Outback Winter Trip
Day to Day Blog
It won’t actually be day to day; but
I’ll try to write something as time and access permit.
The earlier background to the trip is
below under the heading : “Introduction".
Hillston 14 August
Having missed out on arriving catching up with the one person I
know in Cunnamulla, Louise, a cousin of my stepdaughters, Nicole and Natalie, I
managed to do so at her workplace, the Primary School, before I set out; and
scored a bacon and egg breakfast left over from a function that had just
finished. Louise’s husband is a police
officer attached to the Cunnamulla station. My first attempt to make contact
this morning was to ring the police number effective all over Australia for the
area called from: 131444. I asked the woman who answered if she was in
I’m in Brisbane
you put me through to the Cunnamulla station please?
do you spell that?
U N N A M U L L A.
that N for Nancy or M for Mary?
C U N N A N U….
that one’s an M for Mary.
So C UN N A M U L L A.
There it is.
can you put me through please.
I can understand why you’re told at
the outset to hang up and dial 000 if you’re in a hurry!
It was a pretty straight road to
Bourke – as it would be for most of the 686km I covered. So often and so
consistently, on coming over a rise, the view was a dead straight road ahead
rising and falling until it disappeared over the far – very far – horizon.
Bourke has some special significance
for me. My great grandfather owned a wool barge and steamer; and transported
wool from Bourke and downstream stations to Wentworth at the confluence of the
Darling and Murray Rivers. This is the second time I have passed through Bourke
in something of a hurry, so look forward to spending some more time here one
day exploring the area.
At Bourke, the main highway from
Cunnamulla continues onto Nyngan. I came up that way last year, so opted for
Kidman Way, whose northern end is at Bourke. That would take me to Cobar where
I have never been.
The good condition, straight road
with a 110kph speed limit (very common for most mainish roads in Outback Qld
and NSW) facilitated a good pace tempered only by the wind and the need to keep
a very wary eye out for wildlife. There were a few emus lurking but the main
presence was feral goats, who thankfully have a much greater sense of
self-preservation than the native wildlife. They invariably – and laconically –
trot off but stay on their side of the road.
I need to come back to Cobar. It’s a
town with lots of history relating to mineral discoveries and mining. Sadly, my
exposure to that today had to be very superficial. Cobar was originally
renowned for its copper deposits and copper mining. Its entry sign epitomises
this aspect of its history. That dates back to the late 1800s. More recently –
within decades past – many other minerals have been discovered leading to a
revival of the town’s fortunes. Gold has been a big factor in this revival. The
New Cobar Gold Mine, on the outskirts of the town, is a large open cut mine
with a decline into the underground mine emanating from the floor of the open
cut. This can be viewed from an amazingly located viewing platform.
I had an option here to divert to
Nyngan, which would have been a little more sensible in terms of kms to be
travelled. But I felt committed to the Kidman Way probably because of its
novelty. It heads more directly south.
This would be another 250 plus km
ride to the next “decent” stop, but with a small hamlet and a tiny hotel at the
160km mark as a fall-back in case time or weariness got the better of me.
With both pushing at their limits, I
battled on to Hillston, arriving only 15mins after the 4:00pm Happy Hour start
for wildlife. That would be a 686km ride. Far more than any planned day. More
than I’d care to do in a day. More than I had done in any other day of the
trip. But still almost 30km short of a day’s ride between home and Phillip Is.
My average speed for the day was
108kph. That included fuel, lunch, tourist and respite stops.
This would be my last commercial
stopover, so I opted for a motel rather than the normally preferred town pub.
I’d no sooner parked my bike and started to unpack, when another guest said
“You look like you could do with a beer.” Whereupon he produced a cold can of
XXXX. “Thank you.”
He was one of a group of guys, travelling
in three utes with trailers full of gear and carrying a couple of tinnies. They
were on their back to Victoria after their annual fishing and shooting (feral
pigs) trip along the Darling River – and taking in the annual Louth races. As
we stood in the parking area chatting about one another’s trips, the owner of
the motel (the Victorians were regular visitors) turned up with another round
of beers for all. I couldn’t complain about the hospitality.
