April 14th – 15th the train home
Ruth and I jump aboard the Starlight express for the 24 hour journey home. the train is comfortable and we lots of room. No security hassles and you can take whatever luggage you want with you. Once we land at the King St. station we walk across the street to the light rail for the ride to pick up the car for the final ride home. A quick stop for Arashi Ramen on the way home. I would surly recommend this place for a bowl.
April 14th Party in San Jose
My brother Don and sister-in-law Cindy throw me a nice welcome home. Almost the whole family and about 20 additional friends show up say hello and ask questions about the journey. After the party we drop off the car and jump on the train for the ride home.
April 13th San Francisco to San Jose
I meet Ruth a SFO we pick up a car and head to San Jose. We get there for lunch and have a decent Mexican food meal. The place is not as authentic as we wanted but we were set back a bit getting out of the airport. The car I rented was not available to US me. I rented it while in New Zealand and when I pulled out my Washington license they would not give me the car. San Fran and San Jose must be about the most expensive places to rent a car. Usually I can find one for $25.00 a day anywhere else. They charge us over $125.00 for barely over 24 hours dropping off the car in SJ. Seven days in New Zealand picking up the car in Auckland and leaving it in Greymouth was hardly $350.00. We meet George and Sara for Dinner in Morgan Hill. George orders the Big Ass Rib Eye, looks and tastes great. I get some pasta that is done very nice.
April 12th San Francisco
After a a couple hour delay in Fiji for a total of about 25 hours of travel I land in San Francisco about the time I left Christchurch. Just before landing I get a chance to setup dinner with Dan and Adam. We meet in the Mission just about 10 blocks north of Lysondra’s place. There is an entire block of great looking Mexican restaurants. Our first choice is too crowded and we walk a few meters down the road and find a place also crowded but able to get the last available table. They make a great chili Relleno and I add a Papusa. Three months without Mexican food pretty tough on a California born boy. I did try a burrito once in Wollongon as the selection of salsa’s looked good and there is nearly a couple hundred thousand people here. Huge failure so after a few bites I go get a pizza and give up the thought until I get home.
April 12 Heading home
Flying out of Christchurch early afternoon today as the adventure comes to an end. I think I can live in New Zealand for a couple years. 18 months in Christchurch to discover the entire south island then 6 months in Wellington to cover the north island.
April 11th Christchurch
A visit to the Antarctic center today. Road in a cool Hagglund around the facility. This is one of the units that operate in the Antarctic. They do last a long time but need a lot of maintenance due to this place being the coldest place on earth. Surprised me that it is one of the driest also with only 5 inches of snow a year. Being “The Coldest” not a lot of the snow ever melts. They also say it is the windiest also with winds up to 200 Mph. In the center we covered up and went into a storm for about 5 minutes. I am sure this simulation although really freakin cold was nothing compared to 2 minutes on the continent. Good information on the early explorers and the current scientific expeditions going on. There is on average a flight every three days that leaves Christchurch and heads to the cold continent. Today we also did a little more visiting the CBD (Central Business District). More pictures of the earthquake damage and the street art. Christchurch is one of the top cities in the world for street art. Lot’s of pics of both coming soon. There are all these open grassy areas and gravel car parks in the CBD. This is due to the buildings that are no longer there and have not been replaced. There is a lot of new construction going on all over but life is clearly different for this city now. Many of the historical buildings sit there as they did shortly after the quake. These building have great significance to the city but the cost of repair is so high much has been put on hold for now.
April 10th Christchurch
On September 4th 2010 a 7.1 earthquake hit the Canterbury region of the south island of New Zealand. This is in the region of Christchurch. this quake was followed by another on February 11th 2011 just a few Kilometers from the downtown Christchurch. Although this was a bit smaller in magnitude at 6.2 due to this being on the surface much more damage was done and 185 people were killed. I met a your lady who was in high school at the time and due to the fact that it was a teacher in service day her and the rest of her schoolmates are still around. The school was totally destroyed. Almost every family in the city and beyond filed a claim due to damage their houses and or businesses received from the destruction.
April 9th Franz Joseph to Christchurch
Took a helicopter flight over the Glaciers and Mount Cook. Very scenic indeed, Fox and Franz Joseph. Kiwi’s pronounce the glaciers as Gla See ers. We dropped off the car in Greymouth and jumped the on the Tranz Alpine express over Arthur’s pass. This could have been one of the greater views in the country but we just took the helicopter flight and were to spoiled. Made it to our Eco-Villa in the heart of Christchurch. It feel a lot like Seattle as it is 42 degrees and mizzle here (Mizzle, heavier then mist, not yet drizzle). We are on the Pacific Ocean and we get Earthquakes.
April 8th Hokitika to Franz Joseph
Just a couple hours south of Hokitika are the glaciers Franz Joseph and Fox. A huge storm came by a few weeks back and put the road to Fox out of use. They opened the road but the trail up to the glacier stayed closed until today. The rain and low cloud cover stopped us from hitting the air today so we took to the trail. It was in pretty bad shape but open to a decent viewpoint. I felt pretty good yesterday after the canyoning I thought I would be about dead. That did not happen until today. I have pain in muscles I did not even know existed. After making it back from the hike and still unable to hit the skies I jumped into the spa here. We also took a tour of the Kiwi (the bird) sanctuary here in Franz Joseph. They harvest the eggs and raise the chicks until they can pretty much hold their own. There are a few critters that have been decimating them recently. The Stoats, dogs, cats and possums are among the top predators.
April 7th Montueka to Hokitika
We left about 8:30 this morning taking hwy 6 south and west to 65 south. From there hwy 7 to Greymouth for lunch. Then north to Punakaiki and the pancakes. After that we headed south again to the Hokitika gorge. Back to Hokitika and the local Indian restaurant. We finally made it to our new digs just before 8:00. Felt pretty good today but know yesterday’s adventure is settling into these bones and muscles. Thinking really going to be hurting tomorrow. If this perfect weather holds I will just have to hold on for the ride. Let the pilot do the work. We have a nice place setup for tomorrow already looking forward to the spa.
