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December 8th, 2011 | Australasia

All Over Down Under…!!

Today I completed my final ride in Australia…!! (When I wrote the original short post stating this, little did I know there was still many more miles to cover before I could safely pack helmet and boots away, and bring the curtain down on my ride here…!!)

Early morning in Springsure, and another long day lies ahead of us...

I left Springsure as early as I could, having slept like the dead after my previous day’s exertions…

I did a few minutes of routine stretching exercises to rid my back and shoulders of the remaining wrinkles that the hot shower the night before had not ironed out…

The lady who had assisted me the previous evening was back on duty in the service station office that doubles as reception for the caravan park…

She tried to convince me to stay and have breakfast, and on hearing that I had a long way to go to get to Brisbane, she gave me a complimentary bottle of water, and made me promise to stop for breakfast as soon as I felt tired or hungry enough…!!

I must admit, I was touched by her concern, and thanked her for the small kindnesses she had shown, ever since I walked through her door looking as though I had been on the losing end of a paintball fight…!! The remains of the many insects that had committed suicide on my face the previous evening, still fresh in both our minds…!!

Her final words to be proved to be rather prophetic….

“Please be careful, there is bound to be flooding along the road you will be riding… The creeks down that way will be filling up, if they aren’t already full…!!”

The rising river on the right had me pinning the throttle back in an effort to reach Roma before the town was flooded...

I rolled out of the service station and immediately put the hammer down on the Big Fella, snapping through the gears until we hit 6th, and then settled down to make a hard and fast run south…

The road was in great condition, and although it was still wet in places from more light rain that had fallen during the night, we made good time until we reached the turnoff to Rolleston… Up until then, I had been riding along the banks of a fast flooding river, which had already burst it’s banks in many places, and was threatening to flow onto the highway…

I knew that at some point the river must cross the road, and just before the t-junction outside Rolleston, it did…!!

The Panorama River had already risen over the road, and crossing this bridge was a dicey, but fun-filled affair... !!

The Panorama Creek had well and truly burst it’s banks, and as I approached the bridge that crossed the creek, a 300 metre stretch of water covered the road… On the far side, I could see a car that had just driven across the bridge… All four doors were open, and people were scooping water out of the car with plastic containers…!! The driver noticed me standing on the far side and began waving frantically… I could not see if he was urging me to turn back, or to proceed across the river, as the sun was directly in my eyes…

By far the most common roadsign you will see in the Outback...!! And with good reason...!!

I had already made up my mind to attempt the crossing anyway, so his waving had no affect on me anyway… I eased forward into the water, which got deeper and deeper as I approached the bridge itself, and by the time I was crossing it, the water level was halfway up my shins, almost to the top of my boots…!!

The current was not as strong as I thought it might be, and I made it over to the other side without any problems, steam rising off the hot engine, which was almost covered by the dirty brown water…

“Whoo-hoo…!!” I shouted as I pulled up alongside the silver Audi, where the occupants were still scooping water out of the foot-wells…

“The driver stood smiling as I turned the bike around and faced it back towards the bridge…

“What are you doing…??” he asked…

“I forgot to film the crossing, so I’m going back across to give it another go…!!” I replied as nonchalantly as possible, even though my heart was still beating wildly…

“You’re crazy, Mate…!! The water is still rising…!!” was his incredulous response…

Taking shelter fom the rain in the little town of Injune...

“Nah, it’s all good fun…!!” I said over my shoulder, as I eased the clutch out, stood up on the pegs and rode across the bridge again… On the far side, I turned around and made my way back over the bridge for a third time, enjoying the sight of the bow wave the Big Fella created as we surged forward…

With my Sportcam video recorder now out of action, I had to ride through the water holding my Canon D10 camera in one hand and filming, while standing and holding the bike up with the other hand…

Light rain began to fall as I headed south for Injune… Halfway there, the Big Fella gave an apologetic burp, before coasting to a stop in a beautiful little valley… While I emptied the contents of three of my petrol containers into his tank, I watched flocks of parrots flying overhead… They did not fly from tree to tree as the usually do, but seemed to be on a mission to get out of the area…!! I wondered if they were fleeing from even wetter weather further south…

It drizzled on and off all the way into Injune, where I refueled and wolfed down a sandwich, while listening to the few locals enjoying their breakfasts at the diner where I had taken shelter from the rain…

“They’re about to shut down the roads leading into Roma…!!” I heard one guy say, and immediately went over to see if I had heard correctly…

A fresh way to shop at Spar... By Canoe perhaps...!!