The forecast rain didn’t eventuate
but there were more dire forecasts on the news tonight. The now shortened ride
to Wagga Wagga to confront my 2½ yr old grandson, who has taken undue pleasure
from watching Granddad stack, may be easier if the rain arrives.
Cunnamulla: 13 August
Actually today was supposed to be
from Windorah to Charleville. Having more closely examined the road map over
dinner in Windorah I realised there was a series of back roads from Quilpie to Cunnamulla
that looked interesting with only about 30km of gravel. I stored it away as an
The ride from Windorah to Quilpie was
possibly the coldest of the trip, including the first day out of Canberra.
Admittedly I had two layers fewer today. The sun shone but the air and slight
breeze were chilling. Most of the road was the narrow single vehicle strip of
bitumen with a few wider stretches interspersed. I had three road trains to
contend with, meaning that I had to ride (slowly) onto and stop on the loose
stones that mostly formed the shoulder. The etiquette is that any vehicle,
including 4x4s towing large caravans, moves completely off the bitumen strip
and stops to let oncoming road trains, which might be four trailers long, go
past on the bitumen
Wildlife and “feralife” were
plentiful across the wide open plains and in the scrubby country all the way to
Cunnamulla, which I was to opt for. Emus, which have a tendency to dart across
the road somewhat irrationally, stayed on their side of their side of the road
but still raised concern as they raced along with me at times. A few ‘roos
lumbered across in front of me but with lots of safe distance from the bike. A
small feral pig was startled by my passing close to his feeding on road kill. A
large herd (or mob or flock?) of feral goats scattered as the bike passed by.
And, well not in the same category, a camel ambled along the side of the road;
but laden and being led by an ambulating handler. Don’t ask me!
I’d have to say that Quilpie, small
as it is, was a very welcome sight. I was chilled to the bone with frozen
fingers, having foolishly pushed on when common sense told me to stop and add a
layer. As it was, I had winter gloves for the only time since the first two
days out of Canberra and the heated grips turned up high! It was a two and a
half hour ride so the 10:30am breakfast in Quilpie was heavenly, even though
the best I could do was a toasted sandwich and a cup of local coffee.
The local gen in Quilpie was that the
linked roads to Cunnamulla were all sealed despite the map saying otherwise.
Going that way would add an extra 100km to the day’s ride but would cut 100km
off the distance between Quilpie and Cunnamulla. The net effect would be to get
me 200km credit for the following day’s ride. (Grab a pencil, take it slowly
and you’ll work it out!) This would be a big plus by ultimately getting me to
Wagga Wagga earlier in two days’ time. I later became aware that a heavy rain
band is about to engulf me, so the reduction of kms might end up being a significant
bonus in that regard.
The ride along the back roads to
Cunnamulla was possibly the most pleasant of the Outback roads. It was almost
totally mine alone. Lots of wildlife as noted above. I think one of the road
trains I met was on this stretch. I’d put my rain jacket on in Quilpie, so
stayed warm (not anticipating an early arrival of the rain band; simply for
warmth). The scenery alternated between plains uninterrupted, scruffy scrub,
red rocks and earth, and occasional mini-ranges that peeped over the plains.
The small hamlet of Eulo was another
welcome break – for a 3:00pm “lunch” of local coffee and a donut. I shared the
general store “café” with a couple of women who were transporting two pigs to a
new home. The younger woman, who was sent back to the trailer to “talk” to the
pigs to avert any attempt by them to jump the sides of the trailer, told me
they were given to her dad as a present when they were tiny, but now they ruled
the roost. They were on their way to a new home for breeding.
From Eulo to Cunnamulla, it was
basically more of the same as regards road conditions and scenery. Across the
vey muddy Warrego River brought me to downtown Cunnamulla.