April 6th Montueka
Canyoning in Abel Tasman national park. Not sure you if know what this means, I really did not until the day was done. The day started off nice as we did not have to drive the guides for our day picked us up at our resort (the White Elephant). About 30 minutes later we were ate the starting point of our Canyoning trip. We leave Marahau in a water taxi heading to Anchorage Torrant bay. We get a short tour of the local islands where the local birds and seals hang out. The mothers has just recently had their pups as the summer season comes to a close. Nice seeing the 1 year old’s on their own as mom takes care of the newborn. We make Anchorage and don our wet suits thermal underwear and hardhats. Happily we just have to carry these things as we head to the top of the mountain. We leave everything behind except for swimsuits, our wet suit socks and our shoes. About an hour and a half of pretty much uphill walking we get a bit of a break. Then we go for another 30 mins or so to reach the top of the canyon. This is the little piece of earth between two very steep mountains. Also of course contains a rapidly flowing river full of huge rocks. BTW, the water is in the low 40’s, thus the wet suits and thermals. It is a beautiful day with full blue skies an about 70 degrees. Started with the Abseil. We connected ourselves to the rope and dropped several yards finishing up with a jumping backward release into a pool of that nice water mentioned earlier. You go down deep enough to come up with a nice brain freeze. We get a break as we walk, swim and slide down for a bit. Then we come across the practice jump. This is a little one fro, atop the rocks just to learn how to land for what is coming. Next is a zip line as we really can’t jump, climb or slide down this major drop. Lysondra and the other 4 do great then I take my turn. Since your all strapped in holding on just does not seem that much fun. Guide tells me just put your arms about halfway out you should be OK. So that is the plan jump off the rocks bend the arms with elbows out. Sounded good but in practice the arms stretch out as far as they can go then just a hair more. This lays me out flat and spins me backwards. Painfully fun and more water in the ear dancing around I needed. Next after a bit more swimming and climbing down the rocks we come to a big ass waterfall. They tie us up and we fly out over the falls to be pulled back and then all of the sudden you are behind the falls. Great little hiding space but not a thermal spring and others are following. We launch forward as hard as possible to break through the falls and get to the pool then scamper to the rocks asap. A little more dancing around the rocks and drops to get to the next big event. This is about a 20 foot jump off a huge slab a granite into a nice freezing pool of crystal blue water. So for the 6 of us have made the entire journey. 3 people, Sarah, Josh and her father have joined our group. Sarah had won the adventure on a radio station event. She brought her dad and Josh was there representing the station. Marly (best guess and the name of the girl from Holland. Then Myself and Lysondra. We then have to do another Abseiling down the side of a cliff and drop into a deep pool of water. A big slide follows as we lay on our backs following proper procedures we slide over the granite like you would do at the amusement parks water slide. The difference this is real and a good bit of the time someone does something wrong and needs to be taking out of the canyon. We have a great group and it is now into the fall and most tourist are gone so our group is half the size of the usual. We come to the “Big” jump. Just about 10 feet higher then the last. Sarah says I will climb down. Not really an option but she is able to cut the height in about half but the rest of us do the whole enchilada. Next challenge is the longest zip line. This one you leave the top and ride over the water to our guide Pete who attempts to drop you in the water before hitting the rocks at the end of the rope. Did someone way cannonball?
I will try to finish tomorrow as I can hardly stay awake at this time. I will say i held that line tight as possible and you would think I did not have any arms to stick out. Lesson learned on the prior run. See not that stupid. I will be hurting in the morning but tomorrow should be driving and walking.
April 5th Wellington to Motueka
Taking the ferry from North Island to the South Island of Aotearoa. They said the scenery would change and it did. So many cattle up north then the change to Sheep. Sheep, Sheep and Sheep everywhere. I will tell you as a 90% vegetarian that New Zealand Sheep taste pretty damn good. Back to the drive to Motueka. Everything is green here. The mountains are full of trees and green, green. What is most spectacular is how steep these mountains are. The bad thing is what Lysondra signed us up for tomorrow.
April 4th Rotorua to Wellington, the capital of Kiwiland
A bit of driving today but first a nice walk through the redwood forest. Yes we are in New Zealand not California. There are some pretty giant redwoods here. Alongside you may see a 30 foot fern. You don’t see that in California. We stopped to take a look at what is said “It is the most visited natural attraction in New Zealand!” This is Huka Falls near Taupo. “G” our guide through the Black waters of Waitomo said to visit Little Penang for dinner when your in Welly. Well we are here it had 4.8 stars so we took a walk to have dinner and they totally succeeded on a great dinner, thank you Gee!
April 3rd Cambridge to Rotorua
Hobbiton and a Maori evening of dinner, dancing and Geysers.
April 2nd Auckland to Cambridge
We Uber over to Apex car rental and pick up a nice Nissan Tilda. Head straight for Waitomo Caves. Time for Blackwater rafting tour. We show up and sign up for the 2:00 5 hour Black Abyss tour. Pretty amazing adventure with the best rated company doing tours in the caves. http://www.waitomo.com/black-water-rafting/Pages/default.aspxstarting We start off with a lesson in abseil. We might call it splunking. We drop down a hole in the Earth about 12 stories before reaching the floor of the cave. Each of the 8 of us go down one at a time. It was far enough to figure out how to drop smoothly and stop. Then I start thinking “holy crap” when am I going to reach the bottom. Just then I am there. I don’t feel I need anymore time in the harness.
April 1st Auckland and Whiheki Island
A nice lunch in Auckland the off to the island. Hoping that the food is better here then in Australia. So far too early to speak up. We take a ferry across the water to the island. Lysondra looks this place up and finds it is a major destination. We are just heading over for a hike. We head up the hill to the Ocean View Rd. End up hiking about 8 miles by the time we are done. Hopefully I will get a break tomorrow.
