Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Far North Queensland

Okay am way behind on the blog. So this is going to be a quick catchup.

The week trip went well enough. The ride went from Sydney north. Stayed with friends in Morriset for a few days. Then camped in the Watagans back to the first camp site. I made the mistake of riding in in the rain. When the guide says 'slippery when wet' they really mean it. The road that was hard dirt when I bicycled, turned to slippery clay in the rain. It was a dreadful time riding the motorcycle in. If the first bit hadn't been uphill, and I hadn't been worried about dropping the bike, I'd had turned around half way up the hill and left. By the top of the hill, the prospect of trying to ride down it was also scary enough that I pushed on. I was sorry with that decision more than once before hitting the campground. Luckily by the time I left two days later, it had stopped raining and the road was hard again.

From the Watagans, I went to Barrington Tops and camped near the river. Great swimming spot if you were inclined. Unfortunately the stay was spoilt  by the amount of rubbish and crap about. The toilets near by had been demolished to build a new block, but there where other toilets further away. A lot of people hadn't used these. The bush between the campsite and the river was disgusting. Burying waste doesn't seem to happen. Walking past turds to get to the water, spoilt the idea of swimming for me. Talking to some other campers nearby, they didn't have a problem with swimming or drinking the water.

Barrington Tops to Broke. But didn't like the feel of Broke this time, so moved on and camped elsewhere. An advantage of the motorcycle - can easily move no matter how late in the day.

I found the riding was okay, if I stayed going slow. Riding on the freeway was boring as.  So monotonous. Everyone goes fast there. I thought trucks were speed limited to 100km/hr? These seems to not be the case. Learners limited to 80km/hr - doesn't seem the case either.

Stayed in Sydney for the Xmass/New Year period. After this I set off to Canberra. My planned leisurely trip was cut short by the realisation that unless I hit the freeway, I wouldn't get there until late at night. Since my uncle and aunty were expecting me for tea, I took the freeway.  With rest stops and hills, I got to Canberra in time for tea.

After catching up with family for a couple of days I set off North. I camped places I new - so end up staying in Barraba again. Went to see some of the sites that I hadn't seen when I was there previously.

From Barraba to the Gold Coast was a 9.5 hour ride. I did stop over in Texas!!  Let me say that soon as I crossed the border into Queensland, it day seemed brighter.

The last bit of road close to the Gold Coast was uneasy. The traffic had picked up. The roads where single lane, and no one drives to the speed limit. It didn't matter if the zone was a 40, 60, 80 or 100 km/hr.  I had thought my speedo was inaccurate - but no. People speed. Worse than speeding for me was the unsafe overtaking that occurred. Drivers have been watching too many tv commercials and believe that their car/truck can overtake anything instantly. It didn't matter blind curves, oncoming traffic - drivers would overtake. There were several times when I had to slow down to let the over taking complete.

After staying with friends on the Gold Coast, I set the GPS for Cairns and set off. I'm so glad for the GPS. I'm not sure where I went, I just followed the roads - well as near as was practicable. I haven't updated the maps, so some streets had changed, but drive on and  "recalculating"  soon sorted it out.

After a long day I stopped outside Rockhampton. I sign that I wasn't thinking well - I booked into a van park near the road. Not only near the road, but near a train line also. Both kept up throughout the night. Even with ear plugs in, you could still hear them. The vibrations did provide a sort of massage through the ground. And the mossies!!! I don't think I'd set the tent up so fast and jumped in. Hordes of mossies. I've never seen so many mossies. They where like fur on the outside of the tent wanting to get in. I didn't leave the tent all night. Next morning I fully dressed in motorcycle gear - including helmet and gloves before exiting and packing up. A fast packup even with all that. I was glad to be moving again and be out of the mossies.

It was another long day - and I reached my grandmothers house about 7:30pm.

The doors where already closed, and after knocking and banging. I called her on the phone. We then had 10 minutes of comedy before I convinced her that I really was outside. I was looking forward to a shower. Unfortunately grandma closed the door again from habit. This time the phone was inside. I did eventually get inside - it just took a while.

Now I'm about 120km south of Cairns. Visiting my folks.  The nearest town is Moresby, the nearest major town is Innisfail. Check them out in Google. Its been raining since I got here, but today the sun is out and the humidity is back. I sweat sitting still.

The ride from the Gold Coast to here, was a nightmare. I never want to to that again. Ever. When I was younger I had motorcycles, and did long rides. I remember the hard part was the sitting - cramped muscles, insect stings - I rode without gloves, and with an open face helmet. This trip the other motorist where the worry. Traffic has grown more heavy since I last rode a motorcycle. Trucks have gotten bigger. Super sized!  Even on the motorcycle, these things whip up the wind when they pass.

While on dual lane roads, it was okay. Everyone overtook in the other lane. On single lane roads -> I lost track of the number of times slowing down to let drivers finish overtaking. Drivers over took on double lines, corners, turn lanes, on the left on a single lane road!

Everyone speeds. The only vehicle I overtook on the way up was a tractor - doing 30 in a 60 zone. Everyone else overtook me. Didn't matter if I was sitting on the speed limit in the zone - I was overtaken. And the car/truck then vanished into the distance.  If I moved a bit too left to avoid a patch on the road - someone would try to overtake. I ended up on the road shoulder several times - forced there by people overtaking.  Once I ended up on the shoulder when a truck overtook, and as it passed, I saw that a car was overtaking it at the same time! Following too closely - trucks, cars or buses - it didn't matter.

Did I miss a rule that says that the speed limit is the minimum and there is some speed over that that you must do?

Police? Yeah, getting a speeding ticket is "Bad Luck". There are so few police on the roads, that it really is a case of bad luck if your busted for speeding, following too closely, or any other traffic offense. I saw two cop cars/speed checks the whole way up. They were evident by the flashing lights of people coming towards me and the general slow down of speeds until they'd been passed.

I was glad to get to the end of the trip up here. If people were overtaking me like that, then what is coming around the next corner? "Accidents" shouldn't be called accidents. They are crashes, and the surprising thing is that there are so few of them.

I've been here for two weeks now, and the dodge'em car road driving conditions continues. If you've ever had a car sitting on your tail light and your doing 100km/hr in a 100km/hr zone, you might know the worry of it. The only advantage to being in an 80km/hr or 60km/hr  zone is that the speed is slower.

It would be honest to say I'm not enjoying riding the motorcycle on the roads with other traffic. I'm also suffering from a bad case of  bicycle withdrawals. Going to have to do something about.