The centrepiece of the town is a
large sculpture of the “Cunnamulla Fella” made famous by a song written by Stan
Coster and first sung by Slim Dusty and later by Lee Kernaghan. It’s a tribute
to the stockman DNA of the countryside.
Alpha to Windorah:
This would be a full day ride into
some new territory for me. As fate would have it, fortunately this time, I got
an early start. I had ridden the 140km to Barcaldine for breakfast by
9.00am. The café I had warmed to a week
or so earlier on my way to Afton Downs was closed despite a 9.00am opening sign
and the time being 9.05am! I found possibly an even better café in the Ridgee
Didge Café a block away. Its owner, Em, is an Iningai woman. The Iningai (pron in-in-gi
– rhymes with dinghy) are the local ‘mob’, as Indigenous people like to
refer to their clan. Em spent twenty years as a teacher in Brisbane before
deciding to return home with the ambition of providing high class coffee to
Barcaldine. I spent an hour and forty minutes over a pleasant breakfast and
good coffee catching up on Internet stuff with the café’s free and fast wifi.
Aided by my early start, the 1:40
breakfast still left me arriving at Windorah – according to my Zumo – with an
hour to spare before my consistently aimed-for arrival time of 4.00pm,
coinciding with the start of wildlife happy Hour – at least for those who can
tell the time (there’s always those who want to start early!).
It was then a 100km run to Longreach;
and with time to spare, it was an indulgent morning tea stop, with a little too
much time spent at the fabulous Outback Station shop, which did well from me on
my 2009 visit. With some difficulty, I resisted the temptation to buy anything.
The 320km from Longreach to Windorah was along the Thomson Development Road.
Queensland has lots of these “development roads.” Essentially they are roads
under construction or, more accurately, development. Some are gravel both good
and bad; some are double lane bitumen but without marked lines; and some are single
lane bitumen. This one was largely single lane but with short stretches of
wider road every 30-40km with indications of “overtaking opportunity” ahead.
The first half was flatter and more
barren than even the Winton to Hughenden road – and I had thought that was a
flat as I has seen on the trip. It was obviously cattle country, but they were
few and far between. The second half was much harsher country: stony, grassless,
low scrub, with no stock in view.
This area is called “channel country”
seemingly because scarce water, when available, is distributed via “channels”
which seemed little more than natural creeks – dry for now.
Finally Windorah came up with three litres
left in my tank.
Mackay to Alpha:
Three days out from Mackay the
weather forecast for 11 august was “morning showers”. However, Monday 11 August dawned with an
absolutely clear blue sky with an almost miraculous disappearance of the gusty
sou’easter that had unrelentingly kept us company all Sunday.
It was tempting to stay on for
another day, but I had planned a roundabout itinerary back into the Outback to
compensate for the sudden change of plans I had to make to head for Brisbane at
the outset of the trip instead of taking my planned inland route. To stick to
that, spend time in Wagga Wagga with family, and arrive back home as scheduled,
I needed to keep going.
Today’s ride from Mackay to Alpha
started with sights and smells of sugar cane mills – already experienced on the
way into Mackay. Once back onto the Outback plains, I had planned to take some
back roads – those “less well travelled”. These took me through significant
coal mining areas and through the middle of gem stone mining areas with lots of
small settlements selling local and imported gem stones and jewellery.
Once reaching the Capricorn Highway
taking me to Alpha, there was a pleasant relief from the flat open plains by
crossing a range that rose a few hundred metres via an unexpectedly twisting
road that provided a brief chance to warm the sides of the tyres.
Alpha is not a big town. In fact,
it’s a very small, somewhat unimpressive town. The Alpha Hotel Motel, the only
accommodation in town apart from the caravan park, made me hesitant that I was
in the right place. There was a very elderly greyed gentleman sitting out
front, reminding me of an ancient retainer from Russian literature belonging to
a pre-revolutionary country dacha, whom I assumed was a patron. He was the only
person in sight and surprised me when he followed me into the bar. He was
barman, motel manager, dinner order taker and anything and everything else.