March 31st Cairns to Auckland New Zealand
Long day of traveling. At the airport in Cairns about 8:30 for breakfast and flight to Sydney. A couple hour layover in Sydney then off to Auckland. Uber to the Holiday Inn near the airport and bed. Lysondra shows up about 6:00 AM from San Francisco.
March 30 Cairns
March 29th Cairns Rain forest tour
They call it the oldest in the world. Over 1,500 different species per hectare. A different perspective from on top of the trees as riding in them. I have a shot of a tree that thought using the tree nearby will get me to the top faster. It now wraps around about 75% of the host. In about 50 years it will kill it and the space created by the decaying tree will become home to bats and other critters. In the 70’s a bunch of hippies started a community in the rain forest where they grew food and made hippy crap to sell and trade. The Skyrail takes you right into this community. I have one pic. of one of the markets. Today it still has that flair but much more a place to sell trinkets to tourists. The rain on the weekend through Monday and part of Tuesday flooded the region. Port Douglas was not accessible and even the road from Brisbane to Cairns was shut down for a while. I was content inside the cabin at the caravan park watching the water from above. Last night I stopped over to the trees that the flying foxes hang out in. Stayed around until they decided it was time for flight. It was pretty cool, these guys are good sized characters.
March 25-March 30th Cairns
Heading off to a rain-forest tour. Got to get on a bus with a bunch of tourist and head up a mountain in a gondola to a “cute” little town with lots of butterflies.
Well had some good riding around the neighborhood here in Cairns for a bit. Wednesday the 28th I sold off the bike and tossed the boots. Got a ride from the new owner to my new home in downtown. Just about a 5 minute walk to the Espalande (waterfront in Australia). Got a lat lunch at Ganbaranba noodle house. As recommended it was very good. When I walked by at dinner time crowds were gathered around outside. I finally had Aussie Kabobs, one of the staples here along with beets and meat pies. Pictures of walking back to my room after dinner last night.
The 27th was spent on the reef snorkeling with Tusa 6. Small catamaran with about 45 people on board for this journey. My timing has been very good as quiet right now as just past the big season but next week is vacation for Aussies and this place will be chockers. I have a lot of pics. from underwater on another camera. I will do what I can to post them. Sort of know your turning when you have have beets with your pizza.
March 24th Port Douglas to Cairns
Spent the day at Hartley’s crocodile farm. One of the shows was talking about the danger of the crocs. The mate running the show mentioned that about every other year someone gets eaten buy by croc. Almost always a local going in the water when they should know better. The last one was a fisherman on the Adelaide river at Darwin. He talked about every 100 yards there is another big guy staking out his ground. He also mentioned that all the locals know the name of almost everyone of these guys. One croc named Michael Jackson due to an unusually dark body with a light head. The last known incident was a fisherman who snagged his lure and decided to wade out and retrieve it. Michael Jackson got him. His wife heard almost nothing and he was gone. Crocs that kill people get a bullet. So I am watching a show on the big cruise ship Celebrity Solstice. They are taking a tour on this river. Two sisters feed the crocs for the tourist and talk about each one along the route. They name Michael Jackson and a few others in particular. Lets me know this show is a couple years old. I don’t believe in coincidences but I would call that one. Only hours after the trainer at Hartley’s talks about the indecent the same croc is on a show about a cruise ship I am watching.
March 23 Milla Milla to the Final Destination. Cape Tribulation was reached today the end of a long journey through Australia.
Leaving Milla Milla this morning expecting another day of serious rain. The last day of the ride could not be more beautiful. Overcast with a bit of moisture now and again but no rain. A bit of that Seattle mizzle, just not enough to get you wet. I came out of the Tablelands at Mount Molloy. Heading down the mountain the road heads North or Notheast. North is Weipa, on the bay of Capricorn. This is where the Cyclone is at now closing the roads. On the way from MM to Mossman and the bottom of the hill there are two nice lookouts. I stop at the first and have a few pics to show. The second overlook had a bit more east on it so more water less Daintree rainforest. AsI went to pull in a young lady was hiding behind a monument taking care of her business, I rode on missing a pic of that site. Coming into Mossman a street lined with trees I have never seen before.
March 22nd Cardwell to Milla Milla
Heading up through the wetlands to the tablelands. Atherton was the destination for the day but got the first rain that shortened the day. Only about 40 minutes from Atherton had to stop. Milla Milla was about as small as a town can be and still have a name to it. Population of less then 600 one mail street with a bar, hotel and restaurant in one. the grocery store had a short row and a half of items including vegetables that were all just a bit out of date. Not many choices but lots of verities of Tim Tams. I got eggs, potato’s and flake. Impressed to find flake, vacuum sealed frozen. One of the best fist in Australia. No internet service and phone barley worked. The fern trees were pretty amazing. Could not get a good pic as too much rain to pull my phone out of the boot.