“You sure about that…??” I asked after introducing myself to the small group of construction workers…

“Oh yeah, Mate…!! There are two rivers leading to the town and they are both flooded…!! I reckon they’ll be getting people outta there this morning…!!”

Roma lay a further 90 km to the south, and as I looked in that direction, the sight of huge thunderclouds hanging out there made my heart sink… Ignoring the drizzle, I got back on the bike, and tore south, riding much quicker in the wet conditions than I normally would have, but determined not to get trapped out in the back of beyond while towns flooded around me…

Hearing that the town was about to be cut off by rising floodwater, I was not about to hang around in Roma....!!

On the northern outskirts of Roma, I could already see that things were getting to be a bit grim…!!

Flood-waters lapped at the edges of the highway, fields on either side were completely inundated with swirling brown water…

All along the main road that ran down the centre of the town, people were gathered on the sidewalks, apparently waiting for authorities to give the word for them to evacuate…

I wasted no time hanging about in Roma… I cruised through town and turned east onto the Warrego Highway that lead to Brisbane… A large truck was beginning to unload barricades that read “Road Closed” as I left Roma…

I had managed to get out by the skin of my teeth…!! I would later hear that parts of the town had been evacuated, and a light aircraft had crashed on the flooded runway just outside Roma…

Conditions improved significantly the further east we rode, and by the time we were well away from Roma, the sun was shining brightly and my riding gear began drying out… My boots however would remain wet for the rest of my ride, as they were tucked under my Rally pants and did not get as wind-blown as the rest of my suit…

I made it oout of town in the nick of time... Police were already setting up barricades to stop and further traffic into Roma...

Still a long way to go before I reached Brisbane HQ...!!

That's exactly what I had been doing for the past two days...!! Covering Miles and miles...!!

I stopped in the town of Miles, called Mark to let him know that I was only a few hours out of Brisbane…

“We just heard on the radio that Roma has been closed to all traffic and the town is under water…!!” he said excitedly… “Have you made it through…??”

I confirmed that all was well, and then rode on to Columbulla, Goombi, Boonarga and Brigalow, before getting to Dalby, where I refueled for what I thought would be the last time in Australia…

Fields of maize stretch to the horizon, covered by clouds pregnant with more rain...

Distance markers put out for the GB...?? Very thoughtful of you...!!

I reached Toowoomba an hour later, where I got caught in the mother of all traffic jams, as I tried to get through this town which was much bigger than I expected it to be… For some reason, all the heavy traffic such as trucks and other big transporters, share the same road thats cuts through the heart of Toowoomba… Trying to split lanes between these big trucks was almost impossible, and from one traffic light to the next, we crawled along at low speed, while my patience reached boiling point…

Once out of this mess of cars and trucks, the highway to Brisbane opened up and the last part of my two day ride from Townsville ended in warm sunshine in the early evening…

I had covered almost 2000 km since leaving Telita’s house in Townsville, riding along the back roads on the western side of the Great Dividing Range, and was glad that I had taken this longer route… It gave me a chance to ride in areas that not many tourists get to see, and gave me the opportunity to meet more of what I like to call “real” Australians…!! The people who work the soil, either by farming it, or digging for minerals in it…

Those down to earth folk who don’t give a damn who you are or where you come from, but will always greet you with a friendly smile and helpful advice… People who are quick to laugh and share a joke, and a lot sharper than they look or are made out to be by their city cousins…!!

I rode directly to Mark’s house, were I was welcomed by one and all, and quickly settled back into the easy-going routine of the household… Even the dog seemed overly pleased to see me…!!

I immediately began sending a flurry of  emails to various freight agents to try and tie up methods and quotes of getting the bike and I to Santiago in Chile…

Initial responses were less than pleasing….!!

©GBWT 2011

1 comment to All Over Down Under…!!

  • Tony Royle

    Issh. big old land mass down under! You’ll be challanging iron butt Nick Saunders soon! Hopefully be able to take things a bit slower in NZ. Lot less ground to cover.

    Try get to do some jet boating and luge ride in Christchurch.

    travel safe

    all the best
    Tony

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