The chef, whom I met delivering my
dinner to the table, was a distinguished looking gentleman of obvious Indian
origin. Turns out he was from South Africa (Durban) who migrated to Australia
some 40 years ago. I learned he is 67.
Afton Downs to
Mackay: 8-10 August
Friday 8 August was D for Departure
Day for us all. It was Kay’s last day at Afton Downs and, of course, our day to
move on. The early morning was a bit frantic. Graeme and I decided that we
would leave when we ceased to be useful and started to be a nuisance. That
happened in our assessment about 10.30am.
Graeme and I rode out together as far
as the front gate (7km); then as he headed south with a brisk tail wind, I rode
north with an equally brisk head wind. After a refuel stop in Hughenden, it was
half head and half cross wind east to Charters Towers.
This was my second stay at the Royal
Hotel in Charters Towers. It was obviously a grand old hotel in its day, with
an expansive wrought ironed veranda along two sides. Today it’s a beautifully
restored “private hotel”. That used to be a common expression but you don’t
hear it much today. Essentially it’s an accommodation establishment without
alcohol or meals provided.
Getting out of Charters Towers was a
challenge because of a large cycling criterium event on a circuit through the
main streets of the town. I got an early start so had time for a couple of
leisurely stops on the way. This second day segmenrt took me from the flat dry
plains to the coastal ranges and the green lushness of the coastal strip as I
headed south to mackay with a wind that had now changed from a nor’easter to an
even stronger sou’easter.
A short diversion from the highway to
Bowen for lunch provided an opportunity to reminisce about the Baz Luhmann
movie Australia. You might recall the
pub scene in Darwin containing the quintessential pub fight. That was all
filmed in Bowen at a small hotel on a corner in the main street.
Then it was onto Mackay for two
nights with special friend Ros (aka Roz). Her house is set on a promontory
overlooking with unhindered views of the ocean and coast line, with the distant
silhouettes of coal ships waiting to be loaded at nearby Hay Point. (Inland
from Mackay are several massive open cut coal mines as well as several
It was nice to spend a quiet catch-up
day with Ros on Sunday 10 August and enjoy dinner with a few of her friends
with whom I have become well acquainted from previous visits.
Afton Downs: 5-8 August
I visited Afton Downs last year and
took lots of photos but didn’t ever get round to writing about my trip or stay
there. Most noticeable this time were the drier countryside and, as I have mentioned
already, less numerous wildlife. Gruffers and Purdie were there last year and
still demanded the same inordinate amount of human attention as they did last
year. The cattle, of course, were there with the need for Kay to check the
troughs across the very expansive property every two or so days; and supplement
their diets with specially designed nourishment. And the rounds of the paddocks
and border fence to do running repairs. (I had got co-opted into some of those
activities last year.) Sadly the two dogs that had been with Kay on a previous property
had succumbed to some form of grief, possibly Dingo bait.
Our visit had not been planned to coincide
with Kay’s departure after her two year sojourn there. But it did. Our presence
was therefore a mixed blessing. An unwelcome distraction, I suspect, at one
level; but we were put to work for a day mowing, transporting furniture into
town, burning rubbish and generally trying to be useful.
On another day, we were dispatched to
do some local sightseeing so Kay had some organising time to herself.
The main attraction was Porcupine
Gorge. It was some 70km on the other side (north) of Hughenden. According to
the information sign, it was formed some 2 million years ago and at the viewing
spot is some 120m deep (see picture).
You can access the gorge via a steep
walking track about 10km further along past the viewing spot. It’s quite a walk
down and a slow exhausting climb back out. That’s now twice I’ve done it! It
was certainly well worth the effort (otherwise I would not have done it a
About 13km south of Hughenden is a
long ridge that comes out of the plains like the monolith in the movie 2001… At its top are several lookouts
facing in all four compass point directions, although the view is very similar
in all directions: a flat, mostly treeless “wide brown land” with the town of
Hughenden vaguely distinguishable to the north.