March 21st Ingram to Cardwell
Today is the fall equinox in this part of the world. I took a ride to Wallaman Falls. The highest, permanent, single-drop waterfall in Australia, Wallaman Falls is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, home to some of the oldest rainforests on earth and many endangered plants and animals. Wet Tropics this is a very true statement. After the last 7 days or so of sun heat and high humidity I got some rain. The most rain I have seen in this country. Matter in fact in about an hour more rain dropped then Seattle gets in a month. The falls are about an hour from the coast deep into the Wet Tropics. Usually there are the falls. Today there are several additional falls as there is a lot of rain. The falls on the left side are the true year round highest single drop falls in Australia. Past cows, sugarcane fields, termite mounds and three Wallabies. After coming back down the mountain the rain was lighter and would come and go. I had a nice lunch of pepper squid in Lucinda. Lucinda the home of the longest jetty in this hemisphere. It goes almost 6 Km’s out to the Coral Sea. This allows this tiny town of about 450 people to be a major exporter of sugar. The sugar heads mostly to Canada eh, and Malaysia. So I have seen 4 Unisco World Heritage sites here in Australia. Did not even think about it until today. Now there may be a goal to look at that list and see where to next. Back to the road today. Mostly sugarcane and sugarcane. A bit of cattle ranching and of course the Falls and Tropics. As I returned to then main road north (Bruce Hwy) the weather cleared and made it to Lucinda. Then heading to Cardwell to call it a day the RAIN returned. By the time i found a home at the Kookaburra Holiday Park not a spot was dry. https://www.queensland.com/en-au/attraction/lucinda-jetty
Lots of pics but still can’t get them to load
March 20th Bowen to Ingram
Heading out of Bowen the Sugarcane is about all you see. There was a few fields of pineapple and of course cattle. Stopped at Reef HQ for the turtle hospital as Tracy from Bowen sends her rescues there for rehab. Had to buy an aquarium ticket to enter. Got to get a look at the inner and outer reef pools. Looking forward to a trip to the outer reef next week. Got to see the predator at the big pool. There were three rescue turtles on site. A rare Hawkbill and two Green sea turtles. After the tour back on the road north. I find what might have been my destination closed early. I am riding a bit late ion the season now so many of the tourist are gone. I continued up the road deciding it will be a motel night. Ingram is not too for up the road and I figure they can use the business as this was the place that was an isolated island on the mainland 10 days ago. One of the worse cyclones in years came by and left a ton of water blocking off every access to the town. I am wrong about needing some support though. The town is filled with government and insurance people. I stop at the first place I see and they are booked. The Mate behind the counter says it will be very difficult to find a room in town. In Aussie style he starts calling and calling and finds the last room at the Ingram motel for me. Aussie’s go out of their way to help. Earlier in the day I stopped by the Yamaha dealer in Ayr for a couple screws for the lock on a saddlebag. Yamaha does not even list them. But after about 30 minutes I am down the road with a map to a store in Townsville with what I need. Back to Ingram, the motel looks great but is about to be torn down like many other places in town. Water must have been about 12 feet from the road to enter the building. I have some pics. that show a waterline on a vase in the lobby. Also a shot from the road that shows how high above the building sits. In about 4-6 more weeks the tradies will come to town and start the tear down and rebuild of all the damaged property. Yes this was the storm that slowed my drive north keeping my eyes south if I needed to change plans.
March 19th Bowen
Hanging here for the day. Took a short walk to a lookout point this morning before it get’s too hot. Beautiful Bay that this little park sits on. Horseshoe Bay. Around the tip of the bay north is Queens Bay then to the south is Murray Bay. Bowen played a big part in WW2 battle of the Coral Sea. Here they had a radar lookout site and the home of the Royal Australian Air Force Flying Boats. I did not know how much involvement Australian had in the world wars, Viet Nam, The Boer war and many others. Pretty much anything the Brits or US are involved in so are they. North Australia at Darwin and Broom the Japanese bombed this region during WW2. There is one recorded landing of the Japanese on the mainland on the north west coast but nothing came of it. They also were able to sneak three midget subs into Sydney harbour and in an attempt to sink the USS Chicago. Two were engaged and stopped with the crew of two killing themselves. However the third was successful of getting but missing the USS Chicago but sinking the Australian HMAS Kuttabul. In 2006 an armature diver found this sub wrecked off the rocks at Sydney Harbor.
March 18th Calen to Bowen
A short ride today with a stop at Airlie Beach. Airlie is home to the most visited of all the Barrier Islands. The Whitsundays are a small group of islands on the inner reef just a short boat ride from the harbour. I have learned to remove the R in many names here in this unique land. As in Cairns, they pronounce it Cans. Airlie Beach is pronounced Ellie. Now I find out you need to add an E to the Whitsundays, White Sundays. Capt. James Cook discovered this group of islands on Whitsunday. The eight Sunday after Easter. I just took a look at all the tourist and high prices the tour guides were charging. The Aussie’s I have met said that this is the number one spot to take advantage of tourist. For me the island are very close to the mainland and most visited. These two reasons prove that the beauty of the reef I am looking for will not be there. Being so close extreme weather brings silt from the region into the sea and islands. The overwhelming number of visitors have also helped to damage the inner islands. I saw this with my visit to the Great Keppel Island. Thinking I was going to what I have seen in the brochures. The road was about the same as yesterday mostly sugarcane and a few cattle ranches. It was very hot and humid so I was looking for air conditioning as a priority. Found it it this little purple lilypilly cabin. They like their mangoes here and I have a visit to my tent this morning by a bush Turkey. Took a walk by the St Helen’s Creek before heading down the road. Getting pretty beat up from the road. Hit 11,000 Km’s today. Think I will travel less stay longer see if I can recover a bit.
Can’t get pics to load again. Will try in the morning
March 17th Yeppoon to Calen
Travel day today. Took care of housekeeping before leaving at almost noon. Thet coast road heads inland through rolling hills and open fields. Some places heavily treed but not lush. Hot and dry all day today. After heading back to the ocean at Clairview the road again goes inland. From Camila through to Calen so far the rolling hills of forest and farmland of cattle gave way to sugarcane fields.
March 16th Yeppoon
Took a ferry out to Great Keppler Island. This is part of the Great Barrier Reef. Very Southern part of the reef and the Kepplers are “Inside”. I was a bit disappointed in the color of the reef and most of the fish. The remnants of the storms are still showing. It could be another two weeks before it is back to full color. Also being an inside island and at the lower edge of the reef it is a bit lacking. Nice to be in the water snorkeling around the rocks. I met one of the tradies as soon as I got off the ferry. I was first to grab my equipment ready to hit the water. My tradie friend ran me about 3/4 miles down the beach in his Ute so had a great jump on the others. I spent about an hour in the water before anyone else showed up. Did see a lot of fish but not big Logger head turtle I was looking for.
