a while you get pretty good at being able to read the road surface and spot the soft sand-dust that is filling the holes and be able to maintain speed by driving-riding around them, however this is difficult to do in the morning or evening when shadows cast by trees cover the road.
Look carefully at the grass, brush and trees along side of this road, notice how the red dust from the road has colored everything up to a height of about 10 feet with red dust from the road surface. As we rode north the dirt of the road would become more red in color and the dust would cover in an ever thicker blanket the vegetation on the sides of the road. Whilst covering some of the flat out back on this type of road you could see the road trains miles away from the dust cloud they threw up, to keep the air filter from clogging up in some places when the road train got within a half mile I would pull over to the side of the road, shut the engine off and turn my head away from the road until after the dust settled when the truck had passed.
I can't remember if I took a photo of one of the signs that are posted a couple of miles outside of the towns in the out back, the signs tell the road train drivers to SLOW DOWN to give the dust that is following and that is dropping off the truck a chance to settle on the ground before bringing it into town.
I wait for Jock and Zac to catch up before heading off in a new direction, when riding on the dirt-gravel roads we would sometimes have a mile or more between us so we could see and not be riding in-breathing in the dust.
We would always regroup before turning off from the road we were traveling, in this way no one got lost or separated and if one of us didn't show up with a few minutes we would know to back track to find them in case they had a problem. As I was leading most of the way I would stop every 20 miles or so if possible on a hill top where I could look back and see the dust trails of Jock and Zac, in this way I never got to far ahead in case of trouble, when I could see the dust trails of the other riders I would again take off so they wouldn't have to ride in my dust.
At this intersection we would take a right turn onto the one paved lane road with the dirt shoulders, here again you can see that the road train takes up the entire paved lane.
We fuel up and grab a bite to eat.
I really learned to love these meat pies, I wish we could get them here in the USA.
I add my signature to the thousands covering the walls.
Zac adds his signature.
Many miles later, we were traveling through country that just kinda hipmotized (sp) you, the road was straight, it went on and on seemly forever, it was quite warm and it was easy to get sleepy, I pulled over into this pub-gas station not because I needed fuel but because I desperately NEEDED some caffeine and sugar to keep me awake and moving. Seven dollars later, I had a Coca-Cola and a Mars bar in my system this would keep me going until our next required stop. Here we pose with a sculpture outside of the pub.
We stop in Charters Tower, at this bike shop to get a tire mounted on Jocks bike, while parking the KLR Zac had a tip over but as I don't have a photo of the bike on the ground it didn't officially happen.
As you can see from my shadow in the photo its getting late in the evening, I took these photos of a road train so you could see how big some of these trucks are.
Look close, the Ural is in this photo on the left side of the truck about half way down its side.
We camped that night at the Blue Water Springs Road House, had a great meal and more beer.
The toilet facility's and showers.
And so another great day in the out back came to a close, writing this ride report is bringing it all back, I miss Australia. Stay tuned.