Back to Afton Downs, the old shearing
shed is a treat. Built in the late 1800s, it is now a tumbling down reflection
only of its glory days. Afton Downs ceased being a sheep station about 25 years
ago. There’s a photo from last year at the bottom of this page.
The final task was to get Kay’s bike
loaded onto Gerard’s trailer together with all her moveable goods and chattels.
Kay and Gerard plan to ride to “The Tip” (Cape York) before going south with
the 4x4 and trailer to Kay’s real home in Toowoomba.
On Friday (8 Aug) we all departed, as
we came, in different directions. Except that we all swapped directions. I
headed to Hughenden and onto Charters Towers for the night en route to Mackay.
Graeme headed south to Winton and onto wherever. Kay and Gerard went to Cairns
to prepare for their Cape trip.
Afton Downs: 5 August
This was the last leg to my
destination of the Outback cattle station of Afton Downs. At only 387km it
would be a relatively short ride. And I had company for this last leg. Gerard, friend from a few overseas tours – as are all
of us gathering at Afton Downs – had arrived in Longreach at much the same time
as I did, having travelled from South Australia by 4x4 with his DR650 on a
trailer (Kay and Gerard are riding to the Cape after our sojourn at Afton
As we headed further west the
countryside kept getting flatter. The stretch of road from Longreach to Winton
had another characteristic, namely a high proportion of road kill. Somewhat
anomalously the only live wildlife I saw all the way were two emus, a small
kangaroo and a few brolgas. This was in stark contrast to last year in the same
place at much the same time when ‘roos and emus abounded. Perhaps the prolonged
drought has taken its toll on wildlife as well as stock and stations.
Both Longreach and Winton have a lot
of tourist attraction. As mentioned in the earlier section Longreach has the
Qantas Museum and the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. I spent a day at each during my 2009
tour. Winton has the Waltzing Matilda Museum and a couple of places
specialising in Dinosaur fossils. Winton, Hughenden and Richmond make up a
Dinosaur triangle, marking an area that has been rich in Dinosaur fossils. On
this trip, however, there wasn’t time for tourist stops.
From Winton, we turned north onto the
Hughenden Road. The 185km (just 26km short of Hughenden) was boringly straight
but provided amazing vistas of a countryside dry and dead flat to the far
horizons. A long-ago railway line embankment follows the road with only the
pylons left of the bridges over the numerous creeks and floodways. The tiny
hamlet of Stamford – only a road house there today – has the remnants of a
couple of sidings, a station and water tank. Obviously quite a key railway
centre in its day even though it’s only about 60km from Hughenden.
Then the entrance to Afton Downs:
just a cattle grid and gate followed by a 7km track to the homestead. The front
paddock is sprinkled with the remains of a Second World War hospital. The track
into the homestead has one dry creek crossing before reaching the expanse of
holding yards and loading docks for the coming and going of cattle. There’s
also a full-sized “camp draft” laid, I was told, with $10,000 worth of sand.
The camp draft could pass for a Saville bull ring. There was a time when it was
used as a forum for stockmen, jackaroos and jillaroos to practise, display and
challenge their cattle control skills. Sadly, Afton Downs has passed its glory
days; and the camp draft is mainly used as a holding yard.
The last few hundred metres to the
homestead cross another grid and bring you into the home paddock. The last few
dozen metres must have had the only bit of water seen along the way (thanks to
Kay’s zealous lawn watering), which provided a mud trap for the unwary! I could
easily have gone round it. I soon wished I had done so. Not that Kay or Graeme,
who had arrived about an hour earlier from the opposite direction to us, were
concerned or even aware of my unorthodox arrival, since they were already enjoying,
so they were to attest, coffee….but ‘with a twist’ (or two or three)! (Kay was
renown on our Himalaya Tour for adding a ‘twist’ of Kahlua each morning to our
In the absence of Kay and Graeme, we
were greeted warmly and appreciatively by Gruffers the goat and Purdie the
Longreach: 4 August
Fortunately there was one café open
in Mitchell early in the morning. Actually, I think there was only one café in
town. Mitchell is not very big.