March 15th 1770 to Yeppoon
I was the first to wish our daughter Lysondra a happy birthday today. I am 19 hours ahead of you west coasters. Since I brought this up I have to talk about Aussie time. The important thing for me was to be in Sydney on March first and the next to be on a plane out of Cairns at the end of the month, I think it is the 30th. WA Western Aus. is +8 as we move to the furthest town south east in WA (Eucla) stayed there. +8:45. SA (South Australia is +10:30. Victoria and NSW (New South Wales) is + 11. Even though I did not head east, only north to Queensland I am in a +10 zone. I am glad the phone knows what to do. I never did try to change the time on the bike figure I would still be trying to figure it out. I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn today and Yeppoon is on the Capricorn coast. I would like to post a picture of the sign but I don’t think there was one. Stopped by the information center for help with a place to stay. Found an ensuite cabin at a nice caravan park. Cabin checked out nice but when I asked about internet service they said they have none. There has been a lot of poor service but very few times no service. I checked into Yeppoon Beach backpackers. A small but great place to stay. Yes the lady running the place is from Fiji but word is she has not eating anyone lately. She went above and beyond for everyone. When I arrived she was making curry and roti. It was delicious. I stayed in the Pumpkin room. Loved her sign for visitors.
March 14th Tin Can Bay to 1770
Captain James Cook beat me to Australia. On his second journey to this land on May 24th 1770 he landed on this piece of land that they now call 1770 also called Seventeen Seventy.
March 13th Maleny to Tin Can Bay
March 12th Maleny Queensland
Visit to the Australia zoo and ride around the Glass Mountains. They call these mountains, maybe if your in Florida. The Glass Mountains are a group of thirteen hills that rise abruptly from the coastal plain on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. The highest hill is Mount Beerwah at 1824 feet above sea level, but the most identifiable of all the hills is Mount Tibrogargan which from some directions appears to be a face staring out to sea. Make sure you have what you need if 4:00 is coming and your in Melany. I had a patio to myself. Just me crackers, cheese, oysters and a glass of wine.
March 11th early morning
I have rode over 9,000 KM (5,600 miles). About a thousand miles left to go. I have now traveled in five of the seven territories on the country. Missed Tassie (Tasmania) and Northwest Territories. I also did not visit the nations capital of Canberra. The politics are similar to US. Barnaby Joyce recently resigned as deputy prime minister #2 spot here, in a sex. Those locals who care say that once elected they never do what has been promised and all parties are lying cheating crooks. Yea no reason to go out of they way to see how they live in the capital. I was close to going to Tasmania but talked out of it by a woman who was trying to convince me to go. Her main point was it it beautiful but once you go to New Zealand you would not see Tassie with awe that would have before. It would have been a four day trip minimum and NZ is following my departure from here. From here the plan is to continue north but there is some severe weather on the way. Currently a few cities are islands with all access completely cut off from the rest of the region. The 10 day forecast is looking good but may be a lot of rain following. If the forecasters here are anything like Seattle 14 days is like a crap shoot for what will actually happen.
March 10th Brisbane (Brizbin)
Funny thing how Aussie’s pronounce the names of things. They leave out R’s most of the time. Pronunciation is a class that does not exist. But they do pronounce Aluminium as written, something we don’t do back home. After a day at the Koala Sanctuary we took a ferry back down the Brisbane river. Not sure where all the money come from but there sure are very expensive homes along the river here and everywhere I have traveled. And it sure is not lack of coast/river/lake water front properties. Ruth was able to cuddle a cute little Koala. Had a very good meal at George’s Paragon Seafood Restaurant. http://www.georgesparagon.com/ Family owned place on the riverfront. Good food in the cities but not worth the hassle of all the people and traffic. I was a bit our of place with shots and a Pink Floyd tee on at the restaurant. Give me a surf town of about 15k population and I will be good. Mostly prices are way higher but once in a while you see great deals that you don’t see in the more rural areas.
March 9th Byron Bay to Brisbane
What fun driving into and around the big cities. Longer to get to the hotel then to reach the city. Crazy hotel has no parking or even a place to stop register and unload. Even after asking about the parking still get the wrong info and finally drive off to the Hilton.
March 8th Yamba to Byron Bay
The bike held up great for a few days of packing 35 kg on top of the luggage rack made to hold 12. Oh yea, the case itself was surly overweight also. Decided to see a cabinet maker, Peter and build a shelf to set the pack and trunk. Enjoyed a nice trip to the “Blue Pool”. Byron Bay has about 9,000 people living in it. Mostly hippy wannabe’s. Way too much money to be “real” hippies. Cool place with lot’s of ocean and restaurants. We found a place with 24 beers on tap that we thought would stop in for a beer then find food elsewhere. Got caught up in an Aussie football game and hung out for the evening.
March 7th Port Stephens to Yamba
Long day today, longest by for with Ruth and way to much stuff on the bike. Made a great brekky at the cabin. Potato’s Yea, they just don’t seem to do them here. Poached eggs are hard Ruthie made them perfect. If I was to say anyghing thus far about Assie food is that the squid and fish are what they seem to do best. I have see a lot of schnitzel here. We had a few breaks for water and road food before finally stopping about 3:00 in Coff Harbour. Not sure why it was on my list to stop but great lunch there. The town on the harbour just seemed a bit run down. A couple we met said stop for food and keep going. So it was a good move to head to Yamba. We will spend the morning here, see a few sites then head north again toward Brisbane (pronounced Brisbeen).
Long ride today made it into the Blue Dolphin at sunset. Crazy screaming birds as sun went down.
March 6th A full day at Port Stephens
Watching that tele box this morning as we are making brekky. Up a touch north they say they are looking for some rain but they are got it all last night. Gold coast got 4 inches (100 mm) overnight over 60 downed trees, and of course counceling services available. Gold Coast is just south of Brisbane and about 750 Km from where we are today. We are planning a bit if sightseeing today. A local lighthouse, view over the whole Port Stephens region and Gan Gan lookout. Well made it back to the cabin after a day out. took a big hike up Tamoree Mountain. Just over a mile but pretty much straight up with some stairs at about a 60 degree angle. View of much of Stephans harbour, out to the Tasman Sea, South Pacific Ocean and the Pacific. We also made it to the light house and the Stockton Beach sand dunes. We missed the Gan Gan lookout but it was raining and low visability. Checked on the people overseeing the harbour and ocean for aprox. 60 miles from this location. Also got a spot of tea and a scone.
March 5th Dora Creek to One Mile (Port Stephens, Nelson Bay) Hit the 8,000 Km mark today.
On the bike heading north just before noon. The cottage at Dora Creek was very nice. the big sliding glass door looked out to the creek. Not sure why it is called a creek, bigger then most rivers in the US. The river wonders a bit then doumps into Lake Macquarie. Packed up heading somewhere north. The pack is much better with a lot less sway, still an uncomfortable ride for me. We did use two straps to tie the luggage platform to the bike. It it definatly not designed for what we are putting it through. We stopped at the Bunnings in Boolaroo and bought two ratchet straps. We run the straps to the bike and the packs and rachet it down. Perfect now it feels like it is not there and very nice riding from here on out. Beautiful little communities all along the coast and bays as we head north. You can buy a little cottage on or near the water for a million or two. Yea I am suprised at how expensive almost everyting is here. One saving grace is that when you get a price that is it. No addons like tax or tip plus we get a 20% discount. Still I was not going to buy the $7.00 Avacodo.
March 4th Sydney to Dora Creek
How to pack the bike? Only option I figure is tie the packs together and pile them on top the top luggage rack. Made it happen three seperate ties make sure I backed up the backup. Straps, cords and rope. Riding down the road really could feel the packs swaying back and forth especially over any bump in the road. Tomorrow make sure all weight is in the side bags and keep as little as possible in the packs. Rode through Manly where there was a big Australia open surf comptition. Manly is just outside the Sydney Harbour, perfect for surfing. http://www.hellomanly.com.au/events/event/1011-australian-open-of-surfing Along the short route north we decided to take a bit of a ride out to the Palm Beach. About 90 minutes out of the way but a beautiful peninsula with several very nice communities along the way to the fabulaus Palm Beach. Had a reservation so we did not stay there. No more of the those reservations as each time I don’t have to be somewhere I come wonderful places and can stop when and where I feel. Leaving Syudney and our little cabin in Dora Creek.
March 1st – March 4th Sydney
Great pic of the ………. Got to see a show at the Opera House. Not an opera but a cabaret burlesque show. The opera house can have up to 8 different events going on at the same time. they have 6 full theaters. Our hotel is at “The Rocks” on the west edge of the circle quay. Great area, they had a nice market we went through picked up a couple things and ate a bit. Ruthie found me a Dark Side of the Moon. painting dine with spray paint.
February 28th March 1st Wollongong
Spent the day in Wollongong. A bit of a sleep in then a little ride around the local beach communities looking for breakfast. They say that brekky is important to Aussie’s but as I had discovered food in most of the country lacks what I am used too. I have had a couple of decent meals but I do miss home. Brekky potato’s are about about as easy to find as a Woolly Mammoth. I visit the largest Buddhist Temple in the southern hemisphere then off to a great lookout above the city, Mount Keira Lookout.
February 27th Batesman Bay to Wollongong
Woke up through the night with heavy rain off and on. So happy to be indoors. In the morning more light rain and then a nice clearing. Thinking I have an easy spare day maybe I should hang around this little cabin for a bit. Alas the lights come on and forecast looks like it should be a great ride north. I pack up and head to get some petrol. in 5 minutes my socks, underwear and bones are soaked. My tank is full and the rain has passed. Hoping for a few hours of clear skies so I can dry out. Ends up to be pretty nice day just a little drizzle on and off. I land in Wollongong at the local YHA backpackers hostel. Not a nice as a place as most of the other YHA’s but an indoor bed in questionable weather. Wollongong is a city, first one in a while. over 300,000 people but still a pretty decent place with the center of town and the beach just a couple block walk from the hostel.
February 26th Eden to Batemans Bay
Almost stayed at the Lilypilly cabin as woke up to more rain. Forecast showed some pretty good clearing so decided to make a run for it. All clear about ten to ten heading for petrol. As soon as I pulled out of the Garden the skies burst open and a deluge poured down. Hiding under the cover of the the petrol station and topping off the rain subsided enough to go for it. Showers and grey skies covered the day. The temperature was fine staying around 21/22 degrees. Just when I thought I would dry out “here comes the rain again falling on my head like a memory.” Arriving dry at Batemans bay just around 4:00 PM. Thinking a nice run to the local jetty would be good then to the Woolworths to pick up some food and make dinner. I hit the road after the last drenching of the day.
February 25th Lakes Entrance to Eden (The Garden Of)
Waking up to almost sunshine I was thinking the rain was about over. Not so soon though. Off and on throughout the day. I arrived in Eden to a nice little caravan park called the Garden of Eden. I found a little cabin they called the Lillypilly. A little kitchen and bed with a set of bunkbeds as you entered. No bathroom though so Shared with the campers and tenters. Sure glad I was not tenting it tonight. The rain came down hard overnight and first thing in the morning as preparing for the road again. Ended the day with 7,000 Km on the ride.
February 24th Morwell to Lakes Entrance
Left Morwell after a good nights sleep in a real motel. Very nice host’s at the Coal Valley Motor Inn. The woman there was a hell of a traveler in her days. She pointed me into a few different directions then my original plans had designed. That is ok it;’s the locals that know more then the books or tourist guides. This region is the the Gippsland. It covers a vast part of the south east state of Victoria. Mining and energy is big here. In Morwell there is a huge coal plant that has just shut down. it will be a boom for the economy as the put it out of service. As I traveled East it continued to get warmer and warmer. For a bit there I thought I was back in Kalgoorlie. Reaching Bairsdale it mush have been exceeding 37 degrees. That’s over 100 for yous people. stopped for water and aire conditioning at the local information center. Then gas and on to Lakes Entrance. No more then a minute out of town the rain started. in 5 minutes i was as wet as can be. Stayed that way all the way to the little cabin in the Big 4 Whiters Caravan Park and the little cabin with a roof. Rain continued on and off throughout the night.