It was surprisingly mild to head out
at 7.50am after a quick breakfast at the café. The GPS for reasons known only
to itself tried to take me onto non-existent roads as I headed out of town.
Once it realised I was ignoring it, it seemed to settle and told me I should
turn in 505km. That was obviously going to be a long run before the next
Mild soon turned to cold; and another
layer was required. The short cut was simply to put a jumper over my lazily
(unattached to jacket) worn inner lining. That was a worry later when it
started to rain!
As the kms ticked by, dark clouds
heralded rain to the North and East (I was travelling north at this stage); but
that didn’t worry me as I was at some stage, hopefully before the rain, to turn
West. I must have caught a trailing edge of the rain band, as it came across
with accompanying darkness and provided blinding passage overtaking road trains
with their three trailers.
By Barcaldine (the turning point), it
was sunny and hot; and a long lunch stop took precedence over any rush to get
The last leg West to Longreach was
uneventful despite the increased spread of road kill along the highway. The
Qantas Boeing 747 was clearly obvious from the far approaches to Longreach.
Longreach, of course, was where the fledging airline called “Queensland and
Northern Territory Air Services” started and soon took on the acronym of
QANTAS. The story of the arrival of its B747 is epic in itself.
You can whet your appetite on this
story with my You Tube video: http://youtu.be/tDJOtwGUAcI
This stop would take me to the
Gateway to the Outback, even though places along the way claim Outback status.
Doing so is obviously a tourist enticement. I thought I had read a sign saying
Roma was the Gateway; but later realised that the sign was referring to the
Warrego Hwy running through all the Outback towns.
Unfortunately I missed the billboard
coming into Mitchell announcing the ‘Great Artesian Spa”. I discovered it on a
post-shower walk, by which time it was too late to indulge. It would have been
a welcome end to a 586km ride.
The day’s ride from Brisbane was
quite cold until after a second breakfast stop at Toowoomba – about three hours
into the ride. Even so, it wasn’t until lunch at Miles that I peeled off a
couple of layers.
The first variation to the flat
country stretching inland from Brisbane was the Great Dividing Range, as was
the case coming in across Cunningham’s Gap. This time it was a climb up the escarpment
to Toowoomba via a “pass” but I didn’t notice if it has a name. Toowoomba sits
at the top of the pass seemingly right on the highest parts of the Divide. With
a 60kph speed limit all the way up, it wasn’t exactly an exciting venture.
There was an indiscernible drop on
the other side as the road headed west onto the Darling Downs – the beginning
of the wide tablelands into and across the Outback. I noticed on the GPS that
the elevation west of the escarpment was over 400m but I forgot to check the plains
west of Brisbane. I suspect there was very little elevation before the climb
Onto the Darling Downs brought some
cold windy conditions, but the obviously rich farming and grazing country
clearly revealed why the Darling Downs has a reputation for its productivity.
The farming (lots of wheat) )and grazing (both sheep and cattle) are shared by
coal mining. Wheat silos rise along the railway line in several places; and in
between some of them are coal piles and loaders. Hopefully a continuing
At times the vast expanse of the
plains was blocked by fairly dense wooded stretches but they seemed to be
mostly along the road as breaks in the bush revealed open country behind the
By my lunch stop at Miles, I was well
placed to reach beyond Mitchell; and thought I might. Some locals queried my
GoPro on the helmet, asking was it to determine which ‘roo Hit me or I hit. I
was admonished not to be on the road after 4.00pm. When closer to Mitchell, the
sight of a couple of emus close to the road and a ‘roo grazing on the edge,
albeit unperturbed by my passing, convinced me that Mitchell was the best
Going through Roma was a stark
reminder that the land was morphing into cattle country big time. The roadside
cattle yards of Roma were teeming with guests waiting for the sellers and
buyers to decide their fate.
By the time I reached Mitchell it was
3:40 and the day was taking its toll.
From Home to
Brisbane: 30 Sept-1 Aug
Day One was a relatively short 400km,
so didn’t feel compelled to an early start. It was a multi-layered ride with a morning
temperature of about 9°C. The roundabout way through Bungedore and Tarago always
beats the Federal Highway, but the strong cold cross wind did make for a
warm-up coffee stop in Goulburn.
The hour and forty minute constant
cornering up the Oberon Road didn’t disappoint; but it never does! It was
pleasantly sunny and protected through Tarana and onto the old cement towns of
Portland, Charbon and Kandos. Portland even gave its name to a commonly used
grade of cement, but the old mill and kilns have been idle for years. The same
applies to Kandos, where I stayed the night, but nearby Charbon has had its
kilns converted into lime-making.
Day Two had a magic start. The first
part of the day was through the Bylong Valley: a twisting road down into the expansive
farm-land and coal-mining (underground) valley, several up-and-over spurs of
tightly curved roads in wooded areas all interspersed with open plains to the far
ridges of the valley walls, and finally the climb onto the exiting flat
However, once onto the New England
Highway at Muswellbrook and into open country, the wind was a constant
companion all the way up the highway. As the road proceeds through the New
England region, it rises to over 1400m explaining why it gets so cold. I had
Tenterfield as my destination, but called it quits at Glen Innes. I had spent a
lot of time in the Bylong Valley stopping for photos.
The third day leg was another
shortish one with the attraction of crossing Cunningham’s Gap through the ‘Main
Range’ leading from the western highlands down onto the plains that bring you
into Brisbane. It’s a very short ride up from the western side but a longer
ride down the eastern side. I’m not sure what defines a ‘gap’ as opposed to a ‘pass’
or the several other words used for much the same geographic formation. To me
it was less of a ‘gap’ and more of a ‘pass’ (i.e. a way of crossing the range).
What a great experience to meet my
latest newest grandson. Kai is the three month old son of Natalie, one of my
two beautiful stepdaughters. Natalie lived with me for a couple of years over
ages of 18-20 or thereabouts. We shared some interesting and special
This will be a meeting-up of four of
us (perhaps five if we find Disappeared Dave) who have travelled together on
motorcycle tours in Nepal and Bhutan, across the Himalayas, and across the
Our destination, at which we’ll all
arrive separately, is the Outback Queensland cattle station of Afton Downs:
that’s because the manager is one of our number.
Map of the Trip
This has been a moveable feast. But
the route on the map below is firming!
The blue marker sits on my house
roof. The blue line is my planned route to Afton Downs. The diversion to
Brisbane is to visit my recently born first step grandson. The red marker is
the destination- the entrance to Afton Downs. The yellow house is the actual homestead.
You can zoom right in and separate the markers to see what the countryside is
like. The red line is my intended route home.
Trip Starts 30
I’ll take three days to get to
Brisbane for a two-night stopover; another three to get to Afton Downs for a
three-night stopover; two to get from there to Mackay for another couple of
nights; and a further five to get to Wagga Wagga to stay with kids and
grandkids. From there it’s a short ride home.
I’ll start by getting off the
highways from the outset and ride via Bungendore and up the Goulburn-Oberon
road. The first night’s stop will be Kandos. Then through the Bylong Valley and
up the New England Highway to Tenterfield. From there it will be a relatively
short run into Brisbane.
After a couple of nights in Brisbane,
I’ll head due West for a couple of days stopping over at Mitchell and Longreach
before arriving at Afton Downs on the third day.
Then head East to the coast and down
to Mackay. From there five straight days exploring a few new roads and country
towns first heading West before dropping South.
I’ll be trying to write something as
I go along. I intended to do that last year but didn’t!