February 23rd Geelong to Morwell
Left the Bellerine peninsula on a ferry across the mouth of the Port Phillip Bay. This brought me into the town of Sorrento. Had a Lunch with some new friends then a tour of Portsea and the London bridge lookout. The peninsula on the east side out the bay is the Mornington. This region is another big grape growing region. There sure is a lot more grapes and wine then I expected in the country. The Barossoa Valley the one we Americans are the most familiar with just north east of Adelaide. Crossed Mornington and made it into the Gippsland region. This area north of the coast was a bit warm and looked a lot like the eastern foothills of the central valley. Settled in the middle of it for the night.
February 22nd Torquay to Geelong “G-Long” and Melbourne
Took a short ride today heading north. Wanting to go into Melbourne but not wanting to ride in this big city figured out a way to get there. Rode straight to the information center in the heart of Geelong. Nice little city with beautiful waterfront. I think I have said that a time or two recently. Setup camp at the Barwon River Tourist Park. Great host at this park. Handed me a Melbourne region travel card, loaded a few dollars on it and took the train into the city.
February 21st Torquay
Hung around this old surf town for the day. Took a ride out to a few small towns on Philip Bay.
February 20th Apollo Bay to Torquay
Went to bed at the Apollo Bay backpackers hostel with wild winds. The morning the winds were still extremely strong. Weather report is warnings for extreme wind, fun stuff to ride in. A short but long ride today. Backtracked a bit to Cape Otway and the lighthouse at the point. Koala’s hanging out in the trees on the way.
February 19th Port Fairy to Apollo Bay
What a quaint little town that Port Fairy. A whaling station in the early 1800’s. now settled by about 3,400 people. Mostly tourist and fishing now. Voted one of the worlds most livable cities with population under 20k. The Ride was through the Great Ocean rode today. The Twelve Apostle’s, the most famous and crowded among the sites on the road.
February 18th Port Fairy, Victoria
Nice ride again today. Got stopped by the Beachport Coppers as I was taking a view of the rugged coast. They were not sure about the helmet. I guess they do not have any half helmets here. Once they saw the construction they were all good and wished safe travels. Saw a very blue “Blue Lake” and sunken garden in Mt Gambier. Had a bit of rough hwy as we entered the state of Victoria. One of the paneers came off and did a nice skip along the rode. Held tight and nothing lost, just a few scratches.
February 17th Robe, South Australia
Nice journey from Port Elliot to Robe. Started off toward the big Lake Alexandranrina. Took a quick ferry across the river. after reaching the north end. From the crossing headed south down the east side to Miningie. Came across the Pink Lake. Very unique landscape, some parts reminded me of Mono Lake. The picture does not show the pink that was held in the eye of the cameraman. Following the coast along the Coorong National Park. Came across the Big Lobster and Cape Jaffe.
February 15th, 16th Port Elliot
Stayed around the area today. Took a ride out to Cape Jervis to the West. Then a ride to the east to Goolwa.
February 15th Port Lincoln to Port Elliot
Started off as just another nice day in the Eyre Peninsula. Headed up the east coast to Port Augusta. Rolling hills like we see east of Cle Elum or the east foothills of San Jose before all the houses. The fields of Rye, Barley, Oats and Canola have all been harvested and lay open. Only sheep now dot the fields with a few gum trees here and there. Further north the fields give way to scrub and looks like I am in the bush again. Got to the top and headed south toward Adelaide. Holy Crap! in a minute I saw more cars then I have in total since leaving Perth over a week ago. I tried the best I could but the last 75 Km through that stuff took forever. Especially when your used to doing that in about 35 minutes not 2 and a half hours. Ended up at another nice YHA, Port Elliot Beach House. Just across the street from the ocean. Nice old building has character.
February 14th Port Lincoln to Port Lincoln Hit 4,000 Km on ride today
Left on the tour bus this morning at 7:30. Great tour of the region including a big portion of Port Lincoln National Park. Much of the touring done on dirt roads i would not want to do on the bike. Great ocean views, Kangaroo’s, a huge black snake, a few lizards, an Emu and Koala’s. All in the wild. At the end of the tour we stopped at an animal park that was really cool and got to hang out with many more animals.
February 13th Port Lincoln to Port Lincoln
Much needed day of rest. Did take a short ride out to Coffin Bay to taste the most famous Oysters in SA. Met a mate this morning on the pier catching some decent size squid. Made dinner here at the hostel. Did not find Whitting so I made Burramundi. I did have a chance to put a few prawns on the bar-b. At least the rice and salad was good. Tomorrow I plan on another day off the bike. Taking a bus tour of the area. When I get back i will find that ever elusive Whitting before I head out of the Eyre Peninsula and off to Adelaide. I will be by passing Port Au-Gutta as the locals call it. Met Australia’s most famous horse, Makybe Diva. After looking it up She is on the list but not at the top. But that is ok the plaque here say’s she is.
February 12th Ceduna to Port Lincoln
What a beautiful ride today. Along the East Coast of the Great Australian Bight. Smokey Bay, Streaky Bay, Port Kenny, Venus Bay and Elliston. Each stop wonderful views of the Bight. Each with a bit of it’s own flavor. Elliston with Whit sandy beach surrounded by jagged cliffs on the north and south. The crazy rock pile they call the Inselbergs. Port Lincoln with a fantastic bay with small shops and restaurants across a big grass and treed field.
February 11th Eucla to Ceduna
Crossed into Southern Australia first thing this morning. Soon as I hit Hwy speed I was looking eye to Eyre with two of the biggest Emu’s I have ever seen, and man I have seen a lot of Emu’s. Rode the Nullarbor plane, the one you see from space. About 100 Kilometers without a tree. Nothing grows over five feet due to the severe winds that come off the Great Australian Bight. The Bight or open bay was the most amazing site I have ever seen. I have traveled all over the US and several foreign countries. The closets thing I would say the first time I say the Grand Tetons from the east side. Leaving Kalgoorlie there was pretty much nothing except for “Roadhouses.” These are about 100 miles apart and consist of; fuel stop, very small grocery store (no fresh fruit or vegetables) overpriced Vevemite, a motel, caravan park and sometimes a restaurant. Caravan park in the US we call an RV park. Any vehicle that is setup for traveling, camping etc. is a caravan. Toward the end of the ride started coming across a lot of different types of lizards warming themselves on the sunny road. This is the nicest campground (Caravan Park) I have been on so far. Met a nice couple from Melbourne that helped me cook a good meal of pasta and vegetables.
February 10 Fraser Range to Eucla
Staying the night in Eucla. Tomorrow will cross state lines and run the Nullarbor. Riding the Eyre Hwy today. One point 90 miles perfectly straight. The scenery should change tomorrow. Stayed at a Roadhouse. All along the outback there are these places called roadhouses.
February 9th Kalgoorlie to Fraser Range
The hottest day of my year. Sweating just looking outside. I took the tour of the SuperPit today. Amazing how much work goes on there. I will spew some facts at a later time. The trucks are HUGE and are constantly moving. 24×7, even when driver takes a break someone is there to take the truck and he or she gets a different one and end of break. With this being said they get a golf ball size of gold every seven trucks. You just look at the expense and wonder how it is feasible but that golf ball size works out to 5 million AUS Dollars a day.
Crazy Diamond makes it to Kalgoorlie. Feeling old as that last 300 km’s just killed me. No more flying through the Outback for me. Completely different experience today. Drastic changes in scenery. Felt like a beautiful Seattle day until I passed Salmon Gum. The sun came out and temperature rose 30 degrees. Pic of the supermine blowing up the ground so there will be work for tomorrow.
Ended the day in Jerramungup. Camping for the first time on this journey. Got a motel last night in Denmark. Great veiws today along the southwest. I am now in the “great south”.
Picked up my motorcycle today. Took local transit to Frematle about an hour away. Got to the transit station for transfer to next but that would drop me off in front of Five Star Motorcycles. Issue was an hour wait for that bus. Uber, a few minutes later Bal Ram from Nepal was there. Great guy, perfect english. Also, Japanese, Hindi and his native Nepali. After a couple pictures with him I jumped out of the car leaving my helmet. He could not call me but he returned to the shop just as I was about to buy a new one and head out.
Arrived in Perth at 7:00 PM on the 2nd of February. Leaving India to Singapore on the red eye. Arriving early but had a five hour layover. Grabbed an Uber from the airport and within 20 minutes arrived at the luxurious Wickham Retreat. Tomorrow I will grab what I hope to be my last Uber for a while. Five Star Motorcycles in about 20 miles up the road. http://www.wickhamretreat.com/
At Changi airport in Singapore. This is about a nice as any airport comes. Was thinking about breakfast but i can see it costs about the same as a night in Hyderabad and throw in lunch for two. Power bar morning for me.
Nice day today, I picked up a few things for home. Hoping I will be able to pack it all in. I don’t have much I can leave behind but if it don’t fit it don’t go. I had the opportunity to have a special cooking class tonight. Also have a full eclipse of the moon. One more thing I got to visit all my co-workers tonight. This is the guy’s and girls that work the overnight shift here so they can help those in need in the western part of the world on their regular shift.
Took a tour of the city on the Telangana State Tourism bus. First stop Birla Mandir, Hindu Temple. Then off to Chowmahalla Palace, Charminar and the Salar Jung Museum. I did this tour with a bus load of locals. Makes me appreciate even more the personalized tours of the Golden Triangle and the first few days here. The Vase is from China’s Ming Dynasty times.
Took a break for the day today. Slept in a bit and a nice local breakfast at the hotel. Ganesh stopped by on his two wheeler to take me into the OSI office. Met everyone from the old days. Lunch with Mitesh and Ganesh at Chutney’s. I will be heading out with Mohan later this afternoon see if we can tear up this town. Tomorrow I am booked through the tourism department for a city tour including several sites. It’s scheduled for 12 hours starting early. Not a lot starts early in India. I will have to keep Mohan under control so we can get back to Hotel early enough. Going to be an experience to get a taxi by 7:00 am.
Hyderabad, Telangana Tour with Ganesh and Krishna.
Toured the old city of Jaipur an Amber Temple.
Still working on the ability to post on my site correctly. I had a few things for here but they are on the blog page. Also on the blog page that belongs in my character page is my waiter from this morning. Once i get “real” internet back I will try to fix a few things. Figuring this out has been like a monkey on my back. In the meantime I hope you enjoy what your seeing. This is an experience for sure.
Today at the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.
Arrival in New Delhi. One thing I noticed right away is that you never now what you will see. I learned the rules of driving right away. You take the shortest route from a to b no matter what is in the way. You can also have anything on the road. Camel, cow, tuk tuk, motorcycle (not to exceed 125 cc) cars, trucks and anything else with or without wheels. You can stop wherever you like at anytime you like.
Friends, family and neighbors all show up to send me off. About 40 people showed up between 1-6 then kept going after that. Great to have such a great group stop by to say Bon Voyage and have a great trip.
Words from my friend in Perth: Congrats mate you now own an awesome FJR1300 in Australia, the original receipt will be stapled to your copy of the contract when you arrive. If you can get me the passport copy I will make the last part of the puzzle as easy as possible.
54-58 Rockingham Road,
HAMILTON HILL W.A 6163
Yup, I finally will be riding the 1300 in the mcrider1300@mail address I have been using for about a decade. I was sure it would be this bike back then when I was ready to trade in the V-Star 1100. Well it ended up to be the Yamaha Stratoliner 1900 then about a year ago I went for the Geezer Cruiser. Proud owner of the Honda Goldwing.
November 10th through the 16th. Spending the week in Victoria with Lauren and her family. Lauren is our youngest, married to Jesse and mother of Lily and Joshua.